First of all, sorry this is so long, but I felt compelled to write it all down. If you don't want to read it all, the TL;DR is AGY and you can skip to the last 4 paragraphs at the >>> mark...
So, a couple of months ago one evening, Lola budgie vomited several times in a row. The next day she was fluffed up and slept on my office window ledge the whole day. I weighed her, and she had lost a couple of grams, so I made an appointment to see the vet.
By the time I got her to the vet, she'd deteriorated rapidly. The vet was concerned that she was dehydrated, and gave her injected fluids as well as prescribing an antibiotic for what seemed to be a nasty crop infection.
Because of the severity of the illness, we were prescribed an injected antibiotic. Talk about a nightmare. I'd never injected a bird before — in fact, I'd never injected anything before. But, the alternatives was that Lola would die, so I got a lesson from the vet techs and gritted my teeth and did what was necessary.
After 10 days, Lola was much better. At that point, we went on vacation. I didn't want to, but everything was booked and most of the expensive stuff was non-refundable (I checked). A friend was going to visit the birds daily to feed and water them. Still, we weren't sure whether Lola would still be alive when we returned a week later.
As it turned out, she was, and seemed pretty energetic and happy to see us. That was misleading, though — about a day later she started vomiting again, and was fluffed up and lethargic. It was a holiday weekend, so we wouldn't be able to get her to the vet for 4 days, so we took her to the emergency vet instead and got some antibiotics — oral that time, mercifully.
Once we got her to our usual vet he suggested a PCR test for Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY), aka megabacteria. We agreed. By the time the test results came through — positive, of course — Lola was seriously ill again.
The vet pharmacy didn't carry Amphoteracin-B, so we mail ordered it. Then the mail order pharmacy said they didn't have any either, and were getting it shipped in. I looked at Lola and didn't think she'd live that long.
There was only one thing to do — I started calling all the human pharmacies in the city, looking for one that had Amphoteracin-B. Eventually we found a compounding pharmacy who were prepared to mix some up in a syrup, and I drove over that afternoon. I also picked up some Pedialyte.
That was a Thursday. I dosed her with the antifungal that evening, and morning and evening on Friday, but we were sure she was going to be dead or dying on Saturday. Her weight had dropped from 34g to just 24g, she was staggering around and couldn't fly properly, and she felt cold and close to death. We woke up planning to call the vet and arrange to have her put to sleep.
But Saturday morning, I dosed her with the medication anyway, and then weighed her — and she had suddenly put on 2g! We decided to give her another 24 hours — and she gained another 1.5g. The Amphoteracin-B was working, and she was eating again. I fed her apple juice, made her scrambled egg, gave her all the food she wanted to eat. She slowly gained all her weight back, got her balance back, recovered enough to fly again, and eventually by the end of the 30 days of medication she was sitting on my shoulder crunching her beak and tweeting happily. Her head feathers were a mess — including a bald patch from losing so many — but her behavior was normal.
That was about a week ago. Now, just like before, she's started to fluff up and has vomited a couple of times and started sleeping all afternoon. For all the good the drug does, she just seems to get sick again about a week after I stop dosing her.
The thing is, she's 8 years old. Furthermore, the near-death experience probably took a lot out of her. Maybe she's just too frail at this point for her immune system to do its job. I don't want to just keep dosing her with Amphoteracin-B indefinitely — it's nasty stuff, and there's a quality of life issue.
I've been reading about people having success with sodium benzoate. I've ordered some, and I'm going to try that for 30 days. I've also ordered (and received today) some Bene-bac Plus probiotic, which I'll give her tomorrow. Tonight I'm giving her some leftover Amphoteracin-B; I think I'll dose her with that once a day (rather than twice) just to keep her from getting really sick again, and then switch over to the sodium benzoate when that arrives and see what happens. (I've also ordered some F10. I already cleaned and disinfected everything as best I could.)
Thoughts? Ideas? Is ongoing sodium benzoate — for a week or so whenever I see symptoms — a reasonable option? Here's a photo of the patient earlier today: