I still have a dog!

Wow! There are actually people who read this blog! More of you than I would’ve thought…thank you so much for the comments on my last post and for the e-mails. There are a lot of pet owners (and pet lovers!) out there. You know, when I was younger I really kept to myself…I didn’t reach out much. So now when I do reach out, it still humbles me to see what all comes back. I couldn’t believe it…local friends (who I haven’t known all that long and who I didn’t even know read my blog) offered to go with me to the vet. Okay, some of these people have actually met this dog, so maybe they’re doing it for the dog rather than for me? No…I’m kidding! I know they’re doing it for me. I am very fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.

And as it turns out, I still have a dog! Things were very bad when I took her to the vet on Wednesday. She has immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, which is a fancy way of saying her immune system is attacking her body. Her red blood cell count was 25 on Monday (normal is 35-50) and it dropped to 19 on Wednesday. My dog just lied there on the floor…she couldn’t even walk (I carried her out to the car…in to the vet). Our local vet referred us to the specialty clinic in Cedar Rapids…told me to go there immediately. The dog’s life was in jeopardy.

The vet in Cedar Rapids gave me options that ranged in price from $400-1700 and couldn’t give me more than about a 50/50 chance that any of it would help. And there is additional risk with some of the treatments, too. So…given Molly is 13 years old, has a thyroid condition, arthritis, and hasn’t been able to go on a real walk with me in two years (about all she can handle is a walk around the block…no more than half a mile or so), we decided to bring her home and have her put to sleep at our vet’s here rather than try and treat her up there. There was a chance she’d die up there and the kids didn’t want that…they wanted a chance to say good bye. (My youngest was a year old when we got Molly…he doesn’t remember life without her.)

The $400 treatment would’ve involved a high dose of steroids (and then round-the-clock staff care), so I asked whether we could try the steroids and monitor her at home (this is a dog that gets intestinal distress anytime she’s left at the vet’s or a boarding facility…when we go away we always have a neighbor or friend take care of her). I figured “what’s going to happen is going to happen,” and I’d rather it happen with us rather than in a hospital 30 miles away. The vet agreed, though she didn’t seem very optimistic. I went home Wednesday night with the understanding we would be putting our dog to sleep the next day.

And, by the way, while I was at this veterinary hospital in Cedar Rapids, I was supposed to be doing an online chat about my Truth About Truman book on the ALAN website. So I had to have my husband e-mail them (I had no phone number) and let them know what was going on…fortunately, they were very understanding and said they’d reschedule.

So I came home…and yesterday morning Molly looked even worse. I spent most of the morning rocking her in my rocking chair and crying. (I didn’t know it was going to hit me as hard as it did…she’s OLD. I’ve known this was coming for quite some time. I knew I’d be sad, but not THAT sad.) Finally I got it together enough to make the call. Both my kids wanted to be there when we put her to sleep, so I called to see if we could find a time that everyone could be there. As luck would have it, neither vet was in the office yesterday. They were both at an out-of-town convention. But, the woman in the office said that she was pretty sure our vet would come in that night when he got back into town and we could do it then. She said she’d have him call us when he got back.

My husband and I had a lunch date yesterday, but I was in no condition to go out in public. So he came home for lunch and we just had sandwiches together. Because Molly also tends to get an upset stomach when she eats anything other than dog food, we do not feed her table scraps. But we both felt so bad for her…and she loves roast beef. So my husband dropped a little of his sandwich for her. (Sort of a “Last Supper.” She LOVES beef.) We didn’t expect her to eat it…she hasn’t eaten much of anything all week. But she ate it!

So then I dropped some of my turkey sandwich and she ate that, too! We kept doing it…dropping food…and she kept eating it. And then she actually perked up a bit during the afternoon. She started putting her head up…she even got up and hobbled around a little bit. When the vet called I said I wasn’t so sure about this anymore. The steroids were helping! He told me not to get my hopes up…even if she is looking better, she may not actually BE better. But we agreed we wouldn’t do anything last night and I would come in this morning and get her red blood cell count checked again.

So I did that…and her red blood cell count was 18, so yes, it’s down one more point. But the vet said it could still be on its way up because it may have dropped lower than that after it was tested on Wednesday. At least it wasn’t down to 12, which was kind of what he was expecting might be the case. He agreed that she looked better today. So…we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. The main thing is to get some food in her so she can maybe start making red blood cells on her own again.

I know this is going to be a long process. I know it could take months to stabilize her…and I know she still may not survive. But I feel good that we tried SOMETHING and for now, it seems to be working.

I also know she’s old and her time to leave us is coming…probably sooner rather than later. But I don’t have to deal with that today.

Thanks again for all the good wishes.

13 thoughts on “I still have a dog!

  1. Hi,

    I feel for you. My dog had this. Her count was six when she was diagnosed. It was a roller coaster ride and very expensive. My dog was eleven. We did the blood transfusions, the steroids, the cyclosporin. You may want to make sure your dog is on Pepcid to protect her stomach from the steroids. It (hopefully) will help her feel better. I hated the steroids because of the side effects but that is the main treatment at first.

    Here is a message board for owners with dogs with this disease.

    Take care. It is a terrible disease. Hugs to you and your dog.


  2. Hope she continues on the upswing. We have an old golden retriever who’s now about 13, and so I know what you’re going through. A few times we thought we were losing her, and then she bounced back! Hope that your dog is around for more good times!

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