Thought I'd post an update thread about Mable and her ongoing health issues.
Mable at her present age of 20 months:
History: Mable had a left eye bleed and later rupture at just over a year of age, had a mammary tumor removed at almost age 14 months, and was spayed (to eliminate diseased uterus and ovary) at just under 18 months. Pathology on the tissues showed cancer with significant potential for metastasis. She had been showing high urine glucose on and off throughout her life with me, but because the diabetic condition was intermittent she couldn't be treated.
Where we are now: let's start with the right eye. You can see in this picture that it looks fine.
But one day a few weeks ago I caught sight of a change:
The dark rim and later overall darkening said to me that she had had a second internal bleed. Are all her eye troubles stemming from the diabetes? Could be. Is she blind now? I'm not sure. Dr. Applegate hasn't seen her himself since this happened, but we discussed the idea over the phone and he said that thanks to the nose and whiskers she could be able to navigate as well as a sighted hamster and fool us all into thinking that she's sighted.
On to diabetes: for the two months following her spay she consistently showed 250+ mg/dL glucose in her urine, and I was all ready to discuss opening that bottle of glipizide with Dr. A. And then. . . no glucose, and again, and again. Bottom line: there's no good way to manage this. It literally does come and go.
I have read that hams with diabetes have nails that grow fast/thick. Fast/thick is certainly true for Mable. Every few weeks she has to go to the vet for a trim. She's too feisty for me to do it myself.
Finally tumors: I don't see anything new externally on her; however, what concerns me is that of late she weighs a consistent 45-46 grams, yet she looks trim, with no fat around the neck/shoulders. She's never been anything but 37-41 grams her entire life. She doesn't show signs of bloating, either.
Behavior: after the spay she went right back to being crazy Mable.
Lately, though, I see her slowing down, sleeping more, and doing that aging ham thing where she sleeps in random open places in her cage rather than burrowing into a nest.
(that's her to the right of the toilet paper tube)
I can't be sure if it's age, something growing within, being blind, all of the above? Personality-wise, she's her feisty self but not inordinately grumpy/bitey, which is good. Appetite is ok. All other systems are fine. She's silvered quite a bit on her lower back, and that's expected for a dove hamster, but she is still as beautiful of a girl as when she came to me with two huge healthy glowing eyes 15 months ago.
Dr. Applegate and I just laughed. . . . there we were, together again in the examining room that I'd been in only three weeks before with Mable, except this time I had Jill with me. I had found a pink swelling in her vaginal area last night and didn't want it to get to the point where she was unable to urinate. The physical exam yielded a couple hypotheses: tumor, cyst, abscess. I signed the paper to permit anesthesia and off she went to be studied.
In about fifteen minutes Dr. A came back into the room with that "I have a story for you!" look on his face. He boosted himself up onto the sink counter and said, "I found three things. The swelling is an abscess. I lanced it and drained it. But I also found two other things. . . "
(Can you guess?)
We both burst out laughing. Apparently "she" has SO much chub that they're not evident from the outside. I had always thought that the two openings seemed far apart for a female, but since "she" is so large and long I figured that everything was stretched out. He said that he tried to draw the testicles out into the usual position, but they wouldn't stay there. I think he felt a little sheepish because he had examined her once before and hadn't figured this out then.
The abscess is what is known as a preputial abscess. It surrounds the opening of the prepuce, the sheath for the penis.
Treatment: antibiotic (Baytril to start, and if that doesn't work we'll switch to something else; a culture would tell what organism was responsible, but it cost a fortune, so I passed on it); also Metacam for inflammation.
Could be that this is the result of "her" being so low to the ground and loving to run in a pee-filled wheel, and then not able to easily reach the penile region to groom. (Note: I clean the wheel twice a day and it's not enough. )
So with that story told, it's time to meet Gilberto!
Post-anesthesia, with opthalmic lubricant on his face; looking a little sad. . .
Wednesday, nomming on scrambled egg and kale:
Silly Jilly has officially become Silly Gilly!
It is going to take a while for me to adjust my speech!
I'm sorry for your loss. Unless the seed was treated with something I don't see where it would have been a toxin. How many seeds were eaten by the hamsters? What other possible causes of death might there have been? Other foods? Illness? What happened in the 48 hours between ingestion and death? How did they behave?
When I brought Mable in for the consultation about her vaginal bleeding the vet and I talked about the estimate for the second surgery. He asked me if I wanted histology done on the tissues and I said, "Well, when we discussed the mammary tumor you said, 'Will it (knowing whether the tumor was benign or malignant) affect the treatment plan? No.' and so I decided that it wasn't worth the money. The same goes here. I know you were really curious about what that mammary tumor was, and so was I, but I just didn't want to spend the money." He then said, "I still have it!" I laughed out loud! He said, "Well, I thought maybe your curiosity would get the better of you and you'd change your mind or something." I laughed some more.
Fast forward to the incision check visit. He told me about how he had presented Mable's case at the practice's weekly meeting. He said he spayed a hamster and his colleagues said, "You spayed WHAT?" Something that we talked about led me to remark about him still having the mammary tissue. He then smiled and said, "Not anymore. . ." I immediately "got" what he was trying to say--that he had sent the tissues out for histology. "I found a way. . ." he said. I suspect that he was able to justify the expense to his superiors because it was a novel case. Anyway, he said he'd let me know what the results were.
Results: Mammary mass (first surgery): an adenocarcinoma. Pathologist can't be sure that excision was complete. Malignant.
Ovary (second surgery): malignant round cell tumor, with significant potential for metastasis. Pathologist doesn't think it's a metastasis of the mammary one, but Dr. Applegate questions that.
Uterus: pathologist didn't comment. Dr. A thinks that the blood was secondary to hypersecretion of hormone by the ovary. He will try to get more info.
This leaves us with lots of questions. Will there be metastases to other regions of her body? Will her lungs fill with tumors and there be an icky end to her life? He hopes that these are slow-to-metastasize tumors, as found in rabbits.
Of course, there's also the issue of whether the eye problem is related--is it a metastatic process as well?
Well, folks, it couldn't be much worse, but it is what it is. I will continue to monitor her for issues and cherish what time she will have with me.
My vet had never done a hamster spay, but he'd done plenty of others. He is always very honest with me about his expertise. He had confidence that he could handle it, and I had confidence in him. He actually proposed it, but I would have asked him about it had he not done that.
In neither surgery did she mess with her incision. We talked about that today (she went in for an incision check) and he thinks it's due to two things: (1) proper pain management, and (2) creating minimal trauma to tissues and organs by using the right size tools in the right way, such that there was minimal inflammation and pain in the first place. She uses her teeth readily to express herself, so I am just so amazed and pleased that she didn't interfere with the healing.
She's a happy girl now, because she has her wheel again!
Jilly is still her silly chubby self. If I had time she WOULD play for hours. She is very good-natured, not at all a Cannibal.
Mable. . . . Mable was spayed last Thursday. I could not watch her go the way of Jayde, Mallory, and Ethel after finding out that she had a mass in her uterus. She just has too much life left in her. The surgery was a success and she's pretty close to her normal self. Glad I have a good vet who isn't afraid of tiny reproductive organs.
Sorry for not posting sooner. Crazy busy with the start of classes looming.
Jillian (aka Silly Jilly): can't seem to make her lose weight! Took her to the vet for a physical, thinking maybe she was full of tumors or something. She is well, though her fat is accumulated in globules and that makes me think that it will be hard for her to lose. I am learning what will make her bitey. Being extracted from a nice warm nest is one thing. She is just so cute and funny, though.
Mable: she was doing fine, with no glucose in her urine (!). But last night I found blood at the vaginal opening. Must follow up on that.
And exactly who would be attracted to a hamster with that name and description? ME!
It took a while to arrange the trip thanks to the hurricane and being too sick to even handle Mable, but I made the 1.5 hour drive today. That it was sunny was a big plus--it helped to keep the car warm despite the chill.
She had been described to me in an email as "a challenge," but I was prepared with a toilet paper roll in my purse, and I was able to get her out of the cage and into my hands. A little nibbling, but nothing like I expected. Overall, she looked healthy (if extremely pudgy), and so she came home with me. (Well, she would have come home with me regardless--given how she was described and her weight, would anyone have adopted her? This was like Frasier and Ethel all over again.)
She has already set a record, though. . . . Frasier and Ethel were 82 and 65 grams, respectively, with their congenital fluid pouches that added 5-10 grams. My little Jill is a whopping 87 grams! Her cage was wheel-less, and she had been in-house for 2.5 months. . . . well, now she has a brand-new Silent Spinner, and hopefully the chub will just melt away.
Pix from her homecoming:
"Wow, this Carefresh stuff is cool!"
"I'm not fat, I'm curvy!"
"Me has my own seatbelt!"
She reminds me so much of Mallory, who was also an agouti RC and came to me as a chubster as well (didn't have a scale back then, but if memory serves me Jill has her beat). I think she's going to be a sweetheart once she settles in, loses half of her current self, and regains her agility.