Little Thumbelina was rescued at only a few hours old. Her and her sister were taken in by wildlife rehabbers when her Mom’s nest was destroyed.  Sadly, Thumbelina’s sister passed only a few hours later, but Thumbelina fought through those critical days, and did her best.

Thumbelina was born different, she developed more slowly than other baby squirrels. Her delays left her lagging behind other squirrels her age.Thumbelina couldn’t quite keep up, but she fought through, and did her best.

Thumbelina was diagnosed with Endocrine disease, when she was 2 years old.  This disease caused her to develop Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, Alopecia, weight gain, and overall left her feeling not so great.  To treat these conditions, Thumbelina had a full hysterectomy.  There were many risks and complications along the way, but Thumbelina fought through, and did her best.

The night before Thumbelina’s 5th birthday, she was chewing on a hazelnut nut shell that got stuck in her mouth.  It was very scary, but we were able to get out.  I checked her mouth and teeth to make sure she it had not caused any injury. That night we discovered she had a portion of her tooth growing up along the roof of her mouth where it should not be. Two days later, she visited her doctor to remove the piece of tooth.  Her dental x-rays showed the tooth had cracked a few weeks ago and grew back the wrong way, as rodent teeth never stop growing.  But the images also showed something a bit more concerning.

Perhaps that hazelnut shell was a blessing in disguise.  Her x-rays also, incidentally, picked up the very beginning of the formation of bone tumors growing at the base of her front incisors, odontomas.  An odontoma is something that usually occurs after some sort of trauma to the teeth, usually a fall from a tree as a baby.  It’s very rare that it occurs congenitally, as in Thumbelina’s case.  The benign tumors grow at the base of the tooth, pressing up into the nasal cavity, causing trouble breathing, pain, nosebleeds, infection, and eventually can take the life of a squirrel.

Thumbelina was diagnosed with odontomas on her upper incisor by some of the most experienced wildlife and veterinary dental specialists in the county.  Fortunately, we found these tumors very early, but it means Thumbelina is going to have to fight a little bit more.  The surgery is complicated, it is NOT an easy one.  Recovery is long.  But we have the MOST incredible, experienced veterinarian scheduled to treat her for the first of two surgeries on Monday, March 29th.

We will be traveling about 15 hours to Florida from New York State for Thumbelina’s surgery.  We will have to make this full trip twice, as it is too risky to take both tumors out at the same time. It’s been a very difficult couple of weeks trying to plan and scramble and figure out the best thing to do for our little girl.  We know that for this surgery she needs to be in the absolute best hands, and no matter what, we will make that happen.

We’ve gone through this journey without ever asking for help because your love and support have always held us up.  And because we understand that our responsibilities are ours alone. Today, as difficult as it is for us to do, we need to ask for help. We know that everyone has had their lives impacted greatly this year, so we would never expect anything at all.  But we have had many reach out to us asking if they can donate to help.  If a donation is not possible, please share, if sharing is not possible, please just keep our little girl in your thoughts.

Donations will be used for BOTH of Thumbelina’s surgeries, radiographs, medications, and treatments.  It will help with our TWO roundtrips, driving to Florida and week long stays, as at least 7 days are required each time for follow up assessments.  It will go to her continued weekly follow-ups with her primary doctor when we return home, as she heals.  Any extra funds will be used for her continued medical care and for our local wildlife.  (And we told Thumbelina, she’s allowed to buy ONE avocado if she has anything left over).

Once again, Thumbelina is going to have to fight through, and do her best.  She’s been through so very much in her little life, and she’s always been so brave (Mommy and Daddy, not so much).  She’s our whole life and we would cross the entire earth if we had to, just to help her feel better and live the life of happiness she deserves.  Thumbelina will fight through and we’ll be holding her hand every single step of the way.

Thanks so much to all who have been there for already, offering their assistance, and helping us plan and navigate through this scary process.  We’d be lost without you.  #teamthumbelina

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Catharine Epson
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