Throw Back Thursday

It’s Thursday again. We all know what that means. As soon as we get done reading our favourite authors’ articles in the Waterline section of the Charlotte Sun, we log onto Facebook for TBT. That’s ThrowBack Thursday— a weekly ritual where old friends post really old pictures and we get to reminisce about Farrah Fawcett hairdos and other unfortunate fashion fads. I love seeing baby pictures of people I would never have thought could have ever been that cute. I like the pictures of grandpa with his first car, a childhood friend blowing out the candles on her sweet 16 birthday cake, and puppy pictures of the grizzled old lab who can barely get up to greet you when you walk in the door now.

This week’s stroll down Memory Lane takes me back to my first hicky. I know for a fact that it happened on a Thursday. It happened last Thursday to be precise. And I got it from a baby raccoon. This stuff is too weird to be fiction. A young couple found a baby raccoon, barely a few days old, at the base of a tree. They watched from a distance for the mother to come and reclaim the baby. When she didn’t, they wrapped the neonate in a towel and brought it to Peace River Wildlife Center.

Upon initial exam it was noticed that the baby raccoon had a large swelling on the left side of her abdomen. Since it could have been traumatic in nature from the fall from the tree, she was given an anti-inflammatory and a fairly poor prognosis. The rehabber on duty offered the baby raccoon a bottle with dilute raccoon formula and she inhaled it. Normally baby raccoons are difficult to transition onto a bottle, but this little girl was a fighter with a strong will to live. And she was hungry!

The next day, x-rays showed no broken bones, but the swelling on her side was due to a massive hernia. Her entire intestinal tract was just under the skin because the muscular abdominal wall on that side had a large hole in it. She was taken to surgery with little hope of surviving the ordeal. Anesthesia on a neonate is risky business and the chances of her intestines having been damaged by the injury or during the surgery itself were high. Luckily the intestines appeared to be healthy, but would they continue to function correctly after the major surgery? And can we keep her free from infection?

She not only survived the surgery to repair the hernia, but woke up hungry. She was eating and peeing immediately after surgery, but the big question was whether or not she could poop. Nobody gets as excited over a little raccoon poop as a wildlife rehabilitator. When she finally pooped the next day, we practically threw a party—a pooper party, not to be confused with a party pooper. And speaking of parties, back to the hicky incidence.

After bottle feeding the baby raccoon, I have to burp her, just like a human baby. Well, a little differently because she is only about 6 inches long and weighs only 4 ounces. I usually hold her in one hand and gently pat her back with the other. But at PRWC having two free hands is a luxury. So I rested her on my shoulder while answering the phone. The next thing I knew, she had latched on to my neck looking for her bottle. I immediately pulled her away, but her strong suction caused a loud THUP and, yes, a tiny but obvious hicky.

These things are difficult enough to explain to a curious husband upon returning home from work after a hectic day. Even more entertaining is seeing the look on my teenage daughter’s face while I explain it in front of a group of her friends. The horrified expression on her face is a picture I’d like to post on Facebook. ThrowBack Thursday. Maybe she can remember the good old days before her parents became an endless source of embarrassment.

– By Robin Jenkins

Racoon baby pre-op
Racoon baby pre-op
Baby raccoon post-op
Baby raccoon post-op


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