I picked Willow up on Saturday morning to weigh and medicate her and immediately knew things weren't right. She had a sudden jump in weight since Friday night, but her belly was enlarged and squishy and her bottom was swollen. I immediately called Windhover, but my vet was not in and the other vet does not see guinea pigs. The staff told me Willow should be seen by a vet immediately.
I was distraught, calling veterinary practices in the area, trying to save us from driving into Boston. No guinea pig vets were working that morning, so Rob called Angell Memorial to say we were coming and off we went.
The drive up was rough. I could see Willow was hurting. She didn't flirt or seemed interested in the drive, which was unusual. She chewed on the towel eventually sat very still in one place and her eyes become dull. I don't know how else to describe it -- I just watched the spark go out of them.
I can't say enough about how kind and efficient the staff at Angell Memorial were to us. Willow was examined and the vet discovered she had a infection on top of the large bladder stone. I looked at Willow and knew the antibiotics could make her feel better, but I also knew the relief couldn't come fast enough. Three days of fluids and painkillers had not made any noticeable improvement. She was looking markedly worse than she had been before we left home. Was an antibiotic really going to make a difference? We weren't convinced.
I don't remember much of the visit after that. I signed paperwork in a daze. I wanted to be with Willow at the end, but eventually elected to do what the vet said was the fastest and least painful for her. And when Willow was returned to us, all the pain and tension was gone from her little body.
Rationally, I know it was the right decision. But emotionally? I ended her life, even if I made someone else physically do it. That has to be a terrible job. I wonder what would have happened if I brought her to the vet earlier for diagnosis and treatment? All these years of caring for guinea pigs, I'd think I'd have recognized the signs. I feel awful thinking she may have been in pain because I was fooled by her happy little trouper personality. I know she had a good life with me and yet I feel like I let her down. All of this adds to my sadness of losing Willow.
So we are back to a two-pig household. I dismantled Willow's side of the cage Saturday afternoon. I didn't want it to be sitting there, empty, if the little girls made an appearance. And sure enough, the doorbell rang on Sunday morning. The first thing the twins asked was where were we on Saturday and how was Willow feeling? I told them that we were at the vet and that Willow was no longer with us. The best part of my entire weekend? The spontaneous hugs I got from those two little girls, as they tried to console me. Seriously. They even patted my back and told me it was okay, that Willow was in a better place. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.
We are all adjusting. Bertie and Pinni seem a little lost in the mornings. Willow normally leads the charge for breakfast; she would wheek loudly while the others bounced about their cage. On Monday morning, Bertie and Pinni appeared to be awaiting permission to beg for breakfast. It is taking them a little while to build up the usual enthusiasm, like they're not quite sure that veggies are coming without Willow's say-so. I am certain that Pinni will soon figure out how to raise her voice to demand her God-given right to greens.
Meanwhile, Bertie has suddenly begun to chew the bars in anticipation for treat. I can't believe that Willow managed to pass along that bad habit to Bertie before she went. Such trouble!