My Life in the Balance, A Medical Mystery

Hi there, my name is Jazzy. You all call me a blue and gold macaw. I’m 24 years old and I’m a girl.  I was adopted through Phoenix Landing in 2005.

jazzyHave I got a story for you. It’s about me being sick and Dr. Costanzo saving my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This story probably starts in October of 2015. I had gone to get my annual physical with Dr. Crum at Stahl’s Exotic Animal Veterinary Services (SEAVS). He was my primary care physician, a nice guy and a good doctor but he leaves a girl with no dignity. And after all of that poking and sticking me with needles, he told me everything was okay. Shucks, I could have told him that.

About a week later, though, my poop was shiny and black. The good folks at SEAVS said I had blood in my poop. They gave me some kind of stomach coating and some kind of antibiotic. I didn’t like the taste of it but I was forced to take it. And it seemed to work.

In November of 2015, I went back for a follow up visit. This time they gave me some kind of whoopee stuff that put me to sleep and they X-rayed me. After I woke up, they told me the X-rays were fine. That was good but was I ever glad to get out of there.

In April of 2016, I had some more blood in my poop. They gave me some more medicine for my stomach and an antibiotic which I was again forced to take. At this point my weight was about 1,010 grams. That is a good weight for me and I have a nice, girlish figure at that weight.

But by July of 2016, my weight was down to around 910 grams. My clothes were just hanging off of me and I just wasn’t feeling good. I pretty much stayed in my room and I didn’t even want to talk to or play with my mom.

I went back to SEAVS and met Dr. Gregory Costanzo (my new hero). He did every kind of test imaginable. He drew blood, he checked my poop which still had blood and a bunch of other stuff in it, and he gave me a shot of some sort. I know he was trying to be helpful and make me feel better, but was I ever glad to get out of there and get back home.

About a week later, my weight was down to about 875 grams so I went back to Dr. Costanzo. This time they kept me there all day. They gave me some stuff called Barium and then kept putting me to sleep and taking pictures. They did some more blood tests and even checked for avian Bornavirus. Fortunately I was negative for that, but I still had blood in my poop. And they sent me home with some more medicine. This time I had to get a shot twice a day and take some positively foul tasting stuff for two weeks. Yuck.

In early August, I still had blood in my poop and I had convulsed after getting one of those awful shots. By now my weight was down to about 830 grams. I went back to see Dr. Costanzo. He didn’t make me get those shots anymore but he did give me some new medicines to take. He also showed me the differences in the X-rays from last November and the Barium pictures from the week before. Something was clearly pushing up into my digestive track. He even suggested that maybe it might be the “C” word. They fed me that night before I went back home. I was expecting something a little romantic, you know, candlelight, white table cloth, some exotic fare. But no, they stuck a tube down my throat and force fed me some yucky stuff.

Over the next week or so, I went back for dinner a few more times (really, they should never open a restaurant). My poop still had blood in it and now there was some undigested food in it. Even my new blood tests had issues. They changed some of my meds and gave me some new meds. Dr. Costanzo assured me that I didn’t have PDD, another one of those terrible diseases. My weight was still down, my clothes were just hanging off of me, and I just wasn’t feeling good. I pretty much stayed in my room all day long.

Unbeknownst to me, Dr. Costanzo had been talking with other doctors about me behind my back. He talked to Dr. Crum and Dr. Stahl, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian) who are at SEAVS. I think Dr. Stahl is his boss. He talked about me with a Dr. Susan Orosz, PhD, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian) & Dipl ECZM (Avian). I can’t pronounce her last name much less understand what all of those letters mean after her last name. Then again maybe that name I can’t pronounce is really her middle name and I just can’t read or understand all of those letters that make up her last name. At any rate, she is a really smart doctor and Dr. Costanzo calls her Dr. O. I guess he can’t pronounce all those letters either. He even talked with a Dr. Robert Dahlhausen who owns Veterinary Molecular Diagnostics where some of my blood and stuff got sent for diagnosis.

jazzy_meeting_8_31_16

Drs. Susan Orosz, Robert Dahlhausen and Gregory Costanzo, August 2016

Even my Auntie Ann got involved. She’s in charge of something called Phoenix Landing. When my mom and dad can’t take care of me anymore, I’ll go live with her. I guess she was also checking around with a bunch of doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I think she loves me, too.

About this time, Dr. Costanzo had to go out of town to a big meeting in Portland, Oregon. Apparently there were a lot of other doctors there that also treat boys and girls like me. He even took my X-rays and showed them to people trying to figure out what was wrong with me. He also had a meeting with Dr. O and Dr. Dahlhausen to talk about me. Out of those meetings, it was suggested that maybe I had heavy metal toxicity. So he called me from Portland and had me go in for another blood test for heavy metal toxicity. That test came back negative.

But before he left, he told me that the next step should probably be an endoscopy exam. I think that means they would cut me open somewhere below my neck and stick something in there and look around to see what they see.  And they would also cut me open in my tummy area and look around. Of course he told me that they would put me to sleep for all of this and I wouldn’t feel any pain. Dr. Costanzo also told me that if they saw something that was not medicinally fixable, they would let me stay asleep and not wake me up. That was a sad day and we cried. But I knew he was doing what was best for me.

In early September, when Dr. Costanzo got back from Portland, he changed the plan from doing an endoscopy to doing an ultrasound. He gave me some more whoopee gas and put me to sleep for that. He saw something wrapped around my intestine. It was definite and the findings were repeatable with the ultrasound and by palpitation. The good news was that he found something. The bad news was that he didn’t know what it was.

He scheduled me for exploratory surgery for two days later. He even arranged for his boss, Dr. Stahl, to be there to assist and advise. That made me feel pretty special. He again cautioned me that if they found something that wasn’t medicinally treatable, they would let me stay asleep and not wake me up. Again, I knew that he was doing what was best for me, but it was still a sad day and we cried again.

On the morning of September 8 I had my hugs and kisses and tears with my mom and dad and then I went to see Dr. Costanzo for my surgery. They gave me the whoopee gas and I went to sleep, not knowing if I was going to wake up again.

My next realization was waking up and through groggy eyes seeing that sweet face of Dr. Costanzo, beard and all. I was awake. You know what that meant? I was awake! They must have been able to fix something. That was the best day of my life.

It turned out that there was some kind of plant material that had perforated my duodenum. It had detached and sealed off from my duodenum and it was in a sac that was closed off on both ends. My duodenum had healed but it had been pinched by this thing all this time. It was pea soup green, kind of in a ragged semi-circle, and was hard enough to knock around inside the bottle that Dr. Costanzo had put it in. That thing accounted for all my symptoms and it was now out of my body. I don’t understand Latin, so you’ll have to ask Dr. Costanzo about the exact details.

jazzy-in-collarDr. Costanzo sewed me up, put a collar around my neck so I wouldn’t mess with the incision site, and put me in the intensive care unit for a few days. They fed me until I was eating on my own. Dr. Costanzo brought in some really good cucumbers. My poops got back to normal, I gained back some weight, and I got ready to go back home. The doctors and nurses at SEAVS took wonderful care of me. Nadia even speaks Macawinese. You know, that Oscar guy is kind of cute. I think he likes me.

After a few days I went home. I think my mom and dad were really glad to have me home. I know I was glad to be home. Dr. Costanzo had arranged for a hospital bed for me so I wouldn’t fall and hurt myself. I got out of bed a lot, walked around with my mom, and took a lot of naps. After a week or so the collar came off, I was weaned from the post-surgery meds, and Dr. Costanzo took out my stitches, I could now move around freely, brush my teeth and comb my hair, take a shower, and eat anything I wanted.

It is now near the end of October, my incision is healed, my weight is now up to a 1,000+ grams, my clothes fit again, and my poops are normal. I’m eating anything I want, I’m climbing around my room and my tree, I’m going over and messing around in my brothers’ and sisters’ rooms, I’m getting out of my room and walking through the house, I’m climbing the stairs looking for my mom, I’m talking back to my brothers and sisters, and life is just plain good.

It is good to be awake. Thank you, Dr. Costanzo.

jazzy-and-bobbie

Jazzy and Bobbie Kerns

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