13 January 2009

The day I kicked some much needed arse

I did, I swear, yesterday! We had two deaths, unfortunately -

[Digression: most reptiles and birds we see sufer from poor husbandry. With reptiles it' usually that either the food doesn't have enough Ca, or the Ca:P ratio is wrong, or the food is right but the lights are wrong, or they're all good but then the terrarium is covered with glass intead of mesh so the end result is the same, a very rubbery animal that sometimes even twitches in place. With birds it's almost always poor food - allow me: SUNFLOWER SEEDS KILL YOUR PETS! There, I feel better. It's like asking a 6 year-old to choose between a green salad or a vat of chocolate, guess what wins. The problem is, a bird may be dying and the blood work can be normal (even if the liver is rubbish as it so often is), or vice-versa, and birds, being preyed upon, only show symptoms when their condition is really serious. So they come to the vet so sick they often cannot handle being handled and they die, or they die before anything can be done, or they die despite things being done - point is, they die a bloody lot and it all stems from poor husbandry and their being stubborn little buggers. You see, you cannot just take the beloved seeds away from Psittacines (parrots et al), they will starve to death. They absolutely will, in your face. So what we do is have one feeder with unflower seeds covering the bottom and that's it, the rest should be good formulated food (Harrison's is brilliant, if expensive) and loads of veggies and fruit, raw or cooked (no salt, no nothing!), and preferably in different shapes (finicky buggers as well). Now, in a battle of wills btwn owner-bird the owner will most likely lose bcs this may take months and months and the bird has to starve some to approach the new foods and then the owner goes all Awwww on him and gives him seeds again, and then one fine day I arrive at the clinic to find a richness of corpses. Yey. (And mind, my tutor? The man is the bet exotics vet in Portugal, one of the best in Europe and no doubt in my mind that he is one of the bet in the whole bloody world, but he doen't perform miracles either.)]

So, two birds had died, a cockateel and a parrot, and sad as it was it gave me the chance to practice a few things which will actually be helpful in maintaining other birds alive: catheters and external and internal fixation - this last one make me laugh, btw, bcs you all remember how much I enjoy orthopoedics, right? But this was different and cool. With birds you place the catheters inside the bone, and it was brilliant to actually feel the landmarks since I don't do so well with drawings, and I did a good job! Look!

It's inside the bone but not so far up that it hinders normal movement.

Then I moved on to the external fixation on a and spent abt 1.30h losing my mind and blood bcs, whereas I pricked myself loads, I could not get that irritating blue needle to pierce the bone. When my adviser came in he tried it himself and told me to use a thinner orange needle and then, ahhh:

In a real surgery you'd clip both ends of the needle and secure them together with a roll of material that looks like playdough and is thermally activated when you roll it in your hand. That's how tiny these bone are, needles!

And then on to repair a fracture in the parrot, both tibio-tarsal and femoral, I struggled a lot here too bcs I was working blind, feeling the bone pieces within the muscles, until he came in again and told me that super nerdvets may manage to but I needed to make an incision so I could actually see the bone piece and I did the femur after he'd shown me how to with the tibiotarsal and the good news is, I inserted the intramedullary pin and stabilised the leg but the bad news is, I used a medial approach instead of a lateral one, apparently the medial one is only used on the tibiotarsals, oops. Next time I'll know!

There's more in my flickr page, poor mobile phone quality that they are, but know that I did my practising after the necropsy. I think the pictures are really not bad at all, gore-wise, but you lot are fragile as daffodils so I might as well nurture you. Lovingly.

6 furballs:

lorem ipsum said...

A beloved budgie of mine died by the exact same means you described. The problem is, as you said, that people assume seeds are the way to go and it's not. Unfortunately even though I got him at a tender age he refused to eat anything but. Eventually he fell in love with me and tried to eat whatever I was eating (often after I'd put it in my mouth) but in the end he died of malnutrition rather than touch the Harrison's that he desperately needed. (This was in addition to the iodine drops, etc. I forced down his gullet to fortify his thyroid.)

Now I have another budgie, raised on Harrison's and not very interesting and relegated basically to a footnote in our home since the arrival of the child. Perhaps the stuff doesn't taste very good.

Anonymous said...

i'd feel a bit more nurtured if i were not eating dinner while scrolling down this post.
otherwise, i want to know what kind of powers supervets have?
K., veggie since 1999

JoeinVegas said...

On your way from Intern to SuperVet. Maybe we can get you a costume with big front logo and a cape.

Anonymous said...

Well, i have no plans to ever husband either a bird or a lizard but if I do, I now know what to do to keep the bugger alive. I had no idea that sunflower seeds were poisonous...why do pet shops not tell people these things? Seems kind of vital, no? Hi, don't kill your bird! Here's how...

Anyway, beautifully done with all the needles and such. I have very little idea of what I'm looking at but I had a better idea of what was going on from your words. I had no idea that you could even PUT needles in bird bones. How interesting. Keep on rocking the vet world!


PS~ Word verification is "cramrum". What one does on spring break, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I have nothing much to say about this post - just here to apologize for never being around when you call, to tell you that I am indeed one of the fragile ones (not because of the gore, per se, but because the poor bird is dead), and to note that the word verification today is hebusnu -- which can of course only be parsed as "He[e]b us, nu?" Which seems appropriate, all things considered, especially the Important Jewish Stuff you are setting off to do.

Oh, and boas entradas right back at you, minha querida.

Signed, the very busy important professor lady, who's clearly far too busy to ever sign her name to these things.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is ouch. Aren't bird bones hollow? I seem to remember reading that somewhere.