Moses update 17 August


This week started off with Moses hitting rock bottom ( well at least we hope that this was rock bottom and that he will not sink to this level or lower again!!). Seeing him lying on the floor of the kitchen with the 1000 yard stare in his eyes, Matimat and Jim holding him and crying gave me a huge shock as I ran into the house. When I look at a sick or injured animal the first thing I do is look into the eyes as if the eyes are still bright and alert the animal is still fighting and has a chance of recovery but when the eyes start to get dull they are generally giving up.  I rallied Matimat and Jim saying that if Moses senses that we have given up how can we expect him to fight so let’s get the drip in and fight this. Once the drip was put in I sat on the floor with Moses head on my knee stoking his trunk and running my hands over him whilst talking softly to him telling him that he absolutely not allowed to die – he had his chance in the first day or so that he arrived in Lilongwe and having decided to live then he jolly well had to continue! Halfway though the first litre of drip he started to respond to me running his trunk over me and rumbling and then he fell into a deep natural sleep. Monday night was a very long night with me sleeping very lightly aware of every movement and it felt like every breath that Moses took as often both people and animals reach their lowest ebb during the night and I felt that if we could just make sure that we got him through the night that he would still have a fighting chance of getting though his ordeal.


Since Tuesday the “seesaw” seems to have slowed down from extreme ups and downs to a lesser variant. On Tuesday and Wednesday we put in “preventative drips” at lunchtime anticipating the drop in energy levels and slight dehydration that seemed to occur in the afternoons and this helped him to maintain his blood sugar levels and rehydration. We have managed to increase the milk content of his formula by 50% so are now at 75% of where he needs to be by the time he is 9 months old and it is giving him a bit more nutrition to be able to slowly start regaining the weight that he has lost. This has been a risky step as these increases often lead to diarrhea but we felt that we could manage that with the drips and that he desperately needed to get more protein into his body for maintenance as well as the additional food required for healing and he was starting to get constipated – probably as a result of absorbing every possible nutrient from his formula and the fact that he did not have much appetite and so the volume of formula dropped from 18 L a day to between 8 and 12 L dependant on whether it was a good day or a bad day. It is not possible to force feed an elephant and stomach tubing is not an option which can be so frustrating as you know he has to eat to get better and he is just not interested in co-operating, each of us during our shifts have spent the majority of the time coaxing him to have “just one sip” of his bottle every few minutes so that a bottle sometimes took as long as 2 hours to finish and the milk had to be re-warmed numerous times as if it gets a bit cooler than he like he just spits it out. At times we were literally rubbing a paste made up of milk powder, glucose, rehydration salts and coconut oil into his mouth as we felt that in that way he was at least getting some nutrient even if in a concentrated form as could get the liquid into him via a drip.  


The first of 4 new teeth came though completely on Tuesday and the other 3 are at various stages of development, these teeth are each 2cm in length and cause him a lot of trouble when coming through – a human baby cuts one little tooth at a time and suffers with diarrhea, runs a temp and is just generally fractious so multiply this by 4 for 4 teeth and then by about 10 for the size of each tooth and it gives you an idea of what a little ele goes through with teething. This on top of his op is probably what pushed him over the edge on Monday but my fingers are testimony that the teeth are almost all through and we believe that the worst of the teething is probably over as well.


On Tuesday I took out Moses stitches – had been dreading this as getting underneath him to fiddle around on his tummy is asking for an awful lot of trust on his behalf especially seeing as I have been the “nasty one” who has been giving him injections, putting drips into his ear, giving him enemas and I am asking him to let me put metal things onto his wound. Ian had left me with sedatives to take out the stitches if I needed them but I thought that I would first try the “slowly slowly approach” and I lay down on the grass next to him just gently stroking the area around his wound ( had been doing that since the op to make sure it was cool to the touch and not getting inflamed) and then slowly removed one stitch – he didn’t react and so I carried on, by stitch number 4 I think he was beginning to feel the positive effect of the stitches coming out – no more pulling and itching and he started to rub his tummy against my hand and run his trunk over my legs which were the part of my closest to  his trunk. Although he does try to run away from injections I do feel that he knows when we are trying to help him and this certainly seems to prove it.


 Ian Parsons has been amazing, I have called him at 5am every morning with an update and request for more information as to what else I could do ( as well as calls whenever I was worried about anything) and he has been incredibly supportive and without his wealth of knowledge there is no way that we could have got so far – sure he sometimes regrets every having met me and given me his number!


Marlene Le Febvre is a fantastic lady with a wealth of experience who FB us on Monday night in fact Louise came over to wake me up at 9pm to say she had been on the internet and seen Marlene’s message with an offer of advice and as Monday had been such a bad day she thought it worth waking us to see if I wanted to try and call her straight away in case Moses had a turn for the worse again that night. A few hours earlier for the fist time Ian had told Louise to start preparing me for the fact that Moses may not pull though and so Marlene’s message could not have come at a better time. She confirmed that we were on the right track with all that we are doing and confirmed our belief that his character and the fact that he was a happy, well adjusted little fellow with total faith in his family gave him a huge advantage in maintaining the will to survive.  Marlene told us that we could put a couple of drops of Vit B12 on Moses tongue every day instead of giving him the painful injection once a week which would reduce the stress as well as giving him a more even supply of Vit B – this is the “magic drug that increases appetite” and offered to get us baby prebiotics as well as do a full analysis of his saliva, urine and milk formula in her lab in Holland so that we could get a more accurate picture of exactly what he was absorbing and whether we needed to make any small adjustments which is fantastic and I am now looking for anybody travelling between Lilongwe and Amsterdam to a) take the sample to Marleen and b) bring back the prebiotic as the courier companies seem to require a mountain of paperwork to  agree to carry the milk ingredients.


All of our friends and supporters around the world have been wonderful – I don’t know if you all realize how much your messages of support have meant to us but at times when things have been really bad it is this support that has given our team the strength and belief to carry on so thank you all so very much you have all played a huge part in getting Moses though this week.


I am reluctant to say that Moses is though the worst as we have found out from bitter experience how quickly he can go from being well on the way up to rock bottom and about to slip away but the last few days have shown a daily improvement. Moses is getting stronger and is starting to show his displeasure at things he does not like by charging which is a good sign.