I’ll start with the easier one.
Alex got braces almost exactly two years ago, and today he got them off. Very happy day for him, though my beaming Momsmile probably got annoying. I tried to rein it in. But it was hard. His teeth look great, and I think it’ll be easier now to get him to smile for pictures. When I can get him to allow me to take pictures of him, that is.
That was the easy one. Julia will be next. But not today.
This morning I dropped Cookie off at the vet’s to have his teeth filed down.
I need to back up, of course.
About two weeks ago (I’ve lost track), we noticed Cookie’s left eye looked squinty and a bit crusty.
Internet at my fingertips, I read far too much about Guinea Pig eyes and what ailments might present themselves as eye problems. For instance, at first my thought (my hopeful, naïve thought) was that he’d gotten poked in the eye with a piece of hay. I couldn’t find any bits of hay under the lid (and I looked, of course), so for a couple of days I wiped his eye and rinsed it with saline and kept my fingers crossed.
Because sometimes an eye ailment is not an eye ailment. Sometimes it’s a sign of a respiratory infection. Or a dental problem. Or an abscess. Or I forget what else. So many possible life-threatening issues. Guinea pigs are apparently susceptible to all sorts of things, and because they are prey animals they have evolved to not show distress until, well, it’s just about too late. (My eyes were aching from all the reading I’ve done about Guinea Pig health. Crash course.)
Well, I clearly needed to bring him to the vet.
Our regular vet was on vacation, so I brought him to the emergency room at the same veterinary hospital where Scratchy stayed when he had fatty liver disease and had a tube put in so we could feed him and keep him alive.
They thought his cornea might have been scratched, but when they put dye in his eye, there was no sign of that, so they put him on some medicated eye drops and metacam orally for five days for the pain, and recommended a follow up with our regular vet or with their own exotic animal specialist the next week.
So we did all that, and sometimes his eye looked better, but sometimes it didn’t. He still seemed interested in food, in doing all his usual guinea pig things, but the eye didn’t improve.
I wasn’t able to get an appointment with our vet (scheduling conflicts) so I brought him back to the hospital and met with their Exotics specialist.
I kind of felt like a loser during that visit, partly because I’ve never had Guinea pigs before and am doing my best to keep them healthy but it’s a lot more complicated than just giving them a dish of food twice a day. They are kind of delicate little beings, and as I told Bill, I didn’t want Cookie to die.
My father passed away on July 6th. I will write about that in time, but suffice to say I am still wiped out from these past months of my sister and me caring for him in his house, and now this little furry animal could die and I really wasn’t in the mood for any more death in my family for now.
So some of my loser feeling was being emotionally and mentally exhausted.
Anyway, the vet pointed out that Cookie was pretty thin – he weighed half of what Cloudy weighs. (I’d brought him along on the vet visits – I figured they’d prefer that to being separated. The Dr was glad – she could see that I wasn’t actively starving Cookie – Cloudy shares his cage and he’s doing just fine, weight-wise.)
Then she checked Cookie’s teeth.
His incisors were crooked. He wasn’t wearing them down evenly, so on one side of his face the teeth were longer. Kind of like this –> / <- only not as drastic an angle.
Next she took a look at his back teeth. I couldn’t see very well, but the molars were apparently too big – he wasn’t wearing them down enough, and they were growing inward and the lower ones would start blocking his tongue if they got much bigger, and he wouldn’t be able to swallow.
So there were a couple of possible scenarios.
This could be a freak thing (not her words) that, with meds and a little dental work, would be fixed and he could live a long and full little Guinea Pig life.
It could also be a genetic anomaly (a not uncommon guinea pig thing) and we might fix it for now, but not forever. Quality of life would be lessened, and the humane thing, eventually, would be to euthanize him.
She gave me new meds for him, and an estimate for the cost of his dental work, and we scheduled him for the following Tuesday morning (today). I went home kind of in shock and too muddy-brained to take it all in.
I told Bill and Julia about the possible issues, but not the dental work scheduled. Only one financial wave in the face at a time.
Anyway, now he was on better eye drops – they were a bit thicker and stayed in his eye better. And he got more of the metacam. And liquid Vitamin C. And a probiotic paste to help his digestive system, since he didn’t seem to be eating enough hay.
Eye three times a day.
Metacam twice a day.
C and Paste once a day.
Julia had already learned to do the eye drops and the metacam, which makes all this a lot easier.
That was last Thursday. We gave him his meds and cut back on extras that are yummy but not as nutrient dense as greens and hay.
I woke up at one in the morning on Saturday and spent two and a half hours actively worrying and researching guinea pig health issues on my phone. I finally shut it off and shut my eyes but couldn’t fall back to sleep. Eventually had to get up anyway and be at work at 6:00.
I brought Cookie in this morning and spent some of my day worrying, of course, and I was tired so I tried to take a nap, but that didn’t work out because frankly I kept expecting them to call and say he’d died on the table. They didn’t call, so around 2:30 I did, and they said Cookie was doing well and eating, and I could come get him any time before 5.
I was out the door.
The vet showed me pictures of how his teeth looked before, during, and after the filing. She told me which meds to continue or use up or stop, and asked me to let her know how he was doing. He is young, and hopefully he will thrive.
Cloudy was practically turning hand stands when I brought Cookie to the cage. I kept them separated at first, thinking maybe Cookie needed some solitude, but Cloudy was frantic, wheeking (that’s the noise they make) through the cage and trying to see Cookie in the other cage. Cookie chirped back, so I put him in with Cloudy and watched to make sure there weren’t any issues.
Cloudy did a lot of sniffing all over Cookie. Cookie headed for the hay rack and parked himself there and ATE.
At one point Cloudy came over to Cookie, sniffed the left eye and licked it. He’s done that before. It makes my heart tremble a bit.
And at this moment, both are taking naps. Cloudy is inside a paper bag with some fleece for snuggly comfort. Cookie is in the corner by the hay rack, resting. He’s had a busy, weird day. He’s not himself yet – I put some cucumber in the cage and he’s not at all interested, but he’s just gorged on hay, so that’s understandable.
Now, we watch and wait and give meds and hope.
And Cloudy will bombard Cookie with love.
As soon as I hit “Publish” for this post, Cookie grabbed a slice of cucumber.