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Isabella's Page

Last Updated: 9/8/06

Isabella on 4/21/03.

Photos
Story


Photos

Picture of Isabella, May 3, 1997. This was the day I got her.
Picture of Izzy and her hutch, 4/12/98.
Picture of Izzy on 4/21/03 (same as above).

Here are two more photos of Izzy taken 10/31/04 showing her disability.:
Front view of Izzy showing her splayed legs pretty well, 10/31/04.
Top view of Izzy but does not really show her legs, 10/31/04.

Here are some photos that I took on 10/3/05 to show how Izzy looks now.
Right side - shows her legs in the wrong place, eye reflection due to flash
Right side - closer up, eye reflected
Left side
Empty Izzy bed
Izzy bed with her in it

I took a photo of Izzy's papilloma on 12/3/05. I had just given her her butt bath so that is as clean as it gets down there! Her tail is at the top.

Sweetie and Isabella in their cages on 7/10/06. Sweetie was only in the same yellow-bottomed cage temporarily. Izzy is seen in the green-bottomed cage


Story

After my guinea pigs died (they had spent summers in Loppy's old room), I decided to get another rabbit. Izzy is a purebred red (they called her something like honey but it says fawn on her pedigree papers) English angora doe. She was born on 2/14/97. I bought her at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on 5/3/97. She became grumpy with puberty. Although she had a few trysts with Loppy, he must have been infertile (age and illness) since she never became pregnant. Spayed January, 1998 right after Loppy died, she still is grumpy (still on 1/7/99 she acts like she is intact)! I had her spayed to prevent her from getting uterine or ovarian cancer and to lessen her chances of breast cancer. I did not want her to go through what Ricky went through. Izzy tore out her glue stitches one week after the surgery. The vet put in thread stitches which she took out before I got home from work. The opening was allowed to heal on its own over about three weeks. Izzy made me chase her around and around in the old dog pen after her romps for twenty minutes at least. I ended up getting more exercise than her! She lived in the room previously lived in by Ricky and then Loppy while Loppy lived in the room previously lived in by Ellie, himself, and the guinea pigs.

Izzy began eating less in November of 1999 so I took her to the vet on 11/14/99. An x-ray revealed that she did not have anything noticeable and just had lots of stuff in her stomach which may mean excess hair or just too much food. The vet said to force feed her pineapple juice twice a day until she eats well. Apparently, sometimes papaya tablets alone do not prevent this sort of problem.

On 5/7/00, while grooming Izzy, I found that the knot of her right hind foot had tangled up around her leg and cut into it. Her knots on her feet are to the skin and so thick that scissors will not cut through. While she lets me groom her back, she kicks like crazy when I turn her over to work underneath or on her legs. Without the proper grooming tools (to shave her) and no one to help me, there was no way I could keep her knot-free. We have been looking for a groomer but they all say that it is too dangerous (for her because she will get cut or for them because she will leave foot long nail wounds in their legs like she did to me?). I applied Panolog for about a week to her wound. She was lucky that she did not lose her leg.

Since I added so much information on Jimmy later in 2000, I thought it nice to add here that while Jimmy is a gastronomic mess, Izzy was thriving. She loved her hay!

On 7/17/04, I noticed that Izzy would try to walk using her front legs but just paddle and go no where. I felt her legs and felt her left leg was set in about 20 degrees. She had a small sore there too. We got a vet appointment for her on 7/19/04. The vet thought it was arthritis. She is getting old at 7.5 years. There might be a neurological component but there is no way to know or treat it. Her legs have bent over the years due to being raised on wire for the first two months and the arthritis. As they bent, the vet says they adjusted and formed new bone so they are now crooked. The only way to fix them would be to break and reset them. With the pasteurella in her body, she would almost assuredly die from infection so surgery is out of the question (expensive, stupid, lethal). He found out about this new non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drug used in dogs that is supposed to work for rabbits and put her on it. She gets 0.2 mL of Metacam (meloxicam) every day. She is 7 pounds in weight. We will see if it works. He says that aspirin (works for dogs) and Cosequin (works for cats) do not work for rabbits with arthritis. At the least, the medication should make her more comfortable.

Update 8/21/04: Izzy has become even more lame. She also had a lot of eye discharge so I gave her some chlorbiotic for that. She still is eating some but I do not think she will improve.

On 10/6/04, I began giving Izzy lactated ringers which is subcutaneous fluids in the back with a needle. I am afraid she is dehydrated since she cannot maneuver to get to her bowls. I plop her fruits and vegetables next to the litter pan she spends almost all of her time in, and she eats those. The bowl, to prevent her falling in it and getting wet all the time, is a little farther away along with her pellets. She has not been eating those and so may have not been drinking either. I gave her 250 mL of lactated ringers the first time and plan to do 100 mL every other day. She can barely get around anymore. Her eyes have some dry discharge under them. For some reason, her underside is bald now too (at least the CareFresh is not all stuck in her). She is going to the vet again on 10/11/04 but I do not know if he has any further ideas for treatments. The Metacam is not helping at all.

On 10/11/04, Izzy went back to the vet. Her weight is down to 5.9 pounds. He agreed with me that she does not have arthritis after all which I did not think that she did. If she did, other joints would be affected, and the MetaCam would have improved things. He agreed with me that it is probably neurological. He said it is as if she does not know where her feet are. He wishes we could do an MRI to see what he suspects is a brain tumor but we do not see the point because it would cost a LOT of money, and there would not be anything we could do about it anyway. The brain damage may or may not have to do with pasteurella which I had suspected. Izzy really cannot walk around at all anymore. She waves her front legs almost above her head but can push using her back feet and move some if she has to move. The vet wants to try a prednisone derivative for 14 days to see if she responds. If she does, she will stay on it. Otherwise, I will wean her off of it. The medication is prednisolone in a concentration of 5 mg/5 mL. She is to get 1.5 mL twice a day. This steroid may reduce inflammation in her legs themselves or in her brain if she has a problem there. I moved Izzy's food and water bowl right next to the litter pan so she can drink and eat with ease. She still has a hearty appetite.

My mother took Izzy to an acupuncturist on 10/14/04 but probably will not take her again. She also looked up loss of front legs and rabbits on the internet and found some interesting things. It is possible that Izzy has Encephalitozoon cuniculi which is a protozoan parasite that among other things can give symptoms of loss of use of the front and/or back legs, head tilt, eyes moving back and forth, and lack of coordination. For more, see Rabbitrescue.com under the health section. So, I asked the vet, and he said he doubted she had that but treating her would not be a problem. He thinks anything is worth a shot. She will be going on Panacur which is fenbendazole to kill any internal parasites that she might have. My mother also found a site about a rabbit named Bijou who has similar leg use problems and was even on the same three types of medications as Izzy has tried. Here is the link: "Bijou:" Caring for a Disabled Rabbit. She also has links to other sites on disabled rabbits and a link to a Yahoo Group about Disabled Rabbits which I joined. Izzy's dose of Panacur was 0.5 mL once a day for 28 days from a container that a vet tech said read 100 mg/1 mL (10%).

On 10/16/04, I brought Izzy into the garage for care since it was raining. I groomed her, gave her both her medications, and 150 mL of lactated ringers. Her stomach was completely bald then. I can no longer use the poodle brush on her so I use a regular comb that does not hurt her naked skin to get out the CareFresh stuck to the last of her stomach fur. Even the wool on her back seems thinner than before. Unfortunately, I also noticed on the cement floor, now her back right leg is off to the side as well. If I try to get her on her feet, then it is okay (but not the front feet, especially the right front which she practically waves above her head). Even if the cause of her problems is ended, her front legs have lost almost all their muscle mass, and the bones are actually bent. Despite her now permanent disability, Izzy still is eating almost all her food. Another thing I have noticed is that her extra eyelid (white thing) comes over about 1/3 of her eye quite often. The vet said that indicates depression but I wonder if it is part of the other problems. [Note, the extra eyelid coming up did not last long. She does not do it now (11/5/05). I mention this because someone said I should have her killed, one reason being that the vet said she was depressed.]

By 10/22/04, it seems that Izzy is still not going to improve so I will wean her off the prednisolone starting tomorrow. She is eating very well though! She may be drinking too so I could probably stop giving her subcutaneous fluids but my mother wishes me to continue. I have realized that her litter pan is way over-soaked with urine so I will cut back her lactated ringers to Tuesday and Saturday only now.

As of 11/2/04, Izzy is totally off the prednisolone. I have not given her any lactated ringers subcutaneously since 10/26/04 because now I have seen her drink from her water bowl. In fact, a few mornings, it was empty! Her CareFresh is well soaked with urine so she does not need fluid in her back any more for now which is a relief to both of us. When I groomed her on 11/6/04, she had some poo on her rear for the first time which concerns me. Hopefully I just got her before she cleaned herself up. If she started having uneaten night feces all over her like my other rabbits have had, it would be a mess trying to keep her clean, especially since she is an angora. Her fur seems extra knotty so I am sure she is grooming herself less too since becoming disabled.

Here are two photos of Isabella which show how she situates herself now:
Front view of Izzy showing her splayed legs pretty well, 10/31/04.
Top view of Izzy but does not really show her legs, 10/31/04.

I started Izzy back on MetaCam on 11/10/04. When I groomed her on 11/13/04, she had a big glob of night feces on her. I am afraid this is a trend. She never had this problem before. I think she can no longer reach back there. She has stopped eating her pellets and continues to lose weight. She still eats fruits and vegetables. She cannot walk at all anymore but can turn herself around in the litter pan she stays in 100% of the time now to reach the food, water, and hay I have placed all around it. I fear she is dying.

When I groomed Izzy on 11/27/04, her rear had a golf ball sized pile of feces on it so I gave her a butt bath. Even with a blow drying, she was shivering. My mother agreed she could finally live inside where she will stay until the end. She is in a small cage (to keep the cats out) of 18" x 29" but remains in a medium-sized cat litter pan with CareFresh in the middle of that cage. On one side she has toys and hay and on the other, her food and water dish which is elevated. I also hung a sipper water bottle alongside the litter pan. She has not been able to reach any of these things. She can move her head up and down and flap her front legs to the side but is basically immobile now. In the morning, I put fruits and vegetables in the litter pan which she eats with great zest. When I come home, I give her Metacam, set her on the floor (she cannot go anywhere), change the CareFresh, clean her bottom, sweep around the cage (she still manages to toss some CareFresh about), give her 100 mL of lactated ringers every other day (this is water injected in her back to keep her hydrated since she cannot reach the water bowl and will not use the sipper), set her back in the litter pan, put some of her pellets and hay right in the pan so she can reach them, and hope she is ok. She makes these grumblings she never did before. I do not know if it is pain or frustration. The poor thing paddles (with her front legs) half the day away, trying to go somewhere. I do not know when she lost the ability to use her back legs too but her front legs were the first symptom she had. She still has a great will to live. I tried to get her to eat her night feces to no avail. Without those, her health will deteriorate even further. At least, in the basement, she will not freeze to death, and the cats can visit her so she does not feel so alone.

On 12/4/04, I gave Izzy a full shower to clean her up. Before she got wet, I cut a few knots off and some length on her back. The rest of her fur is not very long but full out knots. Her cheeks are solid knots I cannot do anything about. I tried an electric trimmer I had bought a few weeks ago but it would not cut through even portions of her fur where there were no knots! After the shower with small animal shampoo and a good rinsing, I gently squeezed most of the water out, towel dried her, and used a blow dryer to get her as dry as possible. It is almost 70 degrees F in the basement so she should be okay. Sweetie also has poop all over her butt but I cannot give her a shower because she is still outside where it is now below freezing at night.

As of 12/29/04, Izzy and I have settled into our routine. She has lost even more ability to move. She can sort of rock a little and flap her right front leg but most of her legs she cannot move hardly at all. She also now has trouble lifting her head. If the food gets in front of her, she still eats very well. It is hard even with daily cleanings to keep her private area clean since she cannot clean herself at all.

On 7/9/05, I stopped keeping Izzy in CareFresh and started with Palace Pet Bedding. The disabled rabbit group mentioned above said how great it was. I kind of did not believe it. Now, I am a believer. In the morning, I lift her rear and use a paper towel to pick up her poo. In the evening, I take her out and clean. The bedding on top is pretty dry with all the urine down in the liner underneath. I remove the liner (initially human liners to catch someone who pees in bed but I am going to treat wee wee pads for puppies; other people suggest towels which have to be washed or newspapers) and toss it, shake out the bedding, and throw it into the washer with some Tide and bleach. I have two pieces so the new one goes into the litter pan after I rinse it out. Then, I just plop Izzy on top. The disadvantages include having to wash the thing daily (using electricity, water, and detergents), possibly getting in trouble if my parents find out that rabbit waste is going in the washer, and that is about it! The advantage for Izzy is that it is softer I think, cleaner, and she no longer has CareFresh stuck all over her. She also cannot eat CareFresh by accident any more and can easily see where her food is.

Izzy developed another horrible problem that I discovered on 8/13/05 during her weekly cleaning/grooming. Both her eyes had been goopy for a while (I did a course of triple eye antibiotic a few months ago which helped). I went to clean her, and I could not believe what I was seeing. It must have just happened. Her left eye was out of its socket. It was still attached and all but bulging out beyond the skull completely, quite a ways in fact. It was partially shut. I irrigated it and got it open but I knew she was blind. There was a white pusy ooze coming from it (maybe it was a pasteurella tumor with pus?). She was still eating and drinking, etc. I took this symptom to indicate that it is probably true that she has a brain tumor (whether cancer or pasteurella infection) that caused her paralysis.

I had Izzy to the vet on 8/15/05. I did not take her earlier because the vet is closed on the weekend and frankly I thought she was going to die right away. The vet (not the one who normally sees her) of course first said I should "put her to sleep." I told the vet what I wanted was to treat her eye with antibiotics and keep her on pain killers to get her through to a natural end. She still eats well. In fact, her weight of 7.1 pounds has not changed (if you see above, that is heavier than she was in 10/04 at 5.9 pounds but the same as 7/04). The vet said her left eye was severely infected and had an ulcerated cornea. She cleaned the area up a bit. She is now on Gentamicin sulfate eye drops (0.3%) multiple times a day and oral Baytril as well as oral MetaCam that she has been on since losing leg function a year ago. The vet said I had to take her water bottle away (she had learned to use it and drank a ton, sometimes the entire bottle in one day) as it is making her dewlap and eye more infected so it is back to lactated ringers for hydration. I also give her some water by mouth a few times a day to hydrate her mouth, etc. The vet brought up that the eye problem could be due to pasteurella which is what I thought all along! I had wanted her on Baytril all this time but the other vet there who normally sees her said she did not have enough nasal discharge to qualify. I guess her eye out of its socket with white glop qualifies though. This vet says that I could give my cat pasteurella if they share bags (my cat Samantha has kidney failure) which I have been doing all along. I always change the needles but she said fluid might back up and then go into the next animal. The vet did not really know what bacillin was and would not consider finding out to get her those shots (which the rabbit groups recommended). She did mention surgery but that Izzy probably would not survive with which I concurred. The vet said Izzy should have died by now from pneumonia which she does not have. She says there is no stronger pain killer for her than MetaCam. I kind of doubt that. The vet and I conflicted because she was hot to kill her as the means to "help" her but I am too selfish/weak/stupid or whatever to do it in her mind. I respect those who choose that route but am not able to go through with it. A few days later and Izzy looks at me with her good eye, and I know I made the right choice while she chows down on her kale.

Update 9/4/05: Izzy's eye is much better. It will never be normal though. Considering all her problems, she is in okay shape. She is still eating a lot! I worry about the knots that are so thick now on her feet mostly that I cannot get off but then always figure she will not live much longer so why torture her trying to get the knots off but then she always keeps on fighting the odds and lives. She has a lot of will power and seems to be more comfortable than you would think. I will help her continue to fight.

Update 11/5/05: Izzy is still pretty much the same. Her eyes are free of infection and abnormalities but her left eye will always have a white mark. She gets MetaCam and lactated ringers daily. She eats fruits, vegetables, pellets, and hay very well, for a bun I thought would have died many times over by now. I am beginning to believe she is immortal. Izzy never ceases to amaze me. She has a very strong will to live.

Izzy had what I thought were hemorrhoids on her anus but after mentioning them in the Yahoo disabled rabbit group, someone said they are probably papilloma. They do indeed look like that. Today is 12/3/05, and she has had them probably for half a year or more. I have written a little more on papilloma on my rabbit health page. Due to Izzy's condition, she would probably not survive surgery. Plus, her papilloma is not that severe. There is a photo in her photo section above.

In December of 2004 and early January, 2006, I have begun to really work on getting Izzy's knots off. I finally freed her legs. Her feet and toes are still all there but there is no longer any muscle on her front legs which are bent. She seems happier without the knots of her feet. I did not remove them before because it is stressful to us both but they had to come off. Plus, I kept thinking she would not live much longer but she proves me wrong every time. I alternated cutting some and pulling to separate enough fur to cut. It was strange in that once I got the hard outer shell off the legs, out popped all this long, clean, fluffy hair that had grown since and been stuck inside. I plan to do a better job, my New Year's Resolution. Her papilloma is worse now but otherwise, she is doing well. She is the heaviest I think she has ever been since she eats well but cannot exercise.

Since I finally felt good about Izzy's appearance, I called the vet and got in the same day on 1/9/06. I went to a different vet to get tests the other vet does not do and to get a second opinion. Before the visit, I gave her a quick butt shower to make her presentable. When I do that, she often urinates a fountain. I expected that and was able to garner a urine sample. This is what we covered at the visit. It was a lot!

So basically, I spent $300 to find out I was doing a pretty good job. The only thing I will change is to try some more ointments for her rear. I started using diaper rash creme on 1/14/06. I seems to help a little. It is thick so I only add some every few days, not daily.

My guinea pig, Fritz, died on 3/11/06 a day after surgery for a ruptured tumor. I had an expensive, full, unused bottle of liquid Baytril (no refunds). What to do? I figured with Izzy's bad eyes, papilloma, etc., it probably would not hurt to give it to her so I did. It will take about a week to use it up.

As of 7/20/06, Izzy is still pretty much the same. Her papilloma bleeds more often and has grown larger. Other than that, not much has changed. I have been keeping a small towel over her back for the last half year to keep her warmer in the basement. She still eats a lot. She has now been disabled for two years.

For a while in August, her papilloma bled quite a bit but then that stopped. I thought she was doing okay despite her many problems. Then, on 9/2/06, I noticed when I did her weekly bath that she was opening her mouth to breathe every few breaths. Her nose also had some milky discharge. I think she developed the pneumonia that the vet said she should have had by now. She had been retaining a lot of fluid under her neck and between her front legs which is why I gave her her fluids in her rump. As the week went on, she had more difficulty breathing. I continued to give her MetaCam, Gentamicin, and lactated ringers. She started eating less. The last few days, she ate very little but still even on the last day, she took a few bites. The last day, her breathing was very labored and raspy. I gave her her stuff around 5:30 pm on 9/7/06. She was alive at 6 pm but gone at 9 pm when I checked on her. We buried her the next morning. Her death was hardly a surprise (and somewhat of a relief that she was no longer suffering) but still, I cannot quite believe it. She lived 9 years and 7 months, longer than any of my rabbits. I will miss Izzy Beans. She had such a zest for eating despite her many problems.


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