“One star shinesjust that little bitbrighter for us.”Megan
DiaryMegan was born on the 13th of June 2005 and came to live with us at 8 weeks old.This photo was taken of Megan in July 2006. It is one of our favourite photos of her, as it shows in her face how very bright and alert she was then, but also her mischievous side.Early in 2008 Megan had three "episodes" in the space of one week. We now know these were focal seizures. She would just stand up and her body would go rigid, and she looked as if she was chewing something she did not like! Shortly after that she had her first Grand Mal seizure.We contacted the Veterinary Hospital and Megan was seen by Nick who would later become her Vet. He put her on Phenobarbital, as he recognised the problem to be Epilepsy. Shortly after she was given a loading dose of KBR also known as Genetrix.In April 2008 after extensive tests Megan's Vet, Nick Bommer, (BSc BVM&S CertSAM MRCVS at the Royal Dick Veterinary College Roslin) confirmed a diagnosis of Primary Epilepsy.Little did we know then how this terrible illness would start us out on a journey that would change our lives forever.We want to make sure her suffering was not in vain, Megan has a voice........US!John & Margaret Wilkinson & Family two and four legged.How It All StartedEarly one morning, John and I were in the dining room when we heard this awful thud! This dreaded noise has now become so familiar to us.John ran to Megan who at this point was, what can only be described as horrendous! She looked as if she was trying to climb up the wall, all four legs were working hard to do this, her body and legs started twisting like a corkscrew, and her lovely, gentle face was so distorted (I will never forget that image). She was frothing at the mouth and snapping at the air, this lasted for approximately Four minutes. Although to us it seemed longer. John held her for her own safety.We phoned the Veterinary Hospital, who then told us to bring Megan down. That is when we were introduced to Nick Bommer, not only a superb! Veterinary Surgeon, but has become a "caring friend" to Megan.Before any diagnosis was made, all relevant tests were carried out on Megan. Throughout this time the Nursing Staff there were very good and caring with her.A diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy was subsequently made on the basis of breed, age of onset, normal inter-ictal neurological examination, normal haematological and serum biochemical findings and an absence of identifiable toxic or metabolic seizure-inducing causes.Since being diagnosed it has proved to be an upward struggle to try and get Megan stabilised. Her Medication level is...Epiphen (Phenobarbitol) 975mg per day. Genetrix (KBr) 975mg per day. She also has Valium tubes 30mg administered in the rectum. This was added as the seizures were getting longer in duration, also at times Megan was experiencing Cluster Seizures (more than one seizure a day).Megan Suffered With . . .Primary Epilepsy (Hereditary)Seizures of variable intensity, possibility of brain damage with each one(Petit Mal=lighter type/Grand Mal= full on seizure)SLO (Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy)SLO is an autoimmune disease of dogs which can cause severe claw problems in otherwise apparently healthy dogs. It is characterised by the loss of claws from more than one paw - eventually all claws may be lost. Other symptoms may include: receding quicks, secondary infection (often with a strong smell), claw splitting (usually down the back of the claw), pain, distorted/twisted claws and lameness. Ataxia (Back End Weakness)Caused by the medication combination she is on at the moment. also compounded by pain from SLO(losing claws)Incontinence (Urinating Only)Usually when asleep, she will lose water in great volumes, she doesnt even know until she wakes up, she will moan at us to let us know something is wrong.Urine InfectionsMegan has had to get courses of antibiotics for this on many occasionsWeight GainReaching 60kg this was an uphill battle as the meds give her a ravenous appetite and her metabolism was out of sync. Cushing's DiseaseTests results were inconclusive. Megan had Keppra added to her medication.What’s The Big Deal? - Laurin Howard"What’s the big deal about epilepsy? Why is such a fuss made over it? If a dog has a seizure, you give them pills once or twice a day and they live normal lives, right? Why should breeders remove dogs from their program that have produced seizures or have epileptic siblings? Is this "throwing the baby out with the bath water"?A typical seizure unfolds like this: At 3:30 am you hear a loud bump as your dog falls off the bed. His whole body is rigid, with his neck pulled backward so strongly that his head nearly touches his back. His eyes are rolled back in his head, and his mouth is wide open - champing frantically at nothing, saliva spewing forth. His legs gallop nowhere. He empties his bladder, his anal glands, and often his bowels. This continues for up to several minutes, during which time he does not breathe. Lack of oxygen to the brain means death for brain cells. As the seizure declines, he is unconscious. Suddenly he snaps into a semblance of awareness, but is totally uncoordinated and often blind. He pulls himself up and staggers into a wall or a piece of furniture. Not having an understanding of why he isn’t moving forward, he continues to shove blindly against the barrier until it moves or someone pulls him away from it. Over the next 20 minutes to several hours he gradually comes back to his senses. Then the pacing begins. He doesn’t know why, but he must pace - back and forth, back and forth - without end. This can go on for hours. Finally he goes into an exhausted sleep. With some luck he doesn’t "cluster" (having anywhere from 2 to over 50 seizures over the next 2-3 days) or go into status epilepticus (continual seizing that often means death). You try to go back to sleep for a few hours, praying that the seizures are over for now, and thanking God that he lived through this one."More experiences of Epilepsy..........Rush is one of the "lucky" ones - he’s still alive. He is a 4½ year old Border Collie. His owner writes: "every month he builds up to a 7 month seizure crisis. Friday he had 3 seizures, Saturday he had 13 seizures from 8am – 11pm, Sunday he had 37 seizures from 1:30am - 1:15pm, and Monday he had 36 seizures from 12:15am - 6:15pm." During this period, Rush was being given Phenobarbital, Potassium bromide, rectal valium, and oral valium. He addresses an issue that everyone with an epileptic faces: "I know what most of you are probably wondering - is Rush ever going to be normal again? He seizes once a month and can have as little as one seizure or have this many seizures; however, he has always bounced back. It might take him 2 weeks to bounce back from a seizure crisis like this, but he has a wonderful, meaningful life. He puts every ounce of energy into his Frisbee playing and that is why he is able to be the #2 Frisbee dog in the US in 1994 and 1996 and top 10 in 1995. So, as long as he can run, jump, and play Frisbee I know that Rush will be happy!! If Rush is happy then we can deal with his not-so-healthy times." In this episode, Rush suffered 89 seizures in 72 hours.Barb and Emily have been fighting epilepsy for several years. At this point in time, Emily has suffered a very bad gran mal seizure, and has been hospitalized because she is blind and unresponsive. Barb writes "Gee...I really wish that I had good news....but I don't. I went to visit with Emily tonight. She snuggled in my arms but I am not really all that sure that she knew it was me. Maybe she did she kept sniffing me when I first picked her up. When I would say her name I got some very, very slight movement with the ear fringe. Maybe it registered that someone was calling her name. I don’t know. I don’t know how I can help her. If the cortisone doesn’t work...and if pulling her off the Kbr [Potassium bromide] doesn't work...then what? Is there anything else to do for her? If she's going to rally it had better be within the next week and a half. I can’t permit her to go on like she is. I feel so helpless. I've started facing the fact that it’s not fair to her for her to live like she has been. Right now she doesn't know what is going on and if I were to put her on the floor she would walk aimlessly. No interaction with the other dogs or with John or myself. Is that living?" When Barb took Emily to the veterinary hospital, she took along a record of Emily’s seizures. The doctors were able to use the notes to see when Emily’s behavioural changes began. Barb found herself glad to have the log: "Actually if this is to be the end of Emily’s life, at least I have a record of all the great times we had together these past two years Christmas the doggie birthday parties how she could be so silly at times how much she loved me how hard she struggled to overcome this how hard it is to let her go..."Jelly was hospitalized at Tufts University. Noreen posted: "Every time they bring Jelly out of sedation she seizes so they are going to put her in an anesthetized state and see what happens over the next 24 hours." She also wrote about another issue owners of epileptic dogs face: "I just keep hiding the bills from my husband who loves her but doesn’t have the same kind of emotional investment in the dogs that I do I know [he] is ready to "make the hard call". But I’m not. I love this dog so dearly and want to do whatever I can but the estimate is for $600, which means closer to $800 emotionally I’m really having a hard time plus I had to leave work which meant someone else had to take my classes. Sometimes the heartbreak and suffering are so awful I think I can’t bear anymore." Jelly’s story had a sad ending: "Jelly died quietly at noon today. We held her in our arms and told her how very much we loved her and how very much we would miss her and how lucky we were to have had her in our lives for 3½ years." "Wolf" is a 100-pound malamute. His owner writes: "Wolf is now six and a half. He only has a few more days to live. I wish I could show him to you because he is truly one of God’s most beautiful creatures Wolf is in his last days now. His liver is failing as a result of having taken so much Phenobarb, at one time as much as 360 mg/day He can barely walk now. I have to carry him up and down the stairs and support him as he stands against a tree to do his business. He stopped eating a few days ago and no matter what we try and tempt him with, he shows no interest because his abdominal cavity is filled with fluid from his failing liver." Jeffrey continues, "We know that within the next day or two, Wolf will either pass on his own or will become so incapacitated that we will have no other choice but to put him down. In truth it is easier for me to write about this than it is for me to talk about it because every time I do I break down and cry. We have all spent the last two days crying. You know, it’s funny. I’m a middle-aged man. I’ve had parents and close friends die and yet none of these losses have moved me in the same way as losing this pup. Even though Wolf was once strong enough to pull a car through the snow, I still always call him my baby boy" since he is the youngest of all my "children".Again Lauren Many thanks for allowing us to use the above on our site. There Are Breeders, Then There Are BreedersThere are those who when a problem arises within their lines want to help both, the pet owner and themselves by recognising the need to make necessary adjustments in their breeding program in order to prevent the health problem from repeating itself.Unfortunately, there are still many others who continue using these lines and deny any prior knowledge of Epilepsy being in them. That is why continuing to make things public is the only way to make people aware of dogs that are still being produced with Epilepsy.The thought of having to make this public is not easy, regardless of what others may think, but it is necessary, imagine having to convince your breeders also people, strangers on forums, that your dog does have Epilepsy, that your dog comes from lines that have known producers and fitters, even with the research and genetic evidence, some still argue and deny that it is even a possibility.They spend more time trying to discredit you rather that going down in history as one of the breeders who cared and did the right thing; instead some even change their affix, to allow them to carry on their breeding practices.I agree that there should be commitment and responsibility from the dog owner, looking after a dog with Epilepsy is a huge commitment, but I do feel that some of that responsibility lies with the breeder that created the dog, they are the ones that boldly put on their web-sites that they will be there for the life of the dog they sell you, where are they when you actually need their help, where is their responsibility to this pup that was once special to them while he/she was once crawled about the whelping box, do they not care about the dog they produced, where is there conscience. All you ask of them, is for their help and understanding we expect that from them.Along with making it public about Megan, we did approach the Kennel Club, sadly they were a big disappointment, we expected more from them especially after co-operating to the letter with them, and they did say that as soon as there is some kind of test for Epilepsy, it would be included in their health requirements.Bringing this horrible disease to the table is not easy but is so necessary, although it has been kept under a veil of secrecy people are willing to lift that veil and expose affected lines and although painful share their stories in the hope that this will encourage others that find themselves in a similar situation to do something.As nothing will every change, no family will ever be saved of losing their beloved dog to an illness that could have been prevented, no dogs will be saved in the future if we say nothing, just remember one thing, if you have bought a pup in good faith and find that you and your dog are victims of an unscrupulous breeder, it is not your fault, you have done nothing wrong, this is the breeders problem they are the ones that do not want you to speak up, staying quiet, and you help them to do to others what has been done to you and your dog.