Am I a bad person?

Last week my horse scratched her eye. She developed a corneal ulcer and was taken to the vet. The vet examined it, cultured it, and sent us home with some atropine, antibiotics, and pain meds to be given every 4 hours. He said it was a very bad ulcer, about as bad as they can get. The horse is in a lot of pain and has started giving me trouble with putting the ointments in her eye, so we have an appointment to have the lavage system put in her eye next week. Even with the lavage system though, the meds will have to be delivered every 4 hours.

My problem is this. I am a new grad nurse and am fixing to start working full time night shifts this weekend. I have barely been able to give her the meds every 4 hours (have missed some) and I know when I start working I’m definitely not going to be able to. I have a long commute so I’ll basically be able to give them to her before I leave and when I get home, so 2x a day which I know is not nearly enough. I live with my parents but they also work full time jobs and will not be able to give the meds as often as needed. She is in a lot of pain and from reading posts on here, I have seen that it can take months for this to resolve, and that’s with giving the meds exactly as directed.

So basically what my question is is would it be terrible to just go ahead and remove her eye? We are already close to $400 in vet bills and it hasn’t even been a week. The horse is retired due to ligament injuries and is just a pasture pony. I feel like this would be the best decision but I still feel horrible about it. I just don’t want her to be in so much pain. I have not brought it up to the vet but I feel like they would think I am a horrible person and am not trying hard enough to save her eye… Sorry for the long post but any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Can you board her at a rehab barn for a few months where they are used to handling this kind of thing? Or pay a local horse-crazy kid to come do the meds when you’re working?

Talk to the vet. I know a human who had an eye injury years ago, and they are now talking about removing the eye. She’s had pain and trouble. But the vet would know more. As a new grad nurse you’re looking at 12 hour shifts. Realistically, the only way she’ll get her meds as needed is if you can pay somebody to come out every 4 hours that you’re not there, or you have her kept at the vet’s or stable that will do meds for you.
Now, the other question is: would eye removal really make care easier? Find out from the vet how often you’d have to give her meds, change bandages, or whatever else is needed for removal.
If she’s in a lot of pain and can’t get the every 4 hours (during the night too? I don’t think I’d make that either), you have to think what’s best for her. So talk to your vet. And stop being hard on yourself. We all do the best we can with what we have at that moment.

I don’t think you would be a bad person at all. Horses are very good at adapting to this sort of thing and I know ofor several who have been very happy with one eye. If she is hurting and you can’t get all the treatments in to save her eye, then I would say okay to removing it.

The SPL system should have been put in immediately. Next week is too late.

My mare had a melting corneal ulcer. I called the vet right away, vet came out then the top-notch specialist and basically said how fast can I get her to the hospital. I hooked up my trailer and met the specialist there along with two other vets (owner of hospital and associate). SPL was put in and meds were given hourly for the first 24 hours then every two hours for the next 24 hours. The goal was to not lose the eye and at 36 hours we were pretty sure it’d be okay. I picked her up after four days and for close to two months I did her meds four times a day. The eye was saved and yes she has a scar on her eye and lost some vision but I’m glad we were that aggressive in treatment.

My mare is also a pasture pet but it doesn’t really matter what she is. You need to either send her to a rehab type place or pay someone and treat it aggressively. You need to get the pain in check immediately too.

The meds are supposed to be given round the clock, so nights too. I don’t know anyone who would basically want to live at my house and give meds for several weeks at the least. We live in a pretty rural area so there are no rehab facilities or anything of that nature nearby. I’m gonna talk with the vet and see what they think. Thanks everyone!

The vets is a small practice so they do not have on site stabling to care for her. They did not suggest the SPL and said it was only recommended if the horse was not tolerating the ointment eye medication. They did say it wasn’t melting.

SPLs have issues of their own (cost, risk of the SPL footplate slipping and producing a second ulcer, loss of patency, etc) so while they are wonderful in many ways, they are not always jumped to if there is a chance the owner may be able to get the meds in as desired.

I see nothing wrong with removing the eye. Treating a severe ulcer can get costly, quick, and the horse can still end up perforating. If there is no chance of complying with the frequency of medicating, I don’t think it is wrong to remove the eye. Horses do quite well with one eye if managed correctly.

I have had dog and cat eyes enucleated many times in rescue land.
If you truly can’t do the treatment ask what options there are and I for one wouldn’t think you were terrible if you went for it.

You’re not a bad person but maybe you have options. Would your parents be willing to do the night meds if you do the day? If you have the night shift and they work days, that could be an option.

I don’t think you would be a bad person at all. Horses are very good at adapting to this sort of thing and I know ofor several who have been very happy with one eye. If she is hurting and you can’t get all the treatments in to save her eye, then I would say okay to removing it.[/QUOTE]

Agreed. You are not a bad person - you are a good person to put your mare’s feelings ahead of your own. :slight_smile:

Also agree that the vet can advise you on the best course to take in your circumstances. Be frank with the vet, it won’t be the first time they have hear that time, money & etc. are an issue. Often the ideal is just not available, when it comes to veterinary options.

Thank you everyone! Y’all have been very helpful. I have mentioned it to my parents if they could give the meds at night but they didn’t seem very receptive to it. I’m the only “horse person” in the family. I will try talking to them again though!

I’ve been through this twice with my horse now. The first one he had a large marble sized rock stuck in his eye :eek: - that made for a really bad ulcer!

He did recover from both - the 2nd time we had the SPL put in and when we were just about done with the fungal infection, he ripped the tubing and the cup up against the eyelid fell against his eye and created a whole brand new ulcer. :no: And all that tranquilizer turned into frequent small colics after the eye was healed and then we had ulcers of the digestive variety that took a good year to get under control.

The 2nd one was so hard to treat, I basically had to give him dormosedan gel every time and waiting an hour for him to be very sleepy and another hour for him to really wake up (yes, I work full time), well, I said if it happens again he is having his eye removed. Or put him down. I think he’d be okay with one eye. Or if I was really feeling rich, send up the road to the horsepital (2 hours away) and let them take care of it.

It is so hard to do if your horse doesn’t tolerate all the eye meds and finding someone to help you in the middle of the night is not the slightest bit easy (even if they are a really good friend).

So no, you’re not a bad person. I think eyes are the worst thing (at least for my horse). If you can afford to send him to a hospital for the duration, then I would say do that but treating bad eye things is not for the faint of heart (or time challenged).

No, you are a realistic person.

If your new schedule won’t allow for the necessary care, then speak to your vet, explain the situation, and ask him/her for any available options.

I feel certain that any clinic able to install the lavage system, or do an enucleation aught to have provisions for assisting with care

Some vets will take horses to their own barns, some have vet techs who will care for horses in need.

There may be a rescue or private farm that will care for your horse for a fee.

You will need help what ever procedure you chose for your horse, as enucleation requires substantial aftercare also.

Good Luck and Tons of Jingles.

Been in a similar situation. Ended up going the meds route (with some help) but in hindsight (and after speaking with others), enucleation would have been an easier route. Especially on an older horse whose show career was behind it. The first week of meds was the most intense, then we had made enough progress that I stopped doing the treatment in the middle of the night (so he went 8 hours without) and still managed to resolve the ulcer.

If you can’t haul your horse to another barn or clinic able to do the meds for you, you and your mare may both find the removal to be an easier solution for everybody (my vet was totally on board to remove the eye if that was the choice I made)

You are not a bad person.
We all have things in our lives that make stuff difficult.
It is not like you are not providing vet care and not willing to try to do something.

It is one of those situations where being at a boarding barn would make life so much easier.

I think your thought about removing the eye is not a bad idea at all. Time to call the vet and have a talk.

Talk to the vet and keep us posted. Sounds like you are certainly doing the best you can.

I had an old QH mare develop a corneal ulcer one summer (this was maybe 2011?). We medicated aggressively, but she developed a secondary fungal infection and the eye perforated. It was VERY painful and my normally placid horse would no longer allow anyone to touch her face.

We ended up at Tufts and had the eye enucleated on emergency. The mare was 26 at the time and came through general anesthesia just fine. They kept her for 48 hours and aftercare at home was minimal. She adjusted just fine to having one eye and went right back into lessons a week later. I wouldn’t hesitate to remove the eye honestly.

BTDT, got the T shirt.

My mare has had some eye issues over the years and is now blind in her right eye. 2 years ago, she developed an ulcer in that eye and it required around the clock meds as well. Since horse’s have an innate sense of timing, this occurred 2 days before I was leaving for holidays :no: The barn I board at is more self-care based, so having the BO/BM do the meds was out of the question. So, my decision was easy and I shipped her off to the vet clinic for the week. The bill was a bit of a sting but for 7 days of care and board at the vet’s, it was quite reasonable.

Thankfully, her eye was ok after a few weeks of meds and we avoided enucleation. The eye has a glass-like appearance but she does not seem to feel any lingering pain. If the eye continues to become an issue, then I would definitely consider removing it.

Best advice is to discuss your options with your vet. Having some help with them meds would be great as well, so you can see if there is improvement and possibly keep the eye for the time being.

You are not a bad person to be considering all of your options…I would consider that a good example of putting your horse’s welfare first.

Not a bad person.
But–before you make the decision, see if your vet can do the lavage system with a constant infusor.

It is a device a bit like a water balloon that provides a sort of constant drip irrigation, so you don’t have to frequently aminister meds through the tubing.