Hello, all. I am alive. I got in at ungodly o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, spent two hours getting home, had to clean the kitchen before I could manage anything to eat, and promptly crashed out for a long, long time. Then I had to get up to an alarm on Wednesday to take a rat down to Stony Brook again, get her back without losing the poor thing, and then go to work.

Binky is fine, more or less. The vet seemed concerned that her head was still all tilty, but the first time she was there she was so disorientated that she spent the entire time spinning around her long axis in a corner of her box. She did pull a couple of racing swimmer turns this time, but almost all of her escape attempts were upright and on all her little feets. The vet gave me something he says they use for vertigo in rabbits with head-tilt. They were out of the flavor I requested, and they ended up giving the medication to me without it. Binky dislikes Baytril -- probably because rats, like humans, can get queasy -- and got kind of meh about her pink watermelon anti-inflammatory, but tried to run off with the syringe of new unflavored stuff.

I could have told them that would happen if they'd mentioned the stuff was a suspension of meclizine. Meclizine is an anticholinergic antihistamine in the same family as diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate, used in humans as one of the many variations on the anti-motion sickness drug Dramamine. In sufficient doses, it induces delirium, which many people interpret as 'being wicked high'. Attaining this state is why stupid teenagers without access to better drugs do things like knock back an entire box of Benadryl or drink jimsonweed tea. This is not a good idea. The therapeutic index of the anticholinergics is pretty high; take ten times the normal active dose and you'll be horribly uncomfortable for many hours (akathesia, dyskinesia, hallucinations, temporary loss of working memory, and the worst case of cottonmouth you have ever had), but you probably won't end up in the ICU. Jimsonweed, on the other hand, does not carry a list of active ingredients on the side, and has been known to kill people.

Rats are not smart, have no sense of personal responsibility, and enjoy being high. I am convinced that the reason they use rats in substance abuse experiments is that when one of the researchers stands in the middle of the lab and asks 'who wants to do a heroin trial?' all of the lab rats immediately slam themselves to the front of their cages, waving their paws through the bars and going OOH OOH ME PICK ME. They beg for beer and will try to chew their way into rum bottles, although their efforts to climb a fifth to get to the gnawable cap are somewhat hampered if they've already knocked over and wallowed in someone's daiquiri. Nick and Miles were adamant that orange juice was not food, but screwdrivers were. A friend and I considered sharing our magic brownies with some of them once, but then realized that a domesticated rat's native state was lazy, uncoordinated, and hungry, and we'd never be able to tell if it worked.

I had a pair that had chronic sniffles once, and got a couple drops of children's antihistamines with their other meds to keep them breathing comfortably. One of them ran off with the Benadryl syringe while I was dosing the other one with antibiotics, and got about a quadruple dose before I could put his brother down and go after him. I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor for several hours, trip-sitting an idiot rat. Spending the evening twitchy, clumsy, and alternating between drinking an entire bottle of water and vehemently washing his widdle face did not stop him from trying that stunt again.

I have absolutely no idea if the meclizine is doing anything. as all three of the puffballs are still asleep. I did warn the vet that Binky probably weighed more than she did the first time she was in. I got home and saw both their food and water empty; an empty water bottle isn't unusual, since they go through it pretty quickly, but from the food bowl I thought there might have been a mix-up and each of the two people looking after them thought the other was on duty and nobody had been by for a couple of days. I told the pile of rat I was sorry and refilled their bowl with dry pasta... whereupon all of them came crawling out of the nest, and with surprising efficiency, snatched every piece of food out of the bowl and hid them in various corners of the cage, leaving their dish empty again. Then they crawled into their box and immediately went back to sleep. I don't know how long it took the little bastards to work that out, but I'm betting they got double feedings most of the week I was gone.