Today my hamster was dead. At least I thought she was dead. The cold, stiff little creature was motionless. Her head was swollen with her eyes fused shut and her ears tucked into her puffy head. She had lost all her colour and had a white nose and mouth. Her limbs jutted out rigid and immobile. I poked her, I rattled her cage. Nothing.
I was so upset. It seemed to compound every crap thing that has happened this month. It was as though our poor pet had died due to my negativity rubbing off on her fluffy, little body. It seemed like a terrible omen.
Some time later I thought I ought to 'deal' with the hamster proferring some dignity to her in her death. But when I picked her up she slowly and slightly raised her head and hissed at me. I didn't know hamsters made a noise...dead hamsters definitely don't make a noise! So she was still alive. I actually freaked a little.
Whenever I am not sure of something I turn to Google. So that was my first port of call. It turns out that this is not an unusual occurrence with lots of people having 'dead' hamsters that weren't actually dead. Apparently it is a hypothermic coma because they get too cold. Whereas I thought that the big, snuggly nest that she had made was a sign that she was comfortable and warm, it was actually a sign of her struggling to keep herself warm. The sudden cold weather had dropped the overnight temperature in our dining room enough to send her into a false hibernation. This kills hamsters. They are not equipped for it and die of hypothermia. The advice said to warm up the animal slowly and then there would be a chance of recovery. I felt so guilty. I couldn't even take care of a rodent.
I turned on the heating and moved her next to the radiator wrapping her frozen body in an old towelling bib. There was no change. The online advice said that if you don't get them out of the coma within an hour then it is too late. Her lifeless body told me it was all over. I phoned Ian in tears...I never knew I was that sentimental.
When it was time for the school run I walked past the cage and just had the feeling to try one more time. Even though she'd been frozen solid for some seven hours, I owed her that. I took her upstairs to my bedroom where the sun was shining through the window. With the radiators on for another hour and the warmth of the sun on her, I left for school. I picked up Kizzy and explained what had happened preparing her for her first pet's death.
We got home and went to say our last goodbyes. I was shocked to see the previously lifeless body was now shaking violently. Her head was still all puffy, her limbs were still frozen and stiff, but the body was in convulsion. I consulted my friend Google again, to see that shaking was a sign of the muscles coming back to life. There was hope. Eventually she opened her eyes into little slits and lifted her head. It was so sad to see her trying to move. She was stumbling and falling and rolling and dragging her back legs behind her, but she was alive!
Kizzy sat with Spinky, urging her to take water from a dropper. We gave her chopped carrot and bit by bit she recovered. The strange swelling went down. She found her feet. Her colour returned. We saved her!
It feels like I have turned a corner. Definitely a sign that things are on the up. Things are getting better. The resurrection of our hamster means so much more to me than I could ever imagine. She was all but stone cold dead, now she is running around her cage. I nearly gave up on her, but I didn't. That is quite prophetic!
We are now investing in a heated cage for her. Our born again hamster deserves to be treated like the little miracle she is. She's not out of the woods yet, but she is fighting back. A lesson for us all!!