A pharmacologic existence

Antibiotics. Anti-inflammatories. Antihistamines. Antiseptics. Prescription pain-relievers. Steroids. Corticosteroids. Oral suspensions (shake well). Topical ointments. Intramuscular injectables. Capsules. Tablets dissolved in water, mixed with applesauce. Nebulized inhalants. Drawing salves, best administered with gloves to keep your nails clean. And pills. Lots of pills.

In the last 10 days, you name it and we’ve injected it, swallowed it, applied it, soaked it or wrapped it.

It started after Christmas. One kid got sick and we all fell like dominos. It began as a run-of-the-mill cold, barely medication-worthy. But then we hit a rough patch.

While fox hunting on New Year’s Day and galloping about, Chance cut his coronary band (that’s the soft skin at the bottom of the leg, where hoof growth begins). It looked superficial and I took care of him when I got home.

But the next day he was in serious pain. Three-legged lame. The vet shot him up with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and left me an arsenal of meds, cautioning me on the risk of bone infection. The syringes were cartoonishly big and each day I’d stick the needle in his neck, jam some paste down his throat, mask 28 pills in applesauce, soak his foot, and then cover the wound in wrap and duct tape.

The shots and the pills Chance could take. It was the order of stall rest — total confinement — that turned my horse into a raging lunatic. Borderline dangerous. And I was flying solo because Martin was on the floor, imitating a corpse.

When Martin’s back goes out, it really goes out. For two days he lay like a felled tree, buffered by couch pillows. He hobbled around with a sawed-off broom handle.

The days stretched out– mucking stalls, feeding animals, treating Chance, microwaving pizza, medicating kids, medicating Martin, bathing kids, mucking stalls again, scrounging in the dryer for clean clothes…. I started each morning before dawn and capped the night in the same place: sitting on a deworming bucket in Chance’s stall, watching my cold breaths and the steam simmering over the stew of his soaking foot, hot water and Epsom salts.

Eventually Martin crawled to the doctor. He got better. Hadley regained her health and Chance dodged the spread of infection and is sound again. Only Brynn evaded recovery. Despite weeks of antibiotics and steroids, despite a normal chest xray and a normal culture, her terrible cough and runny nose confound her doctors. We live on the verge of hospital admittance.

And that little cold that I ignored… it stuck around. The cough worsened and migrated south, setting up shop in my lungs. I have walking pneumonia.

You’ve probably heard of sick parents — too busy to see the doctor — who finish off their kids’ medications. Well, it’s sort of like that. Chance’s double-strength tablets of Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim — that’s a fancy way of saying “Bactrim.” And thanks to Brynn, I know what Bactrim is. Thanks to Chance, I’ve got a 500-count bottle.

Chance needed 28 tabs a day. One twice a day will do me just fine. Hold the apple sauce.