Can you guess?
Yup, that's right...
LYME DISEASE! Uggggg!!!!
Over Memorial Day weekend, I met my friend Tania at our instructor's farm for a lesson. Dreamy hesitated to get onto the trailer, but I didn't think much of it. She seemed funny when I groomed and tacked her up, arching up her back when I brushed her and almost like she did not want me to touch her.
I got her to the ring, though she seemed a bit lethargic and immediately when I mounted and asked her to walk on, I knew something was wrong. Not just the NQR feeling, but the OMGMYHORSEISBROKEN kind of feeling.
My instructor encouraged me to walk her a bit to see if that helped. It didn't.
My heart was fluttering and I thought I was going to cry. I dismounted and she acted neurological, almost like she was drunk and could not control her entire hind end.
I called my vet while I untacked. THANK GOD he was the one on duty that weekend!! I talked with him as I finished taking care of Dreamy and readying her to trailer back home. I was nervous that she would not be able to stand up during the 20 minute trailer ride home, but I just wanted to get her there. My vet promised to be there in 45 minutes, which is how long it takes to get directly from his house to mine. I told him I immediately thought Lyme, but he reminded me it could be something else and we would figure it out.
I started to cry the minute I left my instructor's farm. I just wanted my mare to be OK. We made it home safely. I put her out on grass and just waited. I knew it had to be Lyme. It also seemed obvious because she had just recently come in with a HUGE tick bite on her jowls. Don't ask me why my gut said this despite the fact that I have never dealt with the disease personally. I just knew. But I was also scared that it could be something much worse.
When my vet arrived (it was Sunday and I was bracing for the emergency farm call cost - YIKES!), Dreamy seemed perkier. We did all the usual neurological tests and she passed them all easily. Phew! He examined her, we trotted her out in a straight line and on the longe line, etc. She was a lot less ataxic that she had been earlier, but she definitely was switching up the hind leg lameness. At times it seemed both were lame. She did not have a fever. We decided to do the ELISA snap test first, just to get an idea of what I was dealing with. Because it can have false positives, etc., we figured I could also send out for the Cornell test.
Sure enough, there was a HUGE dark blue perfect blue circle on the snap test. Well, then! :-) I felt pretty good that between the obvious skin sensitivity and lameness AND the very clear positive, this was not a false positive. My vet didn't push me to do the western blot Cornell test, and after we discussed everything extensively, I decided I will run it this fall instead. I kind of wish I had run it now, just to get the preliminary numbers, but oh well. The Lyme diagnosis seemed very obvious.
My vet did an IV dose of oxytet, which was a huge vial of brown liquid. If I were capable of giving daily IV doses (only one of his clients ever has...) or could afford to send her to a clinic to be daily dosed by a vet, giving IV oxytet for 28 days is the "gold standard" in Lyme treatment.
Instead, being sane individuals, we opted for the initial dose of IV oxytet, followed by 45 doxy pills twice a day for 45 days. Oy. This sounded like a crazy regiment, but I was happy to do whatever I had to do, of course. My checkbook groaned a bit, but it's the right thing to do. I cannot imagine NOT treating her! :-(
I struggled a bit at first to dose her, and eventually wound up using the (horses only) coffee grinder for the pills and mixing them with her grain, warm water, and a healthy dollop of molasses. And of course the probiotics, because the high antibiotics can mess with her stomach. Dreamy is very VERY picky about her foodstuffs, but she happily slurped down her doxy mash twice a day. The doxy is disgusting, as I accidentally inhaled the fine powder from the coffee grinder a few times. Blurgh!!!! :-P
Of course, just my luck, there was a nationwide shortage of doxy this spring, so I had to purchase what my vet had in current stock (six bottles of 500 tabs for $65 each), which would just get me through a 30 day dosage. He could order more, but it was going to be outrageously expensive, from $600 - $1500 for a bottle of 500 tabs!!! OH. MY. GOD. The doxy powder was backordered indefinitely.
I tried not to freak out and just patiently fed her the ground doxy pills in a mash. Within 24 hours, she looked only a little off in the hind end, but it was probably only something I would see. By day four, she looked 100 percent sound and happy. I rode her lightly a week after her diagnosis, which may have been a bit long to wait, but she is 22 years old and doesn't need to be rushed. I started building her back up to her regular workload with no issues. Thankfully, Dreamy has bounced back with no side effects!!!
And just as I emailed my vet another update and to ask him what the heck we were going to do when the 30 days of doxy ran out, I got a return email that said the compounding pharmacy had doxy in stock again! YAY! So I was able to send back two unopened bottles of the doxy pills and received the yummy molasses smelling, bright yellow doxy powder (for $450!! Oww again!!) on June 17, just three weeks after her initial diagnosis. We are currently on day 30 of her doxy and things are going fine. She is not as crazy about the powder as her molasses laced mash, but she is reluctantly eating it all. I think the doxy powder smells marvelous! LOL!
So far, so good. I am lucky that Dreamy responded so well to the doxy. I am hoping this will be my one and only Lyme treatment, but of course, who knows. I ordered the Equi-Spot Fly Control from Smartpak to try. Thoughts on that?? Any other readers deal with Lyme in their horses and have words of advice?