Monday, August 3, 2020

We're all still here...

Good god, the last two months have been kind of awful. Summer is downright nightmare-inducing at my job, so I barely made it through June with my wits about me. July has been a little tiny bit better at work, but has been gross on a personal level. August just got here, so nothing to say about that yet except that I hope it's better than July was. 

On July 12th we noticed Chewbi had been acting a little bit strangely. He didn't seem interested in eating or chasing his toys (which he usually loves), he was extremely lethargic, his gums and tongue were almost white, and his urine was highlighter yellow. But, it was a Sunday. When he wasn't any better on Monday, I took him to the vet for a drop-off visit. They aren't allowing people into the vet's offices here. I couldn't wait for him because my boss was on vacation that week, so I had my entire team to oversee and it wasn't a situation where I could just leave. 

Middle of the afternoon our vet called and told me that Chewbacca has Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia and that without extremely high doses of steroids and another med to suppress his immune system, he would die. Even with these meds, there was a good chance he wouldn't make it. This dog is only 8 1/2 years old. He said by the end of that week, we would have a good idea if he would make it and even then he wouldn't be out of the woods. This is the thing that, several years ago, killed my sister's 5 year old dog within 24 hours of showing symptoms.

To say that we broke down would be an understatement. Our older dog isn't well, we'd been talking just the week before this about potentially putting him down, so to see them both declining was just too much. Ani is 15, though, and you sort of prepare yourself for the day you have to say goodbye the best you can. Chewbi is still pretty young, so we were completely taken off guard by this. I would like to put in that we decided now isn't the right time to say goodbye to Ani, but that's a topic for another time. 

We talked to the vet twice a day every day until Thursday morning when he said Chewbi could come home. He still wasn't thriving, but he wasn't declining any longer, either. They weren't doing anything at the vet we couldn't do at home. So, we paid them a small fortune for his 3 1/2 day hospitalization and brought him home. He looked so sad, but better than he had on Monday when I took him over there. 

They gave us his meds and instructions about how to administer them, including instructions that one of the meds is a sort of low-dose chemo tablet and that we should wear gloves when handling it. To say we were freaked out would be an understatement, but we were also so grateful that our little guy seemed to be fighting and was able to come home. But, this also means we also had a sick dog at home that needed to be watched pretty closely. The likelihood that he would crash and could pass away was still extremely high. And, our vet doesn't do after hour emergency appointments anymore so if he did crash over the weekend we would have had to drive an hour to a vet hospital. We crossed our fingers that he would be okay. 

Our weekend we filled with anxiety and puppy snuggles. I watched him like a hawk, gave him his meds religiously on a to the minute schedule, and prayed he would be okay. There were a few worrisome moments, but for the most part he seemed like he was stable except for one tiny little 15 second long seizure that the doc said wasn't medically significant, had never happened before and (thank fuck) has never happened since. On Saturday morning I got him prescription wet dog food because he wouldn't eat his regular prescription dry food and I was concerned he wouldn't have enough strength to fight if he wasn't eating. 

Not only did he make it through the weekend, but as the week dawned we began to see signs that he was actually improving. His urine was the normal color again, his gums and tongue were pink, the big old bruise on his chest where they took his blood was actually healing up, and his side was less distended where his spleen is. We took him back for a one week check up on July 23rd, my birthday, and the vet was so pleased by his improvement. It was absolutely the best birthday gift I could have gotten. His blood work was looking so much better and I began to breathe a little easier. 

Our little guy is still getting meds twice a day, eating two cans of dog food and a cup of the dry a day, but he's doing great. He's needier than he ever was before, he wants cuddles and begs to be picked up constantly. We're not taking that for granted because he may look better, but he's still sick. He'll be on the steroids for several months and on the low-dose chemo probably until end of year. There's still a risk that when we withdraw the meds, he'll crash. And, even if that doesn't happen, the chance that it will reoccur is pretty significant. The vet tells me that when it reoccurs, the mortality rate is quite high because it's harder to fight the second time. 

There's still danger, but we love him and will do whatever we can to see that his life is as long as it can be. He has another appointment August 13th and we're hoping for more good news. He still seems to be doing just fine so I'm hopeful that he'll beat this ugly thing into remission. There's no cure and they don't know what causes it, but it can go into remission so that's what we're hoping for right now. Fingers and paws crossed.

1 comment:

  1. So glad Chewbi pulled through! It sounds beyond stressful, waiting on pins and needles to find out if you're going to lose your fur-baby. 8.5 years for a small dog is so young, too. Generally little dogs live 12-14 years, so it's hard when you're expecting much more time with them and something like this happens. He's obviously a tough little cookie and loves his home so much that he wants to stick around!
    ~Jodi

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