austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I just sit there and stare as you hop from shrub to shrub

OK, so, rabbit health update.

We have scheduled Penelope's surgery. She's to go in next Monday, to be observed overnight. Next Tuesday, all going well, she'll get the operation. We hope that they will find something peculiar but easily removable in her abdomen, and close her back up, and send the removed thing out for a biopsy which reveals that it is not cancer or something else ominous. She's then to spend another night in hospital under observation, before coming ... well, not home. Wednesday we're scheduled to drive down to Pittsburgh, to enjoy Anthrocon in the off-season when it's quieter and there's more pinball machines. The locals call it Pinburgh.

Ordinarily we leave rabbits with bunny_hugger's parents for this sort of thing. But bunny_hugger's mother doubts her considerable skills at watching a bunny recovering from surgery. I have no doubts to her ability, mind you. But it would be rotten of me to impose this on someone against her own self-evaluation. So instead we plan to have her boarded at the veterinary clinic until we get back home early next week. Which does mean for the first several days of her recovery she'll be under the eye of, well, the technicians who were able to keep Stephen alive and reasonably functional for so long despite his infirmities. The recovery period for an operation like this, for a rabbit like this, they project at being a week to ten days.

So all going well, we'll take her back home six or seven days after surgery, and she will slowly come to forgive us putting her through this. We'll not speak of the many things that could go sadly for us and worse for her.


The day after we got Penelope back last week, bunny_hugger noticed the rabbit wasn't peeing. She had always peed parsimoniously, with outstanding litter habits. The week before we brought her in for the mysterious-growth diagnosis we noticed she was peeing in random spots, another sign of trouble. But now this? Bad enough she wasn't eating --- and we resolved to start force-feeding her Critical Care if she didn't pick up more food on her own --- but not drinking? We worried she wouldn't even last the thirteen days to her surgery, or the anaesthesia, or the operating table.

So Thursday morning I called the vet's to ask if they noticed when she peed last, and they said to bring her in. They had an appointment right away, as in in twenty minutes, so I went without waking bunny_hugger. (My noise woke her anyway, but she didn't have to rush to get vet-office-emergency-visit presentable.) The vet found that he could ``express'' her bladder, but just barely. Her urethra was full of xanthine crystals. She likely couldn't urinate through that.

The treatment: fluids. 200 mL of saline solution, injected into the scruff of her neck, just as we had done with Stephen when he was recovering from a gastrointestinal stasis incident and, I think, from the flystrike. Her body absorbs the fluid, and then has plenty to excrete, diluting the crystals to the point that her bladder is strong enough to work it.

She is, like other rabbits we've done this to, strangely serene at having a needle injected into the loose skin on the back of her neck. Possibly it's that insensitive. She gets squirmy at having a lot of room-temperature fluid pour under her skin. bunny_hugger gets squirmy seeing the bulge of warm-ish water, especially when it pools into the bunny's dewlap. But within two days she was dribbling little spots of urine here and there. While trying to make a getaway from her force-feeding she also sprayed my leg with maybe a couple teaspoon's worth of urine. So very good to see. I still took a quick shower.

And the force-feeding. Critical Care is this high-nutrient power that, mixed with water, will at least keep a rabbit going until it feels like eating again. We also mix that with some pumpkin-apple mixture, in the hopes of making the thing more palatable to Penelope. She does not like having this injected. We have a plastic syringe that bunny_hugger pokes into the side of her mouth, to squirt from three to five milliliters at a time, until the rabbit's chewed down about 60 mL total. Twice a day.

This is straining our relationship with Penelope. At least it's straining her feelings about us. But she is looking stronger. And her droppings have grown from the tiny little bits that were another warning sign of great distress into something more roughly normal. We're getting fairly good at this. We're supposed to keep up the Critical Care injections until she eats on her own. But our guess is that the thing in her abdomen is ruining her appetite. We're emotionally prepared to keep doing this until she goes in for surgery.


When I was at the vet's for the no-peeing problem, I asked about a fear that had grown over that Wednesday: if Penelope looked like she wasn't going to make it until the surgeon got back from holiday, the 24th, was there an emergency surgeon they would recommend? The vet said yes, in case of emergency, they had someone. But he didn't think that likely. He thought Penelope looked good. And that, from feeling her abdomen --- without doing X-rays, mind --- he thought the growth in there had ``if anything, gotten smaller''. At least she certainly wasn't looking worse.

Sometime Wednesday or Thursday --- we haven't set the appointment --- we're to have a follow-up for the urine condition. This will be another chance to check whether her growth has gotten bad enough we have to take emergency steps. I'm so hoping that we don't need to. In the ideal timeline, the growth is a side effect of these xanthine crystals (a possibility that is entirely my fantasy and has no support from any imaginable veterinary authority) and a week and a half of fluids will break it up to the point that she goes back to a normal happy bunny life with no surgery needed, while the sitting President, Vice-President, and Speaker of the House are arrested and resign in disgrace. I admit this is a stretch, but we all must have our hopes.

Trivia: Charles Guiteau's attorney against the charge of murdering the President of the United States was George Scoville, his brother-in-law. Scoville was a patent attorney with little criminal justice expertise, but few lawyers were willing to even consider the case. Source: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, Candice Millard.

Currently Reading: Academia Waltz and Other Profound Transgressions, Berkeley Breathed. So the first half of the book is reprints of the circa-1980 collections of Academia Waltz strips. That would be a pretty slender volume because, like, two or three semesters of a college newspaper strip isn't that much copy. The back half of the book is more artwork Breathed had from the time, photographs of the drawing boards on which he worked. Which is great except that it includes pretty near all the comic strips already printed in the first half of the book. Except that it's all out of order, and none of it is dated, and none of it is annotated, including the stuff that only makes sense if you know Austin, Texas, city politics of 1979, except if one of his penciled notes on the edges of a sketch help things out.

Also a missed chance: there's a bunch of jokes and setups that Breathed reworked into Bloom County, sometimes more than once. There's some good editorial matter to be built on how the rewrites changed and, I think, always improved them. One thing not improved: Steve Dallas, introduced here, is (of course) younger than he'd be in Bloom County. But for all his incompetent macho swagger already in evidence, this college-age Steve Dallas also has a crippling fear of actually having sex. Maybe that's there in subtext in the main strip, but having it front and center makes his general boorishness more interesting.


PS: the carousel and the bad assumption we made about it and the surprising story of Storybook Land behind it.

SAM_6307.jpg

Ooooh. Maker's plate for the kiddie carousel. Its 1955 date lead us to think this was one of the park's original attractions, as Storybook Land opened in 1955 too. No! The carousel's a relatively new addition. I want to say it's been at the park since the late 90s but I can't find confirmation of that.


SAM_6309.jpg

And the Allan Herschell kiddie carousel, as it looks in the fine and cheery daylight. See the picnic pavilion in the background? We didn't pay attention to that at the time. It would come back to surprise us.


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Jewel-box image of Storybook Land's kiddie carousel, in amongst the trees which survived the derecho of 2012 which it turned out was exactly five years to the day before we visited.


Tags: fifth anniversary trip, rabbit, story book land
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