For those of you who don’t already know me, I am the mother to three children with special needs. Two are on the autism spectrum, and the third, while developmentally precocious, has a lot of physical health issues and eats an elemental diet via g-tube. Also to make life fun, I and all three of the boys have a heritable connective-tissue disease. And because he’s just THAT awesome, I married a man with two donor organs.
We’re a medically interesting household.
Last January some stuff I can’t talk about on the innernet happened to one of my kids while he was not in my care, BAD stuff, stuff involving forensic photographers and judges, and despite therapy and my every attempt to fix things, I ended up with a clinically depressed five-year-old on my hands.
If you’ve never seen a severely depressed little kid, then count yourself lucky, because it’s about the saddest thing in the world. He was actually saying that he was so bad and unworthy of happiness that he didn’t deserve a sixth birthday, or any presents, and would give any presents we gave him to his brothers and stepfather.
So my husband (who, at the time, was in and out of the hospital having surgeries and stuff, because that’s how he rolls) and I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures and that we would get the boy a puppy for his birthday. Our next-door neighbor (who we didn’t know very well but met during my husband’s illness, when he came to ask if things were okay one morning when the paramedics were here) happened to breed pit bulls, and agreed to give us a hefty discount on a pup from his latest litter in exchange for my help photographing the litter weekly for his website.
On my son’s sixth birthday, we took him over to meet the puppy (who was still too young to leave her mother), and asked him if he still planned to give his birthday present away. He said no.
About a week later, while next door taking puppy pictures, I noticed that the mama dog (who I hadn’t seen in a while — the neighbor brought the puppies outside to photograph one at a time and left the others inside with their mother) had lost a lot of fur and seemed to have a pretty bad rash, and I asked about it.
He assured me that he was on top of it, and a vet had tested her for mange and declared that it was nothing more serious than a skin infection from the stress of nursing twelve puppies. He said it only looked so bad because he’d had to delay her treatment until the litter was weaned.
We brought our puppy home when she was seven weeks old, and unfortunately she came to us very, very ill. The neighbor was shockingly rude when I did as the vet told me to and informed him that all of the dogs were likely harboring the same intestinal infection that made our puppy so sick, but she got better with several hundred dollars’ worth of veterinary care (which drained our meager savings — transplant drugs and therapy for traumatized children aren’t cheap and I had to take the summer off due to my husband’s illness) and that was all we really cared about.
A month later, the puppy (who was now a full-fledged member of the MFAmily) developed a rash, and our vet gave us the terrible news that she was suffering from severe demodectic mange as well as a secondary bacterial infection (and said the neighbor definitely lied to us, because puppies get this from their mothers).
I didn’t have the money for the costly treatment to save her life, and out of desperation did something I’d never done before and asked my readers for help. They stepped up in a BIG way, and I immediately took the Donate button back down from my blog; Isis became ” the innernet’s puppy” and I gave regular updates on her progress.
Unfortunately, she relapsed after a month of treatment. My readers have been chipping in here and there, and we’ve been able to keep getting her the veterinary care she’s needed (although only just barely). Meredith at that point offered to help spread the word about Isis, but I thought we were almost done with the outrageous veterinary bills and said I didn’t think any further fund-raising would be necessary.
Yesterday, everything came to a head and the combination of repeated infections, the harsh treatment needed to help eradicate the demodex mites that were eating her up, and the stress of spay surgery (which was very necessary as going into heat can trigger relapses in dogs with a history of mange) caught up with poor Isis.
We thought she just had a doggie sinus infection or something, since she had some upper-respiratory symptoms in addition to a very enlarged lymph-node, and took her back to the vet only to discover that her immune system had pretty much tanked. Our dog’s white count was nearly double the upper end of the normal range, and while at the vet she started shaking uncontrollably, spiked a high fever and pretty much fell apart.
The vet explained that our only choice (other than euthanasia) was to put her on massive doses of steroids and antibiotics, keep treating her for mange even though she had finally gotten a negative skin scraping (as the steroids would knock her immune system, which had started attack her, way down and likely cause a relapse), monitor her liver function (because this treatment itself could kill her, but it was cure or kill), and hope for the best. My husband and children wouldn’t hear of euthanizing the dog, so I handed over the money I’d earmarked for filling one of my own prescriptions and asked our vet to try to save Isis.
According to our wonderful (seriously — he called us today to check up on Isis!) vet, things would go one of three ways. Either it would be too little, too late and we’d lose our dog today or tomorrow; she’d respond to the treatment slowly but surely but would still be at risk of liver/GI damage and/or another relapse from the treatment itself; or she’d respond QUICKLY and we could taper down on the treatment sooner and hopefully avoid any serious adverse effects.
Meredith offered again to host a guest-post/fund-raising plea but I decided to wait and see whether it looked like the prognosis would be good enough to feel okay about asking the innernet for any more help. I’m happy to report that so far Isis is going with Option Three, and is much-improved.
So I’m asking you for help. I know that it’s a very small, first-world problem, saving a family dog, but Isis is my son’s therapy and has gotten my husband to exercise; she’s soothed my stress and licked a lot of tears off of a lot of faces over here… she’s special. And it looks like she has a good shot at living a long and happy life with us if we can just raise enough to pay for the rest of her treatment.
I know everyone’s broke, BELIEVE me I know, but even if you can’t afford to donate, you can help us by tweeting a link to this post, mentioning Isis on your blog, telling any crazy-rich animal-loving friends you may have OUTside of the computer about her… heck, let’s take Isis VIRAL! Please?
Update from Meredith: Due to linking issues up in this ma, please go directly to @MFA_Mama’s blog at http://www.mfamama.typepad.com/ and down on the right-hand sidebar there’s a button to donate. Please, please, please, I said. Don’t make me beat you.
Update from Hex, the site geek: We seem to have the linking figured out. You should be able to directly donate here
I mean, come on… look at this face!