Epilepsy by the NUMBERS: Part 1

30 November 2008:  My birthdate

20 March 2010:  I had my first seizure

15 Months & 20 days:  How old I was when I had my first seizure

125:  How many seizures I have had in my lifetime….so far

3 Seconds:  Shortest seizure I ever had

40 Minutes:  Longest seizure I ever had

5.3 minutes:   Average duration of one of my seizures.

10 Hours & 36 Minutes:  The total amount of time of my life spent having seizures…so far

.062 ml:  My Phenobarbital dosage—twice a day

6.75 ml: My Keppra Dosage—three times a day

60 minutes:  Average time of our walkies in the woods

1 mile:  The amount of ground we cover during our walkies

3:  Number of agility titles I have achieved!

100100:   How much Mommy loves me

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Mini Kitty UPDATE

We finally found a home for this adorable, intelligent kitten!

mini kitty
mini kitty

Mommy can’t say much out of respect for the new owner’s privacy, but she is currently living with another cat companion and will be thoroughly spoiled by her new owner.  Mommy is confident she ended up in the best possible home and she won’t take long worming her little fuzzy-ness right into the heart of her new owner.

When Mommy  took her to be dropped off,  she  recorded Mini Kitty being infatuated with her own reflection in a curio cabinet.  It proved how much she longed of a playmate of her own species.  This video, alone, makes mommy very grateful of the new home and companions.

 

But don’t think for a minute that Mommy didn’t mourn her loss.  She cried for a good while, missing the little fuzzy girl tremendously.  She kept telling Daddy she would have kept her had there been the slimmest chance of her surviving.  But with most of us houndies hating cats……keeping her wasn’t an option.  So we say our “Good Byes” to Little Miss Mini Kitty but know in our hearts that she is in a wonderful new family.

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THIS ADORABLE epi-DOG NEEDS A HOME! (Courtesy Post)

Please Read message below from Laila’s Mom.

I have a Staffordshire Terrier/Bulldog mix named Laila.  She is 6-ish years old.  Laila has a brindle/white coloring.  I fostered her through Humane Society of Indianapolis & then adopted.

It is with a very heavy heart that I write you.  I will be moving overseas in August & I am unable to take her with me.  I am very nervous about re-homing her due to her breed and her needs.  She has epilepsy & severe anxiety.  She currently takes medication, daily, for both conditions.  She is a sweet puppy who needs someone patient & loving.  She is slow to warm, but once she loves, she loves forever.  Due to her medical needs Laila would do best without other dogs or kids.

She has both focal & grand mal seizures.  She was having multiple focal seizures a week, but Purdue recommended she be on Huperzine-A (an over the counter supplement), daily, which has all but stopped these.  She does have one grand mal seizure every 4 months (on average).  She also takes Prozac for anxiety.

Contact:  Jennifer.Newingham@gmail.com

[Reprinted with Jennifer’s permission]

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PERILS of PHENOBARBITAL

One of the issues of running agility with an epileptic dog  is medication dosage changes.   As you saw in a previous blog, my phenobarbital trough levels were a little lower than therapeutic range so a dosage increase was in order.    The problem is that Phenobarbital causes ataxia (MayoClinic.org  describes ataxia as:  a lack of muscle control during voluntary movements, such as walking or picking up objects).

For me it basically means hind end weakness–so I fall a lot and for no particular reason.  This falling is probably the cause of other  issues in my hip area that require the dog squeezer (if you don’t know what a dog squeezer is click here to read one of my earlier posts).

Usually, I recover in a couple weeks as my body adjusts to the new dosage but if I don’t improve, Mommy will lower the dosage to a tolerable level and hope my seizures don’t increase.

And the worst part of it is that I’m missing an agility trial this weekend.  Since I get super excited at trials, Mommy is afraid I might push myself too hard and hurt myself.  So yeah, it takes me longer than most dogs to get titles.

[MOM NOTE:   Right before Thanksgiving, we ended up lowering her Phenobarbital.  I just couldn’t bear watching her grow more and more depressed over her lack of confident mobility caused by the ataxia, the longer it lasts, the quicker she loses confidence in her ability to balance.]

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REALLY? A kitten? Yes, Really.

We had a bit of a cold snap back in late October.  Daddy found an almost frozen, 3 week old kitten outside and brought it to Mommy.  She slowly brought the kitty’s temperature up and is now bottle feeding it.   The little thing weighs a whole 8 ounces.

mini kitty
mini kitty

Because of us pups (we just love to kill anything…including cats), Mom & Dad know they can’t keep the kitten.  They tried calling rescues, who seem more offended than helpful when Mommy tells them that she can’t keep the cat.  The conversation goes something like this:

MOMMY: “I would be glad to foster the little girl until she is 8 weeks and 2 pounds, but we have gone over our options and we just can’t keep her”

RESCUE: “**sigh**  Why can’t you keep her?”

MOMMY:  “We have dogs  with high prey drive that love to kill anything, including cats”

RESCUE:  “You don’t know your dogs will kill cats.  Just because a dog has high prey drive, doesn’t mean they don’t know the difference between a wild animal and a pet cat, you’d be surprised.”

MOMMY: “No, actually, I’ve witnessed them killing a cat.”

RESCUE:  “Why would you teach your dogs to kill cats!!!???!!!!!”

MOMMY:  “We didn’t teach them, we adopted a hound who lost his home because he killed a cat.  My hounds are a tight pack…as soon as one hound decides something must die…everyone pitches in”

RESCUE:  “Well, we don’t have room for any animals right now, you’ll just have to call around!”

MOMMY:  ???!!!?????

Needless to say,  the kitten currently lives in a spare room, with a heated box bed, multiple toys (borrowed from OUR toy box), and a litter box….

Mommy feeds her every four hours, then spends time with her afterwards…..cleaning her, petting her, kissing her.  She purrs when Mommy picks her up, loves to sit on her shoulder, rolls over to have her tummy rubbed, and nuzzles Mommy’s face.

While Mommy & Daddy wouldn’t let the little kitten just succumb to the frozen temperatures, they’re not sure what to do with her now that the rescues are not willing to help.   She is now 5 weeks old, weighs in at 1 pound, 3 ounces.  Watch video below.

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THE DANGERS of AURAS

One of the reasons I write this blog is to try to explain what it is like to have this kind of epilepsy.  That way if anyone has a pup that seems to be suffering from this epilepsy, they can seek proper medical treatment so that the dog can live a long, full life like me!  Today  I need to address the aura or ‘pre-ictal phase’ of epilepsy.  According to VCA Hospitals.com   an aura is described as: The pre-ictal phase, or aura, is a period of altered behavior in which the dog may hide, appear nervous, or seek out the owner. It may be restless, nervous, whining, shaking, or salivating. This may last a few seconds to a few hours. This period precedes the seizure activity, as if the dog senses that something is about to occur.   The exception is with my type of epilepsy the auras last weeks, sometimes longer….and are not necessarily followed by a seizure, making them more difficult to spot..

Once an aura is stopped by a seizure then I’m UNSTOPPABLE!  I’m superfast, exceptionally happy, wonderfully adjusted to life.  MOMMY finds this heartbreaking.  She know that if I didn’t have epilepsy THIS is what I would be like 100% of the time….See a video of me being superfast in class after a seizure earlier in the day.

These auras can return within days of my last seizure and severity seems to be directly related to seizure frequency.  Auras can be obvious or more subtle in signs…One of my telltale signs is being afraid of anything MOMMY is carrying.  MOMMY has a list of behavior I only exhibit during auras and the ‘fear of carried items’ is at the top.  But sometimes the list isn’t enough.

This last week MOMMY had a scare.  I pulled a muscle after tearing out the door after a squirrel.  It was a little tender but after a few days I felt better and greatly improved after a hike in the woods.   The next day I was very depressed  so MOMMY  took me to agility class just to visit and do a few tunnels and a possible dog walk.  I was very slow, depressed, disinterested,  I was roaching my back, head hanging low in a ‘coyote stare’, often just frozen in my stance.   MOMMY thought I was in pain due to the pulled muscle or worse physically ill.  She also remembered our first ASCA trial where I was behaving much the same way and it turned out to be an aura.  See video below.

But when I didn’t improve the next day, off I went to the vets for a CBC and to test Phenobarbital levels.     My CBC was unremarkable but Phenobarbital dosage was increased due to low levels.  We returned home and at 10:30 that night, I had a seizure.

See Mom, it was only an aura.

Auras can mimic physical illness and vice versa.  The lines are very blurred between the two until an actual physically manifested seizure is witnessed.  I’m sure we are doomed to repeat this behavior in the future…rushing off to the vet for fear of some illness only for me to have a seizure a couple hours after my vet visit. But MOMMY won’t take the chance.  She says I am way too important in her life.

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The Benefits of Massage

I want to thank someone out there.  Her name is Kim and she does dog massage!  I call her the ‘Dog Squeezer’ and she is wonderful!  After noticing a few tight muscles, Mom started taking me to a massage therapist.    I didn’t trust her at first but only because I have been to so many vets and endured so many pokies that I just assume the worst.   [MOM NOTE: ‘POKIES’ is Baby Isis’s word for having blood drawn] But the massage visits get easier for me with each session, especially since she doesn’t make me feel pain, quite the opposite…the pain goes away and the best part?  –I feel relaxed.  After a visit with her, I am in a deep sleep from moment I arrive home until late morning!  She is very wonderful at finding all my knotted muscles and instructing Mommy on how to ‘rub out my bugs’ and applying hot and cold to me on the nights following my massage visit.  I feel sturdier on my legs and my back isn’t as sore as it was before starting these visits.  And yes, the weaves are not as stressful.   So thank you Dog Squeezer for making my life better in more ways than one!

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Mom’s new idea for trialing

Mom has decided to only enter me in classes without weaves….and we have stopped doing weave practice.  I like trials now….we are doing jumpers right now and plan to move to jackpot (which we can do until the upper levels at which time Mom hopes  my fear will have diminished) What gives her hope?  Because since stopping weaves in trial and not practicing them so hard…but now in class I drive to the weaves with exuberance!….giving her hope that my stress over them will diminish and eventually we can enter trials with weaves!   We still are not sure what causes the stress.  We speculate that it could be ‘bad wiring’ from my seizures or my back hurting due to falls from ataxia (Mom takes me to a massage therapist for this issue) or a previous negative experience with the weaves (Pharaoh Hounds never forget).  I have overcome many obstacles in my life…and I’m sure weaves are no different.

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Canine Epilepsy Resource Center and Home of the EPIL-K9 List

Today I would like to introduce you to a very important resource.   Canine Epilepsy Resource Center (www.canine-epilepsy.com) is a wonderful site just full of great information just full of great information on canine epilepsy as well as wonderful resources for further research.  And best of all it is the home of the EPIL-K9 list which has all kinds of wonderful people to help you in your journey of coping with an epileptic dog no matter what the breed.

EPIL-K9 List

The list was founded by Alicia Wiersma-Aylward in 1996.  Once you sign up you can ask questions, offer information or even better your own personal experiences with this disease.    The list is very large and includes member from over 20 countries.  One of the advantages of belonging to this list is that it also has leading veterinarian specialist who monitor and often respond to questions.  Mom and I always monitor posts but since our personal experience is only with focal/partial seizures we respond to questions specifically pertaining to focal/partial seizures.

Canine Epilepsy Resource Center

The site offers several tools that help you and you pup master living with epilepsy:

  • A wonderful glossary of terms you will read and hear when the subject of canine epilepsy is
  • A click through list of AEDs (Anti Epileptic Drugs), a brief description, available studies, pros and cons of use.
  • A list of compounding pharmacies
  • A guideline for bloodwork (the why, when and how)
  • A guide to living with your epileptic dog
  • A list on genetics, breeding, and research involving epilepsy
  • A Holistic treatment resource

Visit Canine Epilepsy Resource Center facebook  and twitter.

My advice?  If you have a dog suffering from epilepsy, don’t hesitate to make a visit to this wonderful website.  You will be doing your pup a favor.

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