So one terrible thing about companion animals is that when they're ill, you need to do something for them. And there's so little of what you can do that's useful but that they understand. For the most part, you subject them to these terrible inconveniences, being stuffed into carriers and taken to strange offices and getting poked and prodded and getting things shoved into openings or all that. Mostly that works out all right, because the animal recovers and comes to forgive you disturbing their stoic equilibrium. And then the last time it doesn't work, and all they know is that when they were trying to carry on through their pain, their loving caretakers were busy creating more pain. And you tell yourself you were doing the best you can for creatures who could not know what was best for them. But you never really know what's best; you just know what you think is appropriate and hope that this illness is enough like some other one that what helped that time will help this one.
Part of Penelope's troubles was that she wouldn't pee. The prescription was 200 mL of saline solution injected into the loose skin in back of her neck. This she resigned herself to well. Within a few days, she had enough fluid in her to break down the xanthine crystals which blocked her up. She started to pee again. Not with perfect control; I suspected the growth in her belly prevented the good muscle control she needed. And it had side effects; she might sit where she had uncontrollably peed, moving being too much work for the reward. We've had to rinse her belly off, to forestall urine scalding, a chore we had thought we'd been done with after Stephen's and Columbo's disabilities. But we could stop the fluids after a week, and she stayed all right from then.
More serious, and longer, and requiring two experience a day, was force-feeding her. She lost interest in eating more than a handful of greens per day. And any rabbit problem, plus not eating for a couple days, becomes a major rabbit problem. So we got to mixing powdered pumpkin and Critical Care nutrient, about 60 mL of this, squirted into her mouth, noon and midnight. She seemed not to hate the taste, only the process. When stronger she tried to flee me grabbing her from her cage. She'd make a few attempts to get away from us during the feeding. She would eat, given a couple cubic centimeters of the paste injected into the side of her mouth, and chew it down. And it seems to be doing her well. Her droppings got back to more nearly normal size, and she looked stronger, and seemed to be having more good days.
But she hated it. There were some delightful to us sides to it, like the way she curls around my knee in the hopes of looking as far away from bunny_hugger with the syringe. Or how she would stare at bunny_hugger's toes, as if aware that there is something meaningful in them. (In bunny_hugger's Devilbunny lore, the toes are the most delicious part of the human.) Or how she would smack her lips, chewing, while turning so slowly away, like the head of a manual typewriter; one night I would say 'ding' and zip her head back into place for the next bit of food, and this was funny to us.
Penelope this afternoon, after being fed, with Critical Care dribbled in her fur and with murder in her eyes.
Still, the moment this was done, she hopped away with a strength and enthusiasm you'd expect from her in healthy condition. And I would apologize to her, and try to explain that we don't know how to make her well. But the surgery tomorrow was the best idea we had, and the force-feeding was the best idea we had to better her chances to make it through surgery. Make it to surgery, we thought, at one point.
We brought her to the vet's office today. She was to be observed, and maybe force-fed by someone else, tonight. And tomorrow be anaesthetized, and opened up, and to have something removed from her abdoment, and then --- we had no way to know, except to wait, until the irreversible is done.
An hour later they called with dire news. She had trouble breathing. There was fluid in her lungs. Her lips were blue. She couldn't hold her head up. They had her on oxygen. A couple hours later they reported she had stabilized, and we gave permission to have the surgery done as an emergency, rather than waiting for morning.
Inside was the cancer we feared. Spread wide, spread to many organs, beyond what could be removed.
Thank you for all your good wishes and thoughts and love for us and for a rabbit delightful in her grouchiness.