The short version: she’s still terribly swollen and very ouchy. The skin on the right half of her udder is stretched so tight, the pores are pulled into giant relief.
It is touching to me how she lets me deal with a bag that must be so painful. When I first draw up my milking stool and sit down, she lifts the right hind foot (which could easily clock me and take my head off) involuntarily, as if to say, “Oh, no!” Then she rests it gingerly back down to balance on the toe, half-cocked. “It’s OK, sweetpea,” I murmur, gently slathering Bag Balm on the swollen mass. Finally she sighs, puts her weight back on the foot, and I go ahead and milk.
The test results came back Monday afternoon, showing traces of staph and strep, but nothing like the amounts to cause this massive inflammation. My vet’s surmise is that an injury (probably from my impetuous teenaged bull at the onset of her heat) caused the swelling, and the resulting trapping of the warm milk then allowed mastitis to develop. To my frustration, I was told to wait yet another day — making four days of delay, during each of which Katika’s udder grew larger and hotter and more painful — to give the office time to test the infections against various antibiotics. Finally, Tuesday night I was given the go-ahead to use the antibiotics I’d purchased Saturday.
I received careful instructions how to administer the meds. First, milk her out, so the medicine would be going into an empty udder. Next, scrub the quarter with warm soapy water. Finally, clean the teat tip with alcohol and let that air-dry. All this fanatical care is to avoid introducing new bacteria into the udder along with the meds.
The washing was easy. It was the next part that became something of a comedy.
The nozzle of the tube has to be inserted into the tiny sphincter at the tip of the teat. Katika’s udder is black. The barn at night is dark, with long shadows. Her quarter is so swollen that it is as hard as a rock, with a rigid teat somewhere deep under her belly in the gloom. By contorting myself on my milking stool until I’m practically lying face-up between her back legs, I find the teat. I lean close to locate the tiny opening at the tip and then realize I can’t focus to see it through my bifocals. Argh!
Eventually, with my glasses hanging off the end of my nose, I am successful. I push the plunger and inject something the size of a travel-size tube of toothpaste up into her breast. Just the thought has me wincing but Katika munches hay and simply swishes me with her tail. I am supposed to massage the medication up into her udder, and I doggedly attempt to do so, but I might as well be massaging one of the giant rocks in Allen’s boulder wall. I am not moving anything.
But at least it’s done. I pat us both on the back. Another new experience for us, Katika dear!
I had been told to administer the meds twice, twelve hours apart. I gave Katika the second dose Wednesday morning and have not seen any marked improvement. The front quarter is also now swollen; it’s not clear to me if it too is infected or if the swelling has rolled forward from the rear. I will be calling the office today to ask if I can give her another couple of rounds of antibiotic.
Meanwhile I have been milking her three times a day, feeding her Bute for discomfort, and hosing her giant, hot udder with cold water for twenty minutes morning and evening. She is patient through it all.
Such a good old girl. I really want her to feel better soon.