But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
(Malachi 4:2 ESV)
Intramuscular, multiple injection sites, high volumes, potency, this is gonna hurt. These were my thoughts as I left the veterinarian’s office with a two-dose, $236 bottle of powerful antibiotics to treat my herd bull “Mavric”. Needing to deliver a 120ml dose of the powerful antibiotic, along with a 20ml dose of a pain reliever, meant a total of five injections. Typically, I give two 2ml and one 5ml injections all year.
Because a cow’s hide is thick and tough, I normally use a one-inch long 18-gauge needle to administer vaccines subcutaneously in the neck. Comparatively, I give myself insulin injections using a 5mm long 31-gauge needle. Like humans, any injection is painful, but I’ve always done my best to minimize pain. Humane treatment of all the livestock here at the Cross-Dubya ranch is mandatory.
It’s been a challenging weather year, moving from muddy fields one day to ultra-hot days with humidity above seventy percent for the next. In both cases, it can be rough on pastured animals. We try to inspect them all daily for signs of trouble.
As always seems to happen, problems crop up at the most inconvenient times. In this case, I noticed my buddy “Mavric” (my gentle giant) had come up lame on Saturday. Having turned him back with his herd a week earlier, I remember remarking to Mr. John. “He either stepped in an armadillo hole or came down off a cow wrong”, I surmised. “Let’s watch him.”
With little swelling through the day when we would check on him, I wasn’t too concerned, although his limp was becoming more noticeable. Overnight, I decided we’d try to isolate him in the barn for a few days of rest. When “Mavric” doesn’t beat everyone else to the feed trough each morning, you know something is off. On Sunday morning, he lay there in the pasture looking unhappy and wouldn’t even come to eat. I knew then this was serious.
Bringing him “breakfast in bed”, I could finally coax him to stand. When he did, it near bout broke my heart. His swollen left-front leg was almost twice its size. It was clear my pal was hurting. “It’s either broke, severely sprained, or he’s got an infection, Mr. John.” I didn’t like any of the options. “Mavric” is a gentle soul, so I’ve always been able to touch him all over safely. Still, with a 2300 lb. bull, you keep your head on a swivel. On Saturday, I didn’t feel any heat in his fetlock and carpal joints (a human’s ankle and knee). The next day was a different story. “Let’s get him in the barn”, I hurriedly urged.
It took us a couple of hours as he hobbled a few steps, laid down, and rested, but we moved him the 120 yards to the barn. With hay, a fan, and plenty of water, we let him rest. It was good to see him resting, but I needed to get a closer look at that leg. Kneeling beside him, he allowed me to feel his hoof, inspect the interdigital space between his claws (toes), and pastern. Did you know cows have toes? Yep, two of them are on each foot, which is how they maintain balance so well.
“Mavric” didn’t react to my applying pressure to the different areas, which would’ve been a sign of infection. I didn’t feel any sores or wounds. Perhaps it’s a bad sprain, let him rest and I’ll get some Banamine (realized I was out) to make him more comfortable tomorrow.
Checking on him Monday evening told a different story. It was hot and humid, but seeing my herd bull sweating (even though he was in front of the barrel fan) was not a good sign. Sprains don’t cause fever, I thought, so I knew it needed more investigation. When he stood, it was on his toe, which told me where I needed to do a closer inspection.
I’m not crazy about getting on all fours and sticking my head under such a massive animal. An errant roundhouse kick from his rear leg could do serious damage to this slow-moving old man. Still, that’s exactly what I did. As I lowered myself to the ground, I picked up the distinct smell of infection. Instantly, I realized we were dealing with foot rot. Just below his pastern (back of his foot), a wound had opened. Taking photos with my phone, I knew that Tuesday morning meant a visit to my large animal vet.
Confirming with my veterinarian, I advised that loading and moving such a giant, especially a wounded one, would not be easy. The vet agreed and shared that not all foot rot requires extensive debridement and veterinary intervention. “Let’s try it Doc”, I exclaimed with hope in my voice. The massive dose of the powerful antibiotic concerned me.
Because of the sheer volume (30cc at each site) and intramuscular delivery, I opted to use a one-and-a-half-inch 14-gauge needle. It’s a “monster”, but I knew I wanted to get into that muscle and deliver the high volume of medicine quickly. I hated the thought of how I might hurt my buddy. Sometimes, healing hurts.
Because of his size, “Mavric” won’t fit down the alley to my squeeze chute, so we can both be safe. Instead, I must pen him in my tub to vaccinate him. As luck would have it, he faced the wrong way, but because he was in such pain, I injected his rump, between the pin and hook bones, with the antibiotics. Accessible, meaty, and fast. Not ideal since I knew the powerful drug would cause localized meat damage, but I reminded myself that he’s my herd bull and not a beef cow.
With each injection from the huge needle, the drug burned and caused pain for my bull pal. As I was changing needles and refilling the syringe, I recalled how “Mavric” always comes up to me whenever he sees me. Whether in the pasture or along the fence, I know he’s coming over for a head scratch. I wondered, hurting him so, will he ever trust me again? That’s when God reminded me that sometimes, healing hurts.While healing can hurt, the cure is what we need to focus on. #Healing #Cure #Hurt #Faith Click To Tweet
In my life, I’ve had to trust God to heal many things. It’s been painful as He’s had to break me and allow me to hurt to remove sins of pride and addiction from my life. Do I trust him still? Absolutely. In fact, because He has healed me from mental, physical, and spiritual needs, I trust Him more.
Lamenting how I had hurt my buddy with those injections, I thought of how the intraocular injections into my eyes come with their own pain. To prevent complete blindness, I’ll continue to endure them until the doctors either correct the condition or can do no more. It hurts, but in some ways, it’s healing or at least slowing the progression of the illness. Sometimes, healing hurts.
In my journey of spiritual growth, there’s been pain, but the result of increased faith and reliance upon God makes the pain forgettable. I pray that “Mavric” will forget the pain I caused and trust me again. Do cows think like humans? I doubt it; but if the momentary pain I caused relieves the pain he’s been experiencing, it’ll be worth it all.
Will I have to do these injections again in a few days? I wonder if he’ll even let me pen him up again? Will I have to call the vet out to sedate and treat him? All questions that remain unanswered. Rather than worry, I must stand on God’s promises and pray the words from Jeremiah 30:17.
For I will restore health to you
And heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, …
As you spend time with God this week, ask Him to show you any areas where you need healing. Then ask Him to prepare you for the healing process. It isn’t always fast and painless, but it’s always worth it.
Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.