Lots of background:
Recently I was thinking back to the days several years ago when I had a rabbit named Ashes. He was a large gray lop (maybe part French lop) who loved my husband, food and female bunnies (he was neutered though). He developed a severe case of head tilt due to an inner ear bacterial infection. I felt that the vet wasn't being aggressive enough with his treatment of Ashes. I kept doing all types of research on the internet and on Etherbun. (I would have been nowhere without Etherbun). I was losing sleep over his very severe symptoms not getting any better. He wasn't eating, drinking, or pooping. He was losing tons of weight (lucky he was a bit of a big boy to start with). He was rolling over (like a vertigo) constantly due to vestibular problems with the inner ear infection. He walked in constant circles. We put him in a laundry basket walled with folded towels (which needed constant laundering due to his incontinence.) to let him walk around without falling over. Even holding him in my arms to stabilize him to syringe feed him I couldn't keep him straight in any normal position. I finally developed a particular way to hold him so I could feed him orally through an eye dropper and tuberculin (w/o needle) syringe because that was all he could and would take in. I started taking Critical Care, bananas and baby food among other things and watering them down. I added applesauce and other things to give him extra calories and to whet the appetite (he had a sweet tooth). I was feeding him perhaps a bit every hour or two, even all night. He and I did develop quite a bond due to the care, support and TLC I gave him. Luckily, the second vet doubled his dose of Baytril and gave some second medicine (which I can't remember at this point). Luckily Ashes loved his berry flavored Baytril after a while. I also gave him meclizine which is called Bonine in this country. Bonine was to be used for nausea and dizziness (like Dramamine which they told me bunnies can't have). I received dosing info through experienced people on Etherbun.
Ashes started to improve and it was a long road and several sets of the antibiotics. He lived a few more years with just some residual symptoms of the head tilt and some walking in circles. That was a small price to pay for a few more years of a good life! The original vet was somewhat pushing the option of euthanizing him. I just couldn't do it. The second vet mentioned it as one option of several, but didn't push it. She let me know of the hard road it would be should he recover. It was worth it. When he was healthy enough and was able to stay in a larger cage (before letting have some free run time- it still wasn't safe enough for him), he would push the cage door open (he wasn't able to hop through it at this point) at Baytril time. His appetite had improved and he loved that Baytril, which smelled like Blackberry Schnapps. He would unlatch the door with his nose and bang it open full force to let us know it was time for that "Schnapps" as we jokingly called his new "Schnapps" habit! Seeing that renewed life force and gusto just warmed my heart every day.
Now to the Reiki:
I had taken the first level of Reiki in a class through someone I know that repeatedly encouraged me to try it. I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. It was very renewing to give and receive it.
During the time with Ashes, when he became a bit more stable, I had come across an article on Reiki with animals. Someone on Etherbun also told me that she had done Reiki with her head tilt bun and it seemed to really help.
I asked my friend, who did Reiki on me, if she had ever thought of trying it on an animal. She had heard of it, but never thought of trying it. Although she wasn't familiar with rabbits, I brought him in for his own session with her with me nearby guiding the Reiki practitioner on rabbits and his illness, but comforting and supporting him too. Since due to his anxiety from his symptoms and being in a new place, his still somewhat rolling and walking in circles, we decided that placing him on a Reiki table without sides wouldn't be a good idea for several reasons. My friend placed him on her lap with a bed-wetting mat (from nursing home bunny visits) under him with his head towards her knees. I placed him on her and stayed right near him for reassurance.
She said a brief prayer and went through brief little rituals (Reiki has a Christian basis/background but you don't need to be a Christian or religious to benefit from it) before applying her hands to him (Reiki can have hands-on or have there be no touch at at all-that's up to the receiver and practitioner). Upon being placed on her lap, he didn't panic at all, which I thought he would. He sat still for 45 minutes and looked completely relaxed. With the headtilt symptoms, he would usually panic and startle easy in response to touch or sound.
She spoke to him and with me while doing the Reiki. She moved her gentle touch over his head, neck, shoulders and the rest of his body. He just looked so content for the entire time. Afterward, he was relaxed and slept a while, even in the car. (I always use top loading carriers which makes a big difference with bunnies!). Later, he seemed a bit less symptomatic and more relaxed. He stilled walked in circles, had a tilted head, but he seemed to eat a little more and startle a little less. He also seemed more interested in life and receptive to care.
Reiki doesn't produce overnight miracles, nor does it claim to cure anything. From various things I've read, experienced and from conversations, I personally conclude that Reiki can assist as a complementary "therapy" that can range from helping one feel more relaxed, more balanced and have a better sense of well being. I have seen improvement during my life when I receive it or when I have used it on my rabbits (I'm not as experienced or "trained" as highly as my friend) when they are sick.
I will probably add more to this post to help educate more about Reiki and give some links, but I'll leave it as is for now. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Ashes that I know of. I didn't have a digital camera back then, otherwise I would have documented much of what he went through.
Please share any thoughts or experiences you have in the comments below. I really look forward to what you have to say and seriously encourage you to share.
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