Vern’s Vet Adventure

When something restores your overall morale, and very nearly your faith in humanity, that something must be publicly acknowledged. And yes, that’s humanity, not “hupeopleity”, or any other spurious, Canadian word salad.

Two things you already know if you’ve read articles on this site in the past month: 1., I’m flat broke, and 2., my dwarf hamster Vern has had a growth under his chin since mid-January.

A Vern in the hand.

This past week, the growth grew significantly, and I began to worry that it was hurting Vern. Hopefully you don’t know this, but when you’re so broke that you can’t even provide for the pet that depends on you, the spiral of shame and depression is mind-boggling in its brutality.

There’s a story arc in J.R.Williams’ classic comic book Crap, where Milt the Mutant is too poor to care for his ailing pet rat, Kreature. I have almost every issue of Crap; I have never been able to finish reading that story arc. I couldn’t even go back through my longboxes to figure out which issues it was in.

This is what it is. There is a special bond between humans and little creatures, and I am extremely sensitive to it. If you’ve known me in the past sixteen years, odds are I had a hamster. I try not to go overboard with the critter coverage here on the site; they have a tangential relationship to music, at best.

Back to my point about restored faith in humanity. In desperation and depression, I set up a “GoFundMe” page for Vern’s trip to the animal clinic. I laid the entire situation out. Thanks to some very generous donors, Vern got everything he needed.

Getting ready to go.

I can’t overemphasize the relief this provided. Because of the donations, I knew that I was literally doing everything I could for Vern. Since I wasn’t nervous about covering the expense, there wasn’t any nervous energy to affect Vern. He had a blast on the ride to the Briarcliff Animal Clinic, and of course, once there he charmed everyone instantly.

Believe it or not, this is prior to sedation. (Please pardon Vern’s ‘basket’, and my dry skin.)

The doctor gave Vern some knock-out drops, and took a sample from his growth, which I’m not showing you, out of respect for Vern’s modesty. It’s not really gross (it’s under his fur/skin), but it started out looking like he’d pocketed an Alexander The Grape, then later, an actual grape. Then it became large enough that I moved Vern’s appointment up to today.

So here’s the good news: it’s probably an abscess, for which Vern has daily antibiotics, and we’ll see where he is in a week or two. It’s not what I suspected, which was the unexplained swelling that afflicted Boris. The best part; the donations from the GoFundMe page will cover everything, including the sedative he received, which must have been quaaludes for hamsters, because he was super mellow for the remainder of the day.

Vern back in his “travel capsule”, ready to return home, and zonked off his nut.

The not-so-good news: if you’ll refrain from making the obvious joke, it might be a tumor. Vern is in the twilight of a dwarf hamster’s life. I know he won’t be around forever. Surgery can be performed if it is a tumor, but that will cost half a grand.

I guess I’ll make the obvious joke anyway. I choose to believe IT’S NOT A TUMOR! The doctor said it didn’t quite feel like one, anyway. Vern weighed 45 grams! I nearly said, hey Vern, wouldn’t it be cool if you were a bag of kind bud? (I didn’t.)

It would be wholly inadequate to say that I have been humbled by this event. Truthfully, I am still kind of reeling. Since I didn’t have to worry about where the money for Vern’s vet bill would be coming from, I was able to continue working even during a depressive state where typically, I would have surrendered to catatonia. I’ve had to rely more than I’d like upon friends in the past few months, and I feel that no gratitude I can express would be sufficient.

All I can say is thank you, from me and Vern, for pulling us through.

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