If you look up “mixed feelings” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’ll find the following conversation:
Vet: I got Stephen’s biopsy report back. The good news is that it’s not cancer
Me [thinking]: Whoa, wait. If that’s the good news, what is the bad news?
Me [speaking]: That’s good
Vet: Yes, I was worried it was going to be really bad
Me: [thinking]: Not being really bad is great, but I still don’t like where this is going
Me: [speaking]: Did they find something?
Vet: Yes, Capillaria.
Me: Monologue in which I announce it cannot possibly be capillaria because there are NO earthworms in Virginia in February and suggesting we revisit the possibility of cancer.
To shut me up, the long-suffering Dr. Constanza sent me a slide from Stephen’s biopsy:
I don’t know what the white space is (the idea that it is a mother worm is too gross to contemplate) but the six ovals are eggs for sure. So how the hell did Stephen get capillaria in the middle of winter? To the internet!
It turns out that there are 22 species of capillaria. Some variants hop onto earthworms and then infect the host after it eats the earthworm. But others are truly evil. The infected host leaves dropping with capillaria eggs. Then they lie in wait. For months. Through winter. Eventually they worm their way into food (pun intended), and then when the host eats the contaminated food, it’s game over.
So now my theory is that capillaria has been lurking in the enclosure just waiting for the worst possible time to reappear. Breeding season works. Gwen has placed the First Stick in the nesting area, and now I have to interrupt her rhythm and need for privacy by chasing Stephen around with a net. At least it’s only once a day for a squirt of Panacur.
Totally Fun Fact: If you Google “Crow Capillaria” and go to images, you will find photos of Gwen and Stephen. (For real; try it).