Your Turn: The story of Lynn’s Vision, part II

Melanie Eberhardt had owned Lynn’s Vision (“Bubba”) for two years when her beloved horse seriously injured his eye. This is part II of his story, in which Melanie must make a tough decision.

If you missed part I yesterday, read it here.

From Melanie:

My OTTB Bubba has injured his eye overnight in the pasture. Throughout the morning the swelling and weeping becomes worse. By noon the vet is en route and I am driving like a maniac to the barn.

The vet has already examined Bubba’s eye by the time I arrive. In a few short hours, his eye has ulcerated. The vet says it feels like a rotten toothache. The eye is swollen, weepy and starting to cloud over. At any second, the eye could collapse and rupture and the pain will be excruciating. Our options are few: 1) remove the eye, 2) send him to a university for a corneal transplant or 3) treat the eye and hope it improves.

I have to make immediate decisions that will affect the rest of his life. My horse stands quietly sedated in his stall awaiting my decision.


I listen to the good advice offered by my horse friends as we stand around Bubba gently petting him and discussing his future. It’s difficult to hear what my friends are saying because only one word loudly circulates through my head–Why? I literally put my hands to my head to focus. Why doesn’t matter–spilt milk–the deed is done. I need to get it together and find an answer to the more pressing question–What now?

It wasn’t really hard to make the decision. I know my horse. Bubba’s glass is always half full. If he could speak, his mantra would be “that’s cool with me.” So, transplant–not going there. Remove the eye–doesn’t yet seem necessary. The decision is made, we’ll treat the eye, monitor his pain level, and if it needs to be removed, we’ll be fine with that. But while there’s a chance of saving it, we’ll do everything possible. Within a few hours, Bubs has been hauled across town to the vet’s clinic for surgery.

The surgery goes well and two days later Bubba is back home in his stall. Medicine must be administered directly to the eye. A soft lavage sponge rests inside his skull on top of his eye attached to a plastic tube. The tube exits through a small hole drilled into the bone above Bubba’s eye. The tube is stapled across his forehead and between his ears. We braid the remaining two feet of tubing into his mane to hold it in place. At the far end hangs a port into which meds are inserted via a needle. Bubba’s inner and outer eyelids are stitched closed. He wears headgear with a hard plastic cup over his eye so he can’t rub.

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The medicine is a complicated concoction of four to five ingredients including some of Bubba’s own blood that must be drawn fresh every few days. It is administered every three hours.  The folks at the barn set their cell phone alarms and at the sound they drop everything to treat Bubba. He must stay in his stall, in the dark, and is allowed a brief hand walk once or twice a day. Everyone at the barn has adjusted their routines to help Bubba. The vet comes once a week to unstitch the eye and check progress. His eye is cloudy and gray; the inside remains liquefied and tenuous. We need to see new blood vessels forming to provide new structure and stability for the eye. Weeks pass and little changes.

Two more surgeries include a consultation from the vet ophthalmologist from the Atlanta zoo. A slight adjustment is made to the medication. Several more weeks pass and finally vessels begin to reform. Our routine continues but now everyone is hopeful. The support from the barn management and other boarders is incredible: Everyone accommodates my horse’s needs–no complaints, not one. Bubba’s glass is still full; he is attentive, alert and accommodating. He’s an ideal patient. We just keep on doing what we need to do.

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Stay tuned for part III of Melanie’s story tomorrow.

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