Dave is one of those people that has nicknames for all the things. Kids. Pets. Cars. Random things. Sometimes I think I could teach a class in “Dave” and earn a small fortune. How many people would love to speak Dave? It can be their own little secret code. For now, it’s just our little secret code.

Nobody in our family has just one name. And this is most interesting because he rebelled against me naming our kids more than the standard first-middle-last. Including my married name, I have seven names. Soren, my first-born but not Dave’s biological child, has five names. The rest have three. Normal. Except…

Dave has nicknames for everyone. And not just one nickname. He may use one name if he’s happy, another if he’s mad, and another if he’s about to pull a prank. If you can crack the Dave-code, life is much easier. He even has nicknames for the ratbabies. Case-in-point, ratbabies. Toffee, now that she’s sick, is Toffee Kitty. Unlike me, a dog person, Dave is a cat person. Toffee Kitty means he’s being extra loving. Poor Toffee Kitty.

Toffee Kitty is the former Hoppity-hip. That’s actually my nickname for her, because when we went to buy two more rats there was Hoppity-hip. The third rat. She ran from corner to corner, quick as a mouse, in her cage. She ran into the hollow branch, out the other side, over the dish, behind the stone, lickity-split! Hoppity-hip is a very, very fast rat. She’s my rat.

I think Toffee is our ADHD rat. I’m not sure it’s a thing with rats but she has always been our go-go-go rat. And now, post-surgery she is our worry rat. Constantly worrying at her stitches. We tried everything. We googled. YouTube’d. All the things. And every night when we went to sleep she houdini’d her way out of all the contraptions and pulled another stitch.

Sunday morning I woke up, and before coffee, I was standing by Toffee’s cage. She had done it. She had pulled open the remaining stitches on her leg. I could see down into her body. It was terrible. My heart broke and I yelled for Tess. Tess held her, the three of us (Dave had to help too), wrapped her like a mummy and we called the vet.

Amazingly, despite it being Sunday and everything in Germany is closed on Sundays, the vet was open. Not just open but ready to see us immediately. We got dressed, grabbed some coffee and drove out to her office. I think the extent of Toffee’s handiwork surprised even the vet. For such a tiny rat, Toffee had made a very big hole.

Luckily it was just that, a hole. No infection had set in yet, Tess had done a wonderful job giving antibiotics and cleaning the stitches every day. We left poor Toffee at the vet, to be put under and sewed up once again. It’s a big deal for rats to be put under, and German doctors always give the worst-case scenario. We left the vets office with our hearts heavy, our minds full of worry.

Toffee is a trooper! She made it through the second surgery with flying colors. The vet wrapped her, like we had done, like a wiener dog. She also wrapped her leg. Glued the wrapping. Wrapped it again. And we all hoped for the best. In vain it turns out.

Late Sunday evening, only hours after the second surgery, only hours after being stitched, glued, wrapped tight, Toffee again was worrying at her stitches. Luckily I was in my office, currently also rat hospital, working away and I hear her rustling. I turned to give her happy noises & nose rubs, only to find her bent in half furiously nibbling at her wound.

I yelled for Dave & Tess. We scooped her up, scolded Toffee, and wrapped her till she couldn’t bend. We then spent a good half hour trying to take her vital signs to be sure it wasn’t too tight. Rat vital signs are hard. Their normal heart rate is 330 – 480 beats per minute! Respiratory is a little easier with “only” 85 breaths per minute. We finally determined she was breathing normally. More importantly we discovered she could not reach her leg.

It’s three days later and the stitches are still in place. All of them. We have a very mad rat but she is healing beautifully.