Those of us who've had horses for a while, and treated various illnesses and conditions, know that there are certain medications and treatments that need to be handled carefully. Sometimes you need to wear protective gloves - as when handling dex or Surpass. Just do it - you don't need that stuff in your system. Also hormonal treatments like Regumate have to be handled with great care, and shouldn't be handled at all by women of child-bearing age.
But there are other things that require caution, as I recently found out. I was taking care of a friend's horse last week. One of my tasks was to give him his meds together with a small amount of feed and oil, to be sure he ate them. One of the meds was his thyroid supplement. This formulation wasn't the one I was used to - the scoop was much larger, the supplement was very light and easily became airborne, and it had a strong, not unpleasant odor. I also got a fair amount on my hands and didn't bother to wash it off.
During the week I was taking care of him, I had a routine doctor's appointment for my annual pacemaker check. They were surprised to note that my blood pressure was substantially higher than its usual number. Since I became an adult, my blood pressure has always been about 130/70, every single time. But this time it was 150/70 - a significant increase. Very odd. My doctor asked if anything had changed. No, I said. And I'm thin - in fact thinner than I've been in a while, I don't smoke and my diet is pretty good. My dad also had a blood pressure of 130/70 at age 90, without medication.
At my doctor's suggestion, I borrowed my husband's blood pressure monitor and started taking readings - they were all about 145/70, no matter the time of day. So I looked this condition up - where the top number is high and the bottom number normal. This is not uncommon as people age, but the sudden and dramatic change was troubling and I'm at low risk for this sort of thing. So I looked it up, and on one of the reputable sites - I think Mayo - it said that one cause can be hyperthyroidism - that is, too much thyroid hormone.
I wondered if the small amount of this thyroid supplement that I was inhaling or getting on my skin could have caused this change in my blood pressure. I had also been feeling somewhat wired all week, and had been having some trouble sleeping. Induced hyperthyroidism, anyone?
So the last day I was treating my friend's horse, I was more careful. I didn't wear gloves, but I was careful to not breathe over the open container - in fact I held my breath while I was scooping it up and closing the container. I tried not to get any on my hands, and washed them afterwards.
Lo and behold, the next day when I took my blood pressure several times during the day, all of the top readings were in the 120-130 range and the bottom reading were all in the 60s. This morning it was 122/62. Back to normal.
This was a good reminder of how important it is to safely handle any medications that you may be giving to your horse. I was far too casual about it and will try to change my ways.