Oct. 19, 2018
BELLA UPDATE OCT. 19: This may be our last update as Bella is doing so very well. Her red blood cell count today was at an excellent 146 (140-155 is normal). The other test they performed was a liver check, which read high due to the steroids. Instead of the 11 and 12 pills she was initially prescribed, she's now down to 2 and 3. (Every other day she takes an extra one.) Bella was first prescribed 3 Prednisone tabs a day and now it's just 1-1/2. Since everything is looking so good, she won't see Dr. McPherson again for 2 weeks.
One funny thing happened while at the clinic. First let us share that Prednisone makes both people and pets absolutely ravenous and thirsty. She literally drinks a gallon of water a day now when it used to be about 1/3 of that. Animals don't develop the moon-face that people often do and that my mom did when she had to take it. However, people can take themselves to the bathroom. For Bella, there have been days when she's had to go outside 5 times in a hour and a half. She also can't wait to eat.
PHOTO: Bella is just being her girly self scratching her back in the yard and thinking life is good again.
At 6 in the morning we give Bella her meds in a nitrate/nitrite-free hotdog that she wolfs down. By their 11:30 lunch, she's ready to eat paint off the walls. So this morning she had her 1/2 hotdog and at 10:30 we set off for Colorado Springs. We arrived right when she would normally be having lunch, which was now going to be 2-1/2 hours late.
About noon, Vet Tech Aly took her for a blood draw and she came back with Bella in tow laughing so hard a huge grin split her face. What was up? In order to distract animals during these tests they give them a piece of sliced turkey. When Aly brought out the container, Bella apparently bypassed the "piece" and dove for the bucket. Aly said Bella plunged her face right in and helped herself.
We were a bit horrified, but they thought it was funny. Bella is extraordinarily affectionate kissing all staff members alike from the receptionists through the veterinarians so I guess they overlooked her bad behavior. Pre-predisone days Bella was always a finicky eater. Now, everything not nailed down is at risk.
Last weekend I had peeled a cupcake liner from a muffin and tossed it into the trash. Dashing around the kitchen intent on making Stan's breakfast I didn't think much about it. The trash bucket sat out from under the sink by the stove waiting for egg shells to be tossed in. I turned my back for maybe 10 seconds and Bella had fished out the muffin wrapper and proceeded to munch through the paper. Even though it had bits of muffin stuck to it, eating paper probably wasn't the best idea. On my knees, I had to pry her jaws apart while she rolled her eyes in protest to extract the muffin wrapper.
We'll be so glad when Bella's off the Prednisone so her eating and bathroom patterns are back to normal! As it stand nows, Bella will be on the Prednisone maybe for a couple of months more. Dunno for sure, but the Azathioprine she will likely be on permanently. Dr. McPherson said today, "it's such a terrible disease that we don't want to risk a relapse." He went on to say that dogs who contract autoimmune disease have only a 50-50 chance of survival. So Bella was a very lucky, no blessed, little dog – and so were her parents.