We got up and had breakfast at McDonald's before going to the vet hospital. I mention it because we got to pay with love!
When we got there they had already sedated him and had him out for x-rays and an ultrasound. I panicked that I had missed saying bye to him because I never got a definite time in his surgery, just that he was first and only that day and they'd pick the time in the morning. I ran into a tech and she let me know where he was and that he was coming back before surgery.
I managed to snag a pic of him in his muzzle, but it was hard because the students were working on him and prepping him for surgery. He's got a happy guy sedated face. He wasn't so out of it- whenever he heard plastic crinkling, he was looking for mints!
I did scare Mikey's assigned student though. He was supposed to put Mikey's neck catheter in but was too nervous to do it in front of me. I do understand that but I'm happy a non-nervous student did it. She was very nice, and explained to me what she was doing (even though I was standing on the other side of his neck because I can't watch that kind of thing, it gives me the willies), and what she was shooting into it (pre-surgery antibiotics).
The vet doing the surgery, Dr Alicia Bertone, came by to talk to me and pulled me away to show me the new x-rays. They are digital and much more clear than what my own vet took. They also painted a more grim picture. Mikey had slipped or been kicked in a way that he hyper extended the inside tendon and tore it (this part was news to us, they ultrasounded it while they had him out) and crushed the outside bone, creating at least 8 chips, if not more. It's already classified as an 'old' injury since it's a month old. Apparently that was enough time for some of the chips to float around and destroy cartilage and to move down to the lower joint. basically it'll make it more difficult to remove them, if they can be removed at all. The body may have already encased them which would make them impossible to find. The few she thought would be hard to find wouldn't cause him harm in the long run, especially if she was going to cause more damage finding them and getting them out. They seemed to have low densities in the x-ray and had a good chance and being properly encased and reabsorbed if she couldn't get them out.
She did say she wasn't comfortable with him going home the next day because it looked like the surgery could be more complicated, but we could if we still wanted to. Obviously we said he'd stay until Wednesday, that wasn't an issue.
|You probably have to click on the pic and make it bigger to see it, but there's two chips circled in red.|
|All of those broken bits in the red circle are chips. There's a flat section that was broken off as well in the circle. All of those needed to come out.|
I was able to go back and see him briefly before they truly sent me away to the viewing room while they took him to the drop room. They said it would be about a half hour from when they took him until the time they brought him in. They took him to the drop room around 10:25.
My mom and I were showed the upstairs and waited for him to come in. He came in pretty quickly and he was in the room by 10:50. I kind of wanted to see how the drop room worked but I'm sure that's something they purposely do not let the owner see.
|Surgery room waiting for Mikey to come in.|
|And he's in! They're getting his bad leg tied up at the angle they want.|
Partway through the surgery a student came up to check on me and let me know how surgery was going. Some of this info is filled in below as appropriate, but most is from the incredibly awesome view I had. I think I responded to his surgery ok by being able to detach myself from it. I was fascinated. My mom couldn't even look down into the room, she got too upset seeing him like that.
I watched them scrub his hock down (it had already been shaved), and organize their equipment. He was on his back (as you can see from the above pic) and on a ventilator. They covered him up from shoulder to tail and wrapped a iodine soaked cling wrap around the hock.
Seeing him on his back unconscious wasn't that bad. His legs were held up, and I could see his belly moving from the ventilator before they covered him up. He looked like he was in a state of perpetual rolling instead of dead. After he was all covered up, it was just his head and neck, sheets, hock, more sheets. I couldn't even see most of the horse.
The first thing they did was drain the fluid in the joint. It was bloody and full of nasty things. First extra bad sign.
|Cutting into his leg (or through the iodine wrap, not sure), right before draining fluid.|
|His surgeon checking the joint with the scope.|
They pulled in an x-ray machine and started taking pictures. I thought they were done, but then they started digging again. The slit on the outside of the joint was widened to something they could pry the skin open and check it visually. It looked like they were checking to make sure that they got them all.
|They brought in a bright light and that pretty much ended my view of what they were doing. His surgeon is sitting in the chair, and his supervising vet (who is a resident learning surgery) is standing working on the joint from the other side.|
|I believe they were sewing him up at this point.|
|All done except the clean up.|
She still considered the surgery very successful. She said it was one of the most complicated joint surgeries she had ever done. We were so glad we had opted to take him to her instead of a local surgeon, who would have probably opened him up, said this is beyond my skill, and closed him back up and then the horse would have had to travel to OSU anyway and be put under a second time.
While she was talking to us she got a call that he had stood up in the recovery room. Yay! That was my biggest fear- that he'd break himself waking up. OSU has a great recovery team and from the sound of it, a low incident rate when horses wake up.
We then talked about where to go from there. I was crushed to hear he had a good prognosis, but all that meant was he had a 50-70% chance of being sound enough for competition. She said that without the surgery, he would have been permanently lame for the rest of his life, and in pain as the chips slowly became a problem. She said we had done the right thing by him.
I told her my goals for the two of us, Prix St George, and asked if there was anything we could do to help raise the odds. She said they just finished a study on stem cells and tendon repair that was incredibly promising and had a statistically significant difference in improving the joint. It was an option, but a $1000 one. She said he was a lovely horse to work with and she could tell he was an athletic, capable partner, and because of that she felt comfortable recommending the procedure to us. She said if he wasn't a competitive horse, and such a lovely horse, she wouldn't have recommended it, but because of the goals we have and the incredible success they've had with it in the past, she didn't think it would be a waste of money. We agreed right then to do that this week.
It takes a few days for them to culture the right cells in Kentucky, but they'll be here by 9am Thursday. They have to be injected very soon after delivery because they are live cells. She put the order in while she was talking to us.
I asked if there was anything we could do for the cartilage damage since they had so much experience with stem cells and research in that area. She suggested an APS treatment that they did a research study on last year, which also had incredible success. They had a dressage horse come through that had a mess going on in one of his joints, he got the stem cell and APS treatments and is now just fine, going along as if nothing had happened. I think I'm remembering the details right for that horse, I was getting overwhelmed. Either way, it sounded like it was a similar thing as Mikey, so with the two treatments, Mikey should have a good shot. No promises because no two horses or injuries are the same, but a good shot. It was either the stem cell treatment or APS, I just can't remember, but only around 70 horses had had that particular treatment.
All during his surgery, our house refinance people had been calling and emailing me. I was so angry at them - the refi isn't happening and I was arguing that our credit was more than good, everything checked out, why the hell not?? By the time his surgery was over and the surgeon had spoken with us, I had fire for blood and I think that kept me from crying over Mikey in surgery, might not have a complete recovery, he's safe and sound awake and back on his feet etc.
She gave me his bone chips and we left to go tell the hotel we needed to stay until Thursday morning. We also switched hotel rooms to one with a fridge and microwave, at a cheaper price (20% OSU discount!). I don't remember where we ate dinner, or if we did. We went back around 9pm to see him and he was much more comfortable and munching on his hay. He was still doing feng shui with the straw in his stall though.