December 1, 2014

Bella's Nightmare before Thanksgiving

The last few days have been incredibly tough for one cute pup and her mother. The night of Thanksgiving eve, I was winding down my evening with a sister date, and on my way home, when a quick text alert came in from my mother asking me to 'come home right away!' When I asked if everything was ok? She said, "Bella wasn't." I rushed through the front door to find my parents in a panic. Bella was seizing. The episode was going on for what felt like several minutes, so I called two animal hospitals, one who seemed un-attentive, and another who said come in. I rushed to my car, my dog in tow, (still seizing), until a moment of pure fear broke in. I screamed over and over "I can't lose my dog! I can't lose my dog!" 

The intense array of life's moments were all being held in my arms. All the secrets, all the happy moments and all the fears of where my life was going next were right with Bella. For the past 10 years my life has gone through just about every up and down imaginable and she sat shotgun. 

My best friend, the keeper of my heart. I've always said Dog is God spelled backwards, and everything about a true companion encompasses the love of God. My Bella is all of those things to me and I couldn't lose her, not like this. 

My dad ran out to follow me and jumped in the car just as my mind broke from the handcuffs of fear and pure adrenaline set in. I flew low on the freeway, bobbing and weaving between cars like a drifter. My dog, still seizing. 

The moment I showed up at the hospital, the veteranarian and her assistants pulled my dog out from my Father's arms and straight to the back room. My dad rushed in after them, until he was escorted back out. My body was pumping so much adrenaline that the fight or flight mode was in overdrive. "Your dog is in critical condition, please sign and initial here if you would like us to continue forward," One assistant had to repeat over three times until I responded with sound. I couldn't think, or read, I could barely sign, but I know I muttered, "just save my dog." 

Then deep fear set in once more as I sat in a room quiet as a mouse, hearing only the voices in another room while I prayed my heart out, until, the door opened...

The doctor came out and asked about Bella's past medical history. I rambled out everything I could in a very short time.  I was her Mom, I remembered everything about her, by heart. As a Mom, it's our job to. 

Bella's blood glucose came up as 20. A normal dog's blood glucose should be between 70-148. My baby was hypoglycemic and who knows for how long. On top of that, she had a fever. What was going on? 

After receiving fluids, sugar and electrolytes, Bella seemed to come to. She stopped seizing and recognized me. She tried to get up quickly and wobbled to me. I held her in my arms as her little body was shaking scared. I whispered in her ear, "don't you give up on me. Keep fighting. I love you." 

I swear she understood every word. 

One overnight stay, turned to two. Bella still had a fever and seemed wobbly on her back legs. A third fever check by the technician led to an intuitive observation. Bella had an anal abscess that was infected. Calling on the emergency doctor who handled the abscess swiftly and infused Bella with antibiotics. Her fever started to go down within a few hours-- thankfully, but what was still causing the low blood sugar? 

Through countless phone calls and ruling out other diagnosis, reviewing X-rays and talking over past history, the last thought was to do a stim test. A test that checks to see your resting cortisol level and then the doc injects a medication that stimulates the cortisol hormone, or so it should. Bella's resting cortisol level was .2, a normal dog should be between 5-8. After the injection, Bella was at .9, when a normal healthy dog's level should be 6 and above. My baby was sick and diagnosed with Addison's disease. She was put on prednisone immediately. A steroid that helps your body produce healthy blood glucose levels and allows your body to function at a higher level. What Bella's was doing was shutting down, because her body couldn't produce the steroids that naturally come from the adrenal glands. 

A sigh of relief came out as the doctor read Bella's chart to me. Although I was sad, I was relieved to have heard a proper diagnosis and to know my little girl was in stable condition. Her blood glucose was at 155. I was pumped I said that's my Bella, "kicking ass and taking names." 

It was now Friday morning and I had to pick up Bella from the emergency pet hospital, but we weren't out of the woods just yet. We needed to transfer to a day time vet that would continue monitoring Bella until she was safe to go home. Before we left we received another blood glucose test. 113. Still really good. Go, Bella!

 I prayed the hardest I think I've ever prayed during those last two days, and gracefully was given the allowance of taking Bella home that evening. No moment went unspoken in prayer to my God, our angels and the asking of prayers from Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals. 

I slept with Bella by my side. While she slept, I woke up every two hours to make sure she was still breathing. "she's your baby," my Mom said. That, she is.

Saturday morning started off with  a recheck visit at the day time vet. Bella wasn't too excited. 

Good news continued as We were able to get her catheter out, check her temperature (normal 101) and Blood glucose level. We were at 98. Thank you, God. I had only him to truly thank as he worked through the hands of those who watched over Bella. In any second he could have taken my Angel home, but I'm so grateful for the extra time he's given me, the amount of courage he showed through my Bella, and for reminding me at full force, that you only get one life; Focus on what matters most before it's gone. 

Tonight (Sunday evening) Bella is doing a little better. We have another recheck in one week to make sure she's going forward in the right direction. I can't be more moved and overwhelmed than I am right now. God's grace is fearing and beautiful and I will never forget what he showed me. Love all your fur-babies a little more this evening, and stay positive, for like my friend Jenna stated to me, "they sense it."

A very special thank you goes to Dr. A. Volkman and Dr. M. Lafave for saving Bella's life.  To technicians Kim, Leslie and Kevin for watching her day and night. To Day time vet Dr. Earnheart and technicians Eli and Jessica. To my Dad, and boyfriend for staying with me through every visit. To my best friend Miguel for praying with every ounce of his soul and to his dog, my niece, Bella Fatche for praying also. To my family and friends who have learned of the scenario and continue to pray and offer words of encouragement, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Bella & Lisa ❤️