Sunday, June 27, 2010


This Is A Tough One

It was exactly two weeks ago today that I rose early to feed and get on the road by 8am to retrieve and deliver a lovely little Arabian mare, Gitanna. The entire process went as smoothly as anyone in the world of rescue could want. Not a hitch and not a snag. The horse was compliant and before I left her, she was already making friends with her newly adopted twin sister.

But that morning, my legs felt weighted by lead. My throat was very swollen and sore. And my body was weak. I told myself that I needed sleep. That tonight I would come home and take two aspirin and sleep this bug away. Sleep would be the remedy. And Monday morning, I would be well again to start another busy week. I just needed some sleep.

Wrong. My body decided to harbor this bug. And harbor it well it did. I awoke around 3am on Monday to a fever of 104 degrees. And to say I was "under the weather" was an understatement.

The entire day of Monday I spent rallying enough energy to change the litter boxes. A quick posting to the bulletin board expressing my displeasure with the fever was posted and then I managed to sit again. I never made it out to the barns on Monday.

Mistake #1.

Tuesday I spent rallying the energy to drive to the Urgent Care Clinic and be seen by a doctor I didn't know. Pneumonia. Yup, I knew that already. I came for the meds, please. And the cough syrup. About a gallon of it, please. After a short nap in the truck, I drove myself home and once again found my way into the house. Weak and still with a raging fever, I never made it out to the barns on Tuesday.

Mistake #2.

Wednesday morning I forced myself to go out to the barns. It took quite some time to get to the barn and once there, I sat on the feed tank wondering how I would ever get back to the house. The horses were no worse for the wear and so eager to be fed that everyone - every single horse! - stood at it's allotted private space waiting for their very own magic bucket to appear. With such faith shown in me and patience shown by them, I fed them all. It felt good and it was time to clean Laddee's trach site.

Laddee was newly home after placing a permanent trach to allow easier breathing for her. The wound was healing nicely and she seemed up and active. Happy to be home and back with her Handsome. Standing in the barn. Laddee had learned to love the concept of a barn. Shelter. It was one of her favorite things now. She seemed well.

But not so. I could tell upon haltering her that something was amiss. I cleaned her site and called for Dr. Brian. There was too much schmoo. And it appeared as if the trach was closing.

I spent some time resting on the feed tank and then went about unhooking everyone. Laddee was cleaned and returned to the pasture. The appointment was made for Dr. Brian to visit on Friday since he was at a conference until then. I seemed content with that plan since I was soaked in sweat and trembling with weakness. I needed to get back to the house.

Mistake #3.

Thursday I seemed to be rounding the bend although my legs still felt weighted with lead and the fever was still present, although now only at 101 degrees. I was on the mend. The old barn was cleaned and I moved some square bales of hay for Miss April and Dudely. Laddee was cleaned and I called to confirm Dr. Brian's appointment for the next day.

Mistake #4.

Dr. Brian arrived on Friday and looked sideways at me as I began firing questions at him. He asked if it hurt to talk. Yes, it did, but Laddee has problems with her trach, I believe. What does he think?

A quick exam and Dr. Brian confirmed that her trach stitches had come loose as the swelling had gone down and indeed, her trach was closing. Before he could say anything else, I was down the driveway and dropping the trailer. Dr. Brian spoke via the telephone with Dr. Anne while I loaded the little mare and I was gone. With Laddee in the trailer. Where she should have been on Wednesday.

These past two weeks have been spent helping Laddee regain the ground she lost. Ground and progress that she lost because I was ill and didn't have a plan. I didn't have a number to call for someone else to take over while I recovered. I didn't react and take control. And this little mare has to suffer for my mistakes.

This isn't a pretty story with yet a happy ending. Laddee's trach is healing but she is struggling to hold stitches. The tissue isn't fresh anymore and so what would have worked the first week is slower to work now. I made mistakes. Huge mistakes. I did not take action. And the animals that I vowed to protect and care for suffered because I made those mistakes. I let them down.

There have been lessons learned these past two weeks. Yes, I've learned the lessons very, very well. Our next Strategic Planning Session will talk about short-term as well as long-term support. I need to have a plan. People willing to check tanks, maybe clean a bit of barn, feed or check on hay levels, and count heads. I need to never, ever make these mistakes again. And believe me, I won't. Never, ever will I make these mistakes again.

This is a tough one to write. To admit. To try to forgive. Selfishly, writing this blog has helped me to admit it. Forgiveness will need to wait. Right now, I am focused on supporting Laddee and doing my best to get her back to where she was. Losing ground when you are fighting cancer is a bad thing. And this little mare is a fighter, but she is fighting a battle that need not have been put in front of her. She is in this fight because of mistakes made by her human.

These blogs tend to be a therapy, of sorts. A place to vent. To dream. To share a piece of magic. A place to put concepts and ideas out there. A therapy, of sorts. A blank slate that I can use to empty my heart. And get myself back on track. So, I've written this blog and subsequently admitted these mistakes to all of you. And now, as you need to do in therapy, I've admitted the mistakes to myself.

This world of rescue is, at times, a difficult one. The rewards are mighty and many. The work is very hard. And the need is overwhelming. And at times, I marvel in how people will allow things to get so bad before they cry for help. Maybe I now better understand the human side. It is so easy to wait and hope things get better. I find myself telling myself what I so often have told others: Take action before it gets to the crisis point. Do something so you are not caught reacting. Be in front of "it". Steer "it". Don't follow "it" and try to catch "it". I need to listen to myself speak.

This is a tough one to write. Thank you for reading it. And if you are the praying sort, would you add Laddee to your list?

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