Puddings & Toyboys

A blog about my beautiful budgies.

Tag Archives: hernia

The last weeks and days in the life of Phineas (3 of 3)

So Phineas was due to have surgery in the afternoon of the 6th September.  I had left him at the hospital at around 14:30.  At half past five, I still had not heard anything, so I rang the vets.  I was told he had not had the surgery yet.  It was possible it would not be done until the following day.

In a later phone call they suggested that he stay overnight at the hospital (free of charge) to minimise stress & he would be seen in the morning.  I asked if I could visit him that evening but they said all their visiting rooms were booked.  Because I could not see him, I rang several times to check he was okay.  Each time, I was told he was settled & that he was ‘absolutely fine’.  I cannot say that *I* was feeling ‘absolutely fine’.  I was in bits.

Last photo of Phineas

Last photo of Phineas

The next morning, I was told he was ‘bright & happy’.  I cannot say that even this comforted me as it did not sound like Phineas.  I appreciate that strangers will not know him as I do, but *I* would have felt ‘bright & happy’ had they told me he was ‘grumpy & sulky’ – a far more normal description, particularly under the circumstances.  They also told me that he would be seen at 1pm the earliest.  So, another long wait…

I will not log the details of what happened next as they are still too upsetting for me to share.  In short, during the surgery, Phineas went into cardiac arrest & they could not revive him.

It was several days before I could even discuss the surgery with the vet.  It turned out to be very complicated.  She was confident that Phineas had an aggressive cancerous growth that in turn had caused a hernia.  It was not a relatively simple case of ‘removal of mass’ (as expected), because his abdominal contents had spilled out & were entwined in the growth.  How my poor boy even functioned was a mystery.  It is likely that had he survived the surgery, he would not have had long afterwards.

Right now, I find no comfort in anything.  All I know is that he was in good spirits when I left him.  I wish *I* had not left him.  And I dearly wish he was still here.  I know from experience that time will gradually heal these feelings…. but in the meantime, I am desperately sad & missing my wonderful little friend.

 

 

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A very strong-willed girl

Since I last reported on Atilla’s “step back“, there has been little change in her health. 😦

She sleeps for most of the day.  She still is not drinking (therefore not getting any medication).  She hardly eats.  She has lost a lot of weight.  Throughout the day I offer various food to her – sometimes she eats, but most of the time she does not.

Cagney feeding Atilla

Cagney still feeds her, though it is debatable how much food she actually gets.

The electric blanket is permanently over the Manor making sure she is warm.

Boys staying close to their leader

We have a poop-clearing session every morning & evening as her poops get caught on her lump.  Despite being weak, she can still wriggle for England & each time manages to plant her beak into my finger, much like a mountaineer hurling an ice pick into the side of a cliff to get a firm hold & in Atilla’s case, a way to lever her way out of my grasp.

[Despite not eating much, she often nibbles on the iodine block & I am now convinced she is sharpening her beak for the poop-clearing sessions.]

Once poop has been cleared from the hernia, if possible, during the morning session, I smear some Savlon on the lower part of the lump & aloe vera mixed with vaseline on the top part.  For the following couple of hours, her poops fall past the lump but then start getting caught up again, hence an evening poop-clearing session.

Atilla earlier today

This evening she is quite restless.  Twice I noticed she went down for seed herself (she ignores the seed pots I put in the top level to save her the climb down).  At bedtime, she made her way to the top perch as per usual, but since then there has been some faffing around.  I keep hearing movement & going to investigate.  At  10pm she made her way down to the seed pot again, in the darkness (the cover was on by this time).  Then she decided she wanted to sleep on the swing (despite Cagney being sat on it).  At the next noise, I found her on the perch at the bottom of the manor…  helped her back up.  They seemed to settle but at the next sound I found her on the swing again…  At the last check, she was on the top perch & both boys tucked out of the way on top of the back swing…

I hope she has a restful night.  I will be checking on her as always.

A step back

Atilla has not been well.

Atilla feeling a little sorry for herself

Last Wednesday, her poop did not look right.  I gave her antibiotics in water & she slurped it.  However, since then she has not wanted to eat or drink & has become very lethargic.  Her poops have not improved & have been sticking to her lump.  I took her to Mr Exotic Vet on Friday.

He examined her & said that the skin on the top part of the hernia is red & inflamed & will be causing her discomfort.  It will be caused by the weight of the hernia dragging the skin down.  The top part is the area she can reach which means she may be aggravating it by preening & rubbing her foot against it.

He prescribed antibiotics in water during the day & Critical Care formula in water during the night.  I am to report back on her progress tomorrow, Monday.

The boys visiting Atilla in the travel cage

Since the vet visit she has eaten a little broccoli & occasionally has a few seeds.  Unfortunately, even though I hold the water up to her, she has not been drinking it.  I have been dunking the broccoli in it & hoping she consumes some through that.  Cagney still feeds her though I doubt that much food gets through as most of it seems to land up dribbling down his chin!

At the beginning of the week, things in the Manor were rearranged again, this time to put seed/water pots up another level to save Atilla having to climb down for food.  I know it is normally suggested that perches are lowered but as Atilla appears to think the Manor floor is made of hot coals I have moved everything up to her.

Atilla spends most of the day sleeping though she is still very aware of all going on around her.  Mr EV thought Atilla looked very alert, despite her problems.  She was studying him intensely, especially when he was typing up her notes & even chirped loudly at him a few times.

I continue to keep my eye on her, keep offering her food & water & making sure she is as comfortable as possible.

A minor setback

Atilla has been unwell for a couple of days.  On Sunday & Monday she was very quiet & did not come out of the Manor.  Her poops were getting caught on her lump.  They seemed to be dribbling out.  She had either lost the energy to propel them out away from her lump and/or they were not solid enough.  Several times, I had to grab her & remove the poop buildup.

Fortunately she was still eating.  I started giving her antibiotics in case she had some kind of infection.

This morning when I uncovered them, she stretched her wings & chirped.  This was a very good sign.  There was no overnight poop caught on her lump.  Another very good sign.  During the day she perked up enough to check on the mirror under the manor & even visited the poang chair a few times.

The toyboys have been fussing around her, not leaving her alone for a moment.  In fact, I believe that was her main motivation for going to the chair… so she could hide under the tea towel from them for a little peace!

Here are the boys keeping an eye on her:

Up and over

Atilla is still coping with her lump.  It has got bigger again but is still a bit floppy rather than solid like it had been pre-Easter Sunday.  She occasionally gets a poop caught on it, but it never stays there long – either I manage to discreetly flick it off whilst it is fresh, or Atilla attacks it during a botty preen.

She gets about, as always, trailing the lump behind her.  She does not seem to mind & just hauls it around.  When she steps up on my finger from a perch or swing, I have to remember the up & over motion otherwise the lump will get caught.

Here she is on the swing – she got there herself.  She was not very relaxed as she saw me with the camera…

She is still making her own way down under the Manor to check out the mirror there…

The other day I caught her exploring the rest of the area under the Manor – she did a circuit of the tray, returning to the mirror & made her way up to the Manor as per usual.

Atilla doing a circuit of the tray under the Manor

Atilla is very independent & I admire her greatly.

Under Pressure

It has been two weeks since Cagney bruised his right leg.  The exotic vet visit was brought forward a day which suited us better.  Cagney was still not using his right leg although he was now stretching it out behind him when stretching his wing out which he was not doing before.

The added problem now was the pressure sore on his left foot as a result of not being able to rest it due to the gammy right leg.  This was getting him down somewhat.  When resting, he would hold his right foot up but slump to the left in a way that I assume he could take pressure off the left foot sore.  He looked rather sorry for himself.  He did not seem to be feeding Atilla as often but would go to her regularly for head preens, like he needed some extra comfort & tender loving care.  Atilla, even though still weak, would always give him a thorough head preen, complete with pulling out feathers that Cagney would want to check before she flung away.

After a bit of a chase, Mr EV was able to examine Cagney & confirmed he had a superficial pressure sore.  He said to give him antibiotics for the next five days to prevent infection.  He agreed that he was slowly regaining use of his right leg.

Mr EV also checked out Atilla & said she was looking better than when he last saw her.  That day was indeed an “up” day for her, where she was accepting seed from me & actually three times that day went down to get seed herself. 🙂  Mr EV advised that on her “down” days to give her some painkiller/anti-inflammatory medication.

The invalids:

Poop mountain, reinforcements & misting

Even though Mr Exotic Vet had cleared poop away from Atilla’s lump, it started building up.  I can only assume this was happening because the poop was either too runny, and/or she was too weak to do her squat & wriggle to propel the poop away from her vent & the lump.  I tried a couple of times to catch her to clean the poop but found it impossible to keep her still in my hand – she could wriggle & squirm for England.  That in itself was quite reassuring in that she was not so ill that she could not resist.

Spinach leaves

In the hope of loosening the poop mountain, I gave Atilla & the toyboys a misting.  As far as leaves, they only had spinach, so I picked out a few large leaves & hoped they would be tempted to get wet.  Atilla came out onto the landing platform quite quickly to investigate but I can only assume the water temperature was not quite to her liking as she turned her back & retired to her perch.  The boys had a little play in the wet spinach but I guess followed their leader & were not able to drum up much enthusiasm.

So, there was no luck with soaking Atilla’s poop, however the poop had to be cleared as it would not be long before it would be mounting up & blocking the vent area.  I decided to call in reinforcements for the next day.

Surprisingly Atilla was quite alert the next morning.  So much so that when I opened up the Manor she clearly wanted to fly & stretch her wings.  She promptly landed on the floor, but when I returned her to the Manor she flew off again, got further around the room but landed on the floor again.  No matter… I felt this was a good sign as she clearly wanted to be active.

Unfortunately, her activity did not shift the ever-growing poop mountain on her lump.

Not long after Atilla’s little fly, the poop-clearing troops arrived (my mum).  After much discussion, we decided the poop should be soaked for at least a minute & the best way to do this would be to put Atilla in a bird bath.  I would be the one to catch/hold her & mum would be armed with cotton buds & cotton wool for shifting the poop.

As a precursor I gave them all another spinach misting (in the hope that Atilla could soak her lump herself!)  Atilla did not have the energy to roll in the spinach but did get a little wet.  Cagney had a crawl through the spinach leaves & got a nice wet belly & Bezukhov had a romp & a dance over the leaves & I think he forgot that he was actually meant to wash himself!

The aftermath

So, after that distraction, it actually took us two attempts to get rid of all the poop.  Both times, I managed to put Atilla into the bird bath with warm water & keep her in by placing my hand over the open doorway (where the bath should hook onto the cage bars).  Atilla attempted to bite a hole through my fingers to escape but the skin on my fingers are like leather now (thanks Atilla & Raspy) so I could withstand the biting.

The soaking definitely helped in removing the poop.  On the second try I managed to wrap Atilla in a tea-towel which made it a lot easier to hold her still for longer.  Once the poop was gone, before releasing Atilla, mum smeared some vaseline on her lump.  I had already mixed in some aloe vera gel from a plant into the vaseline.  I hoped this would protect the skin on her lump as it is difficult to pull off poop that has hardened.

The poop mountain

What a relief.  The deed was done.  Atilla tweeted as she ran back to her perch & I think she appreciated being rid of the poop though did not appreciate the dunking in the bird bath or the general indignity of the process.  I turned the electric blanket on so she could stay warm as her back end was still wet from the bath.

After she recovered she was able to preen her bottom/vent area & tidy it up a bit.

Limpalong Cagney, sleepy Atilla & the Vet

Electric blanket on the Manor

The day after the Avian Vet visit, Atilla was still very sleepy & weak, in fact most of the time she could hardly open her eyes.  I kept her warm in the Manor under the electric blanket.  Her lump had got smaller due to the injection to reduce the excess fluid.  It now hung down flatly rather than being big & round.

Cagney carried on feeding her.  She did not accept any food/seed from me.  I boiled up an egg & mixed in pellets that I had crushed to a powder, crushed seaweed, a pinch of Guardian Angel & broccoli & sprinkled a few drops of water that had the antibiotic in.  I hoped this concoction would provide Atilla with more vitamins & hopefully more energy.

Cagney eating egg mixture

Despite Cagney gamely keeping up with feeding Atilla, his foot was no better so I decided to call out Mr Exotic Vet for the next day.

Come bedtime, Atilla made her way to the peg & after a little rest there, decided she wanted to sleep on the swing Bezukhov was on (the boys were sleeping on the two front swings).  It is possible that she did not even know he was there as she was still barely opening her eyes, but either way, she jumped on it & landed beside a surprised Bezukhov.  I offered my finger to Bezukhov who, still in shock, readily agreed to settle on the back swing.

Cagney feeding Atilla

The following morning, I found Atilla had made her way to the ttmss swing & was sitting there quite comfortably.  I handed up the water pot & she slurped from it.  She also climbed on my finger & walked up my arm, outside the Manor.  I moved near the plant pot stand & she jumped on it!  I think she appreciated the change of scenery.  She sat there for awhile, being fed by Cagney.  Bezukhov sat with them… all three on the plant pot stand.

Atilla's outing on the plant pot stand

When Mr EV & his assistant arrived, Atilla was back in the Manor & the toyboys were having a fly around the lounge.  Naturally, Cagney did not want to be caught & flew off whenever Mr EV approached.  Funnily enough, Bezukhov flew everywhere that Cagney did even though we were not after him.  Cagney got a little tired & eventually he was caught when he flew into the Manor to hide.

Mr EV confirmed that Cagney’s leg was bruised.  He cut his toenails as some of them were quite long & we assume he must have caught one, causing the bruising on his leg.  We were to allow more time for his leg to heal.

Cagney preening a sleepy Atilla

Atilla was still weak so Mr EV had a look at her.  He managed to prise off two large crusty poops on her lump that must have felt uncomfortable.  I explained all that had happened with Mr AV.  Mr EV said he would ring Mr AV & find out if there was any other medication to help Atilla.

It felt reassuring knowing that two vets would be discussing how to make my precious Atilla comfortable.

After Mr EV departed, I left them all locked in the Manor to calm down & rest.

Result of poop clearing

At bedtime, Atilla made her way to the peg & after a brief doze, launched herself at Cagney’s swing.  For a few moments, they were sat side-by-side, Cagney looking a bit shocked at her supposed decision to share the swing.  Then Atilla launched herself at the back swing where she settled for the night.

Still magnificent

It is a year on from Atilla’s last photo shoot and she clearly felt another session with the camera was due.

To me, she is as beautiful & as magnificent as ever, despite her health problems.

As you can see from the last photo, Atilla can still balance on one foot whilst preening, even though her lump is large. You can also see from the second photo that Cagney is always on the alert & watching her back. 🙂

The elephant in the room

…. or rather, the lump in the room…

Since I reported on Atilla’s last visit to Mr Avian Vet, I have not mentioned her fatty lump & hernia problem.  This has not been intentional.  It is just that she is still a busy madam & gives me lots to focus on other than the lump.

Unfortunately her “undercarriage” lump is gradually getting bigger.  It can be seen in some of the photos in other posts.  It is big, soft & wobbly.  The far side of it has fluffy feathers on as she cannot reach there to preen.  However, I have seen Cagney preen her lump!  He did not plan to, but was climbing up the cage bars & Atilla was on the peg above him & as he reached her he looked up & was faced with her fluffy lump.  He immediately started to gently preen it & Atilla did not mind in the slightest. 

The lump is starting to upset her balance a little but she still gets around as much as before.  She attempts a big fly at least once a day but always lands on the floor.  I have now set up a “stairway” from the floor to the Manor if she should find herself stranded & I am not around to help her up.  I do supervise their out of cage time but may go out the room for just a few minutes.  One time recently I returned & she was on the floor by the Manor, unable to work out how to get home & that is what made me think of constructing the stairway.  At least she has the option for independence although I suspect she will prefer to wait for my hand lift service.

So, apart from the lump getting bigger, there is no other health impact so far….  Atilla is still busy, bright-eyed & the boss.