Yesterday, I took Bezukhov to the vet.
In the last two weeks he has had at least 5 seizures. Seizures seems the most descriptive word for them, though it is not yet confirmed what it is. These ‘episodes’ last just a matter of seconds & then he is completely back to normal.
- Starts initially with an alarming, loud screech
- Head tilts back
- Temporary paralysis
- Eyes open but vacant stare
- Lasts for only seconds
- Appears unaware of what has just happened & carries on as normal
On seeing these, I was reminded that he has had one or two before but I thought he had probably got a seed stuck in his throat & they were over so quickly that I thought nothing of it at the time, particularly as the gap between was so long (months/years).
It is worth noting that one of his ‘episodes’ occurred whilst he was fast asleep, head under wing. This seems to suggest they are not stress-related.
Because Bezukhov is fast, I needed a plan to get him into the travel cage. I was aware that if he had another episode it would be an opportunity to wrap my hands around him & gently transport him to the travel cage. I made the vet appointment for early Saturday morning & intended for Bezukhov to spend the night before in the travel cage, enabling an early start the next morning. This plan potentially gave me a day to catch him!
Given that he had not had an episode, I decided at 5pm to actively catch him. He went into the Ferplast for seed (he does this whilst Phinny is out, to eat seed in peace). I locked him in & somehow, managed to get him. In fact, if I think back now to how I did this, my mind is totally blank – it is almost like the fear of catching him has just blocked that memory!
Anyway, he was in the travel cage early evening. He was most upset. On offer, to ease his time there, was water, seed, millet & wild grass. He refused all of them. The hunger strike had started. To pass the time he appeared to try & escape. He kept messing about where the cage food pots usually go. He ran around the bottom like he was considering tunnelling out. He climbed upside down on the top, as if he had to check every nook & cranny for means of escape.
As soon as I got Bezukhov into the travel cage, Phineas & Cagney were there. They were not going to leave him. Phineas simply moved his usual prowling action on top of the manor to prowling on top of the travel cage. Cagney tried to access Bezukhov from around the sides, as Phineas was patrolling the top.
Through all of this, Cagney shouted. Phineas finally went to his home for seed so I locked him in. Cagney also finally returned to the manor for seed & I locked him in too. He was clearly confused without Bezukhov beside him. He would have a quick nap, then wake & sit on the pretend peg perch, looking over at Bezukhov.
In the morning, I noticed that Bezukhov had still not eaten anything. Nothing. Not one seed. He certainly meant business with this protest. Cagney, as he woke, started shouting again. I bundled up Bezukhov for the trip to the vets. It was not particularly cold but was windy so I made sure he had a few layers on. Though clearly worried, I thought he was a very brave soldier & coped well with the journey. The only time he chirped was when I was driving fast so he might well be a speed junkie.
At the vets
Bezukhov was seen by Ms Exotic Hospital Vet (EHV) who asked lots of questions about his ‘episodes’, his diet & if he had had any falls. Because of the nature of the problem, a diagnosis on the spot was near impossible, so after a general examination to check for any obvious problems (there were none), it was decided to proceed with a blood analysis.
- General examination
- Calcium gluconate injection
- Multi-vitamin injection
- Blood sample for analysis (results due in a few days)
I had to return to the waiting room whilst Ms EHV got the blood sample & gave him the injections (possibly one injection if the vitamins were combined?) The wait seemed long, though it was probably about 15 minutes. As the minutes ticked away I got more & more worried. Finally, she brought him back out & said he would be a bit groggy for the next few hours due to them taking some blood. When I peered into the cage, my poor boy was sat on the bottom. I could not wait to get him back home.
During the car journey, Bezukhov stayed at the bottom of the cage. Once home, I rushed him into the lounge where the others were shouting. Bezukhov managed some feeble chirps in return. I unbundled him, leaving just one cover on, & let him be for a little while. He made his way up to the perch & rested. I had decided not to let Phineas out the same time as Bezukhov as there can sometimes be tension as Phineas is jealous that his beloved, Cagney, gives Bezukhov attention.
After a couple of hours, Bezukhov seemed to come to a bit. I let Cagney out & then opened the travel cage door & Bezukhov was out in a flash, straight back to the manor. He drank gallons of water. (A slight exaggeration, but he did drink a lot of water!) Thankfully, he finally broke his hunger strike & ate a few seeds & nibbled on some seeded grass.
He was still tired & weak, so when he settled down for a snooze, I locked him up in the manor, & let Phineas out so that he & Cagney could have some ‘out’ time without disturbing Bezukhov.
The last ‘episode’ was a few days ago, on Thursday. The trauma of the stay in the travel cage & the vet visit did not trigger another ‘episode’. As stated above, I believe this confirms they are not stress-related.
Hopefully, all will return to normal very soon.