It’s been a while….
Updated September 17, 2021
It’s been a while since I’ve posted something. A big reason behind it is that it’s been a hell of a couple of months…. but the last two have been especially hard.
I’m only human so it’s normal I run into hurdles along the way. That’s been the case since February for me, but I’ll share more about that…some other time. What really made it over-the-top, glass-overflowing, la goutte qui fait déborder le vase… was Zeus’ health.
You know, if you’ve been here (to the blog) before, that I have two lovely, fluffy goofballs, Zeus and Achilles. Zeus, my black lab, has been with me for 12yrs, going on 13. Achilles is 8, going on 9. Needless to say, when you‘ve had a doggie companion for such a long time, they’re part of your life, your family, your very soul. So when they get sick (be it tummy issues, ear infections, etc.) I feel it deeply.
Zeus’ troubles… were a bit more than a regular ear infection. But I wanted to share our story to give hope to others, and also to share the fact that, sometimes, vets don’t know everything, after all.
Zeus has always been a fairly healthy black lab; prone to ear infections every season change, allergies earlier on in his life, and food allergies in general. The last few years he's had some arthritis kick in his back legs, so we got him on DGP natural supplements which have helped enormously. Overall though, he's been healthy and still kicking.
That all changed on May 24th of this year where, out of the blue, at 9am in the morning, he had a seizure. I was alone in the house when it happened and had never seen a dog go through this, so I was...in a panic. One moment he was pacing behind me in my office while I worked, the next he dropped to the ground, drooling, legs kicking like he was swimming, jaw clamped shut, eyes completely wild...and shaking. I dropped on my knees next to him, shaking myself, trying to figure out what to do to help. Crying, babbling, I dialled my vet and while on hold with them quickly googled what to do when a dog has a seizure. Good thing I did, because I'd been about to put my hand in his mouth, afraid he'd swallow his tongue (like humans are at risk to) and all articles said not to do that because dogs can bite. While I was still waiting on the phone, Zeus kept seizing, and finally, a raw, sort of guttural groan escaped him and he just...released. I don't know how else to explain it other than his entire body let go, and for a moment I was afraid I'd lost him. But then he took in the most painful breath and let it out, and I with him, and I knew he was alive.
The vet finally picked up. Frantic, I yelled that my dog had a seizure, that I didn't know what to do, that I needed to speak to a vet. The receptionist was annoyingly calm, asking me questions I was in no right mind to answer. She said, matter of fact, that the vet can't do anything on the phone (no shit! as if I didn't know that...) and then proceeded to ask me how long the seizure lasted, to describe it, and then bring in Zeus asap. I called my husband next, asking him to drop everything at work and come home (since he had the car). While I was waiting for him, I petted Zeus and talked to him, like the articles said, and he seemed to come to. The seizure had lasted a little under 2min, though it felt like forever. Already, in less than 15min, he was struggling to get back to his feet. He tried to go down the stairs and thankfully I had a lift/type harness so I was able to bring him down, to a space where he couldn't hurt himself.
When we brought him to the vet that day, his bloodwork was fine, and they couldn't pinpoint the cause of the seizure. They said to go back home and monitor him for another seizure, at which point they could get him started on meds, although they explained that epilepsy didn't generally manifest in dogs as old as him, and that it could be another cause. That day and half of Wednesday, he slept a lot. When he did wake up, he was almost back to normal--able to come down the stairs on his own, and although I noticed he bumped into a few things, he was drinking water and eating well.
By the evening, that was about to change. He developed a sort of restless pacing. Sounds harmless, but it's horrible to witness when it goes on for 3hrs without pause. It was always in a rectangle--left, up, right, down the living room floor--nonstop. On and on, he would pace, and everything I looked up online said dogs do this to calm themselves down. So I left him to it, baby-proofing the living room so he didn't bump into a table or a shelf corner, and just watched him, giving him water every so often. This only stopped when he exhausted himself and went to sleep. Then, an hour or so later, he'd be up at it again. He did it through the night, and continued on. Thursday, it got worse. He was bumping into things nonstop by that afternoon, and pressing his head against walls. He'd purposefully walk into corners (like a kid that's been punished) and just stay there, whining.
It broke my heart not knowing what was wrong, and the fact he was unable to communicate it. He started to eat less, but he was still somewhat eating. Walking up and down the stairs was a no-go, and he was extremely wobbly, acting as if he was drunk. We moved his bedding in the living room and took turns staying the night with him.
By Thursday evening, I got a call in from the vet. I'd called the clinic and asked to speak to him. Explained about the pacing, etc. Vet confirmed that it happened after a seizure and it would take Zeus a while to settle down. He prescribed Zeus some painkillers, so the pacing wouldn't kick up the arthritis pain in his back legs. When it was my turn to watch him, I spent my nights awake, unable to sleep and just watching him, crying, fearing I was losing him. Something in my gut was telling me something was very, very wrong. I researched nonstop when he was asleep, and fell on this article discussing canine seizures and epilepsy, and it somewhat gave me reassurance. Little Old Dog Sanctuary, the blogger who wrote it, was a gem when I contacted them over Instagram, answering my questions and providing hope.
Armed with some knowledge, back to life we went... Thursday evening into Friday morning Zeus didn't sleep much, and neither did I. Zeus was still pacing, still whining, still restless, still going for the corners. I barricaded more of the living room so he wouldn't hurt himself, and just sat...watching him pace, and crying because he no longer reacted to the sound of my voice. Nor did he recognize me, it was like he wasn't there anymore.
This continued into Friday, although thankfully he slept enough through the day for me to do some day job work. I noticed his legs were giving him a harder time, in that he couldn't get up as quickly. He was bumping into things even more. By Friday afternoon, I was a wreck, but I had hope. I'd found an article about ear infections!
See, Zeus is a lab and prone to ear infections because of floppy ears. Last year, he had a bad ear infection that made his eye go all wonky; vet thought he might've had glaucoma, then he realized it was a deep ear infection that was pressing on his optical nerve. This gave me hope, because if there was a chance the ear infection had gotten bad again and was pressing on his middle ear (the deepest part of the ear section for dogs), then it could've explained his seizure and it was a common cause as well for old dog vestibular disease--which accounted for all of Zeus' staggering, pacing, walking into walls, etc. I was relieved: I might've found the issue!
That night when Steven came home was the first night in a week I hadn't been crying. I told him what I'd found, and we both basked in the hope, even as we stayed with Zeus up through the night. We called the vet again and asked for another consult. He was free on Sunday evening. No problem, it was the weekend and we could both watch the dogs... Needless to say, Achilles was positiv