When I left off with Rolo's story, the excruciating itching caused by the mites had led Rolo to self-mutilate, adding more open wounds to the ones he came to us with. Cindy and the vet had put him in a body wrap and started a course of prednisone. To comfort him, Cindy spent many evenings with him on her lap watching TV. On weekdays, Rolo went to work with her due to her concern that he'd try and scratch himself and get a leg caught in the bandage.
Although many of the open sores had closed up, the itching was still intense enough that whenever the body wrap was taken off, he'd immediately start scratching, hurt himself, cry out in pain. Even if he didn't scratch right away, the new skin was tight and the smallest movements pulled and tugged at it, upsetting him.
The first day that Cindy left him at home while she went to work, Rolo tore his bandage off and opened a wound on his back. So back to work he went. Cindy kept him in small cages to restrict his movements; with one cage in the kitchen and one in the bedroom, Rolo was always with her and she could always catch him quickly if he tried again to tear off the bandage.
In mid-July, Rolo returned to the vet. Dr. Albin prescribed an antibiotic ointment called Animax to put on Rolo's back each day when Cindy changed the bandages. The recommendation was to keep Rolo bandaged until the sores completely healed and his hair grew back.
By early August, his skin was healed and his hair was filling in all the bald spots (though not fully grown in). But Rolo was still having trouble with itching and discomfort, so Dr. Robbins took some cultures and sent them to the lab. The result: Pantoea Bacteria, which is associated with, among other things, wound infections. The vets had never heard of this in guinea pigs before. The godsend was that the bacteria was sensitive to familiar antibiotics like SMZ, Baytril, and Doxy.
Understandably, after such a hard battle, Rolo's exhaustion was palpable and his eating choices narrowed exclusively to leafy greens. His front teeth showed some mild, uneven wear; Cindy prayed that he wouldn't have dental problems on top of everything else. As the new antibiotics started working on the pantoea bacteria, Cindy and Rolo settled in for a long recuperation.
These days you would hardly recognize Rolo from those photos you saw in Part I and Part II of his story. He has a thick Abyssinian coat, and he's plumpety-plump-plump. His eyes are bright and his coat has a good healthy color. But his battle aged him, and in his energy you feel the been-through-it-all wisdom and fatigue only found in those who have been to hell and back.
Moderately social, he's more reserved than most piggies and Cindy is his Preferred Human. A little too withdrawn, Cindy attempted several introductions to find him a roommate. After a getting-acquainted phase, a successful match was found in Bentley.
Sociable and a little rambunctious, Bentley seems to have easily found a balance between pulling Rolo out of his shell and giving him the space he needs on his quieter days. In many of the photos Cindy has taken of them, there's yet to be much (if any) snuggling between them--yet Bentley is rarely far from Rolo.
Rolo will almost certainly remain in the sanctuary. When you see him and Cindy together, it's impossible to envision him with any other human caregiver. They've left imprints on each other's heart and separating them would replace the imprints with holes.