At this point the picture was taken Mercury was absolutely exhausted from spinning and rolling constantly and collapsed. He is in the carrier in the examination room at the Vets. You can see the pain in his face.
I’m emotionally drained. Yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t seen Mercury out that morning or the evening before. I looked into his cage and saw him sleeping on top of the substrate. Which was unusual but I figured he was just taking a rest. They are getting older and all.
After an hour or so I came back in from outside with the kids and saw that he had not moved. I was alarmed. I had seen him breathing but what if he was dying? I peered in and when he woke by my scent or sound he began turning around in clockwise circles.
And didn’t stop. And then he was going so fast and getting so exhausted he flipped over and began rolling like an alligator death roll. I had never heard of or seen anything like this before and I began to panic. And then I began to cry. Because I thought he was dying. Having some sort of violent fit before he died. I just had no idea what to think other than he was in trouble.
Gerbils live to be 3 or 3.5 years on average. So they just turned two this month and I couldn’t understand how a gerbil who has always been robust and healthy and a species that is actually usually quite illness free – would be at 2 suddenly having violent fits.
I packed him and Lennon (not wanting to separate them) in the carrier and with my kids we drove down to the nearest vet clinic as a walk in. Luckily they fit me in with their exotics vet. It was a long agonizing wait but at least we were going to be seen that day.
She held him firm with a towel and checked his ears for infection or tumors. Checked inside his mouth. She noticed his teeth had gotten a little long due to this condition probably. And that one of his molars was crooked. Which she figured was probably a deformity. She noted that his eye on the side he tilted down (his left side of his head) was crusted shut and the entire area looked swollen.
So, she said that she didn’t suspect a tumor but an infection. Though it didn’t appear to be in his inner ear but his eye. But I don’t know. It seems like this infection is pretty bad and cannot just be located in his eye.
She sent us home with antibiotics and eye drops and I administer it twice a day with droppers. Antibiotics orally and the eye drops are really difficult because I have to ungook his eye and drop it in just right and that is so difficult when I can barely hold him still as he is flipping and turning and rolling so violently and agile that he managed to get free of my grip and even hit the floor. Not from that high a height as I was sitting but still. It was terrified and upset all over again because what if he gets better from the infection just to have brain trauma due to my inability to hold him properly?
At this point I’m sleep deprived because I get up all night to see if he has shown any signs of getting better. He seems to have stopped spinning and rolling AS much as he was yesterday but it’s still often and I’m still incredibly worried. If he isn’t better in a couple more days I might have to have him put to sleep because I cannot take it anymore. It looks like torture. He’s so exhausted because he cannot seem to stop turning and rolling. It is horrible to watch and as he does this he’s hitting the sides of the bin and whatever else is around. There is no way this isn’t painful for him.
I worry the infection is all in his brain. At the same time I do not want to give up hope. I do not want him to die already. He is 2 which would be a long life for a hamster. Or a normal span. But for a Gerbil – they are still pretty much middle aged. So, it’s too soon. Unexpected. It came on so fast too. To go from the way he was to this. Unless he’s been doing this for awhile but in such a lesser degree that it went unnoticed. Such as he only did it when he was down in the burrows. I don’t stare at my gerbils all day. I’m busy. So, it is easy to imagine this has been going on for awhile and I only noticed when it got so terrible he was doing it constantly and vacating his burrow due to it.
The worst part of it all if there could be is how upset his brother is. Lennon is protective of him. Confused. He tries to hold him down sometimes. He grooms him or tries too. He looks up at me like “What is happening mom? What is wrong with my brother?” It give me anguish. Gerbil owners know how attached litter mates are to one another. Gerbils become depressed when they lose their litter mate. It’s something I worry about a lot.
Lennon would be torn up if Mercury dies. I just hate this. I love my hamsters and I’ve lost 3 of them now. But somehow my adoration for my gerbils is at a higher degree than I knew. The anguish I felt and the tears I shed in those moments of panic seeing him that way surprised me greatly. Not that I”m surprised to have a loving, caring heart. But this was somehow so different than other times.
For some reason the day I brought those gerbils home I became so enamored by them. I am particularly attached to them. I don’t know if I could ever have more gerbils after these two go because I don’t think I could stand going through losing more of them.
And the same goes with Bob sometimes. Bob is intensely important to me. I’m very bonded with him. I don’t know what I’ll do when he goes. He’s over 2 now. I think about it a lot.
It’s so unfair how short their life spans are when they are cared for so well and given so much love and good nutrition and safe from predators and most diseases and such.
Anyway, just some thoughts I feel the last two days. I just hope he pulls through. I just expected the meds to work faster. It’s a 2 week ordeal with the antibiotics so maybe I’m being unrealistic about it.