Thursday, April 23, 2009

The wait goes on

I know you were all just breathless with anticipation about Snoopy's visit to Dr. Martinelli this week. Let me relieve your suspense: it didn't happen.

Here's what happened instead. Tina and Niki are at the Hollywood Charity Horse Show this week and couldn't trailer Snoopy to San Marcos. Christine (my other friend with a trailer) is in Elk Grove at a horse show and couldn't take him, either. This meant I had to hire a professional horse transport. They're nice people, very easy to get along with and take excellent care of the horses, but they are Expensive - As - Hell. They're easily triple the cost of what Tina or Christine would charge me.

But I didn't see any other options, so I booked Stacey and Chuck to take Snoopy to the doctor. The problem was that they wanted to know when they were doing this, since it was a day trip and Snoop had to come home. It was a very reasonable request.

I called Dr. Martinelli, just as he requested, to find out when to bring Snoopy down. I called him on Monday. Then I called him on Tuesday. Three times. Each time I called him on Tuesday, I had Stacey calling me shortly after (telepathy on her part, I'm sure) to get the status.

My options were few at this point. I could just arrange for a mid-morning transport and hope for the best. Maybe we'd get down there and the ultrasound doctor wouldn't be there, which means we'd go home and I'd have paid $400 for a car ride. Or we'd get down there and the doctor wasn't coming until late afternoon and I'd have to figure out how to get Snoopy home. We could hitchhike, but Snoopy doesn't have opposable thumbs.

Or I could cancel.

In the doctor's defense, I know they get busy. But I hate calling and calling and calling - to a black hole. I begin to feel like a jilted lover. "Please, can't we just talk?" Or a stalker.

I was so revved up about seeing this doctor, and finding more information about Snoopy's injury, and I still am, but if we have to re-schedule, that's the way it is. I'll get in touch with him again (even if I have to call in Dr. Murphy) and try to make an appointment when Tina or Christine can take him. That way, I've got a little bit of wiggle room if the appointment doesn't go as planned.

Because nothing ever seems to go as planned these days.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We've set the date!

After two phone messages and an extensive email to Dr. Martinelli with no response, I called in the big guns: Dr. Brigid Murphy. This experience has removed any trace of shyness I ever had about contacting doctors, animal or human. If it takes name dropping, intermediaries, papal dispensation, I don't care - I'll get to see that doctor one way or the other.

Dr. Martinelli couldn't have been nicer when he called finally called me. He had actually read my blog and could discuss Snoopy's case in detail - not only that, but he had a way of talking to me that didn't either condescend or talk above my grasp of medical lingo. In other words, I felt like we had a conversation.

As I suspected, before going through any treatment, he wants to do an evaluation, which is fine with me. I mean, why should he give my horse shock wave treatment on MY say-so? The really good part of this is that he contracts with a doctor who has a digital, high-res, state-of-the-art ultrasound and can get much better pictures of Snoopy's pastern. The not-as-good news is that the doctor (he told me his name, but I can't recall it right now) is semi-retired and has a sporadic schedule. We've set the appointment for a week from this Wednesday. I'm to bring Snoopy's x-rays, too.

He sounded a little worried when I told him Dr. Fischer didn't see any reason why Snoopy would return to full soundness. While he said this was certainly possible, Snoopy's injury being in the back of his pastern makes it one of the more difficult types of desmitis to treat. He's had horses take as long as 18 months to recover from this, so he likes to take the kind of pessimistic, long-term view. That way, owners are not looking for the miraculous, 6-month healing.

So hopefully Snoopy and I will find a ride down to San Marcos on April 22nd. I think it's also the weekend of the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, and both Tina and Christine may be too busy to give us a lift. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Progress begins again

Despite my house falling apart around me, luck smiled upon me Monday. Dr. Snyder called, around noon I think, to discuss Snoopy. He sounded like he was on his car phone; either that, or he was standing in the middle of a freeway.

I went over the same things that I told Dr. Nieto - or whoever it was - about Snoop's broken foot, short-striding, handwalking since August, yadda, yadda. I added in what Dr. Pollard had written down for me to tell him about the diagnostic anesthesia: "Abaxial nerve block was essentially negative. Low 4-point block was 80%+ better."

Dr. Snyder was as patient and nice as Dr. Nieto-whoever and said that it sounded like insertion desmitis was the correct diagnosis. He offered three options:

1. Stem cells - I thought this therapy was only useful for new injuries, but Dr. Snyder told me they've been having a lot of success with chronic problems. The downside to this therapy is that it's wildly expensive, about $3000. I'd have to sell a lot of copies of Freezer Burn to justify it.

2. Shock wave - Dr. Snyder assured me that this was much less expensive, and wouldn't harm Snoopy at all. The worst that could happen is that after spending money on the treatment, it wouldn't work.

3. Continue with the current therapy - which is just walking.

Dr. Snyder recommended the shock wave plus the walking regimen. He said the next ultrasound (due April 26) would show whether there was any improvement. Actually, he sounded like he would be interested in knowing how the ultrasound turned out.

So that's what we're going to do. Tina spoke with Brigid (Dr. Murphy) who said Dr. Martinelli had the best shock wave machine around. He is down in San Marcos, but he's the head of California Equine Orthopedics, and he treated Copper, Tina's old show horse, so he sounds pretty good. I'll set up the appointment, then figure out how to get Snoopy down to his facility.

I'm actually kind of excited to have him treat Snoopy. I don't want this blog to sound like I just want my horse to be instantly healed. If it takes a year for him to recover, it takes a year. What I want to avoid is for Snoopy to end up an invalid because we didn't push enough, stretch him enough, etc.

Trust me - I'll keep you all informed.