After a year of intensive treatment and therapies, including body work, chiropractic work, monthly and sometimes weekly trimming and lots of love, it became clear that Uno's knee had not healed well and he was in apparently chronic pain.
|Uno getting a massage from our wonderful friend Tatjana.|
I asked Bec what she thought his pain level was like. She and I have made some hard decisions before and I trust her implicitly. She also knows I'm a realist and I don't keep horses alive when their quality of life will be poor. She said his pain is probably quite chronic and as the arthritis in the joint progresses it will become more acute. We talked about managing it, but give his overall sensitivity to drugs (he scoured and became ill at the drop of a hat!), the fact we would just be delaying the inevitable, and the expense involved, it seemed a pretty pointless exercise.
I was taking him home to bury him. I can't describe the sadness I felt at this information. He was really the loveliest person and carried lots of hope and dreams for the future on his bony shoulders!
The photo below shows the knee. The midline is obviously not straight and the 'knob' on the lower left part of the knee is where the bone fragment had come away and was essentially floating out on the edge of the knee.
|This hock on the same side as the injured knee was continuously puffy with no heat or lameness shown.|
Suzanne from CEH came out with a truly awesome Vet Nurse (who's name I never remember but I love her!). It was a horrible grey cold day to fit our moods. Once Uno said goodbye to my son Ben, and he was put to sleep, the grizzly but unbelievably interesting work of removing the two legs began. Suzanne gave me some fantastic insights into where the foreleg muscles attach into the shoulder, what muscles and tendons move which bones and was really interesting. Thank you, Suzanne, you made a horrible day into a valuable learning opportunity.
As an aside, Suzanne told me donations of horses for learning opportunities is rare and I was somewhat disappointed to know I could have actually donated Uno's whole body to vet science. Something to bear in mind if you need to euthanise a horse....
The dissection of Uno's joints was a revelation and a real confirmation I had made the right choice. His elbow and knee joints showed advanced arthritis - he had the knees of a 20 year-old, not a yearling, and it was clear he would have been in significant, chronic pain. Interestingly, his hock joint also showed evidence of an OCD - osteochondritis dissecans - which is essentially a piece of cartilage that had come away from the joint and was floating around. It can occur through injury.
I have included pics below of the dissected joints for those of you that are interested. They are graphic, however, so don't view them if you don't want to see that kind of thing.
|Uno's muscular development was fairly poor and he was always very tense through his neck and withers.|
|Saying goodbye to his buddy Ben, my 4 year-old son with Down syndrome|
|The off elbow joint. You can see the advanced wear of the cartilage and right into the bone. This would have been very painful|
|The elbow. The pink groove in the joint is simply not supposed to be there.|
|The hock. Robyn is pointing at a fingernail-sized piece of cartilage missing from the joint.|
|The knee. The piece of bone on the extreme left that isn't attached to anything is the fractured fragment.|
|The lower leg through the knee joint. The hole at the top is where the tendon passes.|
So, Uno has gone and is no longer in pain. We planted an orchard of fruit trees (lots of apples which he would have loved), and he was joined by his mate Phoebe, our wonderful dog, who we lost to aggressive cancer only a couple of months later.
If you have any questions about the pics you see, please ask away. I will pass them on to Robyn if they're beyond my expertise. Or you can attend one of Sharon May-Davis' workshops on anatomy and ask her!