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.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Low In The Weasel

Tonight is a perfect night for watching the Olympics with the ferrets. Ice dancing is on now and Zephyr was just war dancing. Tonight's men's Super G skiing coverage includes a part of the course called "the weasel". I constantly heard commentary like "he's a bit low in the weasel". Ferrets, of course, are a member of the weasel family. You can't get more of a ferret tie in to the Olympics than that.

There have been lots of crashes and falls on the ski course. In the race for the gravy Chin Soon and Ella had a big crash and the oldest ferret, Ella, just couldn't recover as quickly as Chin Soon. Chin Soon took the gold, Ella settled for the silver, and Zephyr the bronze. Skier Bode Miller also had to settle for a silver for Team USA but it was his second in as many events. Another American skier, Andrew Weibrecht, took the bronze. Certainly not a bad day for Team USA, which now has won 20 medals.

I was still a bit under the weather last night and wanted to be up to go to work today so I missed the end of the men's figure skating. I missed Evan Lysacek's gold medal performance for Team USA. I won't miss any more figure skating if at all possible.

In other ferret news Ella finished her course of medication for her eye, which seems to be back to normal. So far this has been her most active night in quite a while.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Good Day For Ella, A Great Day For Team USA

Yesterday I was a bit under the weather. Ella, on the other hand, was having a good day. Her eye is almost completely back to normal. I also got her cytology report back from Dr. Powers.

The good news is that the masses on her spleen are benign. Quoting:
"Extramedullary hematopoiesis is a common cause for splenic enlargement in ferrets, especially older ferrets. The cause for this process has not been determined, but it may be associated with antigenic stimulation from the gut, endocrine or metabolic derangements, aging, or combinations thereof."

Dr. Powers' translation is that these are two spots where the spleen is producing extra red blood cells. Aging as a cause? Older ferrets? That sounds like Ella. We've known she's had an enlarged spleen for a few years.

The results on the enlarged subiliac lymph nodes were inconclusive. As Dr. Powers explained previously this could be caused by a chronic GI disease. It also...
"could possibly represent early stages of small cell lymphoma, the most common variant of lymphoma in old ferrets."

In other words we still don't know the cause. I still need to talk to Dr. Powers to decide how to proceed from here. In the meanwhile Ella hasn't had diarrhea in a week and is putting on weight. She hasn't been quite as active as she normally is but all in all she seems to be doing OK.

Tonight was better. In the race to the chicken gravy Ella took the gold, edging out Chin Soon in the run from the cage door to her favorite treat at the entrance to the kitchen. Not too bad for an old, blind ferret who is supposed to be past her prime.

So... last night we watched skiing and speed skating on a day when Americans won six medals. The women's downhill included some horrendous crashes. It also saw Lindsey Vonn take the gold medal and Julia Mancuso win the silver, the first time U.S. women finished 1-2 since 1984. I also saw Shani Davis take the gold medal in men's 1,000 meter speed skating while Chad Hedrick took the bronze. It was the best day ever for Team USA in the Winter Olympics.

Tonight it's skiing again, and lots of playing with some bouncy little weasels. Add a little figure skating and it sounds like fun to me. I just wish I could be in Vancouver seeing it live.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Four Years Later It's Ferrets and Figure Skating Again

Four years ago I wrote about watching the Winter Olympics and playing with my ferrets. This year I actually received an e-mail from the U.S. Olympic Committee which asked me if I'd be willing to blog about Team USA here on the ferrets' blog again this year. They actually noticed my three posts four years ago. Amazing! Anyway, I won't disappoint them.

Three of the four ferrets who were there for the Olympics in 2006 are back. Nyssa, of course, lost her battle with lymphoma at the ripe old age of eight in July, 2006. Ella, Zephyr and Chin Soon are now all older ferrets but don't tell them that when they are in high energy play mode.

So, will Chin Soon take the gold again as my non-stop weasel? So far, no, that honor goes to the always playful Zephyr. As I wrote four years ago Zephyr and all the ferrets love the Olympics because while I watch they are free to run around and during long commercial breaks they get lots of attention. Oh, and yeah, I love the Winter Olympics too. I went to the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and I've been addicted to the quadrennial games ever since.

What about Team USA? Skaters Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig turned in a beautiful performance this evening in the pairs short program. They aren't expected to contend for a medal but their skating was still fantastic to watch.

Ella's eye seems to be improving slowly. Earlier it was fully open but at medication time this evening it didn't look too good. I hope to have results from her lab work in the next day or two. Zephyr seems fine. She's growing a summer coat in midwinter. Her seasons have always been way off and she's been healthy all her life. Anything resembling adrenal symptoms have disappeared, at least for now.

Anyway, I'll be blogging about Olympic ferret playtime again over the next two weeks. I can't disappoint the USOC, can I?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ella, Zephyr and Chin Soon Vet Visit Update -- Good News and Bad

The ferrets and I made the long trip to Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Huntersville yesterday to see. Dr. Lauren Powers. Ella actually has two distinct medical problems. The right eye has an ulcer which has been causing her considerable pain. She is now on both topical and oral antibiotics: one drop of Ofloxacin 0.3% in the injured eye 3-4 times daily and 0.4 ml enrofloxacin. We also have pain meds for her for the next 3-4 days as needed until the eye heals a bit.

The good news here is that after just one day with medication Ella's eye is already improving. Yesterday morning Ella was holding the eye tightly closed and was in obvious pain. She's not holding it closed tonight and is having a nice, normal active evening despite the pain meds. She actually seems far less uncomfortable tonight and was acting more like her normal self.

The ultrasound showed two nodules on Ella's spleen and what Dr. Powers thinks are enlarged illiac lymph nodes. We decided to put Ella under and do aspirates on all three masses. They were sent off for cytology and we should get results by the end of the week. Dr. Powers is still worried about the possibility of lymphoma. The peripheral lymph nodes are not enlarged and the she did say that other things can cause enlarged illiac lymph nodes including IBD and other chronic GI disease. Once we have Ella's lab results back we'll decide how to proceed.

Dr. Powers did check Ella's blood glucose again (was 77 last time) and it was a nice, normal 98. She does not have insulinoma.

I'll post more when the cytology report comes back. Obviously I'm hoping that the masses are benign and that Ella doesn't have lymphoma. FWIW, Ella did have diarrhea this morning but her output was normal later in the day.

The news for Zephyr was also mixed. The good news is that she hasn't actually lost weight. Zephyr has blown her coat at an odd time. What we are seeing is far less hair, not less ferret. The bad news is that her vulva is a bit swollen and that the hair on her belly is thin. We're going to watch and wait and see how symptoms develop. Right now this is looking an awful lot like adrenal disease which would be bad news. At age seven I don't know if we'd do surgery or not. Seeing how Zephyr responds to Lupron is probably the first option if the symptoms of adrenal disease become clear.

Chin Soon's gums are healing. She still has some root exposure but there is definite improvement. Dr. Powers said we should keep doing what we're doing, meaning brushing her teeth regularly, and we'll see how things go over the next two months. Chin Soon's blood glucose was also rechecked and was a nice, normal 91. For Chin Soon yesterday's recheck was all good news.

The cost of all this was almost $700, and almost all of that cost was Ella's diagnostic work. Whatever Ella's diagnosis ends up being we're not done yet.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Ella May Be In Trouble, Zephyr Losing Weight

Due to the winter storm last week the vet appointment for Ella was put off until tomorrow morning. In the meanwhile, over the last couple of days, Ella has become very obviously ill. She can barely open her right eye at all and both eyes are watery. She's also had two serious bouts of diarrhea over the last five days with normal output in between. Ella has also always really loved rough play. The last two nights she's come to me to play with her as always. When she does, though, if I touch her belly much she vocalizes discomfort and play ends. That, combined with her blood test results from January 18th, especially her elevated globulin, have Dr. Powers thinking that Ella may have intestinal lymphoma. That would be truly horrible news.

Dr. Powers will call me back later today with, in her words, "lots of questions" when she's done with her current patient. She doesn't feel like coming in this evening instead of tomorrow morning will make a difference, so for now the plan is to keep tomorrow's scheduled appointment and do more diagnostic work to determine for certain what is wrong with Ella.

In the meanwhile Ella ran around and explored like always last night, is eating and drinking normally, and has plenty of energy so I am hoping against hope for better news when the tests are done.

I am also very concerned about Zephyr who has lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time and also has had on again, off again diarrhea. Like Ella there has been no drop off in Zephyr's activity level and her appetite is just fine. Like Ella she isn't bouncing as much and is avoiding rough play.

Whenever one of the other ferrets is sick Chin Soon tends to stick to them like glue. I saw this with a then eight year old Nyssa during the final month or two of her life. Chin Soon was Nyssa's constant companion then and would curl up and sleep with her. Chin Soon is doing that with Zephyr now which also worries me.

Ella is just two week short of the seventh anniversary of her rescue so she is right around eight years old. Zephyr is six weeks away from the sixth anniversary of her rescue and is roughly seven. Both are considered old in ferret terms. I'm still not ready to lose either one of them.

I'll post more when I know more.

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