I know everyone is waiting for an update on Radish...and that all of you all have been praying and sending encouragement and good thoughts to my little foal.
Yesterday evening Radish took a swift decline. He would not eat, though he was responsive and alert and greeted me. Last night be began to suffer from seizures that came so quickly that nothing could be done.
In retrospect....I can now see that he had been seizing since birth. What we all thought was that since he was a preemie he was falling asleep while eating, since the sucking reflex is comforting. He appeared, until last night, to be advancing along swiftly, catching up to his peers. Yesterday evening, he even stood for a long period of time and ate standing up! He had began walking as well. As the evening wore on and he started to refuse food, we immediately administered electrolytes. He even seemed for a very short while to improve. But as quickly as that improvement came, he had a big seizure and became comatose. He passed, at 2:52 am - he was 67 hours old.
Preemies are also called "Dummy Foals", a term also used for cattle..also referred to as sleeper calves, or sleeper foals. The term "dummy" foal is one that is given to foals that act "dumb" at birth, or even hours thereafter. You might have heard them referred to as wanderers, barkers, or sleepers. However you know this condition, all these syndromes fall under the broad category of neonatal maladjustment syndrome. While the cause of this condition is not fully understood, what happens is that the tissues of the brain essentially hemorrhage and there is swelling around the nerve cells of the brain due to edema. Hemorrhages may result from low oxygen concentrations (hypoxia) in the blood and episodes of low and/or high blood pressure surges in the blood circulating through the brain. Metabolic insult can include hypoxemia, low glucose, and electrolyte imbalances.
Seizures may be the result of inflammation associated with septicemia that establishes itself in the central nervous system. In addition, seizures can be caused by trauma during or after birth, which should be kept in mind when treating the foal. At birth there is an incomplete blood/brain barrier, which essentially means that if there is an infection in the bloodstream, it can make its way to the central nervous system. If these infections cross the barrier into the brain, they can cause inflammation. For example, you would not expect an older foal which develops a lung infection to have a seizure, but a newborn foal which develops the same infection could have a seizure because the blood/brain barrier has not yet formed. This membrane develops and becomes a true barrier in the first couple weeks of life, after which time infections and toxic insults will no longer easily pass from the bloodstream to the brain.
Foals with neonatal maladjusted syndrome will behave abnormally for a number of reasons, such as a lack of oxygen due to dystocia, low glucose levels in the blood, septicemia, or other susceptibility due to the failure to receive adequate colostrum. These problems which can lead to a "dummy" foal, or neonatal maladjustment syndrome foal, are accompanied by symptoms that range from mild to severe.
The more mild symptoms include the lack of a suckling response, disorientation, and irritability (which can manifest itself as grinding of the teeth, sneezing, or wandering aimlessly). More severe symptoms include convulsions, seizures, or the foal becoming comatose.
In all of the research we did on orphaned foals, and preemies, we were aware that this could possibly happen to our little Radish. The preemie foal, whom exhibits the same behaviours of a "Dummy Foal" can also suffer the same end result. If taken to an Equine Hospital and placed on intravenous fluids and oxygen immediately at the first seizure these foals can be saved, however..the closest facility to us is in Lexington...about 3 hours from here...the soonest the Vet could get here would have been 30 minutes. He went from being healthy to seizing within such a short time, that neither of these options would have even been available to him. He was gone as quickly as it came. The first warning of not eating, was not enough to expect seizing....as it could have been exertion from all the activity, belly ache, etc. Not realizing that falling asleep while eating and then what we thought was "startling" awake and resuming eating was actually neonatal maladjustment syndrome. However there was no way for that to be determined, he presented healthy "as a horse" at birth and there after.
I believe we did everything and more to bring this foal along, with what we knew. His vitals were good up until his seizure. However I was wrong in many ways with this foal. I look back and wish that I had the facility and the money to take this preemie colt to, until he was out of the first weeks of danger.
The infection in and around his mother's placenta was extensive, and as we all can guess is probably the reason for his loosing battle. With our resources and what knowledge we had, we did, in my mind, all that I could. At least I pray that I did. As I have stated time and time again, I don't take NO for an answer, its not an option for me when my babies are concerned. I may give up on many things, but not ever on my family, or my animals. I can say to myself, to ease my guilt and disappointment, that with what I knew, and being my first orphaned foal, I did what I could....but I will always second guess myself when I think of Radish. Could I have done something different? Why didn't I see what was happening right before my eyes? I was also aware that neonatal maladjustment syndrome can be overcome with the correct care, if exhibiting mild symptoms like Radish did. I now know differently. Something I'll have to accept.
Thank you all for your encouragement, words of wisdom, and prayers on behalf of this little guy. The few moments in time that he was with us, he gave us complete joy, love, and knowledge. I only wish that those resources were available to us to give us another option for his care...but they weren't and with his progression each hour he was alive falsely led us to believe we were doing things right. I hope there is never a next time....its gut wrenching to loose a little life that we were so looking forward to growing old with. I guess I cant really say anymore about the last hours he was with me....so I'll end this thankful that my little guy has greener pastures to run and play and at the end of the day....I will try to convince myself that I did my best. Still not wanting to accept failure, I don't have an option.
Thanks Guys....your all dear to me and your comments, emails, and phone calls and anticipation of this little foal making it through means so much to me. Hopefully my experience can help someone else in the future.