Having an episode like that with your horse sort of puts it all in perspective. I'd made the decision not to do surgery, and was ready to say goodbye. Not having to do so... well, every single day is a gift.
For his age, Cash looks great... he's fat, fit, and he would be shiny if he didn't roll in the mud as often as possible. But he has a myriad of problems that we monitor and adjust for pretty much on a daily basis. I'm super lucky in that MC keeps a close eye on him too, so between the two of us, we manage to catch things quickly.
The biggest concern is him having runny manure. It's been a constant problem since we brought him home over two years ago, and it was probably an issue where he was boarded before (I just never mucked after him, so I never knew). We've gone through pretty much every possible thing that could cause diarrhea, and the only thing that's left is some sort of internal mass putting pressure on the cecum, which is what absorbs water. Until recently, a single Dexamethazone (steroid) tablet per day controlled this. Lately we're up to 5 per day - basically we adjust depending on how runny his manure is. The danger if we don't control this is that he will dehydrate, colic, and that will be the end of him. We don't want him on lots of steroids every day, but we can't have him dehydrating. It's a fine balance.
As a pink horse, he's also got problems with cancer. We've had lesions removed from his sheath, right eye, and nose. Fortunately the lesion on his sheath has stayed away, but the ones on his eye and his nose have returned. They're not red or angry, so we're just leaving them alone and hoping that they won't progress too rapidly. He wears a full-nose fly mask every day, and gets turned out in the shadiest spot, so hopefully that helps some.
See the lump on the upper right side of his nostril?
For the past two years, Cash has had minor nosebleeds. A quick Google search will show you that nosebleeds in horses are not common, and are generally harbingers of something really awful. I first blogged about it here, freaked out, and had the vet out to have him scoped. The first scope in June 2011 showed nothing, so I just sort of resolved to deal with it. Since then he's had very tiny nosebleeds, maybe a few drops, every so often, from both nostrils.
Disturbing, but apparently not life-threatening.
Then about a month ago, he had a really bad one. - maybe 1/2 a cup of blood. Even though he was calmly eating breakfast at the time, it was really alarming to see blood everywhere. He even sneezed and left blood splatters on the wall in the barn. I (barely) managed not to freak out completely and call the vet at 6 a.m. on a Monday, but instead took a picture and cleaned him up. Fortunately the bleeding stopped quickly and the vet was able to come that day.
NOT what you want to see first thing on a Monday.
We scoped him again and took a bunch of rads of his skull. All we found was a small ethmoid hematoma on the left side, which does not really explain the bilateral bleeding (usually there's something in the sinuses that causes that, but they were clean). Unfortunately, the hematoma is not treatable and could eventually become life-threatening. However, it appears to be growing slowly so it's likely that one of the myriad of other problems will get him first.
I am so, SO glad I can keep him at home. I can adjust his feed as needed, for those days when he gets distracted and doesn't eat well (sometimes I even hand-feed him, lol!). I know instantly if he's had runny poo and can adjust his meds. If he's had a nosebleed, I write it in the logbook. If he's more off than usual, I might give him a little bute. I know a boarding facility, no matter how good, would not be able to give the level of care that we are able to give him at home.
Best. Ears. Ever.
And besides, where else would he get a bedtime carrot?