Si back home after his surgery.Safe again in his own stall, he settled in with his hay, content at last. He had staples in his stomach along what was about three foot long incision. His neck had a shaved spot from the IV, but other than that, he was still the same sweet boy he'd been. Ahead of us were 6 weeks of stall rest with hand walking, then some limited turnout before things would be back to normal. We were in for the long haul.
Hand walking was a challenge. Si was feeling good. Too good. He would bounce on the end of the lead rope, spin around me, act like one of those really bad racehorses you often see heading for the post. He'd settle a little when I'd let him graze, but as the days went on, I was not having a good time of it. But walk we did and finally, after two weeks, it was time to take out the staples.
Si with me in the barn after his surgery. Look at his sweet face.
The man who owned the barn was a small animal vet. I bought a staple remover for him and he did the job neatly and quickly. Si had passed the first phase of his recovery and it was looking good.
Then, one afternoon, I got a call from the barn. Something was wrong. This time, I drove my tow car so I'd have it in case we needed to go. Si was pawing in his stall, clearly once again in pain. The vet didn't hesitate. Within an hour, I had Si loaded in the trailer and was off again to New Bolton. I knew the way by heart.
This time, Si was ominously quiet and calm in his pain. And again, there seemed to be no choice, he was headed back into surgery.
I had to go to school that day, to teach. I don't remember much except that I'd left a message at the main office to page me when the phone call came. It was the longest day I'd ever spent in the classroom. Eventually, the vet called to tell me Si was out of surgery in in recovery. This time, they had had to remove a part of his intestine and it had "died." Once more, he seemed OK, but he'd have to stay down there for a while.
I never saw him again. School and obligations kept me from taking the two hour drive to the hospital for the next two days. Then I got another call. Si wasn't doing well. The vet wanted to do a third surgery to see what was wrong. Perhaps a stitch had slipped.
We had a long discussion. How many times could a horse have colic surgery before the quality of his life would be in jeopardy? What if more of his intestine was dying? How far should we go in trying to save his life?
I made the painful decision. If it was just an easy correction from the second surgery, we'd go on, but if more of his intestine was compromised, then he would be euthanized on the table.
Before the day was over, my sweet boy was gone. There had been no hope. Si was only four years old. He'd never had much of a chance to enjoy life.
To this day, I cherish the memory of seeing him in that trailer when we got back home after his first surgery. He was one of the happiest horses I'd ever seen. I've thought about it a lot, agonizing about what might have been and why he died. But that moment, when we pulled into the driveway comforts me. I think it was the first time in his short life that Si realized he had a home. He had a place where he was loved and cared for, and I'd like to think he knew he had someone to truly love him as he deserved.
Sometimes a horse's soul is just too beautiful for earth.
God works in mysterious ways, they say. I like to think that God chose me to be Si's person for the short time he had on this earth because I was worthy to be his caretaker. It eases the pain just a little to think that, but it will never quite stop the tears.