Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canine Epilepsy and Other Woes

Following an absolutely blissful half hour in which Gonzo-bean slept on my stomach and left a large drool patch on my right boob, he launched into a nearly 10 minute long seizure.

Gonzo is 9 years old now, an astounding number, particularly when I consider that I have only started to adequately care for myself in the last 4 years, and this has been a part of our lives together since the first week that I owned him.

The struggle of having a dog with epilepsy is the incredible agony of loving something so much that you would cheerfully throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle to protect him, and finding that there is something that attacks him from within, something you have no power to stop, let alone to understand.

I know I should be very grateful that he is doing as well as he is. Two year ago, we started seeing a holistic vet, as Gonzo's seizures were becoming more frequent and debilitating. I've always resisted the traditional epilepsy medications because they come with such high risks. Phenobarbitol, the common drug, does great damage to dogs' livers, in addition to the fact that it is a rather whopping sedative. My bean--you should see him--is such a bundle of life and personality; I can't imagine sedating him for, well, ever. And I've been lucky, too, in that his seizures, while much, much longer than average, only come about once or twice a month, and so I haven't been forced to choose that option.

Brad Kerr, my unbelievable, understanding, talented and absolutely irreplaceable vet, tried acupuncture on Gonzo for a while, but finally Gonzo's anxiety about it made it seem like a ridiculous option, because Gonzo is an anxious dog to begin with, and we've always considered that part of the problem. So now he takes Chinese herbs at every meal and eats a low carb diet and that seems to be controlling the epilepsy to an enormous degree. This was his first seizure in 3 months and while it was long, he leaped up afterward as if nothing had happened, rather than skulking around, hiding and immediately having another seizure, as is his wont.

As a dog-mommy, I can't help but wonder if this happened because I finally made him stop taking a nap on top of me, or because I marvelled aloud to Thomas yesterday about how well Gonzo's been doing. I have to admit that I superstitiously stopped saying the word seizure about a year ago. That always seemed to bring them on.

When a dog hits one year without a seizure, you're allowed to declare them seizure free. In the last 8 years, we've only ever come close once. Oh, well. Clock starts over.....now.

1 comment:

Space Kase said...

Oh, Megs.... I'm so sorry that Gonzo had such a whopper. He is such a cheerful, laughing little Bean--it seems that his life should be free from seizures and full of chipmunks to chase and "shoes" and "Linda Garou's" to be excited about.

I'm sorry too, for what I know this puts you through. And I completely understand the dogmother guilt. When Moxie's heart murmur was diagnosed last fall, I went into a frenzy of guilt and self-blame. I knew how sad and jealous and left out poor Moose felt when the baby was born, and I turned that into the cause of Moxie's illness. In my mind I had, literally, broken his heart.

Kiss the Bean for me and spend a few moments of dog-cuddling bliss. I plan to do the same with Mox when I get home.