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Mouse medicine: Who every said it wasn't a bargain?


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.

On this particular day, we had a busy morning and the afternoon was shaping up to be just another routine one when Brenda told me I had a phone call. She said it must be one of my college buddies playing a joke on me.

I answered the phone as I usually do and then just sat in the chair listening. My mouth fell open. With each detail, my mouth seemed to open wider and wider with amazement.

You see, this caller had a pet mouse with a tumor on it. Calling from a distance, he wanted to drive to Lamesa to have this tumor removed. Upon further questioning it turned out this would-be client had several pet mice, about a hundred or so. The history was just getting interesting. He next informed me that he had no money and wondered if I would remove the tumor on Rosey for free. After all he had already tried to strangulate the tumor by tying some carpet thread around it. But it didn't work.

When asked how big the tumor was, I was surprised to learn that it was bigger than the mouse.

So, if you were me, what would you have said? Would you have just hung up? I had never done a surgery on a mouse. I wasn't even sure how to sedate one. For some unknown reason the words blurted out: "Sure, come on in."

At the time, I questioned whether or not this caller would even show up. An hour later the dilemma was solved. He was sitting in the waiting room with a 1-ounce mouse that had a 4-ounce tumor on its head. It was no joke. The tumor was so large that the mouse couldn't even carry it around. It looked like the Michellin man —white and undulating. You could see where the attempted strangulation with carpet thread had occurred. Other than having this mammoth growth, the mouse seemed just fine. The person told me that it ate, drank and went to the bathroom normally.

So, the next step was to figure out how to anesthetize this critter. We decided the best and least dangerous way would be to just put the entire mouse in a mask that we use to gas down large dogs. We sorta made a miniature gas chamber. Manda held her hand over the hole, and we turned the gas on. It worked like a charm. This mouse was now in the perfect state for a good ole fashion tumor removal.

You know, it takes some tiny instruments to work on a mouse. We chose eye surgery instruments. As the surgery proceeded, my attention snapped as I heard an extreme "oh no" gasp from Brenda and Manda. It is the kind of noise that makes you stop everything that you are doing to take notice.

I looked down, and there it was. It looked as if the mouse had developed a rectal prolapse.

So now I am thinking, "How am I going to fix a prolapse on a 1-ounce mouse? It is hard enough to fix one on a 1,000-pound cow."

So here is the situation; I've got this person sitting out in the waiting room who is becoming more and more hysterical as each moment passes. I can hear him cry for a while, talk to himself for a while, and repeat the cycle. I have a prolapsed mouse on the table and no idea of how to repair it. I'm halfway finished removing this mouse from the humongous tumor, and it is bleeding profusely. I was almost to the point of complete and utter hopelessness. My plan: Finish the tumor surgery, and then I would worry about the prolapse. I refocused on the tumor. It was going so well that I was even trying to make the thing look as cosmetically pleasing as possible. Just as we were about to finish the surgery, the prolapse started moving. That's right. It was moving and squirming.

It was at that moment I realized the mouse was not prolapsed at all.

The stress of the tumor removal had thrown this gal into labor. She was having a baby. Well, the thrill of delivering a baby mouse almost overtook my relief of not having to fix a miniature 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 on him (one dollar) and continually thanked me as he walked out the door. He never returned, but I bet Rosey is doing just fine and still having herds of cancer-prone litters.

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