Ferrets' blog

A blog with news about my ferrets: Tata, Izzie and Liira. There will also be reminiscense about Tenchi, Adric, Ker Avon, Ryo-Ohki, Nyssa, Lady Ayeka, Romana, Pertwee, Podo, Kodo, Ella, Zephyr and Chin Soon, all of whom are gone now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nyssa's Latest Vet Visit

It seems to me sometimes that when you have an old ferret with medical issues you go to the vet a lot. If you have a ferrets' blog you write about it a lot. It probably gets boring to read, too, but... this visit was a good one and that IS worth sharing. I had written about Nyssa to a friend who has ferrets and I realized I should share this a bit further.

The big news is that Nyssa is maintaining her weight. Oh, she has a ton of stuff wrong and it's all getting worse, but it's all getting worse slowly and she's hanging in there, which is amazing. She got another depo medrol shot (it had been four months since the last one) to help her along.

Nyssa has enlarged abdominal lymph nodes, an unidentified mass in her abdomen (we've known about that since July but it hasn't grown much), and pretty much her whole GI tract is enlarged, probably due to invasion by lymphoma. She has two small growths on her underside, probably benign mast cell tumors.

With all that going on, more than a year after diagnosis with lymphoma, she still explores, still runs a little, still likes tunnels, and still watches after her beloved stuffed doggie she's had since she was a kit. Nyssa still thrashes Zephyr when she's challenged, though that takes every last ounce of her strength and it's bedtime right after. She's still dominant alpha and both Ella and Chin Soon defer to her.

To top it all off Nyssa is more affectionate than ever. She seems to really appreciate how much I love her and Summer, who's been ferret sitting, loves her. She's even started lying on a lap or chest for naps.

I know I'm going to lose Nyssa pretty soon. I'm just thrilled she's still here and still mostly happy.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Update on the Fearsome Foursome (especially Nyssa)

Nyssa has been more active the last couple of nights. She actually had a good night, as in almost her old self, on Saturday. Still, her overall activity level is much lower and she is due for another depo medrol shot, so she goes to the vet on Tuesday afternoon. This should hopefully get her through much of the winter and by then I'll have a new vet in Wisconsin, I hope.

Chin Soon has been curling up and sleeping with Nyssa. It's wonderful how she's bonded with the ferret who she once was so afraid of. I think Chin Soon is the main reason Nyssa has kept going after the loss of Romana. All the ferrets Nyssa was with for the first six years of her life are gone now. Chin Soon has been around for a year and a half. Nyssa always takes a long time to accept a newcomer and even longer to really bond to one. I'm glad she had enough time with Chin Soon. There are also signs that she's getting closer to Ella.

The three younger ones (Ella, Zephyr, and Chin Soon) are all active, bouncy, and just fine. It seems the little adrenal scares with Ella and Chin Soon were false alarms, much like I saw with Adric. Both have full winter coats.

I'm counting the days until I have ferrets in my life full time again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Last Photo of Romana; Nyssa Coping

The last ever picture of Romana was taken a couple of days before she died. She turned and walked away from the camera. In retrospect she was telling us something in this photo, wasn't she?

Goodbye, Romana. I love you and I miss you.

Nyssa was more active last night so she may be getting over her depression. She's also been spotted curling up with Ella to sleep which is a very good sign. Ella is a gentle soul and Nyssa bonding more with her now would be a very good thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Day After

I received lots of sympathy notes about Romana. They were all very well intentioned. Each one made me a bit more depressed. I can't believe she's gone. It was all so sudden. If it had been Nyssa, well... yes, I'd have cried and been quite upset about it, but with Nyssa it would have been expected. Instead Nyssa is the last of my original business from 1998 left standing. Who would have guessed that my sickly one would still be here and my perpetually healthy little girl would be gone?

It sounds like Nyssa is depressed too. She and Chin Soon were both upset last night when they saw and sniffed Romana's body. Today Nyssa didn't run or play at all. The only hope for Nyssa getting through this OK is that she and Chin Soon have been becoming pretty bonded to one another. Chin Soon may just help the ferret she used to be terrified of get over her loss.

I've been working on the ferrets' web page (link at right), as in adding pictures and updating text. The memorial page, the parts for Podo and Kodo, still need to be finished. Ella and Zephyr's pages are still incomplete. I need to add new photos to Chin Soon's page. Nyssa's page and the front page are done. Romana's memorial is there.

This all stinks. The one thing that will cheer me up is getting the four remaining ferrets back in my life full time. That should happen very soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Goodbye Romana (1998-2005)

I just told Lauren Powers to go ahead and end Romana's suffering.

Ultrasound found her abdominal cavity filled with pus, which was drained. She had septic peritonitis. Her bowel was all stuck together. There is a tumor on her spleen. She was passing frank blood.

Dr. Power's best theory is that there was a tumor in her bowel or lower intestines which ruptured. Even if we had gotten Romana to Dr. Powers before the mass ruptured it was likely due to some form of cancer as there were abnormal cells in the pus. If that was something like intestinal lymphoma Romana's prognosis was horrible already. She was in a LOT of pain.

Even if Dr. Powers could have gotten her stable enough to survive a surgery to clean out her abdominal cavity and remove any remaining tumor(s) the chances for recovery were very, very poor and the chances that we'd just be prolonging her life for a little bit of tortured existence was very high.

I love Romana too much to put her through any more. It was time to say goodbye. I just wish I could have been there for her. I can't blame Summer for anything, though. Dr. Powers was full of praise for the things Summer did to keep Romana going and to keep her from being even more dehydrated than she was. I am actually really grateful for all Summer did. I couldn't have done better. I just would have liked to say goodbye to my little sweetheart ferret.

I'm also terribly worried about how Nyssa will take this. Nyssa is the last ferret left from my original business and she was very bonded to Romana.

Romana will be buried next to Tenchi, Adric, Avon, Ryo-Ohki, Lady Ayeka, Podo, and Kodo, the ferrets she spent most of her life with. There's any empty space for Pertwee there too.

I can't believe she's gone. She was fine less than a week ago.

Last Mad Dash to Try and Save Romana

Romana is in very bad shape. Dr. Weston can feel the mass but doesn't know what it is. Romana's temperature is below normal and she's lost weight. Dr. Weston doesn't feel that she's a good surgical candidate and would like to do an ultrasound first. She also feels that Romana needs 24 hour care if she's going to make it at this point. Dr. Weston has neither the ultrasound nor the 24 hour facilities. She wanted to transfer Romana to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary. I have no clue how good they are or aren't with ferrets so...

Romana is going to Huntersville. Dr. Lauren Powers, who has treated my ferrets before and who is one of the best (if not the absolute best) ferret vets in North Carolina is expecting her. Carolina Veterinary Specialists, where Dr. Powers practices, has all the facilities needed and I trust Dr. Powers' judgment in critical cases completely. An hour east to Cary or a couple of hours west to Huntersville wasn't going to make a big difference. The quality of the surgeon (which everyone including Dr. Weston pretty much assumes she's going to need) will make a big difference in whether Romana lives or dies.

Please continue to keep Romana in your thoughts. I am terribly worried about her.

1:30 PM EST Update:

Romana's body temp this morning was a terribly low 97 degrees. Dr. Weston was able to get it back up to 102 and gave her fluids as well. That improves her chances of surviving surgery. She's being kept warm with a sock filled with heated beans as Summer drives west with her to Dr. Powers.

If Dr. Powers thinks Romana has a chance and that Romana will still be undergoing care there tonight and tomorrow I am going to rush down to Huntersville while Summer (my ex-flatmate and great friend who's been caring for the ferrets while I've been traveling) will go back to the Triangle to take care of Nyssa and the three healthy ones: Chin Soon, Ella, and Zephyr. I'll stay in the Charlotte area until Romana is through her crisis, one way or another.

So... these missives will likely stop today. I'll keep in touch with a couple of friends from TriFL and will eventually post on how this all works out. I can't afford the time or the cost right now (I'm in the process of moving to Wisconsin to start a new job, remember?) but, for me, Romana comes first and no time or expense is too great to save her.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Still Very Worried About Romana

Romana is alert and stable. She was force fed duck soup by the vet last night and was given fluids. She still has diarrhea but can go to the litter pan regularly. The emergency vet didn't feel that she's in immediate danger or that surgery today was a must. As a result she'll be at Jordan Lake Animal Hospital 7:30 tomorrow morning.

Earlier today Romana didn't want food or treats but would take water willingly. Now she doesn't want water, either. She's with the other ferrets and mostly just wants to sleep. Needless to say I am worried sick about my littlest ferret.

I hate force feeding an animal and consider it pretty much torture but... just to get her to the point where Romana could see Dr. Weston and be strong enough for surgery I did consent to it today. It will come to a stop tomorrow one way or another.

I expect Romana will end up having exploratory surgery tomorrow but I won't know that for sure until Dr. Weston sees her. I hardly slept last night and somehow I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight either. I just hope that Dr. Weston can find something she can treat tomorrow and that Romana has a chance to recover.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Romana Update

It appears Romana is stable. They are going to keep her overnight and try to get her to eat, either A/D or her regular food. Her blood work (CBC, full chem panel, glucose) showed that she probably has insulinoma but nothing else was severely off: no infection, no organ failure, no renal failure, no bad results at all. This, combined with the fact that she got through her annual checkup a week ago with flying colors makes me think of a blockage even though the emergency clinic doesn't think so.

The plan for now is to try and keep Romana stable tonight and get her to a regular ferret vet tomorrow.

Keep thinking good thoughts for my littlest girl.

Romana Is In Trouble

Summer had to rush Romana to the emergency clinic tonight. A large mass was found in Romana's stomach. She's being x-rayed now to see if it's a blockage (they don't think so) or a tumor or... She's also quite dehydrated and will probably stay where she is overnight to get her stabilized. All this is happening and I'm not there for her...

Please keep Romana in your thoughts tonight. I'm hoping the emergency clinic can get her stable and then she can go to Dr. Weston for any needed surgery.

9:40 PM EST update:

The head vet at the emergency clinic nixed the x-ray since all it would show was the mass, not whether it is a tumor or a blockage. They drew blood and are running a full CBC, chem panel, and glucose to try and determine what is wrong with Romana. She's also on sub-Q fluids to rehydrate her. I'll post more when I know more. Again, please keep my littlest girl in your thoughts.

Soon To Be Wisconsin Weasels

I've accepted a job offer that is going to move me to Green Bay, Wisconsin just in time for winter. Brrr... Good thing ferrets have fur coats, eh? If you want more details please see my Entropy (personal) blog. So... for the next little bit Summer gets to watch the ferrets one last time while I pack and make a trip up north to look for housing. One of the really good things about this new job is that it means very little travel from now on, which means I get to have my ferrets full time again. I can't wait!

The bad news right now is that Romana isn't feeling well. She's got an upset stomach, has been low energy, and generally has been out of sorts. Our beggar-in-chief is even refusing treats, though she is still eating. Summer is taking her to see Dr. Weston tomorrow. I think Summer is getting to know the road to Pittsboro all too well. She's done a great job taking care of the ferrets and I am eternally grateful.

One thing Summer has been doing is taking some very cute pictures of the little weasels. While she mostly free roams the ferrets (giving them a dedicated room when she's not home) the current business most often goes back into the cage to find their favorite sleep sacks and hammocks. Here's a great picture of (top to bottom) Chin Soon, Ella, and Zephry in their cube.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Every time Nyssa goes to the vet I get to hear a dire prognosis. She wasn't expected to live to see her seventh birthday. Of course she did and it was a cause for celebration. Six months have gone by and Nyssa is still here, defying the conventional vet wisdom that she should have died already. As I've said before I sometimes think Nyssa is too stubborn to die.

Anyway, when you have an old, sick ferret you start counting half years much as we do for small children. Nyssa is 7½ years old today. Happy (half) Birthday, Nyssa! Here's hoping you defy the dire news again and again. I'd love to celebrate your eighth :)

Below is a photo from April that I hadn't posted anywhere yet. If you saw Nyssa today (or even look at the photo in my post of July 6) you can see the toll lymphoma is taking on her. She is much thinner, barely more than skin and bones, today. Having said that Nyssa still fiercely protects her beloved stuffed doggie, still loves to explore (sometimes at great length), is more affectionate than ever, still likes to run through the tunnels now and again, and still fends off challenges (mainly from Zephyr) to her role as ferret in charge, the dominant alpha. She rarely shows signs of being uncomfortable or in pain. Her quality of life remains good despite the lymphoma and that, really, is all I can ask for.