Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Long and Winding Road to Recovery

Monday morning Taylor was "down" again, though not as far down as she'd been on Sunday.

Bummer. I've learned that if the first miracle doesn't "take", subsequent miracles are less likely, so I was pretty discouraged.

Apprentice JR was here, so it was a good opportunity for her to help work through a semi-crisis problem-solving situation. First we dosed Taylor immediately with more NutriDrench (time to order a new bottle so we have plenty on hand for lambing). Then we called the vet. It was 11:15 by the time he was out of surgery...just 1 hour before I had to leave for work.

The vet said to dose her with the calcium gluconate again, followed with oral calcium paste. This time the feed store was open, so we quickly drove out and got more calcium gluconate, 60 cc syringes, more needles, and the calcium paste. JR filled one syringe while I was injecting the other. I quickly dosed her with Pen-G (in case of internal infection, if any of my injections had gone astray) per the vet's directions, and gave her a shot of Vitamin B which helps stimulate the appetite. I managed to get to work less than 15 minutes late!

One dilemma was that the calcium paste came in tubes like caulk. How were we supposed to dispense it? The applicator hinted at on the label was not evident in the store.

It KIND of looked like a caulk gun would work, but I had my doubts on the exact size. The clerk didn't know. The guy in the back said, yeah, a caulk gun will work....but....

Sure enough, it's a bit narrower and longer than a standard caulk cartridge. I handed that challenge over to JR to solve, since she offered to come back in the afternoon and check on the ewe and dose her with calcium paste then. She called the vet for an exact dosage, calculated what fraction of a tube would give that dosage and used a ruler to demarcate the tube. She was able to press the end of the tube with some handy small object, and get the paste into another syringe to adminster it by mouth. Not easy, because it was pretty thick and sticky. Today she mixed it with some water and dried molasses ("just a spoon full of sugar....!"), and things went much better.

When she got there in the afternoon, Taylor was somewhat better, but still down. She eagerly guzzled some water and munched on alfalfa pellets, and reluctantly swallowed the calcium.

And about a half hour later, she suddenly grew entirely non-responsive again. JR was baffled, but there wasn't much to be done.

When JR came back later, Taylor was MUCH better again, though not on her feet. My guess is that her blood went rushing to her stomach after the big meal, leaving her drowsy like we feel after a big Thanksgiving dinner.

When I got home, Taylor lumbered to her feet, and has pretty much been on her feet ever since. She's steadily improving, but is significantly lame in the left hind quarter (near the injection site for the calcium gluconate). I'm guessing either she's really sore from all the injections, or I got too close to her haunch when giving oneof them. With her collapsed on the ground, and huge with lambs, it was really hard to figure out where the "hollow" of the flank was, to give the inections there.

Today she was moving around and lively enough that I turned her in with Eider and Cleo, whom I've had in the barn to get extra feed in the form of alfalfa pellets. Eider's teeth are so bad I don't think she can eat enough hay to get enough nutrients, at this stage. Cleo's old and a bit skinnier than I'd like for lambing, also.

I even turned them out into the west margin lane to graze a little bit. I figured that would encourage Taylor to move around some more. Whatever is wrong with the leg will be hopefully be helped with gentle exercise (physical therapy), and fresh greens are a nice treat after a miserable weekend.

The other ewes are growing larger by the day, both bellies and udders. It's hard to believe that they aren't due for another 2 weeks. I'll be getting the barn ready for lambs sooner than that, and watching closely, just in case they start a bit early. I can barely wait...though it would be nice to get a bunch more garden planted before the darling little distractions arrive.

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