Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exotics extravaganza (cockatoos, bunnies, reptiles oh my!)

My first weekend was a good one, but it was thoroughly exhausting. I had a surgery both nights - a c-section on the first one, an enucleation on the second. Both went well, although I was surprisingly nervous. Perhaps because it's been a while since I wielded a scalpel.

At any rate, Sunday morning, I had all my cases wrapped up, transferred to the day ER doc, and was ready to head home. An owner calls and asks if we will see his bird. Neither of the other ER docs are comfortable with birds, so that left me. I asked the technician to tell the owners to go to the nearby specialty clinic. As it turns out, however - all of the avian/exotics docs are currently out of town at the AAV (Annual Association of Avian Vets). No one else in the area was open to see the sick birdie.

I sighed and told them to come on in. I can't resist a bird in need of medical attention. Especially when there is no one else to see it.

It was an interesting case, as it turns out - a cockatoo with neurological disease. He wasn't able to grip with his feet, he kept falling, and occasionally, he was maybe having seizures. After looking him over, I explained to the anxious owners that my primary differentials were heavy metal toxicity (lead, zinc poisoning) and proventricular dilatation disease.

Birds that free roam in houses (as my patient did) often eat things they shouldn't, chew paint, chew blinds, chew windowsills - you get the picture. Any time a bird comes in with neurological signs, ingestion of a metallic object has to be high on the list of possible causes. Yet, I've never actually had one that I xrayed have actual metal in the body.

This was to be my first. Imagine my delight when I saw a small metal foreign body in the proventriculus and proventricular dilation (a common sequelae to heavy metal toxicity). Thrilled, I began treatment with calcium EDTA (to chelate the metal). My patient did very well, was able to perch and grip, before transferring away to his veterinarian on Monday.

The downside? It took me until 1:30pm Sunday to finish working him up, treating him, and getting him settled. Thus, I had exactly 4.5 hours before I had to be back for the Sunday night shift. I wound up sleeping at work. So, on my first weekend, I was there for almost 40 hours straight. Plus, we had a doctor meeting on Monday morning, after my shift ended. So I was pretty much awake from 5:30pm Saturday through 1:30pm Monday afternoon, with the exception of a 3ish hour nap on Sunday.

Don't worry, it won't become a habit. It was worth it, to fix my cockatoo patient. I also had a bunny patient (with a head tilt) that was very fun (and rewarding) to treat.

I love my new job, by the way. The people are great, the place is well-run, and I'm in charge. Maybe that's my favorite part.


elizabeth said...

Nice! And in a funny coincidence I was JUST doing vetprep, and a very similar scenario was laid out! Too bad I didn't read your blog first or I might have gotten the question right. :)

Beloved Parrot said...

Good work!

alanna said...
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