The Jury is Undecided
The state of play at the end of my last post was that Aero was coughing miserably and had failed to respond to homeopathic treatment; Flurry was head shaking and had just started bute to try to help us determine whether the head shaking was due to pain or due to an allergy; and I had just started the magical Meziere method for back treatment (but hadn’t said very much about it).
Let’s talk about Aero first. His story is the most straightforward of the three.
The ‘normal’ vet visited on Thursday. I told him the story to date – how the cough started a little over two years ago when we had bad hay, how a he coughed a little bit last spring but it cleared up quickly, how he’d been fine with this year’s hay all winter and then started coughing on and off in February (when it was cedar pollen time), and has been getting steadily worse. The vet listened to his lungs and used a word which I think means ‘crackling’ in the lungs which he said is consistent with an allergic response.
We discussed treatment options – a nebuliser, cortisone and subcutaneous immunotherapy (thanks Aurora). The vet wasn’t pushing me towards any one particular treatment, so I proposed cortisone straight away to try to alleviate his symptoms, do a blood test to see what he’s allergic to and follow that up with the immunotherapy. Meanwhile, I will watch out for a nebuliser on the second hand sites, it can’t do any harm. At the back of my head, I’m thinking that if we can get him through the current pollen season with steroids, perhaps I can defer the immunotherapy to next year… we’ll see. I also discussed soaking his hay with the vet and god I love that man!!! He looked around at the bone-dry dusty ground, the straw in the shelter, the other two horses who would also need to have their hay soaked (because Prince Aero doesn’t like wet hay, remember?) and said no, that would be impractical and not worth the trouble especially seeing as we are 99.99999% certain that the root cause of his cough is pollen. My thoughts exactly!
However… I’ve turned the horses out into a grassy paddock since then, just to reduce their exposure to dust in the short term. After his first cortisone injection and his first 24 hours on grass, Aero’s breathing is exactly the same – about 30 per minute – and he coughed a couple of times while I sat and watched them. I’m not sure how long the cortisone will take to kick in. I was hoping to see an immediate improvement and was a little disappointed, to be honest.
Then there’s Flurry. By the time the vet saw him on Thursday, he’d had three days of bute, to try and help us decide if the head shaking was due to pain or an allergic reaction. After three days, I felt that his it had reduced noticeably BUT I also realised that the bute would reduce allergy symptoms by acting as an anti-inflammatory and easing that head-exploding hay-fever feeling that I assume he’s suffering from.
The vet was scratching his head with him, to be honest. His proposed treatment plan was to continue with bute for another five days and then stop completely. If the symptoms return fully, then we will hit him with a course of steroid injections. I asked the vet if he’d ever come across something that you squirt up the horse’s nose and he said no, and was interested to hear that we had treated Denis’ horse Paddy with this, reasonably successfully several years ago. So my addition to the treatment plan is to contact my vet in Ireland, John Hyde, and ask him what was in the mixture we used with Paddy – it was something John made up himself.
I’m also going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to contact a couple of companies who make a head-shaking relief nasal spray and ask them if they would send me a free sample in exchange for a review on the blog. It’s worth a try! I’m looking at an expensive couple of months with both horses, so anything that might reduce costs is worth doing.
The day after the vet visit, and also after 24 hours on grass, I spent some quality time with Flurry and then went for a leisurely hack with Sam and Zingara. He was shaking his head pretty badly. Not the worst he’s been, but worse than when the vet was there (of course). So I’m thinking I will be stopping the bute sooner rather than later, seeing as it has not stopped the symptoms. I’ll keep you posted.
Finally, there’s me. I’ve had two ‘Methode Mezière’ physiotherapy sessions now. I feel there is progress, but in small steps. I feel less ‘wrong’. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve just felt as if my back was fragile and ready to TWANG at any minute for a few months now. There’s less clicking and grinding in the sacroiliac region, and I’m definitely becoming more supple. I’m still not riding hard, or for more than 45 minutes at a time, but I rode for five days in a row this week. That’s a first for a long time! I have no problem picking out all eight feet now, and I’ve even done a light rasp around the toes on both horses’ front feet. So that’s all good too.
The first session was mostly assessment. The physio took one look at my x-rays which everyone else has said show ‘nothing much’, did a sharp intake of breath and said my pelvis is crooked by about a centimetre. Maybe that’s not much in the great scheme of things, but it’s definitely enough to affect me! There are also three spots along my spine that show arthritic wear and tear which concerned him. He was impressed with my forward bending flexibility, thank you yoga! He did an investigatory massage and found that my psoas were very tight, particularly at the front where they were quite OUCHY. Then he gave me two stretches to do for the week – one was basically a yoga lunge but you drop the hip of the leg thats’s behind you to deepen the stretch, and the other was pigeon pose.
By the time of the second session yesterday, I’d been diligently doing my exercises all week and did feel looser. So the second session was more work. Again I’m going to use yoga terms – I started off with cow/cat, with added modifications, for 6 minutes. Then lying on my back, knees bent, feet on the floor, swinging the knees from side to side, again add modifications as the exercise progressed, again for 6 minutes. Then we were back to the lunge again, and then I ended up on my back, legs straight up against the wall, feet flexed, taking long slow breaths that I had to blow out to the very last drop. Apparently that is the fundamental Mezière pose.
Today, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. I’m not going to do much, I might even take a pain killer. The plan is to take Aero for a walk and see how his breathing is and watch Munster play Saracens in the European Championship semi final this afternoon.
Hopefully, all three of us will start to get better now, and soon there’ll be more of this :