I am immediately suspicious when I didn’t hear any scratching at the door. K and I are returning home from dinner, parking in the driveway and entering the house through the garage as usual. The dogs usually hear when the garage door opens and wait for us in the entryway, Sid scratching at the doorknob impatiently. Since adopting him last year, he has gradually worn away the wood of the door in strips, his excitement at our arrival taking its toll. I listen, but I don’t hear the scratching. Perhaps Sid is asleep.
We enter the house to an empty hallway. Coming into the living room, we see our dog Haley curled up asleep on the back of the couch. She has lost some of her hearing, and the sound of our arrival is too quiet to wake her. Cora, our other dog, is curled up asleep as well in her bed in the closet. All is quiet. So where is Sid? He’s probably out roaming the back yard on this cool night, feeling the breeze rustle his thick Husky fur. I look out the window.
Sid is lying on the ground just outside the dog door. And he is seizing.
This isn’t his first seizure. The first happened four months after we adopted him from the local rescue group. The second happened about a month after that.
It starts in his hind legs. He tries to get up or run, but his legs slide out from under him. He tries a couple of more times and then gives up, laying on the floor, looking at me in confusion, asking me with his amber eyes why his legs aren’t cooperating. Then his legs stiffen. They stretch straight out, tight and tense, and the rest of his body follows. He continues to look deep into my eyes, confused, as his body starts to shake under my hands as I stroke his fur.
And then he disappears. I see it when it happens. I see when his eyes go blank and he is no longer aware of his surroundings. Sid is in full seizure at this point, and all I can do is pet him and wait. I hold my breath and watch him intently, feeling helpless and distraught.
I wonder where his mind goes, what he is experiencing. At a recent consultation, the vet described the seizures as a storm in his head. I imagine sounds of booming thunder and clashes of lightening. I imagine Sid scared in the dark, alone. Meanwhile, I am stuck here on a separate plain, and all I hear is quiet.
And then he is back. His eyes focus on my face and he sees me. He recognizes me. I continue stroking his fur and whisper to him softly that it’s okay. He continues to shake and flex his limbs. He begins panting from the physical exertion of the seizure and from the heat of his raised body temperature. He lies on the floor a few minutes longer as gradually his involuntary movements cease. He his calm but exhausted, and when he’s ready, I help him back up on his feet. He slurps water loudly from his bowl and life continues.
We did research that indicated his monthly parasite preventative could be the cause of the seizures. We changed it, and he went two months without an event. Then over the holidays he had three seizures in five weeks. The night we came home from dinner and found him in the backyard was the worst one. It took him longer than usual to recover.
Three weeks ago Sid started taking epilepsy medication. We opted for the least aggressive, lowest dose option to minimize the side effects as much as possible. Every twelve hours we give him a pill wrapped in peanut butter, one of his favorite treats. While the strict schedule is an adjustment for us, K and I agree that we will do whatever it takes to stop Sid’s seizures, to stop the storms in his head.
We are 27 days seizure free so far, and Sid contines to be himself. He brings in treasures from the yard, steals things out of the cabinets, and shares his toys with us to play tug. He is happy, and we are hopeful.
In response to the daily prompt Sound