Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hospital for...possums? no. 2

I was coming up the hospital driveway the other day, driving slowly as you tend to do since there are wild koalas who live in the grounds. I noticed something smack dab in the middle of the driveway. It could easily have been a piece of bark, but something made me look twice and I realised that it was a possum lying face-first on the ground.

I just assumed it was dead.

I parked the car and went over for a closer look. I prodded it gently and was shocked and delighted to find that it moved. It was still alive. I turned tail and ran full pelt up the hospital building, blurting out to Amanda as soon as I had her in my sight that there was a possum out there needing our help.

We grabbed towels and dashed out to the rescue! Amanda gently picked the little one up. It was completely docile, obviously in shock after its fall, and had a gash on its chest.

The hospital supervisor wouldn't be in for half an hour so we did what we thought best, filling a hot-water bottle and preparing some hydrating formula. It was a warm, humid morning but the possum was cold; it had probably been lying there during the cool hours of early morning.

The water bottle was a bit of a failure (it leaked), but the possum did accept some formula. We wrapped it in a towel to keep it warm and placed it in a basket pending Cheyne's arrival.

Cheyne knew just what to do, of course. The hot-water bottle was necessary to increase the animal's temperature. It wouldn't take much liquid while it was still cold and in shock. I prepared the bottle (a non-leaking one this time) using boiling water from the urn, covered it in a fetching knitted cover and placed in near but not next to the possum.

Later during the shift, Cheyne reported that the possum had perked up and had polished off most of a pot of fluid.

Sadly, though, the combination of a probable cat attack and a night on the cold ground proved too much for this little patient who passed away soon after.