Gretchen's Eggs Need to Get Out Already

CuttletheFish

New Member
I guess I'm not necessarily looking for help, just some emotional support from like minded individuals. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I posted a thread about a month or so ago about my veiled chameleon, Harriet's, journey through follicular stasis and surgery. She unfortunately didn't make it and I took it pretty hard. I still get upset about it to be honest, I was and still am absolutely devastated. If you interested in reading, the thread can be found here:
https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/help-rescued-cham-with-probable-follicular-stasis.169656/page-1

Now I haven't had too much time to recover because during Harriet's ordeal, I'd noticed my other cham, Gretchen, showing signs of being gravid (I know that's the term for fish, is that true for chams too?). She had started digging around and looking rather plump around the last week of June. At one point she stopped digging so I took her to get checked out the first week of July by the vet and sure enough, she still had all of her eggs, and they are all very well formed. They took an xray and it looks like she's hording a bunch of grapes in there! Because of the lack of behaviors from her, they elected to give her a shot of oxytocin then and see what that does for her. Ideally it would have induced her. Something did come out... but it was just a MASSIVE poo.

We gave her another week or so where I tried some other substrates for digging, but nothing. Our next attempt to get her to lay was leaving her at the vets all day to be observed. She received several more injections of oxy as well as fluids to ensure she was hydrated and try to "lube up" everything inside.

Absolutely nothing happened.... except for another big poo...

After all of that didn't work we were now at the point of seriously considering surgery. I've been instructed to monitor her weight and appetite closely and if she loses more that 10% of her body weight or started to miss meals, we needed to get her in the books.

At this point I'm still debating surgery over euthinasia giving the 50% chance survival rate for chams. After seeing Harriet go, it was not painless or kind. It was bad. It was really bad and watching that unfold in front of me was the worst thing I've ever experienced. I was absolutely helpless and I don't want to put my heart through that again. More importantly, I don't want to put Gretchen through that.

Sure enough she hasn't wanted to eat independently since this weekend (It's Wednesday today) and I've basically been forcing her to eat by irritating her enough to open her mouth (doesn't take much, she's always been a feisty one lol) and sticking a feeder where she would chomp on it when she closed her mouth. After that, she basically took it from there.

We had scheduled her surgery for tomorrow. She wasn't digging, her appetite wasn't great, and while she wasn't losing weight, I was worried. I was (and still am) extremely apprehensive going into surgery and have tried so many tricks to try and get her to lay before to avoid it. I don't know if my nerves (or wallet) can take another surgery or surgical recovery, especially with how Harriet went not even a month ago.

It feels like I've tried everything and nothing has happened, until....

She spend almost all day today in her outside enclosure with a laying bin and this is the first time I've seen her dig all month! She also started shedding today. After telling my vet, we both decided it's best to postpone the surgery and basically see what happens.

Please please please keep Gretchen in your thoughts and prayers over the next few days! Finding support through this has been rough... A lot of my family and friends don't seem to understand these guys can take up just as much space in your heart as a dog or a cat.

This whole thing has been absolutely exhausting and as wreaked havoc on my nerves as well as my heart. I'm sorry if this post was a bit all over the place. My life has been all over the place all month!

For anyone who wants updates on Gretchen's story, I do have a GoFundMe set up that I update every time something happens. There's a lot more backstory there as well as lots of pictures. Don't feel obligated to share or donate but I won't mind if you do either ;)
https://www.gofundme.com/f/get-gretchen039s-eggs-out
 

MrsM

Avid Member
I’m glad to hear she dug a little today. It is really stressful to have a sick baby and I speak for so many of us when I say we are with you, crossing our fingers and hoping.
 

CuttletheFish

New Member
I’m really sorry about your girls. Where do you live? There’s not many vets at all that can do this surgery successfully.
I'm in central Illinois in the United States. I honestly believe my vet is one of the best reptile vets I can get in my area. She frequently does work in Chicago and is a mentor for reptiles to several other experienced vets in the area. Harriet did survive the surgery and was doing well from what I could tell. She went downhill very suddenly one day and very very quickly.
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
The first two weeks after surgery is critical. I’ve had five girl have this surgery. Four did very well and one passed right about the two week mark. I use Dr. Douglas Mader. He is the author of the reptile medicine and surgery books that all the vets use that try to work on Reptiles. I use to drive four and a half hours each way to see him until about 3 years ago when we moved to get closer to him. Now we are only an hour and a half away. I only know one vet in Chicago and I’m not sure if they are successful with this surgery or not but I can get the info for you. I know they have seen chameleons for many years.
Dr. Todd Gray
Arboretum View Animal Hospital
2551 Warrenville Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-963-0424 - phone
630-963-0537 - fax
www.avah.org

I’d also highly recommend pet insurance. I use Nationwide and it’s about $9.00 a month per chameleon. It has a $50.00 deduct and then pays 90%. It’s to late for this surgery but it’s a must IMO for chameleons.
 
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CuttletheFish

New Member
The first two weeks after surgery is critical. I’ve had five girl have this surgery. Four did very well and one passed right about the two week mark. I use Dr. Douglas Mader. He is the author of the reptile medicine and surgery books that all the vets use that try to work on Reptiles. I use to drive four and a half hours each way to see him until about 3 years ago when we moved to get closer to him. Now we are only an hour and a half away. I only know one vet in Chicago and I’m not sure if they are successful with this surgery or not but I can get the info for you. I know they have seen chameleons for many years.
Dr. Todd Gray
Arboretum View Animal Hospital
2551 Warrenville Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-963-0424 - phone
630-963-0537 - fax
www.avah.org
I'm sorry to hear about your girl that passed. Mine passed around the one week mark.

You're lucky that you live so close to Dr. Mader! That's incredible.
I've seen Dr. Gray's info on here in a vet post from another member. I'll look into it! Unfortunately Chicago is 4 hours away from where I live and I unfortunately cannot go that far due to my job. I would need to take at least 2 days off (one to drop off and one to pick up) and unfortunately, money is already tight and getting days off, is tricky.

I know you may have doubts about her, but I really do trust my vet. She does have chameleon experience and experience doing this surgery successfully on chameleons. She's one of two vets involved in a reptile rescue that is close to my heart. Don't worry. I basically interrogated the poor woman at my first vet appointment with the girls! I like her a lot. She is very honest with me and doesn't beat around the bush with touchy issues like euthanasia or risks. I pulled both of my girls from my previous vet (who obviously didn't have much cham experience at all) to see her after the first appointment where I was just seeking a second opinion about what he said about Harriet. Had I stayed with the other vet, Harriet wouldn't have even had a fighting chance and I am grateful that my current vet gave me that at least.
 

CuttletheFish

New Member
Thanks for the bit about pet insurance as well! I've been trying to find a good company because I have rabbits too (another one that can have super expensive vet bills). I didn't even consider Nationwide!
 

CuttletheFish

New Member
8 days of digging and still no eggs. I have a referral for a back up vet should an emergency arise but my vet is currently participating in the St. Jude run (running from Memphis, Tennessee all the way to Peoria, Illinois to raise money). If Gretchen hasn't laid her eggs by the time she gets back, we won't be able to put off surgery any longer.
 

CuttletheFish

New Member
Alrighty so the doc is back in and we still have no eggs at all. Appetite is okay and we haven't lost any weight. We've actually gained some but we also haven't pooed in a few days. She took a big ol'poop today so I'll weigh her and see what the scales say. We've gone ahead and scheduled her surgery for this upcoming Friday (3 days from now). Hopefully we have eggs before then but we've been waiting for a loooong time...
 

CuttletheFish

New Member
WARNING: SOME MAY FIND THE ATTACHED IMAGE GRAPHIC

It's Friday afternoon and Gretchen just got out of surgery. She did great! She's already awake and alert and as grumpy as ever. I included a pic the doc sent me just because I think it's cool. Those are half of the follicles she pulled out and Gretchen is behind them so you can really see the scale of how much there actually were! Apparently they weren't as fully calcified as we thought (good and bad considering she was still hording them after well over a month and a half). I can't wait to get her back tomorrow. All of the staff at the vets office adore her though so I may have to fight them for her! We still have to make it through recovery. Any tips tricks or essentials I should know?
 

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jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I’m glad she made it! The most important think is that she eats and drinks. Keep the calories in her and keep her well hydrated. My girls have all been able to go back on their condo when the come back home, but I’ve see some that were weak and had to have a hospital bin. I did not mist my girls and kept the stitches dry. If they get wet to much they can come out to early and cause another problem. I give my girls water via a plastic eye dropper, be sure to use plastic because glass can break in their mouth if she bites it. The first week to 10 days I use the eye dropper and after that the eye dropper and dripper.

The first two weeks are crucial. If she makes it past that, she should be fine.
 

CuttletheFish

New Member
I’m glad she made it! The most important think is that she eats and drinks. Keep the calories in her and keep her well hydrated. My girls have all been able to go back on their condo when the come back home, but I’ve see some that were weak and had to have a hospital bin. I did not mist my girls and kept the stitches dry. If they get wet to much they can come out to early and cause another problem. I give my girls water via a plastic eye dropper, be sure to use plastic because glass can break in their mouth if she bites it. The first week to 10 days I use the eye dropper and after that the eye dropper and dripper.

The first two weeks are crucial. If she makes it past that, she should be fine.
What are some good foods to be giving her? Would giving her more hornworms than usual be okay or is that too much water? They're her favorites. How often did you give them water via dripper and how much at a time?
 
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