austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

You gotta slow down your life or you're gonna be dead

OK, so jumping ahead in storytelling to the week we spent on holiday near Traverse City: we spent a week on holiday near Traverse City. I mean us and bunny_hugger's parents, which is why they couldn't pet-sit for us. We brought our rabbit's pen and essentials up. After a couple days of him getting to spend hours and hours on the house's lawn, chewing up everything like Bun-Rab, Destroyer Of Leaves, we realized he wasn't moving. He had sores on his legs. Worse, in the sores were ... you know what? I'm going to put the rest of this behind a LiveJournal cut because you should decide you want to read this.

There were maggots.

At some point a greenbottle fly, which is fairly attractive as flies go, must have landed on his leg. She laid eggs in either an existing wound or in some cecal matter that wasn't cleaned up. The eggs spent a day incubating and hatching. They started to chew on dead flesh around the wounds and then, if I have this right, start to chewing the live flesh around that. In three days they would be large enough and hungry enough to burrow far underneath the rabbit's skin, and embed themselves where they can't escape. In four days they would be full-grown, ineradicable, and reproducing until the rabbit was dead.

We were on maybe day one after the eggs were laid. bunny_hugger's mother had seen the fly. bunny_hugger had seen a maggot. She rushed the rabbit to the upstairs bathtub. She and I started rinsing, producing this terrible shower of little fly maggots coming off of his legs. He flopped over, miserable. We kept rinsing until no matter how we oriented his legs and the hand-held sprayer we didn't get any more maggots come loose. He gave up even huffing his disapproval of all this water. We rinsed a little longer too, until we were confident there weren't any more maggots coming loose. We wrapped his leg in a gauze bandage that her mother had brought, to keep it from further harassment.

Now we knew at this point fly infestations were dangerous to rabbits. We did not know how dangerous, or that we were facing a literal deadline. If we had, we would have gone to the exotics vet bunny_hugger had found in the area. We did not know, and we didn't have the Internet to look this up. We went about as best we imagined how.

The next morning bunny_hugger unwrapped the bandage and shrieked.

There were maggots underneath, bigger ones. Hungrier ones, probably. We discovered there was another wound, on the inside of his ankle and only obvious when his foot was extended, which he doesn't like doing anymore. And it was infested.

Back to the bathtub and to rinsing him. Here we had an idea. bunny_hugger's mother had brought a plastic basin, on the theory that if we did need to wash him --- and we did --- we could avoid soiling our rental house's bathtub or kitchen sink. We hadn't done that, although we did worry we were clogging the bathtub drain with rabbit fur. Now we did. The basin we could fill with several inches of water and drown the rotten bugs.

And we did. We kept his leg in water deep enough that it didn't emerge into air for all the time our pet rabbit spent kicking. And then for several minutes after he gave up and flopped over the side, looking forlornly at the far end of the tub. And for five minutes after that, to make sure. I kept massaging his leg, his foot, his ankle, his new-discovered wound, until terrible little things stopped bubbling up out of the mess. And only then did we take him out to dry out.

And found one more maggot in the fleshy ankle wound. I pulled it out with tweezers and dropped it in the toilet. We called for an appointment with the vet's, which would be forever in the future. We would get home Saturday, and the office wouldn't be open until Monday. Six days after the first-discovered maggots.

We did not know the timeline of how a rabbit can go from fly-stricken to dead.

Our rabbit is not dead. We examined him thoroughly that second evening, and found no maggots or anything like them. And again the next day, morning and evening, finding nothing there. And again Saturday morning and then we started to feel more comfortable about his fate. The vet on Monday examined him and found nothing untoward in the wound. He cleaned it out some, and gave us an anaesthetic and an antibiotic.

I won't understate things. After this, now the most intensive work I'd put into our pet rabbit's health, I felt awesome. Masterful. Ruler of the world. Now that I know how much more serious the threat was, and how much closer to death he was than we realized at the time, I feel even more accomplished. We cleaned out a fly strike in a severely limited rabbit. We drowned every single one of a fly's offspring. We are the best.

He's on doctor's orders now, not to go outside. It's a shame. He was so very happy sitting on the lawn for hours each day, tugging grass and dandelions and plantains and whatever else was nearby. If we had it to do again we would, even with the fly strike. He was so happy for such a time that the misery of baths and antibiotic was worth it.

So that's his latest and, to date, most severe crisis. He's past it now, but boy was that a fright.

Trivia: An artist for an 1894 issue of Illustrated Phonographic World projected the typewriter of 1994 to be voice-actuated; able to self-correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar; and to be equippable to fold the letter, print and stuff the envelope, and add postage. Source: Wondrous Contrivance: Technology at the Threshold, Merritt Ierley.

Currently Reading: The World Within War: America's Combat Experience in World War II, Gerald F Linderman.

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