Adventures in Catastrophic Wound Care

"Release me from this wooden prison!"

Happy Monday, EN! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I spent mine up to my elbows in wound stank. I’ve treated my fair share of catastrophic wounds over the years — there were the times my pony ripped a chunk out of her leg down to the cannon bone and my now retired Thoroughbred mare impaled herself on a branch — but this by far takes the cake. BY FAR.

Since the Day That Must Not Be Named, Mia’s wound has been progressing as well as we could have hoped. Gravity has started pulling the swelling away from the wound — good! — and down her leg — bad! Her forearm now looks like one of the turkey legs you can buy at the Renaissance Fair.

But the worst part by far has been the wound stank. Dr. Wade Wisner of Green Glen Equine Hospital came out to remove the drain this morning and assured me that the smell is just part of the healing process. In hindsight, Dr. Wisner said he could have trimmed even more muscle off the wound flap before suturing it, as that’s contributing to the smell.

With the drain now removed, there’s a pretty sizable hole left behind, which will allow the drainage to continue. We’ll be flushing it out with a saline-iodine solution each day and gently placing pressure over the wound to try to get it to expel all of the yuck. It sounds like your sneakers after you’ve been caught in a summer downpour — squish squish squish.

Mia is your typical hot Thoroughbred mare, and she HATES being in a stall — which is awesome considering she can’t even leave it for the next month. Dr. Wisner asked today if I trusted her enough to walk her to the wash stall to cold hose her big fat turkey leg. That would be a NO — no, I do not trust her at all. She would be dancing down the barn aisle using whatever muscles she has left if given the chance. We’ll be using cold compresses and Tri Dex instead.

Day 5 — What the wound looks like today with the drain removed.

Day 5 — What the wound looks like today with the drain removed.

It took me all of about 30 seconds to decide she was going on Reserpine — yes, THAT Reserpine — after he finished stitching her up last Thursday. After telling me it was paramount she stay still for the next month to 1. make sure the stitches don’t start going ping! ping! ping! and 2. give her shredded muscle the best chance to heal, Dr. Wisner said we would put her on Reserpine if it seemed like she couldn’t handle the whole stall rest thang.

As horse owners, we like to downplay the bad behavior of our equine children. “Oh yeah, she loads great” … as you pull out the chain shank and broom. “Clipping? He’s an angel” … as you reach for a syringe and Ace. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and I was not about to defend my horse’s honor by sugarcoating her hatred for being stalled.

So when all her happy drugs wore off following the stitching process and she started trying to climb the walls, I immediately called Dr. Wisner and said something along the lines of “GIVE ME ALL THE DRUGS.” The Reserpine has helped enormously so far, though even now she still gets a little worked up when the mare assigned to play babysitter is rotated out a la the changing of the guard.

Her world is very small right now, so I can’t blame her for getting upset over those little changes in her day. I just have to keep hoping that if she does throw a tantrum, it’s with all four feet firmly planted on the ground. Dr. Wisner said we’re not out of the woods yet as far as the risk of popping her stitches. One day at a time …

I’ve had several requests for a link to follow along with Mia’s progress. You can bookmark this link to keep up with the latest updates and photos. See below for a day-by-day photo diary of the healing process so far. Thank you to everyone who has shared their own stories and sent good wishes for healing her way. You rock! #teammia

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