Flower’s not-so-fun Friday

Flower and Annie in their cagePoor Flower had a pretty rough week last week! Flower is always my little adventurer; she goes non-stop and is always getting herself into trouble. However, when I got the rats out on Wednesday night, Flower’s back legs kept collapsing. Like Jell-O. And then after a few seconds, she would seem to regain her strength, and off she would go running across the living room floor.

It didn’t seem to bother her, but it sure worried me! My rat friends online weren’t too sure what it might be, but thought that it could be a pinched nerve.

Thursday morning, when I let Flower and Annie out of their cage, Flower seemed much better. I only saw her collapse once or twice and it didn’t seem nearly as bad. So, I figured whatever had happened was better today. I did still plan to call the vet, but I wasn’t nearly as concerned.

However, when I went to put Flower back into the cage, I noticed she had blood all over her belly! As I tried to clean up the blood to see where it was coming from, I noticed that she also had a large mass of tissue sticking out of her vagina. So, I immediately called the vet and off we went to the vet’s office.

My vet was off today, and just the dog / cat vet was there. Flower was very squirmy, so the vet wasn’t able to examine her too closely, but the vet thought it could be a prolapsed uterus. So, I left Flower at the vet’s and they sedated her briefly over lunch, cleaned her up, pushed everything back inside, and put in one stitch to keep everything in place until they could spay her the next day. The vet wasn’t sure if the weakness in her back legs was related to pain, a pinched nerve, or something else, so I was still a bit concerned about that.

Flower the black and white hooded ratFriday morning, I dropped Flower back off at the vet’s and she got spayed. Luckily, even though it ended up being a pretty long surgery, she did great! My vet even said that he had a lot of fun doing the surgery, since it was so much different from a routine spay.

Anyhow, through this whole ordeal Flower remained bright-eyed and alert. I think she must have been in at least some pain, because of how she acted during the exam on Thursday, but rats are pretty good at hiding pain. She is back at home now and seems to be healing nicely. Her antibiotics and pain medicine tastes like marshmallows, so Flower thinks that is pretty awesome!

The worst part about the whole ordeal is that she has to stay in the tiny one-level cage for the next few days and take it easy. Of course, trying to tell a very active rat that she needs to take it easy for a few days is pretty much impossible! So, I think she’s kind of grumpy at me about this, but I think she’ll be back to normal before too long and we can get back to doing some more training.

(Note: Here’s an extra paragraph with some more of the medical details. Feel free to skip this if medical descriptions make you a bit queasy! But, I’m including this because some of my rat friends might find it interesting. When the vet was doing the surgery, he discovered that Flower had an intussusception of her uterus. Intussusception basically means that part of an organ starts turning inside out on itself, kind of like if you were turning a sock inside out. This can happen sometimes in the intestines, especially in dogs and horses, but occurs rarely in rats and very rarely in the uterus. My vet has been treating exotics for years and he had never seen this in a rat’s uterus. So, basically Flower’s uterus had turned completely inside out on itself, starting at the left utrine horn. When it got down near the bottom, it had gotten a bit twisted, which cut off part of the blood supply and caused a large hematoma to form. The hematoma is what I had seen poking out of her vagina on Thursday. Because of all of this, the surgery ended up being quite long and the vet ended up having to make two incisions in order to remove all of her uterus, the hematoma, and some necrotic tissue. The vet was pretty sure that her legs were collapsing because of pressure on the femoral nerve from everything inside having rearranged itself. Poor girl, I’m sure this was all pretty painful!)

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