Sunday, December 07, 2008

Mass Hysteria

Several weeks ago two of our sister rats, Delirium and Mass Hysteria, came down with tumors, which were cancerous. Delirium had quite a large tumor that grew so quickly it outgrew its blood supply, necrotized, abscessed and burst open, leaving an open wound down by her belly.

Mass Hysteria had a smaller tumor that also burst open, this one on her haunch. But more worrying, her cancer spread to her lungs and she was wheezing the day we brought the two of them to the vet.

We put them both on Baytril, a broad spectrum antibiotic, to keep the necrosis under control and have been watching them (and spoiling them), dreading the day they were no longer comfortable.

Two nights ago Mass Hysteria suddenly started gasping for breath. It was pretty awful. She looked like she had something caught in her throat. It was pretty late at night so it's not like I could rush her over to our vet, so I treated it like I would if she were a child with croup. We gave her a shot of an albuteral inhaler then took her in the bathroom and ran the shower so she could breathe in some steam. We repeated the treatment in the morning and took her round to see her doctor in the afternoon.

She was in distress when we got there, holding onto the side of her cage with her sides heaving in and out. We tried the inahler again, using a cat inhaler so she could get more of the medicine but she panicked over the face mask, which made her even more short of breath, and she just couldn't get her breath again so we euthanized her.

Her doctor is very good and considerate about pain and fear so he put her in a little box with some oxygen so she would stop feeling like she was suffocating, then he gave her some sleeping gas. He did that for about ten minutes then gave her shot. The whole experience was awful but her actual end was about as gentle as could be managed I think.

Then we stopped at the pet store on the way home to get some special food for the diabetic cat and took Delirium in with us. She was in her cage, which I put in the front of the cart. She was surprisingly uninterested in the birds, which I thought would intrigue her since they're so noisy and bright. She was more interested in the other shoppers. Now she's sleeping in her new hammock/tunnel but I'm wondering if she's ever going to want to go in the car again. She must think it's awful strange that we left here roommate/sister behind.

We've taken her off her antibiotics to see how she does. We don't want her to get a resistance to the medicine so she's taking a break. Hopefully her tumor won't go mad with infection.

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