Her breathing is short and quick, coming from her lower belly area, and very loud. She eats okay, but does better when her vegetables are cut up into smaller pieces.
June 29 2013 (Day 8): I take her to Dr. Doolen (truly an exotic specialist): the xrays of her lungs are clear. Her heart is slightly enlarged. Dr. D. believes the noise is coming from her throat area. The rattling, wet, breathing that was originally diagnosed as scarred lungs is coming from her throat, not her lungs. She also has a slightly wet chin. Her teeth check out fine. Dr. D. examines her xrays and keenly notices an unusual shape at the place where her spine meets her skull.
Olive is eventually diagnosed as having a "pharyngeal dysfunction". This is a neurological issue, not merely an acute inflammatory episode, that makes it difficult for her to use her pharynx properly. She can’t use her muscles to properly clear her throat of phlegm. It is a progressive disorder that will make it more and more difficult for her to swallow, risking aspiration, etc.
Olive also has an odd shape to her - she looks a bit like a badly drawn cartoon. She had a little tiny head and a torso that was just not the right size to match. Dr. D. suspects a motility issue and puts her on Cisapride .2ml 2x day.
8/15/2014 (about 2 months later) I came home from work today around 3pm to find Olive hunched up in a corner really struggling to breathe. She doesn't get up for veggies or for our usual greeting. Her breathing was short, gaspy, abdominal breathing - clearly exhausting for her. Her teeth are chattering and she’s shaking. She looks like she’s in pain.
The vet checks her out and finds that her lungs are clear. Her difficulty in breathing is indicative of the progression of her disorder. The vet prescribes metacam (to help reduce the inflammation and help her breathe easier) and cisapride.
The following week, her breathing becomes increasingly labored, in spite of extra doses of metacam. When she's really distressed, she comes out of her hidey and sits on top of her sleep sack, hunched up, taking short gasping breaths from her abdomen. She looks exhausted. She isn't eating many veggies or pellets, and only a little hay. She’s getting supplemental CC.
8/18/14: back at the vet’s, her breathing continues to be labored. We discuss treatment options. There is no cure, and no surgical intervention. It was decided that the kindest thing was to allow Olive to be PTS and so she can finally rest. She was ~1 year 8 months when she died. I had her only 2 months.