torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Sadly, Proton didn't make it. Absent the usual factors -- lack of food, infrequent water changes, fungi or parasites, extreme heat -- I have to assume that his initial injuries were worse than I thought. I'll make sure the next fish isn't fumbled by the aquarium guys and dropped on the floor.

He'll be buried in the cucumber plants, where I'm sure he will be appreciated.


Dec. 9th, 2006 08:21
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dark)
We put Abe to sleep yesterday.

The infection went all the way through his cheek and might have lodged in his jawbone, the doctor couldn't tell. There was the distinct possibility she was going to clean it out and have it come right back again; it was in the muscle there, and cleaning it would have made chewing difficult or impossible on the left side. He was still active and enjoying our company, and we decided to end it on that note.

It was hard. Harder for Nick, I think, as he was there -- I was on the train to Davis.

That was the last of the five. No more scrabbling heard from across the room when I go to bed or get up, no more cage changes, no more ticklewhiskers playing bed games. All the cages are empty, and we'll bury the last of the rats under the ornamental plum. It'll be blooming again in a couple months.

Would I do it over again? No way to say. I think it was a wash for me. I wouldn't plunge forward into it again, though, definitely not. I'm debating whether I want to indulge in the torture of going through the vet bills to figure out how much they cost us over the last four years, without factoring in food or cage materials.

Insult to injury: the $950 spent in the past week. I didn't have that money.

I'll miss Abe the most; he was the most people-oriented of them, and was very clever in several ways. He had learned to communicate quite well... a tug on the sleeve meant he wanted to get back in his cage, he'd toss paper at us when his cage was dirty (quite indignantly), he used to turn the dish over when it was empty... We were big rats to him, or he was small people. He didn't see a difference.

So sick of the end of this year. Still looking for the Season of Hope.
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Multiple missing back teeth, possibly having left multiple roots to fester in his jaw. He has very few molars on either side... looks like we'll be giving him soft food from now on, as he can't do a lot more than gum things. His incisors are fine.

He's coming home with antibiotics and painkillers and a drained wound, to see whether we can keep the infection down and let him heal up the spots from the missing teeth. Dr. Adams had never seen a rat with teeth in this condition, but she said that her experience is almost nonexistent since (unlike rabbits or chillas) rats won't let you look at their back teeth. So this might be common, or might be a result of the fact that he used to chew on the bars to get our attention when he was young. Who knows.

Time to find out the scope of the financial damage.

Edit: $693. He's eating well and seems relatively comfortable.
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Abe's at the vet. He's an old guy, with a lot of swelling going on in his cheek, so much that they don't know exactly what the surgery's going to entail. They'll let me know in an hour or so.

People wonder how pet rats could really cost us many thousands of dollars over the last few years. This one procedure was estimated between $500 and $750. Anesthesia, X-rays (not normally necessary, but there's the possibility of a bad tooth, and pinpointing things in the skull is harder anyway), and the surgery itself... and it may all end up moot if it's something like cancer under all that abscess. He's the abscess king, though -- this is his fourth or fifth, sometimes for no apparent reason. That's a lot of surgeries, just on him; at least he doesn't have the chronic respiratory infections the others did.

The good news is that he's always been tough, and even with a little sneezing and snuffling today, his immune system is usually fantastic. I trust Dr. Adams' surgical skill (even if her bedside manner isn't as good as Dr. Garrow's), and I fully expect to get my rat back later today, with a hole in his jaw, pain meds, some antibiotics, and some ideas on how to give him soft food. If that's the case, he can probably heal it all completely in a week or less. Scary regenerative power.

I'm feeling okay, though I was a little confused by a crying jag coming home from the vet. It feels like an echo of the exposure from Saturday, as I seem to be emotionally calm now. It may have something to do with getting less than 6 hours of sleep, too.

Good luck, Abe.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (grin)
The exposure lifted sometime yesterday afternoon. It may have helped that we went out to get a Christmas tree, and I got some exercise out in the very clean air of the cut-your-own lot. I was fine by last night, and I feel good today.

Trees, rats, cars, and other assorted characters )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
No, really -- it doesn't seem to be a joke. This woman talks about how to trance bunnies.

Now you know.

If only I could do this with rats -- I'd love to be able to clip their nails easily. :)
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
We've barricaded off the living room (normally it's open by an arch into the dining room) and we're in the resulting cat-free zone. There is a very large cage with two rats in it behind me.

Friday rat blogging )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Upstairs, right now, there are two rats on the bed, ignoring each other.

They're both having a great time. Pete isn't petrified at being out of his cozy cage. Abe isn't puffing and huffing and trying to tear Pete limb from limb. They're just scrambling around and brushing past each other like passengers on the Tube: you're not here, I'm not here, don't make eye contact.

This is a tremendous improvement. We got Abe fixed some time ago, but hadn't pushed ahead because there were still occasional signs of aggression. This time, Abe puffed once or twice (probably from sheer nerves) but settled down. Pete is used to having other rats around, though he hasn't had a roommate since Richard died.

Next step: a couple more out sessions (it's going to be a relief to be able to exercise them both at once), then probably a cage swap. We'll see how that goes.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Last night Nick came up to me at about 4am and told me Richard had passed away.

It hit him pretty hard; I could tell that some part of him felt it was silly to be crying over a rat, but he'd lost a friend, and I told him so. Richard was the one who would lean out to "chat" when Nick went to feed them, and we called him "King Richard" and chuckled as he groomed Nick's moustache. He had what we imagined he thought was a hypnotic stare, where he would fix you with it as he tried to will you into giving him food; he was dubbed "Dragon-rat". And he loved tomatoes.

He didn't seem uncomfortable until the last couple of weeks, even though he got the typical spinal degeneration old rats get -- he was adept at getting around even without strong hind legs, and he had a healthy appetite and bright eyes until the last few days. He had a cataract in his off eye, though, and we think he finally succumbed to cancer; he was rail-thin, and very old.

Nick held him in his last hours, after giving him a bath. I'll bury him today, though it might be so hot out there now that we have to wait until twilight. He'll go under the flowering plum where Giles lies, his old partner in the Odd Couple.

Sleep well, Richardrichardmayhewdick.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Our rat Giles passed away in the middle of the night last night. Nick was holding him, and he went quietly.

For such a total cream puff, a Chubby Huggs type, he ended up being astonishingly tough. By the end, though, it was a relief on both sides, I think... he had been suffering for quite a while. We did our best by him.

Nick buried him this morning next to Justin, under the ornamental plum, which is just starting to show the first white blossoms. He buried the little guy with a sugar snap pea pod, since Giles loved those so much. Sleep quietly, shmoo.


torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)

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