- Supporter in '12
It was March 2013, Barnaby was losing weight and started to sit hunched. I noticed these symptoms quite quickly because it was all too familiar. October 18 2012 I had lost Rugby during his bladder stone removal surgery. Barnaby was showing the same signs.
I made Barnaby an appointment right away and as I sat in the waiting room, cage on my lap, I heard the first squeak while he peed. I knew in my heart it wasn't going to be good news, but I told myself that maybe it would be just a UTI.
Barnaby was taken into the back room after an initial check up, to get an x-ray. I sat in the waiting room alone, remembering Rugby and how I wish I had known about bladder stones and could have helped him sooner.
When I was called back into the exam room, my stomach was butterflies. I was handed Barnaby back, he was in a cuddle bag. I held him tight to my chest and tried to read my vets face for what the verdict was. She put the x-ray on the screen and clicked the light on, my heart sank. I saw the bladder stone I somehow knew was going to be there. Tears streamed down my face and I looked at the beautiful piggy in my arms, he was looking up at me from within his snuggle bag. Barnaby’s face said please Mom, help me, I’m scared and don’t want to die.
I knew that time was important, this was something I learned from Rugby’s experience. It was Wednesday and I wanted him operated on in the next day or two. My vet had to move another appointment around and booked him in Friday morning, March 15 2013.
That night at home, I cried a lot and could not help but feel terrified. All I knew was of Rugby not making it through surgery and the guilt from that was overwhelming.
Thursday was a day of sadness, it was hard to believe it could be my last day with Barnaby. He was getting thin and looking depressed, so I was glad Friday was his day for a second chance at life. It was hard looking into his eyes knowing that he needed help and surgery was the only option.
Friday morning came and I got all the other boys ready for the day and packed Barnaby up into his carry cage. He was started on antibiotics and metacam, so he got his morning meds and I gave him plenty of hay to snack on. I had to make up a lunch for B, it would be something he would get offered after surgery, it made me think of Rugby’s lunch that he never got to eat.
The whole car ride to the vets (45-50 minutes) I talked to Barnaby. Told him what was happening and that I loved him so much. I wanted to make sure I got in a lot of time with him before surgery, it was something I regretted not doing with Rugby. I had never dreamed he wouldn’t have been coming home alive.
I arrived at the vets and I was allowed to stay in the room with Barnaby while they got stuff set up for him. I made sure to cuddle him and tell him again that he was special and that no matter what happened, I would be back for him to take him home. I cried and cried once they said they needed to take him back to get prepped.
The ride home was a sad one, with only thoughts to fill my head.
I was told I would hear an update right after surgery, I knew the drill. I tried to occupy myself for most of the morning, I had potentially 4 hours until I would hear, he wasn't going to be operated on until closer to 11am. So once 11am hit, I sat at my computer in fits of hysteria waiting.
The phone finally rang at noon, I was so scared to answer it. I was told her did fine, heart stayed stable throughout and they would let me know how he was doing once he woke up.
I was so relieved to know he had made it but also the fear inside me was still strong knowing this was only the beginning to a scary road of recovery.
I was called again later to say he was up, still groggy but had eaten a bit of veggies and tiny nibbles of hay. I was told I could pick him up after 4pm. You can bet I got there right at 4 to take him home.
I was given care instructions and shown his post op x-ray, no stone in site but some gas was present.
The ride home felt like it took forever, I was so happy when I could finally give Barnaby his medication and get him into his recovery cage which was a 2by2 c&c cage.
Barnaby would not eat on his own soon after his medication, he was prescribed a strong narcotic, metacam and antibiotics. The side effects of the narcotic made him glassy eyed, slow and just plain out of it. I wish I had never tried it on him because he had been eating on his own at the vets.
Friday night was a long night. I had to hand feed Barnaby every 2 hours. I wanted to make sure he was getting food into his tummy and needed that gas to be pushed out.
Since Barnaby was not moving around, I kept him on a cuddle cup, covered in fleece. This made it easy to pick him up in the cup for feeding and medication, I was so scared to pick him up otherwise, since his tummy had the big incision.
All night I was up with him and really started getting worried because he had not peed since I had brought him home. I was conflicted about whether I should keep pumping him full of food and water. I didn't want him being forced to eat/drink if he was unable to pee for some reason. I figured I best keep feeding him because it was so important to get his stomach moving again and that worst case, if by 7am he had not peed yet, we would start our drive back to the vets.
It was 6am, Barnaby was on my lap being fed. I was feeling so scared because he had no peed still and felt like crying. A miracle happened and my leg felt wet. I looked down and sure enough half his cuddle cup was soaked with pee that was stained with a tint of red (all normal). I was overjoyed but it was short lived, my next fear was soon thought of. When would he poop?
After Barnaby peed and was fed, I set him with the cuddle cup back into his cage. He needed a new cuddle cup and I was worried about how to switch cups, I really didn't want to pick him up if it wasn't needed. I decided to try setting a fresh cuddle cup right beside his soiled one. I took his fleece blanket off and draped it over the new cup, leaving just a small space for him to go inside. It worked like a charm, he moved himself onto the new cup, wanting to get under his blanket. This is how I changed his cuddle cup whenever it got peed on. I needed to keep him super clean and it helped out greatly knowing I wasn't hurting him or doing damage lifting him up.
I went back to bed and got up for the day at 8am Saturday morning, fed the other boys and tidied there cage. I went over to Barnaby and lifted his blanket hoping to see some poops, sure enough there were a bunch, odd shapes and really dark but poops nonetheless. So we had pee and we had poop, but we didn’t have any eating on our own yet.
I called the vets to say he wasn’t eating on his own, no matter what I put right in front of his face. I was told maybe the gas was making him uncomfortable and to not give him the narcotic anymore, just extra metacam. I was instructed to give him simethicone, gas relief drops and within a half hour Barnaby was nibbling on items close by. Not eating much, but nibbling.
Saturday was filled with hand feeding still and making sure to offer small pieces of hay or veggies right to his face in hopes of him taking some bites. I fed him all through the night, much like Friday and felt like a zombie come Sunday.
Sunday Barnaby was still staying in his cuddle cup but nibbling on food. I was starting to get anxious wondering when he would start to move around a bit because Monday I had to work and did not want to leave him sitting in one spot. I had already missed 2 days of work.
Sunday evening around 8pm was the first time Barnaby got off his cuddle cup and moved. I sat there shocked and watched as he went over to the hay pile and ate a tiny bit and then walked to his pellet dish for a snack.
It was such a relief to know that Barnaby was starting to feel like moving around. He had a weird hobble which was concerning but I figured it was just because he was sore and from the stitches.
Monday Morning before work I made sure to hand feed Barnaby like I had been doing and switched him to a snuggle bag for a bed since he wouldn't be able to keep a blanket on since he was moving around now.
My husband was able to come home at lunch time to give Barnaby a fresh snuggle bad and make sure to move food close to him again. I was given updates that he was well and eating.
Barnaby only got stronger and stronger each day, his incision was healing nicely. I was always nervous to check it daily, hoping to never find any signs of infection. Finally after a week had passed, Barnaby decided to use his water bottle again, this was something that was worrisome throughout but I made sure to hydrate him and wet veggies were always offered.
At 2 weeks, Barnaby went back to the vets for his re-check and was given the all clear! It was a joyous occasion and boy was I glad that the hardest moments were over. The first few days were scary, it was hard hand feeding him when he would fight you to leave him alone. He would get so mad that he would grab the syringe and toss it. I learned quickly to pull it back from him just slightly when he would go to grab it and this made it so the end was right in his mouth and squished a bunch of food in! This was how he was hand fed, I had to get him annoyed and he would try to throw it and I would get the food in.
I am so thankful that Barnaby has made it a year March 15. An extra year and counting is amazing! Every day I have with him is a blessing and the surgery was worth every penny. I love Barnaby and am glad he is here. Every day I feel nervous, never knowing what is in store for him but I take it one day at a time.
Thanks for reading my story of Barnaby, I hope it helps others become aware of calcium in a guinea pigs diet.
Barnaby’s diet (what he eats in a day):
-1 leaf of red or green lettuce
-1/8th of a green pepper
-1 small grape tomato
-1/2 of a baby carrot
-1 inch slice of cucumber
-Fresh grass if available (summertime)
- Oxbow orchard grass hay (unlimited)
- 8 pieces of Km’s hayloft timothy pellets
-1 Oxbow urinary support tablet
-Fruit seldom (1 or 2 times a month)
- Cavy Comic
Well done! Do your other pigs have the same diet?
I was wondering if you ever checked the calcium level in the water that you feed the pigs, or do you use filtered water?
I feed a low calcium diet and even switched to reverse osmosis water, but one still ended up with stones; I think his must be genetic. He is elderly and has other medical issues too though so he must have just gotten dealt a bad hand genetics wise.
- Supporter in '12
All the boys have the same diet, only difference is they get 1/8th of a cup of pellets per pig.
I always just watch to see if I see any calcium deposits on the fleece and there is basically none for the other boys. When I fed Oxbow everyone had them.
Barnaby still will have some show up, so I am sure it is genetics that plays a big role with him. If he is having a day with some more concentrated deposits, we skip pellets altogether. I only give him the taste because he gets all hyped up hearing the other boys get theirs.
I do use filtered water, I use a brita and all the pigs love to drink more now since using it.
Barnaby is 4 years old and 4 months right now.