AUTOIMMUNE HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA

By Guardian Angel Jan & Kirk

We, too, lost our dear, non Epi, Banner, to the same disease that took Guardian Angel Joanne & Angel Asia's life. Banner was a rescued Irish Setter, she came to us in January 1989.  Katie O'Banner ruled the dog population in this house with velvet paw.

Our old girl took ill on Thanksgiving day, 2001.   She had gotten up in the middle of the night and had collapsed in a heap. I found her when I got up that morning to start the preparations for the family celebration.

Banner was almost 14 years old and had been healthy her entire life, the only time she saw the vet was for routine check ups and the time she suffered a fractured hip in March 2000.    We never did figure out how she broke
her hip, she may have slipped and fallen on the icy concrete or it could have been a spontaneous fracture.  We elected treat the hip fracture conservatively, due to her age and the fact that she got around relatively well on it.  We did not vaccinate her in 2000 or in subsequent years.

Last November, Banner getting sick so suddenly was a shock to us all.  Our vet diagnosed a heart arrhythmia and prescribed a drug to help stabilize her heart.    Banner was on this medicine for a couple of days, when she again "crashed", she was rushed back to the vet, where she stayed for the day, they did many EKG's, and the vet that had been treating her decided to switch her from one heart medicine to another.   We had two ultrasounds done, numerous blood tests and any other test the staff could think of to find out what was wrong with her.  The ultrasounds showed no real problems.

Finally, after a week of treatment, my vet sat on the floor of the clinic with me, next to Banner and said that her most recent blood tests showed that she had Hemolytic Anemia and that the drugs she had been given for her heart arrhythmia had caused the Anemia. It is a side effect of some of the anti arrhythmia drugs she was given.   He talked about statistics/recovery rates, the progression of the disease and what I could expect and a lot more, I heard none of it.  I don't think the diagnosis soaked into my head for at least an hour.

We tried everything in our power to pull her out of this crisis, only to develop another one, after all, the recovery rate is very low in even a healthy dog, in an elderly one, the statistics are much more grim.  We were losing our battle but I wasn't ready to give up just yet.  She lasted another week, holding on by a thread.

Finally, after a lot of soul searching, exactly two weeks after she took ill,  I decided to disconnect the IV's, discontinue the medicine that had made her so sick and let her enjoy her last day with her beloved boys.   I took down the pen that had surrounded her in our living room and let the other dogs get close to her.  Banner spent the afternoon lying in the December sunshine, napping and putting her cold nose on my cheek.  We made the trip to the vet late in the afternoon and when Banner took her last breath, my heart broke in two.  Banner, ever the dainty lady that she was, left this world wearing her corduroy coat and lying on her sheepskin, cradled in my arms.

There are a lot of folks that would say that she was thirteen, that is a good long time to live and it was her time to go.  Perhaps it was, but the drugs given to stabilize her heart hastened her demise.   When your vet wants to prescribe medicine, ask questions.  When they want to vaccinate your pup, request titres.

If telling this story through my tears can save one pup's life, then it is worth it.  Ask questions, ask about side effects, get vaccine titres.   It just might save a life.

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