Well, actually that’s an exaggeration. But recently antibiotics have been pretty central to my life, and now Valentine the llama is joining me in the dubious delights of amoxycillin.
I’m on Day 27 of my treatment for Lyme Disease. When I started the pills there was a surge in symptoms – apparently this is called a Jarish-Herxheimer reaction, and occurs when large quantities of toxins are released as bacteria die during antibiotic treatment. After that about half the days were good days, and on the other half I experienced one or more of headaches, limb pains, and fuzzy thinking. Most of the time I was tired. Rather like the flu, but lasting for much longer.
But now, I am almost fully recovered. The rash went within a week or so, and the rest of the symptoms have diminished in intensity and frequency. Now the doctor has given me a certificat de guérison apparente avec possibilité de rechute ultérieure (medical certificate of apparent cure with the possibility of subsequent relapse). I guess this is important in case of future problems, but in any case the MSA (mutual health insurers for farmers) have summoned me to have a medical examination next week. Another chance to grapple with bureaucracy while improving my French!
At the end of last week, I noticed that Valentine was curling his right lip oddly as if sneering. Now he is a rather superior llama, but this behaviour did seem peculiar. Then, over the weekend, he developed a swelling underneath his left ear. As this grew alarmingly large, it became apparent that this was the cause of the distortion on the other side of his head. Time to call the vet!
This was the first time the vet had come to us (although we must rate as one of their best customers for sterilisation operations on cats and dogs). The two partners arrived together, and we had the ritual French greetings accompanied by much hand-shaking (I think people in England will now think I am odd, because I now expect to shake hands at the beginning of any slightly formal social encounter).
It turned out that they were travelling round together because he had broken his ankle in a bike accident. So, while she did the medical work, he was free to make conversation and offer her advice and comment. I already knew that the practice had experience with llamas, because they take care of a herd that has been in the next village for twenty years. Now I learned that he has also some experience with camels, gained during a spell working in Niger. They quickly diagnosed an abscess, perhaps resulting from a prick from a spiny bush. His partner was efficient and skilled at dealing with llamas – while I restrained Valentine with a halter and lead, she soon punctured the swelling and drained several syringes full of white pus. Two injections of anti-inflammatory and antibiotic and treatment for the day was complete.
I have been left two loaded syringes to complete Valentine’s course of amoxycillin, so he should be finished at much the same time as me. I’m very glad that I have had pills not injections. Even though I am not looking forward to administering his treatment, I’d much rather be on the blunt end of the needle.