I was cleaning and refreshing my hummingbird feeders on Tuesday when Leia came up to me.
I looked down to speak to her and noticed that she had a small swelling below her left eye. The eye was also weeping. I wondered if it was a battle injury from the Zinnia War or whether she’d been stung by a bee. I gave her a Benadryl thinking it was probably a sting.
She seemed to be fine until that evening.
She became uncharacteristically quiet and started displaying mouth discomfort any time she tried to pick up a chew toy.
I observed her closely all evening, and when I came downstairs to check on her at 12:45 am, the sclera had become bloodshot. I knew she needed urgent veterinary attention.
I called our 24/7 emergency clinic, CARES, and alerted them that I was bringing Leia. I got dressed, put her into the car, and left the house around 1:30 am. It was pitch black, and there was no traffic on the back roads I travel to go to CARES. When we arrived around 2 am, the parking lot was empty except for one other car. Leia was admitted immediately.
Due to Covid restrictions, pet owners are not permitted to enter the clinic. A technician comes out to the parking lot to retrieve the pet while the owner waits in the car. The veterinarian communicates by telephone with the pet owner.
Knowing this in advance, I had quickly typed up an information sheet with a chronology of the events leading up to Leia’s admission. CARES had already been alerted that I am hearing impaired and lip read – no telephone and no masks would be possible. We arranged for all communication between me and the vet to occur via email.
Leia’s admitting vet, Dr. Molly Maurer, VMD, was very thoughtful and accommodating. She sent me a detailed email on her findings and recommendations. Leia was apparently overly excited and initially difficult to examine. Dr. Maurer said Leia was very reactive/painful during examination of her eye and mouth. Her eye was inflamed with accompanying swelling of the conjunctiva. What was of extreme concern to the vet was the elevated pressure (glaucoma) in the eye.
Leia’s facial swelling and her painful responses during the exam, led Dr. Maurer to be concerned about a possible abscess in the back of the mouth extending up into the area behind the eye which is called the retrobulbar space.
Based on her findings, Dr. Maurer recommended that Leia remain at CARES so she could run bloodwork and start her immediately on pain meds, antibiotics, and address the pressure in her eye. She also recommended that Leia be examined by Dr. Martha Low, DVM (veterinary ophthalmologist) in the morning.
I agreed. I was literally shaking from worry and fatigue.
I managed to get 2 ½ hours of sleep before arising at my normal time to take care of Heidi.
I called CARES for an update and was told that Leia had rested comfortably through the night. She was being prepped for a sedative so Dr. Low and Dr. Gary Puglia, DVM, (head of emergency and critical care emergency) could do a thorough ophthalmic and oral exam.
Their presumptive diagnosis was mild left orbital cellulitis and the beginnings of a retrobulbar abscess in the back of the mouth. They suspected that since Leia is a puppy, she may have been chewing on something like a stick that poked the back of her throat which started the inflammatory chain reaction involving the eye.
They complimented me for catching it so early and being proactive in getting her to the clinic. (I watch too many vet shows on National Geographic Wild, and I enjoy trying to diagnose the cases presented. I’ve always been a frustrated veterinarian in my heart, thwarted only by my hearing impairment.)
Dr. Puglia told me that Leia’s treatment would continue with the antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain medication. If Leia improves as expected, then Dr. Low will see her in two weeks for a follow-up exam.
Dr. Puglia was wonderful about emailing me, explaining things so clearly, and answering all my questions.
When I told him I would like to blog about Leia’s experience at CARES, he kindly took a few photos of her in the clinic with her nurse, Evie, and emailed them to me. I cannot speak highly enough of the professionality of the team at CARES in communicating with me and looking after Leia. They really care!
Leia was discharged late afternoon on Wednesday.
She walked out of the clinic, wearing a dreaded cone and still wobbling a bit from the sedative. She seemed a bit disoriented and didn’t act like she recognized me. No, I wasn’t offended . . .
By the time we arrived home, she was perkier and greeted Heidi happily . . . no I wasn’t offended . . .
She ate well and rested quietly all evening.
This morning she greeted me enthusiastically and is following her normal routine with some restrictions. She is coping well with the cumbersome cone, even whacking me across the legs with it.
Leia is on the road to recovery.
And now we need to interrupt with a word from Daisy Rose Leaf of the Seed & Stem Channel with a LIVE update from the battle front. The Zinnia Army’s step barriers have been huge in nearly eliminating the Leia attacks. The troops are increasing in numbers and size. Leia has had to retreat from her attacks to recover from injuries. The Zinnia Army will have an opportunity to reconvene and recharge for future encounters. Stay tuned. . .