Monday, September 30, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Our lives have recently been turned upside down with the loss of our precious Abby.

 Abby passed away two weeks ago on September 17th, just 3 weeks away from her 5th birthday. She wasn't just a pet to our family, she was our baby girl. We still cry daily and miss her terribly. The depth of our love is hard for some to understand. As is the lengths we went to, to try and save her life.

Abby somehow contracted a serious condition known as Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP. It's both an animal and human disease in which the immune system attacks the platelets. Often the source or 'reason' is not known. She was very sick and critical before we ever knew it. She never acted sick and was a lively as ever. She never acted sick until she was diagnosed and began treatment. We just noticed some red spots on her belly that we initially thought was a harmless rash but by the next day was bruising and very scary looking. These pictures are still painful to view, but doing so might help make others aware. If you ever see anything like this on your pet, please don't ignore it or assume it's just a rash or allergy to something.

Her treatment was very aggressive including high doses of steroids to suppress her immune system so her platelets would  begin rebuilding. She also had to take pepcid to help protect her stomach from the steroids, and medicine for the bleeding ulcer she had developed as well. After a week of these medicines the blood tests showed only a fraction of difference so a second immunosuppressive drug was added to her twice daily routine and a one time dose of chemo which, oddly enough has the side effect of telling the bone marrow to release a considerably larger supply of platelets. There was a risk with the Vincristine chemo drug of bone marrow suppression in which the bone marrow stops producing white and red blood cells, as well as platelets. She was so young and healthy up to this point and the treatments have worked (though not 100%) in large numbers of cases. I've always been one to educate myself on health issues and be well informed. I did my research for Abby as well. We chose to go ahead with the one time chemo treatment to try to get much needed platelets rushed into her system. She did develop bone marrow suppression and was hospitalized and given two blood transfusions to buy time and wait to see if the bone marrow resumed it's job after a few days. It did and we continued meds and weekly blood tests to monitor the slow but stead climb of the low levels.

Abby reached normal levels after a couple of long months of treatment. The vet began the long process of tapering off the steroids slowly and again monitoring her blood work to see if she would retain her normal number of platelets. The steroid battled constantly with the medication for her bleeding ulcer so it was a fight to try to get it healed. Unfortunately Abby developed Pancreatitis from all of the medication cocktails, specifically the steroids. She was hurting and didn't want to eat or drink and just wasn't acting like herself. She was hospitalized again for 4  more days and put on IV therapy with most of the medications on hold to let her recover from the painful pancreatitis. It was the only choice and a risk because of the potential plummet of her platelets with the sudden stop of the steroids. Abby did have a relapse and because she hadn't completely recovered 100% it proved to be a fatal relapse. The vet suggested another blood transfusion to maintain again and said that she has seen complete recoveries before after relapses and there was still a chance, given her young age. We again decided to go with the transfusion. But my last visit with her at the hospital she looked so tired, and miserable. All I could do was sit and hold her and cry. I couldn't bear the thought of losing her but I would never want to her to remain in pain and so sick, just for me.

After leaving her in the hands of some wonderful techs that last day I went home with only a vague sense of time and surroundings. I went to bed that night and prayed a painful, but sincere prayer. I prayed that if this was all too much for her and that if she wasn't to eventually survive this battle, then to take her now so her pain and sickness could end. I received a phone call at 5:14AM on Tuesday morning the 17th from the vet that she was gone.

I've never known such love of life and people. She absolutely LOVED belly kisses and was as smart as any young child. We spelled so many words around her because she was so smart! All I had to ask was "wanna kiss?" and she immediately rolled over for belly kisses. I still find it hard to believe she is gone. Sometimes when I come home from work I forget and look around, wondering why I don't see her running to greet me. And when I wake at night I look around the room to see where she is, because she isn't curled up next to me. We take things one day at a time and will no doubt be able to love another little fur baby one day. She was truly the light of our lives! I found out recently that Abigail means "father's joy". She couldn't have had a more fitting name as she brought her father (and mother) an abundance of joy daily. Her memory will continue to do so.

Rest in Peace little girl. We'll always love you!

Giving Abby her belly kisses.

Abby loved her toys, as you can see in the background. But she let you know when she needed your attention. And she always got what she wanted. ;)

Visiting Abby at the hospital.