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Hiatus part 1: A sick little bunny

05/11/2013

I’d like to thank all the readers who have been asking about my absence from the blogosphere over the past month. It’s nice to be missed sometimes.

There have been a raft of mostly trivial reasons I’ve been giving the keyboard a rest but the two main ones have been a sick pet rabbit and my own problems with allergies.

Ananda is a dwarf lop rabbit I picked up from the RSPCA about 20 months ago. He was rescued from bushland near Newcastle University and has a tag hole in his ear indicating he is probably an escaped lab rabbit (When I was studying at Newcastle Uni in 1980 I was briefly tasked with caring for psychology lab rats. I was told in no uncertain terms that lab animals must not be allowed to escape. Apparently there is a recurrent problem with students ‘accidentally’ liberating them. I hope they’re not doing biological weapons research in there.).Ananda the bunny

Right from the start it seemed Ananda had neurological issues. When he chews food his haunches twitch in time with his jaw movements as if there is some crossed wiring in there somewhere. When he is fast asleep he often undergoes a series of spasms that look more like fits than bad dreams.

In late September he had what was clearly a waking seizure that started with him running in tight circles with his head tilted heavily to one side and culminated with him collapsing into a twitching, drooling heap who, while not actually unconscious, seemed unaware of his surroundings. It lasted little over a minute but happened again less than an hour later and that’s when I took him to the emergency vet (it was amost midnight) where he had another two seizures over the next couple of hours.

I began treating him presumptively for e.cuniculi, a microsporidial parasite that often attacks the kidneys, eyes and brains of rabbits. After a ridiculous delay of over two weeks the blood tests finally came back confirming e.cuniculi infection.

Although his seizures stopped within a day of commencing treatment it was necessary to complete the full 28 day fenbendazole course to give it a chance to clear the infection from his system. But the medication can have some serious side effects.

About two weeks into the course Ananda stopped eating, began drinking lots of water and displayed several obvious signs of pain and distress. This was gastrointestinal stasis, an all too frequent condition that can kill a rabbit in less than a day. Blood tests confirmed compromised liver functions – a known side effect of the fenbendazole.

The vet advised discontinuation of fenbendazole but with the e.cuniculi still present it was likely Ananda’s neurological problems would get steadily worse and probably kill him sooner rather than later. There is also the issue of possible cross infection with my other pet rabbit to consider. So I decided to continue the medication while simultaneously treating the gut stasis.

What that entailed was catching a very unhappy and unwilling bunny several times a day to administer a range of oral and subcutaneous medications meant to get his digestive tract moving and reduce his pain as well as force feeding him enough high density ‘Critical Care’ to keep him from starving to death while I waited hopefully for him to start eating again. Rabbits need to eat almost constantly so it was a pretty labour intensive exercise.

The good news is that it seems to have worked. He has now finished all his medication and is eating and behaving normally. I’m not sure his infection was cleared and there is little point in testing him to find out as there are no better treatments available if the fenbendazole has failed. But there have been no more fits and his twitching seems to have subsided.

The no-so-good news is that what I have been putting him through for the past month has adversely affected our relationship. Right from the first day I picked him up from the RSPCA he was completely trusting of me and given to frequent spontaneous displays of affection. Now he is quite wary and is only ‘affectionate’ when he thinks I have food for him.

Hopefully things will get back to normal over time. After all, how long can 1.6kg of fluff hold a grudge?

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12 Comments
  1. OMG. I never knew a ‘1.6 kg of fluff’ could suffer so much. Stay safe bunny!

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    • He has a pretty good life actually.

      Everyone spoils him rotten and he is completely devoted to his partner, Clover.
      When I first brought him home to meet her he thought all his Christmases had come at once.
      You’d be surprised at how much joy and excitement you can pack into 1.6kg of fluff.

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  2. Best wishes to the bunny. Hope you’ve finally got the illness punched out, And it won’t be long before he’s back to hi normally cuddly self,

    I ordered a bunch of electronics parts and supplies from Fasttech,com. Almost on a whim I threw in a $1.81 keychain laser pointer as a cat toy. Big cat isn’t too fussed, but little cat Loses. Her. Shit. She chases the red dot around for hours and never seems to get tired of it.

    More laser pointers in my future for sure At that price, the amusement per dollar-spent ratio is just about higher than anything else I can think of.

    Fasttech is in Singapore. Am I correct that laser pointers are of dubious legality in Australia?

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    • Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s a problem with laser pointers in Aus.
      A few years back there was a moral panic that criminals and terrorists could use them to blind police and pilots and there was a lot of talk about banning them. They disappeared from shops not long after so I guess the ban was passed.

      I wouldn’t worry about it though. They’re not likely to throw the book at you for a first offence in the unlikely event they catch you out. My guess is that you’d lose your $1.81 and receive a mild reprimand. I wouldn’t try importing them by the dozen though.

      The thought of a crazed cat chasing a dot of red light all over the room sure made me smile.
      I’m sure you’re careful to keep it away from her eyes.

      And thanks for the best wishes for Ananda. He’s still ultra-sooky towards everyone else, including complete strangers. It’s just me in the doghouse.

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      • Of course, no eyes, no nose. Best part is when she “catches” it and it disappears, and then re-appears on her foot. Ermagehrd! She now reacts to the clinking of the keychain even without my turning it on. Did I mention that little cat is as dumb as a fence post?

        Definitely buying another one or two. Not dozens, just two along with my usual order of e-cig miscellany and computer bits.

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      • Oh and sympathy about the allergies too. I am severely allergic to dust mites and mildly allergic to cats ūüė¶ , which necessitated the purchase of a fancy Dyson vacuum cleaner. Cost loads, but it picks up ridiculous amounts of hair and dust that the cheapo vacuum can’t touch.

        Here in Canberra you can actually SEE the pollen and plant dust floating through the air in big clumps. The bushfires aren’t helping matters either. I take Zyrtec in the morning and one of my assortment of US antihistamines (diphenhydramine, doxylamine succinate, or chlorpheniramene maleate) at night. Also bathing with Graham’s Manuka Honey soap helps if the red-and-itchy welts pop up.

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        • “Hiatus part 2” was meant to be about my last month and a half of fun and games with allergies, but so far the drafts all read like a pitch for sympathy or an attempt to put people off their food with a whole load of stomach turning medical details so I probably won’t post it.

          On advice from an allergy suffering friend I recently switched from regular soap in the shower to a liquid soap-free cleanser based on colloidal oatmeal. I’m still pretty damned itchy a lot of the time but my skin isn’t falling apart which is pretty unusual when my allergies are as bad as they are now so I guess the switch was a good one.

          Here in Canberra you can actually SEE the pollen and plant dust floating through the air in big clumps.

          That’s nothing.

          Give me your mailing address and I’ll send you a nice thick slice of Newcastle air to taste.

          Once you’ve tried that great smoked flavour of wattle pollen, lucerne (alfalfa) powder and coal dust you’ll insist on it every time.

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  3. As a person on the spectrum..I understand how important the affection from animals can be..and potentially understand some of the stress associated with your once affectionate rabbit… nursing him back to health..

    Kind of touching in a way..as you show your soft side here friend…

    Good to see you back..and best wishes for you and your bunny….

    Cats are my affection…and were actually my only ‘close’ to affection for over 5 years..just getting it back for humans..in the last several months…

    Like

    • Yep, you sure got that right.

      I’ve always been an animals person and people often comment on how well I communicate with them. I reckon the ASD gives us lots of practice. People, animals … it’s all cross-species communication to folk like us. Just ask Temple Grandin.

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      • Yeah..I get pretty hot under the collar when people suggest that humans are connected better by way of whatever they describe as a higher power..for US so called advanced social animals..

        My cat experiences this bliss at will..simply when he lives at homeostasis..which is common for animals and so rare for human beings these days..

        If I had to really come up with one word for the ultimate goal of the routine of music..movement and connection with the all that is..that i Practice as a kind of personal routine of religion..It would simply be homeostasis..OH ‘GOD’..LIFE IS beautiful with IT..but oh so frigging hard without it…

        Your rabbit likely had that..much greater than you are I could imagine..but I can’t prove th@..my Autistic ‘Spidey’ sense tells me IT IS TRUE..

        They are simply part of ALL and live IT..not even ever having to attempt to come up with metaphors of the experience of WH@IS…

        When i was completely separated from the connection of WH@IS..my cat cowered under the negative energy of simply the presence of my hand over It’s head..the ears went back..as I was desperately trying to suck the life force energy from the cat..to make me feel anything…

        Now the cat comes to me..to enjoy my energy..

        Life is Good when one can share this..or give this energy..to others..and not desperately attempt to steal IT from others..

        Yeah..for me It’s the LIFE ENERGY..I personally see as IT…Th@ connection that bonds all things together..and makes them reALLy work…as oNE…

        Always have an animal..there are life savers..at least for me…Never give up regardless of the emotional pain from losing one..AS IT IS ALL WORTH IT..IN THE LONG RUN..for connection and happiness…I think…

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  4. I read this and thought “poor little bunny.” I hope it was not a lab animal. But I’m glad it has a good home now, even if it may currently be a little wary of your tender loving care.
    I hope you are feeling much better now. Even mild allergies can be difficult to tolerate, but serious allergies are a whole new level of difficult.

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  5. cheryllovesfood permalink

    You are a great person for taking care of the bunny like that. He will get back to his old self and trust you. Animals are so wonderful. And so are people like you who take the time out of their lives to care for them. Bless you.

    Like

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