I heard myself say, “It’s just hard on a mom doin’ that.” I was talking to my husband who had just helped me administer an oral dose of medicine to my 9 year old Green-wing Macaw, Ruby.
When my Avian Veterinarian told me that I would have to give Ruby her medicine, by mouth, not once but TWICE a day, I quietly went into panic mode. I had always been able to get her medications in her by soaking them into a cracker or an organic animal cookie. But this medication HAD to be administered every 12 hours, on schedule; and I had to be absolutely certain that she got it ALL. We couldn’t afford to be short on the dose by even one drop.
So the training began, with Ruby as the guinea pig/patient.
We gave dose #8 of 10 this morning. Ruby was an angel. She is Oh-SO-trusting of her momma, and allows my hand to grasp her by the neck to be able to hold her still to give her the medicine. With my thumb stretched across the bottom of her lower mandible and a finger meeting it from the other direction to form a completely closed link, she only flaps because she has come to know this means being wrapped in a towel (for her own safety) and, ultimately, “The Syringe!” Dad swaddles her in the towel and holds her close to his chest so that I can use the syringe. She is very still once she is secured in this fashion.
We are particularly connected this morning, and Ruby looks at me both expectantly and trustingly. It gives me pause this morning to see this in her eyes. I can’t help but talk to her and tell her that she is okay. And she gives me a look that must mean that she knows she is. This is the first time that I have taken the process this slowly; taken the time to reassure her and even give her kisses on her gigantic beak. And it is the first time that I have successfully been able to position that demon syringe properly down into her throat, well beyond her trachea, to safely disperse the medicine and be certain that she will not feel the need to bring it back up and therefore require a second administration to guarantee she gets the full dose.
When the deed is done, Ruby rests quietly in Dad’s arms, waiting to be released, spend time with Momma, and, ultimately, get that coveted animal cracker totally smothered in peanut butter. Success!!!
But, THIS is the EXCEPTION.
I will be entering school in a few short weeks to study to become a Certified Veterinary Technician. In preparation, I have been volunteering in the clinic with my Avian Veterinarian and his Technician, learning some of the basics of Bird Care, including the proper administration of oral medications with birds. And I have had the distinct advantage of being able to call on these professionals for coaching through all of the challenges I’ve encountered through the first 7 doses Ruby has gotten at home.
For instance, within the first few doses Ruby displayed her displeasure with the situation and her dissatisfaction with my technique by biting the syringe (we went through 2 syringes in the first 4 doses); she somehow held onto the syringe with her throat and tongue after I had already given the medicine and would not release the syringe so I could get it out of her mouth a couple of times; she chomped down on my thumb AFTER they syringe was out of her mouth (I’ve got a nice little bruise on my thumbnail from that one); until I figured out to effectively hold her oversized head (her vet’s description of her head, not mine), we played “Put the Syringe in the Bird’s Beak … IF You Can” SEVERAL times per dose; I also medicated her feathers with a drop or two of the medicine a couple of times; she ran from us once released; oh yes, and I’ve cried any number of times because I was afraid that either she had not gotten her full dose, or I had somehow hurt her, or I would never be able to do this right and she would never get better.
But she has a condition that MUST be treated or she will not get well. And THAT is not an option! So, we persevere, both of us. Me because I love her and I will do whatever it takes to help her get well; and her, I believe, because she knows I love her as well as she knows that I am helping her feel better.
The point is, no matter what circumstance you encounter with your Companion, you can do what it takes to give them what they need. And part of that formula is making your Veterinary Team, your Avian Veterinarian and his/her Technical Staff your PARTNERS. I told Dr. B in our first meeting, “Part of my job as The Mom is to pick your brain so I can give this flock everything they need to be happy and healthy.” He was warned. And he and Rebecca have been a fount of wisdom, information, and cooperation.
Ruby and I are proof that we can do what is necessary, even if it means oral medication, to take care of her. And we just experienced the full advantage of quality Avian Veterinary care.