Eating Something that Doesn’t Agree Part 2
I’ll start by saying THANK YOU to Dr. Sakas at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center, something I will repeat throughout this post. This is the second half of my story about Sarafina’s emergency and his current status.
Monday morning I called Dr. Peter Sakas at Niles Animal Hospital. They’d already received records from the two emergency clinics I visited and were ready for my call. When can you be here? Within the hour, and we were off. At this point Sarafina was doing better, at least he seemed to be feeling better as he was eating well and no longer stretching his neck out. But I still needed to get to the bottom of what happened.
Dr. Sakas listened carefully after greeting us. From there we went to his office to review the x-ray taken by the ER vet. First he pointed out his heart looked rather large (remember I said his chest looked larger on one side and remember the young doctor told me his heart looked perfect?), not necessarily an issue at this point but still an observation. And his liver looked small, especially compared to his heart (remember the young doctor also said his liver looked perfect?). This he said can occur if he hasn’t been eating much, a temporary shrinkage if you will. He suggested we take two more views, no argument from me.
In the new shots he could see that the heart wasn’t quite as big as he thought but the liver was still relatively small. In the lateral (side) view he could also see that he had a lot of gas in his intestines. This no doubt would cause some discomfort and was probably the tail-end (no pun intended) of the issues. So with everything else being normal about Sarafina it seemed he had ingested something that really didn’t agree with his digestive system. He prescribed him some medicine to coat his digestive tract and provide him some relief as the issue passes. Thank you Dr. Sakas for being there in Sarafina’s (and my) time of need; your knowledge, experience, and sense of humor are invaluable.
Given that Sarafina had started eating again after we got back from the first doctor and had been eating well from then until the present, it appeared that the issue had (hopefully) passed. From this point, it was my job to keep an eye on him, give him the meds twice a day, and make sure he’s eating well.
***Several hours after I started the first post I looked up at Sarafina on the tree stand and noticed he was stretching his neck and swallowing continuously. I was afraid this was starting all over, but after 10 minutes or so he seemed to be back to normal. Back to normal or not a recurrence is not okay. I wanted to keep him out on the stand as opposed to putting him to bed, that way I could keep an eye on him at all times, but he desperately needed to sleep and he couldn’t do that with me walking, typing, watching about. So I put him to bed and vowed to check on him periodically throughout the night, a compromise of sorts between him sleeping uninterrupted and my knowing he’s alright. First thing in the morning I would call Dr. Sakas yet again. Sarafina will be okay!
That was yesterday morning. The receptionist put me on hold as she took the message to Dr. Sakas. Once she got back the question was once again when could I be there? Dr. Sakas was concerned with the continuous swallowing especially and wanted to perform a Barium treatment. I am familiar with Barium treatments from when I worked years and years ago at a vet clinic. It was so very nice for there not to be so much of a mystery on the other end, well sort of, that is we still don’t know what it’ll show us.
Barium is a metallic compound that shows up on x-rays. This form of treatment is commonly used in dogs and cats for the same reason that it was used here: to determine causes of vomiting, abnormal stools, weight loss, and blood in stools or vomit among other things. Liquid Barium is fed to the animal then x-rays are taken at specific intervals to follow the passage of Barium through the body. It shows up white in the x-rays and can also highlight inflammation in the lining of the digestive track, as it did in Sarafina’s case in addition to showing that a great deal of gas was still present in his system. Luckily there was still no evidence of any sort of blockage however the lining of his intestines was significantly thicker than normal. Dr. Sakas explained to me ahead of time though that Barium treatment is not only diagnostic it’s also therapeutic. He showed me proof of this in each subsequent x-ray as the gas and inflammation decreased. And by the way in case you didn’t already know 😉 technology is awesome. They’re x-rays are now digital at the clinic and he showed them to me on a flat touchscreen next to the x-ray machine. From a list of patients he tapped and selected Sarafina’s file. Up popped the first image and some navigational arrows among other options. Using the ‘pinching’ motion we’re all familiar with to zoom in and out of the screen he could zoom in on the x-ray with just the…well, stretch of his fingers. No more holding the picture up and squinting into the light. (One day we’ll all have our own x-ray machines, where’s the waiting list?) I could clearly see the thickness of his intestines and the bubbles of gas throughout. He also pointed out to me that his heart is really quite large however there’s not a real cause for this at this point (or maybe there never will be) and while he wasn’t extremely concerned about this it alarmed him enough to prescribe Sarafina a long-term (possibly permanent) supportive (my word) heart medication. Not quite sure what to think or feel about this but right now I’m hoping all of this makes him feel better, even if he is pissed after this is all said and done.
And speaking of being pissed, Dr. Sakas told me he peeked into the incubator Sarafina was in to check on him. You know, just see how he was doing after his Barium treatment. Well Sarafina took a look at him and FLIPPED his water dish over. Dr. Sakas looked at me, “Is that him?” Yes, yes it is! Who would have thought being pissed off could be so wonderful. 😉 Then it was my turn to get him from the incubator. He saw me through the window as I waved at him, I certainly caught his attention. Lucky for me he didn’t feel the need to show me his irritation as I picked him up outta there. Thank you Dr. Sakas, for being so dedicated and caring.
With a banana-flavored new medicine in tow I packed Sarafina up in his carrier, inquired a bit about the nearby Cockatoo (the lead-poisoned one) who’s now in a regular cage but waiting until he’s eating well on his own to go home and the little Lovebird missing part of his upper beak chirping away behind me. This little guy came in because part of his upper beak got chopped off when his owners closed the door (I don’t know whether or not this was intentional) then they didn’t want him anymore so the hospital adopted him as their official mascot. His name is Scoop because his bottom beak now looks like a scoop without the top part fully covering it. Seeing as I could have gone on asking many more questions and making many more remarks I hit the pause button on my curiosity and made my way back to my room to await the new medication and be discharged. Thank you Dr. Sakas for knowing your stuff and not jumping immediately to something more invasive like a crop cytology as *clears throat* someone else did. Thank you for being so passionate about your work, especially about your patients. It means everything to me that I could have confidence in him, that I could trust him with Sarafina’s life. My nerves nibbled on my spine at the thought of his needing to stay “in hospital” and being out of my hands but I could breathe a little easier knowing that Dr. Sakas and his staff would not mess around. You guys are awesome! Dr. Sakas is always patient with my questions and observations, my sometimes long-winded stories and curiosity. He has a great sense of humor and as I learned that day he loves writing rock band reviews, yeah he’s a rocker of sorts (a critic that is)! 🙂 He said he’s met all kinds of rockstars and has had great feedback on his reviews for Rock Chicago Online Magazine.
Thank you for your support and prayers. I feel fortunate to have this work out as well as it has thus far and especially to still have my buddy, his nasty bites and all.
***As I finish this up to publish today I can tell you that Sarafina is back to his old self, whistling, talking, jabbering, and making all sorts of sounds. He’s playful and loves to whisper along with me when I whisper to him on my shoulder. He’s eating great as well. And so again, thank you Dr. Sakas and staff. 😀 Of course the moral of this story is be prepared for emergencies, be they with yourself, your kids, your partner, and/or your pets, as the saying goes proper preparation prevents poor performance. I might also add don’t trust just anyone because they’ve got some initials behind their name and a fancy job, after all we’re all human.
Okay so this story has a bunch of morals… if you have pets (really this is applicable to all doctors) find a veterinarian, not just any vet, but one you really like. One with integrity, experience, humor, dedication, passion, compassion, and a clear dedication to their profession. When you find one you can trust, one you like, then every time you look at your pet you can smile a little harder knowing that your backup plan is fool proof. 😉