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Ashlee : Clementine

Published on December 12, 2023.

Story from Ashlee : Clementine

3 days before I was meant to fly to Singapore for my 30th birthday, I had noticed some small, faint red marks on my miniature dachshund (2 years) Clementine’s belly and assumed she was having an allergic reaction to something. She has had fairly sensitive skin in the past so I wasn’t too concerned. I took her to our local vet for an antihistamine shot which they prescribed.

A few hours later and the red marks on her belly had deepened to a darker purple colour and spread over her entire body. I was immediately concerned and knew this must be more than an allergic reaction but had no idea what it could be. I took her straight to SASH at Prospect and after a blood test, she was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT.)

The emergency nurse at SASH explained this was a very serious auto immune disease and that going overseas in 3 days could mean we don’t see our girl again. We immediately cancelled our trip.

They recommended we take her straight to SASH North Ryde as they have 24 hour critical care over the weekend and IMT is very serious and life threatening.  She had a 70% survival rate. We were told that her little body was no longer making platlets in her blood, and her body was destroying the ones she had. The red marks were bleeding underneath her skin. She was admitted immediately and spent the next four nights in their care. She had zero platelets and was prescribed a very strong chemotherapy drug in order to increase platelets. I was completely distraught at the thought of my girl not being okay and having to leave her at the hospital. She was only 2 at the time. She is my baby.

Slowly, this drug worked but we were still not out of the woods until the count was high enough for her to come home.

We visited Clementine at SASH every day she was in hospital, a total of 4 nights. It was heart breaking to witness how much she had changed from being on such high doses of medication. She was refusing to eat, play or engage with us and only wanted to sleep. Carmen at SASH (internal medicine team) was her doctor and was simply amazing. She communicated with us regarding Clementine’s condition and we knew she was in the best possible care.

When Clementine came home, she was on a very high dose steroid which increased her appetite, thirst, weight and made her uninterested in anything she once loved. She didn’t like going for walks, her toys, and refused to sleep in the bed with me anymore. She spent most days sleeping. I missed my little girl so much but knew her little body was trying to hard to get through this.

Each month, Clementine went to our local vet for a blood test to check her platelet level. Each month, she defied odds and as her platelet count stayed stable, her medication gradually dropped. Over time, I saw glimpses of Clementine’s personality come back.

After a long 9 months, Clementine is finally off the steroids. She now has dropped 2kgs and loves to run and play. She can often be found digging in the backyard or ripping up her toys and it brings me so much joy to see our girl back to herself. She is even back in the bed with me under my arm most nights.

Every day I find myself checking her body for those faint red marks. It’s probably something I’ll never stop doing.  But every day I find myself appreciating her, loving her and being so grateful that she is with us.

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