The Purple Dye in Levothyroxine

Paige is my cocker spaniel. She was born in 2002. We met in a Pet Shop in Arizona when she was ten months old and it was love at first sight for both of us. I am frightened of animals – all of them – so this bonding was unusual in the extreme.

Paige was the first dog I have ever been able to touch and hold. She has always been gentle with me from the get-go and I have been sensitive to her needs. It’s like we were made for each other. When I would have to go away for a few days, she would stop eating. She follows me wherever I go. Her love for me is unconditional. She holds a special place in my heart.

I let the children name her. If it had been up to me, she would have been called ‘Lady’. The five children came up with Paige unanimously and Paige she is.

My husband readily admits that he is a mutt! It makes me laugh. Americans like to say they are made up of a percentage of the nationalities of all their ancestors and, as you know, the majority of Americans (bar the native Indians) descend from immigrants especially from Europe. My husband’s extended family comes from Norway, Denmark, Germany and Ireland. I, on the other hand, am a purebred! My ancestors come from Fordingbridge and Southampton for quite a few generations.

My ‘puppy’, Paige, is also a purebred. We have a great and natural understanding of each other. Perhaps we are subject to the myth that purebreds are a little insane due to interbreeding. Nevertheless, we are not mutts.

Paige is getting on in years and I am dreading the day when she has to cross the veil. She is so much a part of our family and I love her deeply. The past couple of years, her health has been declining. She always love to come on long walks with me and then she didn’t want to go any more. We would get a few hundred feet and she would be pulling on her leash to go home. We took her to the vets and eventually she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

The vet put her on some purple thyroid tablets – Levothyroxine 0.6 mgs. She started eating again, had more energy, and started to be able to go on small walks around the block. I was so happy she was feeling better.

One day a few months ago, I picked her up to put her in the back of the car to take her to the vets for one of her injections and a comprehensive examination. I felt something crusty under her belly. I couldn’t figure out what it was and wondered if she had another cyst that was weeping. When I got to the vets, I pointed it out. I left Paige at the vets as scheduled and rushed home to work.

A couple of hours later I got a call. The vet told me that she had open sores all over her body (how the heck did we miss that?!). The vet had done some research and discovered that Paige was allergic to the purple dye in the thyroid tablets. She went on to explain that the manufacturer had been told that some dogs were allergic to this dye but they hadn’t changed their product in any shape or form.

When we went to pick Paige up, they had cleaned up her wounds. Gobs of hair had come out of her coat and we could see all the open weeping lesions on her body. I found this extremely distressing. Paige had not shown any signs of pain that we had recognized.

We had to apply ointment to all her sores twice a day for two weeks. They covered most of her body – her back, her shoulders, her neck, all her tummy and her hind legs. Together with antibiotics and pain killers, her sores healed and the vet was very pleased to see skin growing back. She put her on some other thyroid tablets without any dye in them. It was a lower amount so we had to monitor Paige to see if the new dosage worked. I asked the vet to file a report to the manufacturer so that this wouldn’t happen to any other dog. I would hate to see any other dog suffering as much as my little girl had.

We took Paige into the vets again last weekend as we were worried that we saw blackening on her skin and she was having some more cysts appearing. We were also concerned as her hair wasn’t growing back on her body. We were lucky as the blackening wasn’t a repeat of the lesions, just old age. It turns out that the dye that caused the lesions also caused the hair follicles to be destroyed.

Paige will now have to either wear a doggie coat or have sunscreen put on her if she goes out in the sunshine. I feel so sad for her being physically scarred by this medicine. We now take our walks early in the morning before the sun has had a chance to be out.

I so love Paige and hate to see her suffering in her old age. She is so much a part of our family.

24 – by Luke Martin-Jones

I had just fallen asleep; no more than half an hour ago. I remember looking at the clock before I drifted away, it was 10.24pm. I could see the bright hall light at the foot of my bedroom door. Even then I had to have the room dark, no luminescence at all, covering anything up that interrupted my line of sight; I just couldn’t sleep otherwise! Despite my need for darkness, I was always scared of the night, often diving under the covers at the slightest hint of something suspicious in the room. Like the story of my life, I was contradictory in every sense of the word; most definitely the product of a bipolar mind.

I woke up panicking twenty four minutes later; another bad dream. I often experienced those strange reoccurring visions that never went away; I still do. I was standing in a newly ploughed field, not a soul in sight for miles around. Behind me was a small white house, rather dishevelled, leaning slightly to one side; broken windows, broken door; holes in the roof, illuminating the abandonment inside. The number on the letterbox, held on by a single screw, was 24. In front of me was a tall white picket fence, with no gate, a barrier yet to cross. This was the first time I remembered this dream and wouldn’t be the last. The details changed a little over the years, but essentially the theme was always the same.

I could feel the warm light of day on my face, eyes still tightly shut, avoiding the early morning sun; Mother banged on my bedroom door. ‘It’s time to get up, you’ll be late for school!’ she shouted firmly walking back downstairs. I laid there for just a moment remembering the night; once again the number twenty four popped into my head. This number meant something to me and I didn’t know what. I was always a young lad who thought too much, reading significance into the most ‘matter of fact,’ ordinary events.

Last thing in the afternoon, before home time, it was double mathematics. I hated it despite getting an O level in the subject. I would often day dream, thinking about what I could write in my journal, my passion, even at eleven years old. In front of me, sat my orange coloured exercise book, pristine and clear, not a mark or blemish anywhere to be seen. I picked up a black biro and began doodling on the surface. The number twenty four, enclosed with a ring of ink; again and again I wrote the number down, heavier and heavier each time, marking the pages inside. What was that number all about, what did it mean to me and why was it still in my head. I sat there glazed eyes, shook my head, trying to shake the number from my mind. I got a smack across my knuckles that day for defacing my work book, but was worth it; a reminder of things to come.

As a young boy growing up, I always remembered the dream, the time on the clock, the number in my head; it remains with me to this very day. At twenty four years old I met my partner, in 1995; the most significant moment in my life. I’m expecting great things on our twenty fourth anniversary next year. The first house we bought together was, yup you guessed it, number twenty four; a beautiful stone cottage on the Lancashire Yorkshire boarder and the house we moved to in Spain, when we left the UK was once again the number twenty four.

I am a firm advocate of fate and believe this number runs through my life line, playing a major role in my destiny. Mumbo jumbo, I hear you say, well maybe you are right, but maybe you’re not. For me it is special; a reminder of my childhood and a suggestion of my future as yet unknown. It isn’t until it pops up again that I recall its importance, just like today, at the checkout in Mercadona, 24,24€!

(First published in Roaming Brit on 2nd May, 2018)