Frida – a progress update

December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s now twelve weeks since Frida broke her (other) leg, and we’ve hit a setback.

The bone has healed quite well (if a little slowly), and four weeks ago she had the pin removed. The plan was two more weeks of rehab inside with Frida given encouragement to move around a lot more, and then to begin the process of reintegrating her back into the flock.

She certainly seemed to enjoy being able to lie on that side again – we had quite a few sunning sessions with Frida just moving from stretched out on one side, to the other, and back again. But she didn’t seem particularly keen to walk around. She was happy to stand up to eat (and poo), and lurched from one place to the next. But there didn’t seem to be much fine control developing, and the business of sitting down was getting ever more protracted – she’d shove her head into a corner and use the bars of the cage to hang on to with her beak as she very  s  l  o  w  l  y lowered herself down. Instead of getting easier, it seemed to be getting more painful, and these sessions were followed by quite a lot of mouth-breathing (a sign of distress). But then it had been months since she’d been able bodied, and there was definite muscle atrophy. These things take time, and a certain amount of pain is virtually inevitable. And while you can explain things to a person, an animal only understands that it hurts, and they don’t want to do it again.

We thought that it might help to have motivation to move around, so last weekend we set up the Summer Palace run with the end blocked off, and gave Frida time outside with her flockmates just through the wire. And she seemed reasonably interested in things, and managed to move around, albeit with one wing hard against the outside mesh for balance. But the mouth-breathing was getting more frequent. Again, understandable, as she was moving around more. But …

On Monday Frida was mouth-breathing in the morning, before she’d been up and walked around. And hardly ate any of her food. (Her appetite up till now has been really good.) We watched her closely through the day, and there was definitely something wrong. Before, the mouth-breathing had been associated with the aftermath of exertion. Now she was having episodes of it even while sitting quietly, having her ear-tufts stroked. We’d had something like this a couple of months earlier, and then it was a respiratory infection. Between that, and the seeming increase in pain when moving around, we knew something had to be wrong. A new break? Muscle damage? Infection? Time to see Pauline again.

So yesterday she went in to the vets. And the news wasn’t good. The bone was ok, but there was a tear in the ligament that hold the leg in towards the body, so that’s why sitting down was so difficult – the leg kept splaying outwards, especially if the footing was a bit slippery. (Like the oat chaff litter in her outside run.) But the more worrying thing was that there was definite respiratory impairment. An infection of some kind, although not involving the leg. There’s a possibility it could be Yolk Peritonitis (which is what Beatrice died of) – Frida hasn’t laid for a month or so, even though her physical condition seems to have improved rather than worsened. Or it could be the result of inhaling some wheat a week ago – she was gobbling, and managed to get a grain down her windpipe. (It was quite traumatic, and one of those things that either the animal manages to sort out for themselves (by coughing, head-shaking, etc) or that doesn’t get resolved.) I don’t know if she managed to expell the grain or not, but either way, it could have caused irritation and led to infection. Or maybe it’s just One Of Those Things, a complication that goes along with being a creature with a complex respiratory system, kept relatively immobile for a long period of time.

Anyhow, that’s where we are. Frida is back on pain meds for her leg and antibiotics for the infection. Fingers crossed we’ve got it early, and the antibiotics can do the job quickly.

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