Sharon and Tasha (Jack Russell terrier)

 

My sweet and “perfect” little Jack Russell puppy was a year and a half old when in the middle of the night she was found banging into the walls.  I  really didn’t know what was happening to her and just wanted to get her to the ER before she died.  At the ER they told me she was having a seizure.  When all was said and done my puppy Tasha was put on the anti-epileptic drug Phenobarbital.  I was told that this was the standard of care and since this was a teaching hospital, a hospital where all the tough cases went, I believed them without question.  The seizures continued sporadically for the next couple of years.  Eventually they went from every month or so to 3-4 times a month.  Her Phenobarbital dosage had tripled.  In a panic I finally researched the disease on the Internet and found the Guardian Angels.  The whole world opened up to me.  I learned that Phenobarbital can and does cause liver damage.  I learned that it is necessary to periodically monitor blood values for abnormal findings; that damage can be reversed if caught early.  We did in fact have high liver enzymes at one point.  Through the information shared on the website I was able to reverse the damage and realized normal values once again.  Neither the vet nor the neurologist was forthcoming with this information.  It was at this point that we learned about Potassium Bromide and added it to Tasha’s regimen.  Within weeks the seizures stopped entirely.  We eventually attained 15 months without a seizure and had reduced Tasha’s meds dramatically.  I believe the lack of the safety net the drugs provided combined with the stress of my husband’s cancer and death were both major contributing factors for the disease resurfacing.  We seem to be achieving success once again and I believe that the temporary break from the drugs benefited both Tasha’s liver and pancreas.    

Had I done my research when this all started I would have known about Potassium Bromide and pursued it’s use.  We certainly would have achieved better control a long time ago.  That would have saved us untold worry and financial hardship and would perhaps have changed the course of Tasha’s disease.  It never would have progressed to the point where she was having status seizures several times a month.  Even with our “success” there were pitfalls that were not explained to us by our veterinarian or neurologist.  It was through the website that I learned that a pup must be on a very low fat diet when using Potassium Bromide.  Pancreatitis is the pitfall with Bromide usage.  When we had high pancreatic values we had the time to react before we reached an emergency situation.  Through the website I learned about home cooking and supplements to protect Tasha’s health.   

What I would have done differently is that I would have taken charge of my Tasha’s health and well being and not placed it solely in the hands of her doctors.  There is simply not enough known about this disease in most veterinary practices.  I realize that this disease of canine epilepsy is daunting to most Moms and Dads, but I would urge anyone trying to deal with it not to solely depend on the local medical personnel.  There is a wealth of life saving information out there, information that (believe it or not) is actually easy to digest and integrate into your pup’s health care.  

We now have a dedicated and well-rounded team caring for my special little girl.  We have the website’s founder, Dr. Joanne Carson, whom Tasha and I would be lost without.  Through the website we have learned about  Dr. Jean Dodds, who now handles all of Tasha’s blood work and consults with the rest of the team.   In addition to being a veterinarian, she is also one of the country’s leading experts on canine thyroid disease and how it can contribute to epilepsy.  Our local veterinarian and neurologist provide Tasha’s anti-epileptic medication and consult with the rest of the team.  We have Tasha’s Guardian Angel, Pat, who is a caring and wonderful individual, as well at the whole team of Guardian and Web Angels. 

We are a work in progress…

Web Angel Sharon and Tasha