||[Apr. 11th, 2011|05:15 pm]
Everything Bearded Dragons
Well, this is not the follow-up post I had hoped to write... I took Stella to Dr. Mertz, a.k.a. the Odd Pet Vet, in Weymouth MA. He took an x-ray right away, having felt the same lump in her stomach I had felt a month earlier that "Dr." O'Leary in Worcester dismissed as "I don't feel anything." Right away I knew it didn't look good, as his initial diagnosis was that it was likely a small tumor. We opted to do emergency surgery to remove it... but as soon as he was inside, he knew exactly what was happening -- she had a very advanced case of visceral gout. In case you guys don't know about this condition, you should. The causes are more or less unknown - he said it was likely just some bad genes - but once it's taken hold, it affects kidney function and sends urea crystals out into the body, which then latch onto the other internal organs... It's irreversible, and sadly...it's fatal.
The morning of the appointment, Stella had almost no body strength left and wasn't even able to move herself when she defecated. So when the doctor told me what was going on, and that even post-surgery she would likely not get any better than she was that morning, I made hands-down the hardest choice I've ever had to make... I had to let her go. I just could not stand the thought of her suffering any more - this condition can be very painful for beardies, and they have no way to show that to us...
I miss my little girl so much already. I know I made the right decision but that doesn't make it hurt any less.
For anyone out there in the greater Boston area - anyone in New England, really - please, PLEASE avoid the Worcester Cat & Bird Hospital at all costs. Dr. Mertz in Weymouth refuted a number of things that the Worcester vet had told me -- like, did you know that you can't tell if a beardie is dehydrated by pinching its skin and seeing if it 'snaps' back? Doesn't work on reptiles, he said. And, did you know that you can't really give a beardie an enema? Too hard to know which way you're heading (digestive, reproductive, etc.). So glad I paid to have that done in Worcester a month earlier. And he also said to avoid salty drinks like Gatorade to fight dehyrdation, because the saltiness of the drinks actually makes them counter-productive. And finally, he said that the maximum basking temperature for beardies should be 95 F, not the 110-115 you read about online all the time, and their cool side should be closer to 75 F. Sadly, none of this would have helped my poor Stella, but it was revelatory to hear him say these things.
Thank you all for your support over the last few years... if I ever get another beardie, I'll know where to turn.
R.I.P., Stella. <3