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aftermath

I know I haven’t explained what happened last week, but the answer is nothing drastic: just a steady decline. Frank never started eating on his own after his surgery. We fed him Critical Care every few hours, and watered-down Pedialyte even more often (and meds, and belly massage), but he was losing weight and dehydrating anyway. He lost interest in everything but snuggling, and even then he was listless. His eyes were glassy, he was always in discomfort (if not pain), and he’d given up on the litter box. He just wasn’t living anymore.

Life without Frank has been and continues to be a difficult adjustment. I miss his presence very much.

Coming to accept the events of his life, particularly of these last few months, has also been difficult.

In the aftermath, particularly in looking over this blog, things seem crystallised — I hope somewhat illusorily. Because as I scroll down, past the posts of his final illness, I see a picture of Frank taken in profile a few months before his death, and I see a bump at his throat and I think, my God, how couldn’t I have noticed? And I scroll further down to last October when I found the inflammation on his chin, and I’m afraid to think this could have been going on so long, and that I may have been the cause of it through one incident of accidental rough grooming. And, I must admit, I’m afraid of my readers doing the same, and thinking the same. But I don’t believe it’s really like that. Other pictures that I have reveal Frank always had a slight dewlap; and that, from many angles, the bump in his throat, around March and since then, was not at all distinct; also, he was examined by a vet in May; and, until two weeks ago he showed no signs of discomfort or ill health — so I’m trying not to blame myself for not noticing. And if I had noticed earlier, I’m not at all sure the final outcome would have been any different. As for the inflammation last October, I think I did what I could in response to misfortune. I had Frank examined by the vet, I had a cell sample tested, I kept an eye on it, and the swelling went away. The vet said Frank could well have simply jabbed himself with a sharp piece of hay as he grazed, and she wasn’t very concerned. Maybe my fears are right and it was my rough grooming that did it but, either way, it was a small injury sustained in the normal course of daily life. I don’t know if it’s connected to the tumour or not (the test of which, by the way, came back “undiagnostic”), but if it was, what could I have done about it? This is what I keep asking and I keep answering: Nothing. I can only hope my readers agree with me, but if you don’t, you can learn from my experiences. I won’t be enabling comments on this post and I don’t want feedback on this issue (unless you are a doctor! because I do plan to look into this, some day); rather, I am writing this for the sake of closure. I am closing this blog, tying up loose ends. It is mine to do.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments over the years. In joyous times and difficult times, you have uplifted and sustained me, and Frank as well. Warmest wishes to you and your own beloved bunnies.

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In spite of everything, Frank is still my beautiful, friendly, naughty boy.

Brown rabbit sitting in litter box, a little hunched up and non-responsive but with one ear cocked toward photographer

Yesterday, hunched-up, hiding (the litter is not his usual hangout), in pain, sad, but still curious re. interlopers (note his right ear)


Brown house rabbit, sitting on pink blanket, grooming left hind foot, looking at photographer out of corner of eye

Today after his 2:30 feeding: pretending to groom, but really waiting for me to turn my back so he can pee on our sofa (a favourite activity of late)


Brown rabbit standing in litter box, facing photographer, alert (if disgruntled) expression on his face

A minute or so later, perturbed that I caught him and dumped him in his litter box; "Fine, I peed here instead, now WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

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Frank made it on to Disapproving Rabbits!

He certainly earned it. He was rather disgruntled when I disturbed him.

Photo of a brown rabbit sitting on a hardwood floor, angled from below (taken from the floor), his eyes are narrowed, the distinctive shape of his rabbit-mouth visible (i.e. down-turned, so he looks disapproving)

But we know he’s all bark and no bite.

Two photos of a brown rabbit on a hardwood floor, taken from eye level: in the first, he crouches and noses in toward the camera; in the second, he's laying down, squished-out

On another note (on to my disapproval now), Frank’s been chewing his poops. Not his cecotropes, but his fecal pellets; and he doesn’t eat them, just chews them. I know everybunny does this sometimes, but Frank’s been doing it a lot! What gives?

And in yet other news, I’ve posted a new scrapbook page.

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The results are in about the lump: no cancer cells, no signs of an infectious cause – just inflamed tissue. (“Just,” ha! Seriously though, I am greatly relieved.) The vet thinks perhaps Frank was stuck in the chin with a sharp piece of hay and his natural defences walled it off with a cyst. I suspect that rather I was too rough in my grooming one day (he gets small knots in his chin fur from drinking juice-water from a bowl). The lump is getting smaller, so it looks like we’ll be able to avoid surgery. Very good news! (And Frank, of course, continues otherwise in perfect health.)

So please, let this be a lesson to any companions out there to buns with messy fur problems: be very careful! I thought I was avoiding all dangers by avoiding scissors. Not so! Even a tiny tear in the skin – not one large enough to expand (for rabbit skin is very elastic, and a small cut can expand to a frightening size quite quickly), not one large enough to be noticed – is enough to result in a cystic inflammation which can potentially grow, requiring surgery. Even our best-case-scenario (fingers crossed that it continues to be so) meant travel for our bun (always somewhat stressful) and a $300+ bill.

(Disclaimer: I don’t mean to treat messy fur as commonplace. If your rabbit has knots or stained fur, seek veterinary attention! Poor grooming is usually a sign of something far more serious.)

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On Monday night I found a lump on Frank’s chin during a routine check-out. I’ve read enough horror stories to know this warranted a visit to the vet.

I brought him to the vet’s Tuesday evening – what an ordeal! Never has Frank given such a chase to avoid his carrying case, and when I finally got him in there he really struggled to get out. I mean, I felt a force in his body I had never felt before. This kind of worried me – was he scared because he knew the depth of the problem? Maybe not… I know I give him too much credit.

All in all, we did not have the best vet visit ever, but the long and short of it is the lump is just in his skin (not bone; Yay!). The vet thinks it could be a sebaceous cyst. (She said skin tumours aren’t as likely in rabbits as they are in dogs/cats.) So, she took a sample and we’ll get the results soon. If it is a cyst, it could just go away on its own. If it starts to grow, though, she’s recommended surgery. (Gulp)

Frank is still eating/drinking/peeing/pooping/playing per normal. The two problems from previous vet visits (inflamed nipple, enlarged toe) were fine, just fine. Good…

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Today we brought Frank to see the vet. He was due for a general, as well as parasite (feces) testing and nail-clipping, but we also wanted them to check out one of his ears, as he’s been holding it cocked out at an angle for a few days now, and shaking his head and excessively digging in there with his foot. The vet used a deep scope to look in his ear all the way up to the drum (which looks shiny, almost like metal – I got to watch on the monitor). We found a bit of wax in there, but no mucus or redness, no swelling, nothing. (Nor were there signs of infection in his nose, mouth, eyes; nor has he been sneezing, etc.) The vet did say that Frank’s ear canals are a little smaller than those she’s seen in other rabbits, so maybe that little bit of wax would bother him more than it would others. She squirted some cleaning fluid into his ears, massaged around the base of his ears a bit, and that was that. Of course, once we were at the vet, Frank had stopped cocking his ear or shaking his head… probably he got rid of the problem before we even left! He seems fine now – a little angry, but fine.

Sadly, we did notice a potential problem with one of Frank’s toes. One of the nails that he lost awhile back is growing back a little funny, and the skin underneath it is a little larger than it is on his other toes. The skin wasn’t inflamed and didn’t seem especially sensitive, so she told me to keep an eye on it and bring him in immediately if I notice a problem. “Better to amputate a toe than a foot,” she said. Eeek! Better to amputate nothing at all, of course, so please keep your fingers crossed for Frank!

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One of the greatest joys I’ve discovered in sharing a bedroom with Frank is that most mornings we get to enjoy a cuddle on the bed. (Well, a cuddle intermittently interrupted by scrabbling amongst the sheets – that’s cool, it’s cute to watch, plus good exercise for Frank.) The other week I took a series of photos from one of these morning sessions, and while most turned out too blurry, enough good ones came out of it that I made a new scrapbook page.

(I’d like to say that, with his increased familiarity with the area, Frank has stopped trying to pee on our bed. That isn’t quite the case, although I do believe he tries less frequently. And, thankfully, with our increased familiarity with Frank, his attempts are very rarely successful – that I’m-backing-into-the-pillow-so-as-to-pee-on-it pose is so very distinctive … all the same, I’m sincerely grateful for the existence of Nature’s Miracle Orange-Oxy.)

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