Thursday, 10 January 2008

Hamlyn Bev returns to the fold

Alas, it can pay not to keep your hopes up regarding certain koalas. Sometimes a koala whose unit you've cleaned one week might take a turn for the worse and not be there at your next shift. I had been especially concerned about Hamlyn Bev and Bangalay Millie, both wet bottoms who’d been rescued during my shift on Thursday - Hamlyn Bev by Amanda and myself. Both were scheduled for ultrasounds at the vet and their outcome was uncertain until that examination.

So I’m thrilled to see both have been accommodated in units in the ICU. Just as I arrive, I spy Jim entering Bev’s unit with a bundle of towels and a scissors-and-string basket.

"Hold it right there, cowboy," I warn him. "That there is *my* koala. I bagged her fair n' square and no ornery varmint is gonna wrangle her but me.”

Jim looks suitably afraid and asks if there are any other koalas he needs to steer clear of, or if he should simply leave town on the next mail-coach.

Hamlyn Bev
Hamlyn Bev
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Bev’s ultrasound showed up that her bladder was clear but she has a cyst beside her ovaries. Not sure whether that’s something they will try to remove or not. She also has a weepy right eye from conjunctivitis.

Bev is a different girl to the one I saw on Thursday. Today she is spritely and alert, looking so pointedly at me that I worry for a moment that she might be about to spring off the gunyah and onto me the moment my back is turned. Of course, Bev was hand-raised in the hospital when she came to us as an orphan, so she is more used to human contact that the wilder koalas we get in the place. She’s got none of the “wild” koala reticence.

I go off in search of her food. She takes to it with gusto, sucking on the syringe like it’s a bottle. I try to position it at the side of her mouth but she won’t have it, she wants it front and centre like a teat. She suctions onto it and slurps it back and I imagine she’s recalling her days back in homecare with her foster mum, Judy. Apparently, Judy has been popping in to check on her former charge, ensuring she has her favourite leaf on hand.

Each time I place the syringe in her mouth, she reaches towards me and tries to grab my arm. It seems easier to let her, since she’s just wants something to hang on to and her claws aren’t particularly sharp. But she grapples for the syringe and they start to dig in; so I let go, and find myself in the situation I was in with Warrego Martin the other day – trying to wrestle the syringe out of the surprisingly nimble claws of a hungry koala.

Jim is next door, listening to the one-way conversation I’m having with Bev:

“Let go.”
“Ow, that hurts.”
“Drop it…”
“Give me back that syringe.”
“Not my arm, take the branch, the branch, not ME!”

He comments that he thinks I must have let him off lightly, if that’s the kind of carry-on Bev’s giving me. (Of course, I’m loving every minute of it, really!).

Bangalay Millie
Bangalay Millie
From koalawrangler's gallery.

Just then, Jim yells “hey!”. Apparently Bangalay Millie has just tried to jump from her gunyah onto the window ledge. That’s a good sign really. Her wet bottom seems much more advanced than Bev’s (who’s been rated a 1 on the wet bottom scale), so the fact that Millie’s still full of beans is usually a good sign.

I look in on Newport Bridge Gloria, one of the sweet little koalas from the drug trials earlier this year. She’s much quieter then these other two. Joy commented that it’s causing her pain to pass urine, which is not good. Still, we keep up her treatment and hope for the best.

Granite Murray has become a “jumper” apparently. He’s fed up with being indoors and wants out. So he’s taking it out on the vollies. He’s another less-wild (“tame” is a dirty word around here) koala, having been a patient here a few times before. So he knows the drill. But he’s over it and wants the great outdoors.

He probably thinks he’s missing out on all the fun Roto Randy’s been having.

Click here to view more of today's koala hospital snaps.