Some Reasons I Have Fallen Off the Face of the Earth

1. In the last couple weeks before I moved, my landlord decided to get all renovation badass on the apartment upstairs and not only ripped out the floor up there, but also put a hole in my ceiling and caused the glass globe from my light fixture to plummet to its demise.  My rabbit, Uther, was in the room when/where it happened and when I came home and saw the debris, I also noticed he was limping.  I don’t know if he got hit with anything, but I can pretty much guarantee that he was startled by the noise.  He wasn’t better the following day, so I took him to the vet, who X-rayed his limpy leg and his back and determined that he probably had injured his spine somehow.  We didn’t see anything obvious on his films, but X-rays don’t really show soft tissue damage (unless you can find evidence in the spaces around the bones where the soft tissue hangs out).  We went home with some anti-inflammatory meds (Metacam) and the bun had to be confined to his cage for the next 2 weeks.

Over that time he did not improve.  In fact, he became worse.  He lost mobility in both of his back legs, and got around his cage by dragging himself with his front legs.  This was extremely painful to watch.  Worse was watching him try to scratch his ears with his back feet and waiting with his head tilted down next to his foot for the foot to do…something.  It didn’t.  And he was so frustrated (*headshake!* *headshake!*).

When we went back to the vet for a re-check, we were told he’d lost several ounces.  He’d gone from 4lbs to 3.4, which is a big deal in a small animal.  His appetite was mostly normal during that time, so I think he must have lost quite a bit of muscle mass from being stuck in his cage all that time.  I’m really not sure that was helpful at all…but, since his period of Great Stillness happened when I was in the midst of packing up our whole household and transferring it to the new house, it was beneficial for the moving process.  (Likely, he’d have had to have been confined anyway while that was going on.)

We were given more of the first medication and a prescription for a second – Gabapentin – which is supposed to treat (more directly) neuromuscular pain/discomfort.  That had to be obtained (they had to “compound” it – a process that makes it a more palatable liquid for buns) at a People Pharmacy.

The vet’s office is about 45 minutes from my house, and in traffic with all of the accidents and road construction going on around here, it was taking me over an hour to get there.  The pharmacy was another 20 minutes beyond that, and when I got there, they’d only just gotten the information from the vet’s office, so they told me it would be at least an hour before it was ready.  And it was 90 degrees out.  So we couldn’t wait in the car.  Bun and I went for a walk (well, he stayed in his carrier and I carried him – duh) and eventually I found a park with some shaded picnic tables and we sat and enjoyed the relative coolth of that spot until the meds were ready.  Our appointment had been at 11am, and we didn’t get back home until almost 2:30.  I had to be at work by 3:00.  Cuttin’ it close, universe.

Neither of the medications seems to be doing anything for Uther.  I mean, if he was in pain, maybe they helped with that, but they did not make him hop again like normal.  He was very good about taking them.  The Metacam smells foul to me, but it’s supposed to be vanilla-flavored and Uther quite liked it.  He took that from the syringe with great enthusiasm.  The Gabapentin is strawberry-flavored and maybe more viscous?  Uther does some weird things with his lips before he consents to take that one.  He would NOT eat the Critical Care diet (also provided by the vet) via syringe at ALL, so I mixed up a bunch and left it in a bowl for him in his cage.  That was acceptable.  He devours it gladly from a bowl.

Uther became pretty incontinent over the next week, and I kept him on pee pads (they make these for house-training dogs) for awhile, but we were going through about 2 ginormous ones every day (getting expensive!), and they weren’t preventing him from lounging around in his own mess.  Only buns can prevent urine scalding.  Since he didn’t seem to be aware that he was soiling himself and I wasn’t around to keep him out of it, he has had to have nightly baths of the soiled areas (very undignified!  *thump!*), and even that hasn’t been enough to prevent him from losing a lot of hair and developing some scabs on his sensitive skin.  He’s somewhat better now that I’ve put Neosporin on the bald bits of his bottom and legs.  The skin looks healthy, even if it is naked.  I also had to buy a hairdryer (never owned one before!) to dry him off more quickly (and with less abrasion than towel drying alone).

It’s been 4 or 5 weeks since the initial incident (I can’t be arsed to calculate this right now), and he’s about the same condition-wise – broken.  But his attitude is pretty good.  He still does all of his bun things as best as he is able.  He was down again in weight when I took him back to the vet (3.1 lbs), so I’m supposed to try and monitor that from here.  My kitchen scale is a bitch to use on a bunny in a box.  It’s hard to read.  He’s off the Metacam, which can cause liver problems in buns if they are on it too long, and I’m weaning him off the Gabapentin (down to 1 dose a day).  He’s allowed to be out, but that requires supervision – both because we’re in a new place with which he is unfamiliar and because there are all kinds of hazards for a disabled bun.  When I let him out he drags himself enthusiastically around the new environs.  He’s very interested in exploring.

Other bun therapies I’m trying include massage of his hind legs and feet and manipulation (physical therapy!) of the same to increase muscle tone and range of motion (his left thumper is the one that he tends to sit on, so it doesn’t get extended much when he’s cage-bound, and the right one is the one he leaves out behind him).  I also put him in a smallish box for awhile every day, which makes him sit in a more normal bun position with all of his legs under him.  He can also bathe himself more easily in the box, because he can’t lose his balance and fall over – the walls of the box support him.  I’m also researching assistive carts for rabbits (I will try to build one, since many of the ones I’ve seen are ~$300), and acupuncture.  Carts not only help broken buns get around, but can also help them regain strength in their weakened limbs.

I hope that he just needs time to heal and will be ok again soon.  The vet said it can take months for spinal injuries to resolve – if they do at all.  =\

So, yeah.  Bun care.  Taking up a lot of time.

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