How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

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Esmo
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:59 pm

How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Esmo » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:53 pm

We didn't know that Maggie had epilepsy when we first adopted her in December. Since then we have been through four bouts of cluster seizures - three of them ending up with Maggie at the Emergency Vet Clinic overnight. She has seen a neurologist and is now on Pheno and Zoltimide (sorry - can't spell it today).

What I am discovering - outside of the sorrow and anguish of her suffering during/after the seizures and from the effects of the meds, is the impact on our lives. We are now afraid to leave her for more than a couple of hours at a time - her seizures are violent and without intervention seem to be almost non-stop. My husband and I had planned to both drive down and bring our daughter home from college (in LA) and leave our 22 year old son with Maggie. But now we aren't comfortable with that - he is in school and two days a week is gone for several hours. Plus, dealing with her seizures is a lot to ask someone to take on, so I am making the drive by myself (two 8 hour days). We have a trip planned for September - something we have been saving for and dreaming of for some time - but I am rethinking that also. What do we do with Miss Maggie May....the vet would board her, but nobody is there at night and I worry if she would have a seizure episode what might happen.

We love our Mags and would not trade her for anything, but I am realizing that having a special needs dog means an entire lifestyle change - over and above the vet visits and administration of medicine, special food etc...

When I talk with friends and family about some of our decisions they look at me like I've lost my mind.."just board her" they say, or "why can't you let your son watch her" and so on..people who are outside of this and have never witnessed a seizure episode so do not understand...
Esmo and Maggie
Dachshund/Beagle Mix
Rescued 12/16/13
First seizure 1/31/13
Last seizure 9/23/14
48 mg of Phenobarbital 2x day
150 mg of Zonisamide 2x day
500 mg of LevetiracetamER (Keppra) 2x day
200 mg of Gabapentin 3x day

cecilia
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:24 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by cecilia » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:33 pm

Esmo wrote:We didn't know that Maggie had epilepsy when we first adopted her in December. Since then we have been through four bouts of cluster seizures - three of them ending up with Maggie at the Emergency Vet Clinic overnight. She has seen a neurologist and is now on Pheno and Zoltimide (sorry - can't spell it today).

What I am discovering - outside of the sorrow and anguish of her suffering during/after the seizures and from the effects of the meds, is the impact on our lives. We are now afraid to leave her for more than a couple of hours at a time - her seizures are violent and without intervention seem to be almost non-stop. My husband and I had planned to both drive down and bring our daughter home from college (in LA) and leave our 22 year old son with Maggie. But now we aren't comfortable with that - he is in school and two days a week is gone for several hours. Plus, dealing with her seizures is a lot to ask someone to take on, so I am making the drive by myself (two 8 hour days). We have a trip planned for September - something we have been saving for and dreaming of for some time - but I am rethinking that also. What do we do with Miss Maggie May....the vet would board her, but nobody is there at night and I worry if she would have a seizure episode what might happen.

We love our Mags and would not trade her for anything, but I am realizing that having a special needs dog means an entire lifestyle change - over and above the vet visits and administration of medicine, special food etc...

When I talk with friends and family about some of our decisions they look at me like I've lost my mind.."just board her" they say, or "why can't you let your son watch her" and so on..people who are outside of this and have never witnessed a seizure episode so do not understand...
You sound just like myself and my husband. Bronson had his first seizure last year in October, scared the life out of us. We do believe it was caused by the heart worm med we gave him as he had never had a seizure until then. (Researching it I found 100's of people who have had the same result and even worse...)
Of course, the company takes no responsibilities and still markets the dreadful poison.

We both work second shift so we have no choice but to leave our dogs for nine hours and we are always worried, always scared...always thinking bout Bronson and wondering if he's okay. We both have taken numerous days off from work when he has had bouts of seizures, it's just so difficult to not worry. I don't think he has had a seizure while we have been gone, most happen when he is sleeping, waking him and us up, but, his last cluster was night and day so the worry is always there.
We don't leave him for long and actually if possible one of us tried to always be here.
My vet said we have to live our lives, we have to work, and she is right, but, loving our boys so much we have changed our lives to work around his needs, to be honest.

My sister comes by while we are at work as he has to have a dose of keppra while we are gone, so, that is some comfort, but, not enough to really take that fear away that he will have seizures and we won't be there to comfort him, it's a non stop worry for us.
We have rearranged our home and our lives and for us it is just what we have to do having an epi pup. Bronson was a rescue, a total love bug...we just want to give him the best life possible full of love, the love he gives us in return is so worth it. Other than his seizure disorder, he is a happy, loving boy.

Between his vet visits, meds and neurological testing we have spent thousands, but, I would do it again in a heartbeat, as I know everyone would here, for their pups.
But yes, life has surely changed since Bronson was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy!
I have to say that we would never board him, I would be so very worried, but, you have to do what feels right for you.
Bronson: 5 year old Poodle/Bichon Rescue pup
First Seizure: Oct. 22, 13' after taking Trifexis
Last Seizure: April 18, 14' 9:26 a.m.
Meds: Keppra 100 mg-1.7 mils. every 8 hours
Pheno: 16.2 MG every 12 hours
Zonasamide 50 mg every 12 hours

Esmo
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:59 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Esmo » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:29 am

That is our problem - we don't want to board her, the worry is too great - even at our vet's. So we struggle with decisions about how to live our lives but still care for this little fur-person who has come into our lives. I guess it is just one day at a time, one decision at a time.
Esmo and Maggie
Dachshund/Beagle Mix
Rescued 12/16/13
First seizure 1/31/13
Last seizure 9/23/14
48 mg of Phenobarbital 2x day
150 mg of Zonisamide 2x day
500 mg of LevetiracetamER (Keppra) 2x day
200 mg of Gabapentin 3x day

Crazy Dog Lady
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:54 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Crazy Dog Lady » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:47 pm

How has it changed our life? In ways more profound than anyone without an epileptic dog can imagine. She had her first seizure at 13 months. She is now 3-1/2 years old. The number of seizures she's had is in triple digits. We've spent more than $10,000 on vet visits and medication. If she never had to be hospitalized again, her medicine would still cost $5000 a year (prices have soared). We jump when one of our dogs makes a noise. Because she is big and her seizures involve staggering madly around and thrashing mid-air, she has to be physically restrained by one of us to protect her and the house. Life revolves around giving her medicine. If we want to be someplace else at 6:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m., we have to hire the dog sitter. The stress of so many seizures has caused muscle wasting, leaving her formerly beautiful head looking bony. If she starts to seize, we have to spring into action to get the other dogs out of the room, because we have one that will attack her (this is normal behavior).

It is the disorder that keeps on taking.....always unpredictable, always heartbreaking, and terribly open-ended. You never know if it's time to give up, or keep hoping and fighting. Whenever I hear someone say, "Oh, my 13 year old dog has cancer and it's so awful!" I want to say, "Oh really? My dog has been dying since she celebrated her first birthday."

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

MK's mom
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:48 am
Location: Michigan

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by MK's mom » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:47 pm

Speaking for myself; my boy's needs come first, my 'fun' is last on the list. Most of my friends are dog people, too and KNOW that my life revolves around my boys, most especially the epi boy. Even if they had something to say against my decisions, I wouldn't care, I do what I want to do and they're free to do the same with their lives. I have to work all day, that is just how it is. So far neither of my boys have gone into status while I'm gone, but the one I lost developed pneumonia and by the time I got home from work it was pretty much too late to save him and that is something I'll never come to terms with. It's very hard, but we have two choices and that is to stick with them and care for them or rehome them. I don't think anyone that comes to this list could do the latter, we come here because we care and want to do what's best for our pets, but we also have lives to live that takes us away from them, we can't be with them 24/7.

Esmo, can you find a boarding place that has a vet on duty all day and night? Maybe an emergency place that also boards, which will cost you more money, but you'll have peace of mind to go on your trip knowing a professional is there to be sure your babe gets the meds and someone to help if he/she seizes.
Nathan
3.5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 7/26/2013
Last seizure 3/24/2014
__________________________________
MK
5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 1/25/06
Last seizure 9/4/2009

Aug 17, 2004- Sept. 22, 2009
May the shamrocks fall softly sweetpea

MK's mom
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:48 am
Location: Michigan

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by MK's mom » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:52 pm

Crazy Dog Lady, I really understand how you're feeling when you say it hurts you to hear someone say their old dog is dying. I lost my MK a month after his 5th birthday and that was nearly 5 years ago. All of his littermates are still alive and they talk about how their kids are getting gray on the face. How I wish my MK would have lived long enough to get some gray and I DO feel resentful, but it wouldn't make me happy to hear one of the others was sick or died, it just hurts that we started grieving our kids when they were still very young and if we lose them, it's just so unfair. The people sad to lose their 13 yo hurts, too, so we have to keep our feelings to ourselves and remember that no matter when a pet is lost it's painful for owners who really love them.
Nathan
3.5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 7/26/2013
Last seizure 3/24/2014
__________________________________
MK
5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 1/25/06
Last seizure 9/4/2009

Aug 17, 2004- Sept. 22, 2009
May the shamrocks fall softly sweetpea

Crazy Dog Lady
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:54 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Crazy Dog Lady » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:57 pm

I have a ten year old dog and an 8-1/2 year old dog (all large breeds). Both have enjoyed good health their entire lives. I now know how lucky I am for that, and I am grateful. I love my aging dogs deeply and will mourn them when they are gone, but it won't be anything like this. I will mourn without feeling cheated.

Crazy Dog Lady
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:54 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Crazy Dog Lady » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:00 pm

By the way, MK's Mom, the fact that you have a second dog with epilepsy is gut-wrenching to me. It is my worst fear. Give me any other canine malady, but don't give me this again. I suppose it has something to do with my girl being refractory. I doubt anyone whose dog only seizes three times a year is posting here.

MK's mom
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:48 am
Location: Michigan

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by MK's mom » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:26 pm

You are absolutely right, it's the hard to control dogs whose owners post here.

I couldn't believe it either when I saw my current boy have a seizure last summer, I nearly fell over. He was 3.5 yo and I thought we beat it because he went past the 2 yo mark, but haha, the Universe had other plans. Thus far he's doing pretty well, I pray that he fares better than my first boy did, it seemed like nothing I did worked for very long then I lost him from something other than the seizures, although I suspect the meds had something to do with it. I miss him and always will...you're very right when you say it's harder to lose the ones we've tried so hard to save and the tears still come so easily when my MK comes to my mind because he was totally screwed in life and had to go so early, I miss him more than I can say. All we can do is the best we know how and just be there when they need us...love them and give them the best lives we can.
Nathan
3.5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 7/26/2013
Last seizure 3/24/2014
__________________________________
MK
5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 1/25/06
Last seizure 9/4/2009

Aug 17, 2004- Sept. 22, 2009
May the shamrocks fall softly sweetpea

Esmo
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:59 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Esmo » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:30 pm

We are looking into a place that has a vet on site during the day and contracts with the Emergency Vet Clinic (where they know our name) for after hour care. We will see, we are so new to all of this and have yet to see if the new medical regimen gives us some control over her seizures. I have had dogs all my life, and I have had old dogs with medical issues - our Sheltie we lost last summer had several issues we managed with medicine, but I have never been through anything like this or what you are all sharing and have experienced. I feel like a stranger in strange land navigating without a map. Our life has been turned upside down so we will just have to take it one day, one step at a time. The only sure thing is that even though we have only had Miss Mags a few months she is ours and we will care for her as long as she needs us...
Esmo and Maggie
Dachshund/Beagle Mix
Rescued 12/16/13
First seizure 1/31/13
Last seizure 9/23/14
48 mg of Phenobarbital 2x day
150 mg of Zonisamide 2x day
500 mg of LevetiracetamER (Keppra) 2x day
200 mg of Gabapentin 3x day

MK's mom
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:48 am
Location: Michigan

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by MK's mom » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:11 pm

Esmo, pretty soon you will be a pro at this and you'll be able to relax a little bit. I remember with my first epi boy I was so paranoid and would stand by the clock until the time was EXACTLY 12 hours since the last med dosage!!! I now know we don't have to be that anal, but being such a novice and not knowing how much leeway I had, I drove myself crazy. When your Maggie gets her medicine tweaked so she gets a reprieve from the seizures, you'll be able to exhale a little bit and start to go with the flow. Always keep in mind that we live WITH epilepsy, not FOR it. Yes, there are things we have to be very mindful of and not dismiss, but we get used to the regimes and it just becomes part of our routine. You'll get there, but you'll never get over the upset of seeing them seize and go thru that darned post ictal.
Nathan
3.5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 7/26/2013
Last seizure 3/24/2014
__________________________________
MK
5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 1/25/06
Last seizure 9/4/2009

Aug 17, 2004- Sept. 22, 2009
May the shamrocks fall softly sweetpea

Gentle Jacob's mom
Posts: 925
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:52 am

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Gentle Jacob's mom » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:50 pm

I've been reading these posts and the one where everyone chimed in on letting their epi pups sleep with them (by the way who are the they that say we shouldn't. They're our kids and you make room for them!) and I realize more than ever what an amazing group we have here. For better and worse we're here for each other and lets face it epilepsy knocks you over physically and mentally right along with our babies and at 3 am we need unconditional support. It took me almost three years to join here because I didn't want to admit that Jake was refractory. That night my hand shook when I posted my name for the first time. But because of the people here eight years into this our Gentle Jacob is laying next to me on the floor wondering if I've noticed that he really wants a treat NOW.
Yes this disease is hell, and I've seen far too many dogs loose their battle (MK, Apache ...) and I see a next generation that I never wanted to see, but they have picked up the tenacity, and an unwillingness to give up. The bottom line is these special dogs came to us for a reason. They were put in our hands so that they would have a shot at a happy life despite this @$$%$! disease.
I'm just thankful for all of you.
Lynne

cecilia
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:24 pm

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by cecilia » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:36 pm

Gentle Jacob's mom wrote:I've been reading these posts and the one where everyone chimed in on letting their epi pups sleep with them (by the way who are the they that say we shouldn't. They're our kids and you make room for them!) and I realize more than ever what an amazing group we have here. For better and worse we're here for each other and lets face it epilepsy knocks you over physically and mentally right along with our babies and at 3 am we need unconditional support. It took me almost three years to join here because I didn't want to admit that Jake was refractory. That night my hand shook when I posted my name for the first time. But because of the people here eight years into this our Gentle Jacob is laying next to me on the floor wondering if I've noticed that he really wants a treat NOW.
Yes this disease is hell, and I've seen far too many dogs loose their battle (MK, Apache ...) and I see a next generation that I never wanted to see, but they have picked up the tenacity, and an unwillingness to give up. The bottom line is these special dogs came to us for a reason. They were put in our hands so that they would have a shot at a happy life despite this @$$%$! disease.
I'm just thankful for all of you.
Lynne

Lynne, well said and I couldn't agree with you more! I was thrilled to find this group after my Boy was diagnosed, I felt so lost and confused and scared and alone. That's not to say that I don't still feel all those things, every time my boy has a seizure I seem to to feel all those things again, but, it's comforting to me to come here and talk about things with others who truly understand and care. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Bronson: 5 year old Poodle/Bichon Rescue pup
First Seizure: Oct. 22, 13' after taking Trifexis
Last Seizure: April 18, 14' 9:26 a.m.
Meds: Keppra 100 mg-1.7 mils. every 8 hours
Pheno: 16.2 MG every 12 hours
Zonasamide 50 mg every 12 hours

ShilohsMom
Posts: 818
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by ShilohsMom » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:51 pm

How has epilepsy affected our life???? Whew, where to begin!

One thing that makes it hard for me is I do this on my own. No family close by and I wouldn't ask any of my friends to take this on. It's scary enough when you live with it, but to ask someone who has no clue isn't something I'm not comfortable doing.

I've had to rearrange my house looking for anything that might fall over on Shiloh and hurt him. Waterproof pads have been put on the bed, couch, his chair and the car seat. My carpet looks awful from all the spots that have been cleaned up and I hate having people over because sometimes it just seems I can't get the urine smell out.

I've usually had problems sleeping but now it's even worse. I'm sensitive to every sound and on constant alert. Shiloh's favorite place to sleep at night is in the bathroom on his back snuggled against the wall and his feet hit the wall a lot so I can get jumpy. His med schedule is 5:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. so forget plans for a concert or other activity that will coincide with his meds. I'm fortunate that I can go home at lunch and check on him and give him his meds so he's never left more than 4 hours. If he's had a seizure while I've been gone I can usually tell. Would love to date but don't have a lot of confidence in finding someone who wouldn't be bothered by the limitations in my schedule.

My brother passed away a couple years ago and I had to board twice (once for the memorial and other for the service). I found a vet that had a special room where the dogs weren't in cages but in a room that had 3 sides of concrete block with a plexiglass door. Shiloh could be in one room and my other 2 could share another room. It cost more than other boarding facilities but felt better knowing he couldn't get his leg caught in a cage.

Then there's the expense! My savings has been totally depleted and can't seem to get ahead. Even though we've been dealing with the disease for almost 4 years now, the past 9 months have been rough. He's had blood work pretty much monthly, MRI's, Xrays, spinal tap, emergency room visits, and had meds upped/added. Don't know how much I've spent since this all started but the last 9 months alone is probably around $7000. Shiloh also has intervertebral disc disease which causes him to have trouble walking which becomes worse after seizures and is on meds for thyroid issues.

One of the worst things though is the complete feeling of helplessness watching him go through this. Post ictal is the worse especially when it lasts for days. My biggest fear is that I will die before him, I have absolutely no idea who would be willing to take this on. The second fear is that I get sick and not be able to care for him, but knowing me, I'd kill myself trying :D

Yet, despite all this, I wouldn't give him up for anything. In a weird way I think Shiloh has had a deeper connection to me as a result of all of this. I'm grateful that so far my other two are healthy. I'm thankful for each day we have that he doesn't have a seizure and they far outnumber the ones that he does and his quality of life is great. I believe that God gave me the dogs I needed not the ones I wanted and I find comfort in that.
Colleen, Rylie, Sophie & angels Izzie & Shiloh
DOB: 11/11/05
First seizure: 07/28//10
Last seizure: 06/27/16

Eley's Mom
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:54 am
Location: Chicago, West Suburbs

Re: How Has an Epi Dog Changed Your Life

Post by Eley's Mom » Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:00 pm

How has our life changed since epi came in...that's a loaded question.

The first couple of weeks I could barely sleep, researched, researched, researched, and I was scared to leave the house to grocery shop, go out to eat, etc.

Eventually, I got comfortable enough to realize that she will be ok.
Last weekend really rattled us with the clusters that ended in an overnight stay at the emergency vet.

I won't lie though, after the cluster scare, Eley pretty much hasn't left my side. She's with me all day at work...we moved her cage into the bedroom in case something happened then we could hear...I didn't go line dancing Wednesday like usual. I just wasn't ready to leave her. Last night we went to a friends house for the Hawks game (go Blackhawks!!) and I couldn't help but think about her the whole time. We were only gone about 4 hours, but that's 4 hours longer than I've been away from her in a week. We got home, she was sleeping peacefully, and all is well.

There will be times where you will be rattled and terrified and every sound will sound like a seizure. Then you'll have times where you can breathe!

We're going on vacation next month and luckily, a friend of ours is used to special needs dogs. They lost two last fall...one had cancer and the other kept having strokes. Now they have a blind, diabetic dog. I agree with the others that maybe try the local emergency vet...may be more expensive, but the peace of mind is priceless!

A positive that has come out of this is that I have learned so much about something that had never even crossed my mind. I've been able to educate others with what I've learned. I think at first, people thought I was just overprotective or even a little crazy with how closely I watched her, but now I think people are realizing how serious and unpredictable this really is.

This group has been such a godsend since our lives changed! Even when you feel alone, you're not. All of us love our furry kids and we all want what's best.
Diana & Eley
Boston Terrier (23 lbs)
DOB: 11/12/09
First Seizure 2/8/14
Last Seizure 10/9/16
Phenobarbital 48.6mg (morning), 56.7mg p.m. (night)
3 mL Potasium Bromide, once daily
Clorazepate as needed after seizures

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