Ch 66. Something Bad has Happened to Lakota. And Pat has a Fall.
My horse Lakota and I have established a nice morning ritual. He whinnies at me as soon as I open the door at 7 a.m. and I yell hello before turning away to fill the birdfeeders. Then I walk to the “stable” (our garage) to feed him. But this morning I heard no whinny and I saw no friendly face looking my way. Mildly concerned, I went looking for him. I found Lakota in another field near his hay feeding area. Something was strange, though; Lakota wasn’t moving. He was staring straight ahead into nothing. I ran to him. He was almost non-responsive although he seemed to recognize me. I brought out some hay that he sniffed and then chewed a couple bites in extreme slow motion.
Lakota is the first and only horse we’ve owned. We rescued him about twenty-five years ago when his previous owners realized he couldn’t be ridden safely because Lakota has a shoulder injury. He’s a “wobbler.” We love him.
Naturally, this crisis happened on a weekend. I think there is some unwritten tradition that says all serious crises, human or pet, must occur when help is least available. Our veterinary clinic was open, but they couldn’t get someone to our home until 2:30 that afternoon – a seven-hour nerve-wracking wait during which I cried and Pat comforted me. Meanwhile, Lakota remained virtually motionless although he did manage a weak whinny one time when I approached.
Finally help arrived, first in the form of our friend and horse owner Forrest Nutter and then the veterinarian Dr. Meg Mueller. They agreed that Lakota almost certainly had a tic-related infection (Lyme’s disease runs rampant in Wisconsin), which was a far better diagnosis than the two possibilities I had considered, a seizure or a stroke.
While Dr. Mueller prepared a concoction of three antibiotics to be administrated intravenously, I hustled indoors to tell Pat the good news. I got there just in time to see her falling backwards and hitting her head on the edge of the brick fireplace. Not good, especially since she already had been suffering neck pain for two days. Thankfully, Pat did get back on her feet in a few minutes, but she is still in pain as I write this essay at 8 p.m.
I am relieved to report that when I checked on Lakota around 5 p.m. he greeted me heartedly, ran up to the fence where I stood, and followed me back to his stable for a long-delayed breakfast of senior pellets, oats and apples.
What does all this have to do with Lewy Body? Once again Pat and I had a role reversal – Pat cared for and comforted me today when I started to disintegrate with worry. I think Pat’s instincts to care and comfort are stronger than ever. Lewy Body may have affected some of her cognitive abilities, but it hasn’t taken away her compassion. I also realize that I have become more emotional and, frankly, less stable over time. The space between my handling a difficult situation calmly and falling apart during or after that crisis has narrowed. I attribute this change partly to getting older and partly to continuing stress related to coping on a daily basis with Lewy Body disruptions to our lives.
One of the features of Lewy Body life is frequent small and occasional serious crises. Today, facing the double calamity of Lakota’s paralysis and Pat’s falling was particularly stressful. I am grateful that Pat could comfort me when I most needed her.
Pat’s Comments on Something Bad has Happened to Lakota. And Pat has a Fall.
When Ron told me that Lakota wasn’t moving, that worried me quite a bit.
I guess my response to Ron’s anxiety is that it would be interesting to find out what would happen if Ron sat down and thought about it rather than stay anxious, because it’s hard for me when Ron doesn’t choose to do anything about his anxiety or even talk to himself about it.
Pat to Ron: “How anxious are you, Ron, on a regular basis?”
Ron’s answer: “About 4 on a scale of 1-10.”