Lucy had her weekly acupuncture appointment on Wednesday and kind of had a breakthrough: she actually stood there and let the vet put the needles in without any meltdowns. We did the session in her stall, instead of out in the barn driveway/yard area where we usually do it. She tends to take advantage of the space out there and run in circles, acting like a total fool. I had her in her stall with her butt backed up into a corner and her whole demeanour was different; she realised she really couldn't get out of it this time! HA.
Anyway, the needles all went in great and without much fanfare as I said. Three needles in all; we didn't want to push our luck too much. Two went in her neck on either side where the shoulder slope meets the side of the neck, and the third went in her SI area. She stood there and looked chill, tried to groom me a bit, ate some hay, and the vet and I chatted about how much of a PITA refinancing your house is. Then I looked at Lucy and realised one of the needles had fallen out of her neck. I had no idea at what point this happened, but we had been chatting as she ate her hay, right below her neck area, for at least 20 minutes. This teeny tiny acupuncture needle had fallen into a haystack that my horse had been eating from. INSTANT panic rose in my chest though I kept it calm on the outside. I pulled all of her uneaten hay out of her stall and shook it out, piece by piece, hoping that the needle would materialize. The needles had little plastic handles on them, but they were a golden orange/yellow colour and of course that would blend in perfectly with the hay. I didn't find it in the hay so I pulled her out of her stall and sifted through the bedding really well. No needle. I threw out a bunch of hay that had been below where the needle presumably fell.
Ironically I had gotten the vet a gift of a big magnet on a stick designed to pick up screws and nails at construction sites, because he had commented that he really needed one to find needles that fell more easily. We got the magnet and started passing it over the hay in the stall and it didn't come up with anything. It turns out the needles are magnetic, but only very slightly, so they won't be pulled through bedding or hay that's covering them. Maybe a metal detector would have been a better idea...sigh.
I looked at her and she looked back at me with her lovely soft eyes and I decided this was not a horse who was in any distress caused by eating a needle. I went home for a while, tried to eat some dinner, then went back to the barn around 11 to check on her. She seemed fine; had cleaned up a good amount of hay and eaten all of her dinner. The next morning I checked on her bright and early and once again she seemed totally normal.
I decided not to call my emergency vet unless she started showing symptoms of distress, because what were they really going to do? Come out and charge me an arm and a leg to tell me that the horse is normal? No thanks. I could have had them x-ray the entire length of her body, but again that seemed pretty outrageous since I didn't even know if she had eaten the needle.
It's been two days since the needle went missing and though I never found it, she also never showed any sign of pain or distress.
I guess for next week's appointment, we will do it in the stall again but I am going to take all of the hay out and also sweep her bedding back against the back wall so that we can find the needle if one falls again.