Recovery From Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia

This is the post I’ve started over and over and can never finish. Magnus was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT) on September 3, 2012. His diagnosis, recovery and subsequent treatment has been one of the most emotional things I’ve ever lived through with my animals.

The story actually started before I even knew it had, on Sunday, September 2. I noticed Magnus’ gums had some tiny blood spots on them. I noticed it, in that way you do when something is odd, but not alarming and never thought another thing about it. The next day Ryan and I took the boy dogs up the canyon to celebrate our 14 year anniversary. Thank goodness we did, or I would never have found the IMT in time. Around eleven o’clock that night I was doing my typical tick check on the dogs and saw these strange dark reddish, purple spots on Magnus’ belly. At first I thought maybe he poked himself on a stick, or perhaps it was poison ivy? It was late on a holiday so I did what we all do, posted a picture to FB and hit Dr. Google. I felt alarmed. I always do when something weird happens, but never did I imagine how bad it could get. One of the trainers from work mentioned Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia, but I really didn’t take that too seriously, I mean what are the chances? Turns out the chances were pretty good.

While all of this was happening I searched the rest of this body and he had the spots everywhere, plus the bloody spots on his gums. As I sat there for 20 minutes trying to decide what to do I watched the worst one on his belly go from the size of a nickel to the size of an extra large egg. I didn’t know what it was, but I was scared so off to the new Emergency Room we went. At about one in the morning the news came back.

Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia. It took me a week to even be able to pronounce that mouth full.

Photo by Kari

The spots were petechial hemorrhages. His immune system was attacking the platelets in his blood and he was bleeding into his skin. They started treatment with a massive steroid shot, Prednisone and several other meds that night. Over the next three days we were at the vet or in the emergency room every day or night. This is where the words stop. This is where I just can’t convey the terror I still feel even remembering it. On Tuesday he developed a major GI bleed and by Thursday he was bleeding into his lungs. He and I sat in the vet with few options left. The message was we had 24-48 hours left and the only treatment option left was to hospitalize him and give a transfusion of immunoglobulins. It would be $1800.00 to start that treatment with small hope it would be successful. After a tearful talk with him I decided to just take him home. If we were going to lose him I wasn’t going to let his last hours be in the vet alone. It would be with us at home. So our wonderful vet sent us home with every med we could hit him with to wait and see. Now the tears come. . .

Through the whole week my team at work was fabulous. They were all the support I could have wished for. Covering my shifts, letting me take calls from vets and be late coming from or leave early to go to the vets. After that vet visit it was so late I had one class to teach and no time to take him home and though I have no idea why, I just decided to take him with me.

He was still so amazingly perky at that point. He was so incredibly. . . HIM. He had toddled into the vet and snuggled right up to her, happy as could be to say hi and give her a chatter. When we walked into work he just snuzzled right up to his Auntie Nikki to tell her it was okay, don’t be sad. He clearly was sick, but dying? That cough meant he was bleeding into his lungs? How can that be? He just never gave up fighting. So he crated up with me while I taught my tricks class and we got so much support and love from my wonderful team and my wonderful clients. Our friend Kari took these wonderful pictures of us for me. I will always treasure them. It was amazing to experience such care.

Photo by Kari

That night things got bad. He couldn’t breath. He was coughing. I just laid and listened to him. . . He wanted to lay on the hard floor stretched out as long as he could stretch so I just laid with him. I just laid there a listened to his lungs and his heart, petting him until we both settled into an uneasy sleep. . . I didn’t think he would make it through the night.

He did though. Friday morning he still had the GI bleed, the bloody stool was unlike anything I’d seen. It was unnatural and scary. Still though, he never seemed as sick as he was. We took pictures that morning too and he was still mugging for the camera. I had a chat with my little sister that morning I will never forget and always treasure. She told me not to lose faith. I had, but she reminded me not to give up.

That was the miracle day. We spent it together snuggling and just waiting. We took a long sleep together that day and when we woke up, about 5:30 that evening, he was perking up. He wasn’t coughing and wanted to be outside. My mom came to sit with us and while she was there he had a normal stool. I could hardly believe it. NO blood. In about 8 hours he had stopped bleeding into his GI tract. That was the beginning of a miraculous recovery.

Since then we’ve spent umpteen dollars in blood tests, vet visits and medicines. We worried with each blood test and rejoiced when each one came back as good as the last. Medical miracle are words we hear every time we go the vet. We complained regularly about the evils of Prednisone and thanked goodness that he had it. For all the trials of treating this disease he’s alive and that’s all that matters.

Now we’re back in classes. He’s rocking Rally class right now and will soon take Prestigious Pooch and finally get his CGC. Who knows, we might even venture into the Rally ring sometime. All I know is he was always a miracle to me and now he’s a true miracle.

His prognosis is good, but he has a systemic autoimmune disease and something we’ll fight the rest of his life. He had a minor setback this weekend with his eyes and it really made me realize how fragile he is.  I’m in an acceptance process of what all that means. He will never have vaccinations again and will always be on meds, but with strict management we hope to have more good days than bad days. However long his life is I treasure every second with him.

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You are Your Mothers Daughter. . . or Son

Warning: Do not continue reading if you are uncomfortable with gross anthropomorphism.

I raise dogs that are like me. I don’t know how, well I sorta do, but I make dogs that are their mothers daughter or sons. Maybe I raise dogs to be introverts like I am.

I’m doing it again with Calvin and play. He doesn’t love puppy play. He’s okay there, not hiding or afraid, but he doesn’t love it. As a puppy momma I feel the same way. As a trainer I enjoy puppy play. I’m in charge and that must satisfy the control freak in me. As a puppy mom I hate it. I get uncomfortable and nervous. It’s called puppy social for a reason and the word social and I? We aren’t on good terms.

Introverts are most comfortable with just a few people, or even just one. We don’t need a crowd to satisfy our social needs. In fact crowds are overwhelming. To me crowds are like watching 10 TV’s at once, all on different channels, all with the volume full blast. It’s input overload. Put me in a room with 10 families and 10 puppies and my head is absorbing way too much. That’s why introverts like smaller groups. My brain absorbs so much as once, it’s exhausting.

“It’s okay mom, I can be your snuggle puppy!”

It’s not that I don’t like people, I do! I find people fascinating. I love the capacity for showing human compassion we were created with. I love teaching. I love learning. But put me in a group that big and I can only handle it for a short period of time before I want to just shut down. Put me in a group that big with a puppy to protect and I go into overload even faster. That’s where the problem comes in, that’s where I make dogs that are their mothers daughter or sons.

When Maizey was a puppy I was reactive, to say the least. It was a very anxious time of my life and I was having regular panic attacks. None of that equipped me to help her. I know her genetics and my genetics are not a good match. We have a conflictedly parasitic/symbiotic relationship. If there were such a thing. While I’m convinced there are few people equipped to handle her I also know she would be much better off with a calmer person, especially when she was a puppy. Sometimes we do trigger each others anxiety, but we also take care of each other and I think I understand her in a lot ways other don’t and couldn’t.

By the time Magnus came along I was not so reactive and more settled into my introversion. I think it shows, when it comes to dogs he’s a lot like I am with people. He likes dogs, he’s okay with dogs, but he prefers one or two and in small doses.

I can see it happening with Calvin too. I like kids, I don’t have kids, but I like kids. I especially like to interact with one or two kids at a time. I don’t really like the loudness of kids, it goes back to that input overload thing. I prefer adults. He’s already like that with puppies. He doesn’t really like puppy play, but he really loves to play with grown up dogs. Today at puppy play he interacted a little. He doesn’t hide and he would really like to play with the big dogs, but he doesn’t really dive in there and enjoy himself. Then this afternoon this sweet blenheim, Cheeto, came in with his dad. Calvin loved him! LOVED him! They played until Cheeto was pretty sick of Calvin, but Calvin would have just kept on chasing! All Calvin’s work Aunties were so surprised. I told them, he’s his mothers son. He doesn’t like crowds, it takes him a minute to adjust to new environments and he does best one on one with grown ups. I was very similar as a kid.

“It’s okay mom! We can just play with you!”

I worry about it a bit. I don’t care so much of they are doggy introverts as long as, like Magnus, they have the skills to deal with being around dogs peacefully. Calvin is nothing like Maizey was and I bear little resemblance to the mom I was to her, so I’m not worried about him being reactive. I just hate to think I affect them with my stress. It’s a pointless thing to worry about. What I should, and am, more concerned with is giving them the skills to deal with me being their mom and them being their mothers children. But isn’t it crazy how in tune dogs are to us?

It’s their ability for compassion that I love so much, but also makes me worry about them. Maizey especially. It is just crazy how she reads me. I can be totally quiet on the outside, but she knows the instant I reach a certain level of internal anxiety. She comes and taps me and if I don’t calm myself down she insistently smothers me. I love it, but I hate for her to take on that self appointed job.

It will be interesting to see how Calvin grows. He’s certainly more people oriented than either of my other two. We’re working already on when you can say hi and when you can’t. However he turns out I’m proud of who he is already. I can’t help but be who I am and if that makes them a bit more reserved I guess we can deal with it. I don’t believe dogs need to play with other dogs to live fulfilled lives, but I do want them to be comfortable around other dogs. We’ll keep working on puppy play and who knows, maybe I’ll let one of his trainer Aunties take Calvin to play next time!

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More Than Just a Name: Magnus

Reilly the cowspot dog is having a contest about how everyone got their names.  I think it’s absolutely fascinating what makes humans give their 4legged friends the names they do.

I think Meeka has the best story, and Maizey’s story is one that is close to my heart, but Magnus’ story has a few twists of its own.

Magnus name came from hours of searching those baby naming websites, which in itself just doesnt seem that great of a story. But bear with me it gets more interesting.

When we knew we didn’t have long left with Meeka I started the search for our next 4legged family member. Daily I would troll through the depths of Petfinder and any rescue site I could find looking for that perfect pup.

As I found puppies that looked like good potential family members I started compiling a list of names I loved. This was at the time when Meeka really couldn’t get up very much anymore so we would lay in bed, and I would tell her the names.

I know it’s crazy, I know it didn’t mean anything to her really. But the sound of my voice and those hours we spent together seemed to soothe her, so I just talked to her about what was on my mind. What was on my mind were puppies and names.

That is a wonderful 4legged lesson of dogs: They don’t hold your grieving process against you, even if it looks sort of crazy. I think she knew I was just spending time with her, but to get through those hours I had to look to the future too, and our future turned out to be Magnus.

Well, thats only half the story. After we lost our Big Girl I kept up the search until I met Sally from Flawdogs Adoption and she felt Magnus was a perfect match for us. She said he was recovering quickly from his puppy mill days and that he was a “corker”.

"I don't have a name yet, but it's not Solomon, I'm too brave!"

I had always wanted to name my next boy Rottie Solomon. It is the big, robust name of a wise gentle and kind king. In ancient Hebrew it means peace. I still love that name. But even for a corker it seemed a bit much of a name for a Cav, especially a four pound barrel shaped boy with stumpy legs, as he turned out to be. Still I held onto that name.

When we left for the airport to fly to St. Louis to get him I was armed with the options that my little blenheim boy would come home named: Solomon, Felix (meaning happy), Flynn, Henry (meaning ruler of the household and which ultimately became the name of Kathleens’ Henry).

My top two choices were still Solomon and Magnus, meaning great.

Magnus The Great on the airplane

We met Gene from Flawdogs at the airport and I spent the day getting to know my little boy but it wasn’t until we were back on the airplane and half way home that he told me his name was Magnus. All day in the airport he proved himself intrepid. He wasn’t fazed by anything, he immediately started playing with toys, and meeting people, even the jostle of going through security didn’t faze him.

Then in that moment on the airplane when the flight attendant suggested I let him out to play and he toddled out of the carrier onto a potty pad and started chewing on my shoelace I knew- this dog is great. He is Magnus The Great. I picked him up and started telling him how great he was and he promptly fell asleep in my arms for the rest of the flight home.

He didn’t stay named Magnus The Great for long, as he soon started show me he was much more of a Magnus The Intrepid Destroyer. So that is why Magnus is more than just a name-it’s a story!

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