Mongol Derby 2014 Medics Blog 13/08/2014 Part 2
Medics Blog by Sheila Loughman
There was a commotion overnight at Horsestation 25. Everyone had gone to bed, and we had put up our tents between the ger and the horse line. As a result we were the first to hear some dreadful neighing sounds coming from that direction, followed by noises of a large animal struggling to breathe. As I listened I wondered what could be going on – were the herders putting down a sick horse? It was quite late at night for something like that. As the noises of obstructed breathing continued loudly from the direction of the horse line, I decided to have a look out. It was difficult to see, even with the full moon, but I could make out the outline of a horse lying down by the end post of the line, and no herders about. With some urgency I alerted herders at the nearest ger. It turned out that the horse had a scuffle with another horse on the line, and had somehow twisted the rope round its neck and face and was suffocating. They got it free, and after a few minutes and a thorough check over by Cozy, our vet, was pronounced absolutely fine! Another life saved!
In the morning, we had an interesting chat with Cozy about some of the diseases vets are exposed to in their practice. He told us about a colleague who had died from Leptospirosis spread by cattle, and another who had contracted Hendra virus. James then mentioned that he had contracted Q fever from lambing. It’s made me want to do a bit of reading on the subject. We also had some more local consults, one for an older lady with pain in her bowed legs from rickets and another for a herder who had fallen off his horse that morning. Examining his ribs I could feel where he had broken them near the same place previously – but luckily, no bones broken today.
We got a sat phone message while at HS 26, to head straight for the finish, as one of the riders was feeling unwell leaving HS27 and had haematuria. The 70km drive brought us through a beautiful mountain pass, to the luxurious camp. As we waited for the riders to arrive, we check out the facilities – hot showers and western style food at a table with glassware. I realised that I’ve very quickly gotten used to eating rice, noodles and many forms of goat, from a small bowl sitting on the floor. Our rider arrived in pretty good shape, but with symptoms suggestive of a UTI secondary to dehydration. He had been managing hydration OK until he got D&V 2 days previous. He has improved dramatically with oral fluids, electrolytes and rest. We’ll be keeping an eye on him though. A couple of other riders came in with exhaustion, but the rest and facilities have quickly raised their spirits and energy levels. The first 9 riders have completed the Derby! What an achievement – 1000km in 8 days.