Asking Ask a Nurse

In the 45 minutes after this charming selfie was taken, I may have:

-Called the veterinarian twice

-Called the "Ask a Nurse" helpline

-Called Poison Control

 

Patsy was officially overdue as of today and although she looked normal and comfortable enough this morning, I just had a feeling something might be up while I was at work today.  Luckily, our nephew Ethan is at the farm this week helping build fence, so I asked him to periodically look in on her during the day and call me if anything happened.

 

At about 4:30, just as I was leaving the office, I got a text from him "She is starting to have them."  I called Ethan up and he told me she was in the midst delivering them fine and so far everyone looked strong. I told him to stay in the barn and that I would be there in 20 minutes or so.  I figured I could swing my the farm on my way to get Evie in Centerville, just to make sure all was going well.

 

And things were when I first got there...things were fine enough that I stopped to take this selfie with one of the new arrivals.  But a few minutes later, all heck broke loose.

 

Not only was that a overly fast delivery, with no breaks for her to rest, these pigs were HUGE.  Sows usually take 15-20 minutes between pigs and she pushed 11 giant (seriously, they are the size of Polly's, who are 10 days old!) piglets out in about 75 minutes.  Her entire backend was horribly swollen from the stress on her body.

 

After the last one, she started straining to pass the placenta and began to obviously overheat.  We started a bucket brigade of cold water and set up fans to bring her body temp down.  That worked and for a few minutes, she seemed comfortable.  She pushed out more placenta but then suddenly stopped and just went limp.

 

She was getting "shocky" on me--limp, pale gums and getting unresponsive. I called the vet.  He advised me to attempt to get her on her feet.  Sows, like other livestock, will sometimes just "give up" after a bad delivery and if you can't get them up and moving around, they will just die.

 

So we poked her and prodded her and nothing worked.  So I called Doc back and asked him what to do.  He told me to first check for a pig stuck in the birth canal. I washed up, lubed up and went in--it was clear.  Then he told me to try dripping water in her ear to see if she would get up to shake her head--nope.  Next we tried making a baby pig cry in hopes she would get up to take care of it--nothing

 

(although Mama Pig, outside, nearly took the barn down to come in and "save" it).

I asked Doc what he would do if he were here--was there anything we could give her that might snap her out of it.  His only suggestion was epinephrine to stimulate her but if she needed that, it wasn't likely he could make it there in time.  

 

Then I remembered that I already had epinephrine, in the form of some old Epi-Pens that a doctor had given us after an unexplained allergic reaction Evie had 2 years ago.  I asked Doc if that would work, he said yes but since the dose was so small, I had best get it directly into a vein in the ear to get an effect.

 

I went in and grabbed the two Epi-Pens and headed back to the barn.  Mind you, at this point I was quite a sight--Still in my work clothes, and notably my ballet flat work shoes, but covered in afterbirth, blood, manure and god knows what else. My right arm was bloody to the elbow from exploring a pig uterus and my shallow, not-barn-worthy shoes were filled with a mix of blood, manure and oddly, a chicken feather.

 

So I went in the stall and grabbed Patsy's ear to expose one of the large veins found there.  I have never actually had to use an Epi-Pen, so I read the directions 3 times but had no idea what it actually did--it simply said pull off the blue tab and stab it into where you want it to go.  So I did.

 

HOLY SHIT.

 

The effing Epi-Pen had a needle so long that it not only went through the thick pig ear, it stabbed my finger behind it down to the BONE.  I froze and screamed bloody murder...thereby leaving the needle depressed the required 10 seconds to release the full dose of epinephrine into my system.

 

So there I was, covered in all manner of filth, with a bleeding finger and a nervous system fully dosed with a strong stimulant.  My heart was racing and my hands were shaking pretty bad...whether it was from the epinephrine or the excitement, I don't know.

 

But I knew this might be trouble so I found the "Ask a Nurse" hotline and gave them a call.  I am quite sure that my story will be the talk of their break room for the next week and the very nice nurse named Erin decided I had best call poison control.

I called Poison Control, explained my predicament once again and had that person ask me how long ago I had stabbed myself and then calmly say "Well, epi acts fast so if you were going to die from it, you would have already."  She had me stay on the line for another few minutes to make sure I wasn't going to explode and told me to call back in an hour if anything changed.

 

The whole time this was happening, my poor nephew (who had been a trooper up until this point, fetching all needed items and holding open garbage bags for me to put afterbirth into) was standing in the aisle with an absolutely white face.  He started panicking, asking me "What is the address here? What is the address? I don't know what to say if I have to call the ambulance!"  Poor kid!

 

Ultimately, I was fine and I managed to get the other Epi-Pen in Patsy.  It did seem to help--she perked up a bit and then I gave her the old farmer remedy of cold coffee + orange juice (this is the reason I collect old farm and vet books!).  She finally let her milk down and currently the family seems ok, if exhausted.  I don't know if Patsy is out of the woods but the rest of the family seems strong.  We're going to wrap up here for tonight and call it a day because dang, what a day!

 

The above is a post from summer 2016 on my personal page....my Aunt Sarah asked me this morning about this story so she could see it on FB and I realized it was on my personal page (which isn't publically readable) so I figured I would share it here.   Enjoy! :)

 

 

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