Mo Bloggin'

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Archive for the tag “Canine epilepsy”

Birthday boy

Another year has passed and Cutter just had his 12th birthday (10 days ago).  I can hardly believe it at times, and remember at last year’s 11th birthday I was wondering if….  But here we are, my amazing, bigstrongboy still plugging along, albeit at a much slower pace. 

He’s had some rough times, and lately my concern has been over him being hammered with the side effects of his anti-seizure meds.  It’s a wicked Catch-22 these days – reduce the drugs to give him a break from side effects (weak, uncoordinated, sedated – all exacerbated due to his age and normal age-related weakening) and the seizures come rushing in to fill the gap.  Both are detrimental to his health, but the seizures, if left unchecked, will kill him faster than the drugs.  There is more than a whiff of brimstone in the Faustian nature of my ongoing battle with canine epilepsy and I am filled with a chaotic mix of pride, gratitude, humility, and desperation whenever I dwell on his condition for more than a moment or two. 

Rottweilers are not a long lived breed, and making it to age 12 is remarkable for any of them.  For Cutter, plagued with epilepsy and the brutality of seizures for the past 7.5 years, to have made it to this milestone is a small miracle.  I am so proud of him, and yes, myself, for fighting so hard.  I’ve spent buckets of cash, dealt with near incompetency from several veterinarians (trust no one!), and have fought tooth and nail advocating for his health and well being.  But I can’t take all the credit – without his willing partnership and lionhearted strength nothing I could have done would have made a difference.  So here’s to my buddy, my amazing, wonderful, adorable Cutter.  Happy Birthday Buddy. 

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

My buddy turns 11

Yesterday was Cutter’s 11th birthday (June 5)!  We didn’t do much out of the ordinary;  I mean, he doesn’t know what a birthday is, so I don’t celebrate per se.  In years past I’ve been known to put a birthday party hat on them IMG_0094and take a photo or three, but that’s about as far as it goes.  He did get a fresh egg on his dinner (laid that day), as did the other two dogs, but that was more for me than him, since treats with dinner aren’t all that rare.  Mostly I just hugged him a little more.  Which he hates.  

It really is a small miracle that he’s still chugging along at age 11.  It’s getting up there for a Rottweiler, a breed that isn’t nearly as robust as they look.  Tough, yes, but not durable.  My previous Rottweilers haven’t made it past 12 (my first lived to 12 1/4) and with Cutter’s issues, well, every day is amazing.  He had a few seizures this week, but they stopped after day three (his birthday) and it’s been “quiet” today.  Fingers crossed.    (I spoke too soon…he just had another mini.  And another.  Here we go…sigh.)

He’s still radioactively cute, if a bit curmudgeonly now.  There are times when I could weep at the loss of the dog he was–canine epilepsy stole a lot from us–but despite these issues he’s a strong dog with the heart of a lion.  He wouldn’t still be here if he weren’t so strong.  The anti-seizure meds leave him a little dopey and sometimes zombie-like, and he’s weaker than I’d like him to be, but overall I am amazed and grateful he’s still with me in body and mind and enjoying life, after spending over half his life with the specter of epilepsy hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles.   But, epilepsy or no, I’m glad he came into my life.  He’s a wonderful, one in a million dog, and I love him to bits.

Happy Birthday, Cutter-butter.  You’re my best Buddy.

Cutter - June 5, 2009

10 days, six years, who’s counting?

Can I just say how sick I am of canine epilepsy?  I don’t think there’s any way to convey the anguish, the frustration, the sickening worry, or the awful thoughts that come with each seizure episode.  If you’ve been through it, you know, but there’s little to prepare you for how it takes over your life, and, of course, the life of the sweet canine buddy afflicted.  The only advantage he has is that he’s not “aware” of his condition, at least not like a human — this human — is aware.

Cutter began having seizures in November of 2002.  Looking back, the first couple of years weren’t so bad, even as I struggled to accept what the condition is, and that he would never go back to being the dog he was, or our lives the way they were.  I held out hope for the longest time that I would find the magic bullet to bring it under control and we would go back to living a normal life, without the spectre lurking, without my heart pounding every time I hear an odd thump or chewing noise.  But, alas, it’s progressed.  And progressed.  He’s winding up a 10 day run now–only one tonight, a minor gum chewer a little while ago.  They seem to be tapering, though you never know.  A week ago we were in the throes of a full-on cluster, with multiple complex partials and grand mals mixed in a fun bag o’thrills every evening.  Rectal Valium was used, multiple times, and we avoided ER, thankfully. 

It’s so stressful, and disheartening.  And through it all, Cutter remains absolutely adorable.  He had some rough days, days where I wondered what I was doing…choking back fright and tears and wondering…should I make the decision?  But now he’s back to his bright (well, for him) self, enjoying his pleasures (mostly revolving around eating food, feces, and various and sundry non-food items) and engaged in life.  I know when it’s all over that I’ll wish it wasn’t; that the years spent imprisoned by a bizarre, chaotic, unpredictable, and horrible affliction will seem to be a mere blip and that it wasn’t all that bad, really.  Except it was.  It is.

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