If her nails are not curling or posing risk of puncture to surrounding tissue, you may have time. By far, clipping with someone she is comfortable with is the least stressful, and stress is a huge concern in her condition. Your call, but consider.
It's great that she is showing good interest in her vegetation. How is her weight compared to your last weigh-in (UPDATE: I did quickly read back and saw you noted weight stable, very good. If she could gain, would be very good giving her some buffer. Perhaps a little more syringe feeding can help)? Have you considered breaking pellets in half so they are more manageable? Does she only eat 10cc's/day? Will she accept more, more sessions possibly, spaced out 3-4hrs apart?
Guinea pigs usually have bald spots inside the front legs (see photo), perhaps as a result of grooming, with the hair being continuously rubbed off by cleaning their faces and eventually failing to regrow.
As you can imagine from the silence recently, Lulu has been doing better. Her behavior and appetite seem normal, and her weight has maintained around 700-710 grams. We are not seeing increased weight, but she is getting twice as much food as usual, and we hope it shows more improvement.
She is still on Tramadol and Doxycycline, given every 12 hours, along with 2 cups of greens and 12cc's of critical care a day. She has not been puffy lately, though she does take frequent naps.
We returned to LSU for a check up today. After an examination, they determined she still has the same level of pain around her jaw. We did blood work - apparently there is specific blood work done for vitamin D levels - that will be shipped off for study. If we find she has low vitamin D, we are going to put her on a supplement, and I am starting a UVB light for her tomorrow. 1 hour a day, 12-16 inches away from her.
Also, the doctor recommended upping her dosage of Tramadol, since it does not seem to be changing her pain level. I'm not sure why, but it was reported that I did not want to up the dose. I do, but now we have to wait until Monday to call and request that. I hope we have enough to provide her for the weekend.
We got back an hour ago, and Lulu is REALLY tired. She rolled on her side. She may have had a fainting spell. It took a few seconds to wake her out of it. Perhaps the anesthetic, and the stress from the visit, and the car ride, altogether made her extremely worn out. I'm keeping an eye on her to make sure she will be okay to leave alone if I step out of the house.
Lulu, awake and normal
Lulu - normal napping (probably)
Lulu has dropped from 700 grams to 540 grams in 48 hours. I assumed her constant lethargy was from the stress of the LSU visit, but now I realize she's lost a massive amount of weight. I'm really worried.
She seems to be eating fine, and taking her medicine, but she's constantly sitting and sleeping. When I wake her, she gives a lot of stretches, and when she sniffs something she shakes her head like a dog who is shaking off water. Other times, she gives a sudden "leap" or "popcorn," but then resumes being normal.
What caused this? She's not showing signs of inner ear infection. Was it stress? Was it the blood work they did? The UVB light? The new concentration of Tramadol? I honestly can't tell and I'm at a loss here. Both LSU and the vet clinic nearby aren't open until tomorrow.
Anyone have advice?
To anyone who is watching this thread,
Lulu was taken to an emergency visit at our nearby clinic, regarding her weight drop and lethargy (see last post). Upon a general physical exam, the doctor first noted that her weight was 702 grams. I'm relieved but embarrassed to say that it was not Lulu, nor the scale, but our table that was off by varying degrees - some parts of the surface are stable, others are off by 100 grams. My mistrust of the table, and Lulu's signs of lethargy, were my cause for concern last Sunday.
Upon further inspection, the doctor was confused by LSU's summary about Lulu's jaw pain. They said - as I have here in the thread - that Lulu, upon palpation, showed signs of pain around her lower jaw. When the doctor at our clinic checked her jaw, he found no such signs. Sure, she jumped, but that was due to general dislike of being held. He then showed me an example - pinching the toe - of how a guinea pig vocalizes to signal pain. Lulu did no such thing around her jaw, and thus the doctor saw no issues.
But what about the lethargy? The doctor requested I drop Lulu off the next day for 4-5 hours and let his staff check on her periodically, to see if they found any signs that I did at home. They found none.
Today, Lulu seems to have returned to normalcy. She's alert, eating fine, and resting normally (no puffy stance, no tipping over). Sure, she rests a lot - especially after receiving medicine of Tramadol and Doxycycline - but not in the exhausted way she had been before. She's also drinking from her water bottle again, and she even ran laps around her cubby last night. I'm now convinced that her trip to LSU - and the car ride itself - are what causes her so much stress that she takes several days to recover.
I'm also second-guessing this "jaw pain" that LSU reported, and the recommended - and very expensive - CT scan. I'm waiting on results from blood test for her vitamin D levels.
One thing I've learned - sometimes your "second opinion" needs a second opinion. I'm taking what the nearby clinic has diagnosed as peace of mind, and consider Lulu doing stable and well, for now.
Lulu had an episode on Sept. 11, last Monday. This was a bad one. The "worst she's ever been," according to our local doctor. My roommates found her "hiccuping," turning in a circle, then falling on her side. She would not get back up, and her legs were twitching. She was rushed to the vet, and kept there for several days.
Medications and hospitalization
Over the course of her boarding, Lulu was put back on meloxicam and tramadol, as well as meclizine (for her imbalance, I'm told humans take it for sea sickness too). Within 24 hours, she was back on her feet, but still lethargic.
Apparently, the clinic was unaware that I weaned Lulu off Tramadol a couple weeks prior, and her meloxicam was discontinued when LSU felt she had been on it for too long. However, because she's back on both, the doctor is unsure which medicine helped her improve, so they rather just keep her on both, to be safer than sorry. Lulu now gets meloxicam & a quarter pill of meclizine every 24 hours, and tramadol & doxycycline every 12 hours.
Has anyone used Meclizine before? I was told to snap a quarter tablet off, and then put the piece into Lulu's mouth, forcing her to chew by giving her something to eat while she chews it. I hate having to force her, but if this is the best and only way, I'll do it. I've tried grinding it into powder and mixing it with critical care, but there's no guarantee that she'll get the proper dosage.
Lulu has been home for 2 days now. She is walking around, eating and drinking, and pooping normally. But she spends way more time sleeping, and she eats slower than usual. She also seems to have some trouble grooming herself, like she's too tired. Her weight maintains around 730 grams, but I think it's mostly fat, and not muscle. She frequently stretches in all kinds of angles, and yesterday she spent a lot of time scratching her ears (I assume this is the ear infection). She still gives little "jerks" or "jumps", and I'm unsure if it's neurological or not.
My guess is that the infection is spreading to her nervous system, and these medications will never fully remove it. The only thing I feel we can do is keep her comfortable, and sustain her life as much as possible, until it becomes too much to bear.
But until that day - whether it's next month, next week, or tomorrow - I will do my best to check on her, give her meds when she needs, and provide her with care and comfort for the best quality of life I can. If anyone has tips for what would make a guinea pig happy - especially one that doesn't enjoy being handled - I will gladly take your advice.
Will keep you all updated.
As you might know, Lulu has been battling a chronic illness - an infection in the inner ear (bullae) - that she has never fully recovered from. This thread has followed the struggles, the ups and downs, of her living quality. Lulu recently had an episode, and was placed in ICU for a couple days. She returned to "stable" condition, and has been home since. But yesterday, she had imbalanced equilibrium again, and I took her back to the vet for blood work.
The blood work showed she has low white blood cell count, which implies her immune system is down, and no longer fighting the infection like it was. If not for the medicine - doxycycline, meloxicam, and meclizine (we stopped Tramadol) - she would be in worse shape. Today, she has been recuperating from her recent trips to the vet: sitting "puffed up," sleeping, lethargic, etc.
The doctor and I had a long and interesting conversation about Lulu. He told me, "95% of guinea pigs who exhibit head tilt and inner ear infections don't live past a year." Lulu has lived two years. She's exceeded the amount of time that most pigs do in her situation, and thus, the symptoms we're seeing are making doctors scratch their heads. The doctor simply doesn't know the best way to treat Lulu, other than supplying the medicines that are [currently] working. In fact, he is now trying looking for immune system boosting medicine that can be given to guinea pigs.
In all, I feel like I've come to terms with Lulu's condition, and have grieved her passing - even if it hasn't happened yet. I don't want to give up on Lulu, but I also don't want her to suffer. No parent wants their pets to suffer like this. I feel like the big decision is on the rise, and I will do what I can until that happens.
Any advice, support, or otherwise is appreciated.