The next day was not a good day. There were times I thought she was going to give up then and there. The treatment regime is massive doses of pro-pen, 4cc/kg of body weight every 4 hours and 500 units of B1 every 4 hours. Feed as tolerated and push fluids.
Survival rate of 30%.
By the next afternoon she could not stand, had complete paralysis on the right side, was drooling and had to be held up to void urine. She didn't protest at the injections. She is a remarkably tough little goat
A couple of times the following day Gary and I spoke with Reiley about putting her down or to keep going. She was miserable and confused, but she still responded to Reiley. Turning whenever he walked into the room and relaxing when he spoke to her: he even was able to spoon-feed her a mix of chopped hay and oats with molasses, and feed her electrolyte solution.
We all agreed to give her the night to see what happened.
Reiley and Gary set in for a night of tag team care, I didn't expect her to survive the night. At 3:22 am I heard her call out! She was raising bloody hell when Gary gave her yet another shot. I have never been so happy to hear a goat call!
She was somewhat better that next day. She stopped drooling, was taking a more active role in drinking and was able to stand with assistance.
She is nowhere near better, and we knew we might still lose the battle. We are 99% sure it was listeriosis. The good news is none of the other animals were showing any sign of illness. Gary did give a good dose of penicillin as soon as Pepper started showing symptoms so that was in our favour. The vet thinks we may have listeria bacteria on the property, well who doesn't, and the stress of the bruising she took brought on a full-blown case of listeriosis encephalitis.
Round the clock nursing care to an almost full-grown goat takes its toll on the schedule. We were giving fluids every hour round the clock for 72+ hours; passive motion exercises every two hours around the clock; spoon feeding gruel; penicillin every four hours, vitamin B1 every six hours and then finally, 5 days after she first fell ill she was laying in the kennel eating some hay! She's a fighter... and we decided as long as she kept fighting we would be right there with her!
The next day we were able to get her to stand, with much support. She had right-side paralysis from the listeria bacterium attacking her brain stem. When we had her stand, she would lean heavily against whoever was with her and start to circle to the right. If she was laying down strong muscle contractions would pull her head around to the right so her nose was touching her side. We began taking turns placing her on her side left side and massaging the muscles on her right side neck and flank.
I wrote up a plan to get her back on her feet; I never thought I would be writing up a physiotherapy plan for a goat... but drastic times call for drastic measures! We had to get her moving and start retraining her muscles. It was almost as if she had a stroke, we just kept working on the right side, then getting her up and walking. she would let us lead her to the left but she tired quickly and would then fall. I made up an essential oil blend in oil to help relax her right side and another to stimulate her left side. Multiple times of day she was massaged and we would do passive range of motion exercises with her. Slowly she strengthened.
The most difficult part of working with sick animals is that you can not make them understand that you are trying to help them. There has to be a high level of trust there to begin with, and the person Pepper has spent the most time with was Reiley, she trusted him completely and visibly relaxed when he was near, so he did the lion's share of the rehab work with her.
Once we got her on her feet things progressed but very slowly. She was able to tolerate a little more each day, we would take her outside when we were outside; mostly she would lay on the grass but we would get her up to walk every half hour. She was still eating little so we had to push fluids and make up a gruel of barley and molasses and ground corn. It was almost 10 days before she could drink from a bucket! Little by little, there were improvements, we were able to set up a small pen in the yard and bring Pepper's twin sister Fawn down from the goat yard and she would help get Pepper up and walking. After a few days we began taking Pepper up to the goat barn and putting her in a pen with Fawn; starting with a half-hour twice a day until we had worked up to four or five hours a day. After spending over 2 weeks in the house we had to get her used to the cold weather without stressing her; with the amount of penicillin she had, I was really worried about secondary infection. Finally, three weeks to the day after she had first fallen ill, we had a warm spell that was due to last a few days so we left her in the barn full time. We had done all we could do for her, she needed to be with her sister and the other goats to re-train her brain and muscles. She has improved quickly! She was very tentative the first few days and when startled or very tired she would reflexively spin to the right. Occasionally I would see her staring at her left front leg as if to say, "where did that come from?'.
She has been following Fawn around slowly and carefully. Fawn seemed to know something was not what it should be and was very quiet and gentle with her sister, but this past weekend we found them playing king of the mountain on their favourite rock! Both scrambling to stand on the highest point, head butting and rearing up at each other.
It made me cry! I really am still amazed that she survived, I never thought I would see Gary work that hard to save a goat. He is slowly tapering his profit-based approach to farming. He will always know exactly how much it cost for us to raise a pound of pork, and if the sows are paying for their keep. I love that! It helps us make smart decisions about the homestead, but it is nice to know that he thinks some things are more important to us than the bottom line...