Surgery for Drifter

This time last year Drifter was diagnosed with a sarcoid just in front of his sheath. It responded very well to blood-root ointment and completely disappeared. Happy days.

This year it is back. Being pregnant it is not easy for me to see the underside of a not-particularly-tall-but-fairly-rotund horse’s belly, so it wasn’t me that spotted it initially, but staff members. We got the vet out to take a look and he was rather concerned. It is a flat growth maybe half of the size of my palm, and what particularly concerned the vet was that it appears to be two types of growth intermingled – a sarcoid and … “something else”.

If it was just “something else” he would have biopsied it, but because of the sarcoid element he felt a biopsy could trigger aggressive growth, so we don’t know what kind of “something else” it is.

It was agreed that the best thing to do was to remove it entirely and lab test it afterwards. Unfortunately due to the location of the growth this means a general anaesthetic, so they can get access. This is going to happen today. The surgeons will be Drifter’s regular vet who will be assisting a specialist in equine skin surgery and there will be an anaesthetist as well. They’ll also need another pair of hands to hold a hind leg out of the way once they have him lying on his side. (Apparently that’s the same arrangement they use for gelding). The operation is going to happen in the indoor school. This seems nicer for Drifter than travelling anywhere and staying in unfamiliar surrounds, although I was initially a bit surprised when the vet said that was where he wanted to do it. A member of the yard staff will be holding up the leg, not me, as lifting weight over any length of time is not compatible with being almost-full-term-pregnant!

The vet would be happier if I were not there. He is emphatic that he does not want to deliver this baby! However I worry most when I know least, so I intend to be there at least for the start. If I were sat at home wondering about everything that would be far more stressful. First I’d worry if the vets had turned up, then that they’d not have what the needed, or that the anaesthetic wouldn’t work, etc. etc. etc. Far better for me to be there and see that the little things are all going to plan, even if I don’t watch the whole thing.

It’s lucky that the availability of the relevant vets and anaesthetist all fell in the first full week of my maternity leave, because managing work, this and pregnancy would all be rather impossible. It’s also lucky that Mr S has this week off work so he can drive me there and back and be supportive as needed. Driving has felt hard throughout the pregnancy, but now my torso is solid enough that I can’t really twist round to reverse very well, so the single track lanes leading to the lanes are particularly undesirable.

In an ideal world I will quickly update you as to how the surgery goes, but, well, I know I might not. Overcoming late-pregnancy fatigue and apathy to post is hard enough, but when you add that I have all the unpredictable emotions on an ordinary day, which this clearly is not, and also could go perhaps go into labour at any point (if the baby came today it would only be 7 days pre-term*), please be aware that there are any number of reasons I might fail to post back in a timely manner.


*I’m much more mindful of the possibility of preterm labour since the yard grapevine told me that Drifter’s dentist, who was due to have a baby 10 days after me, and whose pregnancy everyone on the yard directly compared mine to, had her baby about a fortnight ago. I hear mother and baby are doing well; although of course baby has needed special care from being early, he seems strong.

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