Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back at the Vet

We were back to visit our vet today, but this was a routine visit.  It was time for the annual wellness check for CB and Foehn.  Dr. W came into the room with an entourage today - the vetmed student who initially greeted us and took history info, a new resident, and a visiting resident from Japan. In addition to our four gliders we had our grandson with us as well, so it was quite a crowd.

CB, our laid back glider, "Mr. Chill", pitched a fit today during the exam.  He did not want anything to do with Dr. W or the exam. When she placed him in a container to weigh him he was crabbing as loud as he could. He even managed to push aside the weighted lid of the container and escape briefly before Dr. W gathered him up in the towel. He was fine once the exam was complete and he could go back in the pouch with the others.  His reaction was uncharacteristic for him, and he's been examined several times before and never reacted like this. Foehn did just fine during her exam. She crabbed a bit, which is to be expected, but was pretty settled down for her.

We did discuss Virga and Cirrus a bit. According to the oncologist there is apparently no "good" chemotherapy to treat them without making them miserable and lower their quality of life. The evaluation of the CT scan by the radiologist wasn't available yet, so we don't quite know all we are dealing with yet.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The CT Scan

Virga and Cirrus had their CT scans on Thursday. The procedure went well. It was done under anesthesia, and the radiologist had to inject them with a contrasting dye to get the images, which had some risks.

The results were heartbreaking, though. Virga has metastatic cancer that has spread to her lungs. They don't think the spots on her liver are anything and that was a bit of good news. Our vet said that she may only have another month or two (three at the outside) before she starts to rapidly deteriorate. The vet had tears in her eyes and gave M a hug when she told her the news. I was at work for a bit and just missed getting back to the hospital when M was called back. There were also a couple of small spots on Cirrus' scan that are suspicious on first look, and the radiologist will further analyze the scan to see what is going on. Our vet is going to talk to their veterinary oncologist and see if there is an oral, inexpensive, and somewhat effective chemo med that we can treat Virga and Cirrus with. It won't cure them, but it it may slow things down and give Virga few more months. If Cirrus is in the very early stages, she's hoping that with treatment it has a chance to go into remission.She was careful to inform us that chemo for animals is more for quality of life, and if the cancer goes into remission it's a bonus. We'll get a report and a copy of the CT images this week.

We honestly weren't expecting to hear that everything was good, but to hear Virga might not have much time left hit us hard.

To top it all off, Virga has had some sort of tremors when she first wakes up. The odd thing about them is that they cease as soon as she is up and around. We informed our vet about it and she will be checking with their new neurologist.  I've been trying to get video of it to show them, but it seemed every time I turned on the camera she would stop! I was finally able to get about 30 seconds the night before last and will be sharing that with them on Tuesday. That's when we'll be back at the vet for the regular wellness checks for CB and Foehn.

Right now Virga seems to be herself, perhaps moving a bit slower. She is still one of the first out at night, loves her mealworms, and is spending a lot of time on her wheel during "office" time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Update on Virga

The call we were waiting for on Monday from our vet didn't come until Tuesday morning, and it wasn't good news.  Virga has another mammary tumor.  They are not sure what the spots on her lungs and liver are and would like to do a CT scan. This would be expensive ($600-$700) and it's possible we would not gain much new information.  There was some good news to come, though. Since our vet, the surgeon, and the radiologist are so interested in Virga's case, the CT scan will be paid for by a research grant. Cirrus will also be imaged  as a "control" subject, which will further add to any information they can obtain. M asked the vet how Virga could have gotten another mammary tumor since the surgery in March was supposed to remove all mammary tissue. She said that based on all the information available to them, they were sure they had removed it all. However, it could be that gliders have mammary tissue similar to rodents, that is, it extends to their back. The one thing that worries us is that they may need to inject a contrast dye through a catheter to improve the imaging. They are so small that this may be difficult to do.

So, the CT scan is scheduled for July 19.  We're hoping the CT scan will help determine the best course of action. Our vet really does not want to put Virga through another surgery. I guess we'll evaluate all the options after we know where things stand. In the meantime Virga is doing well, eating normally and is pretty active, all things considered.

Monday, July 9, 2012

We've Been Working on a Railroad...

This weekend M and I helped "railroad" a glider from a breeder in Missouri to her new owner in New York. The east and west portions of the railroad were in place, but the middle section was up in the air. M and I decided to help out, in part because the glider community has been so supportive with our issues with Virga and Cirrus. So, we were the middle link in the railroad. On Friday we hit the road for Collinsville, IL (east of St. Louis, where we were to meet the breeder and pick up the glider. When we pulled into Collinsville at about 5:00 p.m., it was a a hot 104°F! We weren't scheduled to meet the breeder until about 6:30 p.m. but we got there a little early so we could grab dinner.  The breeder was driving from southeastern Missouri and her leg of the trip was about 2 1/2 hours. About 6:50 p.m. she pulled into our arranged meeting spot. We all introduced ourselves and we took custody of Draco (Drake for short), a ring-tailed mosaic glider.

This is Drake shortly after we took custody of him. M had just placed an apple slice
in the pouch for him to snack on. Big feet!

We got home about 9:30 p.m. and got Drake settled in the "guest cage". We fed our four their evening mealworm snack, gave them some playtime, and then headed to bed. We were on the road again before 8:00 a.m. headed to the northeast side of Indianapolis, where we were to hand off Drake to two others in the glider community who would then take Drake to Columbus, OH where they would meet Drake's new owner driving in from western New York.

Drake checks out the guest cage. His color is lighter than standard grey gliders.
His tail is almost white with a darker ring on it (it's out of the frame and not visible).

We met up with Denise and Janelle who came down from Fort Wayne to drive the last leg of the railroad. We had a nice early lunch with them before they hit the road with little Drake. Later that night we got a message from Drake's new owner that they had arrived home safely and he was settling in to his new home.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Unexpected Bad News

Virga and Cirrus went in for their four-month follow up visit with the vet yesterday. Just in the last few days M had noticed a small nodule on Virga's abdomen, so the timing of the appointment was perfect. There was good news - both Cirrus and Virga have returned to their normal weights. Cirrus is 88 grams, I think the most she has weighed, and Virga was at 92 grams. They both have been active, although Virga has slowed down some. The vet was concerned about the nodule, which seemed on her hip bone, and wanted to do an x-ray, ultrasound, and needle aspiration. So, our 9:00 a.m. appointment turned into a six-hour affair since the first opening for the ultrasound was at 1:00 p.m. We left Cirrus with Virga  to keep her company at the vet's and went to run some errands. About 2:00 the vet came out and brought us back to the examining room to show us the x-rays and ultrasound. She had several concerns, but cautioned us that the x-rays and ultrasound had yet to be seen by the radiologist. The nodule was subcutaneous, right below the skin, and to her it didn't feel like it was the type of lump to be concerned about. What was more troubling were two spots on her liver evident in the ultrasound, which may be just cell regeneration, and some clouding evident on the x-ray in Virga's lungs. These might mean her cancer has metastasized.

Our vet called tonight, but we were gone at the time. She left a message that she wanted to discuss the cytology report with us, and will call us on Monday. However, the message was disheartening for what it didn't say. If the pathology was negative, I assume the message would have been something along the lines of "Everything's negative and there's nothing to worry about now".

In addition to this, Virga has been having some sort of spasm or tremors when she wakes up in the pouch. As she's having one she makes an noise similar to the noise they make if they are annoyed with each other. The first couple of time we heard it we thought one of them was bothering someone and the one being bothered was expressing their displeasure. The strange thing about it is it stops as soon as she is out of the pouch, and we have never heard it at any other time.

It will be a long weekend.