August 27, 2005

The off-White Rabbit, off his feed

The off-White Rabbit, known at the vet as Bunny Boy, staged a hunger strike earlier this week. My much loved and catered-to Boo-Bear, as he's called chez alice, decided he was off pellets, off timothy hay, and off broccoli. This constitutes close to 80 percent of his diet. (The rest is carrots and apples.)

Miss a day, and the off-White Rabbit doesn't pale; he rapidly succumbs to lethargy. At 7:10 pm, I called the vet, and expressed my concern. Could I have him there by 7:30? Twenty minutes? Boo-Bear was so weakened he didn't try to hop out of his carrier.

Back to the church of the big yellow taxi and step on it. The vet could see him that soon. Yes, 7:30 at night. The vet is also available on weekends.

Don't try that with your own personal doctor. He or she is long gone for the day, if not the week (it is August, after all). I wish I could get medical care for me as quickly as I can for the off-White Rabbit.

Those days are history. If I want to see someone who has an M.D. on his or her nameplate and my doctor has departed for parts unknown, it's time to hit the ER. And all an M.D. tag means is, its wearer has graduated from med school. Could be years ago, could be last week.

Unless you are profusely bleeding from a stab or gunshot wound, or you say the magic words ("chest pains"), take a number, take your seat, and take whatever pain pills you're holding.

Now Boo-Bear has nearly as many prescriptions as his caretaker, alice, uptown. Problem is, he must be syringe-fed. (He will drink Pedialyte from a water bottle, fortunately.) Bunny's sole interest in a syringe in his mouth is to chew it. What to do?

Wrap him like a burrito, the vet tech said. Translation? I asked, not recognizing the Mexican food analogy. She demonstrated. Then carry him in a football hold. Once more, translation needed. I don't think I've ever picked up, much less carried a pigskin. My friends supervise me very carefully when picking up a baby is involved. I have never dropped one, but let's just say, my decision not to have one was wise.

The only way to get the syringe to the off-White Rabbit's mouth is to wrap him tightly in a towel, and winch his mouth open, and hope he doesn't splatter medicine all over his angora fur.

Don't ask how much herbivore critical care mix -- once reconstituted in a bowl, and pushed into a syringe -- will end up on your hands, the towel, the rug, and the off-White Rabbit's fur. Think Linda Blair in The Exorcist . Think pea soup. It isn't pretty. I felt like I was force-feeding a suffragist.

It may come down to that again. His appetite is lagging once more, and if he doesn't eat enough tonight, it's back to herbivore mix. It's his only chance. Boo-Bear has reached what were once called "the golden years." I want him to make it to platinum.


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