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.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Tata's bumpy (and expensive) road to recovery

Tata came home yesterday after a very long and trying holiday weekend. I learned yesterday at Avian & Exotic, that Tata's surgery was difficult. This isn't surprising with right adrenal surgery as part of the package. Add insulinoma and a tumor on the spleen and, of course, it was very invasive and difficult. What I learned from one of the vet techs is that they were very worried for Tata on Friday and were absolutely thrilled by what they saw yesterday. What happened in between wasn't so good.

After surgery Tata's blood glucose shot up. Temporary diabetes after insulinoma surgery is pretty normal until the pancreas starts working normally again. The insulinoma cells suppress normal pancreatic function, or so I've been told. Anyway, Tata's blood glucose went up over 500. Dr. Johnson decided to hospitalize him so he went to the Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care in Raleigh. Dr. Wyatt there treated Tata when he had his seizure and also cared for Chin Soon at the end of her life. He's an excellent ferret vet but care at the emergency facility is insanely expensive. For a short emergency visit it's fine. For a long weekend, well...

Tata was put on insulin and his blood glucose came down. As the insulin wore off it would go way back up again. He wasn't stable. Dr. Johnson wanted to put Tata on glargene insulin, which is longer acting (12 hours) and is what Dr. Powers used for Chin Soon when she had the same problem. In Chin Soon's case the insulin was expensive but it worked well for her. Chin Soon only needed it for a few days. Then her pancreas started working again. Tata, unfortunately, did not tolerate the glargene well. His blood glucose crashed to 40 and he needed dextrose to get him back to the normal range. Then it spiked way up again. The very expensive insulin purchased for Tata turned out to be useless for him. He went back on regular, short acting insulin diluted in saline. His dose was one quarter of one unit. His blood glucose roller coaster continued through Sunday.

Tata was doing much better by yesterday but still needed insulin as of 5 AM. Dr. Dan decided to send him home and called in an insulin prescription to a pharmacy here in Eden. I came home with Tata, a shiny new, calibrated AlphaTrack glucometer and anti-inflammatory meds for the next couple of days. This was after getting a refresher course on how to give an insulin injection. I was told only to use the insulin if Tata's blood glucose went over 400 again.

The good news here is that Tata's blood glucose hasn't been that high. The highest reading so far was 320 and it's come down from there today. Dr. Dan's feeling that his pancreas was starting to work again appears to be correct. The hope was that Tata wouldn't need more insulin injections and so far that is what's happening.

The bad news is the cost. Six years ago Chin Soon's surgery, four day hopitalization and aftercare added up to an over $2000 bill. With the emergency clinic rates Tata is already over $4000. Oh, and no, I really couldn't afford that.

Is Tata worth it? Of course, and I hope to have him around for a few more years. He still has earned himself a new nickname: Pertwee Jr., after the most medically challenged and expensive ferret I've ever had.

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