In Tizona news, she has been getting better and better (fingers firmly crossed). She really regained her appetite last week, and started refusing the bottles. So we put her and Persil back in with the main girl mob. She’s got vision back in both eyes, and although it took a little while for her to get her confidence back, she can find her mother (the bells gotta help — even the healthy normal cria have trouble picking their moms out of a crowd of same-colored girls) and cross the stream in the front paddock by herself. She’s not quite up to playing with the other kids yet, mostly because she’s been spending every spare minute eating — she’s got a lot of catching up to do. We weighed her this evening and she’s put on weight! For the first time in a month!
So, while Tizona was in the vet hospital, we got to go on our planned vacation to Canterbury Faire. This is the largest SCA event held in NZ, and is quite fun. This is only the 3rd we have made since moving to NZ, we have missed 3 others due to “agriculture” getting in the way. We are hopeful that by trying to schedule all alpaca births well away from the first week in February we should be able to continue making it to future events.
This year they moved to a new, longer format for the event, with it running a full 7 days. It was quite nice, as there was plenty of time for everything, and you could sit back and relax. There wereÂ a few scheduling SNAFUs, as far as I was concerned, as too often heavy fighting and rapier and archery would be scheduled simultaneously. I guess they don’t expect people to do more than one combat form.
The size of the event, above 240 people, is really close to perfect. It is big enough for lots of fun events, but small enough to have that “village” feel where you can get to know everyone at least by face. The rudeness that arises from anonymity at the really big events was lacking, and when everyone is friendly it improves the overall atmosphere immensely.
The meal program was struggling to feed everyone who signed up, but they managed. We have to be sure to sign up for that early in future years, I would not want to have to provide food for myself at the event, it would suck up way to much of my time.
I also discovered that being able to give good back rubs (with strong farmer hands) makes you a lot of friends. At one point I had a queue of 14 people waiting their turn. It has been suggested that I actually take some classes, and I might just this winter. It was also pointed out that if I put out a tip jar I could probably pay for my event fees that way. A definite possibilityâ€¦
So, Tizona is back home with us, and in the yards with her mother, Persil. It has been a busy couple of weeks.
Two weeks ago today (Tuesday) Tizona had a bad day. I could barely get her to feed, and she spent nearly the entire day asleep. The cold southerly did not help either, as she was still in the paddock. By the end of the day Persil knew something was wrong, and was sticking by her, even though the herd had all wandered away. I called Julia (our vet) for a blood test, and it was scheduled for first thing the next morning (the courier left daily at 8:30, so we let her keep her blood overnight, as she obviously needed it). She didn’t have a fever, and had throughout all this always maintained a normal temperature.
Wednesday she was doing a bit better, and the blood was taken and sent off. Thursday she was doing okay (and was in the yards with her mother at this point so I could keep a close eye on them) when the call came from Julia. “The blood tests are in, her white blood cell count in through the roof. I have called Massey, they are expecting you at 2PM.” Massey is the one Vet Hospital in NZ, about 2 hours north of here. I got them loaded with help from Yvonne and Al- thankfully Persil loaded easily, heading right up to follow Tizona who I carried on board.
At Massey the tests began. While I was there she was x-rayed, ultrasounded, had more bloods taken and a central line put in. After I left they noticed how severe her neurological symptoms had become, and the next (Friday) morning did a complete workup. Blind in right eye, mostly blind in left, circling sharply to the right, head held at an angle, slight arch in back. And her white count was continuing to climb. The normal range is about 5-16, she was a 36 on the Wednesday draw, and up to 44 a day later! (primarily a neutrophilia) In short, she was a mess. The x-rays and ultrasound had not revealed anything significant, so the vet presented me with a laundry-list of possibilities. In descending order of probability: listeriosis, titus media (later ruled out with a head x-ray), polioencephalomalacia (PEM), a focal infection of clostridia perfingins, an unspecificed bacterial infection, the cyst stage of tapeworm, a neosporal encephalytis, equine herpes virus (I, or possibly VIII or IX), or head trauma.
So they started treated for most of them. IV antibiotics that could cross the blood-brain barrier, drench for various internal parasites, and thyamine (Vit B1) for PEM.
Now, all of this is happening Thursday/Friday, and we are scheduled to get on a ferry at 7AM on Saturday for a week of holiday. What to do? This question was resolved at 4:30 Friday afternoon when Stuart, the vet in charge of Tizona, called and asked if they could keep for a week of obersvation. (He had previously stated that they wanted to keep for the weekend at least). So we were free to go on holiday, and he had instructions to call only if things went badly wrong- which did mean we kept checking the cell phone for messages with some trepidation! (Of course we also had to deliver Saffron and Ridill to a friend who would continue to give him eye drops for the cut on his cornea, meaning we did not get back and start packing until nearly 8PM.)
The result at present- they still don’t know the cause of the illness (though we are still waiting on a PCR test for listeriosis).Â They offered to get Tizona an MRI- but it would be expensive, and while it might help in diagnosis it would probably not offer any new treatment options.
She is still blind in her right eye, and has only limited vision in the left. For all that she can still get around well, so long as she can take her time.Â Her vision may or may not improve. I think she could probably still live a happy life in her current state. For the next week she will remain in the yards with Persil, and I will continue to offer her supplemental bottles and weigh her regularly. (And I am still adding B1 to her milk, while having both a bacterial infection and PEM at the same time is “highly unlikely”, I figure it does not hurt and might even help.) If in a week she is doing well, we will let her back into the paddock. I need to get a bell for Persil though- that was the senior vets advice, to help Tizona find her mother in the paddock. We are struck by the irony of a deaf mother with a nearly blind daughter. We really are a special-needs farm here.