When the vet had visited Faith when she first arrived, he had concluded that the hole in her face would have to be managed by cleaning and flushing, but as it was a pocket into her sinus, including a track down to a tooth, there was little procedures that could be done for her other than palliative care. I knew from the first week of her life with me that she was on borrowed time, and that one day, I’d have a difficult decision to make. She was resistant to antibiotics, and the hole had been there so long it had developed scar tissue, meaning there was little chance it would close. Opening up the pocket would allow more debris in, and closing it would trap bacteria. This was a battle we were not going to win, but I owed it to Faith to try and give her as long as I could.
Skip back to the present, and I spoke to the vet. He sighs. He too is disappointed. “We’ve hit a bit of a brick wall here”, he says, running his hand through his hair and rubbing his neck. The hole in Faith's face is weeping, but this time the discharge is black, a combination of chewed food matter and mucous. The food she is eating is pushing between her teeth and up into the pocket. The result is a small amount oozing from her face, and the rest is filling her sinuses. I agree with the vet that it's time for the decision to be made. As her sinuses fill, the pain and swelling will increase, and the infection will eventually reach her brain. This really is a one-way street.
I am devastated; how could it be over so soon? Our journey had only just begun.
With a heavy heart I call the kind man who introduced me to Faith, and he is happy to help. We arrange for him to come in four days, giving me a chance to say goodbye to her properly and enjoy some final time together. I made a promise to Faith when she arrived that no matter what, I’d stand by her until the bitter end. This was still my intention. I would be by her side every step of the way.
Those four days were so precious. I groomed her and spent time with her head in my hands staring into the distance. I cleaned her face and removed all the debris, whilst watching the changes it was making. The dark gunge turned to a black foul smelling sticky substance and eventually it became mixed with blood and puss. The smell was terrible, but yet looking from a distance, it was hard to believe she was now, once again, on “death row”. She was still so full of life. She kept her field mates in line and even decided to jump the fence into the next paddock in order to put the others in their place too. Although she was by far the smallest in this new paddock, she was certainly the boss. Showing no fear, and ensuring the larger horses knew first-hand how powerful her back legs could be. But no matter how ruthless she could be towards the other horses, she never showed me anything but a friendly approach and quiet moments. I cut her tail short, as I wanted to keep it, and it felt wrong to take it after her passing. Something about taking from the dead just didn’t sit right.
Faith relished the feeling of her short tail and its new found thickness. She would thrash it up and down and side to side, seemingly trying to adapt to how different it felt. I also bought a rose to plant in her honour, one named “blessings”, set to flower with beautiful baby pink roses.
Soon, the fourth day came. The day I had been dreading for what seemed like an eternity. As I arrived at the field, with trembling hands and the rain pouring down, I looked to the skies and whispered a quiet plea, “Please, please, let the sun come out for Faith.”
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