Marrakesh the medical marvel

Marrakesh turned two weeks old yesterday, and he celebrated at the vet clinic.

I received a call on Monday evening from the clinic’s veterinary intern. She told me that Marrakesh continued to spike fevers despite receiving Banamine and a different broad spectrum antibiotic. They performed a thoracic ultrasound to check his lungs, which looked good. The next step they wanted to take was performing a blood culture. The blood culture might reveal which bacteria were affecting him, and help the vets target that bacteria more specifically. The veterinary intern advised that Marrakesh continued to be alert, active, and interested in nursing.  I gave them the go-ahead to do the blood culture.

Yesterday, I spoke with the vet who’s been treating Marrakesh. He told me the clinic didn’t have the tubes needed to do the blood culture; they’re expecting a shipment today. Since the culture will need at least 48 hours to grow,  the results won’t be available until at least this weekend. The vet told me the same thing the intern had- Marrakesh is alert, nursing, and acting fairly normal even with the persistent fever.

I told the vet my primary concern is how this early illness will affect Marrakesh long-term. The vet advised me that if they could keep the infection from affecting his joints (“joint ill”), they expect him to recover and be a useful adult.

I trust the team of vets at the clinic where Marrakesh is being treated. They’ve been my go-to people for years, and they’re some of the best in Oklahoma. But I was really frustrated after talking to them yesterday. Why didn’t one of the largest equine hospitals in the state have equipment for a blood culture? Why wasn’t a blood culture brought up sooner? Why can’t anyone seem to figure out what’s going on with Gina’s colt?

I’m not angry, and I certainly don’t think the clinic staff is negligent. I’m just frustrated and concerned for Marrakesh. I want him to get well and come home.  Hopefully he’ll be able to do so in the next couple of weeks!

Marrakesh update

When the vet sent Marrakesh and Gina home on Tuesday, he gave me some basic instructions: take his temperature once a day, administer Banamine if it was over 102.5°F, and observe Marrakesh for lethargy or increased swelling around the IV catheter site.

Marrakesh was pretty energetic on Tuesday afternoon, and he was running and bucking on Wednesday morning despite still running a fever. It was extremely hot on Wednesday, and I opted to work half the day from home so I could keep an eye on him. He did normal stuff like nurse, trot around, and nap. He was spunky when Johnny and I corralled him to give him antibiotics, and I tried not to worry about the fever much.


Yesterday morning, his fever was a little higher than it had been on Wednesday. I dutifully gave him a dose of Banamine along with his morning antibiotics, then forced myself to go back inside instead of staring at him and freaking out. He had a few visitors yesterday and showed off a some foal antics for them before returning to his mother’s side. Marrakesh seemed a little tired, but I thought the hot weather might be contributing to his fatigue. (Oklahoma’s reached the part of summer where it’s hot and windy, which is like being in a hairdryer.) My friend next door helped me medicate him last night- he liked the neck scratches she gave him!

I spoke with his vet yesterday evening and gave him an update. He seemed concerned that Marrakesh’s fever hadn’t come down. Since Marrakesh was acting fairly normal, the vet advised me to come in and pick up more Banamine in the morning and continue to observe him.

Hanging out with Gina

This morning, Marrakesh was noticeably lethargic. He was laying down in the paddock when I came out to feed Gina and medicate him and wasn’t very interested in getting up to follow her to the barn. He did get up after a few minutes and trotted over to Gina; the two of them went into the barn quietly to eat. Marrakesh’s temperature was higher than it was yesterday by nearly a degree, so I called the vet clinic and let them know I’d be bringing them in.

When we arrived at the clinic, the staff helped me unload them and get them settled. Marrakesh nursed, walked around for a bit, and then folded up to nap. His vet plans to run his blood work today, but his hypothesis is that doxycycline just isn’t killing the bacteria associated with the infection, which means his temperature stays high.  The tentative plan is to switch to a different antibiotic and see if that helps.

I’m obviously worried about Marrakesh, but he’s in good hands at the clinic. Hopefully this is a minor setback that can be resolved quickly, and he’ll be back to bucking around the paddock in no time!

Marrakesh and Gina come home

On Monday afternoon, my vet called me with an update on Marrakesh. He said that Marrakesh was doing very well; he acted spunky and alert, nursed regularly, and best of all, could come home! I told the vet I’d plan to pick them up on Tuesday morning.

When I arrived at the clinic, the vet met me to give me some discharge instructions. Marrakesh had turned up with a fever and a slightly elevated white blood cell count. After a thorough examination, the vet felt it was due to an infection at the site of the IV catheter. He felt Gina and baby could still go home, as Marrakesh didn’t seem lethargic. The vet gave me antibiotics to give baby twice a day and a few single-milliliter doses of Banamine to give him if the fever persisted.

I loaded the two of them in my trailer with help from the clinic staff and nervously drove home. One of my foxhunting friends happened to be at my neighbor’s place and helped me unload Gina and baby into my paddock. Gina looked thrilled to be outdoors. Marrakesh looked flabbergasted. He quickly took advantage of the space, though! He spent nearly an hour and a half trotting and cantering around. Gina followed him up and down the paddock and seemed to enjoy stretching her legs, too!

When I returned to the barn in the early evening, Gina was eager to eat dinner. I fed her in her stall and corralled Marrakesh with some help from my neighbor’s husband and another friend. He was decidedly unexcited about having medication squirted into his mouth, but didn’t do anything terribly naughty.  (I mean, he’s a tiny week old foal- what’s he going to do other than give me some serious stink eye?)

Johnny and I wrangled him this morning while Gina ate breakfast. His temperature is still elevated, but he continues to be bright-eyed, active, and nursing well. I dosed him with Banamine and antibiotics, and left him to his own devices. I’ll feel less anxious once his temperature comes down, but I’m glad he seems to be doing okay despite it.

He and Gina are very frustrated about flies, though. I have a mask on Gina, but haven’t been putting any kind of fly spray on her or Marrakesh. His tiny tail swishes constantly and he stomps his tiny feet all the time. Is there anything I can use that will be safe for the two of them?

Marrakesh makes improvements

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you who have commented here, on Facebook, on Instagram, and through email with words of encouragement. It’s been really heartening and has helped me stay positive. The equestrian blogging community is a treasure.

On Saturday, I hauled Moe down to a dressage schooling show that was only a few miles away from the clinic where Gina and Marrakesh are staying. I went down early with Johnny in tow, tossed Moe in a stall, and drove to the clinic for a quick visit.

I talked to their vet briefly. He said that Marrakesh had begun to stand up without help on Friday evening and continued to do so through the night and into the morning. He’s nursing well and gaining weight, so the vet decided to remove the nasogastric tube. His IV catheter was also removed. Marrakesh was running a very slight fever early Saturday morning and was given Banamine to reduce it; the vet advised they’d keep an eye on his temperature and run his bloodwork again if he remained feverish.

When Johnny and I arrived, Marrakesh was napping. Gina greeted us with a whinny and immediately searched us for cookies. (Which we provided, of course.) Marrakesh perked up at his mother’s noises and hoisted himself to his feet. He tottered right over to Gina to nurse, and once he finished, walked over to investigate us. He seemed a little suspicious, which is understandable. After all, humans have been poking and prodding him throughout his whole short life!

He appeared much more alert and active than on Thursday. He also seemed steadier on his feet. I’m ecstatic he’s getting up on his own and starting to look and act like a typical foal instead of a sad wet noodle. Gina, as ever, is a complete and total champion. She milks like a Holstein and continues to be patient and easygoing with the clinic staff.

I can’t wait for them to come home! They might be able to do so later this week- keep your fingers crossed!

Visiting Gina and Marrakesh

I headed down to the vet clinic to visit Gina and Marrakesh after feeding Candy and Moe this morning. Gina appeared happy to see me (and the big container of cookies I brought). I let myself in her stall where she was watching over her sleeping colt.

I wanted to cry when I saw him lying in a corner of the stall with a bandage around his neck holding an IV catheter in place and a nasogastric tube on his tiny muzzle. Flies swarmed on his face and sheath, and he looked small and thin and helpless. I sat next to him and petted him gently; he woke up briefly, adjusted his position, and went back to sleep.

A few minutes later, the veterinarian treating Marrakesh came by to say hello and give me an update. This vet diagnosed and treated Moe for EPM last fall, and I was glad to see a familiar face. The vet told me that they’d noticed a mild swelling in baby’s sheath and jaw, and that his protein level had dipped a little. They’d administered Lasix, which brought the swelling down, and reduced the amount of fluids he was receiving intravenously. The vet thought the swelling looked significantly reduced; he also thought that Marrakesh didn’t need supplemental fluids any more.

His poor little face!

While I was there, the vet and a tech helped Marrakesh get up. He seemed much steadier while standing today, and the vet told me he thought baby’s muscle tone had improved. Marrakesh walked around a bit before heading toward Gina’s flank to nurse. Gina was letting down a lot of milk, and some of it streamed onto baby’s head while he was suckling. He wasn’t a fan and proceeded to spend the next five minutes rubbing his face on his leg and Gina’s leg in an effort to get the wet sensation to stop. He made a few more laps around the stall before lying down in a mostly-coordinated fashion.

Nursing like a pro

The vet advised me that Marrakesh’s prognosis remains good even if he does look terribly puny right now. He told me that he’d been more lively earlier in the morning and had even tried to buck a little. I thought he looked a tiny bit sturdier and more solid. Gina continues to be a total champion. She’s producing plenty of milk and eating and drinking well. She’s also well behaved for the clinic staff who are in and out of her stall and handling her foal frequently.

Itchy and wet.

I’m really glad I live near a clinic with such a good team of vets and techs. I’m grateful for the assistance they’ve given Gina and Marrakesh, and I’m optimistic that they’ll help him overcome his rough start!

I can’t express how grateful I am for the words of encouragement and stories people have shared about foals who have turned out just fine after a rocky beginning. It’s heartening to hear!