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Monday, February 18, 2013

Duncan's Drama

Duncan’s been dealing with seizures for just over a year now (not counting the two that occurred seven months before they really got started). He’s occasionally had patterns that last for a couple of months, but since going off the Phenobarbital, the pattern has basically been to randomly have a lot seizures. Adding the Keppra as a cluster-buster helped, but didn’t address the issue of the frequent seizures. Well, this all came to a head at 8:25 Wednesday evening when Duncan went into status epilecticus.

Just three days after a series of grand mals, Duncan fell into another seizure. I proceeded in the usual fashion – remove any furniture or other items that he might hurt himself on, start the timer, and get a notepad and pencil to track the GMs. About 10 minutes into the seizure, I realized that it didn’t look quite like the ones he’d been having. 15 minutes in, I called John and asked him to be on standby for a trip to the vet school. The next call was to the vet school emergency unit to describe what was happening and get some feedback. After a bit of back and forth, it was decided that Duncan needed to go to the vet school. I called John and asked him to come on over. By the time I got what I needed and cleared out the back of the truck, John was pulling in. I went next door to ask my neighbor and his girlfriend for some assistance with carrying Duncan. We flipped Duncan onto a spread and the four of us carried him out to the truck (answering the age-old question, how do you get 120lbs of seizing GSD into the back of my truck?). John drove, and we pulled into the vet school carport at 9:40pm.

The vets were able to get the seizure stopped fairly quickly, thank goodness. By this time, Duncan had been seizing continuously for 80 minutes. That’s right, 80 minutes. With no breaks other than two extremely short ones during the first 10 minutes. Even when he wasn’t in a full GM, he was having random spasms with no indications of consciousness. His temperature was 106.4 degrees (high end of normal is 102.5). They shaved his belly and went to work on cooling him down. When the vet came in to update us, we found out that Duncan had done some pretty significant damage to his two left canines. I saw him contort in ways he’d never done before, but didn’t realize he’d done that kind of damage. By the time John and I left the vet school, their main focus was keeping Duncan’s temp down and preventing any more seizures.

They did blood work Thursday to make sure there wasn’t any damage to Duncan’s kidneys or liver (all fine). They also kept him fairly heavily sedated most of the day, but switched him to regular meds Thursday afternoon. After a good bit of discussion with the neurologists, we decided to add 2000mg Keppra XR (extended release) to his regular 500mg Zonisamide (9 pills total), twice a day. Since Keppra has fewer side effects than Phenobarbital and potassium bromide, we’re hoping it will provide better control of the seizures without incapacitating Duncan. It’ll be a while before we really know how much it helps.

Duncan got to come home late Friday morning. He was extremely wobbly, both from the meds and the physical effects of the seizure. It was almost impossible to get him to focus on anything but napping – I even had to bring him dinner in bed. Reyna and Kodiak spent a lot of time checking on Duncan – Reyna was definitely stressed while he was gone and very happy to have him back.

We had an odd little incident Friday night. Everyone had finished their bedtime cookies, Kodiak was getting ready to do his regular post-cookie crumb check, but Duncan was still searching the bed around him to see if he'd missed anything. Kodiak was about two feet away from Duncan and he started growling. Reyna was instantly in Kodiak's face, growling and snarling at him. I dragged Kodiak over to his crate and Reyna followed right behind, growling and snarling the entire way. She's never before corrected Kodiak for snarking at Duncan, but apparently her therapy/service dog tendencies kicked in pretty hard. I guess I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, considering Reyna would walk over to Duncan every time Kodiak got close enough to check him out.

Duncan improved Saturday, finally getting some of his coordination back. He was better Sunday, and after work this evening he actually played with Reyna and Kodiak a bit. He still wants to sleep more than usual, but it doesn’t look like the Keppra will cause too much trouble with side effects. Of course, the big question is how much will it help. If we can get a couple of weeks between seizures, I’d be happy, especially if we aren’t dealing with multiple seizures each time.

Duncan had to have some help getting on the couch, but it was definitely his favorite place to be over the weekend. You can see some of the shaved parts on his paws, legs, belly and neck.


The poor boy was sitting even more off-kilter than usual Friday afternoon. He did seem to enjoy going outside and baking in the sunshine, though.


The rightmost tooth is Duncan's upper left canine. The dark spot in the bottom middle is the root. The second tooth from the right is his lower left canine. It should be as long as the upper canine, but its not anymore. The dark discoloration in the middle is the root. Duncan goes for a check-up this Saturday with the regular vet, and we'll have to decide if/when the teeth will need to be removed. One of the downsides to this type of slab fracture is that they can be prone to getting infected - not to mention they're frequently uncomfortable for the dog.


Paws crossed we never have to go through this again.

4 comments:

The Heartbeats said...

My stars! Poor Duncan and poor Duncan's Mom! I would have been a mess I am sure! Thoughts and prayers to you all hoping things settle down.

Mamma Heartbeat

Anonymous said...

Don't have paws to cross but am crossing everything else !!! Hope the new meds help Duncan.
:)Love, Mom

Kreativni Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Last year a few local newspapers highlighted an animal cruelty case (October 2012) when an elderly German Shepherd Dog was dumped in Roundwood Park and left to die.

This year I started a fundraising campaign to raise money for The Mayhew Animal Home in Princes' name (the dog in question) and wondered whether you would highlight this on your blog or facebook/twitter page

The video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM4--eXlmkU&feature=youtu.be

Thank you so much,

Anita