Thursday, March 12, 2009

At the end of the day...

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 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 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.


  1. Oh Sweetie I am sooo sorry! You did a great job caring for and loving him. My heart breaks for you as I know how much you are hurting. Radish is running around like you said now happy and healthy. Nitro will keep an eye on him for you. Hugs my friend.

  2. Rest in peace little Radish - such a short life but even those few hours you were warm, well cared for and loved - sad it was not to be.

  3. You know I had a dream about Radish last night. He had grown wings and didn't have any legs at all. He was soaring over a red canyon whinnying very loudly.
    When I woke up this morning, I somehow knew he was gone. I wasn't surprised at all when I checked in here and found out the truth.

    I think after watching the video of him, it was apparent to me that he had something very serious wrong with him. It reminded me of something neurological. He just seemed so off balance. I think your hope were just so high, just as they would have been if Radish were my own. It's so easy to miss things when you're in the middle of it and feeling so much hope. It's as if the mind looks so hard to find anything positive and grabs hold of any little thing...even though the big picture is still too grim.

    I'm so very sorry that you lost sweet little Radish. Yes, you did everything you could think of doing to help Radish become stronger and healthy. But it was truly out of your hands, so you cannot feel badly about that, Rachel.


  4. Oh Sweetie. I am so sorry. It's hard right now but it's one of those sucky life experiences. Those of us who care for animals and have lived on the farm learn to deal. I can honestly say I know how you feel and it's like crap. BUT, now you are wiser for the next trial that is put infront of you. You are a strong woman and a great caretaker and mom. God knows that. Radish is okay now and you will be too. Healing takes time. Lots of love and prayers.

  5. I'm sorry Rachel, don't stop trying with your next foal...

  6. Rach - I have been following your posts about Radish, with interest, a lot of hope & a little fear. I am so sad to read this.
    My thoughts & prayers are with you.

    You know as with anything in life, we can only do things to the best of our ability & knowledge. You went beyond that & at the same time as caring for him made the effort to find out much information as you could.
    You did do your best - & raised the bar on that best. Rest easy with knowing that.

  7. Rae you did all you could. Look at it this way you've gained some experience and had the enjoyment however short of your little guy just as I did with mine many years back. You do what you feel is right at the time and you did your best. I'm so so sorry little Radish didn't make it and for you after all that hard work to keep him well. He was such a sweet little guy too.
    Hugs and love to you

  8. Thanks guys! I did do all I could...his delay in his milestones mirrored everything a preemie does, the legs not strong enough to hold him, and the bone not yet formed completely, his delay in standing and walking...I have to remember that he was early and that he had a slimmer chance of making it than if he was born full term....the Vet said that his early arrival and the infection he experienced while in mommas womb would be hard to overcome...but he presented healthy in spite of all that. We were lucky he was born alive actually, so the short time I had with him was a wonderful 67 hours! I did learn a lot and if ever faced with this situation again, I'll know better and know that the falling asleep like he did and startling awake wasnt just that, it was seizures....I think on one could I have known, then I think on the other hand....I should have known...I cant continue beating myself up though...I did do my best with what I knew and what experience I had, which was none! But I did love every minute of caring for him no matter how exhausting and emotionally draining its been. Those of us with farms, and animals know that this is a fact of life....even if its hard. Love you all!

  9. I am so very sorry to read about your loss of little Radish. My heart breaks for you and your family, but obviously you are all very kind and loving and did everything within your power to help him. Bless your hearts for that! At least he knew warmth and love for his short time here. Rest assured that God is smiling down at all your valiant efforts and kindnesses on this little foal. So sorry there wasn't a happier ending to this. Rest in peace little Radish.

  10. Came over from Liz's blog at Mad Bush Farm.
    So sorry to hear that Radish didn't make it.
    Obviously you did the utmost you could, he couldn't have asked for better care.

  11. Oh Rachel, I'm so sorry to hear about Radish. Obviously I was too late learning about your situation as it was just this morning. My heart goes out to you and your family......what you must be feeling right about now and all the memories flooding back cleaning up everything. It's easy to have the would of, could of and should of types of thoughts but you gave it a valiant try! Sometimes we see exactly what we're made of in these trying challenges.....and you showed a lot of great character qualities caring for this little guy the way (you all did)....which speaks others as well as to God. He chose you to care for Radish, how awesome because you were open and willing...that's all he asks of us. I would hate to say how many people would have just thrown in the towel so to speak and given up or put him down because he would have been too hard to care for or an inconvenience. (Remember there's so many who cannot fathom what this really was like not having experienced it or gone through something similar). I had to learn to not expect them to be able to truly understand but our heavenly father does understand your feelings and the loss you feel. Still praying for you. Luanne

  12. I'm so sorry! No one would have done more for that little guy. Sometimes they just aren't healthy enough to make it. Know that you did the best you could for him.

  13. Rest in peace little Radish. How very SAD. I had such high hopes for him. He seemed like such a sweet little guy. I'm so sad for you Rae. I know you must be hurting really bad right now. You'll always have the memories of that sweet little colt who was here just briefly. {{{HUGS}}}

  14. You guys are all dears! Thanks so much for your kind words! It does help to make me feel better! Thanks for stopping over to all of you who are new..its nice to "meet you" and I look forward to checking out your blogs!


Thanks for visiting the farm! We love comments and hope to hear from you! ~ Rachel, Norm, Kiddos, and all our furry friends!