Thursday, April 12, 2012

Frank's Reaction

A fairly routine day with spring inoculations planned for the horses, the same shots given to them since quickly things can turn upside down when things don’t go right. It began with the arrival of my long time vet to boost the immunity of the various bad bugs that can threaten a horse’s well being and life. I had them all in their stalls awaiting their turns with the syringes, and first to go was Frank.
Frank is my two year old gelding, officially known as Fandango but known around the barn as Frank because my vet had trouble remembering such a fancy title for the boy. Frank is typical to most teenagers, a male horse of almost two being somewhere likened to a human boy of a close-to-pubescent age of twelve or thirteen, sometimes full of himself, sometimes a real whimp, curious about everything, growing but not sure which direction to go next, still part baby on the cusp of growing up. Frank is also one of the best horses I have ever bred. He, is special.
Frank is the last son of Joline, my elderly brood mare who is currently waiting to deliver me a full sibling to this lad in the next few days. He is rich carmel color, the same of that of the square candies that used to pull my teeth when I ate apples covered with their melted gooey-ness as a kid at Halloween time. He sports a large white blaze down his face and onto his nose, three socks of chrome white, and his locks are an interesting Oriental punk rock star, tri-color melding of black, white, and carmel. 
Frank cringed as the vet stuck him in the neck on his right side first, then the next one went into the left, and the final one landed on Frank’s right rump. He was not happy about being accosted by these needles. My guess is that he associated these shots as being stung by a very large horse fly put on him by the vet. Being the good boy he generally is, he semi-stoically survived and we moved on to the next victim, or horse.
Once all of the horses at the main barn were covered, checked out and done, we moved over to see the ancient one, Limerick, who lives at her own private domain at the little barn, with her personal shelter and several acre pasture. She took her shots with no notice but had a bit of a sore and weeping looking eye. Upon further exam it looked that she had a good scratch on her right eye which would require a bit of medicine for a few days. Not sure whether my supply was up for that, my vet and I drove back to the big barn where I keep my stash for such occasions to resupply if needed.
As soon as I walked into the barn, I happened to then see Frank, still in his stall yet to be turned out, now drenched with sweat, literally pouring freely from around his eyes and face, his neck, and all over his body. Another quick look showed pronounced raised whelps on his neck and running down his shoulders. His head was low and his breathing was labored, rough, and very fast. All of his muscles rolled with spasms and he shook uncontrollably. This colt was strangely enough, a suddenly very sick boy. He was apparently allergic-ally reacting to the shots given and he was in a major distress, just like that. With a non-event track record for taking the usual shots bi-yearly, this was a real and suddenly serious surprise to us both, and as I stood by cluelessly watching this sick colt, my vet scrambled to find counteracting drugs to stabilize the poor fellow.
To follow the initial insult with further injury, my vet placed a large syringe in the large vein of Frank’s neck full of steroids, pain relievers, and such, this time a prick not as happily received. Then it was time to watch and wait to see its effect. I turned Frank out into the small paddock to let him move around and work out his frustration of being a GREAT BIG GIANT ITCH. Frank shook himself and trotted around to escape the stings, but sadly couldn’t escape his own body’s defensive reactions.
Gradually some of the meds began to give some relief to the itching but not the racing heart and labored breathing just yet. Another attempt to get some tranquilizer in a neck vein was a challenge, but finally enough got put in to start taking effect. Once Frank was beginning to settle down a bit, my vet told me what to expect if things went well and what to look for if improvement did not follow. He also left me with a syringe full of epinephrine, for the later scenario, just in case. It was possible that the allergy part would return and also, with the stress of the event, the lurking possibility of a colic situation loomed. 
It was a long afternoon and even by midnight at my last check, Frank was still a very ill boy. This morning, though, I was glad to find him bright eyed and busy tailed once again. He had ridden through a scary encounter that happened to have been caught in time luckily because of Limerick’s eye injury. I would have never suspected such a huge reaction to the shots and my vet said it had been decades since he had seen such. I have had a very seldom localized heat and swelling but never a systemic anaphylactic occurrence.
We talked about vaccines and the things that are put in the shots to effect their stability, and how they create immunity, and it is wonder that more horses, and any animal/human given the toxic load added to the vaccines doesn’t react every time or more often. Drug manufacturers intentionally include preservatives, some that breakdown into mercury, which kills potential bacteria that would jeopardize the vaccines, but which also is not very good for the host. There are toxins included as well designed to increase the reaction to the shot to better build an immunity. So basically they try to make you sick to make you not get sick. What a trade off? If one goes by statistics, they are safe, but when you or your loved one, or horse, is the unlucky one percent, it sucks. 
In the past this system has not been so big of a deal because there were so fewer shots given and spacing of them was farther between, so lower the toxic load given. As in yesterday, the now usual bank of viruses and germs we gave shots for was a very long list, whereas in years past, we may have given one or two at most to cover only the basic of equine bugs. 
Children now are give similar phalanxes of batteries of shots at very early ages, and their little bodies may or may not be able to deflect the long term effect of the mercury and other toxins designed to help them build their immunities. It is a scary world and the ramifications of what we put in our bodies we may not know of for a long time, or in poor Frank’s case, almost immediately, this time his body said “REJECT” to these vile concoctions. 
From here on we will split his doses into days and weeks apart and hope for no more reactions. I will no longer take it for granted that, because it comes in a little sterile bottle, it can do no harm. 


  1. Margaret,
    I am so glad that Fandango is ok. I love reading all your stories and remember the one when Fandango was born. You are right about vaccines and they can affect animals and even people differently. My son, David, had a severe reaction to his booster shots at age 5 entering Kindergarten, For five days we fought off a high fever, seizures, etc...the Dr. could not explain why. He made it was a very scary event; so I know you must have been very scared when Frank had the reaction. It was a good thing you had to get medicine for Limerick. May the days ahead be less eventful and more relaxing for you.

    1. i just read your comment after the posting the next one, which regrettably is not good. i am glad your son made it through his ordeal. it is scary. thanks for the kind words