miraculous: highly improbable and extraordinary and bringing very welcome consequences.
(Penny doing her thing, training the young ones, 2018)
In my post about Penny last week, I wondered if I'd be able to look back from the future and consider her recovery another miracle. And here I am, doing just that.
I came so close to having her put down based upon these facts:
1. Low probability of survival through the first few days.
2. Lack of improvement after IV and plasma infusions.
3. Her general demeanor. She appeared to be on the verge of death.
4. High probability of secondary factors, even if they could get her through the antibiotics: adhesions, laminitis, diarrhea, colic.
5. Cost. We were at just under $3,000 in the first couple of days. (I know it's not ideal, but cost is always a factor in these decisions. I told the vet where I wanted to be, and she thanked me for being so clear. She said it is what they prefer.)
6. Age. Penny is at least 24-27 years old. But the vet said she would have the same low odds, no matter the age.
7. Lack of definitive primary diagnosis. Despite all the tests and the ultrasound, they could only speculate on what the primary cause was. They knew the colon had been damaged and leaked, causing a bacteria infection, inflammation, and peritonitis, but whether it was a temporary thing, like a sharp object or stick--or a long-term issue, like cancer--they weren't sure.
However, walking her out of confinement, into the sunshine, seeing that little spark of life in her eyes--something else entered the equation, the
What is the X Factor? The X Factor is what I have found over and over again in keeping a large herd of horses. It's the thing you can't quantify or test. I would say, it's the will to live.
It is why we canceled euthanizing Cowboy after he broke P3, which had bone displacement into the coffin joint, and had been misdiagnosed as an abscess for the 3 months. We let him be free the moments before his scheduled departure and, to our shock, he ran from one end of the pasture to the next, bucking and kicking and loving life. It was obvious he wanted to live, but it was a choice HE HAD TO MAKE FOR US because of the time, and confinement, his recovery was going to take.
There is nothing scientific about my belief; it's all based on personal observation: the power of the herd, the home, rest, time, and the innate, deeply coded, equine survival instinct. I see it as a spark of life still there--dim, but resolute. It's what I saw in Penny when I altered course about euthanasia.
Sometimes, we're asking a lot of them--the cure--the road back to health--can be long and very, very hard. For example, there is no way we could have injected Penny with one more dose of antibiotic. Her poor body was just so tired and broken by that point. In fact, there's not a day that went by that I didn't have doubts about my decision not to euthanize. But I felt she was telling me that she wanted the chance.
As I watched her charge out of her stall into the sunshine today--with lots of healthy, well-formed, and plentiful manure left behind for me to clean--I thought, no matter how this goes down the line, it is certain that TODAY, I did, indeed, get that miracle I wondered about.