We were going to get our rabbit Broccles a girlfriend for Christmas, but instead we had his eye removed. Broccles has a talent for suddenly needing the vet during national holidays, and the money set aside for his new companion had to be diverted – and some.
His blind eye had been shrinking, and in December his eyelid folded under itself and started scraping against his eyeball. This led to an infection. The vet knew that Bunty feels horrified about eyeball removal and the sewing-together of eyelids, so he suggested eyelid surgery instead. Broccles’s eye has led to so many vet visits, though, that Bunty and I finally felt he would suffer less if it were removed.
I made a point of booking Alasdair the Rabbit Hypnotist. All the surgeons at Broadley’s vet hospital are of the highest calibre, but my faith in Alasdair borders on the religious. As far as I’m concerned, he is a superhero of the rabbit world and I feel safest leaving our bundles of fur in his hands.
Alasdair called us after lunch to say the operation had been a success, even though the shrunken state of the eyeball had complicated it. He called again when Broccles came round, reassured us that the bunny was fine, and warned us that his face might look a bit shocking. We collected Broccles once the post-op team was satisfied that he was safe to come home. His good eye was much wider than usual, and as as soon as we got back, he made a beeline for his Safe Place on the hearthstone.
He looked a bit Frankenrabbit, but we thought Alasdair had done a fine job. Don’t you?
I was given oral painkillers for Broccles – a disappointment, as he has a pathological terror of things shoved in his mouth. I’m always offered oral meds for him. I suspect this is because most pet owners are scared of giving injections and have no idea how much easier they are. Alasdair suggested wetting Broccles’s teeth with a drop at a time, and letting him lick it off – it was honey flavoured, and tasty to rabbits. I loved this idea.
Unfortunately, Broccles wasn’t hungry after his ordeal, and he let the stuff drip onto the floor. He dug at the tiles in the way he does when he wants to be left alone, thankyouverymuch. I decided to have a go at hypnotising him into taking the medicine. Alasdair had once explained his method to me, and some of you readers have posted extra tips. I knelt down and lay Broccles on his back in my lap. His feet were braced against my tummy and his head and neck were secure in my hand. I murmured soothingly and stroked his forehead until he relaxed and went floppy. I slowly squirted the medicine into his mouth, and he drank it down calmly. Amazing! Thanks to everyone who helped me to master this new skill.
A mere 36 hours later, Broccles was eating everything in sight, dancing around the cats, and showing no signs of pain. He demanded to be let outside, so against the advice of his nurse, I opened the door. He enjoyed himself following Bunty around the winter vegetable beds. Then he seemed to lose his bearings. He got stuck in this tree for half an hour, until I came and guided him back into the house.
For the next few days, he kept losing his way and bumping into things, and he needed encouragement to follow his usual routes around the place. He seemed much blinder than before his eye removal, even though several vets had assured us that his blind eye was completely blind. I had often had the peculiar feeling that he was looking through it, but this should not have been possible. When vets examined the eye with ophthalmoscopes, there was no sign of the retina at all. No retina means no vision.
Broccles spent January relearning his way around. He has taken to following walls for guidance, and whenever he comes to a corner or doorway, he turns his head this way and that to examine the full layout with his single eye. He has been getting faster and more adept at this. He has come on, I may say, in leaps and bounds.
His fur grew back rapidly, and it’s now difficult to notice that he has an eye missing. He is as handsome as ever, and in fine fettle for meeting a new girl.