Friday, May 27, 2011

Commander: No News Is Good News

Which is why I didn't post a Commander update yesterday. He’s doing very well, very comfortable on his heartbars. He was never really off his feed during all this, but I think his appetite has picked up a bit since the shoeing. He’s bright-eyed, shiny-coated, and eager to go out! Now!

Well, of course he can’t have lots of turnout; he’s not supposed to have any until he’s on one bute per day, in fact, which I’m starting today: lunch bute as usual, but none for supper tonight. I have cheated a bit, put him and Ben out yesterday and today for the half hour or so it takes me to clean their stalls, and he’s been a good boy, not gotten silly and rambunctious.

What he has done is spend the vast bulk of his time outside in vigorous grooming sessions with Ben, way more than they’d been doing, in fact, before the heartbars went on. Is it a consequence of his feet feeling better, that he can spare a thought now for itchy withers? Or is it the hot humid weather that makes the boys’ coats call out for a good tooth-scrubbing? He and Ben both have rubbed tails, despite their being on continuous wormer, and they’ll be getting ivermectin tonight or tomorrow to deal with that, but as for the rest of their bodies’ need to be scratched? I dunno why; I just know they derive deep satisfaction from their grooming sessions, whether outside or inside their run-in stalls.

More inside, actually, today; the biting bugs have sprung from nowhere into pesky annoyance. Yesterday and today I’ve brought Commander in first, turning him loose on his mini-mash, then running back out to release Ben into the now-lush paddock, to gobble the greenery until Commander came to notice his abandonment and started yelling. Yesterday, oh joy, the Morgan seemed not to realize his buddy wasn’t present across the aisle; his hay was enticing enough, once the mash was devoured, to keep him happily oblivious of his solitary state. The temptation was strong to leave Ben outside, but I couldn’t take a chance on Commander deciding to freak out over his absence, so in Ben came, despite his reluctance to leave all that wonderful grass. Today, though, was a different story. Today a bug-bugged Ben fled the paddock for the shelter of the run-in even before I went to collect him; today he was positively pleased to be going back to his stall.

So there you have it: early days, not out of the woods yet, don’t get cocky, etc. etc., but things are looking good; and unless something dramatic happens, unless some major milestone is passed (or unless I feel an overwhelming need to blather again), I think the Commander updates can go on hiatus.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toot, Toot, Tootsies: Goodbye to Pain

Commander got his heartbars today, and he approved. Yea, verily did he approve.

I had to zip up to the vet’s office to pick up a CD of the x-rays and tote my laptop to the barn so Ken, my farrier, could study the current rotational state of the hooves. Once he’d seen what he needed to there, and checked out the old set of heartbars from Commander’s 2006 bout of founder, kindly loaned to me by the boy’s previous owner, Ken got to work and I got out of his way, back to my car to work on paper while he worked on steel.

And did he ever work! Ken took plenty of meticulous time over getting the heartbars just right, then on they went, along with Equi-Pak padding – neat stuff! It sets up quickly and provides a cushion elastic enough to offer comfort, yet strong enough to provide support and not compress to uselessness over time. Plus, it’s an attractive sky-blue color, adding a dash of drama to Commander’s stride. It’s also easy stuff to cut a hole into for drainage if Commander should happen to develop an abscess, which Ken warned me could happen, though he thought it unlikely.

So the old Morgan got his new shoes. And off walked Commander as if the laminitis had never happened. Yay!

Now, we still need to be cautious, not let the boy get wild and crazy and overdo things while the inflammation runs its course, dies down and dwindles away. So his turnout will increase gradually, carefully confined to the small space at the run-in; he’ll stay on bute for its anti-inflammatory benefit, for some time to come; but I am convinced we’re on the upswing and all will be well.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Commander Post-X-rays Update

And the news is cautiously good!

Commander does have some added rotation since his 2006 x-rays, but it is only a bit, and he still has enough sole to do fine once he’s over the acute phase. He’ll be going into heartbars on Wednesday. That’s the shoeing that worked for his previous founder, and my vet and farrier agree it’s the way to go at this point. His previous owner tells me that with heartbar shoeing Commander went from “Is it time to put him down?” to riding sound in six weeks.

With no bute in him since Saturday midday, you could see he was less comfortable, not moving quite as freely as yesterday; but Commander was and is still bright-eyed, eating and drinking well, sucking up to any human who’ll scratch his proud neck, and very willing to follow me out of his stall – heck, whenever we were pointed toward the exit he tried to drag me outside. He stood calmly with his front hooves up on wooden blocks for the x-rays; behaved like a perfect gentleman, in fact, for the whole process of examination and treatment. The x-ray machine hooked into the vet’s laptop and we could see his rads within seconds of them being taken. Not only that, but Kelly will be emailing them to me, and I can email them in turn to my farrier to have when he comes to put the new shoes on in two days. How cool is that?

My buteless Commander was even able to stand (with an occasional bit of fussing and hoof tugging) on a single forefoot to have each front shoe pulled, which the vet did gently, nail by careful nail, to give him some recovery time between the pulling of the old shoes and the nailing on of the new. Once they were off she showed me by the impressions on the pads inside how the rim of the plain shoes he’d been wearing weren’t offering him any real interior hoof structure support; how the frog was doing a lot of the work of weight-bearing against the protective pad. Then she put new pads and wraps on to keep him comfortable until Wednesday. Once everything was done he got a shot of Banamine, and you could see within minutes he felt just fine, thank you! That stuff is a miracle.

Plan for now: Bute, one tonight, one tomorrow, two on shoeing day and for a day or two afterwards, then taper to one for a few days, always with an eye to how comfortable he is, adjusting accordingly. Stall rest: Pretty much for tomorrow and shoeing day, and for a day or two afterwards, then judicious turnout, always with the goal of quiet light self-exercise that doesn’t stress the fragile tissues. Until he can go out he should get some short easy sessions of hand-walking, a prescription my farrier is strongly in favor of.

I dragged Kelly down to the paddock to look at the grass nubbins along the fence line. Verdict: Too short to harm him; if he wants to entertain himself picking at them, he should be okay. I will need to weed-whack the longer grass outside the fence that he could reach if he knelt down and snaked his head under the lower electric wire.

So, all in all, encouraging, I would say.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday: Taking the Next Step With Commander

With trepidation, today I withheld the bute from Commander’s midday meal. His last dose was about 1:30 or so on Saturday, and he looked good; in fact the step down from the barn to the driveway seemed not to faze him at all today. He was moving just fine on his limited turnout.

Very limited turnout today, only 15 minutes or so, because he would not stop picking at the grass nubbins along the fence line, as he has on previous outings. Nubbins they may be, but apparently there was enough there to keep him working on them, and I did not dare let him keep at it.

Which set up another test for Commander: Could he be inside without Ben? The Morgan came back to fresh hay and his midday mini-mash of Speedi-Beet, bran, regular supplements, and medications (yum! no grain at all now), which kept him occupied as I worked on Ben’s stall across the aisle, ever alert for any sign of a separation-anxiety meltdown. Other than occasional trips to gaze out his window, he was fine. When Ben’s stall was ready I went out to collect the big lug, and let him hand-graze for a bit after we left the run-in. So Commander was all alone; no Ben, not even a second-best human, to keep him company; peace reigned as Ben grazed....


Okay, Commander had noticed his abandonment. I hustled Ben inside, let the boys sniff noses through Commander’s stallfront chainlink mesh, then put the Thoroughbred back into his stall, grained him, and that was that.

Which points to a strategy for giving Ben more time on turnout: Take Commander out first, to forestall any abandonment freakout; leave them out as long as it’s safe for Commander; then bring him back to the distractions of food and let Ben stay out until the Morgan starts getting upset about it. Which of course will require me to be on hand, ready to reel in Ben at the first sign of Commander losing it, sigh.

I’ll be checking on Commander in about two hours, and again around 10:00 p.m., and if he’s in significant distress I will bute him, vet visit Monday morning regardless.

Fingers crossed!



Checked Commander around 5:30. He looked just as good as he did at midday. Left him unbuted, just gave him his evening mash with the isoxsuprine and U-7. Left late evening and breakfast hay flake-piles out for the farm owner to give him, and for once I am going to have an early night, not need to do late-P.M. bedcheck, hurrah!

If you had told me a week ago things would be looking so good so fast I would not have believed it possible. Let’s hope his trajectory continues in its present course.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Commander: Second Day on One Bute

He’s doing well. Remarkably well, given how painful he was just one week ago. If there was a hint of tentative discomfort in front today, it was so minuscule that it didn’t stop me from letting him go out. He was cautious about taking the 6-inch step down from the barn to the driveway; moved off his landing foot quickly; but other than that he walked free and easy, and handled the hardness of the run-in apron with no problem, though after a while he did prefer to stay on the mats inside.

It was good for him and Ben both, to get them out for about 45 minutes. They spent a lot of the time grooming each other. I was tempted to leave them out when their stalls were done, on this lovely warm sunny day after a week’s worth of chilly rain and drizzle, while I drove over to the co-op to buy shavings, but caution overruled impulse. That would have added around another hour to their turnout time; too much, too soon, to risk a setback for Commander’s wellbeing.

There was a farrier at the barn shoeing another boarder’s horse, and I visited with him for a while. I mentioned one friend’s suggestion of putting shoes on backwards. He said it can be helpful, as can other kinds of therapeutic shoeing; what approach one takes depends on each individual horse. When I mentioned my farrier’s name, the prompt response was “Ken Brown! I know Ken; he’s a great farrier!” And other comments indicating that I in fact have a damn fine farrier. You can imagine how reassuring that was to hear.

Anyway, if Commander is looking as good tomorrow as he was today, I will be tempted to withhold his midday bute dose, so that Kelly can assess him completely clear of the drug on Monday morning. If he seems clearly ouchier than today, I will give him the bute.

I spent some time with him after getting back from the co-op run, just neck-hugging and skritching him. He loved it, and when I stopped looked to me for more. He was first dubious, then appreciative when I took a damp paper towel to his eyes to clean away their perennial watery discharge and eye-corner crud. I think we’re developing a closer relationship over the course of his convalescence.

Friday Commander Update

So, 24+ hours after his last dose of bute, how did Commander look at midday on Friday?


No, no, he didn’t go out, the ground is just too wet for that; that picture’s from last spring; but that’s about how good he and I are both feeling right now!

His wraps are still holding up amazingly well, but the sole over the pad is wearing thin, so I wrapped right over them with Coflex. He had a harder time holding up his left foot, all his weight on his right, during that process, but that’s the hoof that’s always been the more sensitive ever since his previous bout with founder, according to his previous owner. All in all, he is looking remarkably good.

So, he's done very well indeed with just one gram of bute in 24 hours; if he’s as free-moving Saturday as he was on Friday, he’ll get one dose at midday, then none on Sunday, as long as he continues to be comfortable; and we’ll see how he looks on Monday morning.


Bedcheck update: Looking good!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday: Commander is One Smart Cookie

Midday report: On two bute per day, Commander looks very good indeed. I will probably withhold tonight’s dose and see how he looks tomorrow after 24 hours since his last dose. If at all possible he needs to be at least 24 and hopefully 48 hours since his last dose by the time he’s seen by the vet on Monday morning.

I’ve added Finish Line’s U-7 gastric aid supplement to his diet to protect against bute-induced ulcers. If he’s going to need to be on it for a considerable time, I’d like to get his stomach buffered before any ulcers begin to blossom.

Weather permitting, he gets a short time outside, and today the weather permitted. If I hadn’t watched him like the proverbial hawk and shut him down at the first hint of exuberance, our trip down the driveway would have been quite a spectacle of explosive Morgan caracoles. But he knows what the chain under his chin means, and all it took were swift light tweaks on the lead line to remind him “Behave!” and he walked politely.

But that’s not why I call him one smart cookie; no, it’s what he did once he was set free. After trying to graze on the already depleted nubbins he could reach along the fence line (sorry, Commander; there’s nothing there worth contorting yourself for), he started face-fighting with Counterpoint, first in the middle of the concrete run-in apron, but very quickly he moved to a much more comfortable position:


Yup, that’s right, he went into the run-in, onto the rubber mats, and reached around the corner to play. That beige bar you see at the top of the photo is the bottom edge of the swing-up window in Counterpoint’s stall; I had to shoot the boys from up there in the barn because any time I came outside the white boys rushed the fence to beg for food or release onto their field.

Here’s a clearer look at just how Commander positioned himself:


It’s amazing these guys don’t actually do any damage to each other given how ferociously they go at it:


So Ben and Commander had their 30 to 45 minutes outside, and walked back in a fair bit calmer than they went out. Hopefully I’ll be able to get them out every day, hopefully for longer stretches at a time if Commander isn’t set back by short intervals on ground less forgiving than his well-bedded, wood-floored stall.

Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Commander Update: A Bridge Too Far?

Commander didn’t get a dose of bute at bedcheck last night, so when I saw him at midday today his last one had been about 24 hours ago, and it showed.

Oh, he wasn’t anywhere near the kind of distress I’d seen on Saturday; he was standing foursquare, taking good-sized steps, and not reluctant to move; but he was clearly feeling enough of an increase in discomfort to be stiffer in walking and turning on his forehand than yesterday. I hadn’t planned to put him out today in any case, given how wet it is; but for darn sure he wasn’t going to go out on a gravel drive and concrete run-in apron looking like that.

So off he went to an empty stall across the aisle, which he puttered around in between bouts of hay-munching; back to his stall, where the absentminded human realized it’s a lot easier to add a new bag of shavings to a mucked-out stall before you put the horse back in; over to the empty stall again; finally back home, where he dove into his hay. It seemed to me that he was moving somewhat better, in fact clearly better, by the fourth trip across the barn aisle, so perhaps some of his stiffness comes from being an older horse on stall confinement in damp, chilly weather; and I’ve noticed over the last few days that he also looks stiffer when he first gets up from lying down, so who knows how much of a role mere inactivity plays? – but that’s not the entire cause. The laminitis ain’t done with him yet.

Sigh. I suppose such setbacks are only to be expected. Hopefully when I see him tonight he’ll be back to looking “Just fine, thank you!” with the bute back in him. He’ll get a bedcheck dose; two doses again on Wednesday; then we’ll try again to cut back to one. I’ll also do a bit of handwalking in the barn to get the juices cautiously flowing on gentle footing.

The continued good news is that Commander’s bright-eyed, cheerful, eating and drinking well, sucking up his meds without a problem, in good weight, and shiny-coated. Ben is also handling his companion captivity pretty well; other than screaming for attention when I arrive, looking longingly at the exit when I move him between stalls, and walking manure-churning circles in his bedding, he’s not a problem.


Bedcheck update:

Commander was lying down when I arrived. He got up and looked horribly stiff. I let him move about, loosen up some, as he chose for a couple of minutes, then walked him across the aisle to the spare stall, circled it to turn, walked back, turned again and went back across the aisle, and he was moving waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better when I took the halter off and let him go free over there – just needed to work out of the lying-down stiffness. He didn’t hesitate to follow me when I first asked him to move, either. It’s rainy, chilly, penetrating-damp weather around these parts, been so for the last few days, and I really do think that’s affecting the old man. He might could be a bit tentative still in his front feet, but he’s markedly better than at the midday check. Darn close to what had me feeling good Sunday and Monday.

Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Commander update

So what’s the report for today?


Last bute: 13 hours before.

Quality of movement: Free and easy.

Spirits: High.

He did get to go out for half an hour while I cleaned the stalls, and there were a couple of times on the walk down the drive that if it weren’t for the chain shank I think he’d have gone all boinky on me:

Horse: Head high, neck starting to snake, eyeing the human – “Ima feel good! Ima gonna...”

Human: “GrrrrrrrrrrNO!” *shank-twitch*

Horse: Subsiding – “Oh, well, if you put it like that. Say, there’s some grass over there! Howzabout we – Oh. You sure? Oh. Well, if you insist...”

Once he was there he settled down and alternated between eating hay in the run-in (standing on shavings-covered rubber mats) and face-fighting with Counterpoint. If he’s hyper about heading out tomorrow I won’t take a chance on him getting rambunctious but will turn right around and put him in an empty stall while cleaning his, rather than take a chance on his overdoing it while things are still fragile. Hopefully, if he keeps going the way he’s going, we can get back to dry-lot turnout as soon as the pads come off.

He got his midday bute and as usual inhaled it along with his pittance cup of grain. On his delighted vet’s advice, based on yesterday’s report, I will NOT be buting him tonight but instead will switch to once a day dosing, two days ahead of schedule, and we will see what we will see, but all in all I’m feeling:


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Commander update

So how is the old man today? How did he look 13 hours after his last dose of bute? How am I feeling about how he’s feeling?


When I arrived at the barn he was up, bright-eyed, moving freely, and eager for food, attention, and to go out! Now! There’d been a little rain overnight and the ground was damp in patches but not soaked, so by golly, out he went! He strode down the graveled drive with a big free-swinging walk, puttered around the run-in happily, greeted Ben when he followed, felt good enough to stand at times with one hind foot cocked and both forefeet comfortably planted, and spent much of his 30 to 45 minutes outside face-fighting with Counterpoint over the water trough. This was a happy horse!

Brought back in to his tidied stall, he gobbled up his medicine-laced grain, licking the bucket of every trace, and dove into his hay. I left feeling a whole lot more confident than I had just 24 hours ago.

Half an hour after I left, the heavens opened and a soaking rain started pounding down. How’s that for timing?

Yes, yes, I know; things could still go south in a hurry; he’s not out of the woods yet; there’s still a long course of rehab ahead; there’s no guarantee; blah blah blah............


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Well, this just stinks

Commander’s having a go-round with laminitis. Yep, my previously foundered horse is in danger of it happening again. And I was being so careful about the spring grass!

Last year, with a slow, cautious introduction process, Commander adjusted to grazing without any problem, went through summer and fall living happily on his fields, and was sound enough, in fact, to go barefoot for a couple of months toward the end of that time, till the ground froze hard and he needed the extra buffer of front shoes.

So this year, while always mindful that Commander would require more caution than the other horses, I felt comfortable getting him onto grass, first for brief times on the boys’ near paddock, gradually increasing their grazing time till they were doing fine out there for an hour and a half, until the grass there was grazed down to nubbins. At that point I opened the gate to the field – only for a few minutes at first; most of their grass time was still in the paddock. Over weeks the field time edged up to 20 or 30 minutes. It was about the same schedule I’d followed the year before with no problem.

This year, though, there’s a problem. Was my timing off? Is the grass, for whatever reason of sun/rain/temperature, richer than last spring’s? Is now-21-year-old Commander’s metabolism altering as he ages? I dunno, but....

On May 7th I took a picture of the two boys galloping gaily out to their paddock, a sight I've been seeing every day since I started the incremental process of getting them adapted to grazing.


But in the last few days Commander, I noticed, was no longer dashing out; he was stopping to eat almost as soon as he got through the gate. And yet, released from the paddock into the field, or called in from it for his measly two cups of daily grain, he could and would run with enthusiasm. Walking around as he grazed, or back in the run-in dry lot, he seemed all right. Then yesterday he trotted in instead of running, and I thought he looked just a tiny bit, well, not quite right in front, especially on the hardness of the run-in apron. So I called the vet’s office and made an appointment for a Monday checkup.

Today I arrived, went to let the boys out, took one look at how Commander was moving, emitted some expletives, and dashed back to my car for my cellphone. The vet arrived within the hour, checked him over, and confirmed that he’s having a laminitis flareup. On the plus side: the palpable heat in his feet wasn’t too bad and he wasn’t rocked back on his hindquarters in the classic founder stance; there was no sign that his soles were in immediate danger of being penetrated; and as soon as Kelly Vetwrapped thick foam pads on his front feet he looked more comfortable. In fact, when I led him up the graveled driveway to the barn to start him on stall rest, he walked easily, with hardly any suggestion of pain in his front feet. By the time I left the barn, an hour or so after the vet had departed, Commander was moving about his stall looking darn near normal (or as normal as a horse can look with wrappings reminiscent of clown shoes on his front feet).

He got a shot of Banamine for immediate relief, and I got medicines and instructions for him: Three days of bute twice a day, three days of bute once a day, then off the bute and recheck by Kelly a week from Monday. Daily dose of Thyro-L on the premise that we could be dealing with insulin resistance in my old man. Stall rest for now (which I’d have to do in any case with several days of off-and-on rain ahead of us, to save his foot wrappings). Pick up another set of pads and wrappings on Monday from the office with the expectation I’ll have to rewrap him at least once before his recheck. And of course, if he takes a turn for the worse, call the vet! My farrier’s been alerted and stands ready to do whatever corrective shoeing may be required.

I’m cautiously optimistic it’s mild enough and we’ve caught it soon enough to stave off any serious developments. I daresay if Kelly thought we were facing an immediately dire situation she wouldn’t have scheduled his recheck so far out. The stall rest is a double bummer, since he and Ben are so bonded that leaving Ben out in the run-in while Commander’s in the barn would throw the Morgan into a frenzy of inconsolable screaming, stall-spinning grief and terror, and he really doesn’t need to be stressed out like that right now. Ben would be upset, too. But Ben likes being in his stall, and the stalls themselves are huge and airy, so it’s not too bad for them. I just get to clean mass quantities of dirty stall bedding for the next week-plus, sigh. At least getting the medications into Commander is easy-peasy; this afternoon I mixed the powders along with his regular supplements into a scant cup of his senior feed and he inhaled the lot, then licked the bucket clean.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............... It’s quarter of 10:00; time for me to run over to the barn for another dose of bute, a stall picking, and a refreshing of hay and water for the night. Guess I’ll save this draft, go see what’s what, and add an update before I ship it out.


Woohooo!!! He looks MAHHHHHHHHVELOUS!

No, seriously, when I got there he was lying down, but got up for a (low-glycemic flaxseed) cookie and moved easily to come to me for it. I led him into an untenanted stall across the aisle so I could clean his mess – and he strode right out as if nothing was wrong! In that stall he walked around vigorously, checking it out; when returned to his own picked-out stall he stepped right out, pivoted on his front feet for halter removal without a trace of discomfort, and by golly! If I hadn’t seen him a few hours before I would never guess he was having a bout of laminitis. He scarfed down his evening’s bute dose in a handful of grain and a handful of moistened bran, leaving no trace of its passing.

It’s been about seven hours since his Banamine shot; six or so since his first dose of bute; while he does have drugs aboard, I have to think that this freedom of movement is a very good sign. Hopefully he will still be looking good in another 12 hours, when next I see him tomorrow morning.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm fine now! No, really! But...

As I noted in my last posting (a copy of the letter I sent that day to the first responders), I was hauled off to the emergency room by ambulance on Saturday evening. Herewith I expand upon the event.

To be specific, it was a sudden attack of supraventricular tachycardia. As the EMTs and later the ER cardiologist explained it to me, the heart’s electrical impulses normally fire at the top of the organ. Sometimes they instead fire in the center, at the AV node, and that sends the heart into the fast-beat arrhythmia called tachycardia. What triggers it? Stress can (and I’d had a very stressful week); caffeine can (and I’d had a large mug of coffee within the last hour); it’s relatively benign, a problem with the heart’s electrical system rather than the plumbing, as the ER cardiologist put it. Sometimes it’s a recurrent problem; sometimes it hits once and never returns.

Which knowledge, had I known it when things went kablooie, probably wouldn’t have helped much with the “OMG I’m gonna die!” feeling that swept over me when this erupted. SVT produces a sudden sensation of pressure in the chest rising into the throat, a galloping, tumultuous pulse, with added delights of shortness of breath and lightheadedness – not to mention sheer terror: Is this a heart attack? Am I going to die? Right freakin NOW?

I’d had an episode much like this several years ago, that went away on its own after several minutes, so I tried a few minutes of sitting quietly, breathing slowly, and hoping. Didn’t help. So I called 911, reported sudden onset of elevated heart rate, and was told help was being dispatched right away. They weren’t kidding! As I waited I got dressed from housecoat to top, pants, shoes; fetched a jacket and my purse; stuffed a book (!) in my purse – and in those few short minutes help arrived. Quite an impressive show it was for the neighbors, too – not only the ambulance but also a fire engine and a police car.

The first responders were all wonderful – calm, professional, clearly knew their jobs and set about them with reassuring competence. After taking vitals, quizzing me on this, that and the other, and assessing the portable EKG readings, the EMTs rebooted my heart, and my blood pressure (from 200/100) and pulse began to drop back toward normal.

Rebooted my heart? Oh, yes. Hit the reset button, they did. Specifically, had me hold my breath and bear down in my gut while one EMT pressed hard on my belly – a technique which triggers the vagus nerve, they said, to reset the heart’s electrical system. Bonus: If I ever have another SVT episode, I can try rebooting myself!

Once they had me stabilized, they tucked me into a chair thingie, well strapped in, and carried me outside, down the stairs, and to the waiting stretcher. Kudos to their thoughtfulness in asking me what I wanted done with lights on/off, windows open/closed, and pet care, leaving me free to freak out over what was going on inside without having to spare any fretting for external worries.

Then it was off to the hospital – my first (and I hope last) ambulance ride, which is an experience in itself. They zipped me right into an exam room, no waiting room stays for cardiac patients I gather, and got me hooked up to various monitors, IV-portaled, and queried some more about what was going on. Blood pressure and pulse continued drifting downwards to reasonable levels; the EKG patterns steadied to normal, and after a couple of hours the ER cardiologist decided it was safe to let me go home: “Switch to decaf, take it easy, and see your doctor this coming week,” she advised.

I’ve been fine since then. Will be seeing my doctor tomorrow. Trying to take it easy (it helps that work is much slower this week than last). And switched to decaf.


Update, Friday:

Saw my doctor today, and all systems were go; all signs were vitally fine; and I don’t need any further treatment at this point. My tachycardia, based on all the EMT and ER info, is indeed the much less likely to be lethal kind, and unless I start having frequent episodes we really don’t need to do anything. Then we can try Lopressor or some such drug.

Oh, and according to his scales, I’ve lost three pounds since I last saw him three weeks ago (for a discussion of arthritis beginning to twinge in my fingers, sigh). So I must be doing something right.

And now, off to make another cuppa decaf.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Heartfelt "Thank You!"

On this past Saturday evening I had a sudden and frightening attack of tachycardia and called 911 for help. Within scant minutes first responder help arrived – ambulance, police, and firefighters. They stabilized me, and off I went to Beverly Hospital.

Everyone who came to help me did their jobs with calm, reassuring competence and professionalism, and took care to see that no detail was overlooked – right down to making sure my wishes for lights on/off, windows open/closed, and pets were provided for, leaving me free to freak out over what was going on inside without having to spare any fretting for external worries.

As it turned out, the tachycardia was about as benign as such things can be (“You’re back to normal. Switch to decaf, take it easy, and see your doctor this week” said the ER cardiologist) and I was able to come home later that night, shaken but okay, and with a newfound appreciation for the first responders who serve my town.

I hope I never need to call on their services again, but if I do, I know that they will be there for me, be there fast, and be straight up great at taking care of whatever crisis has called them out.

So again I say: “Thank you! You guys rock!”