Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NEVER Give up

 One of the twins was found in the field, near death, the evening of July 2nd. Sweet Whisper was barely breathing, blind, had a very low body temperature and was stiff as a board with her head held in an abnormal position. A small army of people had to be called to assist in getting her from the muddy field and to a stall, in the barn, a distance away. Thank goodness for ATVs with small trailers~! The prognosis was poor. Because of her multiple symptoms rabies, distemper and Vit B deficiencies were soon suspected. The rest of the herds were quickly checked and all calves accounted for and in good health. A friend sped to my vets and got a bottle of thiamine hydrocloride immediately. I eliminated the possibilites of rabies and distemper quickly. Vit B deficiency was a real possibility since the twins did NOT recieve colostrum from their mother after birth, since she had none. Time was of the essance.
The vet thought the calf might even have a type of cattle meningitis as well because the calf was unable to hold its head in a natural position and her spinal column was swollen. Having experienced spinal meningitis myself, I immediately developed a plan. I would give her 5 full days to pull out of this health crisis, since I knew it was possible as I had done the same thing myself. If she didn't make some progress in that time, then I would do the humane thing and euthanize my beloved calf to prevent any more suffering. For the casual onlooker, the calf looked like it should be euthanized immediately. However, I knew once I got her body temp from 94 degrees up to the normal cow temp of 100 that there would be some positive changes almost immediately. Injections of Vit B, Baytril, dex and pennicillan provided the support to reduce the spinal column swelling, help with any infections and give a boost to her systems.

 I trickled warm water and fresh milk, as she laid on her side unable to move, into the sides of her mouth hour after hour. She was thirsty and was able to swallow every small droplet of fluid. ( that eliminates the rabies theory--she would not be able to swallow ). She could not stand or get up out of the distorted position she was in. I kept her warm, hydrated and followed an extensive scheduale of injections. Two days later she sat up and started drinking water on her own. She licked grain but could not chew much. She mouthed the hay but could not eat it. Fluid is more important. Obvious to me was that she had probably lost 50 pounds through this ordeal, but YES, she was alive, sitting up and lapping water at a good rate. I was sad that she was blind, but was told over and over again that her sight will eventually return once her Vitamin B levels return to normal and she recovers from her trauma. Her will to live was very evident as she tried to crawl to the end of the stall to go to the herd. Her mother was always mooing to her and dear Whisper would try so hard to go in that direction. (amen, she wasn't deaf~! ). I had to put bales of hay under the stall gate to keep her from crawling out and going to the herd. She somehow managed to do it once and almost drowned in the mud. Every 4 hours there was a little progress. Every day something new would present itself. On July 4th she really concentrated on eating hay, or trying to, it was a very slow process. She ate hay for a straight 12 hours. The next morning she started chewing her cud. That afternoon she pooped! She was standing and very wobbly on her feet. I had padded the entire stall with hay and hay bales to protect her already sore and swollen body from any further injury. She was drinking a quart of water at a time, more than 6 quarts a day. She finally peed. Whisper is starting to look like a 3 month old calf again. Today I put her familiar red water bucket at calf level where she can now drink from it. I realized she COULD see a little, maybe only shadows, as she was walking towards some new items I had brought into the stall. I still haven't heard her moo to the herd. Occasionally a cow or calf will come up to the stall next to her and spend a few hours chewing their own cud. I am sure it gives Whisper some comfort to hear and smell her family. I remember how lonely I have been when I have been a patient in the hospital. This calf is greatly benefiting from my lifetime experience with absurd illnesses and diseases. All her injections are decreasing, as of this morning, with only her injections of Vit B continuing for awhile longer. I will continue to document her progress and look forward to the day when her vision returns and she can join the herd in the big fields again and play with all her siblings. Do we know what caused this horrible incident. Yes we do. More about that at the next update.

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