This has been a really bad week and the hurt is still a little raw on this one.
My ongoing illness morphed into the flu a week ago, such that I didn’t leave bed for days. I managed to throw food at the rabbits a couple of times and finally had to call for help when I just couldn’t do it myself anymore. David, otherwise a terrible nurse because he’s so paranoid about catching the illness, went in to feed and clean the rabbits with Dawn’s phone coaching. He came to get me and said something was wrong with Annabelle.
My poor girl was limp on her side in the cage. I hadn’t been in there in just over a day. I cleaned her snotty nose so she could breathe better and tried to assess what was going on, but she was basically nonresponsive. Her breathing and heart rate steadied a little (I thought… who knows) after I cleaned her up a bit and supported her. We headed to the emergency clinic in a winter storm. David had to scrape tons of ice off the car while I huddled in it with Annabelle (and her pal Joey in the carrier in the backseat) trying to keep myself vertical. I was really sick.
The long drive to the bunny-safe, more humane emergency clinic in town in the terrible weather behind us, the technician whisked Annabelle away in the fleece bed in which I’d brought her. The vet told me he was surprised she lived through his quick exam. Her heart rate was half normal and her body temperature was not even registering on the thermometer (it measured down to 93, and normal for a bunny is about 102). She was in shock. He could try fluids/incubation to see if we could bring her back overnight, but I asked for euthanasia.
She fell asleep in my lap with the sedation and Joey climbed on her a couple of times. I still don’t know if I should have tried something. Would I have acted differently if I had been well? I would have found her illness much sooner in the day, I assume. I have a lot of bunny experience, but not with shock, and since the vet wasn’t a bunny expert (critical in many emergencies but maybe not in this one?) and acted like she could die at any moment, it made sense to help her be comfortable in this safe way.
One of my bunny vets did the necropsy the next morning. Annabelle had the most advanced liver disease she’d ever seen, as well as advanced kidney disease. Were these the cause of her mild incontinence and wobbliness now and then? Was she in shock because of the end stages of these diseases? Did I cause more problems by feeding her extra pellets since she didn’t keep weight on easily? It’s probably normal that her last bloodwork didn’t really signal the problem because rabbits with organ disease typically don’t show much in the chemistries until failure is imminent. But what might I have learned or done a few hours earlier had I not been sick?
Many of you will remember that Annabelle had one eye due to being shot in the other one just before she was found and brought into rescue. She still had the pellet lodged in her head all this time, and despite the ongoing URI issues she faced, none of that factored into her final illness according to the vet.
Joey is doing well, hanging out in the same fleece bed where Annabelle spent her last night. It’s so hard to lose these guys when they are so happy and healthy one day and then they crash the next.