Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Update on Virga

It's been a week since we had Cirrus and Virga in for their checkups and our vet found two masses near Virga's pouch. She has has been on an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory to treat her for mastitis, and there seems to be improvement.  She is back to her usual self in the morning, being the first (or quick second) out of the pouch for her yogurt. While the others are napping in my shirt during night play time, Virga runs on the wheel.  M has been checking the masses and says they seem to be getting smaller. Virga has been very good about taking her medications. I use a small syringe to give her just 0.2 ml of her meds, and it requires holding her so she can't squirm and can't bite, though she hasn't tried to nip me. I think she is sort of resigned to the fact that we have to do this twice a day, and just like a kid she gets a treat after taking her medicine.

So, we're hopeful that there is continued improvement and things go well next week on her next visit to the vet.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

3 Hours at the Vet

Today we had an appointment for Virga and Cirrus for their annual wellness check.  They are now almost nine years old.  We also had another reason for taking them to the vet. She and Cirrus have had a brown discharge around their pouch, and it seems to have been bothering Virga some.  She will frequently spend several minutes grooming and cleaning her pouch. We had taken her in for this before, and the vet indicated it was the result of glandular discharge related to hormonal activity and was fairly common and not usually a problem. So, we were expecting much the same result today.  Cirrus, always curious about what is going on around her, was active and awake once we got into the exam room, so she was first up for her checkup.  She is doing great and weighed in at 79 grams.

Virga was sleeping comfortably in the pouch when I had to scoop her out for her exam. Both she and Cirrus did pretty well with Dr. Whitington, squirming as they usually do but overall being well-behaved all things considered.  As part of their exam the vet took a swab from their pouch to check for anything unusual.  When Dr. Whitington took the swab from Virga, we were all surprised to see blood on the swab. She was a little concerned about it, but indicated that the blood was likely the result of the swabbing but also said there was some irritation. As she continued the examination, she found two masses near the middle and side of the pouch. Dr. Whitington indicted they seemed to be mammary in origin and wanted to examine Virga's pouch and the masses more closely. This would require general anesthesia and about an hour to complete, including lab analysis.  We told her to go ahead and headed out to wait with a very unhappy Cirrus.  She did not want to be in the bonding pouch, especially by herself. For most of the hour she kept trying to push through the mesh, to the point her normally pink nose was red.

About an hour and 15 minutes later Dr. Whitington brought a now awake Virga out to us and filled us in on what she found. Virga's pouch was irritated and inflamed, and she could see one mass through the pouch. The other wasn't easy to see. Dr. Whitington suspects the inflammation and masses may be due to mastitis.  Virga is on an antibiotic (Trimethoprim-sulfa) and an anti-inflammatory (Metacam) for 14 days, and then she goes in to be checked. If the medication doesn't help, then the next step will be to do a biopsy and go from there.

Needless to say, we were pretty bummed out by the news.  In hindsight we could note some small changes in her behavior.  She is normally the first out of the pouch when it's yogurt or mealworm time, and lately she has been slower to come out.  However her appetite has been good, her weight has been stable, and she has been active (spends a lot of time on the wheel). On a positive note, the vet said that Virga is in otherwise great shape.

Virga came though the whole exam very well and curled up to sleep in the bonding pouch once she was brought out. Cirrus was pretty stressed out the whole time, but finally relaxed on the way home.  She is spending most of play time tonight napping in a fleece blanket.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Scare

Sunday is usually "weigh day" for the gliders. We wake them up for some yogurt, coax them out of their pouch, and weigh each of them.  This Sunday was no different, except that we got a late start and did get around to weighing them until around noon.  Often we have to turn the pouch out to get each of them out, usually Foehn and CB. I had weighed Cirrus and Virga, and M said I might as well scoop the other two out. I reached in and eased CB out of the pouch, but he was the only one in there. Foehn must be in the other pouch in the cage.  I went to get her and found that pouch empty.  Odd.  I checked a fabric tunnel hanging in the cage (part of their February Valentine theme accessories) and it was empty.  OK, maybe she was in the pile of blankets on the floor of the cage. As I shook out each blanket without a sign of a glider, a horrible feeling swept over me. I checked the cage doors and they were all closed and latched...except one door on the end next to the wall, I had cleaned the cage Saturday and when I moved the cage back into it's spot I didn't latch that door. It could only open about an inch because of the wall, but that's all the room she needed. I went into the office and told M what I found.

In past "adventures" we had discovered their escape early enough that the gliders were still active. In this case it was after noon, and Foehn, wherever she was, was probably curled up asleep and would not be out and around until after 10:00 pm.  We started our search upstairs.  Their winter theme cage set was on the floor waiting to be washed, and I was hopeful that she had found her way to the familiar smells there, but that would have been too easy. No dice. Assuming the worst, we headed downstairs to the basement. There were signs on the stairs that she had been that way. Finding her in the middle of the day among all the stuff down there was a needle in a haystack proposition at best. Although we didn't say anything to each other at the time, both M and I felt this might be the time that wasn't going to have a happy ending. We started looking through boxes of fabric that M has downstairs, and through other boxes that she might have climbed in.  I headed over to the utility area to check the sump well, and was relieved to not find her there. The last time she and CB headed downstairs she was over on that side of the basement.  However, it was going to take hours to try and go through everything systematically, and even then we could miss her.  M came over to my side of the basement and we were not quite sure where to begin. M noticed droppings near a shelf, so we started checking the boxes.There was box of M's old clothes on a shelf and as she started going through it I heard her exclaim "Well, there you are!"  Foehn was curled up in a box of M's old clothes, probably a familiar smell to her. M said she looked up at her as if to say "What took you guys so long??"  We gathered her up and brought her upstairs to join the rest of the gang.  She was a bit dehydrated, so we got her some pedialyte and juice which she readily lapped up for the next hour or so. She was glad to be back with the rest of the gliders and they all happily went to sleep once the excitement was over.

We were very fortunate, first that we found her so quickly (about 30 minutes of looking) and second that she was the only one to leave the cage.