As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, and in more detail in this vlog, Xato was involved in a freak accident with his fly mask last Tuesday and suffered ulcerations to both eyes. At the initial consultation with our vet, things seemed pretty bleak; there was talk of hospitalisation and a long recovery time. When your vet pauses and says, “Do you have insurance?” you know things are going to be pretty painful!
I haven’t got the photos of Xato’s bad right eye, yet, but this picture is a fairly accurate representation of the ulcer’s coverage (I wish I was exaggerating):
The green dye is what they put in to see the ulcer, by the way. If the cornea is healthy and undamaged then the dye will flow straight off it, but if the surface is scraped at all then the dye sticks. This is probably common knowledge to most of you reading, but I’ve never had an equine with an eye injury before and so this is all new to me. I thought the use of the dye was really fascinating. It’s such a simple solution!
So as you can imagine, I was expecting the worst.
However, when the vet came back again two days later, she was amazed to see that the ulcer in the left eye was now nothing more than a small indent and the Ultra Ulcer was a few millimetres smaller! Up until this point we’d only been using the antibiotic drops and corneal gel, albeit four to five times a day. We now had two options: continue with the drops or use a method that involved stitching closed the eyelids of the worst affected eye. I was assured that this was a very successful method, as it prevents the equine from blinking and allows the ulcer to heal quicker; but I must admit that my own squeamishness got in the way there. As he’d made such brilliant progress already, both myself and the vet agreed to continue as we were but start giving him some plasma drops as well.
The plasma is collected from the equine’s own blood, but I’ve heard that using the plasma of another equine is even more effective. This is interesting to me, as I wonder if mule plasma – being a hybrid mix – is particularly potent?
Now, this whole thing was stressful and horrible and worrying, but I won’t deny that I enjoyed the plasma bit. I may work as a groom and magazine editor these days, but I’m a laboratory technician by trade and fiddling with bloods is a job that I really enjoy. I never thought I’d use my training to help save my mule’s eyes!
The vet’s third visit was on Tuesday, a week to the day since Xato’s accident. His left eye was still good, as expected … and as for his right eye, our vet had to put dye into his eyes three times to make sure because she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The ulcer had gone! She said that was exceptionally fast healing for any ulcer, but particularly for one of that size.
We had our fourth and final visit this afternoon, and were given the go ahead to bring him back into work. This is a good thing, as it turns out that taking a mule who’s been worked daily for the past month or so and sticking him in a pen/stable for most of the day, with no work to do, for an entire week, makes for a reeeeaaally rambunctious mule. We’ll all be glad when he’s got a job to do again!
We will be continuing with twice daily antibiotic drops until we’ve used up what remains in the bottle. His right eye is a little weepy, which might be a slight infection – so best to err on the side of caution and keep treating him. He doesn’t have to be stabled anymore either, although if it looks like he’s struggling with the sunlight then we’ll need to re-evaluate of course.
There are many things that Xato is good at, and it turns out that healing is one of them. The Golden Mule becomes the Miraculous Mule!