IMHA & Abbie's Battle


 


I need to take a moment and tell you about Abbie - Ch. Blackacre Little Hanky Panky. Who she is and what she is. Abbie is an Italian Greyhound born September 7, 1992. Her breeder Paula Carroll has been my best friend and my life line.

Words cannot even begin to describe the special bond that Abbie and I share. I am perhaps very fortunate that I was able to watch her come into this world. The moment she came into this world, I knew there was something special about her.

If you look closely at her shoulder, you will see she has a cross made into the white by her blue markings.

Abbie has always given me 100% of herself. As a puppy she gave me the thrill as a novice owner of a Best Puppy in Match. I still treasure that ribbon. She continued to thrill me in the show ring and made me laugh. She was never easy to show, but she has always been easy to love. She gave me wonderful children to adore. One of her last gifts to me was Duchess, born the last pup of her last litter.

I like to think she was placed into my hands because she was to teach me about the meaning of life. Of course I didn't realize just how literal it would mean. Her story is by far INCOMPLETE and I hope that her story will give hope, faith and love to all.

December 22 1999 -

I came home from work and found my Abbie sitting on the couch and not greeting me in her normal welcome home dance. She refused to eat and I knew there was something terribly wrong.

December 23, 1999 -

It was a trip to the vets. I wasn't expecting to hear the news that I heard. I guess that I just thought she had a bladder infection - something mild. She has an infection, possibly from a tooth is what the vet thinks. However, he informed me that her heart is not good. He suspects that the infection may have caused her heart to have problems. He handed me antibiotics and heart medication and informed me that she'd be on the heart medications the rest of her life. That doesn't bother me so much, if a pill will keep her with me, that is great.

But during the night she took a turn for the worse. She lost her ability to stand steady and would fall over if she attempted to walk. For the first time in her life, she had to sleep in a crate away from me and that was extremely difficult (I think mostly for me as I've never slept apart from her). The sweetest sight was to wake up this morning and see her blinking at me with her big brown eyes from within the crate. She is far from out of the woods, she still cannot stand for any length of time and is still not interested in food. She is drinking water and a little chicken soup water. I hope that she makes it through the day and that with each day her chances of surviving will go up.

I sought a second opinion in the form of my regular vet office. Dr. Walker said that her heart murmur is probably caused by the infection running in her system.

She is extremely anemic with her red blood cells at 10% (normal values are 37 to 50). So she's getting a little "Greyhound Blood" to help and on IV antibiotics at the vet's right now. He tends to think that quite possibly I'll be able to take her home for Christmas holidays.

The good news is that her Liver and Kidney functions are great, she is producing red bloodcells. The bad news is that we don't know why she is loosing the red blood cells. He tends to concur with the first vet that the infection probably started in her teeth, but where she's loosing blood we are not sure.

The Dr. Walker is optimistic that the transfusion and IV should help her perk up and that it is quite possible that this will put her back on her feet. He said her weakness and falling over was caused by the low red cell count.

WHEN IN DOUBT ALWAYS SEEK A SECOND OPINION and I'm glad I did. He will check her heart again once we get the infection under control. Right now he doesn't feel she needs to be on heart medication. One never realizes just how much the teeth can effect the heart and the rest of the body until you have to go through something like this!

This is a plea from my heart to keep checking your babies teeth and keep them clean. Until you have to go through something like this, you don't realize how important teeth can be and what they can do if even neglected just a bit.

Hug your babies from me and keep Abbie in your thoughts. I'm hoping for a Christmas miracle. I've had so many private well wishes that it's overwhelming. I thank you all. I think all of you just may have help create that Christmas Miracle after all!

The good news is that the transfusion and IV fluids/antibiotics have done a good thing . She was driving them all nuts all afternoon "whooing" at them . I think even the vet was surprised at how quickly this perked her up!

She did have a reaction to the blood transfusion, had a swollen face and threw up. But they got that under control. The good news is that they are pretty sure I'll be able to take her home for the Christmas Holidays. But we still don't know what caused her to drop so suddenly. She'll more than likely go back to the vet's on Monday for observation (if all goes well over the weekend).

I'm just glad I listen to my instincts that told me to get her to my regular vet!!! If I hadn't Abbie without a doubt would not have survived the day. I have a feeling the first vet misdiagnosed the problems and totally missed the anemia. It was extremely scary to watch my angel dying in front of me.

Oh one more thing, the one thing the vet was worried about was an autoimmune problem, but because the liver and kidney values came back so strong and she was manufacturing PK cells (I think I remembered that right) he kind is hoping it is not. While he didn't say, I'm hoping that it was just a mass infection that caused all this and nothing more serious. The biggest worry was why she was loosing blood and that's still not answered. We will see, I'm just so excited that she was TALKING at the vet's office! When Abbie talks, people listen (and go nuts) VBG....

December 24, 1999

One of the hardest things I've ever done was to call the vet office this morning. It's like a scary movie, you want to close your eyes on the scary parts, but you just can't. I was worried that she hadn't made it through the night, but at the same time I was hoping that she had!

The vet came on almost right away and told me they had run another blood test on her this morning. The good news was that her Red Blood cells were up to 17 % - not where they needed to be, but a huge improvement from the day before. He rattled off a bunch of other numbers and facts, but because I was so relieved he even was talking that she was alive, well, they kind of flew by me. I just remember that some of those values, while not at normal levels, had doubled from yesterday.

He still is not certain exactly what happen, but he feels that there are two things, she either has a blood parasite or she has an autoimmune problem. He gave her something just in case it's a parasite, something to fight infection, Prednisone for the autoimmune problem and vitamins to help build her blood levels back to normal.

She has to stay quiet all weekend and no exercise. I'm setting up an xpen outside just for her when she has to go out to potty. I don't want her roaming the back yard and over doing it looking for "that place" to go potty :o). She goes back Monday for tests again.

I wish all of you could have seen her face when she spotted me. The vet tech told me that EVERYONE there heard her opinion of staying at the vet office . Her eyes lit up when she spotted me and almost leaped into my arms. The whole office, myself included laughed when she turned and gave the vet tech the very evil "Abbie eye" . I swear she was telling him off in no uncertain terms just what she thought! "Go away, my MOM is here now!"

On the way out, I grabbed a cookie for her. I was shaking with relief to see her so alert that when I got in the car, I had to settle down. I handed her the cookie to see if she'd like it and she very careful placed it in my lap and gave me "the look". I knew it meant she wanted me to break the cookie for her . It was the sweetest sight watching her eat that cookie!

Normally I'm a stickler about dogs in crates in cars, but on the way home I just didn't want her out of my sight, and she in turn didn't want me out of her sight. Only she could do what she did next. She snuggled as close as possible to me, put her head on my stomach and then wrapped a paw around my waist and I swear was hugging me! That little paw was pressing so hard into my waist! The whole way home she wouldn't let me remove my hand from her side. When we got to our street she stood up and just kind of sighed that "We are home" sigh.

She is now quietly resting in her crate, she drank a ton of water, ate about 3 meals of 1/3 cup of Nature's Recipe Dry food and is peacefully sleeping. We had some quiet time together on the couch -- snuggled for awhile, but I don't want to over do it for her and she's happy to be in her crate sleeping.

I'm happily worn out! Never thought I'd say I would look forward to a Monday, but I look forward to taking her to the vet Monday and hoping that at that time there will be good news that she is fully recovered! Now that the immediate danger has passed, all we need is time for her to rebuild her immune and blood cells!

Wish each and every one of you a Very Merry Christmas,


 

December 25, 1999

Abbie is still very weak but with the wonders of the internet I am now a little more informed with what is going on with her little system.

More than likely she is battling Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA or sometimes called IMHA).

Anemia in itself is not a disease but a sign of a decrease in RBCs (red blood cells) which results in a decrease of oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. The anemia can be caused by blood loss, a decreased production of new RBCs or an increase in their destruction.

AIHA is when there is an increase in the rate of RBC destruction.

Because Abbie shows no sign of blood loss and she is producing RBCs, AIHA is suspected.

AIHA can be Primary or Secondary. Primary is when the RBCs acquire "markers" that make the body think of them as "foreign substances" and cause the immune system to attack them. Secondary can be caused by drugs, disease, cancer, blood parasites or heavy metals. At this point the vet is unsure which Abbie has. It could be blood parasites, caused by something else OR be primary.

Sometimes AIHA can be gradual or sudden. Signs are related to lack of oxygen - weakness, lethargy, anorexia. The heart rate and respiration increase. Heart murmurs and pale gums may also be present. Sometimes jaundice is also seen in severe cases (yellow cast to skin and gums). In Abbie's case, it was sudden and fairly severe because it wasn't diagnosed right away.

*****This is important to remember, if you see ANY of this in your dogs - especially PALE GUMS, please take your dog to the vet and have a blood test run. ****

The first step is to stop the immune system from killing the RBCs. Drugs such as Prednisone is use to suppress the immune system and cause a remission. More than likely we will be on this for many weeks.

All the good news the vet gave me was very positive. Her Bone marrow is producing RBCs so she is attempting to replace the loss. Her liver and kidney functions are terrific. She is eating everything I put in front of her, so we hope she will gain the weight she lost so quickly and that it will help her system function at it's utmost.

The bad news is that this isn't something she will recover overnight from (at least in most cases) so on Monday, I'm not going to expect a full recovery diagnosis, but hope to see some improvement and at least a slight increase in RBC's. It does take time for the body to replace the lost RBCs and the good news is that thanks to a wonderful vet, we now have that time.

For those wondering , yes Abbie slept with me last night. I did try to make her stay in her crate, but she threw a hissy fit as she KNOWS that she always sleeps with me. . So most of the night she did sleep with me. She got up twice, once to get a drink of water and once because she wanted to. The second time she got up, I got up and put her in her crate. She was content to sleep the rest of the night in her crate. Because of the decreased oxygen-carrying capacity in her system, she cannot be allowed to exercise or get excited. We don't want to put a strain on her heart.

I'm mainly writing this to let everyone know the clinic signs to watch for. If your dog exhibits pale gums, is lethargic and weak - DON'T WAIT. Get your dog to the vet ASAP. Make sure they draw blood and test! If the first vet would have done this, we may not have had to go through blood transfusions and me watching my dog dying in front of me.

Abbie is resting comfortably in her crate right now and wants me to send everyone an "AROOO" (which translates to HAPPY HOLIDAYS).

SATURDAY NIGHT - CHRISTMAS NIGHT 1999 --

Always follow your gut instincts. Abbie was eating, doing everything she was suppose to be doing, but she lacked energy so severely that she couldn't even release her bowels without falling over. It's tough trying to make decisions based on what a non-vet (ME) is seeing, but I knew that there was something wrong. I suspected that she bottomed out again on her RBC's.

Abbie's temperature was normal (a good thing), her heart still has a slight murmur too it, but her gums were still pale white.

The attending emergency vet was excellent. He ran her blood count and as I suspected, she bottomed back out to 10% RBCs. He said that this was common in a blood transfusion because the blood given was probably getting old and dying. The bad news is that her White Blood cells were up in the 47,000 range.

Also another disturbing news was that he couldn't get a count on her bone marrow producing any RBC's. From all that I read, this is the problem with giving blood transfusions, it can cause a suppression to the bone marrow's response to anemia. Not good, but the vet is uncertain on that one, he said he will go with what her attending vet said on her ability to make RBC's and put it down to such thin blood that he couldn't get enough to get a count. So we will hope for the best.

Because she has had a blood transfusion, they didn't want to risk another one, and I certainly didn't want to risk it either and cause more harm than good. So they are trying a newer treatment - Oxyglobin. Not certain exactly what this is, but I'm pretty sure that it's probably the much needed oxygen she needs in her system. The vet stated that this is less likely to cause reactions in her system. She will have to stay until tomorrow evening so that they can monitor her. Once again, almost immediately she perked right up from the Oxyglobin treatment and the vet kind of grinned at me and said "Oh yeah, she's already bossing us around!"

He is also going to be putting her on another antibiotic because he is very concerned at the huge White blood cell count. As I said, the other good news is that there is no return of the fever, her heart murmur sounds fairly mild and even before they gave the transfusion, she was very alert, just very weak. I am thankful that she didn't bottom out under the original number so it just means that while she lost the little help she had from the first blood transfusion, she hasn't lost additional blood.

Keep her in your thoughts, she is a fighter but could use all extra help to get through this!

December 26th 1999 --

I called this morning and Abbie had eaten, and did all her business this morning. I had to bring her medication down to her. The wonderful part of this ER is that because they were not swamped, I was able to take a peak in at Abbie to see how she was doing. She was sleeping to quietly when I walked in, but she soon heard me and stood up and wagged her tail to see me. She was still very weak and her eyes were a little on the tired side. She wasn't happy that I didn't take her home. I didn't want to exhaust her, but it sure was hard to close that crate door and walk away!

Thanks to wonderful friends and the Internet I did learn more last night and this morning on the Oxyglobin that they are giving her. It is basically purified cow's blood that helps give her oxygen and support her while her body tries to recover from the Anemia. It was a shock to hear that over 2.5 MILLION dogs suffer each year from Anemia and that the biggest killer was the lack of oxygen to their system. The Oxyglobin gives that oxygen and keeps the tissues and organs from getting damage. It is a wonderful support system to help them recover. It doesn't cure, but gives them a better outlook. The literature I've read all say that about 95% of cases where Oxyglobin is used the dogs have gotten that time and recovered. Because of the high white blood cell count, the anemia is probably due to some sort of infection running her system. The vet has her on Baytril which should help combat what ever has her so run down.

Later today they will run another pack cell test to see if her RBC's have come up. The ER vet felt that if he saw any improvement, it would be very small - possibly only 12 RBC instead of 10. IF she does come up to 12 I'll take that as a hopeful sign!!! I'm impatient and it's going to be hard waiting for another RBC count.

The attending vet tends to agree with me that she probably has AIHA but the cause is still unknown. We certainly are not out of the woods and we have a ways to go, but we are hoping that with this additional support and treatment that she has a better chance at a recovery.

I called the ER to check on Abbie. I think the hardest part is making these calls. Your scared that you will receive more bad news, yet hopeful that you will receive good. Your gut twists while you wait on the phone, your mind races in the long pauses of silence and your mind tends to wander thinking "Will she be okay?"

The vet techs said they took her out to do her business and that she felt pretty good and was an angel for them. She ate another meal and is quietly resting in her crate. I asked about another blood test, but they told me that it's too soon to test and that it will just take some time. Time that the Oxyglobin is giving her! One of the vet techs wanted to take her home. They can't believe how sweet she is HA! They don't know the Queen very well . I'm sure her being such an ornery girl is what is keeping her going!

It's hard to keep up the faith, but I wanted to thank everyone for the privately as well as public well wishes. I haven't been able to respond to everyone because of time. I just wanted to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for all the words of encouragement and help searching the internet for answers.

Again called the vet clinic to find out how Ms. Abbie is doing. The doctor who came on the phone says that she has eaten twice and is doing fine on the Oxyglobin. She has been resting comfortably in her cage and I'm more than thankful that she has at least not gone down hill.

I can sleep perhaps a little easier knowing that she has such a great ER staff that is monitoring her 24 hours and keeping really good tabs on her.

I am greatly encouraged by the upbeat doctor who reported that while there has been no change, she's at least comfortable and resting well. I'm also so encouraged to hear that she ate two nice meals and had bowel movements. Funny how just the little things can make you feel better ;o).

I did ask him about her high white blood cell count and if it had anything to do with her blood transfusion from last Thursday. He stated that more than likely her bone marrow was working overtime to produce RBC's and that because of this, it was also producing the WBCs as well. That was encouraging to hear but until we hear that the RBCs have come up, we are not out of the immediate danger. I cannot begin to explain to anyone (or course you all know ) how much of a wonder the Oxyglobin has been. It has given her a shot at beating whatever she has and that's all we can ask.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring more rays of hope that she is on the upswing.

Hugs and kisses to all you and your furkids,

December 27, 1999 --

Monday morning pickup at the emergency clinic was extremely tough. My heart wants to know that she's better but I know logically that she's a long way from recovery and very critical. Seeing her beautiful face in the arms of the vet tech was such a sweet sight. Everyone in the waiting room, waiting to pick up their own sweet pets exclaimed at how exquisite she looked. Until you view her, you don't realize, despite the signs of grayness about her face just how beautiful that face is with her large expressive eyes. Deep brown with such wonders of the world enclosed.

The ride to my own vet was spent much of the time quietly talking to her, times encouraging her and holding her. She was very weak, but managed to sit up a few to watch the world go by. I'm sure she was checking to see if she was going home.

We arrived at the vets and while they took her back to the critical care area, I waited to speak to her doctor. Even though I brought the sheets with me from the ER, I wanted to let him know what was going on. He was pretty sure what we are dealing with is the AIHA. The fact that she so quickly went downhill from the transfusion is usually a sign of AIHA. We discussed everything that had happen and he stated that he was going to try Imuran a very potent immunosuppressive drug to try to stop the destruction of Red cells. We will put her on Oxyglobin if he feels its necessary to buy more time for her. He pulled blood and checked the results. Not good. She is now down to 8 RBCs. The only good news is that her body has increased from a .25 to 1.0 in producing redblood cells. So it means that this is a regenerative IMHA.

So now the waiting really begins. Although critical, she is stable. Dr. Borden stated that we have to wait at least 48 hours to see if the Imuran and Preds will work. No more blood will be drawn during this time because she doesn't need to loose any further blood. He felt that by Wednesday we will know more. The race is really on to between the rebuilding and the stopping of the destruction of cells.

I didn't want to be at home, so I went on to work so that I could keep busy. The afternoon call to check on her was that she was in the same condition, no improvement and she did attempt to eat a little something.

Today has been a lot of soul searching on my part. A part of me says "Should I let her go peacefully?" and another part of me says, "Give her the 48 hours." The good news with this disease is that she is not in pain. I think the worst is on me because I know all she wants to do is come home.

All I could think to give her was her blanket so that she could have the smell of home surrounding her. I just want to hold and rock her and tell her everything will be okay. It's frustrating that I can't "make it better". The house is empty without her, her children that surround me give me comfort in knowing that a part of her is still with me, but it's not my Miss Abbie. I find myself looking at her spot on the couch, calling her name, viewing her pictures and holding on to a thin thread of hope that we are not too late.

As I've told others, I can handle old age (and she so very young - 7 years old) but I cannot accept that my perfectly healthy girl could suddenly become so ill. She's my angel and I want her home.

December 28, 1999 --

Last night was probably one of the worst nights of my life. I spent most of the evening crying, disheartened and missing my special girl. This morning was much the same. I dragged myself up from bed dreading the beginning of the day. Most of the way to work was spent trying to see the road through a river of tears.

I always thought the other nights were tough to make the phone call, but this morning's call to the vet office was horrible. I put it off until 8 a.m. Those pauses while waiting for the vet tech to get on the phone is almost like the darkest of nights. The cheerful voice of the vet tech telling me that Miss Abbie ate a couple of teaspoons full of babyfood and canned food brought instant relief to my body. She was alive! She even licked the bowl clean :o). That's my Abbie! Always willing to eat

Waiting for the vet report was tough. He called me about 12 p.m. They ran another blood test today. It seems I have a little room to celebrate tonight. Her pack cells (RBCs) still remain at 8. This is good news in the fact that she hasn't dropped more and disappointing news as she hasn't gained any. But the biggest news was the fact that her regenerating cells (I'm sorry I can't spell it - reticulosites) jumped from 1.0 to 4.0! The vet was very encouraged by this number.

She is still very critical, but she is stable. She is eating and regenerating. We are far from out of the woods. She still can go either way. The worry now for the staff is to watch her carefully and pray for no blood clots as she regenerates. I want to go see her badly, but at the same time, I do not want her to get excited at the sight of me. I'm going to try to go see her tomorrow if the vet feels that it will not stress her too much. I want to bring her another blanket filled with the smell of home.

I remain very cautious in hoping too much, mainly because she is still so critical, but knowing that she is fighting so hard to live and that her body is working hard to come home is the best news I've heard in almost a week.

I once again want to tell everyone that while it's difficult for me to respond privately, all the notes of encouragement I'm receiving from each of you gives me the strength to continue to give her the time she needs and to keep the hope in my alive.

Thank you for being here for me

December 29, 1999 --

Ever have one of those nights where for no apparent reason you wake in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep?

Last night was one of those nights. I woke at 3 a.m. and lay looking up at the ceiling, wondering why I awoke and then worrying that I awoke because of Abbie passing in the night. At 3 a.m. there is nothing you can do but lay there and begin to build your faith and trust into higher hands. I did get about 30 minutes of sleep afterwards, but it was a restless sleep filled with thoughts churning.

I was so frazzled and worn this morning that I forgot my picture of Miss Abbie. It was extremely difficult to face the day without looking into her sweet face. I wanted to weep and at the same time I felt a grim certainty fall in my heart that I was set on my course and I would NOT give up hope on her and myself.

The call once again early in the morning isn't exactly my favorite chores. The dead silence of the phone while I await a vet tech to tell me the news to begin my day is met by me saying my prayers and placing my trust in God. The news wasn't good. As the vet tech described it "She isn't perky this morning." I ask the vet tech to tell the vet to give her Oxyglobin. The news of yesterday was too good to give up hope.
My body is tired, my mind is weary but there is a certain resolve in me that says I must stick to this course and give her this opportunity to recover. I have faith in her.

Throughout the day I made calls and of course the doubts assail you. She was still unstable, still not "perky". One call had my heart rolling when the vet tech said "I'm just unhooking her." I think my heart hit the bottom of the floor when I asked her "What do you mean you unhooked her?" Of course thinking the worse. My heart even out when I she clarified that she had just finished giving her the Oxyglobin and that she was still laying quietly.

I did talk to the vet early in the morning and he did tell me that her hemoglobin had come up to 3 (what ever that means) and that her Pack cells came up a 1/2 point. That she didn't fall down in numbers relieved me. He told me it that mostly this small crash was because the Oxyglobin from Saturday had probably left her system. We discussed some of the things I had learn last night on this disease and some of the treatments out there. He agreed to try some Vitamin C and E in with the rest as it wouldn't hurt and some had reported success using this. Someone had asked me why he had chosen Imuran over Cytoxan and I found out that they are using a combo of those two drugs for her. That she wasn't loosing more blood to this disease is a good sign.

The total day was spent in grimness and resolve to stick this out. My last call for the evening was just a few minutes ago and honestly, it's funny how it's just the little things you want to hear. Dr. Borden came on the phone, another heart beat wondering if it was bad or good news. It was good. The Oxyglobin has once again stabilized her and bought her more time for her body to recover. In our discussion he mentioned that at first we are only going to see small improvements, nothing major, but once her body starts really turn out the cells, we should see larger leaps in blood cells. He hopes that by Friday we should see a leap in the number and he said that he will feel we are on our way if this happens. Tomorrow's numbers will be a little off because of the Oxyglobin, so I can't put much store in them.

I'm so glad that Dr. Borden is there and is right in this with me. This dear man told me "GET SOME SLEEP, I promise to call you if there is a drastic change in the night." So perhaps tonight I can get a good nights sleep, eat a little and breath a little easier that we've given her more time to recover.

That Abbie's will to survive is so strong is incredible to me and is teaching me lessons in faith, hope and love. She is teaching me patience and all about total commitment through sickness and in health.

Thanks all for being here through all this, I don't know what I'd do without the support I receive from each of you!

December 30, 1999 --

Up again at 5 a.m. writing a bit before I go to work.

A kind of peace fell over me during the night. A peace in knowing that I can feel that I have done everything I can to help Abbie recover. This disease does take lives and that Abbie has survived this long gives me hope that she will pull through and come home. It's daunting to think that this isn't something she will just recover from once her blood comes back up to normal levels, but that it will be months of monitoring, reducing medications and watching for any changes. But at the same time, it's something I know I'd do again in a heartbeat if I had to make the same choices again. The peace I'm feeling right now is also in knowing that if she doesn't recover that I can rest easier knowing that I gave her time to recover. Since Abbie's oxygen level fell so quickly and almost overnight, if it follows the same pattern, it will be Sunday that she will crash again. I haven't called this morning just yet, but when I speak to the vet, depending on her number on Saturday, I will request that he again give her Oxiglobin on Saturday so that we don't have her crashing on Sunday. We may not need it if her blood levels come back up sufficiently by Saturday, but if her numbers show improvement, I'll want her to not have to go through such a struggle again on Sunday to have oxygen in her system.

I've had a few people ask me why they can't just give her oxygen like normal - through a mask or incubator. The red cells that carry the oxygen are so few that this type of treatment will not work. She actually needs something that carries oxygen in her bloodstream. That "something" is Oxiglobin. It's purpose is to replace the red blood cells in their function of carrying oxygen to the body parts. It keeps her body going while she repairs herself from within.

The Dog Fancy Magazine arrived yesterday. I have to say that it cheered me considerably. Little did I know that when I receive a phone call in October for an interview on Italian Greyhounds at how important it would be to me 2 months later. Finding out that the first words spoken in the article were about Abbie brought fresh tears to my eyes. That not only the "Internet" world has gotten a glimpse at my Abbie, but a whole 'nother world also got a glimpse through the Mag gave me strength. If you have read the article, you can see why it's kind of hard for me to sleep at night, I don't have my Abbie here to tell me to go to bed. (Although her Daughter is stepping up to challenge - last night Duchess half barked/whined at me until I laid down). The article is a wonderful glimpse into our IG's lives and kudos to all that participated. I'd like to think it made the impression that if you can't stand to have your life run by a dog, don't get an IG! :o)

This morning's call was that she was perkier this morning and that she was back to eating and having regular bowel movements. Of course her blood exam was off as expected by the addition of Oxyglobin to her bloodstream.

I took a moment to contact the first vet's office as I finally had the strength to not scream hysterically in the phone at them. I know it's not their fault, but a part of me thinks that if they would have done a bloodtest we may have picked this up sooner. It may not have changed anything, but at least there had been that chance. The vet I wanted to talk to was there (thank goodness as he's the reason why I go there). His name is Dr. Armstrong and he listened to me and apologized that I wasn't told that they would do a bloodtest. The chart mentions it, but I wasn't informed. He's a terrific vet and spent a bit of time talking about what Dr. Borden has been dealing with. My advice to anyone is to not get upset with a vet, but if you feel that the diagnosis is wrong, do not hesitate to seek out a second opinion! It could save your dog's life!

He did cheer me some in the fact that he felt that if she's been hanging this long there is a chance that she will recover. Of course , he qualified that by saying that no outcome is certain. But I already have that feeling, so talking to him just made me feel better. He also cautioned me not to take today's tests to heart because he did explain about how Oxyglobin can make them even look like they are loosing ground instead of gaining. He said as long as I say the reticulosites pumping out, she has a good shot. We just have to wait and see if the medications she's receiving has sent her in remission and wait for the new blood to mature.

So the good news is that she is eating today, has normal bowel movements and she is once again in critical - but stable - condition.

Just wanted to take a moment to explain why we could trust the reticulosites (again apologies for the wrong spelling of this) and really not the other numbers. As explained to me, the Oxiglobin "spreads" the other cells out and "fills in the gaps" so it will make numbers go down (not up). That she had a strong count on her reticulosites is encouraging as it means she must be picking up in numbers to have such a good count.

The question remains is "Is she in remission?"

If she is in remission, then her numbers will come up. If she remains the same then we do not know if

1. She is in a holding pattern and as fast as she repairs she destroys
OR
2. She just needs more time for the cells to mature.

Patience, thank goodness I have that, is waiting it out to make the definite call of which of the two it is.

December 31, 1999 --

Spent a very restless night again. I think I got a total of 2 hours sleep. Thoughts that probably shouldn't run through my head came crashing forward. Every worry you can imagine came up. I tried to remain calm and tried to sleep. Sleep came at about 4 a.m.

I actually waited until 8:30 a.m. to call the vet this morning. I guess it's because I was hoping that before I called they would run a bloodtest. Dr. Borden came on the phone and explained to me that again the Oxyglobin didn't last long in her system. He said that this normally happens with a second transfusion and that it doesn't last as long as the first. He made the decision to do one last ditch effort for her. To risk a whole blood transfusion. He stated that because she had been on Immsuppresent drugs he hopes that she will not react to the transfusion like she did the first time.

In my heart I know that this man has done everything he can for her and has stuck with her and me throughout this whole process. He stated that he was highly encouraged with her ritculosite count of yesterday and believes that because of this, it's worth risking this one last effort to save her life. At the time that I talked to him he stated that **so far** she hadn't had a reaction - no throwing up and no face swelling. They are slowly introducing the blood as to not shock her system nor strain her heart. It's a slow process that can take all day. If successful it will buy her the much needed time she needs and quite possibly, because of the drugs she will accept this blood and not stir her immune system's response.

A wait and see policy begins today. One of my worries was "Will someone be there this weekend?" He assured me that even though they were closed to the public, they would still be there. He promised me two calls at least on Saturday and Sunday :o). He will call me later today to let me know the outcome. As of the time now 2:30 central time, I haven't received a phone call. I can only hope this means that it is STILL "So far so good".

Abbie's incredible will to survive brings tears to my eyes. I knew she was special from the first moment she came out of her momma butt first into this world. Her absolute joy in living and being with me has been some of the best moments in my life. I have to believe that we have many more to enjoy together.

I will update when I know more through out the weekend, and hopefully on Monday I can say that she is still with us.

Abbie girl I know you can do this! She's made it this far, I have to believe that she will continue to make it.

FRIDAY NIGHT --

Doctor called me to tell me that the transfusion went really well. She has even PINKED up some, she has downed a good meal and a normal bowel movement!!! I feel like celebrating tonight! HOT DOG! It's the best I've felt in a long time.

Even Doctor Borden is impressed at how much a of fighter this girl is! While we aren't out of the woods just yet, he says that we've at least bought her a lot more time for her bloodcells to mature and enter the system.

I feel much more confident tonight that perhaps we just may come back from this! With the additional time she just may make it out of critical and into stable condition! Keep your paws crossed that from now on she continues to improve!

Perhaps those New Year Wishes everyone has been sending me and all the candle lighting is working it's magic tonight!

GOOD GIRL ABBIE!

January 1, 2000 --

Dr. Borden called this morning with some really positive news. Abbie is feeling much better. Her gums are still pink, she is eating really well, good bowel movements and the VERY best news is that her urine is not showing any signs of her shedding red cells! Doc is pleased that she is still not showing signs of rejecting the blood and that is a good sign.

He will not be checking her blood count until Monday. If she continues to show signs throughout the weekend of improvement, he stated he doesn't see why she can't COME HOME Monday! YAHOO.

While we are a long way from being "cured", the very first step, and that is having her stable seems to finally have arrived! Not wanting to count my chickens before they hatch , we will know a lot more on Monday if we are truly on our way to recovery.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to each and every person out there. This very morning I received the following from a very wonderful person who will remain anonymous unless they wish to come forth :

"We had a special New Years Candle light service at our Church to usher in the new year. We don't usually say a prayer for just one individual but for all life we give thanks. To night I told our minister about Abbie and he lead the whole congregation in a special prayer for her. It really made my heart sing. "

My eyes welled with tears and I sobbed with happiness that someone that I know only through the Internet would do something so special for Abbie.

That she has touch so many hearts makes me believe that our world in the new millennium will be a much better place. Through her courageous fight for life I find myself at a new level of compassion, strength, spirit and appreciation for the human race.


Throughout this whole ordeal I found myself turning to each of you for support and comfort. Thank you for being here for both of us.


THE FIRST NIGHT OF A NEW MILLENIUM -

The vet called again. I have a huge smile on my face :o). It seems that
she is STILL looking good, eating good and is perking right up! GO ABBIE GO!

She is still not showing signs of rejecting the blood given and her urine is
still not showing signs of shedding bilirubin (a byproduct of red cells).

I am indebted to Dr. Borden and the Staff of Galleria Animal Hospital. They have
stuck with me on this and even when things looked bleak, they did not give up
on her!

I think I made Dr. Borden blush when I told him he was famous on the Internet
. He is incredible and an outstanding vet who obviously knows that an owner's heart is in this 100%. That he would make the effort to call me
twice a day warms me to know that he is a "people vet" too. ;o).

I did ask him if a COMBS test was done to confirm IMHA, but he said it was not done, but he pretty much narrowed it down to IMHA because of everything that happen. As to what triggered it, we will probably never know. Was it an infection in her teeth? Or did she pick up a blood parasite? We do know that normally IMHA has a trigger and usually it is something in the environment. What I do know is that there is no cure for this. She can get "better" in terms of being in remission, but it will be something we have to watch for the rest of her life.

I hope that tommorrow brings just as much good news as today did and that on
Monday I hear that she can come home! She has another 48 hours to go before
we can be sure the transfusion worked it's wonders and gave her the chance
she needs to come home!



January 2nd

 

This morning brought a brief moment of anxiety to my heart while waiting for the phone call. But because of all the well wishes throughout this ordeal and a deep feeling that things would be okay, I shook those feelings off.

The call came at 10 a.m. this morning. Doc Borden said that everything is still looking good. He feels pretty confident that she will be able to come home Monday if her bloodwork comes back looking good tomorrow!!! She still has boughts of weakness, but that is mainly from battling death for a week than anything else. He said she is getting more perky and is even treating the office to boughts of "wooing" 8O) -- something she hasn't done in over a week.

I didn't get to bed until late last night (2 a.m.) but mainly that was because of excitement instead of fear . I put her story together and created a webpage. The music for her website is "Candle in the Wind". Mainly because that is what she is, a dog who despite the winds of death through the glory of life could not blow out her spirit.  

I know a lot of people have asked me if I was able to see her at all last week, but because of how critical she was, Doc Borden did not want to upset or excite her in anyway. So visiting was off limits and a week without touching, hearing and seeing my Angel was no doubt one of the hardest weeks of my life. I tremble at the thought of holding her in my arms come Monday.

This morning I got a lovely email from someone who wrote: "I know you haven't gotten your Christmas just yet, but I feel confident that you will." I do believe my Christmas will be this Monday and the most precious gift I could ever receive is her life.

The war is certainly not over, but it seems we have won the battle. We still have months of weaning her from the medication and weekly visits to the vet office to monitor her blood. I can laugh a little when I tell all of you that I find myself checking everyone's gums to make sure they are nice and PINK :o). I am pretty sure that this is something I will be doing for the rest of my life . I know poor Abbie is going to be grumpy at how many times I will be checking those gums!

Again, mere words as "Thank you" cannot express the gratitude I feel for each and every person out there. During my darkest hours all of you gave me hope when things seemed at their worst. Thank you to those who held my hand and offered comfort. Thank you to those who shared in my happiness when things looked brighter. Thank you to those who offered financial assistance when I did not know if I could continue on in the face of the costs. Thank you to those who stood by me, held me up and gently pushed me forward when I was at a standstill. There isn't enough words to describe the incredible feelings of love I have for each of you.

I knew IGs were magical, but until this came along, I just didn't know how powerful a spell they could cast.

 

 

Someone sent me this beautiful graphic I hope you enjoy too!

ABBIE IS HOME!

 

Waiting until 12 p.m. to find out the results, I felt like a little kid promised by her parents to go to the fair! (Of course I cheated and called first thing, but it wasn't until noon that I could find out if she got to come home!).

For the first time in OVER 10 days I didn't mind the dead silience on the phone while I waited until the vet tech to answer :O). I couldn't believe the blood test results! Her count was 24!!! YAHOO.
In the background I could hear this god-awful (not be confused with any other breed but IG) wailing. The vet tech said, "You hear that? That's your Angel!" My ears hurt even through the phone! I can translate it for you "MOMMA GET YOUR BUTT HERE NOW!" I laughed with relief to hear that strong voice telling me in no uncertain terms just how she felt!

Waiting until 3 p.m. to leave my office was the hardest thing I've ever done! Phew, I was smiling and grinning from ear to ear and laughing with pure joy that she was alive!

The whole staff assembled to watch her see me for the first time in over a week. Their faces were split in huge grins and I think I saw a few tears in their eyes. No one there could believe that she pulled through and that she made it. Even Jana, who was her primary vet tech care person told me that she fully expected to find her passed away this morning.

Seeing her WALK to me brought a joy that I cannot even begin to express in words. Her tail was going 90 to nothing when she saw me. How SKINNY she was, a bag of bones with skin! How LIGHT she was when I picked her up, it felt like I was holding air. She immediately began to talk to me. Abbie, who really isn't a "talker" began to explain to me in detail just how happy she was to see me. The vet staff gave a big laugh (I'm sure it was more of a snicker) and told me to "Have fun" .

I was treated all the way home to a non-stop complaint list from Abbie. And her eyes, I laugh now, but I don't think I've ever seen such reproach before, telling me she was VERY unhappy that I left her there for that length of time. I have a sneaky suspicion she hung on just because she wanted to tell me first hand what she thought of my "treatment" of her royalness .

She is still extremely weak. I had to make her ride in a crate home simply because I couldn't trust her ability to balance on a 45 minute drive home.

Arriving at home, she has already done all her business, had a small amount of food and is resting (ha! still complaining is more like it!) in her crate.

Her eyes are bright, she is very alert and despite being so weak in limbs, she I think is very HAPPY to be home. She is incredible and so very special. I feel complete now, the other half of me is home

We will still have many days ahead of us to be totally sure that she is in remission. For awhile there will be 2 day vet visits and blood work to be done. Then work to lower the high dosages of Imuran and Pred as we carefully wean her from these potent drugs.

The cost is incredibly high. I have had a few requests on the costs involved. Including emergency care, vet costs from the first vet and a week stay at the vets, her total cost is now at $2,000.00 This does not include the coming months of frequent vet trips. I would do it all over again to have her with me.

You know what hurts the most? Keeping her in a crate! I think I'm going to hear her complaints for awhile because she is not use to it and I do not want her loose in the house until at least a week has gone by. How do you explain to an Italian Greyhound that "BED REST" does not include a bed at the moment but a crate? . I think I'm going to invest in some ear plugs LOL!

Thank you again for sticking with me on this and being here. The updates won't be as frequent now, but I will be sure to include updates as they come along :o). I know Abbie wants to say thank you to everyone for their support through out all this. AROOOO - We are celebrating our Christmas together now!

ABBIES FIRST DAY HOME!

 

Okay, I didn't think I'd be updating again for a while, but I've had several private inquiries about how she is doing today.

I really tried to go to work today, but I just couldn't make it through the full day. All I could think about was how lucky I am that she is still with me. Then I began to worry because it would have been her first day without supervision - and well you can imagine how my thoughts rolled.
Because of the Prednisone coursing her system, she has an increase in thirst, her appetite (which is good) and also an increase in the number of times she has to go potty. Abbie absolutely hates to mess in her crate so all I could think then was "how would I feel cooped up and have to live with an accident in a crate?" Needless to say, I couldn't stand it so I took a 1/2 day vacation.

When I got home, I checked her gums. I never thought seeing pink would thrill me so much. After seeing ghost white gums for so long, seeing that pink tinged gumline just tickled me. I am trying to get some pictures taken as I'd like to do a before and after shots of Abbie so that I can share with everyone. Until you see the extent this has taken on her system, it doesn't seem possible that she survived. Her will to live is incredible. Abbie is nothing but skin over bones. Because of the time spent just living by a thin thread, her bowel movements are extremely difficult for her. It takes about three trips for her to complete one bowel movement. And right now she is dribbling pee because she cannot control it. The vet will be prescribing some stool softeners for her to help until she gains a little more strength.

I was worried about overdoing the feeding. Looking at her, it makes you want to just stuff as much food as she wants to eat in front of her. The vet said it was okay to feed her several small meals a day and I'm glad. He also told me that I can feed her as much liver as I want as this will help soften her stools and is very rich in vitamins she needs right now. Since it's a favorite food, I'm sure she's going to be very happy.

Because she has not fat reserves left, she gets a little cold and she trembles from time to time. I haven't been able to let her sleep with me just yet but the crate is next to me and we had about 2 potty trips last night. It will take some time for her to build back her strength and get her blood levels in the normal range again.

Tomorrow will be a visit back to the vet office for her first check up . I am going to have to take a picture of her in her crate so that all of you can see the PILES of blankets she has. I had to remove some because she looked like she was on top of Mount Everest - LOL.

Holding her in my arms is such sweet success. I can't seem to stop touching her, whispering to her and hugging her. She leans right into those hugs and you should hear her sigh of happiness. The other dogs are eager to say "Hi" to her and her daughter Duchess wants so badly to snuggle with her. I don't want to wear her out and she's still a little cranky from being so tired .

I'm sure she can't wait to get back into the swing of things and regain her position as "QUEEN" of the Royal Palace. In the meantime darling Duchess is enjoying her new status of the boss, only thing is that she can't understand why it doesn't work so well - it's because her Momma isn't there to back her up .

Abbie sends warm "WOOOS" to everyone. Someone pointed out to me today that I can no longer call her "My Abbie", for now she's become YOURS as well.

Abbie's First Vet Visit

 

It was one unhappy dog going to the vet this morning. I think part of her screaming was the fact that she was uncomfortable and had to potty. But a part of me knows she was cursing me for taking her back to the vet "Mom, I just got home!"

The vet techs tell me that she left them a nice soft present ALL OVER her cage so they don't think she needs stool softeners . I guess she was letting them know just what she thought of all this :o).

I didn't get a chance to talk to Dr. Borden today at noon when I called, but the call was fairly comical. The relay message was "Everything looks good." and I could hear a pleading voice of the receptionist who said, "You can come get her anytime, now would be a good time." I could hear her wailing in the back ground - LOL.

I had to wait until I was off work, but I'm a stickler about knowing exactly what "Looks good" means. Her bloodwork shows a DECREASE, but the vet states that is expected after a blood transfusion and that everything else looked good. Abbie's appetite is incredible, she wants to inhale everything. And her urine is very clean, so he isn't to worried about the decrease because of all the positive signs elsewhere.

I've learned something this past day. Abbie complains for only two reasons:

1. "I NEED TO GO POTTY NOW"
and
2. "I WANT FOOD NOW"

Other than those two complaints, she is content to rest in her crate. I really want her to be better NOW, but I know that as sick as she was, it will take some time. I worry about her constantly. Her poor little heart pounds so LOUD and a part of that is how thin the blood still is.

Friday is her next vet trip and I PRAY that her numbers will show an increase by then. I don't want to spend another weekend at the ER.

I'm find myself worrying so much about her, hoping and praying that she is on the mend, yet scared at the same time that it's all a dream and that she will be snatched from me at any moment. These fears will take awhile to go away I'm sure, but a lot of them are founded in truths. This disease takes lives and until she has her full blood count back up, I cannot rest my vigilance even for a moment.

But the good news is that she is eating wonderfully well, she is showing a very positive attitude and I like to think enjoying being home.

HOME ALONE - Abbie's first day alone

 

Yesterday was a very nerve wracking day for us. I think the vet trip wore Abbie out more than I realized. She slept most of the night and didn't make a sound. Not even to go outside and potty. I must have checked her gum color 20 million times - enough to make her think I was crazy :o)

I spent part of the evening just laying in front of the open door crate and stroking her from head to tail. She had her eyes closed and enjoyed every moment of my worshipping. I could feel every bone in her body and wondered to myself when she would fill back in. At the rate she is eating, I'm sure it won't be too much longer that I can feel better knowing at least she is back to a normal weight. When she stands she trembles a lot, which I'm pretty certain is from cold and weakness of limbs.

Her daughter Duchess has been a lifeline for me during this whole ordeal. I've discovered that I have the world's smartest IG here . Although I'm suspecting she's doing this mainly to "amuse" me and cheer me up. So far in less than a week, Duchess has learned "Sit" "Stay" "Down" and "Shake". She does a lot of things her Momma does also (like bossing me around) and it's been wonderful to have her with me.

Leaving this morning was tough. I have to believe in my vet when he says "Everything looks good". Her gums still have a pink tinge to them (although still pale). The high doses of Pred she is on (20 mg a day) and the Imuran (1/4 tab which I'm not sure how much 1 a day) is scary enough without thinking of the disease she has. I've read the side effects from these drugs, but frankly, it scared me so much that I kind of blocked it out because we have enough to worry about without adding more worries! I'm sure after all is said and done I'll go back and look and write it out when it's not so scarey :O).

I left my husband "in charge" of letting her out before he left for work and to coming home at lunch to take her out. Sometimes I have to shake my head. I waited most of the morning for him to call me to let me know what her stools and status was. He never called, I had to call him. I suspect that it's because "macho man" didn't want to have to discuss "POOP" in detail in front of his colleagues. I realize that "some of us" find poop discussion normal conversation - but for him an uncomfortable one. She hadn't pooped when I left so I worried about her having to suffer in even a large crate with it if she had to go. She hadn't gone in the morning, but the afternoon call to my husband told me that she did go when he got home, and didn't have too much of a difficulty and she peed twice. He said she seemed a little more perky.

I couldn't wait to get through work and come home. I hated to leave her, but bills have to be paid and therefore I have to work! She was sitting up and demanding food when I got home :o). Her gums are still the pale pink, but I think all the food is making her feel a little better. She's not having to fight this disease PLUS gaining weight with the amount of food she is eating. Of course, I monitor carefully because I don't want to end up getting her WAY overweight! For now the extra meals are helping her.

This evening's outdoor activities brought a huge smile to my face. Taking her out she did a nice pee and then had no trouble getting a poop out! Such a thing to be excited over . But the thing that brought a huge grin to my face was her KICKING HER FEET OUT BEHIND HER. Although it was a slow drawn out kick, I knew she had to be feeling better if she was doing this behavior!

Crate rest is still in the picture, she still gets tired easily because her blood isn't all the way back to normal and we still have to be very careful that she doesn't overdo it. Bloodclots are still a danger at this stage so very quiet activity is for her until her bloodwork returns to normal ranges.

Tomorrow is her second trip to the vet. I'm so tired of hearing "her bloodwork is down" that I'm hoping to hear the words "it is up"!!! If I can just judge on the attitude alone, I have a feeling that it's probably come up a little bit.

Abbie sends Happy "WOOOS" to everyone and I think she's very happy to be home.

ABBIE'S SECOND VET TRIP

 

It's hard to imagine that only last Friday that the words "She isn't doing so well" were etched into my heart and soul. The gut clenching terror of a week ago is still not a past memory, but frightening real and still has the ability to make my heart pound.

Taking her to the vet this morning was a journey of remembrance. When faith, love and hope are tested, you hope that in the end you will remain strong. Abbie's journey to the vet started just like the others with me talking to her and her cussing me right back :o). The minute she spotted the office she began to violently tremble. I hate being apart from her no less.

Work kind of flew by and by 2 p.m. I made my calls to the vet. Now, instead of terror in my heart, I find the silence of the phone comforting as it gives me a chance to reflect on better days. Dr. Borden is perhaps one of the best vets I have ever had the privilege of having attend one of my "babies". He treats me with respect and acknowledges that I am intelligent enough to discuss his findings without him having to pick and choose words. He was very encouraged by her CBC reports today. She is still at 19 and her hemoglobin's are holding at the same amount. Her ritculosites have increased again and he is very enthused about those numbers. She has gained a POUND! (yahoo). He feels that probably the Imuran has finally began to have an effect and that by Monday we may see an increase in her numbers. Not what I was hoping for, but because of his positive feelings on what he was seeing, he felt confident that an increase should be seen shortly. If on Monday her count comes up he says that we may not have to make a trip back until Thursday or Friday of next week :o).

I was concerned about the upcoming weekend and wonderful man that he is, gave me his home phone number. If (God forbid) anything drastic should happen over the weekend I am to call him and meet him at the office.

Our trip home was to say the least with me having my spine stretched by her constant screeching and wailing. I think she is trying to use Pavlov's theory and make me want to avoid vet trips . It's amazing the power of such a little dog's voice can do to a grown woman! By the time I was pulling in my driveway I was BEGGING her to stop screeching!

Abbie has already eaten her dinner, gone potty four times and is now zonked out in her crate. This weekend for the first time in 3 weeks I hope is a peaceful one for the Izat Crew. I look forward to sleeping throughout the night, getting up late and lounging in front of a TV . While Abbie won't be able to share couch time, she will be spending it next to me and watching her favorite movies right alongside.

I had hoped that we could allow her out, but I found out in an unexpected way that her strength is a lot weaker than her will. She nearly gave me a heartattack when she tried to outsmart me and go up our porch steps (almost ending up head first in the concrete because she has no muscle strength for such an activity).

Abbie sends "screeches" your way -- shes a LOT more "perky" these days .....

Abbie's First Weekend

 

Abbie has enjoyed a relaxing weekend, eating and sleeping. Today she has been a little more impatient on her bid to be out of her crate. She's eating well, taking her medications and getting back to being a big brat .

Tomorrow we hope that the vet will tell us the news that her numbers are up. I am concerned a bit because they have her on such high dosages of Pred. While I know that for short term it's not as bad as long term, it's still a pretty high dosage.

Everything I've read tells me that until her numbers are in the normal range, she will have to remain on such high dosages. I'm back to being impatient in wanting her numbers to be higher than what they have been. I wish I could say that her color has improved and to some extent it does look a little better. It's not so white with a pale pink tinge but looks more like a paste pink. If I could judge by her attitude, I'd say she is feeling better.

It's amazing to me at the whole new world that has open to me. Right now there is a woman with a Standard Poodle battling for his (Louie) life. Holding this woman and her families "cyber hand" is a nice feeling. It's nice to know that since I've been there I can offer the emotional and spiritual support that is needed.

I do believe that without the loving support and prayers Abbie and I wouldn't have made it this far. It amazes me at how many lives Abbie has touched. I thought that her role in life was to become this wonderful "show dog" and set the world on fire in the ring. Instead I found that her true purpose was to show me what the power of the love of one dog can do to bring people together.

Abbie's First Victory!

 

Oh how I hate vet trips when it's Abbie I'm taking. Those screeches and
whines just hit the nerves just right. I don't need coffee in the morning
because she'll wake you up with those protests!

I had a good feeling this morning leaving for the vet office that Abbie was
probably feeling better. Yesterday evening she began a nonstop campaign of
hollering to let me know she was NOT HAPPY about being left in a crate.
Looking at her gums and noticing they are now a bit more pale pink instead of
a paste pink, I had a feeling that the count probably came up some. But
until you test, you just don't know!

So without further adieu, Abbie's PC are at 21!!!! YAHOO **** Pop the
champagne *** Throw the confetti *** for the first time since December 21,
1999 her numbers increased on their own (without aid of blood transfusion)!!!
(Normal range is 37 to 50 - we are closer!).

I am concerned about the amount of Pred she is on (20 mg a day) and Imuran.
The Pred is a very high dosage. From information from websites and other
individuals, I know the things I need to be concerned about is White Blood
Cell count (having it drop to far down), bone density problems (read broken
legs) and kidney/liver problems. So I did speak to my vet about the high
dosage. Until her numbers are in the normal range we have to leave her on
these high dosages. Once she is in the correct range we can begin to slowly
(and that's really slow ) wean her down.

The vet was very pleased with her numbers as most of the numbers were up from
Friday's numbers and her reticulosite numbers are still greater than 4%.
Everyday I check her from head to toe, making sure that from her gums we see
the continuing improvement of color and for any strange swellings which would
mean a quick vet trip. The hard part is convincing her that crate rest is
needed :o). She still thinks it should mean bed rest :o).

I may not be posting everyday now on Abbie's progress, but on major news I
will. However, Abbie's website will have frequent updates so if your curious
to know how she's doing on a given day, please feel free to visit. A whole
new world opened up to me when this began and while I don't wish this on
anyone, I now have been able to give emotional support and information to
individuals whose dogs are suffering through what Abbie is going through.
It's amazing how many different breeds of dogs are effected by this and I'm
glad that the knowledge I've gained is being of use to others and hopefully
easing the pain that I know accompanies this disease. Without each of you, I
doubt I would have made it this far.

I know if Abbie could, she would give each of you a hug and a kiss - of
course Italian Greyhound style :o)

January 11, 2000

 

I worried quite a bit last night because of how worn out Abbie was.

Tonight she is a lot more active, wanting to be out of her crate, but at the same time still not full of energy.

The waiting is hard on all of us because I just want her better and back in bed for snuggles, warmth and kisses.

We are now heading into our 21st day of this disease and I know we have come so far, yet the end isn't in sight just yet.

Mostly tonight it will be me laying next to her open crate and giving her lots of attention and love.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

Sometimes in the face of life changing events we do not know why we are brought to bear such pain. In Abbie's story and her battle with IMHA I didn't know why I had to suffer through this.

I had thought that it was to teach me about the meaning of compassion and to learn about the love of our human race. But I think perhaps my complete answer came today. As I spent most of last night gathering her story and creating her webspace I didn't know how important that would be.

Just a few minutes ago I received an email from an online friend who has Flat Coats. It seems a very good friend of hers just had her dog diagnosed with IMHA last night. She thanked me that I had the website done and passed it on to her friend.

Right behind her note was another from this lady. I could feel the tears through her email as she thanked me for giving her hope. It's incredible to me how sometimes things happen for a reason.

If all my fears, tears, hopes and dreams help even one other person, then I'd like to think that perhaps Abbie's story was written for the purpose of giving life to others.

RELEASE THE HOUND!

 

Abbie's trip to the vet was smooth sailing. Don't know why, but Abbie didn't scream her head off until we turned down his street (not a dumb girl by any means).

Although she really didn't have much to complain about, it was an "in and
out" job - the ride home she scolded me most of the way for daring to subject
her majesty to the whims of some vet techs :o). You know - she's a brat
.

The report was GOOD GOOD GOOD. Her hermadacrits (xcuse the spelling) was up
to 29%, her hemoglobin's were up, her white blood cell count was in normal
range and her reticulosites were still kicking out strong :o). At the rate
she's going, she is producing about a 1.25% increase per day in her counts
:o) However, the most important news is that the vet has released her from
total crate rest to limited supervised couch time! YA HOO. I am allowed to
increase her exercise slightly (this means a flexi lead instead of a 6 foot
leash). Hopefully by next Monday if her numbers are in the normal range, he
may start weaning her Pred dosages to a much safer level.

Thank goodness we are off today because while Abbie doesn't seem worn out by the vet trip I AM . Time for me to get some healing sleep and fight
this darn cold.

CHAT ON ABBIE

 Yesterday I attempted to let Abbie out for just a little while.

In our "dog room" (okay the whole basement ) is a daybed that is a bit higher than our couches. I watched Abbie try to take one jump and my heart almost stopped. She barely made it onto the bed. After that I just put her back in her crate.

Abbie use to be able to leap from the floor to almost my head, now her pitiful jumps don't even reach my knees. She use to clear couches in a single bound, now it's an effort for her to make it from the floor to the couch. I know it's a matter of gaining her muscle tone back and because she is on Prednisone it will take even longer than normal.

So despite having pneumonia and my husband down with the Flu too, we both broke the daybed down (took the frame out) and put the mattresses on the floor (now it's more like a Futon ). It's pretty pitiful to watch two grown people take over 3 hours to break down one bed frame. **puff puff PAUSE wheeze wheeze PAUSE **

I actually like lowness of the mattresses much better because I have a Dachshund whose main thrill was to leap off that high bed to the floor (despite all attempts to stop her from doing this). So even when Abbie gets better I think we will be keeping it this way.

So we released the hound again to allow her to roam her domain and she is thrilled. She still has trouble jumping from the floor to the couch, but now takes a bit extra time before she jumps. I can't tell you what a thrill it is to now see Abbie back on the couch sprawled across it like the Queen that she is. It seems like eons ago that we thought we'd never see her doing these things again. I appreciated and loved her before all this, but now
it feels more like a blessing to have this second chance with her.

Even better is being able to sleep with her again. Both her and I took a long afternoon nap cuddled together

There is nothing better than seeing Abbie curled up on the couch next to her children and grandchildern. It's been interesting too watching the interaction of everyone with her. It's amazing how gentle they are with her and the sheer joy in all the dog's faces with her return into the pack. Duchess in particular seems the most thrilled with her Momma's return. She hasn't left her side and the kissing between them brings a smile to my face.

February Vet Trip

 

The date of December 21, 1999 will forever be etched into my brain. This was the date that Abbie was found to have IMHA. Her courageous battle to continue to live raged on for 10 days. On January 1, 2000 after two blood transfusions Abbie was stabilized.

Now, it is February 7, 2000 and I'm pleased to report her numbers for the FIRST TIME are in the NORMAL RANGE!!! YAHOO! How strange that I would be happy with the phrase "normal" when I live such a "UN-normal" life (as non-doggy people see it! ).

Once again, Dr. Borden is encouraged by her numbers and we are weaning her down to 5 mg of Pred a day and her regular Imuran tablet. We have a week of doing this and then after that we begin to alternate her Imuran and Pred each day for the rest of the month! If all goes well, no vet trip will be scheduled until then! (Abbie is in my lap saying HURRAY No VET VISIT!).

A couple of things have worried me this entire time, her teeth and that she has two growths on her teats. The doctor is fairly certain that the growths are not something to be to concerned about but the teeth will need a major overhaul and cannot be done until she is off Pred and Imuran at least a month. At this time, he will go in and remove and clean teeth. I'm also grounded from any shows and visiting any shows because she is on such powerful Immunesuppresants and we cannot risk any type of infections or diseases. (waaaaa!!!)

This is a reminder to any of you that thought about it but didn't get around to making that call yet. PLEASE check those gums and teeth! Schedule a Vet appointment. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure -- as the saying goes. Teeth are the cause of many illnesses and keeping them clean can save you a lot of heartache.

All I can do with her right now is WaterPik her mouth and I'm not allowed to brush her teeth or scrape them at all because of risk of infection. (Yes my dogs all tolerate WaterPik and enjoy having the rush of water against their teeth - just have to be careful not to choke them with water.). If your considering it, make sure you have a big enough tub and always keep the head down so that the water flows out of their mouth and that way the debris from gums/teeth are not swallowed.

Anyway, Abbie sends happy AROOOOs to all her "owners"

2004 - update

As of this writing, Abbie is coming up on celebrating her 12th birthday.  She is on no medications and has been doing very well.   I am so proud of her!   Just yesterday she cleared a 42" babygate as if it were not even there.   Pretty good for an old fart!    Many of you  have contacted us to find out how she is doing.   Many have contacted asking questions about this disease, please, always feel free to contact me!   Just so you feel better, you are not alone!   Abbie is living proof that you can survive.


photo take spring 2004

The End

In 2005 I lost my Abbie to Cancer.    How strange that her fate would end as it did.    Abbie had Cutaneous Mass Cell Tumors (CMT) grade II, which became very aggressive and ultimately made me have to decide between putting her down or removing a front leg.

I elected to remove her leg.   It gained me exactly 1 more month with her.   But how strange that years before I would battle IMHA, a blood disease and sadly lose her when a main artery that was tied off abruptly opened and caused her to bleed out.  

I like to think she knew that I would never be able to make the decision to let her go and so she left as gracefully and as peacefully as she could, knowing that I loved her always.

I will always miss her and think of her.   She was everything a heart dog should be.