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Fixing Belle

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

These past couple of weeks have been like an express train. I'm up to my ears in putting together a course for The Chautauqua Institution for Bill and me to present. It's a topic we're comfortable with: attracting birds to your yard. But putting it all into digital images and a cogent Keynote presentation has been a chunk of work. We've also got two gigs on Saturday, and we've been rehearsing like mad. The vocal cords are definitely stretched out. That feels good. Bill's playing guitar like a monster these days. It's really fun.
But...The wildlife calls are coming in thick and fast; I dread picking up the phone, because they're always a boomerang in my day. One such was about a box turtle who'd been hit by a mower blade. She came in, brought by the landowners who'd accidentally hit her, and her injury looked horrible. I could see into her right lung, and it wasn't pretty. Ow, ow, ow. Nobody else in the house could even look at her. I didn't have the luxury to be grossed out. I covered her with Saran wrap until I could get more information.
The Internet came to our rescue, and a box turtle rehabilitator my colleague Bill Belzer knows from upstate New York called and told me what to do for her to give her the best chance of survival. Apparently, Kathy's fixed 11 turtles, many hurt far worse than this one, with Silvodine cream, a membrane called Tegaderm, and injections of Baytril. The cream hardens over a period of weeks, and the bone starts growing back under it. Turtles are tough customers. Imagine breathing with your lung open to the air. That isn't going to happen with a person. But turtles don't have a diaphragm, so they don't need negative pressure to breathe, and this old girl didn't show the slightest respiratory distress, even as blood bubbled out of her beak. All her parts seem to work and I'm praying she'll recover from this grievous injury.
I spent all day Saturday in town, connecting with Chet's vet, waiting for hours at the pharmacy, and securing the prescription medications. Wasn't planning to blow Saturday that way. It was not cheap, in time or money. Fooled around at the Farmer's Market while waiting for the vet to get in, bought three fab daylilies, corn, sprouts, peaches, scented geraniums, and the like. I love the Farmer's Market. It's my Saturday morning church. Quintessential Marietta scene: cantaloupe/vegetable lady with backdrop of tugboat pushing a barge up the Ohio. Brick streets, rumbly and nice. Love it!
When I got home, I cleaned the turkle up with Betadine and Q-tips, trying to get all the grass bits our of the wound. She hated that.
Then I layered in the cream (it's used for burn victims to seal deep wounds) and covered her with Tegaderm. Then I injected her with Baytril, only $15 a milligram. Ouch on both counts. Here's Belle, good to go. Wish her well. My hope for Belle is to return her to her home, maybe next summer. Until then, she and I are in this together. She'll have to overwinter in the house, under lights. I hope she starts to eat soon. And I just hope she heals.

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