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I’m sorry I take such long, random hiatuses everyone. With all the drama that goes on, I seem to need to take BinkyBunny and BunSpace in small doses. I’m still pretty fragile about things and I tend to end up ruminating about things I read…
With that said, I’m finally done writing up something I’ve been ruminating, worrying about, and nightmaring over for over a year now. This story has been written in about three parts, once about a month or so after her passing, a little bit last winter, and the last of it was written today.
I need to post this before I implode..
This is the entire, non-watered-down version of the events that lead up to Binkles’ death. As I’ve mentioned in a few of my other threads regarding the issue, this needs to be written down and publicized -not only because I feel the need to tie up loose ends for my baby, but also because it holds a few VERY important, but often over-looked lessons that I think everyone that owns a bun needs to learn from.
While I do wish that everyone that reads this would be able to read the whole thing, I realize that not everyone is always poised for a sob story. I usually avoid reading about traumatic bunny incidents myself. (Hence my hiatuses.) So I totally understand. If you do not wish to read the whole story, I’m announcing here that the morals of the story are posted in bulleted order by themselves at the bottom of the text. To read the actual story, highlight it with your mouse as it is in a white font.
Just scroll down, down, down..
Binkles had been showing the beginning signs of stasis for a few days and then, one morning, she suddenly, harshly fell into abrupt, full-blown stasis. Nothing in, nothing out. All haunched over. Eyes looking listless and half-lidded.
Now in case you’re thinking about turning back now because this is another stasis story, take your hand off that mouse. This actually has nothing to do with stasis.
After a few unsuccessfull doeses of Simethicone, I called my bunny-savvy vet. Now this vet is about an hour away, but I told her that I would be more than willing to drive the distance if it meant that Binkles could get better medical attention. After mulling it over for a few moments, she advised me that in this particular situation, she probably could not do much more than the local vet could do. (A thorough palpatation of the abdomen, a temperature check, SubQ fluids, and laxatone.) I agreed, and rushed her over to the normal vet that we usually take our cat and dog to.
Now before I go any further, I have to say that I had been to this clinic with Binkles before in two similar situations, and I had also been there with Little-Bit. There are three veteranarians there, and two of them, while not particularly bunny-savvy, had done very satisfactory jobs before -Little-Bit with her ear infection, and Binkles with another bout of moderate stasis.
The remaining vet had not yet seen either of the two.
When Binkles’ name was called, my mom and I walked into the crowded little room and waited nervously. I was insanely hot. The tech there was kind of amusing though, which made me feel a little less stressed -and apparently she had an old guinea pig -an OLD guinea pig. Like. Record-holding. That made me feel a little better too.
It took a while for the vet to come in. Apparently they had two other emergancies in the other rooms. One had had a seizure and the other was bitten by a copperhead. Lucky we were, of course, to find out that it was the third, remaining vet who was on duty. She rushed in, looking less-than-happy that she had to deal with this sick bunny in the midst of all the other chaos.
Everything after she walked in for both me AND my mom, is a big blurr. But through some carefull mind-searching and corroboration of stories with my mom, these are the things I DO know for a solid fact..
Throughout the proceedure, she was acting very harsh, irratated, very abrupt. I’m sure you all know how absolutely CRITICAL it is to act carefully and slowly with a bunny. Mood and vocal tone also play a huge role in making a bunny feel comfortable…or otherwise.
We set her down on the examination table. She palpated her abdomen for a moment and said, “Yeah, she’s a little bloated.” My mom seems to remember that she also mentioned that she was dehydrated -I, however, do not remember her checking for it at all.
I’m not sure if it was I who suggested the SubQ fluids or whether it was the vet -but I know I mentioned it to the tech earlier. Anyway, it was somehow established that they were to be given and the tech quickly exited the room to fetch the bag. As she was out, I began explaining to the vet that before when they had tried to administer SubQ fluids, Binkles wouldn’t sit still, and they had to Isofluorine her for a short period of time, and that I would like to have that done again so that there would be no risk of injury.
Then she just got angry and very haughty and entirely threw her professionalism out the door. She said, and I quote (with perhaps a few articles differing):
“Well, we don’t have time for that right now. If you want to do that, you’ll have to leave her here.”
By this time, the tech had already come back in and set the fluids on the table next to where the vet was holding BInkles, looking back between the vet and me confusedly. I was a little taken-aback.
“How long would that be?” I asked, partly not knowing what to say.
“Two or three hours,” she said sternly.
Binkles was already terrified -and not just terrified, mind you; BUNNY terrified. Dogs were barking. People were rushing around. She’d had a thermometer shoved up her butt, she had been subjected to untold ammounts of negative energy, quick movement, and harsh handling.
And let’s not forget that first and foremost, SHE IS CRITICALLY ILL.
And this woman is suggesting that I leave her there in all this chaos? WITHOUT me there?!
Even if she were not in stasis, I would NOT have felt comfortable in leaving her there with this vet acting the way she was. At all.
My mom asked if maybe we could take her and come back later.
A viable compromise, one would think. But even this, she had to think about for a minute -and I mean truly think about. Like, she actually stopped everything she was doing and had to think about it.
She had now become clearly THUROUGHLY disgusted.
“Well…yeah, I guess you could do that…..but…..make SURE you bring her back at 5:45. 5:45 and DON’T BE LATE. Because we LOCK the doors at six .”
It was clear that Binkles was no more than an inconvenience for her.
This is where it went to hell..
She let go of her hold of Binkles (which meant she was now LOOSE on the table) and I immediately scooped her up and rested her on my chest. But..
..at this point, she had become so spooked that the moment she touched me she was catapolting herself for my shoulder.
Flashbulb memory. It all happened in slow motion..
I tried to twirl around in the direction she was trying to jump while simultaneously trying to get a hold on her. I think I must have broken her fall several times as she hit the wall and slid down along it, but ultimately she wound up hitting the ground..
She plummitted six feet onto the hard floor.
A bit of background here.
She had only ever spooked like this once, when she was a baby, not used to being carried in the outside, and I was carrying her from the car to see a friend. That time, though, I was able to stop her..
And for the rest of her existance, I had always hand-carried her whenever she came with us anywhere.
For 4 1/2 years.
For a Floridian, that means countless hurricanes, moves, trips…she had never seen the inside of a crate. (CRATE, mind you. Not ‘cage.’ Whenever we took trips with her, she’d always have a ‘travel home’ for when we got to the hotel.)
I now know better -even before her fall I knew from reading various things on internet. She had gone to the vet that day in a crate for the first time.
But that was how comfortable she was being carried in my arms -and how comfortable I was with her being there.
I was terrified. I’d read about bunnies spooking and falling like that before, but…not to my Baby. Not to my baby. It was absolutely SURREAL. I was thunder-struck.
I quickly scooped her up and set her down on the towel that the vet and tech were now laying out on the table, hands cupped around her. She was alive. Alert. She hadn’t made a sound (that I could hear) when she hit the ground. There was no blood.
As I held her there and the tech helped wrap the towel over her to secure her, my mom and I just kind of waited a few short moments for the vet to do something. She may have run her hands over her quickly or something, but nothing more.
“You poor litle thing, you’re just bound and determined to hurt yourself today aren’t you?” came the unemotional response from the vet.
“…Could you…please check to see if she had any injuries in the fall?” my mom finally offered up, as stunned as I was that she wasn’t doing so volunarilly.
She quickly felt around her and maintained that she ‘didn’t feel anything’.
And then, almost immediately, she began to pick up the conversation we were having before.
As if nothing had happened.
“Can we get her to QUIET room?” I interrupted flatly. I had changed my tone sharply from my typical one that is optimistic and complient to being gravely serious and overtly disgusted. I had no intentions of hiding my frustration anymore.
“We can put her in the surgery room,” she replied, echoing something she’d said earlier when she was talking about ‘holding her there for two hours.’ She and the tech lifted Binkles back into the crate.
“…We can put this towel over her so she’ll feel like she’s in a burrow,” offered the tech, who was probably just as stunned as we were.
That is NOT what I meant.
My bunny had just fallen the human equivillant of 36 feet because of YOUR negligence and failure to see all animals in an equal light. The human equivalent of 36 feet, but with less than HALF THE HUMAN BONE DENSITY; Roughly the bone density of a bird. AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING MORE THAN JUST FEEL HER OVER-??? X-RAYS DON’T RING A BELL WITH YOU?
IN FACT, YOU’RE GOING TO LEAVE HER ALONE, UN-ATTENDED?
FOR TWO HOURS-????
“Um, I’d really be more comfortable bringing her back later,” I reitterated, this time with no intention of coming back.
“Okay, but you have to be back here at 5:45, because we LOCK the doors at six.”
I nodded without eye contact, wanting nothing more than just to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE, and picked up Binkles’ crate pacing out the door wordlessly.
After we were out I turned to my mom, tears beginning to flood my eyes, and said, “We’re going to Pensacola.”
I called my bunny vet in Pensacola as we were pulling out of the parking lot and told her with as little details as possible that the vets here just weren’t bunny savvy, and that we were on our way there. She asked me how long it would take to get there, and I told her that we were just leaving town, that it takes about an hour to get there, but with traffic in the summertime it can be longer -a LOT longer.
It was now around four, and she closes at five.
Without a second thought she said that she would stay at the clinic until we got there, and for me to call her when we were getting into town.
On the way there, we got a bit of a false lift. Her eyes had become bright again. She was no longer half-lidded. And she was even burrowing in her towels in the crate. We stopped off at a grocery store on the way and got her some water -she drank it thirstilly. It almost seemed like the fall had helped her..
It was only the adrenniline rush talking.
When we got to the bunny savvy vet’s office, she was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We told her about the tumble she took at the other vet’s office -but looking back, I don’t think we emphasized it enough, nor do I think she understand the enormity of it…nor did we, for that matter..
She thuroughly palpated her over, feeling for any obvious breaks. Then she put her on the floor to see her movement. At first, Binkles just kind of stood there like, ‘huh?’, so she gently nudged her around a little bit, forcing her to move.
Adrenniline still in her system, she moved normally. As normally as a bunny would who hates hard floor anyway.
So everything on that end seemed okay. It looked like we just needed to take care of the stasis now.
She administered SubQ fluids and force-fed her some Laxatone with no incident. She gave me instructions on pineapple and laxatone and told me that if there wasn’t any poop by the next morning, to rush in -she wouldn’t be there, but another vet would be, and she’d give him instructions. The next day was Saturday, and they were closing at noon. (Though I’m sure, once again, if there was an emergency they’d stay open later.)
We took her home and followed the vet’s (and some of the BinkyBunny forum members’) instructions. Now the addreniline was out of her system, and she was visibly ill again -though she wasn’t showing any signs of pain.
By the next morning, we had acheived POOP! The laxatone/ water forcefeed worked! What’s more, she was eating and drinking! Sparingly, but eating and drinking none the less!
The day went on without incident. I went out to the store later that night to buy more simethicone and syringes.
She was now showing some signs of pain from the fall, but we figured it was just bruising. She wasn’t in extreame pain -no teeth grinding or anything. But she would put her front legs in her water bowl and just -leave- them there. Like when you put ice on a wound.
At around 12:00am, we figured it was time for another dose of laxatone. I went upstairs to where she was quarantined in her cage and opened the door to bring her out. She instantly hopped into her litterbox and I backed off, hopefull that she needed to poop. With her being so listless and not wanting to move much, it didn’t even cross my mind that she might try to hop out of her cage onto the platform a foot below and then to the floor a foot below that.
A grave mistake.
She looked up at me for a few moments, turned on a heal, and hopped out of her cage as routinely as ever, dissapearing beneath my bed.
I lost all of the air in my lungs. I knew that she was injured in her upper chest/ shoulder/ arm area somewhere somehow, but maybe….maybe her hopping out was just a step on the road to recovery. Maybe she was ready to hop out. I climbed down on the ground just in time to see her quad-walking around the corner of my bed and retreating to a hiding spot.
When I saw her walking like a dog I knew it was bad.
I scooped her up from her retreat to take her downstairs. She didn’t resist. This time she made a little noise, a little grunty squeak that was obviously pain, and she began grinding her teeth.
We did not do anymore force-feeding that night. She was in far too much pain. My mom brought her litter box down to the couch and we watchd her there for a few hours. She drank a little, ate a little bit of hay, hopped around very sparsely. It broke my heart to watch her go to do that little twitchy thing they do before cleaning their faces, only to stop mid-motion and reluctantly put her arms back down, confused as to why she couldn’t complete the motion. She groomed with one arm that night.
I had held her in my lap multiple times during her stay on the couch, and of course each time she would inevitably want to hop away after a few minutes for the seclusion of her litterbox. And then took her and I adjusted her in my arms with a pillow so that I could rest her chin on my arm to take the weight of her upper body off of what ever was broken inside of her.
(Oh God…I had completely forgotten about that until I wrote that just now…)
For the rest of that night, she barely moved. I’d shown her how to alleviate the pain. We just sat there the rest of the night, her chin resting on my arm. If I ever tried to re-adjust her eyes would go wide and she’d push herself with her chin, grinding her teeth a little and making little noises in pain.
I was beginning to worry sick. I knew the situation was dire. Her eyes were so full of pain…but I honestly think that it would have done more harm than good to take her to the emergancy vet. I could barely move her without the pain being unbearable for her, much less being able to take her on a 20-minute long car ride…and with the experience with vets we’d just had earlier…
God, I wished it was not Saturday night…
I just held her there, talking to her and singing songs to her, trying to comfort her as much as I could. Eventually I knew I had to get to bed if I was going to be able to continue fighting for her. I was already at a severe lack of sleep and sustainance from the past few days. After a while I decided that I needed to get to bed. I put her back in her cage and my mom and I prayed for her recovery…with the pretense that…if God’s plans were different, that we accepted that. That she was his, after all..
After closing the hatch, I went back downstairs for a little while to regroup and try to calm myself down. When I returned to my room to go to bed she was next to her litterbox, leaning her chin on it as I had taught her.
Binkles had never been a bunny to lay her chin on anything. But I had taught her to do that to lessen the pain…it means so much to me that I was able to teach her that..
I reached my head in to kiss her goodnight, but my neck couldn’t stetch out long enough to be able to reach where she was resting. I leaned back out and placed a kiss on the tips of my fingers, and placed it on her forehead.
I turned out the lights and told her to get a good night’s sleep as I always did, and that I’d see her in the morning. I told her that if anything was wrong -anything at all- to let me know.
I awoke a few hours later, around 4:00 or so, and turned over. It took my eyes a moment to adjust, but in the dim twilight I saw her white belly over on its side. I lost my breath. I knew she was gone.
I hadn’t thought it would actually happen, but it had…she was gone.
She died with her chin resting on her water bowl.
I’ve learned so much with Binkles’ passing. A lot of it in the compulsive neuroticism of trying to cope and dealing with PTSD, but a lot of it in the event itself.
The morals of this story:
Hugs to you Sarah
I am so sorry about Binkles, I know it is hard but finally telling about it fully I think always helpseven though it is and is always going to be hard. Very touching story, and many hugs to you! (((((((((hugs)))))))))
So sorry about your loss of Binkles. You show great strength in posting this and hopefully it will help others in emergency situations. Bunnies are not built to handle a whole lot and they take so much more care and attention than other pets.
…I am so sorry about Binkles…I’m sure this story will help out other bunny owners in emergencies.
OH, so sorry. It sounds like such a very traumatic emotional rollercoaster and I am sorry you went through that.
I echo what others have said about this story helping others, but I hope you don’t punish yourself inside. It sounded like you did a wonderful job in trying to get the right care for her. You spoke your concerns directly to the first vet, and then took her to another vet. You were doing the very best anyone could have asked for under your circumstances. Even people who handle bunnies at a rescues, who hold on tightly and rarely get “comfortable” because they are always handling new bunnies, lose their grip. The shape of rabbit’s body and how they can wiggle free is almost like trying to hold tightly on to bar of soap at times. I think the tips you gave were outstanding reminders for others to learn and benefit from, but I also hope that you don’t feel guilty and I hope you know that Binkles was lucky to have you and you gave her a wonderful life.
Binky Free Binkles, and Sarah -Binky free YOUR spirit.
I have waited a long time for this story, and I will print it out and take it to read in the privacy of my bedroom, where I can cuddle my bunnies and cry, because I know it’s going to make me do that…but I am so glad you have posted it at last, Sarah.
I am my bunnies send you our love. Bless you, Dear One. ((((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))))))
(I also added another ‘moral’ that I forgot to include.)
Thank you guys. I’ve always had peace about her passing because I knew I had done the best I could. I don’t blame myself at all for what happened. There are some “If only..”s that pop into my mind every once in a while, but I know that it was ultimately out of my hands.
However it has been a huge relief to get this off my shoulders and I feel more at peace about it now, because while I didn’t feel guilty about her death itself I did always have this twang of guilt inside of me that told me I needed to tie up the loose ends -for her sake. I haven’t been meaning to put it off, but…it seems every time I tried to plan to do it I wound up shying away from it because I didn’t want to address the pain again, even though I knew it would make me feel better long term. Last night was a complete surprise; I was sitting on my computer drawing and stuff and then all of a sudden I was just chipping away at it.
I’m really glad I did.
Part of tying up those loose ends was writing up as full and accurate an account of it as mine and my mom’s memory would allow, and the other part of it is going to be inserting a less-abrasive and more concise version of it in a letter to the head vet of the practice. That comes next. I already have the letter written out and my mom (who is a technical editor) is editing it for professionalism and clarity.
It will go in the mail next week, and I think…I think that will be the final step in putting her to rest. I don’t think I’ll feel like I have a brick in my stomach anymore.
(PS., Lol! Bunny soap bars…perfect. And Little-Bit all the more, her coat is so silky and slippery. I often liken trying to grab her to those little plastic cylindrical toys that have water in them that keep squeezing out of your hands when you go to grab them!)
So sorry about the loss of your Binkles. Talking about it to someone who understands always helps. ****Bunny Hugs*****
Such a sad story.. but a good one to remember. Thankfully, my vet is super rabbit savvy, and so is the e-vet after hours.
That story made me cry
I feel lots better guys, thanks.
Well…I finally brought myself to send off the letter to the vet yesterday morning…..gosh. I can’t believe it’s……over. I’ve done it.
I am so sorry for your loss. I appreciate you sharing your story/experience and believe this is some extremely helpful info. Did your bunny vet perform a necropsy to identify the cause of death? I know how difficult a decision a necropsy can be, when my little Cocoa Puff passed, I agreed to one mostly to put my own mind at ease, but I know that the thought of having your precious bunny cut up is often more traumatic than the death itself. I ask that b/c as a medical professional I believe that you really should file a complaint w/ your state’s board for vets. Many people don’t take this step b/c they don’t want to “get someone in trouble” or “risk them losing their livelihood.” However, this was your experience and it should be investigated by the professional board of cohorts to determine if consequences need to be given. One complaint does not/ will not affect someone licensure. Further evaluation may determine that there are multiple complaints or concerns about this vet. In the very least your complaint will be investigated…and it sounds like you want this to never happen again. Please consider taking this additional step to protect other’s in Binkles’s name.
Thank you for sharing,
I did not have a necropsy done for a few reasons. In the first place it would have indeed probably have made the ordeal even more traumatic for me. In the second place she died early on a Sunday morning, and I didn’t have access to a freezer. (There’s no way I could have put her body in my home freezer even for a day without breaking down every time I opened it from then on.) In the third place, and most importantly, while I’m not exactly sure what she died from, the margin of possibilities was relatively small: I know that she died of pain from an injury sustained in the fall and that the injury was somewhere in the area from the right shoulder blade or possibly clavicle down to the paw. I really believe it was probably the shoulder blade area or the elbow because she couldn’t barely put any weight on the limb but she also couldn’t lift up her arm to groom her face with it. She would do the little clicky-twitchy arm motion they do just before a groom and then stop all confused like she couldn’t finish the motion. There was never any blood or mucous or anything -she was completely clean. I can’t be certain whether or not the injury caused internal bleeding, but I’m pretty certain that if there was major internal bleeding in that particular area it would usually manifest itself out the throat/ lungs right?
Now, if it had been something more abstract like an undiagnosed illness or something that left me with question as to her death , I MAY have opted to have a necropsy done. But since I have a pretty good idea of what happened I didn’t consider it necessary.
As for your recommendation about further pursuing this to prevent something like it from happening again…
I finally sent my letter about it off to the head vet of the practice three days ago, so they should either be receiving the letter today or have already yesterday. I didn’t change it a lot from what I have posted here, just inserted some formalities and polished things up for professionalism, so it’s pretty descriptive. I don’t know what if anything they will do about it, but at least I’ve sent it and can no longer feel guilty about not informing the head vet about it.
I hadn’t actually considered taking it to a higher level. Do you think that sending the letter off to the board of vets as well would be beneficial?
I just want to add my two cents here, Sarah, although I am sure you have no interest in returning to this vet or anyone associated with her.
I would agree and disagree with further action for the following reasons; one-yes it would be beneficial to other pet owners to know if this vet is negligent, (it seems kind of doubtful that she was just ‘having a bad day’ and you may find others who have had similar experience join with you) but two-would that then cause this vet or her current patrons to ‘warn’ other vets about you and your pet(s) in retaliation? I don’t think good people should have to worry about this sort of thing, but in this world today we are faced with people who do bad or wrong things getting away with it and causing the victims untold future harm. I would hate to see you or Little Bit have difficulty in the veterinary world out of someone’s misplaced spitefulness.
I think it was good that you sent the letter to the practice though. You needed to do that. I am proud of you. I know I feel rather uncomfortable returning to my old vet for anything, even Mimzy’s xrays recently, because I worry that she harbors poor feelings about me for going to another vet. But hey, this is a free country and we should be able to do such things without it affecting professionalism.
People are people though. Who knows what goes on in this person’s head? She could become defensive, antagonistic, or maybe it will wake her up. What I’m trying to say is, tread carefully, but do what you think is right. Not enough of us do.
I have to add that, because of Binkles’ story, I am ten hundred times more careful about how I capture, hold or move my bunnies. So I want to thank you for that. I look like a nervous Nellie, even at my good vet, but I hover like crazy over them to be sure they stay safe. Even they probably think I am nuts. It is also a story I share with folks who are new to bunny slavery. And if that saves even one bunny in the future, as you have said before, then it is one more bell ringing for your angel bunny. Although I am positive she has her wings already.
So thank you again for taking this very personal journey and making it public. That takes grit.
Thank you, Mimz. That means a lot. You made me tear up a little…I’m glad that Binkles’ story can be used as a lesson for the better of everyone.
To be honest, I’m not worried at all about having ill word spread about me to other vets. I only have one vet that I go to for my bunnies’ needs and she already knows about what happened. Even so, being as insightful as they usually are, I would think that other exotics vets who may catch wind of the incident wouldn’t automatically except her raw version of the story -she’s not a very big name in medicine, and I doubt her word regarding exotic animals would hold very much credit among exotics vets.
Basically, I don’t think she’s a big enough name for anyone but her close friends to take seriously. She’s had her license since 1983 and she’s basically unknown even after this long, while the head vet of the practice she works at has her name EVERYWHERE rescuing animals and volunteering and stuff. You’d think her name would get caught up in the glam somewhere along the lines, but no. She’s pretty peripheral.
That and the fact that I’ll be moving to a different part of Florida in a little under a year.
As a professional in a field of high ethics and licensing criteria, I find that people seldom take their complaints to their state board. I come across some seriously crappy “professionals” that I seriously question their professionalism. My thought is that if more people forward their complaints on to the correct channels. In the very least she would be checked out by her licensing board. They may determine that she requires additional training in small mammal handling. I think it’s important for professionals to know that they are being watched & monitored; that’s what’s expected in the field. This is the level that change can occur.
I don’t think it will cause you any additional problems w/ other vets. If you file a complaint to the licensing board that info is kept confidential from other vets. The majority of vets are good people that do quality work and they will continue to do excellent work. Their lives will not be affected by you filing a complaint. I hope that made sense I’m a bit fuzzy. If you decide to file a complaint check out either the AVMA website or FL’s state licensing board for vets. You can find it by searching through Fl’s government website.
Best Wishes to you. I understand your feelings about the Necropsy. It was a very difficult decision for me to make w/ my Cocoa. So I completely understand the trauma associated w/ such a decision.