Monday, August 31, 2009

I went to see Hope today....

Today, after my Dr. appt, I drove over to New Bolton to see Hope and Bellafina. Hope was very tired and could barely keep her eyes open while I was there. She had just come from radiology and had a busy morning. They also were finishing up bottle feeding her when I walked in. Poor little girl. She was shivering when I walked in. I asked them to put a blanket on her. They said it was probably from being on the metal plates in x-ray and it is chilly in that building. Anyway, she actually drank from a bottle today. They said as she gets nutrition from the milk they will back off the IV nutrition. Thankfully, Bellafina is co-operating and they are milking her out so Hope is getting mom's milk. Bellafina hates her abdomen touched, but she is letting them milk her out. When I tried to take the plugs out she screamed and spit and started to cush. Of course, they have been milking her out since Friday so I guess she is getting used to it by now. As they milk her, she just stares at her cria. Poor mom.

Today was the first day that Hope accepted the bottle. She drank the entire contents of the bottle. She isn't stable enough on her feet yet to stand under mom and I will talk about this soon. They said when she is taking 10% of her body weight in milk then the IV nutrition will be stopped. As she increases her milk consumption, they will back off on the IV nutrition so she gets less and less from the IV and more from the bottle. Thankfully, she is getting mom's milk.
Her lungs are sounding the same as yesterday, but better than Saturday. They will retake the lung x-ray in a few days to see how they are doing. Hopefully, it will show less disease. They have backed off the oxygen some and she is doing well with this. I noticed she was raspy sounding when she breathed, but not as bad as she was on Thursday. Her breathing was what prompted me to take her to New Bolton to begin with. They said her lungs sound less watery when they listen to her. She won't be able to come home until her lungs heal so I hope she continues on the right path and they get better each day. Although, I know it will take time.

The new development is that she took a few steps today! However, they noticed she won't weight bear on the one back leg. This is odd since she was weight bearing on them when she was born. They tested her reflexes and nothing showed nerve damage. They took her to get x-rays of the leg and that didn't show any structural abnormalities. The next thing they wanted to do was take a fluid sample from the joint and see if there was an infection in the hock. Apparently, this is common in horses when they are septic, but not so much with alpacas. I should have the results tomorrow- if they could get enough fluid. I understand why the need to do this, but the leg was fine before. I am wondering if she could have just tweaked the hock when she was only using her rear legs to get up and stand. She took several tumbles. However, I don't want to not do the test and then she ends up with a bone infection too. We shall see. I am just happy that she is standing for 10 min at a time and finally took a few steps. She still cannot get up on her own, but they think once she weight bears on that back leg she will have an easier time balancing and getting up.

It seems one thing gets better, but something else comes up. I asked about when she might be able to come home and there is no answer on that. She needs to be able to be off the oxygen and getting up on her own. I am hoping the end of next week. I was hoping the end of this week, but that isn't going to happen.
I am happy to see that her chance of survival is much higher right now. If her lungs would just clear up I think she will be a normal cria and pronking in the field in no time. Praying for the best! I will be visiting her again on Wed and I hope to see more improvement. Until then, I await the morning updates. As long as I don't get a call in the evening or overnight she is doing well.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Update - Star of Hope

We decided to name this cria Hope.

Hope is doing better today and has definite improvements. She is steadier with head movements, standing, etc. Her heart rate is stable and strong. Her blood work is all in line. Her suckle reflex is stronger than it has been (good to begin with) and more coordinated. They are going to keep her on IV nutrition today, but try to add milk to her diet tomorrow. The septicemia is responding to the antibiotics. The best news is that her lungs sound slightly better today. Overall a very good update.

They have been milking Bellafina out in hopes to feed the cria the milk when she is ready for it. Her milk supply did go down due to the stress of the hospital setting and the cria not nursing. However, they gave her domperidone and it has went back up again. Bellafina is one of those moms that will dry up and then get her milk back if the cria wants to nurse again so she should be good on milk supply.

We are optimistic about the progress today. We hope that Hope will continue to improve and not suffer any set-backs. I plan on going up tomorrow to see for myself how they are doing. I also want to see if I can take a few pictures to post here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cria Update - Saturday

I just got off the phone with the vet. Our little girl is holding her own, but is up and down. The good news at this point is that she can stand on her own for 3-4 min at a time and it actively looking around and alert. The blood work shows that they are making progress on the septicemia, which is great. The bad news is that her lungs are not improving at all. She is not moving air very well through the lungs and they are not showing signs of improvement. She said the outlook is still unknown on whether she will improve or crash. She said they are keeping a close eye on her and at this point won't be changing her treatment. They are hoping she doesn't get worse as this is the critical time period. As usual, no news is good so now I have to wait for tomorrow's update unless something goes wrong.

Alpaca Alarm - Starved Cat

First off, no word from New Bolton today. They said no news is good news. I assume when the main vet comes in tonight I will get a call with a progress report.

Second, I was looking out at my alpacas and saw one of girls alarming at the back fence. I looked around to see what she saw. I saw this orange/fawn animal on the ground and it looked like it was in their fence area. Okay... I don't have a new cria due until the end of Oct and that female was in the back pasture grazing. I decided to go out and see what the foreign creature was.

I found an orange cat cleaning itself between the girl's pasture fence and the old fence that we left as a property marker. I startled it when I walked up, but after calling to it the cat came up to the fence to be petted. It is very thin, but friendly. I decided to walk over to it and see if it would follow me back to the house to eat. I left the pasture and walked all the way around the field to get to the cat. I kept calling to it and it followed me to the house. I got some cat food and put out. The poor thing ate like it hasn't eaten in ages. I left it to eat.

I am not sure what to do with the poor thing. It is either a drop-off or wild. I have attempted to adopt a few kittens here, but they always disappear within a month. My husband is not a big cat fan and would prefer not to have them around. However, I like to have them around the barn to eat the mice since I hate snakes. He would rather have the snakes. We shall see if it hangs around. If it continues to hang around and isn't too much of a tease to our dogs then I will take it to the vet and get it shots, wormed and fixed. Not sure if it is male or female since I didn't look. My guess is our current barn cat will chase it off since she likes to be the only cat. I feel better that the poor thing got some food in it, though. Very pretty orange cat.

I just thought I would post something upbeat for a change. Oh yeah, the alpacas alarmed the whole time I was coaxing the cat to follow me. We were not even in their field or near them. Lol. For some reason, my girls don't tolerate cats very well. They don't mind the deer or turkey's, but those cats are another matter.....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cria update

Progress is guarded, but she is clinically stable at this point. They said she could crash and they are waiting for the 48 hr crash period to pass. Apparently, they have had animals there that are stable and at around 48 hrs they crash.

She has advanced pnemonia from aspirating fluid at this point. She is also septic and they are keeping an eye on this to make sure it doesn't go to her eye sight.

She would not take a bottle today or nurse so they have changed her IV fluids from a dextrose solution to a total nutrition IV. They said she is a "dummy cria" in that she was deprived of oxygen after birth. She could turn out to be normal or not. Time will tell.

She is not out of the woods. She needs to overcome the infection. The good news is that she really doesn't realize she is sick. They said she is getting more alert each day (small steps) and she does try to stand up on her own, but doesn't have the coordination to do it. Also, after her second transfusion her IGG is up to 1000. They will recheck it to make sure it stays up.

I was looking on alpacanation tonight and it seems that a few people have had "dummy cria's" that are good now. A few did not have any luck and they had to be put down because they never figured out how to nurse/eat.

She needs all the good wishes and prayers you can send her way. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better news.

Pray for our Newest Female Cria

Yesterday was not a good day. The events started sometime in the wee morning hours and ended at 11PM last night when we got home. Actually, it is still on-going.

I woke up yesterday terrified that I would miss the next alpaca birth, which was due on 9/15. Last year, Bellafina went 10 days early so that would have put her birth and my due date within days of each other. Can you imagine being 40 wks pregnant and trying to deliver or take care of a newborn cria? Bellafina has been acting strange the night before and I told Rob I didn't think she would make it to September for the birth. Well....I was right.

I got up with Rob at 4:30 AM. I peeked out the window and all alpacas were happily in their shelter. Wonderful. I stayed up reading a book and around 7:45 AM decided to go out and feed everyone and replenish water since I had a Dr. appt's and needed to leave. Normally, I was going out much later in the morning to do this. I took care of my boys and grabbed grain to head to the girl's field. I noticed when I looked over to the field that I was missing 3 alpacas. Okay, so 3 decided to stay in the barn instead of going out to graze that morning.

I walked up to the girls shelter and 2 of the girls ran off. That left 2 in the barn - Bellafina and a newborn cria. Holy crap. I was thinking it was a month early, but it was only 19 days early. However, this poor thing had been born hours before. The sac was dried on its body and still covered its nose/mouth. Thankfully, it had broke and the cria was getting oxygen somehow. It was cushed and shaking. We have been leaving the fans on all night because of the temps/humidity. I immediately turned them off. Locked Bellafina and her cria in and then took off the dried sac. I then ran into the house to get my cria kit, which wasn't even prepared yet! Can you see a 38 wk pregnant woman running?

After grabbing the kit, some towels, my hair dryer, cell phone, and making solution to dip the umbilical cord I went back out. On my way, I tried to call the vet whose message said she was out of town. Wonderful. :-( I then called a local farm to ask for their assistance. Luck was on my side because her husband, Rich, could help me out. He said once he finished his chores he would head over. I also called our mentoring farm who told me they had a cria born that early and it was okay and not to panic or put myself into labor. At this point, Peggy (Rich's wife) called me back to say that Tanya was indeed off vacation and to leave her a message. I did.

I then proceeded to dry the cria off by toweling her dry and using the hair dryer. I also tried a temp, but my thermometer said "Low". Never had that happen before. I tried to syringe in some Karo syrup too to jump start her. Rich showed up and he got his thermometer and her temp was at 91 degrees. WAY TOO LOW. While he made a hay bed, I came into the house to get bags filled with warn/hot water. I went back out and we packed the cria in the hay bed with the water bags and a blanket over her. We also ran the hair dryer a few times under the blanket. She was shaking pretty bad. Her temp was slowing going up at 1-1.5 degrees per 30 min. Good, but not quick enough.

I had some powder colostrum so I came into the house to make up a batch of that. During this time, I had talked to my vet and after her 10AM appt she was heading over once she located some plasma to do a transfusion. My pet sitter, Megan, also showed up to help us out. Needless to say, I cancelled my dr. appts. Rich and I were talking about what to do. He offered his trailer up so we could take mom and cria to New Bolton, if needed. I agreed so he left to get his trailer. Megan kept an eye on the cria while I ran into the house to get dressed- just in case we ended up driving to New Bolton. The cria was not doing very well. While I was in the house, her breathing was getting erratic. I told Megan to start rubbing her chest and neck to get some blood moving. It seemed once she laid her head down she had trouble breathing. The good news is that she could keep herself cushed and she would try to get up. However, her legs wouldn't support her.

I will mention she is very premature. Her ears are floppy, no teeth erupted and lack of muscle control. She did weigh 14.9 lbs, which is a healthy sized cria.

Rich showed up with his trailer and the vet was right behind her. We actually had 2 vets. They have a new vet training that came also to help Tanya out and learn about the alpacas. Rich grabbed the cria and I took Bellafina and we walked them up to the trailer to be worked on. Everyone was fabulous. Rich held the cria while the vet did her stuff. I grabbed supplies as she needed them. The cria was tube feed 4 oz of the powder colostrum I had made and 1/4 tablet of kerfate. It was also shaved for the transfusion (my vet does it through the abdomen and not via IV) and the transfusion was started. After which, the cria got a shot of Naxcel. We put her down to rest and be with mom.

At this point, Rich and Megan left along with the second vet. Tanya gave me a list if instructions and said if I couldn't do it then we should think of New Bolton, but it would be a $3-5K vet bill for the 24 hr care. We decided to do it on our own. Feeding every 2 hrs by tubing, naxcel 4x/day, kerafate 3x/day and keeping a close eye on her. She did try to get up a few times and within hours of the transfusion looked much better.

Around 1:30PM, I tried to tube her and couldn't tell if I was doing it right. I tried to bottle feed her and she wouldn't take the bottle because her suck reflex isn't quite strong enough. Rob finally came home and we tried. Finally got it. At this point, I also had Rich back over to help too. I had to get her fed or the vet said we would lose ground. Another 2 oz in her. I headed off to try to find some smaller nipples, buy whole milk and yogurt. I got home around 5:30 PM. When I looked in she was mouth breathing. Not good at all. I got the feeding supplies and tubed her again. Another 2 oz in her this time with kerafate added. I kept an eye on her and I was very concerned with her breathing and she wasn't as perky as she had been an hour before. I finally convinced my husband to drive us to New Bolton. I wasn't sure she would live through the night.

I called New Bolton so they would be expecting us and called the vet to leave a message about the breathing and what we were doing. The vet also called New Bolton to tell them what we had done that day so they knew what to expect when we got there. New Bolton is an hour plus drive. We had the cria in the cab with us and Bellafina in the trailer. I was happy to see the mouth breathing stopped once she got into the A/C cab for awhile. However, it was still raspy.

At New Bolton, they were very efficient. The cria was immediately given oxygen and evaluated. They put a catheter in her to draw blood and for future medicines. We were talked to about treatment plans, cost, and basically told it could go either way. We left and they said they would call when the initial blood work was back.

Not long before we got home, the call came in. The blood work was concerning. The IGG was 400 and white blood cell count 1400 (normally 5000). This was a concern to the vet because it means a weaken immune system and infection. They checked Bellafina and she did not have an infection so whatever the cria had was really early and picked up after birth. I told them the cord hadn't been dipped much at the beginning because we were more concerned with temp. She said they are concerned about sepsis (with any premature cria but especially with her levels) and they would monitor that. They had a blood culture going. They were increasing the Naxcel and going to give another transfusion overnight. She said we did everything we could and in a timely manner. There was nothing else Tanya or I could have done. It is up to the cria now to see how she reacts to the treatments. She also said we were good to bring the cria in to them and not wait longer.

Now, we are waiting. I should get an update this morning on how she made out overnight. She seems to be a fighter and has very alert periods and then losses it. The vet said it could go either way. She has alot in her favor, but the two biggie's against her. We are praying for this little girl. We hope you will keep her in your thoughts. She is a beautiful medium to dark fawn female with dense fleece. Everything we were hoping to get from this breeding.

I'll keep this post updated.