Monday, October 6, 2014

A Dissolution & Hormonal Problems

A Dissolution

After surviving this first food crisis we thought that she now would be safe. She had regained her weight before the first cold days of Winter 2000 – 2001.

We were almost sure that we wouldn't have to worry now, but … this positive outlook didn't last long.
On December 28 – she got again the same problem! Suddenly she stopped eating again, and after five days of loosing weight, we had to consult the vet again.
For us, this became the most dreadful New Year's eve we had experienced in her life so far.

We were so worried. It was cold and freezing now – and in that time she had no warmth lamp outside – only a cubby-hole. She had now also lost so much weight, that we sometimes had to consult the vet for tube feeding twice a day!
The vet tried to figure out was going wrong but he couldn't find out what the cause of her problem was. So - after nearly one whole month of tube feeding he suggested to take x-rays, maybe he could find an abnormality on it.

To take this x-rays he needed to put her under general anesthesia.
This became really a stressful situation!
Narcosis for birds is very risky!
We had seen birds being anesthetized on TV – birds that were healthy – and even some of them didn't survive.
Pipke wasn't healthy, but if the vet would find out what her problem was, then we had to take the risk.
The vet's co-assistant (a woman) would make the x-rays. She allowed us to join her to go with Pipke to the x-ray room. While I held Pipke in my arms the co-vet placed a hood on Pipke's beak. Pipke tried to shake the hood off, but - of course she didn't have enough strength to succeed in it.

Only a few seconds later Pipke fell in a deep sleep.
That was a very strange sight for us. She seemed now like a floppy rag doll. The co-vet now had to support her floppy long neck to avoid that her neck would get injured. Then she placed Pipke on the table and laid her in the correct position to take the x-rays.

After the x-rays were taken, the co-vet laid Pipke in my arms again. She was still in a deep sleep – and now, I was the one who had to support her floppy neck. The vet advised me to whisper very soft to Pipke while she awoke to put her mind at rest. If she could hear my voice then she would be less traumatized by the whole procedure.
While Pipke slowly awoke in my arms the vet showed us the x-rays.

(Unfortunately, I cannot show them to you. I asked a professional photographer to take digital photos of the x-rays, but that is not possible. One needs medical imaging equipment to do that. So I hope my description can give you more or less an image of the x-rays.)

It was amazing how detailed they were.
We could not only see Pipke's fine bone structures, but also the tiny ovaries with her very tiny egg cells – eggs in the making – which she carried in her body, and it were many!
(It seemed like a cluster of very tiny grapes.)

Those could have been her babies – the start of new life – but because she had chosen me as her partner there was no life possible.
Oh, I felt so sorry for her!
The x-rays showed no abnormalities.
On the one hand this was good – but on the other hand – now the vet still had 'no explanation' for what was happening to her.
Now we were completely puzzled.
During this illness period this season, we had to revisit the vet 26 times before she started to eat again.
Unfortunately, also this reassurance didn't last long. 
Only one week after she was eating well, she suddenly started to lay eggs again.
The poor thing, she still was far below her normal weight – she had just survived her 'second' fight – and now this.
Of course, this first egg wasn't a good one.
The shell wasn't developed well and it was very soft.
She started to lay eggs that year on January 30, 
and stopped laying eggs on August 9.

 As a good mom, carefully rearranging her eggs.
Fortunately she continued to eat now and that made us less worried.
The total amount of eggs that year was 92, far too much for her health!
Hormonal Problems

Summer of 2001.
This Summer, 'the same problems' as the year before!
(I know - it's maybe a bit annoying that I have to repeat this, but I want to give a true picture of the story. This is reality thus I can't change it.)
Again she was exhausted from laying eggs (83 this season), lost weight – stopped eating and: there we went to the vet for tube feeding again!
Now it had already came so far that we assumed that she would have the same problems the next year.
And yes - our assumption was right, but this time it was even worse than before.
Now - June 2002 - she had problems with 'all' her eggs!
The whole month she had laid eggs, but this time they were all soft – not one had a firm shell.
Therefore the vet assumed that she had an hormonal problem, and he suggested to give her an injection to stop her from laying eggs.
Because we thought that this would solve her problem, we agreed with the vet, that this was probably the best solution for her!

After she got this injection (on June 26, 2002) she only laid a few very tiny eggs.
The injection had prevented the eggs to develop. At the end they were even not larger than a small bean! They were even so brittle that, when I took them up very gentle they fell apart in miniscule pieces and pulverized in my hand.
'I have kept a few of these last 'potential offsprings' as a souvenir. 
I keep them in a small old wooden chest, 
together with all what once belonged to Pipke.'

One of her last under developed eggs with a soft shell.

 A few of her last 'potential offsprings'.

For me this is now my treasure box of invaluable value.

(If my house would catch fire then I would enter my house and risk my own life to save this treasure from the fire.)

She laid her very last egg on August 28 of that year.

At that time we had consulted the vet already 105 times.
The vet's practice.
Would the injection stop the number of visits?
We wondered whether this would turn out in her favor.

If you want to know the answer to these questions, then I invite you to come again later for the continuation.

Bye, bye and thanks for reading !
Hope to see you again,
then I will take you for a ride 
'On the Roller- Coaster'.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Loving Memory

Today, September 14, 2014 -
it's already five years ago since Pipke passed away.
I just cannot believe that it can be that long ago. Never thought that her absence would weigh so heavy.
I know - for the world she just might have been a silly duck, but to me, 
she meant the world.
My dear little loyal friend

Fate has brought us together.
I found you at the most precarious moment of your life.
You were only a few minutes old, so tiny, vulnerable and whole alone struggling to stay alive.
Luckily I was there for you at the right moment so I could save you.
In return you gave your little life to me; and what a life it was!
Beyond expression is my love for you; and for my gratitude
words fail me.
In my mind all memories are alive and deeply etched. 
In my heart I've reserved the softest place for you.
For as long as I'm aware of myself … I will remember you. 
For always


May 25, 1995 - September 14, 2009.

*In loving memory

*Watch: Pipke's life story in a nutshell.

PS: the sequel of Pipke's life story will follow soon. 
Thanks for your patience. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pipke on TV: Part Two

 Pipke on TV: Images. 

How it went.

After entering the vet's research room.

"And who we have here?" - asked the host.


 "This is Pipke!" - I said.

Here I had to explain how it came we had a duck as pet.

Not at her ease waiting while I was telling her story!

*Keen as mustard telling her story! 
I didn't know this saying yet. *Enthusiast. Funny :)

Explaining her problems.  

Here the vet is preparing a sample of her stool for examination.

Examining her stool under the microscope. 

Here the evildoers appear on the screen.  

A little worried after hearing the research results.

 Here the vet took her to turn her upside down to treat her. 

Oh she was so frightened!

Preparation for the injection.

Searching for the right spot to administer the injection.

The injection itself was complemented with a loud quack! 

Here the vet gives the pills to deworm her.

Preparation for the administering of the feeding tube.
"And now follows the 'foie gras' method!" - said the host.

Eager to get back to Oma!

Both relieved to be reunited. 

Glad the *abuse was over! 
Of course in her eyes this was *so, nobody else had ever treated her that way!

Both glad the research was done.

A precious moment! 
The both of us 'happy' together.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Bye, bye, and thanks for watching ! 

Till soon. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pipke on TV

It was begin August 2000. 

Pipke was still in good shape and healthy.

Only one week before she got ill for the very first time in her life.

But then suddenly mid August we could see that she wasn't doing so well, her health started to deteriorate.
It was very obvious to see that she was once again in the moult.
She had the same problems as the previous years, but this time it seemed much worse.
She began to eat less and less when at a given moment – after approximately one week – she just stopped eating completely. We were very worried about her well-being. Now she hadn't been eating for almost a fortnight and she became far too skinny. Therefore we started to weigh her every day and the scale told nothing good!
Every day she lost almost 25 to 40 grams, and measured to her total body weight – that was very much. 

At the start of the moult.

It was Sunday, August the twentieth, and we trusted it no longer.
We were afraid that we might lose her.
One week earlier, one of our neighbors (who knew about Pipke's situation) had given us the name of a veterinarian who lives in our neighborhood.
And did we have luck. Quite by chance – he was a bird-specialist.
So we phoned him and described her situation.
He was so kind to receive us although it was his day off.
He examined Pipke superficial, but he couldn't find anything at that moment and therefore he gave her a vitamins injection. If it wouldn't be better the next day then we had to come back.
It wasn't better the next day – only worse!

She sat there lifeless in her little water tub. 

We even couldn't lure her to eat an earthworm, and that had always been her favorite treat. 
She even refused to nibble on the roots of dandelions.
Therefore we made a new appointment with the vet the next day on Monday, August 21.
Before we left, I washed my face with cold water to hide that I'd been crying. My eyes were all red and puffed up – I really looked awful.
When we arrived at the vet we were very surprised to see that there stood a large truck of the Belgian Dutch-language television station parked at his practice.
There was a TV crew recording film images for an animal program called 'Animal Clinic'.
We had seen that program very often on the *Belgian Dutch speaking broadcaster (*BRT at that time) and now they were here – filming!
Already on the parking lot two members of the TV crew came to us to see which animal needed the vet's help.
They were very surprised when they saw Pipke.
Of course – they didn't expect to see a duck, but rather a dog.
They also could see that she wasn't an 'ordinary duck'!

So we went inside and while we were waiting in the waiting room they asked us many questions about her. So we had to tell them her story (in short of course)!
How her life started – how our bond grew and so on.
They also asked us what Pipke's problem was – so we told them what was going on at that moment. Of course now that they came to know more about her situation, they were eager to film her during the consultation at the vet's examination room.
First I refused. I was a little embarrassed because I looked so dreadful. This wasn't the appropriate moment to appear on TV – not for me – but surely not for her!
Actually – we both looked terribly – but the manager of the film crew insisted, and after hesitating a while I agreed. I did it in fact for Pipke. It was about her, and now she could be seen by so many viewers of the program. (At that time there were about “one million” viewers and believe me – that's a lot for such a small country like Belgium.)
A member of the film crew installed a little microphone on my shirt and so we could enter the vet's examination room.

I suppose you know a little how the filming of such scenes goes and because I can't show you the scene I'm going to describe you how it went.
(Sorry but I can't show the film scene. Why – I will explain later at the end of this chapter.)

The host of the program asked us which animal was sitting in the container.

Then I had to come in action, and while I took away the lid of the container where Pipke was sitting in I said: 
"this is Pipke our pet duck".

 Our little jack -in- the- box

Actually, although she was in such a thorny delicate situation, it was funny to see that, when I lifted up the lid, as a jack -in- the- box, Pipke's head came peeking up just above the edge – very anxious quaking and looking around.
She was so afraid that she tried to jump out the container on herself. Therefore I took her out the box, put her on the examination table and embraced her to reassure her that she was safe with me.
Actually – we both were not at all at ease with the camera aimed at us.
The vet examined her again and this time more thoroughly. This time he also took a sample of her feces and held it under the microscope.
So while the vet was busy with looking in the microscope, the host asked me to tell him how it came that we had a duck as pet. So you can guess it: once again I had to tell her story in short.

In between we could follow the examination on a screen – and there appeared two evildoers!
She had not only an infestation of *flagellates but she also had worms.
We could see something very small moving. It were the flagellates – (cells with one or more whip-like organelles).
*This a very common infestation for all kind of birds.
Although these flagellates are such microscopic small things – they can cause much problems. A heavy flagellate infection can even be fatal.
Flagellates affects and destroys the intestinal wall and so the animal can not digest food anymore.
The symptoms of flagellates are, a loss of appetite, and loose and dark stools.
Also vomiting can occur. 
(Actually - on the one hand: Pipke had 'bad luck'!
She now had to defeat two strong enemies – while she was totally weakened.
But on the other hand: she also had 'much luck' because – without the help of the vet she had never been able to win the fight.)

Then the vet gave Pipke two pills to kill the worms.

Thereafter – to give Pipke the necessary injections the vet turned her upside down. (Oh, she was so afraid when he did that!)
By doing this, the tiny feathers which Pipke was losing flew all over the place.
By manner of speaking: 'it was snowing fuzz'.
The result was that now the table was covered with her white fuzz.

He gave her then, one injection against the flagellates, and yet another one with vitamins to support her. Thereafter he gave her tube feeding which he had prepared for her.
He took her beak to open it but she opposed it, so he had to force her to open it.
Then– very carefully he brought in the long tube. This is a very delicate action because the trachea and the esophagus are located so close to each other. You can imagine what would happen if you did this wrong.
Actually he gave her a kind of parrot food because there exists no liquid tube feeding especially for ducks.

Bah, she didn't like that at all! 
Comprehensible – she also wasn't a parrot!
She even shook her head repeatedly – trying to spit out the food, luckily without success otherwise the calories which she needed so desperately would have been lost.
Parrot food is in fact the only bird food with so much calories, and she needed as much calories as she could get.

After all this 'abuse' she had become so frightened that 

she jumped up straight into my arms – afraid that there would follow other maltreatments.

Of course in her eyes this was maltreatment, no one had done this to her before.
(It's really so unfortunately that I can't show you this particular scene. It's so touching to watch how – after she jumped into my arms – she hugs me and hides her head in my hair. I can't get enough of this scene!)

When the examination was finished we went outside to the waiting room while the host followed us.
He thanked us for our cooperation on their program and wished that Pipke would get better very soon.

So we went home with the hope that Pipke's problems would be over now, but this hope became a great disillusionment.
Even several days after this second visit to the vet – and being filmed to appear on TV later that year – Pipke still wasn't getting better.
She'd lost now more than half her weight and it still went downwards.
A terrible time for us all followed – interspersed by concern about her wellbeing – and sleepless nights by fear of losing her. 
At a given time we were even close to despair.
Seeing her suffering – not being able to alleviate her pain it was really heartbreaking.
Going to the vet so many times and watching her – to undergo the torture of the tube feeding. When I think back at these periods then my heart still bleeds, but it was for her own good that we went on with it, otherwise she wouldn't have survived it.
So, we had to revisit the vet for tube feeding – in total *19 times (*and this only that year) – before she started to eat again by herself.
Fortunately – after more than one month she started to recover.
In total it took nearly two months to return the 'lively Pipke' as we previously knew her.

In fact, Pipke was a real riddle for the vet. He never had experienced such a case before, although he is a well-known eminent veterinarian. He gives lectures all over the world.
During all the years (ten) that we consulted him we saw there people who came from Holland, Luxembourg, Germany and even England with their birds, birds of all species like: Cranes, Owls, Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Parrots, Pigeons and all other kinds of small birds.
We saw only a few ordinary mallards, but – Pipke was of course not an ordinary duck!
She was a duck with a tuft on her head: a crested duck – and a special lovely one.
Also for the vet she became a special case. She had captured his heart too. He would treat her for the rest of her life.
Now we still say that we really have had much luck to find him at that very moment that Pipke went ill for the first time, otherwise she wouldn't have survived it.
We also were lucky that he lived so close to our home, only approx. three km away.
Now that she had survived the ordeal and was fully recovered we pampered her more than ever before.

After such a long period of worry and fear of losing her we discovered what and how much she meant to us.

She made my life complete!

We couldn't imagine our life without  her.
From that moment on, I started to write about her in my diary, and this time, it became a real diary.
I noticed every move she made in a manner of speaking. I hadn't done that before.
Later that year, the TV producers informed us that the program 'Animal Clinic' would appear on TV. We hadn't told our neighbors nor friends about it. We had kept it silent – so it became a real surprise for them.
They – we – and also approx. one million viewers saw the broadcast on TV on November 14, 2000.
I can assure you, seeing yourself on TV is odd.
For me it was a real disenchantment: 'was this my voice!' I disgusted my own voice.
Knowing that I was being filmed – it made ​​me a little uneasy to find the right words.
I must admit, I will never be a good actress. Although – actually you can't compare this with acting. I had no time to study and repeat a text. I also did not know which questions they would ask me.
No really – in this regard – you haven't missed a thing. Maybe it's even best that you also can't hear me talking, otherwise you would perhaps close the speaker:) !
It was also weird. I almost didn't recognize myself on the screen.
But – other people had recognized me. The next days when I went to town to do my shoppings, several people asked me: “aren't you the one with the duck on TV?”
Then – even several years later, those same people sometimes asked me how it went with my duck. 

Well, and how it went further with Pipke, that I will tell you in the next chapter. 

I'm going to close this one with the words the host used in the program: 
“and here's Pipke again – 
the most affectionate duck in the Western Hemisphere!”.

Yes, wasn't she a sweetie!

When the series ended later that year, at the end of the very last broadcast the host mentioned Pipke's name.
He expressed a special word of thanks to Pipke for her cooperation to the program.
Wasn't this a beautiful way to close the series!
That made our day!
Till next time – then I will go further with: A Dissolution. 

Bye, bye 
and thanks for reading my story.
I hope you enjoyed it!

PS: as promised I will explain why I can't show you the film images of the broadcast on TV.
Because I couldn't retrieve the images of the broadcast which we ever recorded on VHS, I have sent a mail to the manager of the image archive of the TV station with the request to send me a copy of the images on DVD.
I was very surprised that – before they would send me the film images I first had to sign a document in which I declare that I will use the footage only for private use.
Because I wanted to show the images on my blog, I sent them the request to allow me to show only a small part of the film images but it was denied.

So – I have received the film images on DVD, but because of the copyright I can't show them on my blog!

I hope you understand that I have to comply the agreement.

Here you can find more detailed information about the problem.