November 10, 2011

Today is the surgery. I did not sleep well last night; The jaw clenching I thought I had taught myself to leave behind – well, let’s just say the inside of my mouth feels a bit raw today, and my jaws hurt. I had to work at dispelling fear and tension – to come to today’s surgical event clear of negativity. I had appealed to my friends to pray for us. Generously, they certainly did. And it worked – in several ways.

First, I asked Dave if he would come with us, even though he would have to wake up in the middle of his sleep time (he is on the night shift right now). Dave has healing hands. Shoot, I think his very presence is healing. I felt if he were there, things were likely to go better.

postoperative sutures

A work of art: by Dustin Crist, DVM

Second, The vet announced that he wanted to try this with her sedated and with nerve blocks! What a relief! Her vet is careful and thorough. He has a wonderful way with her, and she has come to trust him. Whether he thought I was nuts, or not, when I asked him to explain things to her and show her the procedure and equipment before going forward with procedures, he did exactly that, and she did a really good job for us during the biopsy.

Third, the surgery took two hours but looks great. The melanoma went through all the skin. The vet sewed in Cisplatin beads – to eradicate the remaining cancerous cells. He warned that if the skin is too overtaken with the cancer cells, the sutures won’t hold and a scab will form. Soon after the surgery, she started rubbing her mended eye on her knee. It was soon red with serum. I named her action – “That’s rubbing. Can you leave it?” I explained WHY she needed to leave it, and why her eye itched so. I mean, she may not understand me, but what if she does? What can it hurt to tell her? What can it help if she understands the reason behind what we are doing and what we are asking her to do?

When facing my fear for my horse, I asked myself what would I regret if she were lost to me. I would regret the time I did not take to be with her. So, suddenly smarter, I somehow scratched up more time to come to be with her. To walk. To talk. To do things together. Anything, just things. The everyday things that life is built of, that friends witness together. When the vet said she did not have to be laid on the ground, I knew that for this to work, she had to hold her head very, very still and allow the surgery. We had done the biopsy at the beginning of the summer, without sedation. It was because she needed a rabies vaccine as well as the biopsy and she has had a rather scary reaction to the rabies vaccine. Last time she nearly buckled to the ground. The vet thought it would help to change the type of vaccine being used – from Fort Dodge to Merial. I hoped that would work, but just in case, I did not want a sedative in her system when she got her rabies shot.

She was surprisingly good. He was good also! We got the biopsy in less then 15 minutes. By the end of that fifteen minutes, the vet and the horse were communicating and working as a team. I wonder if that experience helped her to be granted this boon – sedation and nerve block, rather than full anesthesia, with the increased risk of complications.

So now this time, with the actual surgery, I helped to hold her head. I gave her a running commentary on what was happening. I told her what we needed from her. I tried to help her think of other things. I tried to take her mind off the fact that someone was cutting her eyelid with a scalpel. I closed my eyes and searched for her mind and spirit, seeking to touch her mind and heart. I found it. I found them. I found her. Intertwining with my awareness, I felt her gentle intelligence. I asked her to let this surgery happen, and to be glad and ask her body to heal it. I asked her, selfishly, to stay with me longer. As long as she possibly could. I replayed many of our times together. I replayed the first time I met her, a 3 year old filly, kept from the fence by older, possessive horses.

Kayce and close friend

Happiness is...

And instantly, tears flowed from my eyes and over my cheeks. I kept my face turned away from Dave and the vet – I was a bit embarrassed. And then I felt a big warm drop on my thumb. I looked to the sky but saw no sign of rain. I felt another and looked around in confusion. I heard Dave say, awe in his voice, “Kayce, those are tears coming from her eyes.” “Really!” I said in wonder. I closed my eyes again and stayed in the moment until finally the surgery was done.