Last Saturday I found blood where Bella had been laying. I called Mark to help me try to figure out what was wrong. Bella laid patiently on her back while we combed through her fur looking for the source of the bleeding. She didn’t seem to be in any pain and merely watched us with curiosity. Finding no injuries or bleeding, it finally occurred to Mark to check inside Bella’s mouth. Again, she patiently allowed him to prod her and when he lifted her lip, found that her gums were bleeding pretty well.
“I think she has a bad tooth,” Mark said.
“That would explain her reluctance to eat the past few days,” I agreed. For the remainder of the weekend, I crushed up Bella’s food and she ate happily. The vet was able to see Bella on Tuesday morning and upon checking her gums, she agreed they were in bad shape and a cleaning was in order. We weren’t surprised. Bella came to us last October with bad teeth and we knew we were going to have to suck it up eventually and pay the cost of a dental visit at the vet. (And those ain’t cheap!)
Having a dog’s teeth cleaned requires anesthesia, so Mark left Bella at the vet for the day and picked her up again Tuesday afternoon. She was happy to be back home and enthusiastically ate her dinner and took the antibiotic the vet had prescribed because she had such a bad case of gingivitis. I hid the pill in a Pill Pocket and Bella thought she was getting a special treat.
A few hours later, Bella looked tired and was begging to sit with me. I picked her up and she snoozed in the chair next to me. I noticed she’d begun to wheeze and I was a little concerned, but when I checked online later for possible causes of the wheezing, I read that this is somewhat normal after a dog has her teeth cleaned, the result of the breathing tube that is inserted while the dog is under anesthesia.
At 10:00, Mark left for work and the dogs and I called it a night. I was tired and fell asleep quickly but was abruptly awakened at 12:30 by Jake turning on the hallway light. I saw Jake in my doorway and groggily said hi, thinking he was just letting me know he was home for the night. (I’m not sure why I thought this. He never lets me know when he’s home for the night.) I really woke up, though when Jake said, “One of the dogs had an accident and threw up and there’s blood.”
I bolted out of bed and found that Jake wasn’t exaggerating. Bella was hiding under my bed and Lucy’s demeanor was hesitant. I had Jake take the dogs outside while I scrubbed carpets and called Mark at work to tell him what was going on. We talked a bit, but neither of us could think what might be going on. I was scared, but Bella seemed to be done vomiting. I took her into bed with me and proceeded to not sleep while listening to make sure she was still breathing.
I fell asleep sometime just before my alarm went off, or so it seems. When it was time to get up I was utterly exhausted and so was Bella. Clearly something was not right. She was lethargic and still wheezing. I carried her to the back door and took her outside, then carried her back in, hoping she would eat something. She turned her nose up at her food and then proceeded to vomit more blood. Now I was panicking.
Mark was on his way home from work and I waited to leave until he got back. He took Bella to the vet’s office and asked them to call me with any information. I hadn’t been at work long when I got the call. The vet explained that Bella had no platelets. She’d had platelets the day before when she had the health assessment before putting her under anesthesia for her dental cleaning. Now she had none. The vet explained that this condition was common in chemotherapy patients and in Bella’s case, she wasn’t sure of the cause. It could be that Bella had a condition that was just now making itself known, or it could be the result of the anesthesia or the antibiotic. It was clear this was serious… the vet told me Bella might not turn around. She was going to give her steroids, keep her overnight and said we would know in the morning if she was going to make it.
I could not concentrate at work and I felt weepy all day long. I’m sure my exhaustion contributed to my inability to focus and I couldn’t wait to go home. When the end of the day finally came, I headed to my car and as soon as the door was shut, I began to cry. I was sure we were going to lose our little Bella. I called Mark to ask if the vet had called the house and he said she hadn’t, but suggested I swing by the vet’s office on my way home.
As I headed into the vet’s office, I swallowed the huge lump in my throat. The woman at the front desk asked if she could help me and I said, “Yes. My AnnaBella is here. I was wondering if someone could give me an update on her status.”
“Sure,” she said. “I’ll go check and be right back.”
She didn’t return, but another veterinarian did. He smiled and said, “She’s moving around, barking, eating everything we put in front of her.”
I was stunned and speechless for a moment. “Are you serious?”
“Absolutely,” he said.
“Soooo… she’s gonna be okay,” I asked?
“Well, we’re still feeling a little guarded about her outlook, but we’ll know a lot more tomorrow.”
“Do you think this was a reaction to her antibiotic?”
“Maybe,” he said. “Tomorrow will tell. You can go in back and see her if you want.”
“Really? Okay,” I said!
“But keep in mind she might not like it when you leave her again.”
I stopped mid-stride and said, “You’re right. I don’t want her to think I’m abandoning her. Maybe I better just wait until tomorrow.”
I felt more hopeful and went home to share the news with the family. And even though the news was promising, I was still so worried and sad for my little Bella. My mind kept seeing all that blood and in spite of the vet’s news, I was convinced there was something really wrong. The lack of sleep was catching up with me, I know. While Mark took his pre-night shift nap and watched t.v., I sat in the recliner and cried off and on all evening. When I crawled into bed later, I fell asleep quickly, but was awake off and on all night, worried about Bella and thinking that I had to prepare myself to say goodbye.
I felt better this morning, more able to handle whatever news the vet might have for me today. When I hadn’t heard anything by 9:00, I took my cell phone to a small private office and made the call. I braced myself for bad news, reminding myself of Bella’s age and the fact that she came to us with some issues last fall.
But there wasn’t bad news! The first thing the vet told me was, “Bella has platelets!” She was doing very well and she could go home today! She was still bleeding slightly from her nose, but the vet assured me that after a few days on the meds she was prescribing, that should stop. She said Bella isn’t out of the woods yet. She wouldn’t know for sure for a couple of weeks, but everything looked promising. She was pretty certain that this episode was not the result of some condition, but the anesthesia or the antibiotic.
I was elated! I couldn’t thank our veterinarian enough and she laughed happily, clearly happy to deliver such good news to me. I was going to be able to pick up Bella after work and take her home with me again. I left work a few minutes early and swung by home first. Jake and Kacey insisted on coming with and argued on the way there about who was going to get to hold her on their lap on the ride home.
Back to her old self
Bella is back home with us, happily eating her new prescription canned food, getting pampered and sleeping more than usual. Being so sick takes its toll and I’m sure it will be a few days before she really bounces back. But we are so glad to have her home again. (Lucy too! She missed her little pal.) We’ll all sleep so much better tonight.