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Hello again!

serenamlambe
November 28th, 2011, 07:31 PM
Hey everyone!

So I know I'm not exactly a "new" member, but it's been so so long since I've posted that I thought I should go through the introduction/update process! Hahah. Between school, work, and life in general, I really didn't have the time to dedicate to my forum "addiction"!! I'm back now but, hopefully, only for a short time a day :P

My name is Serena. I'm currently a university student in Ottawa, doing my Masters at Carleton University. As you may remember, I have two dogs - Connor and Keely. They are both mixed breeds.

Keely is our, let's say, "special" little one. She was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy - basically, seizures that we don't know where they come from - after starting to have seizures at only three months old. In the beginning, we thought they might go away, but they haven't!

When she first started having seizures, she was having clusters - up to three or four seizures in a 24 hour period. Now, it is much better controlled and she generally only has one in a day. She has been tested for a shunt, has had an MRI, and various other tests - none of them conclusive about the reason behind her seizures. Although she has now been diagnosed as "epileptic," the vets are still somewhat surprised because she started having the seizures at such a young age. Her main trigger seems to be stress; though, she has had a seizure almost every time that she has been vaccinated. We're not really sure what the connection is.

Currently, she's taking both phenobarbital and levetiracetam twice a day. She was on KBr previously, but she was vomiting so often that our vet took her off of it. She also takes rectal diazepam when she has the seizure; three doses of 0.3 ml given at 20 minute intervals. This prevents her from having any more within the day.

Her seizures are somewhat random; she went for two months without a seizure when she first started the levetiracetam (Keppra), but generally she has one every two weeks. My partner is home writing his thesis at the moment, so she has a lot of supervision.

Overall, she's the most energetic and loving dog. She enjoys playing with our other dog, Connor, and snuggling. She is really great at catch, so her coordination has not yet been affected by the medications, nor does she seem overly tired or anything. We haven't noticed any side effects except perhaps an increased appetite when she changes doses.

Anyways, since she's still having a few seizures a month, our vet is going to talk with our specialist about zonisamide. If anyone has any experience with the drug, I'd be more than happy to hear about it. I've already read some posts regarding its use. My biggest concern is that it's not available in Canada and we'd have to get it sent in through our specialist's in Montreal from the USA. That might be expensive!!

Anyways, that's our story. I have lots more details if anyone is interested or has any advice for us. Hope everyone is well and I hope to catch up with all my old "forum friends"!

Serena

P.S. And because I know you all LOVE pictures, here are a few recent ones of my little muttsters.

hazelrunpack
November 29th, 2011, 12:30 AM
omd, Keely and Connor are as cute as ever! :flirt: :D Welcome back, Serena. I'm glad Keely's seizures are a little more controlled, anyway. :grouphug: School's going well?

serenamlambe
November 29th, 2011, 08:20 AM
Hi Hazel! School is going well; it's just been extremely hectic lately. I am really looking forward to the Christmas break, I must admit. Hopefully it will all be worth it in June when I graduate! Hahah.

hazelrunpack
November 29th, 2011, 09:36 AM
Oh, wow! You're close then! :highfive: It'll be worth it! :goodvibes:

Rgeurts
November 29th, 2011, 10:28 AM
Welcome back, Serena!! Your pups are as adorable as ever!!! I'm so sorry to hear that Keely is still having seizures so frequently. We started seeing a holistic vet a year ago and between him and Dr. Jean Dodds, they are 99.9% sure his were brought on by his puppy vaccines. Dogs that are prone to seizures should not be vaccinated again. Nookie had a really bad seziure the day after his last set of boosters and his rabies (August 1st of last year). He ended up with aspiration pneumonia and in the hospital for a few days, we almost lost him. They had Nookie on all kinds of drugs to control his seizures (Phenobarbital, Prednisone and Azathioprine). He got internal bleeding and had to have a transfusion back in Nov. of last year. Our specialist and regular vet said even if he made it through the transfusion, he wouldn't be with us much longer. They figured he was at the end of his disease (even though they never really concluded what his "disease" was). That's when we started seeing the holistic vet. We figured we had nothing to lose. That has been over a year ago. Nookie is now off all meds and has been for almost a year. He was having severe grand mals once a week to once every 2 weeks. But since he was taken off the meds and put on Chinese herbs, he has slowly gotten better and better. It was 4 months last Saturday since he had one Yay!!! :D

Dr. Marsden thinks he can cure him completely. I guess we will just have to have faith that he's right. But even if he does have more seizures, we can live with a few months in between! Sorry for the long reply, but I'm hoping you will see this as a sign of hope for Keely. I have always thought there were alot of similarities between her and Nookie!! Have you considered seeing a holistic vet? I have nothing but respect for our regular family vet. She has done wonderfully for Thorin with his cancer, but even she admits that sometimes the holistic treatment is what they need (it's unheard of for a western medice vet to say that, lol).

And again, welcome back!!! More piccies of your furballs please :D :grouphug:

serenamlambe
November 29th, 2011, 02:07 PM
Hey Rguerts!! So so glad to hear that Nookie is doing better!! I have been wondering about him during the past year, honestly. When Keely started having seizures, you were the only other person I knew of having the same problem!

Keely's seizures are so strange because sometimes she'll go for a month or two with out one, whereas other times it's every week or two. With the vaccines, we asked our vet about stopping them and he's not overly interested in the idea. He thinks that we should space them out this year, one at a time, as to see if a specific one gives her a reaction. Then we can discontinue just that one vaccine. Last year, she had her rabies vaccine by itself and it didn't cause any problems. So I think he's hopeful for the others. It would be nice to isolate one or two of them as the issue.

I can't believe that Nookie is off his meds and doing so well. We'd be so nervous to take Keely off hers! Especially with the clusters that she was having previously. I bet going to a holistic vet would be an interesting experience. It's not something that we've looked into yet, but it might be an option. I really hope that we can get something figured out with her before we move home to Newfoundland in June. After that, we won't have access to as many options in terms of vets and we'll have to start re-educating a whole new vet team on her history, etc. That's going to be a challenge in and of itself!!

Anyways, thanks for your concern and I'm sure I will have more questions about the holistic vet for you if we do decide to go that route! The MRI didn't show anything, so that was one dead end. The current drugs haven't been helping much, either... so my guess is that it will soon be time to try something new. I'm just so worried about taking her off the regular meds, perhaps making things worse and endangering her. Right now, she's just so full of life and, aside from the seizures, seemingly very healthy! It's hard to know what to do. Okay - end of this rant now :) Talk soon.

Rgeurts
November 29th, 2011, 03:05 PM
Keely's seizures are so strange because sometimes she'll go for a month or two with out one, whereas other times it's every week or two.

It was the same with Nookie. He would have 2 in a week, then go for a month without one, then have a couple a week apart, then go for 2 months etc. There was just no pattern to it at all. :shrug:

With the vaccines, we asked our vet about stopping them and he's not overly interested in the idea.

Most traditional vets aren't. Vaccines are their "bread and butter", so to speak. I have an email from Dr. Dodds. She's the worlds leading authority on canine immunology and vaccine protocols. In the email, she stated, at no offense to our family vet, that it was a very poor medical practice to vaccinate him knowing he is prone to seizures. If you would like the email, I'll forward it to you. It also has Nookies results from bloodwork, csf tap etc. Maybe you will find some similarities between him and Keelys? Anyway, let me know if you would like them.

http://www.hemopet.org/

He thinks that we should space them out this year, one at a time, as to see if a specific one gives her a reaction. Then we can discontinue just that one vaccine. Last year, she had her rabies vaccine by itself and it didn't cause any problems. So I think he's hopeful for the others. It would be nice to isolate one or two of them as the issue.


Nookies vet (And now Thorins for immune support while he's going through his second round of chemo)

Dr. Steve Marsden
http://www.edmonton-veterinary.com/
He's brilliant :)

One thing our holistic vet recommended is Titre testing. They can do a blood test to show if the level of vaccine is high enough to keep them safe. What they're finding now is that after the first booster and rabies, most dogs have enough of the vaccine in them to last their life. Most traditional vets aren't open to that at all, luckily ours in. She went to school with our holistic vet and trusts him.

I can't believe that Nookie is off his meds and doing so well. We'd be so nervous to take Keely off hers! Especially with the clusters that she was having previously.

Serena, you have NO idea lol. I was a neurotic mess!! But we had to trust him and take that leap of faith, otherwise, we were going to lose him anyway. And for someone who thought holistic was "hokey", it was a HUGE leap of faith for me! But I'm a now believer. Our little monkey isn't on anything at all to control his seizures (though even when he was, nothing we gave him really controlled them), except Chinese herbs :D
One thing I don't know if your vet has told you or not is that dogs on medications, especially when they're on more than one, have an average lifespan of 5 yrs due to the damage it does to their organs. That's one of the main reasons I was willing to wean him off. Thankfully, it worked out well. Nookie is finally a puppy :lovestruck: :cloud9:

I bet going to a holistic vet would be an interesting experience. It's not something that we've looked into yet, but it might be an option. I really hope that we can get something figured out with her before we move home to Newfoundland in June. After that, we won't have access to as many options in terms of vets and we'll have to start re-educating a whole new vet team on her history, etc. That's going to be a challenge in and of itself!!

I'll post a link to Nookies holistic vet. He does animals and people. He is probably the worlds leading authority on holistic care. He travels to China several times a year to continue his education and he teaches other vets and holisitc doctors in several countries. There is a video on their website you can watch. If I didn't know the miracles we've experienced with Nookie, I would still be a skeptic. They specialize in curing (or at least managing) illnesses that western medicine can't.

Anyways, thanks for your concern and I'm sure I will have more questions about the holistic vet for you if we do decide to go that route! The MRI didn't show anything, so that was one dead end. The current drugs haven't been helping much, either... so my guess is that it will soon be time to try something new. I'm just so worried about taking her off the regular meds, perhaps making things worse and endangering her. Right now, she's just so full of life and, aside from the seizures, seemingly very healthy! It's hard to know what to do. Okay - end of this rant now :) Talk soon.

I won't lie, it was SO scary for me, but I have no regrets at all. It's too bad the MRI didn't show anything. We were going to do it, but that would mean putting him under, and his immune system just couldn't withstand it. The meningoencephalitis would most likely return. Though if it didn't show anything for Keely, it probably wouldn't for Nookie either. How frustrating for you guys. Ok, I'm done too lol. I hope I'm not being to pushy or overloading you with info. I was just so excited to let you know where we are with Nookie, since he and Keely seem to be similar, and hopefully give you some additional otions and avenues to explore. The one thing I feel very stronly about though, is the vaccines. No offense to your vet, but he should not be vaccinating Keely. If you want that letter from Dr. Dodds, let me know :)

serenamlambe
November 30th, 2011, 03:22 PM
Thanks, Rguerts, for such a detailed reply. I would love a copy of that email. I'm not sure what my vet will think of it, but it certainly can't hurt to run it by him. He's a young vet and very reasonable. We love him, actually. He's put in so much time and effort to give Keely great care... she's just difficult! Hahah. I'll PM you my email address, if you need it. We have asked him about titre tests and he was amiable to the idea, but she hasn't had any vaccines since this discussion. Next year, it will definitely be something to think about. Unfortunately, they're more expensive than the vaccines. Seems Keely likes to spend money :P

We were happy and not happy about the results of the MRI. I mean, I didn't want her to have brain damage or anything like that, but it's just so confusing when we don't really know the cause of the seizures.

Is your holisitic vet nearby? Or do you just do appointments via email/phone call? We're not really in a position to travel with Keely at the moment. The only reason we were able to do the MRI is because I got a bonus from work and was able to dedicate the $2000 to the trip to St. Hyacinthe. I can send you the results from it, if you're interested in seeing if you can spot anything similar. The best thing about the specialist's appointment was some more detailed information about the seizures and she gave us a new diazepam protocol to follow that stopped Keely from having clusters completely.

That's all for now.

Serena

Rgeurts
December 1st, 2011, 02:30 PM
I would love a copy of that email. I'm not sure what my vet will think of it, but it certainly can't hurt to run it by him. He's a young vet and very reasonable. We love him, actually. He's put in so much time and effort to give Keely great care... she's just difficult! Hahah. I'll PM you my email address, if you need it. We have asked him about titre tests and he was amiable to the idea, but she hasn't had any vaccines since this discussion. Next year, it will definitely be something to think about. Unfortunately, they're more expensive than the vaccines. Seems Keely likes to spend money :P

We were happy and not happy about the results of the MRI. I mean, I didn't want her to have brain damage or anything like that, but it's just so confusing when we don't really know the cause of the seizures.

Is your holisitic vet nearby? Or do you just do appointments via email/phone call? We're not really in a position to travel with Keely at the moment. The only reason we were able to do the MRI is because I got a bonus from work and was able to dedicate the $2000 to the trip to St. Hyacinthe. I can send you the results from it, if you're interested in seeing if you can spot anything similar. The best thing about the specialist's appointment was some more detailed information about the seizures and she gave us a new diazepam protocol to follow that stopped Keely from having clusters completely.


That's all for now.

Serena

I'll send the email when I get home tonight. I completely understand what you mean about Keely being difficult! Her and Nookie are soul twins in that dept. :laughing:
He had all the vets and specialists baffled, except Dr. Marsden. Our holistic vet is here in Edmonton. We really lucked out :highfive:
It was Dr. Jean Dodds who put us in contact with him. He doesn't take new patients, but he took us as a favor to her :D
He always seems to know what to give Nookie. We have to switch the herbs up often because the body is always changing, but whatever new problems he gets seem to subside when the herbs change :shrug: I won't lie though, it's SO expensive to see Dr. Marsden. The inital visit was $250 and each follow up is $140 plus whatever herbs we leave with. The herbs alone, between Thorin and Nookie cost us between $700 and $900 a month.

I know what you mean with the MRI too. I think I would be torn as well. You don't "want" them to have something wrong, but then you do want to know the cause :shrug:
I wouldn't be surprised if Keely has Vaccinosis. If you want, you can read this link. It's to Hemopet, Dr. Dodds organization. There's a lot of really good information regarding seizures, immune issues etc. Has Keely had a thyroid panel? Not just a T4 test, but an actual complete Thyroid panel? Nookie had the T4 tests which showed normal. Dr. Marsden ordered a complete panel and sent it to Jean Dodds. It came back on the very low side of normal. In her notes, she indicated that where his results were sitting could be one of the main causes for his seizures. Moderately low will cause more seizures than very low. And ya, Titre testing is more expensive, but if it helps stop the seizures, it may be worth it (if you can afford it!). You are such a good mommy to Keely :lovestruck: :cloud9:


http://www.hemopet.org/

serenamlambe
December 1st, 2011, 02:54 PM
Hahahah, I just saw the last quote in your signature. I think your assessment is sooo true! Keely has definitely taken over our lives! Especially since we have to be home at 8:00 PM every night to give medications... puts a damper on the social life :P (Not that I mind, I'm such a homebody!!)

Thanks for the help. I'll definitely check out the link when I have some time to read... hopefully during Christmas holidays. You might be right about the vaccinosis, we've always thought there was a connection. Her first seizure was at three months... the same week as her boosters. They didn't think it was "real" epilepsy from the start. I'll look into the full thyroid panel. I do think she's had some sort of thyroid test, but not the complete one. Not that I remember anyways. I'll ask my vet.

Well, whether we can afford the titre tests or not, I'll probably do them anyways :P That's been our way of dealing with it so far! Hahaha. She definitely has sucked up a lot more money than I ever thought possible. And I don't even think we're at the point you are with your boys. They demand dedication, but I wouldn't have it any other way :)

How's Thorin lately? We always seem to chat about Nookie and Keely because of their similarities!

Rgeurts
December 1st, 2011, 03:58 PM
Hahahah, I just saw the last quote in your signature. I think your assessment is sooo true! Keely has definitely taken over our lives! Especially since we have to be home at 8:00 PM every night to give medications... puts a damper on the social life :P (Not that I mind, I'm such a homebody!!)


Haha, ya :)
We occassionaly get to have a date when MIL watches Nookie. Otherwise, we have to be with him all the time!

Thanks for the help. I'll definitely check out the link when I have some time to read... hopefully during Christmas holidays. You might be right about the vaccinosis, we've always thought there was a connection. Her first seizure was at three months... the same week as her boosters. They didn't think it was "real" epilepsy from the start. I'll look into the full thyroid panel. I do think she's had some sort of thyroid test, but not the complete one. Not that I remember anyways. I'll ask my vet.

Same with Nookie. They all told us that puppies don't get Epilepsy :shrug:
I lied when I said he isn't on any medication except the herbs lol... I completely forgot that he is also on Thyroid medication, but that's it. It has helped a ton with some of the issues. It's a cheap and easy "fix" for some of the issues he was having :)

Well, whether we can afford the titre tests or not, I'll probably do them anyways :P That's been our way of dealing with it so far! Hahaha. She definitely has sucked up a lot more money than I ever thought possible. And I don't even think we're at the point you are with your boys. They demand dedication, but I wouldn't have it any other way :)

LoL, same for us! If someone would have told me I'd ever spend this much on a pet, I would have said they're crazy!! But then again, they aren't our pets... they're our kids :)
All I can say is thank heavens for credit lines and overdraft protection :eek: :laughing:

How's Thorin lately? We always seem to chat about Nookie and Keely because of their similarities!


Thorin isn't doing so well. We found a lump in his lungs in Feb of this year and drove him to Washington State University to have it removed and biopsied. He has a very rare form of cancer. Apparently it's part of a larger immune disease, but they don't know a lot about it yet. The disease is called Canine Malignant Histiocytosis and the cancer he has is Disseminated Histiocytic Sarcoma. He is on his second round of chemo, but I'm afraid the cancer has built an immunity to it as he seems to be getting more and more "lumps". We had 3 removed a couple of months ago and within a week he had a large one on his ribcage :(
They wanted us to try another type of chemo, but the side effects are horrific and include severe gastro issues, heart failure if he has any heart issues they don't know about and guaranteed heart disease if he doesn't already have them, after 7-8 treatments and the worst is being caustic. So if they miss the vein or some leaks out, it would eat the flesh in his leg and he would be in a lot of pain and possibly have to have his leg amputated. They have blown his veins just trying to take blood, so we told them a BIG "no way!" hehe. He is on holistic treatment for the cancer as well, which I think is what has given us so much extra time with him. If he makes it to Feb or later, we will be so happy. His birthday is on Christmas Day, so we're hoping for a happy b-day party for him :)

How is Connor doing? Has he adjusted to having a crazy puppy around? :laughing:
It took thorin months!

serenamlambe
December 1st, 2011, 04:16 PM
So sorry to hear about Thorin. But I know you're doing your best for him and he couldn't have better parents! I think I would do the same as you, take the less dangerous approach and enjoy your time with him :) I hope he has a happy birthday on Christmas! He deserves it!

How nice for your MIL to babysit! We had my FIL up from Newfoundland to babysit Keely for 6 weeks when we first tried to wean her off the medications. He's a good grandpa :P Now, we have no choice but the leave her occasionally. We're lucky because my boyfriend is home writing his thesis now for his Masters and I was off for two months over the summer. It's so so hard to leave her, but daycare was not an option. Besides the cost, the one near us wouldn't take her due to the medical issues and we don't have a car. Daycare cost + two taxi rides with her would be like $70 a day! Eeek! Plus Connor would miss her so much. We haven't had any trouble with leaving her so far, so I'm crossing my fingers! The worst part is thinking that maybe we're missing a seizure for her records. But, honestly, she has only once had them during the day. It's always in the evening/night.

Connor's doing great. He's my lazy little guy. He loves to sleep and have his three or four little bouts of playing with his sister throughout the day. He loves Keely now. They're the best of friends. It took him some time to warm up to her and she drives him crazy sometimes, but they're so cute together. It cracks me up when Connor is just sleeping on the bed and Keely's just jumping all over him, growling, biting, etc., and he just ignores her. She always seems to get him to play though, it just takes some coaxing :P Hahah. But now he's initiating the play a lot more and he misses her when she's gone. We took her to the vet for the day a few weeks ago and he was so sad when he brought home the empty carrier. He just wandered around the house and looked depressingly at the carrier. It's so funny how much you can see the difference in him when she's not around!

Okay, I just love talking about my pups :) I'll stop now :P

Koteburo
December 5th, 2011, 06:42 PM
Welcome back Serena you and your pups. I think I probably joined while you were gone :D

serenamlambe
December 5th, 2011, 06:54 PM
Hahah, most likely! I think my activity on the forum began to drop off when I started my Masters in September 2010. Good to meet you though! I see in your signature that you have have cats? How many? Any dogs?