The Expert Experience

The weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

We had an excellent consultation with Luisa De Risio at the AHT on Friday. Luisa is the leading author of a book on canine and feline epilepsy and she is a member of the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force. Luisa is an editorial board member of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery and Associate editor of the Veterinary neurology and neurosurgery journal.

Things had deteriorated very rapidly with Harrison, so we got referred to AHT for what we considered to be the last chance we had to gain some control of Harrison’s condition, or we would have to make the decision to have him put to sleep as he was suffering too much.

So we attended the appointment feeling quite bleak and like this was our last chance really, but safe in the knowledge that if we had to make the final call, at least we could do so knowing we had exhausted every option.

So it was a relief and quite emotional to learn that the specialist is very confident she can help and there is loads of room for improvement. Yippee! So now, onwards & upwards! We can concentrate on getting his condition under control and if we end up with a difficult decision to make later down the line then at least we know we tried everything possible to help him.

Celebrating a mini victory!

Not wanting this blog to just be the negative or pessimistic ramblings of a desperate woman, I thought it was time to write something a bit more positive!

I am so pleased to say that Harrison is feeling much better today, thank goodness! 🙂 He’s celebrating by chomping on a brand new stag antler! 😀

He is still not 100% his usual self, but much closer to that than he was at the start of the week. Still a bit barky and bitey, but overall more calm. Our boy is coming back to us 😀

So we have our appointment with the neurologist tomorrow morning and will be able to discuss an action plan for how we move forward.

I believe with the right mix of medication and the appropriate meds for during/post seizure we will be able to manage this beast and Harrison can have a lovely, normal life.

Isn’t it funny how catching up on some much needed sleep alters your mindset completely on challenging situations! Being able to get on and do some housework yesterday was very therapeutic also and the window cleaner came today too 🙂

Current mood: Feeling optimistic & determined!

Google Vet

I like research. I’m a geek, I like to hunt for information, gather lots of facts and learn from other people’s experiences as well as my own. This way, I feel like I can build a better understanding of what is going on, but also be in a position to ask the vet better questions to ultimately help Harrison and manage this condition to the best of my abilities.

But you do need to be really careful what you read online and approach with skepticism. I remember the behaviourist at the Dogs Trust offering the same advice regarding  training when we first brought Harrison home back in October 2015. She just explained to be wary of bad advice. Over the years research, theory and treatment can advance a lot, so what may have been standard a few years ago may not be the case any longer.

I think the veterinary professionals can be wary too when you ask questions about things you have read online which could be triggers, causes etc. Essentially every dog is different anyway, so in a way you need to just think of it as a blank slate and create your own records and experience log.

At the beginning, some of the things I read online were terrifying and made the whole situation even more daunting. I really feel for some of those I still read about who’s furry companions are suffering very regular seizures, even whilst heavily medicated.

I joined a couple of Facebook groups too, to seek advice and talk to others experiencing the same with their dog(s).  There you get to see other group members painfully sharing final posts and leaving the group,  as they’ve had to have their dog put to sleep. They always thank the group and state how helpful its been to be able to talk and discuss their situation with others going through the same. I would say its more for catharsis, like a kind of a group therapy than to really share tips or experience. Of course that happens as well, but I think ultimately you need to let the veterinary experts guide you correctly when it comes to your dog anyway.

I wanted to share some things I have learned that I wish I had known right at the start;

  • I know this is so much easier said than done, but try to remain calm, although horrific to witness the seizures are generally not harmful. Try to protect their head to avoid them banging it on anything during convulsions and be prepared for them to eliminate during the seizure. They may urinate, defecate or release their anal gland, or all 3…! Believe it or not, the seizures do get easier to deal with, whether this is from being desensitised or you just better at coping and less shocked with it all I don’t know, but you wont feel like a cry baby about it forever – promise!

Continue reading “Google Vet”

The ’emotional wreck’ stage

So, like many of us dog owners, I wear my heart right on my sleeve and Harrison is my whole world (aside from my better half, of course!)

To learn he has epilepsy and see him endure these seizures again and again is the kind of thing I wouldn’t wish on anyone, dog owner or beloved dog. It is truly horrific! Worst of all, I feel an overwhelming sadness for my oblivious little pooch, who aside from those terrible phases immediately before and after a seizure (during which he is absolutely terrified and I am just heartbroken) is perfectly happy and his usual self. I wish I could explain to him, make him understand that the awful feeling will pass and that he’s safe and we’re there and we’ll do all we can to help him whatever happens. But I can’t and that’s one of the worst things. If he was my child I might be able to explain when he reached a certain age, it might not make it any less scary but it would be worth a go.

The best thing is that the seizure itself he is unconscious and has no idea what’s happening – thank goodness! This part is worse for us, having to witness that and feel so helpless.

Continue reading “The ’emotional wreck’ stage”

The first seizure

That first seizure was actually not the worst one. Yes, the first one is definitely very scary and everything is unknown, but it feels perfectly reasonable that it could be a one off and then the vet leads you to believe that it could be a one off too. Then, your worst fears are realised and it keeps happening 😦 the second time was by far the worst. It catches you totally off guard, even though you have gone away and done your research, you’re still clinging on to the idea that it could have been a one off. Or at least, that it wouldn’t happen again for a long while. Witnessing your poor little pooch have a fit is truly horrific, you feel totally helpless, they are terrified and worst of all, you can’t explain to them what the hell is going on.

Since 23rd February (15 days ago), Harrison has had 7 seizures. The vet advised after the first one that any more frequent than once a month would require lifelong medication to manage the condition. So, he has started his first tablet trial today, something called pexion. Really hope it works out for him, otherwise we’ll have to try many more to find the most suitable and effective drug for him, or a combination. Personally I am fairly opposed to human medication, let alone for my animal. I prefer a more natural and holistical approach wherever possible, but the risk of long term damage is too high with such regular seizures, or by having several in quick succession (called “clusters”), so we have to try him with medication now.

The good news is that even though the condition is incurable, a dog with epilepsy can still lead a full and happy life, if you can learn how to manage their unique needs properly – every dog is different. So, this is the start of a new chapter for us!