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Seesaw, yo yo, roller coaster days

After four glorious days off work, during which the weather was like something you’d order from a spring catalog, it was back to work today.  And the weather reflected that action too – grey and overcast all day, with rain showers here and there.  I was on such a high from being at home and getting real things accomplished, as opposed to sitting at my desk at work in front of a computer screen all day long without any noticable change, that even the nagging worry I had all weekend was managable.  (And does anyone else wonder at how absolutely bizarre this practice is – all of us rushing like lemmings back and forth five days a week, to sit behind desks and push papers around electronically.)  A couple of “off” encounters with co-workers and a rude encounter on the bus home, and I’m effectively in the dumps.  How did that happen so quickly, when just 24 hours ago I was essentially walking on sunshine? 

Well it could be partly due to my nagging worry, which is, as it often is, my Cutter.  Sometimes he seems to have a particularly hard time with the drugs he’s on to control seizures, and this was one of those weekends.  There’s no question the drugs pound him daily, but some days the  side effects seem worse than others, and he’s more ataxic than usual, or semi-zombiefied where normally he’s just sleepy.  This weekend he was weak and wobbly and sleeping hard all day long.  So I worry.  Is there something else going on or is this just one of his temporary downturns?  Is a seizure pending or are all the drugs working to prevent that?  Is this age related or a bump in the road?  And the big one, will he bounce back or do I need to take him in for tests? 

First off, he isn’t suffering.  There’s no physical pain as far as I can tell, but is he dopey-drugged or actually depressed?  Is he having a hard time dealing with his physical side effects…or is that just me that’s having the hard time?  I found him lying by the side of the driveway midday on Saturday; sprawled would be a better word.  It looked like he collapsed and as I walked up to him, trying to stay calm, I actually wondered if he’d collapsed and expired.  As I knelt by him and stroked his fur he raised his head to look at me sleepily.  Perhaps he just got tired of waiting for Dinah and lay down in the shade of the apple tree; it was at the top of the driveway, which he will avoid going down when he’s feeling tired or lazy–he knows he has to come back up.  Another time I saw him fall on the hill going down to the pasture.  He was following Dinah, who’d turned to come back up the hill.  His legs tangled under him and he took a tumble.  He lay flat on his side, head downhill, and I walked up to him talking to him in a cheerful voice, but part of me breaking inside.  He looked at me without raising his head and seemed so defeated.  It was one of those moments where I question all of it all over again.  Am I going through this hell for him or for me? 

He gets his three medications three times a day, and an hour or two after each med time he’s flattened.  Usually by the next time they’re due he’s a little brighter, with a little more coordination.  I cut one of the medications down by one sixth on his midday dose yesterday, in an effort to give him a little less to deal with.  And of course he had a seizure last night at 2:30 a.m.  I don’t think it was necessarily that tiny drop in dose, but probably something he’s been brewing all weekend.  It looked like he may have had another while I was at work today, though I’m not sure – it’s just a slobber smeared window that I hadn’t noticed before, but no other signs.  Once again I’m left to wonder and to worry and obsess.  And hope.  Hope that he’ll rebound again to something a little brighter, a little more coordinated, a little more engaged in life than he is now.  To my normal, cheerful, brave buddy.  He still follows Dinah around gamely, and still tells the whippersnapper who’s boss, but it’s a little duller than normal. 

I try to act as if nothing’s wrong – he worries if I worry too obviously.  And I don’t want him to feel worse.  I’m going to wait it out for a few days and hope he’s just going through one of his spells.  He’s such an amazing dog, so game and strong and full of stoic courage dealing with the lousy condition of canine epilepsy.  I wish sometimes that I could be as strong as he is, my bigstrongboy, my buddy

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4 thoughts on “Seesaw, yo yo, roller coaster days

  1. Relaena on said:

    I know the difficulties of which you speak… having had a seizure dog for many years. I don’t know if you are open to the idea of a “second vet opinion,” but I can wholeheartedly recommend a vet who made all the difference:

    Tamara Norquist, DVM
    Kindness Veterinary Clinic
    Renton, WA
    (425) 235-7888

    She was a “regular Western” vet for 8 years when her own health issues prompted her to start investigating holistic methods, and that became the transformative spark to her practice.

    She is now IVAS-certified in Veterinary Acupuncture / Chinese veterinary medicine, AVCA-Certified in Veterinary Chiropractic, has a 2 year certificate of herbology from Bastyr, and considering it’s been a while since I’ve seen her, she’s probably added more to the list, knowing her… hehe… 🙂

    What I love about her is how intuitive and practical she is. She keeps a common sense foot in both streams… balancing “western” and “natural” to find the best way to control health issues. Just listening to her talk is like going to school… you learn so much.

    Anyway, my thoughts and heart are with you and Cutter… I surely do empathize with all that you’re feeling!!!

  2. mcfwriter on said:

    Relaena, Thanks for your kind words and helpful information. Sometimes it gets too much, you know? And this isn’t even a “bad” week, really. A bad week is cluster seizures all week, and pounding him with rectal valium for a day or so to try and avoid having to take him to ER.

    In seven-plus years the “second vet opinion” is in the double digits by now , and I’ve run across an astounding amount of ignorance and near malpractice from may vets that we’ve seen. He was triple overdosed on one powerful anti-seizure drug in the first months – I didn’t know what was happening, and neither did the vet on the repeated calls I made with increasing side effects (more than just the sedation and ataxia as is typical of most). I didn’t know then that I HAD to self-educate to the degree that I did, in order to protect my dog’s well being medically. They simply don’t know beyond textbook answers, and most don’t even look up contraindications for medications he may need for other issues (say, antibiotics or pain relief after a dental). So I do it instead, and have become more than one vet’s least favorite client for knowing more than they do about his condition. That doctor ego, I guess.

    I saw Tammy back in the beginning – I think we were only a year or so into it. I actually worked with her when she first graduated from vet school – she worked her first year for the clinic I worked at for six years. (She was smart and left a lot sooner than I did!) She’s great, and I remember being in awe of her as a new grad, so sure and confident and skilled even then, unlike all the other new grads we had at that clinic annually. The CM didn’t do much to improve him and we looked some more (closer to home). I was unemployed at the time, so it was a stretch financially to seek alternative therapy for him. It still is, even employed!

    So yeah, we’ve made the veterinary rounds. Early on I was in search of the Grail that I was sure existed for him. Instead he progressed. Tammy was helpful – did a nice chiropractic adjustment on him as well as acupuncture, Chinese medicine and nutritional info (I was unaware of the CM warming/cooling properties of foods until then). I also took him to Donna Kelleher in West Seattle for a while, and still keep in touch with her occasionally. She did acupuncture and NAET work (kinesiology) on him. He’s seen Dr. Siegler in Redmond (my former employer) too: CM, acupuncture and homeopathy. We consulted Michael Harrington initially (neurologist who was wary and a bit frightened of my Cutter-butter – just about the sweetest dog I’ve ever owned – simply because of his breed), and now go to Dr. Sean Sanders for neurology/ER – nice that he’s now in Kirkland, though Lynnwood wouldn’t be so far for me now.

    I’ve added supplements, made homemade food for him, restricted this or that (and am always careful with what he’s exposed to) and more. At some point in all of it I threw in the towel. Part of the emotional drain was thinking, trying, searching for an answer when there is none. I dropped off the e-list I belonged to, and stopped helping others actively (was a “Guardian Angel” at – a fabulous informational website with personal help available for owners of epileptic dogs) – it seemed ludicrous to be telling others what helped, when none of it has helped my boy. Or reading of other list members’ success using therapies that didn’t put a dent in Cutter’s frequency or severity. Ouch. His condition has monopolized a ridiculous amount of my emotional bandwidth over the years, and I find my resilience is lower and lower on these downturns, and near non-existent when he clusters. Though I’m not a basket case (yet!), I just can’t cope with it as well as I used to.

    So now we just “manage” – a loose term for the control I don’t seem to have with his condition. Still, he’s not as bad as some. And 12 years old (on June 5) is a remarkable milestone for ANY Rottweiler, never mind one who’s been dealing with this awful, awful condition for over 7 ½ years. Which, perversely, just makes me want to weep even more – the shoulda/coulda’s of a dog who has the heart of a lion and the physical strength to withstand this assault on his being… He IS simply amazing. But how is it even in this victory I feel like I’ve failed him? Must be the week we’re having.

  3. Melodie on said:

    OK, so I’m a week behind reading your post and I hope Cutter is doing much better as of this writing.

    You know as well as I do that you have not now, nor will you ever, fail Cutter. You may be worn down and that’s understandable, but you haven’t failed that wonderful boy. And he knows that better than you. Hopefully he’s just having/had a bad spell.

    We give these wonderful pets all the love and care and we do what’s best for them as much as we can. Unfortunately we can’t always “fix” the problem. And that’s when the “managing” comes in of which you spoke.

    You keep hanging in there….I hope all has improved over this past week.

  4. Pingback: Birthday boy « Mo Bloggin’

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