Our welsh terrier, Lainee Lou Hou was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMTP) and Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) almost 11 months ago during her first 8 day stay in doggie ICU. IMTP is defined as when the immune system starts attacking healthy platelets as if they were a pathogenic bacteria or a virus, platelets are required for blood to form clot, and a low level of platelets can lead to severe bruising and uncontrollable bleeding. IMHA is when the immune system starts to attack and destroy healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells are necessary to carry oxygen to the tissues of the body, and animals cannot survive without adequate oxygenation of all of the body’s tissues.
By the time we took her home, the hematoma in her bladder had finally started decreasing in size, she had endured a blood transfusion, received a shot of Vincristine (which stimulates a release of platelets from the bone marrow, the chemo is so potent we had to wear gloves as seen the third photo above), developed severe pancreatitis, and had started bleeding into her GI tract. She also stopped eating, and therefore, stopped taking her medications which meant we had to start giving her the most important meds subcutaneously, which was slightly terrifying.
Lainee was only home for about a week, when her legs suddenly collapsed from under her, I checked her gums and noticed they were ghostly pale. (If you notice your dog is lethargic, check their gums, if they are a weird whitish color, take them to the emergency vet immediately!) A severe GI ulceration caused by steroids, had depleted her red blood cells to 8% (normal level 50%) and sent Lainee back into doggie ICU for another 7 days where she had an additional blood transfusion, a plasma transfusion, and her pancreatitis worsened. We were SO LUCKY to get there in the nick of time.
We knew she was feeling better when she started playing with toys again. The first toy she showed interest in was a squeaky lobster. Apparently, someone squeaked it across the room for another dog, and Lainee ran over to grab it. This really gave us hope and made me so thankful that Lainee was in good care. The staff at Nashville Veterinary Specialists were just as excited as we were to see her showing interest in toys!
A month later, towards the end of September, Lainee went back to the vet for a checkup and while we were there a lump on her leg started erupting. That afternoon, the cytology results showed fungal organisms. I knew this was a possibility because of how many immunosuppressants she was on. I asked the vet what the outlook was like, and she said, "Not good. I'm really concerned." I will never forget the tone in her voice when she said that. We had already overcome so much.
Due to the fact that her entire case was rare and relatively uncharted territory, they dug into scientific literature to see what the best course of treatment would be. They prescribed liquid sporonox which everyone in our household hated, not only was it ridiculously expensive but it came with a likelihood of causing liver toxicity. This was a better risk than not treating it and letting the fungal infection travel to her brain. After the initial diagnoses, we started finding new spots of infection daily, her body was a battlefield.
Also of concern, was her front paw. Lainee was obsessed with licking it. A biopsy showed that her paw was suffering from complete lack of blood flow, and the vet said it was an absolute miracle that the hair had started growing back (see middle photo below). We still don't know what caused this.
Lainee developed pretty much every side effect possible from each medication, check out her coarse birdie hair in the third photo above! Since then, we have been going to the vet for biweekly blood tests while we taper her medications. It has been a rollercoaster to say the least.
Last week, I dropped Lainee off at her appointment at 8:30 am. Our vet called at 9:52 am, which is very abnormal, typically they call around lunchtime or mid afternoon, so I was a little bit nervous. We had just tapered her last medication and I was nervous that perhaps she was relapsing.
LAINEE IS MEDICATION FREE!!!!!!!
I was in public when I received the call and it took ounce of will power to try and hold back tears. I couldn't believe it. Dr. Fry said that she thinks Lainee is going to be very successful since she showed no signs of relapse throughout this whole ordeal.
WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!! SO RELIEVED! ELATED!
Our celebration is going to take place in two parts! The first part is in honor of all of our wonderful supporters, we wish we could have you all over for a dinner party!
The next part of our celebration will be all about paying it forward. I have been planning this one for a LONG time!