Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Not for the Faint of Heart

Before I say anything else, I should warn you: Unless you have a strong stomach, you probably don't want to click on the photo at right to see the full-sized version. It's not for the faint of heart!

It's a photo of what Peri's leg looked like when I took the bandage off tonight to clean and redress the wound.

Ken held Peri down while I snipped off the tape and unwrapped the bandage. Either I hadn't gotten all the maggots out when I cleaned the wound last night, or else flies had gotten underneath the bandage somehow to lay more eggs since yesterday, because before I could finish, maggots came bursting, pouring, tumbling out in every direction, with some sort of grotesque explosive force.

Big maggots, little maggots, tiny almost microscopic maggots everywhere! Not only on the wound and the ground but all over my arms and legs, squirming with their horrible little tickly movements on my bare skin. I can't even think of a word to describe how gross it was.

Worse, I really needed to tend to Peri, so after quickly trying to brush most of my maggots off, I had to just ignore the few stragglers until after I took care of Peri's leg.

I tried hard to clean the wound well tonight, but it was really hurting Peri, and she struggled every time I tried. Still, I did my best, then put on more antibiotic ointment and rewrapped the leg with fresh bandages.

The good news is, as gross as the maggots were, they had really done their job. The wound didn't stink anymore, and the flesh inside was pinks, reds, and whites, instead of the rotting blackish brownish necrosis that had been there yesterday. Maggots only eat dead or dying flesh, so they actually help clean a wound. Which doesn't make them any less disgusting!

So why did I take such a gross, disgusting photo?

I took it as a vote of confidence for Peri. I took it as the optimistic "before" shot of what I'm hoping will be a triumphant recovery story. In a few weeks or months, I hope to take another photo of her walking around fully healed.

If she gets through this, I don't think that we will ever cull her, even if she does have her flaws. With her courage and stamina, she's earned her right to stay here, no matter what.

So, if she gets through this, it will have been the snakebite that saved her life.


Mark said...

Poor Peri. Yes, the photo is ghastly, but maggots do help clean a wound (I keep remembering that scene from Gladiator - at least you don't have to eat the maggots). I hope the weather begins to cool for you. We are experiencing a rather cool summer here in Vancouver.

Nancy Chase said...

My shepherd friends tell me that although maggots do clean the wound, they also keep the wound "fresh" rather than allowing it to heal, and secrete some kind of chemical toxin that tends to depress the animal.

So I've ordered a couple of medications that are meant specifically to kill the maggots and deter the flies.

Meanwhile, Peri is showing more courage and stoicism than I would expect from any human.

I guess a breed of sheep originally raised by Vikings more than 1,000 years ago would have to be tough, wouldnt it?

Ea said...

I'm very impressed by your ability to take care of things like this wound. I would be so petrified of hurting the animal that I wouldn't know what to do. My dog hurt himself recently (he stepped on a piece of loose wire fencing and drove it into his paw) and I think I was more traumatized by it than the dog was.

Nancy Chase said...

Thanks Ea. Yes, things like this are pretty horrifying to deal with at first.

I'm discovering that farming provides lots of these trials-by-fire that expand my scope of what I am confident to handle.

Wounds, sicknesses, births, deaths... when you are in charge of taking care of as many animals as I am (more than 50 at last count), you end up having a lot of "learning experiences."

Ouch! for your poor dog, by the way. I hope his foot is feeling better now. I'm sure you handled the situation just fine!