Josie’s AIHA Story – Part 1

The next three parts are going to be graphic. I want you to completely understand what we went through. My heart hurts just to recant it, but I know I need to . . .

The first sign I thought something might be wrong was Sunday, March 13. Hanging out with me on the sofa, Josie was having terrible spasms in her abdomen. I could feel it , but couldn’t tell if it was from her abdomen or going all the way around to her back. Dachshunds have a tendency to have back problems, and I just assumed she had jumped off the bed and landed wrong. The spasms lasted for just a few minutes, and they were gone. Otherwise, she seemed herself. It was a typical lazy Sunday in the Hortman household.

Monday morning when I got up, I almost stepped on Josie (her bed was beside me). She was half in-half out of her bed. She had had an accident in her bed overnight.  I just assumed she had been sleeping so soundly, it has happened a time or two before.  She did not get up to go outside at her usual time, and I thought she was just embarrassed by wetting the bed. She acted embarrassed.

I headed to Atlanta for the day at the gift market. At some point, I realized I had left my phone in my car, and hiked back to the parking deck to get it. I wanted to check on Josie. David had already called. When I got him on the phone, he asked how  Josie’s demeanor was when I left. I explained, and he said she was very lethargic, and had thrown up in her bed twice. I told him to get her to the vet. Trouble was, David didn’t have a car.  I called Mom, and she asked Bill to come pick them up. Bill took forever. David actually thought something might happend to Josie before Bill got there. I had called ahead to Culbreth-Carr-Watson to tell them Josie was coming in, how she was on Sunday, I thought it might be her back, etc… Lee (Dr. Watson) saw Josie, and attributed her distress to “back tenderness” and gave her a shot for pain, and nausea. It was a long day for me being in Atlanta, and not at home. When I finally got home, I could tell she did not feel good. I don’t think she ate. She just stuck by me on the sofa and watched the final episode of “The Bachelor.”

Tuesday, Josie was not motivated to go outside, and I could tell she had not improved. I took her straight to the vet. She peed in her bed on the way there, a terrible dark yellow/orange.  Lee did some blood work, and the results changed our lives. Josie was diagnosed with Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia. Basically, she was anemic – her red blood cells were attacking themselves as “foreign bodies” faster than she could reproduce new red blood cells. I don’t remember her PCV (packed cell volume) level at this point. All I understood from Lee was “this is not good.”  Josie spent the night at the vet for aggressive prednisone and to try to get her nausea to stop. It was a long night for me. I’ve never spent the night in my house without her. Well, maybe she had to stay overnight when she got spayed.

Anxious as I was, I waited as long as I could Wednesday morning to call and check on her. Jeff (Dr. Culbreth) thought she was improving, and I could pick her up around 2pm. Jeff thought she would do better at home in her familiar surroundings, to get back to “normal.” I needed to get her to eat. Before I picked her up, I stopped at Kroger for a rotisserie chicken, some “fresh dog food,” and vanilla yogurt. Foods that she loved, and that would be easy on her tummy.  Lee was off, and Jeff had been looking after her for the day. Ironically, Jeff had had a dog with AIHA, so he personally knew the protocol. Josie had a prescription of Prednisone, and an anti-nausea pill, and I was to give her the pills twice a day, and come back on Friday morning to check her bloodwork. I took her to the office with me, and she just hung out with me, mostly in my lap.  I started documenting everything in my phone so I could discuss it with Jeff/Lee. At 3:30pm, she threw up, and it looked like the pill she had been given to help coat her stomach. Afterwards, she ate some of the chicken, and licked an ice cube. Yay!  When we got home, she was very happy to see David. From her perch on the sofa, she saw Jack and Petey walk by, and growled, like normal. At 6:15, she went outside to tee-tee and she drank some water.  She walked inside and went straight to her bed. I continued to offer her ice cubes.  At 8:30, gave her ½ prednisone.  At 8:35 she threw up everything including the pill and the chicken from this afternoon. At 9:00, David had to administer the Prednisone again.  I rubbed some chicken broth on her gums – I knew she wouldn’t eat. At 10:30, she raised her head abruptly, and appeared to have a little tremor. I held her and soothed her until it stopped. She drank some water, but could barely stand. At 11:00 I took her outside to go to the bathroom. She did, and the color was good, light yellow. She walked inside on her own, and walked straight to the bedroom. Her bed was in the living room, so she tried to get into the carrier. I brought her back to the living room. (I was camping out on the sofa with her bed beside me so I could monitor her throughout the night.) At 11:35, she threw up again, but no sign of the prednisone pill. She continued to be a little restless, changing positions often, and I offered her ice cubes throughout the night which sometimes she would lick, sometimes not. If she wouldn’t eat, I knew she had to drink regardless. Pretty much, I didn’t sleep at all. I checked on her every 1 ½ hours throughout the night.

And so the morning comes. Thursday was almost the worst day of my life.

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