I was recently complaining to someone how I’ve had Frankie insured VERY comprehensively for seven years, and have never used a dime of it.
And obviously this was my first mistake, saying that out loud. The universe heard me and decided to say OH OK BET.
So that I don’t ruin anyone’s day, I will tell you now that Frankie is doing fantastic and everything is fine now.
It started almost two weeks ago, when I got a call from the barn manager that Frankie was showing some mild colic symptoms: not pooping a lot, low fever, and ignoring his food. They gave him some banamine which helped a little, and the vet came out later in the day to tube him and do a rectal exam. His bloodwork showed some sign of infection, so they started him on an antibiotic; their theory was that the infection is what caused him to feel bad, which made him stop eating and drinking, which is what caused the colic symptoms. He was doing better that night when his leasers did night check, so we felt comfortable waiting to see what would happen.
And then the next day it was just more of the same. He ended up getting tubed again to make sure he was staying hydrated, and got another rectal, but still was acting very subdued and under the weather. One of our amazing barn kiddos offered to hand walk him at night check, and at that point he got down to roll.
So now it had been two full days of symptoms that weren’t getting terribly worse, but also weren’t responding to treatment, and then the colic symptoms started getting worse. His leasers had been there tirelessly late at night, early in the morning, and every time in between.
But sometimes, it’s time to call in Mama.
I called the on-call vet and had her meet us at the barn around 10:45pm that Saturday night. After a conference on what the next steps would be (continue monitoring and tube as needed) I made the call that he needed to go to the nearby vet hospital – the Equine Medical Center is only 20 min away from Frankie’s barn! The vet agreed that this was a reasonable escalation since all the moderate treatments hadn’t budged the needle.
Cue a panic as we tried to figure out how to get him there. My trainer was out of town at a show, her husband had kids at home he couldn’t just leave, and it turns out most reasonable people are asleep at 11:30pm on a Saturday night. Thankfully one of our barn moms picked up the phone and was there within half an hour to hitch up her trailer.
Side note – at this point Frankie had his vet, me, his leaser/her mom, AND 3-4 other people there to check on him. Who showed up in the middle of the night. This horse is many things, but most of all he is adored by a whole lot of people.
Another side note – I’m now super paranoid about being stuck without a ride and am figuring out options to either buy one or pay in to have consistent access to a friend’s when needed. I welcome any thoughts or opinions on this.
One of my favorite things about Francois is that he could not care less about getting on a trailer. Pitch black outside, howling winds causing some real weird tree noises, a dark trailer all alone walking away from his friends. He paused to examine it, but then just marched on.
We got him to the hospital around 12:30am and they put us in the isolation barn because of the low fever he had. He backed right off the trailer, and we handed him off to the techs to settle into the stall while we reviewed his history with the on call vet. Thankfully our vet had called ahead to share all her notes, so this was more of a confirmation exercise than anything.
At that point, it was time to sit in the waiting room and see what they said. His leasers stayed there into the wee hours, along with our amazing friend with the trailer. After 45ish minutes the vet came in to chat.
She was able to confirm an infection using a belly tap to test the fluid around his intestines. This also confirmed the theory that the colic symptoms were secondary to the infection, and that treating one would treat the other. She proposed putting him on IV antibiotics, fluids, and nutrition while they waited for the labs to come back with more information. She also said that while he came off the trailer a bit peppy, as soon as the adrenaline wore off he was noticeably uncomfortable. It was nice to have the reassurance that I’m not a crazy overreactive owner and that we made the right call to bring him in when we did.
Sunday was fairly quiet while they waited for the antibiotics to work. Thankfully his colic symptoms subsided fairly quickly and they kept close eye on that the whole time.
Monday he terrified the whole staff by laying flat and passing out. They called me and I apologized profusely for not warning them that this was an excellent sign, and the only reason he WOULDN’T lie down is if the treatment wasn’t working. But hearing that he was mooching the techs for attention, starting to eat and poop more, and taking his normal nap was fantastic.
Tuesday he continued to improve (along with his terrifying nap), and several of his labs came back negative. They told us that as long as he continued to improve he could come home the next day! Lina and I stopped by for a quick visit through the glass – since he was technically still in isolation, no pets were allowed. Lina was thrilled to see him, thrilled to say hi to the vets, and spent the rest of the day repeating “Frankie! Bubba! Barn! Horses! Frankie!” to anyone who would listen.
Wednesday his final lab came back negative, which mean that he was not carrying any scary contagious illnesses that would risk the other horses at the barn. We were able to coordinate a ride home for him at a much more civilized mid-day hour, with orders to continue on oral antibiotics, repeat bloodwork, and a follow up belly tap in a few weeks. We still don’t have any concrete answers on what the infection was or where it originated, so I’m trying to focus on the fact that whatever it was, the treatment worked.
So here we are. He’s home, he’s happy, he’s playing with his buddies in the field, and he’s on ultra ultra light light supervised work for the next few weeks to ensure there are no lingering effects.
While I’m able to write about this calmly now and even make jokes about it, this was a truly awful experience only made better by the support and sheer competence of the whole team we’ve got around us. I had my first ever panic attack driving home from the hospital at 3am, I slept with my phone on max volume for days, and spent most of my days liaising between the vet, my leasers, my trainer, and my barn manager to make sure everyone knew what was happening. Combined with some stuff going on in my personal life (which may or may not be a post for another time), this was extremely the worst.
I’m glad that he made a quick recovery and all signs point to everything going back to normal. Our barn managers were incredible at coordinating a whole lot of stakeholders over the course of several days, our vets were all so incredibly invested in getting Frankie better (literally one was texting me while in Florida on time off because she wanted to make sure Francis was doing ok), my trainer woke up multiple times in the middle of the night to get updates even though she had an extremely busy show weekend, the vets at the hospital were communicative, informative, and compassionate, and his leasers were beyond dedicated. They did absolutely everything right, knew when to call in reinforcements, and were extremely supportive of me taking the driver’s wheel for a little while to make some decisions.
So this is the story of how after seven years, I’m finally getting my dang money’s worth from his dang insurance.