I share my life with a blind dog. Funny thing is that is never in the forefront of my mind. I don’t ever consciously think of him as the blind dog, and there are plenty of people we have met that loved on him and chit chatted with us and then left not ever knowing he was blind. Our lives and routines just incorporate his lack of sight and we just go on with our days. Then every now and then something happens to remind me.
Tonka’s first seizure occurred on March 11, 2009 when he was just a little guy. Now his seizures are nasty, insidious things that strike out of the blue and then don’t return for long stretches of time - just long enough to make you forget about them. He has had a handful of seizures over the last 3 years, not enough to warrant medication and I usually remark about them medically as a footnote or an afterthought.
Tonight’s was definitely not a footnote or afterthought!
Seizures have 3 components pre-seizure or pre-ictal, ictus or ictal and post ictal. In the pre-ictal you might have some warning that a seizure is about to occur perhaps some odd behavior is present. WE don’t ever have a pre-ictal warning.
The ictus is the seizure event and big ones are ugly and very scary to see. In Tonka’s case he lies rigid on his side and "swims" moving his legs in a swimming motion and arching back and forth violently. He chomps at the mouth and emits a thick slimy, frothy drool that seems to never end. With tonight’s he also lost bladder control and urinated on himself. It happened in the kitchen on the linoleum so it was fairly easy to clean up the floor, not so easy to clean up him. I was asleep when CM yelled for me at midnight that he was having a seizure. She had gotten in late and luckily she was still up. It was over in less than 5 minutes which is good because seizures lasting over 5 minutes are an immediate emergency. Thankfully he just stayed lying in the kitchen while I called the cardiologist on call and the emergency vet. CM cleaned up some and got me some towels and I cleaned off the drool and wiped him down underneath with a washcloth. When he finally got up he wandered down the hall and laid down in a bedroom and CM went off to stay with him. The cardiologist called me back and since he did not seem to be in any further distress told me to just monitor him through the night. I finsihed mopping the kitchen floor and readied myself for a long night.
The post-ictal phase is actually scarier to me because you don’t know how long it will last and he forgets everything, me, his commands, and where he is. This is the HUGE reminder that he is blind as he stumbles into things that he easily navigates every day and gets set to walk right off the top step not knowing it is there. So here we are 3 hours later and he is just now semi navigating his house that should be so familiar. He lies down for short bursts and attempts to clean himself a bit then gets up looking very confused. He has been through the whole house bumping into things and sniffing everything. I can just follow and try to direct him but he acts like he has no clue what I am saying and will stop to sniff me every now and then. Hopefully he will fall asleep soon and get some rest and I will call all his vets tomorrow and give them an update.
Robin Williams did a movie called the Dead Poets Society and made the quote Carpe Diem quite popular. Carpe Diem translates to "Seize the Day" and tonight’s "seizure" is a reminder not only that Tonka is blind but that I need to treasure every moment I have with him and Seize the Day -every day.
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