By July 13, 2009

Shake, rattle and Rosie

I came home early last Friday to get some work done and then start an early weekend. When I opened the door, my middle dog Rosie was convulsing on the floor. Her rear legs were fully extended and useless as she paddled towards me with her front feet. Her entire face and chest wet from drool. Whatever happened to her, it had been happening for a long time.

At first I thought she had suffered a spinal injury, but everything seemed okay when I ran my fingers down her spine. I checked her hips next, then her legs. Everything seemed okay. I made a quick sweep of the house to make sure she hadn’t gotten into anything toxic. Everything was in its proper place except for the fluffy guts of a chewtoy. I came back to my little girl and held her close to me while I thought about what to do.

I spent almost five years on a farm as a kid, and we had two dogs with epilepsy. The symptoms looked familiar, and while I was thinking about it Rosie completely stiffened up again. Her eyes dilated completely and drool was streaming from her mouth. I put her collar on and carried her out to the car.

Luckily for me I have an excellent vet nearby. I was there in minutes. “I need immediate assistance,” I said as I carried Rosie in. They instantly put me in an examination room and one of my favorite veteranarians saw her within minutes. I relayed what I had observed while the three of us laid on the floor. Dr. Steve and I kept petting her, and I was as calm as possible. He confirmed that it was a seizure, and that they would give her a Valium injection to break the episodes.

I kissed Rosie on the head and Dr. Steve carried her off for blood tests. I returned home and awaited word.

The vet called a few hours later. Rosie suffered a third seizure after I left. The good news (as little as there was) was that Rosie had never had a seizure before. The rest of the news was pretty bad. “Cluster seizures” such as the ones Rosie had are normally indicative of a greater physiological problem, such as a brain tumor. Barring a brain scan, the treatment path is via drugs such as phenobarbital. Basically we start with the lowest recommended dose. If Rosie keeps having seizures, we up the dosage. If she still has seizures, then there is something seriously wrong and then I have to make some tough choices from there.

Rosie’s response to the phenobarbital has been mixed. Dr. Steve told me to expect her to be lethargic and zoned out until she adjusts to the medication. She mis-judged jumping down from my bed on Saturday and hurt her leg. She also stands stock still and stares at the floor every once in awhile. Rosie is totally high, but at least she isn’t convulsing. She wags her tail when I pet her, and we’ve spent a fair amount of time snuggling since Friday. I did have to hand feed her Sunday morning, but her appetite was back by yesterday evening. She seems okay this morning.

Phenobarbital is somewhat infamous for liver and kidney damage. I’ll take Rosie back in about a month to have her kidney and liver functions tested. With luck she won’t have another seizure and we can keep the dosage down to the minimal level.

If you know me even the slightest, you know how much I love my dogs. Please keep Rosie in your thoughts, and if you have or had a pet with epilepsy please let me know. I want Rosie’s quality of life to be as good as possible.

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4 Comments on "Shake, rattle and Rosie"

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  1. Starbuck says:

    Oh My God!!! I am so sorry 🙁 I really hope rosie is okay. She is a sweet little girl. Give her a hug for me please.

  2. Tomax says:

    Let us know if you need any help, we’re here if you need us!

  3. erin clare says:

    Oh honey. 🙁

    I’m so sorry for your Rosie and for you. My thoughts are with you and your little girl. I really hope is not episodic, but it sounds like you have to assume (at least for) that it is.

    It may not help, but I switched my place around to build a new “home” for O. I made it like a “fort project”. Ways for him to easily get to things he wanted…couch, bed, even just lying down and going to the potty.

    Fort O was a pretty sorry sight but it is what you make of it. And it keeps your head in a happier state of mind and one that ultimately benefits you and your baby.

    Please keep me posted.

    love to you and your the pups.

  4. Eric says:

    Man I don’t know you but I can only imagine being in your shoes right now. I hope she pulls out of this ok.