'Michelin Man' mouse full of surprises


As a veterinarian, you just never know what you are going to do each day.

As a veterinarian, you just never know what you are going to do each day.

This was a day not unlike many others around the clinic. We had a busymorning, and the afternoon was shaping up to be just another day when ourreceptionist, Berenda, told me I had a phone call. She said it must be oneof my college buddies playing a joke on me. I answered the phone as I usuallydo and then just sat in the chair listening as my mouth fell wider and wideropen with amazement.

It seems that the caller had a pet mouse with a tumor on it. This personwas calling from a good ways away, and wanted to drive to my clinic in Lamesato have this mouse's tumor removed. Upon further questioning, it turnedout that this individual had several pet mice, about a hundred or so. Butthe history is not over. This person now informed me that they had no moneyand wondered if I would remove the tumor from "Rosey" for free.This person said that they had already tried to "strangulate"the tumor on the mouse by tying some carpet thread around it, but it didn'twork. When asked how big the tumor was, I was surprised to learn it wasbigger than the mouse!

So, if you were me, what would you have said? What would you have done?Would you have said, "Come on in?" Would you have thought it wasa college buddy and just hung up? I had never done a surgery on a mouse.I wasn't even sure how to sedate one in order to do surgery! Well, for someunknown reason, I said, "Sure, come on in."

I halfway thought that no one would ever show up. I figured someone wasmessing with me and that when I hung up they would call back and say, "Gotcha!" But that never happened. In fact, about an hour later they showed up. Itwas not a joke.

Sitting in the waiting room of the clinic was this person with a 1-ouncemouse that had a 4-ounce tumor. The tumor was so large the mouse couldn'teven carry it around. It was on the mouse's head. The tumor looked likethe Michelin Man. It was white and undulating. You could see where the attemptedstrangulation with carpet thread had occurred. Other than having this mammothgrowth, the mouse seemed just fine. The person told me that it ate, drankand went to the bathroom normally.

With that in mind, we set about the task of figuring out how to anesthetizethis critter. We decided the best and least dangerous way would be to justput the entire mouse in a mask that we use to gas down large dogs. We sortamade a miniature gas chamber. Manda, my technician, held her hand over thehole, and we turned the gas on. It worked like a charm. This mouse was nowin the perfect state for a good 'ole fashion tumor removal.

It takes some tiny instruments to work on a mouse. We used eye surgeryinstruments. The surgery was just going along great, when all of the sudden,I heard the extreme, "Oh, no" gasp from Berenda and Manda. Itis the kind of noise that makes you stop everything that you are doing andtake notice.

I looked down at what they were pointing at and there it was. It lookedas if the mouse had developed a rectal prolapse. So now I am thinking, "Howam I going to fix a prolapse on a 1-ounce mouse? It is hard enough to fixone on a 1,000 pound cow!

So here's the situation: I've got this person sitting out in the waitingroom who is becoming more and more hysterical as each moment passes. Ican hear him cry for a while and then talk to himself for a while. Now Ihave a prolapsed mouse on the table and no idea of how to repair it. I'm50 percent finished removing this mouse from the tumor and it is bleedingprofusely.

It was almost to the point of complete and utter hopelessness. I decidedthat I had to finish the tumor surgery and then I would worry about theprolapse. The bleeding was too extreme to stop now. So, I set about finishingthe removal. It was going well. I was trying to make the thing as cosmeticallypleasing as possible.

We were just about to finish the tumor removal when the prolapse startingmoving. That's right. It was moving and squirming. It was then we realizedthat the mouse was not prolapsed, and it was not a boy. The stress of tumorremoval had thrown this gal into labor. She was having a baby. I was tremendouslyrelieved to not have to fix a prolapse.

We finished the surgery and sent the mouse home to finish her delivery.The man was more than happy. He actually gave me all the money he had onhim (a dollar) and continually thanked me as he walked out the door. Asfar as I know, the mouse is fine and still having herds of cancer-pronebabies.

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