A couple of days ago, we noticed that Lady’s feet seemed a little more tender than they usually do. Normally, she walks differently than the other elephants because the state of her feet affects her gait. But something seemed more “off” than usual, and she looked uncomfortable and stiff. Since before she came to sanctuary, Lady has had a bit of trouble bending her elbows and ankles. In fact, when she arrived, her joints were markedly swollen, though that went down fairly quickly with treatment.
That stiffness is one of the reasons that we offer her topical treatments on her ankles and legs in addition to her anti-inflammatory and pain medications. But we’ve noticed this week that she has mild swelling above her foot and her ankle, which is a new development. It’s not a huge amount of distension, but it is something that those who work specifically with Lady would certainly notice. This is the first time since her arrival that we’ve seen this type of inflammation in that particular area.
We don’t know the exact reason why the swelling has emerged. She could have slipped and fallen or stepped on uneven ground – or it could be acute and a result of the osteomyelitis that we know she already has; it could be any number of things. We have decided to switch one of her medications to a newer anti-inflammatory medication. The hope is it is more effective for her than what she’s been taking in the past. Just like humans, some people swear by one headache medicine, while others swear by another; every being responds to these types of medications differently. This new medicine is something that other facilities have had good luck with in elephants who weren’t responding very well to other meds in the same category. Lady will be on increased gastrointestinal protectants as we introduce this new medication to her, in order to prevent her system from being too disrupted. We won’t know immediately if this new treatment will be better than what she was previously using, but we have hopes for improvement.
Photo of Lady