THIS MARE HAS THE EXACT SAME INFECTION AS MY DAUGHTER DID- FIXABLE WITH SURGERY – BUT WITHOUT SURGERY… well, we won’t go there… Meet Ambrosia, our Bucket Fund horse for September.

UPDATE:  9/7/12




Many of you missed this post due to Labor Day, so we are reposting… with an update!

UPDATE!  8PM 9/4/12

BHFER had enough donations today (theirs and ours) to move ahead with the first surgery to one side of Ambrosia’s lungs!  Time is of the essence so they grabbed the opportunity and went ahead.  Yay!

This mare is a fighter for sure because there was a scary complication – air escaping her lung – but she held on as the surgeons repaired it.

Here is what Theresa said after the first surgery:

“They ended up taking most of her rib – there was a huge amount of fibren and pus.  There was a scare where there was some air leaking but they managed to seal it off.  Ambrosia just lost about 10 lbs …” 

That 10lbs was fluid and bad gunk – and her rib.  Can you imagine 10lbs of abscess gak in your chest?!!  Ugh.

Anyway, she is recovering tonight…eating hay and drinking.  The doctors are very hopeful.

Our September Bucket Funds will go towards this surgery today, the second surgery next week (other lung) and if there is any left over, the major antibiotics and aftercare needed.

If you can believe this, BHFER has agreed to clean out her abscess areas for a month – manually.  Yup, they will open the cavity and clean it – to make sure the infection is totally gone.


That’s dedication!

Anyway, for all of you who missed yesterday’s post, here it is again!  The thermometer will change if you view it on the website or on the Bucket Fund page.  If you receive this via email, the thermometer will not advance.

Theresa with Ambrosia on the very first morning… Ambrosia has pleurisy. Her lungs are full and the fluid has seeped between the lung and chest lining. Very dangerous. Exactly what our daughter had this summer.



THIS MARE HAS THE EXACT SAME INFECTION AS MY DAUGHTER DID- FIXABLE WITH SURGERY – BUT WITHOUT SURGERY… well, we won’t go there… Meet Ambrosia, our Bucket Fund horse for September.

Many of you were so lovely when my step-daughter, Katarina, came down with a horrible case of pneumonia this summer.

It started with her coughing and feeling crummy.  She was taken to the pediatrician and given a strong antibiotic.  She got better.  Then a week later, when she was with us, she suddenly took a turn for the worse.

Luckily, Katarina can speak.  She was telling us that it felt as though there were weights on her chest.  She couldn’t breathe.  The pain when she tried to breathe deeply was severe and intense.  She was panting and frightened.  The only comfortable position was upright.  Katarina cried quietly for a few hours, thinking that she might be dying.

We took her to the ER.

After an Xray, they told us that her lungs were filling and the fluid had gone into the area between the lung and the chest wall lining.  So, not only did she have intense pain from the infection, she also had sharp pains every time she took a breath because now her chest tissue was swollen with fluid which rubbed against her ribs.  Very, very painful.

Katarina’s temperature was over 103 as she fought the infection.  Her heart rate raced as she gasped for air.

Very scary for her – very scary for us.  A tense time.

Katarina needed surgery – fast.  We were told that when an infection holds near the ribs, antibiotics cannot get there because there aren’t enough blood vessels to deliver the drugs.  So, pus and illness gather, the body creates a wall around it for protection and that nasty mass continues to grow… and then the patient gets abscesses in the ribs and the ‘infection protection’ created by the body actually suffocates them (my layman’s description…).

For our daughter, timing was everything.  In these rare cases of pneumonia with infection that was going off the rails, speed was everything.  We had to act fast.

Katarina was put into surgery the next day and the doctors drained her lungs and then cleared out all the infection and abscesses with a micro vacuum.  It took 3 hours to get all of the fast growing, massive infection sites.  She was in the ICU for over a week with IVs full of several different and strong antibiotics.  She was sent home with a harsh regimen of more antibiotics.

It was at least a month before she felt somewhat normal.  She still coughs.  The Doctors say it will take a year for the lungs to repair themselves of the necrotic tissue.

But, she will live.  (huge sigh)

This story I just told you is EXACTLY the same as the story I am about to tell you.

Except this time, the patient is a mare.

Our Katarina on the day she left the ICU in July after her bout with the exact same illness as Ambrosia…

For Katarina, I am bringing you AMBROSIA.

Once again BHFER was called about a mare who was found roaming a rural street in Florida.

A neighbor had taken her in and tried to feed her, but clearly the mare was in big trouble and the good neighbor didn’t know what to do.

The neighbor said the mare was really bad, so BHFER went out into the darkness, drove into the netherlands to see what they could do for this mare.

Upon arrival, it was clear the mare needed medical attention.  She was given Banamine and an emergency call was sent to the local vet.  The vet agreed to meet them in them in the morning.

In the middle of the night, Rescuers came to see this mare – who had been found roaming rural streets – horribly skinny and very, very sick.

I think this photo tells it all… when I see this, I see our daughter Katarina, as she was sitting upright in her bed, sobbing softly – believing she was going to die from the pain in her chest.


The next morning, the local vet told BHFER that this mare had pleurisy (the exact same diagnosis as our daughter, Katarina) and suggested that the mare be put down.

BHFER thought the mare deserved a chance.  She was drinking still and did eat from their hands.

So, BHFER went back to the Rescue, hooked up the trailer and returned to get Ambrosia, hoping she would survive the ride.

The next morning, the local vet said she had complications from pneumonia and offered to put her down.

Ambrosia made it back to BHFER where their vet, Dr. Ryan, was waiting to receive her.

Yes, she had pneumonia.   Yes, her heart rate was extremely elevated and she had a very high fever.  Yes, if her lungs were drained, this 13-year old mare would feel better. (Exactly the same conditions as our daughter.)

Of course, BHFER would give her that chance.

So, off she went to the hospital for the draining procedure (exactly like our daughter…).

Back at BHFER, Dr. Ryan examined 13 year-old Ambrosia and confirmed the diagnosis. Pneumonia with fluid in the lungs and in the surrounding tissue of the lung lining.  Very bad… (This was the same diagnosis as our daughter.)

Ambrosia was fed and watered well for a day to see how she did with ample groceries.

She did well.  She ate and drank as much as was offered.  A good sign.  However, clearly, the mare was in dire straights – yet she had the will to live…

So, the decision was made that with her will to live it was worth the risk to transport her to the equine hospital immediately to have the fluids drained from her lungs.

Draining 30 liters of fluid from her lungs. 30 liters!!!


With our daughter, the surgeons removed her massive abscesses from her lungs during the draining surgery.

The surgery was a big and expensive ordeal, but it saved her life.

For Ambrosia, the Rescue could not afford to do the abscess removal surgery…  they could only afford her the relief of lung drainage, which was a great help to the mare, for sure.

But, it won’t save her.

After her lungs were drained, Ambrosia showed marked improvement! She has gained 60 lbs! However, she isn’t out of the woods. The infection lives in her lungs, inaccessible by the antibiotics.

After initial surgery to drain her lungs, Ambrosia has perked up and is grazing happily. However, the infection is not gone, just abated. She needs to have the abscesses removed to live – just like our daughter. The very same diagnosis.



Here is the rub.

Yes, Ambrosia is doing much better now that her lungs were drained.  But, that won’t cure her.

The infection lives in her lungs and in an area inaccessible to the drugs via her blood supply – under the ribs.

The exact same diagnosis as our daughter.

This is why our daughter’s surgeons spend several hours scraping all the tissue in there and removing the infection manually.  Plus keeping her in the ICU after the surgery with a strong antibiotic drip in there for good measure.

Ambrosia needs the same surgery to remove the infection manually – plus the post surgery mega antibiotics – or she won’t survive.  It will eventually kill her through suffocation.

But, with the surgery, if done quickly, it will most likely save her life – just like our Katarina.

Ambrosia is alert and improving tremendously – but she won’t survive if the infection isn’t cleared out manually from her lungs.


For me, this is personal – I went through this with my step-daughter.  Katarina would have died had we not had the opportunity for this surgery.

Now, Katarina is starting 7th grade…

Clearly Ambrosia wants to live.  She is improving.  Let’s help BHFER with the cost of the surgery and the cost of the after care!

Let’s help this mare live out her life!

Every cent donated, as always, will be the gift of life for Ambrosia.  In this case, I will take to heart personally every donation and bow my head in gratitude for our daughter.  Thank you…

    If you receive this post via email, click here to donate!

Fundraising Thermometer


This is Ambrosia yesterday – so much better than her initial photos… She is with her attendant at the equine hospital, Erik, who spoils her. Please lets help her with the surgery that will save her life.



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

7 comments have been posted...

  1. Judy Mollner

    Is this thermometor the one we watch to see the donations? As I don’t see it going up, especially after my donation. Or is there another way to watch Anbrosia’s fund raising?

  2. RiderWriter

    Wow…. that is really scary! Somehow I missed reading about Katarina’s ordeal before, and I have to admit, I had absolutely no clue that pneumonia could be so dire in a tweenager. I knew it’s deadly to infants and the elderly, but at her age – really, I didn’t know. Not to mention, I myself had pneumonia about 13 years ago which went undiagnosed and improperly treated, and until today I didn’t know that things could have turned out very badly for me! I had a crummy HMO and a quack doctor who never even did a chest x-ray; this when I could *feel* and hear the liquid running from one side of my chest to the other. Treated solely with an antibiotic that didn’t work and then another which fortunately did, no inhaler prescribed, never even said “pneumonia.” Like Katarina’s doctors said, it was a good year before my lungs were back to normal. SO glad she will be okay!

    About the horse – goodness. I hope that she can be helped with surgery, bless her poor heart. Heaven only knows what she’s been through. Obviously she was dumped by her owners when they a) couldn’t afford to feed her and b) figured out she was sick.

  3. Trisha

    Thank you for making Ambrosia your Bucket Fund horse!! I have been following her care, she is well deserving of another chance at a healthy wonderful life!

  4. Laura

    It seems that poor Ambrosia has several medical issues at hand. Her Henneke score looks to be around 2 which puts her at grave risk in surgery. I am ALL for the TRY and for doing the surgery, don’t get me wrong here. Every life that can return to a quality of life should have the benefit of our human best.
    Having brought several horses back from Henneke 1, it is a delicately balanced drama that unfolds. Your medical team seems fabulous! Congratulations! We will drum up more funds for dear Ambrosia.

  5. Marge Mullen

    Thank you Dawn for helping with Ambrosia!

    What a great mare she is and now has many supporters to help her to heal.

Post a comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *