Axel's Diary of Epilepsy

The Face of Epilepsy

Ch. Crown's Axellent Adventure

(Ch. Derby's Xcalibur Tug of War x Ch. Rina's Crowned Queen v. Derby)

 February 1, 2004 - February 2, 2010

Farewell today
Travel on now, be on your way
Go safely there
And never worry, never care
Beyond this day

Farewell tonight
To all joy and to all delight
Go on and go peacefully
We can't keep your majesty
Be on your way

Make ready for the last king of May
Make a cardboard crown for him
And make your voices one
Praise a crazy mother's son
Who loved his life

Farewell today
Travel on now, be on your way
Can't bear the very thought that we
That we could keep your majesty
Be on your way

Make ready for the last king of May
Make a hole in the crowd for him
Raise your voices up
Drink your loving cup
To his long life

Make ready for the last king of May
Make a hole in the sky for him
Raise your voices up
Lift your loving cup
To his long life


Diary Posted in Reverse Chronological Order



Axel has been gone for five days.  At times it feels like he was just here, and at others, it feels like this week will never end.  Not a day, dare I say not even an hour has gone by when I have not thought about Axel and cried.  I have done my best to remember him in his finer moments, so that I might wipe away the memories of Monday night and Tuesday morning.  But each time I stumble upon a reminder of how recently he was here -- the Egg Baby Eggs he has hidden around the yard, the week's worth of meds and supplements still measured out on the counter, the new dog tag that came in the mail this week -- my heart sinks again.

I was just sick to think that Axel spent his birthday night in that horrible state, and wondered "Why?"  Why couldn't he have waited and just had one more HAPPY Birthday?  But now I think he did wait.  I think he waited until he turned six, because when he had his first seizure, I thought back then I might be lucky if he made it to six.  My regular vet called me on Wednesday to tell me how sorry he was that Axel has gone, and in the course of our conversation, knowing what he did from the ER vets, he said it was a miracle that Axel was alive when I got home, and that I got him to the ER at all.  I now believe Axel was doing everything he could to stay alive until I got home.  And he would not die on his birthday because he knew that would only make me more upset.  So he waited until Tuesday morning.  He gave me a chance to say goodbye to him, and he made the choice that it was time to go so that I would not be burdened with that decision.


Axel's death has shown me something wonderful though.  The outpouring of love and support from so many of his friends and mine has reminded me of how many incredible friends I have all because of Axel.  As my friend Tom pointed out, "It all started with Axel."  Without him, I would have no Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.  Nor would I have the many, many friends I met directly through him and my involvement in this breed.  And I know those friends mourn his loss almost as much as I do.  

Axel's passing, the sudden violence of it all, also showed me how cruel epilepsy is to this breed.  I know many people with epileptic Beagles, Springers Spaniels, etc.  Their stories of this disease are so far from my experience with it.  "They seize, fall down, get goes on."  For years and years.  Sometimes with medication, sometimes without.  That's typically how they tell it.  Axel had fewer than 10 episodes in his life.  All but one, prior to Monday night, had been single seizures from which he recovered on his own.  He did have one cluster in May '09, which did require hospitalization to get them under control.  But even then, that was a cluster of individual seizures -- he recovered in between them, could ultimately walk out to the car and get  to the vet before another one struck.  What he went through Monday night was unbearable to watch, even for someone who had seen their dog have seizures before.


I think about the poor owners of so many epileptic Swissies who have had virtually no support from their breeders.  Who are sometimes made to feel that THEY are the cause of their dog's seizures.  Because they had their dog vaccinated or gave it heart worm meds?  My family bred Old English Sheepdogs for 30 years.  In all that time, while we vaccinated the hell out of our dogs, even used toxic flea dips (in the pre-Frontline era), we never had dogs or produced any with seizure disorders.  Make no mistake, this BREED has a big problem, it's called Idiopathic Epilepsy, it's genetic, and it kills these dogs way too young.  

There are probably people who are hoping now that Axel is dead, I will just move on and stop ranting about epilepsy.  But I will not.  I will rant on until others start talking about it.  Until breeders start being honest about all the seizure-affected dogs they've produced so that we can actually be careful and smart about the breeding decisions we make.  It's virtually impossible to know what minefield you're walking into when you plan a breeding these days.  And I think about the stud dogs who are being used so prolifically while very young themselves.  Remember, Axel did not start having seizures until he was over four years of age.  His father didn't start until he was over six.  


So yes, I will continue to rant on about epilepsy.  And I will not let Axel be swept under the carpet like so many others who have been taken by this awful disease.  Because to me, after all, he is and always will be more than just the Face of Epilepsy.


February 2, 2010

After being admitted to the ER Monday night, 
Axel lost his valiant battle with epilepsy at 9:30am on Tuesday morning.  There is much more to tell about the last hours of his life. It's a story of fear, panic, the power of adrenaline (on my part).  And a story of a dog whose heart, as big as it was, just could battle no longer.  


On Monday, February 1st, I came home from work to find Axel in the throes of a horrible seizure.  I immediately knew this was unlike any seizure he'd had before (he wasn't coming out of this one) and that it may have been on-going for some time.  He was in his huge crate, but cramped up into the back corner, rigid, with his jaws clamped onto the side of the crate, and he had not only urinated all over himself and the crate, but he'd been suffering bowel incontinence as well and his stool was bloody.  After unsuccessfully trying to pry his jaws from the crate, I frantically searched for something that would be able to cut through the bars of the crate.  No bolt cutters in the house, I knew that.  So with some rinky dinky wire cutters and just brute strength, I was able to cut through the bars his jaws were clamped around.  But in a matter of seconds he'd clamped down on another part of the crate.  Finally, after cutting away about ten of the bars, I was able to pull him from the back corner and I draped a hand towel over his head, while I ran to get ice packs from the freezer and covered him with those.  I could tell he was burning up.  I gave him a huge dose of phenobarbital (6 grains, about 4 of which made it down his throat I think), just in case it might help.  And I knew his glucose levels were probably crashing so I gave him several spoonfuls of maple syrup (couldn't find the Karo syrup so I improvised).


I was alone and there was no time to call anyone to come help.  But during much of this whole ordeal, I was on the phone with my dear friend, Lori Price, who helped me keep a somewhat level head and see straight through all the tears pouring from my eyes.  Axel weighed a good 130 pounds, and although he was seizing continuously, he was almost limp, his body obviously exhausted and near the point of giving out on him.  I dragged him out of his crate and onto a large 9' x 12' plastic mat, which I used to drag him outside, through the snow and ultimately to the minivan in the driveway.  After pulling a couple crates out of the van to make room for him, I was still faced with the impossible task of getting him up into the van.  A quick survey revealed I had nothing to jerry rig a ramp I could drag him up, so I ran inside and got one of my Ruff-Wear harnesses.  He had no fight in him so with a little bit of rolling him from side to side, I was able to get the harness on him and heave him up into the van.  We were off to the ER vet, whom I'd called and told to expect us.  He continued to seize in the van, although the seizure activity did not seem quite so violent.  Was the pheno helping, or was it just his weakness at that point?


A team was waiting for us with a gurney, and they quickly wheeled Axel back into the treatment room.   I then had to go fill out an admission form and it was only then, when I had to write  down his age as well as sign and date the form that I realized it was Axel's birthday that day.  He had just turned 6 years old.


Once they got Axel on the IV valium, fluids and oxygen, the vet came out to speak with me.  They were able to get the grand mal seizures under control with the valium, but he was continuing to have focal seizures.  The vet, Dr. Ross, explained the sequelae that they were most concerned about, as a result of the severe hyperthermia.  Axel's temperature was 106.9 when he arrived.  And he'd already begun sloughing the lining of his Gi tract (the blood in his stool).  His breath sounds were not good, and they were concerned about pulmonary edema which can be brought on by a continuous struggle, such as a prolonged seizure.  His condition was very grave and he was at risk for DIC -- disseminated intravascular coagulation.   They could offer no prognosis at that time, and said the next twelve hours were critical.  A bit later, the vet came out to let me know what they'd continue to do for him that night -- continue to support him, monitoring for the sequelae they were most concerned about, all the while trying to keep the seizures at bay and hope to break the focus of this horrible seizure activity.  They told me that if I could remember just one thing, no news was good news.  I went to say goodnight to him, hugged him very hard and wished him a happy birthday.  I wished he could have heard me.


I got little to no sleep Monday night, with the phone lying next to me on the pillow.  But no calls came.  Good news, I reminded myself.  I spoke with the vet who was tending to Axel, Dr. Martin, at 9am on Tuesday.  They had him on valium, CRI, and he was basically anesthetized.  The chest films they did revealed that he did have pulmonary edema, and he'd obviously suffered some intestinal damage.  Dr. Martin told me that Axel was obviously not going anywhere for at least another 24 hours, so she was going to have them prepare another estimate for me.  I hung up the phone somehow clinging to hope that Axel might beat this.  I quickly called my friend Lori, to give her an update.  

While I was on the phone with Lori, at 9:30am, a call came in from the ER Vet.  My immediate thought was they were calling back to give me the estimate and get my okay.  When I took the call and heard Dr. Martin begin to speak, I felt the bile rise and the tears well up.  "This is Dr. Martin," she said.  "I have some very bad news.  Axel stopped breathing.  Would you like us to continue CPR."  I just cried out, "NO!"  As in "NO, this can't be happening!!"  But I also knew that I had to tell them, "No, you can stop the CPR."  I know enough to know this...when they ask if you want them to continue CPR, it means they know it's really fruitless at that point.  But they want the family to be involved in the decision.  I told them through my tears that they could stop, and I would be right over to say goodbye to my boy.  


Dr. Martin was there to meet me, took me into a private room and explained what had happened.  She assured me that I had made the right decision, and that before she had even called me, they'd tried to intubate Axel but his lungs were full of blood.  He was bleeding out.  She gave me a hug, and then said she would go get Axel for me.  When they wheeled him into the room, his head on a pillow, covered by a blanket, he looked so peaceful, like he was sleeping.  I had expected him to look small in his death, but he looked strong and massive lying there, still wearing his Ruff-Wear harness.  Dr. Martin left me alone with him and told me I could take as much time as I wanted to say goodbye, all day even.  I hugged his still warm body, and talked to him for awhile.  I thanked him for everything he'd given me these last six years, and I promised him that I would not let him be forgotten or swept under a carpet like so many epileptic Swissies.  I also promised him that I would fight for this breed, especially all the dogs like Axel and their owners, so horribly affected by this disease.  While I wanted to sit there all day, my head resting on his, after about 15 or 20 minutes I noticed that he was getting colder.  And I didn't want to remember him that way, so I said a final goodbye.


I have to offer my profound gratitude to the Norwalk Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center, particularly Doctors Martin and Ross, for the incredible care they gave Axel in his last twelve hours, and to the tremendous compassion they showed to Axel and to me.   My experiences at this Emergency Vet have always left me feeling like my dogs could not have received more loving care.  As Dr. Martin cried with me in that room, I was reminded how very difficult her job truly is, and I give all these vets so much credit for putting themselves out there for our dogs.  Dr. Martin is the kind of vet I dreamt of being when I was a kid.



November 20, 2009

Well, after over 6 months seizure-free, 
Axel had a breakthrough seizure at the dog show in Maryland.  He was in his crate when it happened, while I was showing in Group.  When I came back to the set up, I took him out of his crate to find him rather out of it, and covered in urine.  Otherwise, I have to say, he was in pretty good shape.  Not covered in drool like he usually is after a seizure, and his typically crazy post-ictal behavior was nowhere in sight.  

While disappointing, I can't say that I wasn't prepared for this.  I feel very fortunate that he went over 6 months without a seizure since starting the phenobarb.  I hope it may be many more months before he has another, but should he have a seizure in the next month, I will definitely talk to the vet about adding a new medication to his regimen.  


October 27, 2009

 is my miraculous boy, going on nearly six seizure-free months since that first weekend in May.  If you'd have told me he would go this long without a seizure, after nearly losing him during that cluster, I wouldn't have believed it.  Certainly a large part of it is the phenobarb working like it should, but I also can't help thinking that the many "fans" he has (the ones checking this page religiously for updates) are also sending some good juju his way, intended or not.  I tell him every day how many people visited him, where they came from, and how important he must be to all of them.


Other than some muscle-wasting and overall gimpiness, perhaps as a result of the lack of muscle, he's the same old Axel.  Young at heart, though he may look a few years older than his 5 and 1/2 years, he loves playing with both Visa and Willi.  They're probably very good for him.  He also is looking forward to more time with the Conways, and can't wait until he can do that "Trading Places" thing with Shea again.

August 9, 2009

It appears that a lot of people are interested in how 
Axel is doing (or at least a few people are very interested, that is, and are checking this page almost daily it seems) so I thought I would provide an update.  Axel is alive and well and seizure-free for the last 3+ months. Hopefully some will find this news to be as promising as I do.  Axel has been having a ball, traveling to shows with me the last couple weekends, doing some much appreciated shopping (he helped me pick out 24 raw marrow bones at the show today).  


June 26, 2009

It's been about 8 weeks now since 
Axel fought his way out of the ER, and knocking wood, it's been a great 8 weeks for Axel.  He has completely adjusted to the phenobarb -- you wouldn't know he's even on it for (his dosage is 1 and 1/2 grains, every twelve hours).  His energey level has been great and no more wobbliness.  He is maintaining his weight although I know he is definitely hungrier.  A few weeks ago he found the Gore-Tex rain jacket I'd worn to a show, and darned if there weren't a salmon treat or two in the zippered pocket.  You probably know where this is going -- he chewed a huge, non-repairable hole in this $240 jacket to get that salmon treat.  I tried to be mad about it, and had any other dog done it, I might have been able to muster some anger.  But poor Axel, how could he help himself?  This is a dog who, prior to the phenobarb, would stare and bark at dog cookies left on an eye-level end table, waiting for someone to put them in his mouth.  He never once in his life counter surfed until a few weeks ago when he stole a muffin from the island in the kitchen.  To be honest, I kind of like the naughty side of Axel revealing itself, and it's showing me the dog has some real survival skills (I used to wonder about him that way, he was so dependent!)

I know this could all be a calm before the next storm, but I cherish each day that I have with him.  He's so happy right now, acting like a puppy.  Speaking of puppies, I will be curious to see how Axel reacts when he can meet the Moxie babies.  The old Axel was never crazy about young puppies (typical of so many male dogs), but he may think differently now. Either way, I'm sure he'll come to adore whichever girl decides to stay here...he wants more girls in the house, I can tell.  Especially after Ulla goes home in a couple weeks.  

As for his anti-convulsant medication, some people have been suggesting I try to wean him off some of the the phenobarb (he's getting a grain and a half, twice a day) and expanding to a cocktail with some other meds.  But to be honest, it scares the heck out of me.  He's been so good, so stable.  I hate to try and "fix what ain't broke".  Certainly if he has a breakthrough seizure, I will immediately lobby to add something else to the mix.   For now though, I am just thinking really good thoughts and praying that he'll continue to have a wonderful, seizure-free summer.


May 11, 2009

 has been home now for a week and he continues (KNOCKING WOOD) to do well.  No more seizures, and every day he seems to have adjusted better to the side effects of the phenobarb.  Although a little lethargic, very easy to walk on a leash (an 80 year old woman could take this formerly strong-like-bull boy for a walk), incredibly hungry and thirsty most of the time, he's otherwise the same old Axel.

On a very sad note, Axel's half brother ADAM (Ch. Derby's Warlock of Whispering Pine) succumbed to epilepsy today and our hearts are breaking for his owner, Toni Killpatrick.  Adam is one of many half-siblings who have been lost to this tragic disease, very sadly by the age of five years.  Like Axel, Adam began having seizures early last year. He was three years old. Unlike Axel, however, his onset was much more dramatic, with clusters right out of the gate. We are so happy that Toni has been able to have as much time with Adam as she did, but when the only other choice became the last resort of putting Adam into a coma to try to stop the seizures (after the pheno and valium didn't work this time), Toni made the selfless decision to let Adam go peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge.  Rest in peace, beautiful Adam (April 24, 2004 -- May 11, 2009).

May 4, 2009

I just picked up a somewhat drunk/woozy 
Axel at the ER at 4pm.  But the great news is he made it through the night and today with no more seizure activity.  The phenobarb seems to be doing the trick for now.  It's so fantastic to have him back.  The icing on the cake...the bill was a little less than $1500, and I was prepared for over $2000.  Kind of makes me want to buy Axel $500 worth of Kobe beef for dinner :)

May 3, 2009

The update from the ER this morning was not good.  
Axel had four more seizures during the night.   At 9am when I spoke to them, he was totally sedated with valium, and they had just finished loading the phenobarb, which they did over  2 hours rather than a 12 hour period. They sounded quite concerned, and told me that his seizures were very difficult to control at that point.  If the valium and pheno load didn't help, they were going to recommend transferring him to a neurologist.

By 3pm, however, he was doing better.  His last seizure had been at 6:30 am, and they'd already cut the valium by 25%.  He was starting to lift his head.  At 6pm, they'd cut the valium another 25% and Axel was doing much better -- he'd even been able to drink and eat a little. The plan now is to finish weaning him off the valium completely by midnight, and if he continues to remain stable (no seizures) through the night, then he would be allowed to come home tomorrow!   I'm hoping my sweet boy has a peaceful night, gets some much needed sleep.  I, however, will be on pins and needles.  I pray the phenobarb is enough to keep the seizures at bay.


May 2, 2009

Just returned from the Emergency Vet where I had to leave 
Axel.  After nearly two seizure free months, Axel experienced his first cluster today.  I came home from the dog show (didn't stay for Group, maybe because I just knew I needed to get back???) to find Axel in his crate, just covered in blood, blood all over his crate, in his water bucket. etc.  It was like a scene from Helter Skelter!  From that and the stench of urine, I knew he'd had a seizure.  In retrospect now, he'd quite possibly had several.  In the next two hours at home, he had two more seizures, and then another one at the Emergency Vet.  Fortunately, they'd put a catheter in as soon as we got there, so they were able to get valium into him immediately.  While they had him doped up on the valium, they were also able to figure out that he was bleeding from the excessive gum tissue he has in the front of his mouth (he suffers from gingival hyperplasia and has a huge growth of extra gum tissue in his lower front jaw) and excise some of that tissue, which they'll also be sending off for a biopsy to make sure it hasn't turned cancerous.

Over the next 24 hours Axel will be getting a loading dose of phenobarb (twice what they'd normally give a dog his size), which needs to be done under the care of a vet.  Because he is clustering, there really is no other option.  Had I brought him home with just the normal dosage, it's very likely that Axel would have continued to cluster and that's not a risk we could take.  If it all goes well, he could come home as early as tomorrow evening.  We're praying for that.

Some good news, I guess -- the vet at the ER was very well versed in epilepsy (she has Irish Setters), knew all about the studies being done at Missouri and Minnesota, and she made me feel like Axel is in very good hands.  While I hate that these ER's basically extort thousands of dollars from you when you're at your most desperate (let's not forget last summers $2500 c-section), I cannot complain at all about the superior, compassionate care we've received at the Emergency Hospital in Norwalk.  

Poor Axel was so exhausted.  Hopefully the remnants of the valium and the all this pheno he's being given will help him get some much needed rest.  I'm not sure how much sleep I'll get tonight.  Tomorrow I'll obviously be staying home, cleaning up the mess that was created here today (amazing how much blood can come from the gums of a dog!), washing four sets of bloody, urine-soaked crate pads, and waiting not-so-patiently for the vet to call.


I snapped a quick photo of Axel shortly after I got home and cleaned him up, before he started having more seizures.  He's looking a little gross, but happy, right?  I feel bad that I haven't taken more photos of him lately, and promise to get a lot more when I have the chance.


March 4, 2009 

 definitely had a seizure today, while I was at work.  He was fine by the time I'd gotten home, but he clearly had peed all over himself, and there was some bloody drool on a white towel in his crate, and he had somehow knocked his water bucket loose from the side of the crate, where it had been clipped.  While I can't say definitively that he hadn't had any during February, I'm liking that thought.  At least there has been no obvious evidence of seizure activity, like we found today.  After his last seizure over month ago, I did start him on Vitamin B6, based on the recommendations from two Swissy owners who have seen reduced seizure/focal activity in their dogs after a couple months of B6 supplementation.  So we'll keep our fingers crossed, and hope that this might be it for March.  Aside from some loss of muscle tone, which could be in part age-related (he's 5 now), Axel is otherwise doing well and is a happy, happy boy 99% of the time.  He and Ginger especially love playing together and romping in the snow.

January 30, 2009

 suffered his 5th seizure tonight.  Compared the last one, this seizure was not nearly has difficult.  Like the last seizure, it was over fairly quickly, but the post-ictal phase was much less dramatic and more like his first seizures.  Just frantic jumping, whining, etc.  But he was not as agitated, not trying to bite, etc.  It's funny how everything becomes relative.  While it was upsetting that he only went two weeks between seizures, it was awfully comforting that he didn't seem nearly so distressed afterwards.

January 16, 2009

I feel us starting to head down a slippery slope.  
Axel had another seizure, not even three weeks since his last one.  It was about 1:15 in the afternoon this time (first daytime seizure), I had just taken Moxie out of the car (Axel was fine at that point) and took her inside.  When I came out to get Axel he was down in his crate, body rigid and huffing through his nose.  His eyes were fixed, pupils dilated, and bleeding from his nose which was pressed into the door of his vari-kennel (he had clearly cut his nose).  About thirty seconds later he started thrashing around, glassy-eyed, foamy drool spewing from his mouth.  This continued for about a minute, and during that time he urinated on himself.  

Axel's post-ictal phase was longer and more agitated this time than in his previous seizures, though I can only speculate why.  This was the first time that I was actually afraid that he would hurt me.  He was barking and whining uncontrollably, he tried to bite me (though fortunately not with too much gusto).  He also was much more disoriented, crashing into walls and boxes, and he couldn't even navigate walking down one step without falling down.  After a couple hours, he was back.  The one thing I noticed from this seizure is that his pupils remained dilated throughout this post-ictal period.  Maybe the fact that it was early afternoon, bright and sunny out, combined with the dilated pupils had something to do with the more agitated state??  I can't help but ask myself these questions as I try to make sense of a disease that makes no sense.  

And so, with three more seizures now coming less than three weeks apart, we have an appointment for bloodwork on Wednesday.  I so hope they can find something that might indicate why the sudden onslaught.  Perhaps a thryoid imbalance?  I can only hope.  Otherwise, I know it's probably time to start him on anti-seizure meds.  (updated 1/18/09: Axel's bloodwork was completely normal)

This was an emotional weekend.  I don't know why this seizure was so much harder to stomach, maybe because it's the first time I witnessed the whole thing.  Maybe it was the fact that my sweetheart of a boy was trying to bite me.  Or just the realization that maybe we're not so lucky  as we were those first six months.  On top of that, I read on about a Swissy boy who lost his battle with epilepsy this weekend...and he was not even four, a year younger than Axel.  He seized for 33 minutes straight before his heart stopped :(


December 31, 2008

 suffered yet another seizure.  No full moon.  No obvious triggers that I can point to.  It just illustrates the tragic, sometimes random nature of this disease and how it affects our dogs.  Needless to say, this was a heartbreaking turn of events.  I am still hoping to put off anti-convulsants as long as possible.  This particular seizure was no longer, no worse than the others.  It was, however, closer to the last one, and that is a concern.  I have started him on Valerian Root at night, as the one consistency so far is that his seizures tend to happen at night, and the melatonin may not have been doing the trick as I'd hoped.  Should he have another seizure in the next few weeks, it may very well be that we're seeing a "kindling" effect, and Axel is just getting better at having seizures.  And we will definitely have to speak to the vet about a new course of action, possibly anti-convulsant medication.  


December 12, 2008

, after going a full six months since his first seizure with no additional episodes, suffered another seizure on the night of 12/12/08.  I had put him in his crate to eat dinner, then proceeded to take Bowie out for a little walk.  Five minutes later I returned with Bowie, so I could take Axel out.  He was lying down, he'd pushed his crate pad and a towel up against the front door, his food bowl was upside down.  When I opened the crate door, I noticed his head and neck on one side were soaked.  Then, as I touched his head and neck, I realized he wasn't wet with water, but sticky, gooey drool...and he had copious drool hanging from his mouth.  Finally, as I encouraged him to come out of the crate, I realized he had also urinated in the crate.  Poor boy!  He was typically post-ictal, for Axel.  Same behavior, exactly, as the first seizure.   


This was not like his first seizure, however, in that it happened not only while he was fully awake, but actually eating his dinner.  In retrospect, I wish I had studied him a lot more closely before I put the food in their with him -- perhaps I would have detected an aura?  But we can't live our lives hovering over our poor dogs, and after all, it had been a full six months plus, since that first seizure.  What I did learn from this particular episode is that I need to be very careful and not feed Axel unless I am around.  Having a seizure like this, in the middle of eating his food (which he did finally finish, by the way, after the seizure) could be very dangerous.  We are lucky that Axel did not choke on his food.

Was it a coincidence that December 12th was the date of the Full Moon that was also closer to the earth than any other since 1993?  I know how full moons affect me (agitated, can't sleep, etc.) so I can only wonder if this might have been what triggered this seizure.  Obviously something did, after six seizure-free months.  So I will probably be upping his melatonin during full moons (and maybe periods when the moon is at perigee?)  And I will also look into other calming supplements, such as valerian root.  

September 22, 2008

It has been well over three months since 
Axel's first seizure, and to date, he has not experienced another one.  Does this mean he doesn't have epilepsy?  No.  It means we have been lucky so far.  I still have plans to neuter Axel, though to be honest, I am terrified that the stress of surgery could be the very thing that triggers another seizure.  I am still going to do it, because I know that living through Moxie's and eventually Ginger's heat cycles will be their own source of stress for Axel.  I just have to work up enough courage to take the plunge.  

For what it's worth, we have made some changes -- whether they're making a difference, I don't now.  Immediately after Axel's first seizure, I did a ton of research and found some great resources.  Of particular interest was the
Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels website.  Under the "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" topic, I was struck by the number of people who mentioned melatonin as a possible treatment.  So I put Axel on melatonin, and up the dose during full moon periods.  I also put Axel on Hepagen-C, and upon reading more about "choline-loading" am giving him addiitonal Choline supplementation.  But that is it so far.  Unfortunately it's impossible to know if this has made a difference, but I am just counting our blessings at this point.


June 6, 2008   

Well, as I most feared, that day has come.  On the morning of 6/5/08, at the age of 4 years, 4 months and 4 days,
Axel experienced a grand mal seizure at approximately 6:30am.  I was awakened by the sound of Bowie barking to find Axel, down, in his crate, trying to lift his head.  There were copious strings of drool coming from his mouth and wrapped around his head.  He was soaked in urine.  His post ictal phase lasted for a bit over an hour, and consisted of Axel frantically jumping all over me -- though he seemed not to recognize me, whining and running in small circles as dogs do when they chase their tails...but he wasn't playfully chasing his tail. He is back to "normal" now, a day later.  But what is normal???  For us, normal is burying ourselves in research, talking to vets, and waiting for the other shoe to drop...all while trying to go on as before and make sure Axel enjoys life to the fullest, while we can.  And sadly, Axel will teach me what it's like to live with an epileptic Swissy.









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