January 7th 2007 4:07 pm
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Exactly one year ago from October 22 I had to put my 9 year old female boxer, Kema, to sleep. After a 2 month battle with IMHA it took its toll on her body so we had to let go.
Here is our story. Last year around August 6-10, 2005 we boarded my two boxers and one mutt at a local kennel. We headed off to Atlanta and then on to Quebec. Our first full day in Atlanta we received a call from the kennel who wanted to inform us that Kema was acting slow and that they had taken her temperature and said that they couldn't find anything wrong. We thought nothing of it because in her age she had slowed down compared to her brother. We thought that it was just her normal self and wasn't too worried. Our vacation continued for another 3 days and then we headed back.
The next day my neighbor and I went to pick up the pooches. Immediately I knew something was wrong with her. My father just said that she was probably just stressed and tired from being at the kennel. I however was a worried mom and knew better. I wanted to take her to the vet but my dad told me to wait. I noticed that her gums and eyes were white as snow and lacked any color. I made up my mind and asked my neighbor if she could take me to the vet. Her blood count was 14 and the diagnosis IMHA. We were told we could try to fight it or put her down. The doctor said he felt she had a chance so we went forward. They were closing so they told us to return tomorrow morning and just to come straight back and we would be taken care of.
We returned the next morning and she received a four hour long transfusion and I sat there with her the whole time. The main medication she was put on was prednisone and prilosec(prevent ulcers from the prednisone). She had 3 other meds as well.
What can I say, the transfusion really brought my girl back to her old self. I felt she was on the road to recovery. However, the meds that were meant to counter act the IMHA was also taking her apart. First, with all the meds I wanted to make sure I was giving the right things. Prednisone being a strong drug easily causes problems in the digestive area. The vet techs told me to stop the prilosec. Her stool became either blood or liquid like. She also had bad balance and wouldn't bother trying to get up once she fell down- like a downed deer. Her skin easily bled, her stomach became bloated in look, and her joints became swollen. She lost all of her muscle because she came down with cushings from the Prednisone. She wouldn't walk, and couldn't get up on her own. Her diarhea worsened and I was forced to tie her up in the kitchen. It broke my heart to leave her down there because she in the past was always was waiting in my room at bed time- either on her or my bed. During all of this we were going to the vet at least once or twice a week but the vet seemed unworried. Oh, after false info from the vet tech I found out from the vet the next time we went in that she was suposed to be on the prilosec which was what was supposed be protecting her from bloody stools, ulcers, and diarhea. I felt like I was losing her and wanted to change her treatment but the vet said she is fine because her blood count wasn't dropping to any significance. This has been over two months and finally I decided to get a better opinion on her treatment and he refered us to Texas A&M. My father had to work so I had to find a time that would correspond with my neighbor.
The day we set up for her to go Kema had basically hit zero. She was having trouble breathing. My neighbor arrived and I was in tears. I didn't even know if there was any point in goint to A&M at this point but we packed her up in the car. I postioned my body around my babe as support and we drove for a hour and a half. We got there and they immediately put her in an oxygen tank and we waited for the vet. We were taken to a room. The news I didn't want to hear but knew came. They said they could spend over $1000 and she may live for another year but basically as a vegitable because of the severe muscle atrophy. They did a full blood work up and said that basically it was time. They said she has increased bronchovescular sounds over her thorax and dyspnea. A mild wheeze over her left lung lobe. Increased respiratory sounds and ventricular contrations on her ECG. She has an enlarged elbow on the right front leg and both stifles are enlarged. She has severe muscle atrophy on the tempoalis muscles. And GI ulcers.
They gave her 60 mg of Lasix IV for possible edema and 4500 IU of heparin SQ to help prevent or slow the progression of pulmonary thromboemolism. In normal words they said she was getting blood clots in her lungs and thus she couldn't breath. We were going to put her down right there and came very close to it. They put us in the PTS room and wheeled her in for some last good bye time The oxygen had eased her and so she was feeling better. They gave us hot dogs to feed her and she enjoyed them. Tears poured from my eyes. Kema and her brother Rocco were my first dogs much less my first boxers. They have created the person I am today. They changed my life and future. They were there through the hard times and kept me going. I now want to be a vet. My life is now engulfed in everything dog and devoted to such loyal creatures. I was there all alone my brother and dad seemed unfased. For me these last moment were so precious that I couldn't understand why they didn't want to say their good byes. My neighbor read the Rainbow bridge poem hanging there and I couldn't let her go. The vet tired of me waiting there suggested I take her home for one last night as closure. They felt she was stable enough to go home for the night as long as we went to the vet to put her down the next day. Or basically she would suffocate to death in the next couple of days.
I took her home and gave her steak. I spent as much time with her I could. That night I slept with her. That night I found how much she was suffering because she would wake up several times during the night because she couldn't get enough oxygen. Not only that she could move at all because of the muscle atrophy and wanted to roll to the side or on her tummy. So I kept rolling her to the direction she was hinting at and petting her to sooth her. The next morning she seemed at ease as her breathing was not stressed. We took her to the vet and put her down. My dad didn't want to stay and see it but I made her because in her last moments I would let her be alone. I cried for three days straight after that.
I can not say if it was her vaccinations for sure. She has had them yearly for both DHLPPC and rabies until we moved to Texas three years ago. The vet that treated her for the IMHA is an advocate for less vaccinations (www.critteradvocacy.org) . We followed it until we had to board her at a kennel that required yearly vaccinations. I didn't truly feel worried about problems with vaccinating her again because she has had it every year for her whole life and so many dogs still are vaccinated yearly with no reprocussions. So the kennel gave her a Dhlppc in April. I do not know if that would cause a reaction months later.
If you would like to see a picture of the devastation IMHA caused Kema click here: