Back to Pituitary Tumors

Ekko’s Story – Pituitary Tumor (PT)

First I need to say thank you to Ekko, she was a fighter for the whole time I knew her. Ekko has provided me with experience in dealing with all aspects of a Pituitay Tumor, signs, effects and most importantly how strong the will of one rat can be.

Ekko came to us with what was believed, by her previous owners vet, to be a mild respiratory infection however within 1 day of having her in PRRR’s care I noticed some unusual signs that led me to another vet and their professional opinion on what I was dealing with. These first signs that I noted were :

As I noted these symptoms I was going through in my mind what could be causing these signs. As I had only ever read stories about pituitary tumors this was all very new to me but the symptoms were what I had read about. With some additional enquiries to other professionals that had seen the effects of Pituitary Tumors the call was made to get her checked by a vet as the outcome didn’t seem good at all. Most tumors of the brain grow fairly quickly and I was informed that if it was indeed a PT then Ekko would be lucky to live another 3 weeks.

Ekko was taken to one of our local vets, I had information on hand about drug therapies we may be able to try however I knew the outlook was not good if Ekko did have a PT. The vet agreed that he felt that her symptoms were that of a brain tumor and that there was not much that could be done apart from palliative care. We did take home some oral steroids and antibiotics to help cushion the effects of the tumor but we knew that what we were doing was only going to give her some quality of life back but not stop the tumor.

The symptoms she originally displayed got worse as time went by. Her balance got worse week by week and her stiffening of the front legs became more apparent. We had also been warned that as the tumor grew Ekko’s ability to eat would diminish and she would either need to be hand fed or put to sleep. Although Ekko grew weaker as the weeks went by she continued to have that glint in her eye that she was still fighting so I decided to fight with her for every single day she had. Her ability to eat did diminish (7-8 week after initial diagnosis) and so I gave her muliple daily feeds from a syringe but she did continue to try to eat soft foods (she ended up wearing more than she ate) as well as perching herself on top of the dry mix and picking the little pieces out with her mouth and eating them.

Addition symptoms started to appear as she got into her 4th week with us. She had blasted everyones 3 week estimation and still had that fighting spirit. After the 4th weak she displayed less balance, more difficulty holding foods with her front paws, was holding her head to the side (aka head tilt) and issues with cleaning. As well as these symptoms she seemed to loose some of the ability to swallow properly and would occasionally choke on her soft foods. The choking subsided within 2 days and never appeared again. Ekko’s fur was also being effected but we feel this was caused by the steroids as this is one of their side effects, however the fur loss was mostly on the top of her head so I wonder if it had something to do with a chemical in her brain that was being effected by the tumor causing this loss of fur.

After about 9 weeks of being with us Ekko also started displaying signs of seizures, which can be another sign of a pituitary tumor. Most of her episodes were only short, lasting about 10 seconds. As she came out of the episode she seemed a little confused and then would eye boggle for a little while after. Having spoken to someone that has had epileptic seizures I was told that confusion and then a euphoric feeling was quite normal for humans after a seizure so I am assuming the same was for Ekko as she seemed rather happy afterwards.

As we got to the 11th week after diagnosis we knew that time was coming to an end, Ekko was still fighting hard for every day she had with us and I was there with her giving her everything I possibly could to get her through another day. Her seizures were becoming more regular, although some days she had very few but almost always the next day would be filled with them. A seizure was fairly easy to recognise and Ekko would have a far away look in her eyes to start with, then her body would become ridgid (normally her back legs would straighten and stiffen as would her front legs). She would not react to touch or voices but as the episode came to an end she would relax a little and she would react to outside stimulus again like touch, voices or her cage mates.

Just a little after 12 weeks after diagnosis Ekko was struck down with a serious secondary infection which she could not fight. In the morning she was doing well but within a few hours she was very sick and “told” me her time had come. The day we dreaded for 12 long weeks came but her life will help others that come to us or are currently fighting this horrid type of tumor. This tumor is not curable, not removable BUT you can help cushion the effects of it for a little while.

In short, for those who suspect a PT here are some of the early and later signs to look out for :

We hope that Ekko’s life will help others that are suffering from this same illness. The use of oral steroids and antibiotics can help reduce some of these effects for a short time.

Ekko came to PRRR as a rescue on the 5th of January 2009, knowing that she was going to die no matter what we did we personally adopted her so that when her time came she would die knowing she had a forever family. Ekko lost her fight on the 3rd of April 2009.

RIP baby girl. Thank you for everything you showed us and for giving us a chance to get to know you and love you so much.


Back to Pituitary Tumors | Back to Illness