Appeared to be a fairly normal Saturday, when ScurvyWife and I noticed that Sherman the Rat was acting odd. Normally he can't sit still for 0.2 seconds, but today he was climbing into our laps, very sluggish, and looking at us like "Big People, I don't feel good at all." He'd been a little sluggish last night, too, and he's getting a bit up there in age for a rat (1.5 years old), so we thought we go to the vet, make sure he didn't have a cold/pneumonia/anything respiratory going on, maybe get some antibiotics, and be good to go.
In the car he was pretty out of it, but he hates car rides and gets motion sickness, so it didn't seem that odd. The vet people took him back to examine him, ScurvyWife and I waited a bit, then they took us back to another room, where we sat for 15 minutes or so.
They brought him out finally and I swear I thought he was dead. He was completely out of out, limp, unable to move or hold his head up, barely breathing, eyes completely glazed over. We both freak out and the vet basically gives us the Sorry your cherished pet is about to die spiel, as he's older, these things happen, rats mask illnesses well, he could have number of serious internal things wrong and decline really quickly, and I sit there holding him, expecting him to die at any second. They're a general clinic and can't really test or treat rats, and she said the only thing they could do was to try to keep him alive on an IV until Monday, and if he made it that long, refer us to a clinic that might be able to treat him.
She leaves us to think things over and we both freak out. I mean, yes, I know, he's a fucking rat that we paid $8.99 for, but he's our fucking rat, and he was completely and utterly fine, like 5 minutes ago, so what the fuck is this dying bullshit? So a nurse comes back to talk to us, and we finally decide to just take him home so he can die in peace, as he's in really bad shape, but ScurvyWife insists they hydrate him first, and give us some oral antiobiotics and high protein food and a syringe, as she's clinging to the idea that he'll snap out of it. The nurse gets him decently hydrated but is afraid he's going to die, so she brings him back. We sit there for forever, waiting for him to go, but he doesn't.
So we finally get out of there, and I'm just trying to get him home so he doesn't have to die in the fucking car he hates riding in. We do that, he's still completely out of it, barely breathing, so we make him a bed on the floor and basically just sit there and pet him and wait for him to die. And he doesn't. And he still doesn't.
I finally leave to go get ScurvyWife some food, fully expecting him to be dead when I got back. He isn't, but ScurvyWife is pretty torn up, as he tried to get up, to walk around, and nothing was working at all, and he relapsed into rat coma. So I hold him for awhile, and he's just not there. I try to get him to lick some water from my finger but no luck. He does move his head around a little, every now and then, but that's it. Eyes are open but no one is at home.
So after a half hour or so of that, we decide, well, what the hell, he's still alive, so we feed him a tiny bit of food with the syringe. He seemed to involuntarily choke it down, more than anything, then nothing. ScurvyWife kept feeding him, though, and he kept eating it, perking up a little more over time. He was still out of it, like he was drunk, and couldn't use his hands, and kept falling over.
He kept getting better, though, more himself, and ScurvyWife and I are both like, umm, what the hell is going on? Midway through miraculous recovery, though, he just locked up, as he was cleaning himself, bent over in an awkward position. Just locked up, and couldn't move, so we picked him up, held him, and it was the above situation, all over again. He finally started moving, but didn't have good motor control at all at first, falling over, etc.
He got a good bit better, though, and pigged out on food, and was getting around okay, if not at normal hyper speed. We finally put him back in his cage, and let him sleep for a few hours. Now he's back to crazy-ass normal speed, running around like a mad rat, seemingly perfectly normal.
Which isn't exactly a happy ending, as there's something fairly serious wrong with the poor dude to mess him up like that, and it's not the sort of thing that's fixable, and he might not be running around tomorrow, but it's definitely not the ending I thought the story was going to have. I'm still fairly amazed and bewildered, as I've never seen an animal that apparently near death, umm, not die shortly. Even if he keels over for good in the next five minutes I'm just happy the crazy little bastard got to come home and eat a peanut again, and make me chase his ass into the kitchen and grab him before he squeezes under the stove.
Yeah, I know, world's longest entry about a damn rat. Fuck off. He's a cool rat.