Sitting by the Christmas tree as I write this, enjoying some quiet with Harvey in my arms, watching the twinkling lights – but life with the rats has certainly been anything but quiet generally speaking in the last week or so. We have taken up semi-permanent residency in our wonderful vets’ surgery, and could not be more thankful to them for all their help with the boys.
Their intervention with Reuben was pretty much expected, as he has actually been seeing them every week in a fairly routine way – we had taken both him and Perry after the night the intros with Ty and Harvey went awry, just to be checked over and given some anti biotics for the couple of nicks they had picked up. Perry only needed the first visit and was right as rain but Reuben had a cut on his tail which, although it didn’t seem too bad at first, was in an awkward place for healing and as a couple of weeks went by the vet started to say that a partial amputation of the tail might become necessary.
Eventually, at our appt on Saturday morning, it was clear it had; and as it was best to do it as soon as possible, Reuben went for his operation the same day. I really do my best to avoid general anaesthetic for the wee ones, they are just so small and although I’m so grateful for how much can be done to help them – and so grateful to be at a vets’ open to doing it – I always panic about putting their little bodies through that, and always want to try everything else first. This time though, there was no option.
Waiting for the call made Saturday afternoon a long one but eventually heard from the lovely vet, who had been holding off as my wee boy did take an unusually long time to come round from the anaesthetic – but he had made it, and was resting up on a heat pad and charming all the staff. ❤️ He had had a very successful operation, leaving him still with half his tail remaining, which will really help him out in terms of balancing as he re-adjusts.
We were able to get him home again on Saturday night, as long as we picked him up in a cosy carrier with a blanket and hot water bottle, and – with the exception of pulling his bandage off his tail within two minutes of getting back home resulting in us all catapulting back up to the vets’ once more 🙄 – he has been the most perfect patient you could wish for. Contenting himself to curling in a towel in his tiny hospital cage, pottering between his food stash, his hot water bottle and his bed, he happily accompanied us everywhere we went in the first three nights, as he needed to be watched constantly to make sure he didn’t bother his stitches. Sunday and Monday were spent mainly in the living room with one eye on him and one eye on various one-star Netflix Christmas films, where he was so happy just to sit quietly in companionship, and every night he’d come through to the bedroom and sleep contentedly there, enjoying the extra perk of being lifted from his cage onto the bed for a cuddle. ❤️ He really is such a sweetheart, Reuben, he’s quite a special rat, and although I do feel absolutely awful that he’s had to endure all this in his short time with us, he has taken it all in his stride. He’s so intelligent and affectionate and has just used the whole experience to enjoy interacting with us and the vets and be his usual charming self.
By Monday morning I was starting to relax about him, seeing how well he was healing, and was looking forward to a quiet day off in the house with the boys, when Harvey suddenly appeared with no warning to be really unwell, lying flat on the floor of his cage having been fine a few minutes before, looking very strange and struggling to breathe. I phoned the vets who advised he should come up immediately, and my heart was in my mouth driving my poor dumpling up there wheezing and shuddering. It had all happened so fast but it had been horribly reminiscent when I picked him up first of all of some of the “absences” Pipkin and Chae had towards the end of their lives which they lost to pituitary tumours causing stroke-like symptoms. The vet who saw Harvey though thankfully thought it was more likely he just somehow managed to inhale something which temporarily blocked his airway and made him seem unresponsive for a moment, as the raspy breathing was all in his throat rather than chest, so gave him a steroid injection and some anti biotics to help clear up.
We’re a few days in now and keeping my fingers crossed that that’s right – he does seem to be getting a little better, but is quite out of sorts – off his food a little for one thing 😳 which for Harvey, whose defining feature bless him has always been his over-large appetite, is quite something. He is still eating enough though, drinking, moving around and interacting with Ty normally and has been spending lots of time out for cuddles, and also sitting with me in the bathroom with the shower on (not in it, as seemed to be his fear the first time we did it!) as the steam is amazing therapy for their respiratory systems when they’re struggling.
Both Harvey and Reuben will go back to the vets’ at the weekend again and hope that all will be well with them both. I’m still really quite worried about Harvey but for now glad to see small improvements and keeping everything crossed.
Evenings have been full in the house between making sure poor Reuben has plenty of free range time away from his tiny cage; Perry has plenty of interaction with us as he’s a bit bemused and lonely in on his own; Reuben and Perry have supervised time together where they happily groom and play (but just can’t be left unattended just in case any harm came to the stitches); Harvey has plenty time on my knee as he’s been extra cuddly while he’s ill, and plenty of time in the steam too; and Harvey and Ty have their usual time out, Ty not neglected in all this in spite of being the cause of much of it! (Still reigning as the Tyrant – last night while cleaning out H&T’s cage, with them free ranging in the living room and Perry and Reuben beside me in their cages, nipped up to the living room for more Carefresh and Ty must have sneaked by me when I came back down, where he sat under the chair next to the cages squaring up to Perry through the bars before I spotted him and returned him up to the living room, where Harvey was obediently free ranging all by himself. 🙄)
All this puts Charmer in the unfamiliar position of being the least troublesome of all our pets! 😳 He has (thankfully!) been good as gold of late and is just thoroughly enjoying December, the happy routine of nights in, gentle walks across frosty ground in the morning and waiting, toes lined up by the door in the morning, for breakfast and advent calendar treats! ❤️
Very thankful, in spite of all the ups and downs, for all the pets, and for the extra time with them all, in and cosy, that winter seems to bring.
Hope you are all having a lovely week. X