Update & Answers
I received no call from the hospital last night, which means Aaruba is still holding steady or improving. I think it’s likely he’ll get a bit of Senior mash today. I’ll spend some time with him, take him for a couple walks, try to keep his mind quiet. Now that he’s feeling better, he could become a littler harder to manage, mentally, because of his dislike of confinement.
Some of you have wondered about how this misadventure will affect Aaruba’s stomach, considering his history of gastric ulcers. As part of the diagnostics for this colic, we scoped him and found no ulcers, which is good in and of itself. However, it means that the symptoms we’d been attributing to ulcers in the past couple months were caused by something else — something unknown and possibly more sinister. Anyway, to avoid recurrence of the ulcers, we’re had Aaruba on a maintenance dose of omeprazole (GastroGard) so he won’t have an overabundance of acid in his empty stomach.
Also, several people have asked me for an explanation of refluxing. I’m no vet, but here’s my layman’s explanation:
A horse’s small intestines secrete fluids to aid in the extraction of nutrients from feed. Normally, these fluids continue into the large intestines, where they are reabsorbed into the horse’s body. However, if a portion of the horse’s gut is obstructed and the fluids are unable to pass through, they back up into the stomach. A horse’s stomach has about a 4-gallon capacity, and a sphincter where it joins the esophagus prevents vomiting. In a horse with an obstructed gut, therefore, fluids with nowhere to go build pressure in the stomach and can cause it to rupture, which is fatal.
To relieve this pressure in a case like Aaruba’s (small intestine impaction, in which fluids excreted by the small intestine refluxed into his stomach), vets pass a tube down the esophagus to siphon off the excess fluid, relieving pressure and resultant discomfort. The process must be repeated every few hours if the horse continues to reflux, in order to protect the stomach until the obstruction can be eliminated. Diagnostically, of course, refluxing is an indicator that the gut is indeed obstructed; that’s why it was concerning that Aaruba refluxed a little yesterday afternoon, though he had not done so several hours before.
Okay, I’m off to try to eat some breakfast and visit Aaruba. Many, many thanks for all your comments and emails and blog posts of support as we continue through this ordeal. They mean more than I can say.