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.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chin Soon and Nyssa Go To The Vet

Chin Soon and Nyssa went to see Dr. Sarah Wolfe, their vet, today.

For Nyssa it has been more than 16 months since being diagnosed with lymphoma. She has managed to maintain her weight at 753 grams (1 2/3 lbs.) over the past two months after a long period of weight loss. (Thank you, Bob Church's Chicken Gravy). She also now has at least a couple of masses in her abdomen. Dr. Wolfe is now certain Nyssa has adrenal disease too. Nyssa's left gland adrenal was removed four and a half years ago and there is no way she could survive a second surgery at this point. Up until now Nyssa's hair loss had been thought to be either adrenal or a side effect of prolonged high dosages of steroids (depo medrol plus prednisolone). Nyssa has had lots of lots of nasty black ear wax requiring daily ear cleanings and Dr. Wolfe told me that's another adrenal symptom.

Nyssa received her depo medrol injection today and Dr. Wolfe has ordered lupron to start as soon as it arrives to hopefully relieve adrenal symptoms. Podo was in the same situation when he was nine and a half and the lupron worked wonders for him. Other than that Nyssa's medication has worked well and we are staying the course. The one other change is that I also have permission to giver her a higher dose of pain medication if Nyssa should need it. She will likely sleep on the higher dosage but at least she'd be comfy.

Finally, Nyssa has been having pain defecating. She's been on Kaopectate twice a day. If I reduce her dosage she has terrible diarrhea and becomes incontinent. I had discussed her previous diarrhea/stomach medication, diarsanyl, which Dr. Rosing had given her in Cincinnati with Dr. Wolfe. Diarsanyl worked well for both Nyssa and Lady Ayeka. Dr. Wolfe has never used it before so she did some research and... it turns out it's horse paste! It's mostly made from clay and glycerin. It does coat the GI tract, it does help with diarrhea, and it may well be gentler than Kaopectate. So... it's on order and we'll switch Nyssa back to it, mixed with water to create the thick brown liquid form that she and Lady Ayeka had before. Dr. Wolfe called it "hokey medicine" but there is clinical evidence it works and if it's easier on Nyssa she is all for it.

All of this adds up to relieving symptoms and keeping Nyssa as comfy as possible for how ever long she has left. Dr. Wolfe really didn't expect to be writing new renewals for Nyssa's prescriptions at all. Nyssa is simply amazing everyone. She is still active and at times downright playful. She's run around carrying her doggie twice this week and has even played with Chin Soon some. We're just over a month from Nyssa's eighth birthday. She wasn't expected to see her seventh.

Little Miss Chin Soon has fits of something that sounds like something halfway between coughing and choking, a really nasty hacking sound. She's had these since I adopted her. Lately these episodes have gotten more frequent, as in once or twice daily and I've started to get worried. These episodes always happen when Chin Soon is resting, not when she is running around like a little hellion. I pick her up and pat her back, kind of like burping a baby, and it usually stops quickly.

Dr. Dan Hudson, our original vet in North Carolina (now retired), attributed these attacks to a partially collapsed trachea and said that if they get worse or if she has difficulty breathing to bring her back. That was in the summer of 2004. Dr. Wolfe disagrees with that diagnosis. She says the pat on the back would make a collapsed trachea worse, not better, and the fact that it only happens at rest isn't consistent with a collapsed trachea either. Dr. Wolfe also said a radiograph can often be deceiving when diagnosing something like this.

Dr. Wolfe mentioned a procedure, the name of which escapes me at the moment, which is the equivalent of a real time X-ray and would give a definitive diagnosis. I would have to take Chin Soon to Madison for that. Dr. Wolfe is only going to recommend that if things get any worse. Her guess is a birth defect of some sort, possibly something malformed around her larynx. She also said there is a vet in Florida who does microsurgery in cases like this and if it becomes severe that is where she would send me with Chin Soon.

It sounds like Chin Soon could become one expensive little weasel if things do get worse. I've called Chin Soon "Ms. Pertwee" because of her super high energy level and her personality. I hope she doesn't imitate Pertwee's penchant for weird and expensive illnesses.

Playtime was normal tonight: lots of high energy antics from Zephyr and Chin Soon, lots of affection from Ella and Nyssa.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Nyssa's Best Night In a Long Time

Nyssa had her best night in ages last night, running for about 90 minutes. I got to watch her running through the tunnels, something she hasn't done in about two months. She was stealing toys from Chin Soon and even came to me and rolled over looking for a belly rub. Her tummy is usually tender and she hasn't wanted those in months. I was gentle and she seemed happy. It was like a trip back in time to when Nyssa was happy and healthy. I really treasured it.

Tonight, though, was not so good and I had to give her pain medication. He diarrhea was really terrible and she didn't eat quite as much gravy as usual. I did see her eating kibble, though, so I think she did eat until she was full. Still, I am seeing all the signs of running out of time with her.

With lymphoma there are always good days and bad. I'm just happy that Nyssa had one more really, really good day and that I have what I need to keep her comfy.

For those of you who haven't linked through to Nyssa's web page, here is a picture of what she looked like maybe seven years ago as a young, strong ferret:

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Zephyr the Tunnel Weasel

One of the first toys we bought for Tenchi back in the spring of 1998 was a Super Pet Fun-nel Ferret Playground. It was the old version with the tubes that didn't bubble out. It was an immediate hit and the set got expanded to include just about every accessory and tube and ball Super Pets makes. All four of my current ferrets still love the tubes and tunnels. Zephyr is my ultimate tunnel ferret. She loves the things and if I rearrange them regularly that means plenty of energy and play for her.

Pertwee was the first ferret I had that loved to interact with me through the tunnels. He'd be inside scratching at the tunnel walls and I was expected to scratch back. He'd stick his little nose through the holes and I was supposed to stick my finger in. He'd then gently nip at my finger and try to get me to follow him to a different hole. Zephyr loves the same games and she's the only other ferret I've had who plays them with me. She also likes to wrestle and chase with the other ferrets in the tunnels and likes me to lift up or rough up the soft, flexible tunnels when she's in them. It's all great fun for her.

On a slightly less happy Zephyr note she's had an upset tummy since at least yesterday. If it isn't better by tonight I'll have to call for a vet appointment. Nyssa hasn't been to the vet in over two months and she really needs to go back too. Nyssa is needing her pain meds more frequently and I need to discuss how to go forward with pain management for her as things get worse with Dr. Wolfe. Nyssa also needs a new prescription for prednisolone soon. She's out of refills. I don't think either Dr. Wolfe or Dr. Weston before that thought Nyssa would need more. The good news is that she is still here and she does.

Last night after four hours of play Zephyr and Chin Soon still were ready for more. I wasn't. I was worn out. That's what life with high energy ferrets, my little wired weasels, is like.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Queen In Her Castle (Another Nyssa Update)

Nyssa has started climbing to the top of the cage most of the time to sleep again. There is a hanging sleep sack in the shape of a castle that came with Podo and Kodo when I adopted them. Nyssa has claimed it as her own, though other ferrets are certainly welcome to curl up with her. A couple of times I've seen Nyssa just poke her head out a little bit to take in the world. If she sees me and I say "gravy" she jumps right out. I'll have to try and capture a picture of the queen in her castle :)

Nyssa had a very mixed night last night. The first thing I saw was that she had horrible yellow diarrhea. I have increased her medication for her stomach again to combat that. She still had diarrhea overnight but the color is back to normal. If she isn't doing better by tonight I'll go back to the level she was at before Bob Church's Chicken Gravy became the main thing in her diet.

Anyway, Nyssa ate her gravy as always and then ran around exploring. She also wanted to be picked up and carried around some. It was a good little run for her. Later on Ella, Zephyr, and Chin Soon were all asleep in the top hammock in the cage and I decided to put Nyssa in the hammock, close the cage, and call it a night. I heard Nyssa moaning. She did that a few times so I got some torbugesic (pain killer) for her after moving her to the middle hammock by herself under an old sweater of mine to keep her warm. She woke up and was looking at me so I gave her some gravy which she ate ravenously.

With torb and gravy in her system Nyssa felt much better and wanted to play so I opened up the cage again. Nyssa was full of it. She checked on her doggie, stole some toys from Chin Soon, and generally was more alive than she'd been in a while. She also had another chance to be carried around. It's just a pity it took torb to do that. Anyway, it was the first greater than 30 minute run and play for Nyssa in some time. That was definitely worth staying up for.

This morning Nyssa was the queen in her castle again when I came out. When she saw me she came out straight away to tell me she wanted gravy, which she ate in her usual enthusiastic way.

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