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Worth the Whistle
The ZCAM team pulled out all the stops to care for service intern Lucyanne Megan’s guinea pig
January 12, 2022

When Whistler, a four-year-old male guinea pig, began having a recurrence of painful urination in October 2021, owner, Lucyanne Megan brought him to the best facility she knew of—the ZCAM (Zoological Companion Animal Medicine) department at Foster Hospital for Small Animals—where she herself is an intern.

Megan was the veterinarian on call that weekend, so she began Whistler’s care. An ultrasound was performed, which showed that the wall of his bladder was thickened—evidence of chronic inflammation of the bladder—and was also found to have a bladder stone. Whistler had surgery that week to have the bladder stone removed.

But the following day, Whistler was still uncomfortable. ECC resident Katrina Manson was able to take over care of Megan, providing her with emotional relief as Whistler’s pain continued to progress. Another flash ultrasound and further testing were performed, this time showing that urine had been leaking into his abdomen—a life-threatening condition.

Whistler had emergency surgery, which found two pinpoint holes in his bladder, which had likely occurred because of the fragility of his bladder tissue—that the surgery team was able to repair. “It was incredibly nerve-wracking. Small, exotic species that we work with already have increased anesthetic risk compared to dogs and cats, and he was significantly compromised, so I was very worried he wasn’t going make it through the surgery,” says Megan.

After three days in the ICU, Whistler was released home to Megan, where he has been doing well since. While bladder stones in guinea pigs can be a recurrent issue that Megan will have to monitor for the rest of his life, she is thankful for the life-saving care Whistler received at Foster Hospital. “I have significant trust in our exotic team. I know that they’re amazing. And also with our surgery team—specifically Rob McCarthy is an incredibly experienced surgeon. And our anesthesia team is amazing,” she says. “And so, I had every confidence that Whistler would receive the best possible care at Cummings School.”

Effective communication from Whistler’s care team was also a key part of the experience for Megan. “Katrina Manson was communicating with me about every step of the process when we reached his diagnosis and his need to go for emergency surgery,” Megan says. “She stayed with him for the entire procedure and let me know how he was doing immediately afterward, and then she kept me updated on his care throughout the time that he was in the hospital.”

But for Megan, the truly best part was that she was able to bring her family member home. “He’s my child as is my other guinea pig,” she says. “They mean the world to me and it was amazing that they were able to help Whistler.”