Sunday, January 25, 2009


Last year, before I got the Farmdog moved up with me, I got a call from Farmmom. She was practically in tears, and terrified that I was going to be mad at her.

See, Farmdog had had a seizure. The local vet was out on farm calls that day, and Farmmom wanted to know if I thought she should wait for the vet at home, or bring the Farmdog up to one of the vets where I was.

Of course, I voted for the faster option of bringing her to another vet, and started calling around to see which one could fit her in the fastest.

Farmdog was not a happy camper when they got her up there, the seizure scared her almost as much as it did Farmmom.

The vet said he couldn't be sure what kind of seizure it was, but he'd work with us to find a medication that worked for her.

Luckily, the first med he put her on, Primadone, did the trick. Farmmom got to find the proper dosage ("start her on three pills every day, to get the levels up in her system, and back it off gradually... if she has another seizure, go back up a step on the dosage") of one pill, every other day.

He also told us that if she has a seizure, if we can get her to take a pill during or right after, it will reduce the severity.

Well, in the bustle of the move, I forgot her pill the night before last, and the stress of the move (the dawgs were not happy when they were put out in the yard in the morning and the house was full of stuff, and came back in in the afternoon and it was empty) triggered a seizure last night.

At first I thought that she and the Farmpup were just playing in the hallway, until I called out for them to come in the living room and the Pup came running in totally freaked out.

I looked up and Farmdog was trying to get into the middle bedroom with two legs clenched tight to her body.

I don't remember my feet touching the floor between the chair on the opposite side of the table, and the Farmdog.

I got to her and grabbed ahold of her so she wouldn't try to go anywhere and hurt herself in the process, one arm around her neck with her head against my shoulder and the other reaching in the tub full of the dawgs' things for her pills while Mamaw got me a hotdog to stuff the pill in.

This is another one of those situations where a part of me panics, but that part gets locked in a box and the rest of me has to be calm and comforting... if I'm scared, it scares Farmdog. If she's freaking out, the seizures get worse. So, I have to be calm. It ain't easy, when my baby is having a seizure and I don't know until it's over whether or not it will actually do damage to her brain, or tear a muscle or ligament.

Once the worst of the seizure was over, I offered her the bite of hotdog, pill side first... don't ever tell me that dogs are dumb. If I try to feed her a bite of hotdog during or right after a seizure, without letting her smell that there's a pill in it, she won't take it. She'll take her pill, though, every time. She's tried to get the pill while her jaws were still locked shut in the seizure. She may not know how the pill works... but she knows that it works, and that's good enough for her.

She finally relaxed a little and laid there, but I knew another one was coming because she was drooling all over the place still. The second one was worse than the first... in the first one she was still present and accounted for, the second one she wasn't.

Ever wrestled a fifty pound dog in the middle of a seizure trying to keep her from smacking her head into a doorway or flipping over backwards when her muscles all clench up at once? Its not easy. Farmdog doesn't thrash during her seizures, unless she panicks and tries to use limbs that aren't listening to her in the mild ones, but when her muscles spasm you never know if they're going to go stiff or jerk her to the side.

And, she is a pit mix, and I'm never sure how much of her brain is involved in the seizures, so I try to arrange myself so that she won't have an opportunity to bite me if she starts coming out of it in fight or flight mode, being held down.

She hasn't snapped at anyone after a seizure yet, and if she does, I'm not going to hold it against her, but I would like to avoid a full bite from the Jaws of Tennis Ball Doom, if possible.

Once the pill started getting into her system, she started feeling better. Twenty minutes later she was playing tug with the Farmpup like nothing had happened....

But it sure scares the crap out of mommy when that happens....


Jon said...

I've had/have dogs that suffered seizures. It's hard to watch, since you can only hold them while they ride out the storm.

I've never seen one bite, although I guess they could. I know how scared mine were and how they were comforted with me holding them during their seizure.

I'm like you. If they should bite, they get a free pass.

Kate said...

My shepherd has idiopathic epilepsy and has been on Phenobarb for the last 7 years. If I were you, I'd look into keeping rectal Valium to be given in case of status seizures, which can definitely be fatal if not controlled in time. Valium is a controlled substance and is light sensitive, but most vets are comfortable dispensing it for emergencies. Good luck with everything and let me know if you have any questions.