Problems with abscesses again... Tom was all right on Monday 16/10/00, except when I let him out with the others at night, he didn't want to play and went to the bed that the ferrets have in our bedroom instead. I fed him some meat before I went to bed and there was nothing obviously wrong with him. But when I got up Tuesday and got Tom to feed him, he had quite a big abscess on his chin. 10 hours before there was nothing there! And now the area under his little front teeth was open with puss and very inflamed. The abscess was right under the front teeth and his left upper canine tooth was scraping over the abscess. The puss also went into his mouth... Tom didn't want to eat, he'd gone right off his food. He didn't even want to drink because every movement of his mouth hurt him. So I gave him water with a syringe, let the water drop on the side of his mouth so it would trickle into his mouth. And took him to the vets. My vet Louise saw him and gave him an antibiotics (Baytril) injection and gave me 2 injections to take home- one for Thursday and one for Saturday.
For about 2 days, Tom didn't want to eat. I had to open his mouth from the side and then stuff some meat into his mouth through the side. It was really awful and he'd chew on my finger while I put the meat into his mouth... Tom was also very weak and unstable on his feet and I hated seeing him like that because he's a very active and mad ferret, always jumping around and playing. Wednesday evening he finally started eating out of my fingers, I held the meat in front of him and he'd carefully lick it with his tongue and move it into his mouth. So he got stronger again.
By Thursday, Tom had his appetite back and started eating loads- but I had to hand feed him. Friday he actually wanted to come out of the cage. I separated him straight away when I noticed the abscess and all he'd done was sleep. But Friday he was better and I let him out of his cage, he ran around but not for long as he was still weak. Saturday I let him out again and this time he was playing for longer.
I thought that the abscess was pretty superficial and was drying out but under his upper canine tooth there was still puss so Saturday night I wanted to clean it. I moved some of the scab that was on the abscess and noticed that the abscess was a lot deeper than I'd thought... :-( So this (Sunday) morning I got a bowl of warm salt water and washed his abscess again until the whole scab came off. It also pulled most of the puss out of the abscess. I was shocked to see what a big hole it left... There's still traces of puss in there but most the abscess is cleaned out. It really scared me and I wonder whether the hole will heal and fill up again or whether he'll be left with a hole in his chin... Tom doesn't seem to be bothered though, most of the inflammation is gone so it's not hurting bad and after I'd cleaned the abscess out and almost fainted, he happily ran around and played like mad like he was back to being his old self again... Rolling around, jumping up my leg, inviting me to play... I gave him some more antibiotics, when I injected him yesterday I could barely get any more antibiotics out of the syringe because Baytril is so thick and hard to get out of the syringe. So I gave him Flagyl, I read in a pharmacy drug book what it is for and one of the things listed was brain abscesses (yikes!) and also blood poisoning so I thought that sounds okay so gave Tom some. I had the Flagyl for Jilly and Mason for when they got bad mouths because of the mush they were eating. Anyway, I hope it'll get rid of the last bits of puss and then make the abscess heal... I hate abscesses anyway but on the chin...
Tom's abscess healed nicely and the hole where the abscess was has filled as well. The bottom canine tooth is a bit more exposed but everything looks fine. You can see where the abscess was as there is a scar but Tom's back to normal! :-)
Tom's illness and death... :*-(
This is one of the last pictures I got of Tom, just a week or less before he died, he was having a little walk in the garden:
Tom isn't well, he just didn't seem right over the last weekend (9th/10th of June), he gradually became tired and lethargic and he just wasn't my mad and active Tom... Came out of bed just to lie flat down on the floor, then he walked with his back arched high and he was unsteady on his feet and seemed to find it hard to balance. It looked like he had pain in his abdomen as well... I decided to clean ears and noticed that Tom had a lot of wax and runny stuff in his ear so I hoped that he had an ear infection that made him be wobbly on his feet. I used ear drops but still took him to the vets Wednesday 13th. He was so lethargic there, didn't show any interest in anything- and then he peed on my lap! Not much but it seemed he wasn't aware that he needed a pee... And then there was one drop coming out after another... Louise examined him and then said "I know you don't want to hear this but I can feel a lump in his abdomen..." Great! Anyway, she wanted to take a urine sample so they anaesthetised him and the lump was his full bladder. So they emptied his bladder and took an x-ray and brought him back to me in the waiting room. So I sat there with him slowly coming round and then Catherine, another vet, came to say that they found glucose in his urine so they wanted to do a blood test so she took Tom again and he was anaesthetised yet again but his blood glucose and everything was normal, only 2 counts (Globulin was one) were high suggesting that Tom has an infection. Catherine said that sometimes the urine test isn't accurate. Anyway, Louise thinks he has a kidney or bladder infection, he's being treated with antibiotics. I hope that's all it is, I couldn't bear to loose him... He has improved slightly, he's showing an interest in things again, he's dooking and running around a little bit but still a bit unsteady on his feet even though his ears seem like they've cleared up... I'll wait another few days and then take him in again to see what Louise thinks, surely if it's an infection, it should clear within a week?
Well, I kept thinking about the glucose that the vets found in Tom's urine and I thought I do a urine test myself to make sure Tom really doesnít have glucose in his urine so I had the Diastix box out and Thursday (21st) morning I caught him wanting to go for a pee so I stood there with a stick and dipped it in the urine (he peed on the floor) and it started turning a different colour, after 30 seconds (when you're supposed to do the reading) it was between 14 and 28 mmol/l... So I did a blood glucose test, cut his nail. I did one test straight after he ate which was 78 mg/dl and I then did one after a 4 hour fast and it was 103 mg/dl so a lovely blood glucose so how does the glucose get into his urine? I wrote to the FHL, I hope they can help me...
I don't know about Tom, I donít know whether he has a problem in his back or in his ears or head. He had an ear infection and Iím wondering whether an infection or ear mites could cause irreparable damage in the inner ear so he canít balance? Or itís in his head... Like a neurological problem, he seems like he canít co-ordinate his legs, like he canít control what the back legs are doing in relation to what his front legs are doing. He stumbles over everything, a lead from the vacuum cleaner, he just sort of stumbles over it, doesnít step or jump over it, if you push him from the side, he canít balance and stumbles again... Of course Pete cheered me up yesterday and came up with mad cow disease... Have you seen the pictures of the cows that had mad cow disease? This is sort of how Tom is but that would be devastating... I read the medical books and they did give CJD to ferrets in experiments so they can get it but there has never been a ferret diagnosed with it, you know, no documented cases of ferrets coming down with CJD. Of course the disease can lie dormant for years and then suddenly flare up, Iíve had Tom for 4 years so heís at least 5 years old and who knows what heís eaten before he came... But in the ferret medical books it says that this problem of not being able to control his movements (itís called ataxia and I had to look it up in a dictionary, honest, I will need to get a medical dictionary to understand all the vet texts...) can have many causes, cancers, pain, brain problems, Aleutian disease, heart disease. I guess weíll have to do more tests...
Tom is getting worse, we took him to the vets last Tuesday the 10th, Louise felt his spine and at one point Tom kept turning his head like it was painful or uncomfortable so Louise thinks that his problems stem from the spine. She hopes itís some sort of inflammation so has given Tom a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Rimadyl)... It hasnít helped at all and Tomís gone steadily downhill so I stopped the tablets today as they can have really bad side effects. Today Tom was crawling along more than he walked, he has problems with the front end and couldnít balance on his feet at all so he didnít walk on his front feet but on his front feet and the lower part of his legs if you know what I mean... He looks awful crawling like this but he does enjoy going out and he still dooks and he was in the lounge earlier and looked all around it so heís not bad enough to be put to sleep just yet but that could happen within the next 2 weeks... He canít go down stairs anymore... Heís my special ferret, I love him to bits, he and Jack are my special ones. I canít bear the thought of loosing Tom. And what with the wedding in less than 2 weeks I donít know how Iím going to cope if he needs to be put to sleep. By now I think itís probably cancer and it may be invading his spine and nerves or brain and destroying everything and thatís why Tom gets worse gradually or now I think it's a case of going downhill rapidly...
I've had Tom put to sleep Tuesday 17th. Since Monday afternoon he could not move, he could move his legs but not do anything with them. He slept on the bean bag and pooped and peed where he was sleeping. One night, maybe it was Sunday night, he had managed to move off the bean bag to go to the toilet but then stayed on the floor because he could not move back... So Tuesday morning I made the decision that it would be kinder to let him go... I cuddled him all the time, every few hours I'd take him and hold him in the potty so he could go to the toilet. He was still bright and alert and I thought it'll be so hard putting a ferret to sleep that is still all there...
We went out in the afternoon, fetching Spike who'd had a dental and also going shopping because I knew I wouldn't be up to shopping after putting Tom to sleep... So we got back home and I heard this scream, a really horrible scream that I'd never ever heard before... I went upstairs to the ferret room and wonder who would scream like this. I went to get Tom and it was him screaming... I took him out of bed and he screamed, I laid him onto a pillow in the lounge and when I wanted to stroke his head he screamed when he saw my hand approaching. I had my vet appointment for 6.10 pm and it was still early but I just packed my things and Pete drove me to the vets, I was carefully holding the pillow that Tom was on. Every time the car shook or we drove around bends- Tom screamed. It was the most horrible drive ever... It was 5.30 when Louise saw us, she got the gas and anaesthetised Tom and injected him with the lethal injection... I was glad when he was anaesthetised, so glad that the screaming stopped... I was crying bad, I was the one holding Tom and the gas mask and making sure he'd not move away and all the stress and everything just got to me. Loosing my most special ferret, the screaming, him struggling to get away from the gas...
I'd like to know what happened in the few hours that he was in bed, he went from alert and bright to a ferret that must have been in tremendous pain... And all he'd done was lie in bed.
Talked to Louise yesterday, she didn't find anything during the post mortem. We just quickly talked, I don't know whether she checked the spine for cancer but she definitely didn't look inside his head so maybe he had brain cancer or some degenerative brain disease... She did send a blood sample off to be tested for ADV, we might get the result today... I hate this, not knowing what happened, why he had this progressive weakness in his legs, why he screamed.
We also had him cremated yesterday, heís in a huge box because they didnít have one of the smaller ones...
We eventually got the blood test result back, I think on the 25th of July- Tom was ADV NEGATIVE.
[Update September 2007- I wish we had sent tissue samples off regardless of how normal the organs looked. Everything can look normal from the outside but still have something wrong with it which can only be seen during histology/ histopathology. It's still getting to me that I don't know what was wrong with Tom...]