Mice/Did I hurt my mouse trying to help her?
I've written to you numerous times about my mouse, Luna. She had chronic scratching and had skinned about a quarter of the skin off her back last time I wrote. I am writing because I thought I'd let you know that I lost my baby girl on March 18th. I am utterly gutted. I had only lost Moo to cancer a month before and then this.
She was going through chronic scratching last time I wrote. Her right front paw/leg got hurt somehow, her elbow swelled up and she would not use her hand the normal way. Then she suffered what seems like a spinal cord injury, my vet suspected a fall. Of course, I'm worried I hurt her during medicating. But my vet says I would have known, and I only heard her squeak once, and it was like a SQUEAK. She nipped me once. She was hard to med.
She wound up unable to walk, and with treatment, and her own fighting like mad, and my supporting her and helping her, she gradually began taking a few steps at a time. She tired easily, but didn't give up, and got to where she sort of shuffled along. Her poo started to show a tiny bit of blood from time to time, so off we went to the vet.
At the vet, we found that she was unable to pee, and the vet showed me how to express her bladder - but she did bite me once, and it was hard to do, and she squeaked a little (not loud) a few times. Then I found her one day, I don't know if she crawled behind the igloo and got stuck, or somehow got herself up on top of it (it was the big size, like for a rat), but I can't see how she would have. Her sisters had all they could do to get on it. But she felt cool. After a snuggle-in-fleece nap, she seemed normal temp. She was a tiny bit cool sometimes after that.
And one night, after work, she'd been sleeping and I didn't have the heart to wake her up - so I sat next to her tank on my phone looking for info to be sure I was doing it right, in the right place, with the right pressure, because I was so scared I was hurting her. She was in her tent. And the next time I looked over, she had crawled out and was gone - just gone. She was just as warm as she normally was.
I have been unable to deal with it all. I love all my girls so much, but she was bonded to me in a very intense and different way. Even now, it's all I can do not to fall apart writing about it. When I say unable to deal with it, I have a hard time with anything and everything related to her. Even going in and caring for her sisters leaves me sitting on the floor bawling. I should have been holding her, and she was alone instead of being snuggled up close to me when she went. On top of losing her, this, along with feeling like I may have hurt her, has left me devastated.
At the visit where we found she couldn't pee - my vet was stunned to see that, while she was on vacation and we saw a different vet at the practice, that vet had prescribed meloxicam when Luna was still on prednisone. She was immediately taken off meloxicam, we began to taper down the pred, and she was given sucralfate to help - as her poo was concerning. (I had expressed concern over the colour of her poo, but that other vet didn't think it was a problem.)
I started researching, based on her regular vet's reaction, and found that both should NOT be prescribed together, as each has the side effect of possible gastric bleeding. I spoke to totally unrelated vet - and he suggested that she may have passed due to perforation and following sepsis. There is no way to prove it, he said it is entirely possible the mix of meds may have been the factor that caused me to lose her - and yet I still worry myself sick that I made it worse with expressing her bladder.
I intend to write to the vet, as I feel this is negligence either way - putting her on it while she knew she was on pred and not discussing the seriousness of the possible side effects, or by not realizing she was on pred and then putting her on the meloxicam anyway - either to me is completely negligent. But I have not been able to sit down and write this letter yet, emotionally.
Do you have any knowledge or experience with any of this? Do you think I may have accidentally cost her her life by expressing her bladder too hard or in the wrong place, or not knowledgeable enough, or who knows what? Although I have a lifetime of experience with animals of many types, and many health conditions - a mouse with these issues, this is all new to me. Could I have ruptured her intestines or her bladder? I am just unable to get past this worry, that I caused it. That I should have let her go long before. That I caused her pain. If you have any input or experience with anything like this, please give me your input?
I don't know if you believe in psychics, or animal communicators, but there is one that is highly reputable and I am considering consulting her. I need Luna to know that I would rather lay down my own life than hurt or take the life of an animal - especially my own. I need to know if I messed up. I need to ask her to forgive me. I carry a tiny bit of her with me, in a beautiful purple heart with wings that I wear around my neck, her name is beautifully inscribed on the back.
And now I need to close this, as I'm a mess again. I'm sorry if this is too long, or intense, but I wanted to give you enough info to see if you had any experience or input. I will always be grateful to all the help you gave me with Luna - and if or when I ever need help with my other girls, you'll be hearing from me again.
I've heard many times that the best way to honor a lost pet is to adopt another in their honor - so I've adopted a little girl who was in foster care, and her sister had passed away a month before and she was alone. Her name is Zoe. I hope that Luna doesn't think that I am trying to replace her. There will never be another mouse like Luna for me. Ever.
I am going to tell you a story.
Once upon a time I had a mouse named Ultra. She was named Ultra because she had beautiful, ultra-fluffy white fur. She was stunning.
One day she began to lose her fur. I did not have any idea what to do. I didn't know about mites, or any other reason. Her fur came out in tufts, and I still have a tuft in a tiny box. She pretty much lost all of her beautiful, ultra-fluffy fur.
I searched the Internet, and I found this site. I wrote in and the person who wrote back told me it might be mites, and that some people use oil of primrose for it. So I went to find oil of primrose. I found primrose oil, and I figured it was the same thing.
So I put the primrose oil on her. All over her little naked body. And after a little while she started to jump and squeak. So I did what I should have done before I slathered it on her-- tested it on the inside of my lip. It hurt like heck.
I held her for hours and hours, apologizing. Poor little girl. I felt terrible. But she felt worse.
Next, I spoke to my breeder. He recommended the 8 in 1 rodent flea and tick spray that I tell people to use if they have no access to Revolution. So I went to the pet store and looked for it. They were out, but the pet store attendant told me to use Listerine.
So I went home and covered her little naked body with Listerine. Soon, she was in agony. I held her and held her and apologized and apologized. How could I have made the same mistake twice? That stuff stings, and she had delicate little mouse skin, already damaged by the primrose oil.
I managed to procure the flea and tick spray. I tested it on my inner lip. It was fine. I used it- to no effect. I tried it again, remembering to shake it first. I did not test it on my lip this time.
Within a few hours... you guessed it. Most mice can tolerate this .06 pyrethrins rodent formula. Those with sensitive skin should instead have the .03 bird formula. It wasn't just her, though. One other completely furry and healthy mouse I had, had the same reaction. Luckily I had not treated them at the same time. I remember well how long this agony lasted. 6 hours per mouse. Every touch of their skin hurt, so they kept jumping and jumping. All I could do was hold them completely motionlessly and apologize. Of course if the healthy mouse had been in pain first I would not have done it to Ultra.
Meanwhile, Ultra had another problem. She had developed a huge lump under one eye, which made her eye bulge out enough that she ended up scratching her eye out. I assumed it was a tumor. She was quite a sight to see... and I kept her in my hands almost every moment that I was awake. We had a special bond, where only I knew that I had caused all of the pain that she went through. She trusted me.
I mentioned the problem to my breeder, who told me it might be an abscess. I gave her the tetracycline that I recommend to people who can't get to the vet and/or can't afford the medicine or need it fast. The lump vanished almost overnight. But she had lost her eye. If only I had tried the tetracycline before.
After all of this had happened, and I had cleaned the cage and treated her cage mates, her fur started to grow in very faintly. She still had two small lumps though. I should have realized they couldn't be abscesses, since she had just had the antibiotics. But I was too deep in the fog of trying to do anything, everything, to make her better.
My breeder had once come over when one of my mice had a sudden huge lump on her cheek, and had taught me what an abscess was. He had taken a thumb tack, punctured it, and expressed it. The mouse was fine.
So I decided to fix her last problem: The two "abscesses" that I had found. I held her and, as she was licking and licking me, I tried to puncture her skin with the thumb tack.
She was still licking me until the moment she died.
That is why I joined all experts-- after much research-- to help other people not to make these horrible mistakes.
I think you know why I have told you this story. You are ready to tell me not to feel guilty; that everything was an honest mistake. That I had wanted the best for the mouse and things had gone horribly wrong because I did not have some information, and did not think certain things through. That it wasn't my fault.
Which is what you should say to yourself-- but first, say, holy cow at least I didn't find 5 ways to torture my mouse first!
You had a mouse with horrible, horrible luck. You tried and tried and tried. You asked me. You went to the vet several times. You had decisions to make where neither way was easy. You loved her. You did absolutely everything possible to help her out.
In the end, it didn't work out. Maybe she had just suffered enough, and, as people say, she just wanted to go over the Rainbow Bridge and leave the pain behind.
But you didn't do anything wrong. If you judge yourself harshly-- you have to judge me ten times as harshly. At least most of what you did did not damage her; and we will never know if something that happened was due to an action of yours. But even if it did-- you are not to blame. I do not know. This is what you actually asked me-- my answer is, anything can go wrong. Mice are almost the most delicate creatures there are.
Both Ultra and Luna are looking down at us-- if you like to think of it this way-- and they only feel love. They don't blame us for a second. They are eternally grateful that we tried. Maybe they are hanging out together....
Are you on Facebook? I have a friend who runs a "secret" group on Facebook for people who do or want to communicate with and talk about their deceased human and animal loved ones. Secret meaning no one else can see what you write.
I also run a group about mice and rats called, unfortunately, Rats Are Awesome. Poor mice- didn't make it into the title. Longish story. Please join and tell me who you are. The advantage of joining is that not only is the other expert in the group, Tamarah, so are some very experienced mouse breeders. Also, much rat health is similar to mouse health, and I have a bunch of really, really good rat lay-experts. And you may well get faster answers, since I am not the only person who can help.
And there is also a group for people who have lost a pet and want to share, which has scheduled live chats.
Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
You are a terrific and loving mouse mommy. And your new girl is so lucky to have found you.