About two weeks ago Alfalfa developed a bit of a sneeze. Alfalfa is generally in good health. But I work and watch diligently to help keep him like that. It is one of the responsibilities I took on when I took him in as a rescue. His last vet called me a ‘nervous mom’. I didn’t like that and I left. So, each time I call the vet I still hear his words and worry: ‘Is this nothing? Am I being too nervous about him? Am I making this appointment for me or for him?’ My trance of questions was broken by Alfalfa sneezing at my feet as a stood in the living room. I said to him, “Sorry dude, you’re going to the vet…” In response Alfalfa took off for his hiding spot under the bed. I laughed and grabbed my phone to make the appointment.
I took Alfalfa in on a Friday and he got a good checkup by the vet. She explained to me that she did not hear anything wrong with him. She was concerned about the sneezing being something going on with his sinuses. As a precaution he was put on antibiotics to help clear up anything that may have been going on.
She made the comment to me, “…I’m glad you brought him in. Many people would just ignore this and it would have gotten worse. We can treat it before it turns into something serious or spreads to his lungs…” Her words cut at the truth of the matter. I thought I was being a ‘nervous mom’ when all I was doing was looking out for my fur baby. I sighed and thanked her for her support.
Thus began the 14 days of antibiotic hell for Alfalfa and I. My goodness did he fight me with every dose. But I knew it was for his well-being. Then on Tuesday he woke up with the sniffles. He walked around the house in misery. He coughed and his whole body convulsed with the spasm. “OH, God…” was all I could say in response to his spasm. “You are going back to the vet!” I declared and picked up the phone to call. Luckily, they had a 1:30 appointment.
We drove down. He was miserable the entire way. There were buggers in and around his nose. He made this clicking sound as he breathed. My mind ran through the worse possibilities by the time I was at the vet. So, I walked into the office a crying mess with Alfalfa bundled in his snuggle sack in my arms. The receptionist saw me and assumed the worse. She ran around the counter and hugged me and the sack in my arms. Alfalfa didn’t like the confinement and let out a huge scream of anger. She jumped back. “He’s ok?” she asked opening the sack and looking in.
“Yes,” I said through tears, “You know me…when he’s sick, I just can’t stand it….” The receptionist didn’t miss a beat. She grabbed some tissues and sat me down in the waiting room.
“As soon as I get a room open, I’ll get you in…ok?” she asked me.
“Good,” I said as Alfalfa sneezed and sprayed my shirt and face with his nasal discharge. “Oh, Alfalfa…” Was all I could say using the tissue to wipe my face.
“And I’ll get you some wet wipes for your face…” she said grimacing at me.
I cleaned my face and we sat and waited for about five minutes before we were called back to a rom. The tech did her things with Alfalfa and soon after the vet was in. She examined him. “His breathing is harsh…” she commented when she listened to his lungs.
“What does that mean?” I asked as she continued with the examination.
“Well…It could mean that he has a lung infection or pneumonia. Or it could be the sound of his clogged nasal passages echoing down making it sound like that. I’d need an x-ray to find out.”
“Ok, do it…” I said in response. After all, I wanted to see what was up with those lungs. The vet tech came in minutes later to get Alfalfa. I warned her, “He’s a fighter, a biter, and a flight-er…” She asked me what that meant. I told her, “Well, if he can, he’s going to bite you. And if he wants to, he will jump and run off of anything. Finally, he will fight you the whole way.”
“We will take good care of him,” she said picking him up and wrapping him in a towel. She held his face to hers, “Right, guy?” she asked. In response, Alfalfa sneezed and sprayed buggers all over her face. I couldn’t help myself and I started to giggle. “Yuck…” was all she could say. She left the room grabbing a paper towel on the way out.
Again my mind went where it shouldn’t have. I was so worried. Would his body be able to handle all of that gamma radiation from the x-rays? Or would I wind up with some sort of guinea-hulk-pig creation from the exposure? I convinced myself that Alfalfa was mutating into a pet suitable for the Hulk himself. Crap. That meant I would never be able to piss him off again…
Five minutes after he left the tech returned with my totally normal guinea pig. The vet came in and showed me his x-rays. Totally normal and his lungs were clear. He had a bad sinus infection. Again, the vet complimented me on bringing him in as soon as I could. She said I prevented the sinus issues from turning into a lung infection or worse. His antibiotics were changed and we were soon on our way back home. All of my worries were well placed.
Alfalfa is starting to feel better. Thankfully, his nose is no longer full of discharge. He is no longer a walking biological weapon.
One of the biggest things that I have found having Alfalfa is the importance of having a good vet. I don’t just mean one that is well qualified. I mean one that listens to your concerns and addresses them. As I told you in the story, I am what some might call a ‘nervous mom’. I have good reasons. Alfalfa’s health can be very fragile and tricky at times. I monitor him very closely. So, the moment I spot anything of concern, we are off to the vet.
I had a vet for Alfalfa prior to going to Chadwell that did not take my concerns seriously. He criticized me the last time I was there for being “…too nervous of a pet owner…” I was very uncomfortable with his observation and left his practice the next time I needed something for Alfalfa. A vet should listen to your concerns about your pet no matter how silly, trivial, or odd. If your vet is not doing that then my suggestion would be to find a new one. You know your pet and your pet’s behavior better than anyone. You are your pet’s best advocate. Do not be afraid to speak up.
Your vet knows that you are not an expert and should use your visits to check your pet AND teach you about your pet. The teaching part is quite often neglected by many vets. Luckily I have found a group of vets that both care for my pet and for his owner…me. And that is more valuable than gold in my book.
Today’s blog is dedicated to Caplin ROUS. You can find his and Garibaldi’s amazing story and more here at: http://gianthamster.com/