|On Monday, September 12th, 2007 my morning started out like any other. I usually pack my lunch, grab my work clothes, feed the dogs, hit the gym, and head to work. But as I
headed down the stairs to let the dogs in I noticed Brazen and Legend wouldn't come in and Rage was running back and forth. Well this is highly unusual, the entire house knows
the routine and nothing keeps anyone from coming in to eat. A closer look revealed Keen laying against the stone wall, reluctant to move. I carried him inside, fed the rest of the
kids, and took Keen's temp. He was febrile at 104.2 and vomited several times.
Well......so much for the gym. I took Keen straight to work, did radiographs and a CBC Both were normal but because he was dehydrated we began IV fluids. I was not
concerned, I figured it was your typical puppy GI upset.
About 5 hours after fluids he still didn't look right. His eyes were glossy, and he was flat. I drew more blood for a chemistry and found that he was hypoglycemic. He was bolused
glucose and started on a dextrose CRI. I was still not overly concerned and I finished the chemistry panel. What we found next was more then concerning. Keen was in acute
Liver failure. His ALT was 5'582 (normal is < 100.) Liver failure brings with it a slew of problems that continue to grow more and more complex. On Tuesday despite IV fluids and
medication his ALT was now 8'000, his ammonia was climbing, he was vomiting profusely, his blood was unable to clot and he received several plasma transfusions.
Tuesday wasn't the worst day.
For the next 6 days Keen was a critical patient with only a glimmer of a chance to make it. Even as his liver enzymes climbed ( maxing out at 9'456) he still was in relatively good
spirits. I received the usual tail wag and kisses just minus the normal enthusiasm. After several days his liver enzymes improved but he was worse. He began having vocal
episodes. He would star gaze, throw his head back and become extremely agitated. His neurological status began to deteriorate and he became ataxic, head pressing, and blind.
As if things couldn't get worse he then had brain swelling and became completely unresponsive. My boy was in a coma on Friday September 14th.
Now some would say, why? What are you doing knowing that the chance of survival was less then 20%. I have a lot of answers for that, and none are as selfish as some may
think. I have been a critical care nurse for 13 years and I have seen what one brilliant doctor with compassion, and no financial constraints can do. In this case, with Keen I had 3
Incredibly brilliant doctors on staff, one internal medicine specialist and a critical care specialist both available for phone consults. I have also witnessed first hand what love,
faith , and good old belief can do. Now I know that sounds corny, but there is a power in belief that can't be measured and if you think I sound corny now.........well your really
gonna love the rest of this story. While I hold an immense respect for all the doctors involved I also realize this wasn't just medicine alone.........
here was a higher power, something bigger involved.
Or more accurately one not so big little girl watching over us.
There were many times in this period that I had to tell the nurse in my head to shut up. I had to follow my heart. Keen is Tantrum's son. The world couldn't possibly be that
cruel, to take her and then take him ........Could it?
I had complete faith that she would do all she could.
There had to be a reason I lost her, and was left with him and I was NOT going
to let him go with out a fight. I did all the "corny' owner things. Keen had a picture of Tantrum taped inside his cage, he had "poppa tomato" ( Legends favorite toy as a puppy)
by his side, and yes I even went as far as to take a blanket outside, sat on it, drank my coffee and had the dogs roll, and play all over it, and then I brought it to him.
I will admit there were a few bad days for me. One was the day he went into one of his vocal episodes, he became pale, limp, threw his head back, arched his body and began
yowling. I cried as I stood in the middle of the treatment room, begging him not to go, begging Tantrum to help him and I began second guessing what it was I was doing. This
was one of those times the nurse in me prevailed. He wasn't in pain, his liver disease was effecting his neurological status and that was to be expected at this point. I couldn't
give in yet...he wasn't in pain,
his values were improving, he needed me to be strong. The second was the day he was comatose. As if the coma wasn't hard enough once we pulled him out of it he began
head pressing, became blind, and was barely able to stand. This was the day I thought to myself........when he dose come home ( not IF), what will I be bringing home? I
reminded myself I was taking this step by step and we were dealing with each day, each new issue as it came.
All I could do was see where tomorrow brought us.
When Tantrum died, I was devastated and at one point very scared that I was having a breakdown. 3 days after she died I was standing in the kitchen when I saw her walk by
the counter. I saw her quickly with just her tail remaining for a moment raised over the ledge of the counter. I was freaked, really freaked and it instantly made me call a
(not something I would normally do). The counselor assured me it was part of my grief and completely normal. She also informed me that I may actual see her at other points in
my life. Well you guessed where I'm going with this. While Keen was in the hospital I saw her. Same place same way. This time it scared me for a different reason. I wasn't
sure what it meant.
Was she telling me she wanted to take him, or was she telling me she was here, and would take care of him? I chose to believe she was telling me she was looking after him, and
would do everything and anything to help. She would NEVER be so selfish as to want him to be with her. NO instead she would do all she could to protect him!
On Saturday September 15th
we began a medication to correct his electrolyte imbalance.
I think this was the first day, that I announced to everyone at work.......
"He's coming home on Wednesday. What was so special about Wednesday?
Wednesday September 19th was Tantrum's birthday!
On Sunday I was at home with a migraine and received some
amazing phone calls. In the am, he seemed better, by noon he was playing with a nylabone, by 3pm he was eating dry kibble and playing with poppa tomato. It was incredible.
The new medication was working. On Monday morning I walked into work, and was greeted at the door by my boy. There he was jumping on me, rubbing on my legs and handing
out kisses like he had many to make up for.
It was amazing, utterly amazing!
Keen came home On Tuesday September 18th and on Wednesday we celebrated Tantrums birthday together at home! All of us as a family.
There are many phrases that come to mind when I look at Keen.
What doesn't kill you can make you stronger!
Its not the size of the dog in the fight. Its the size of the fight in the dog!
You gotta have heart!
At one point while he was sick somebody mentioned to me that he may not be able to be a sled dog, a race dog.
My reply......it so doesn't even matter! But we'll let Keen make his own decision.
Dr. Himsel, Dr. Ross, and Dr. Branner.
The 3 of you were simply brilliant threw this entire thing. You're knowledge, compassion and complete dedication was simply priceless.
Dr. Serra and Dr. Mueller,
Thank you for the many phone consults and for taking
time out of your own practice to help us.
Nancy........There's no question you cared for him like he was your own.
I had no concerns when I couldn't be there because I knew you were.
Every time we see Lay Lay Phant I'm reminded of you're dedication.