These Two

have me on a roller coaster ride between heaven and hell.

Three days after our visit to the canine neurologist, Enzo had another seizure. Even though I knew it was inevitable, I am still not used to them. But this time there was a bright side: we could now begin the pulse therapy the canine neurologist had outlined, with the medication she’d prescribed.

The clorazapate was administered as soon as Enzo was stable. Then, every 8 hours for the next three days, I gave him another dose. This, in an effort to prevent clustering, lessen the severity of the seizures, and gain more time between episodes. When the canine neurologist mentioned a 30-day time frame, I was ecstatic. One seizure a month? I could live with that! I had faith; I believed. And the best part? The clorazapate seemed not to impact Enzo’s balance, stability, or energy levels. No side effects I could discern. I was nearly giddy with relief and anticipation.

Eighteen days later, Enzo suffered a grand mal seizure just as he was heading out to our back deck. It was brutal. I cleaned him up, administered the clorazapate and began the 4-hour wait for the vet’s office to open at 9:30 am. During the interim, and to help ease him through the postictal stage, I decided our usual morning walk was needed. Both dogs were delighted with my decision. As we headed up the hill towards the field and wood-lined path, I glanced over in time to see Enzo go down into that hateful crouch, lips pulled back in that terrible grin, then watched, horror-struck as he tumbled down the embankment into the sand pit below. Petrified, I scrambled down after him. Aoife seemed to know this was an emergency, and was calm by my side as I waited out the seizure, helpless. I don’t remember much about getting home, but once there, I administered another dose of clorazapate and called the emergency number to leave a message. Covered in sand, grit, and wet with saliva, Enzo paced, whined, and barked. I went about cleaning him up– washing his ears, his beard, his bushy eyebrows. Initially, the cool water seemed to calm him. But then the pacing began in earnest, and I started to get angry. Eighteen days? That wasn’t even 3 full weeks! Where was the 30 day, once-a-month, ONE seizure?! Where?? I started to cry- Aoife came running over and I collected myself as the two of us sat together, keeping watch over our beloved boy.

After several phone calls back and forth that day between the neurologist and my veterinarian, the decision was made to increase the clorazpate as well as add another daily medication to Enzo’s current repertoire, bringing the total number of his prescriptions to six. Side effects included ataxia, stomach upset, and possibly diarrhea as his system adjusted to this new drug- Zonisamide. In the beginning the ataxia was so bad, it reminded me of when he first began taking the Phenobarbitol so many months ago. He was once again falling down the stairs, tumbling off the back deck, stumbling, and going to his knees on our walks. The diarrhea has yet to dissipate; he frequently needs to go outside in the middle of the night.

This disease is dreadful. Not only is it costly–Enzo’s medications now tally $298 per month–the emotional toll is severe. Let’s face it; there is no cure. Enzo is never going to get better. As I write this–today– the longest Enzo has gone without a seizure since beginning the Zonisimide is eleven days. When I first began this journey, I read and read and read–any and all scientific journals, experiments, and trials I could lay my hands on. One abstract sticks out. The experiment began with fifteen severely epileptic dogs, but ended with thirteen. I remember wondering that’s odd. Then, upon obtaining and reading the full paper, I discovered that the two dogs had been euthanized by their owners. And I clearly remember thinking, oh how could they?? Now, fifteen months into this hideous disease, I understand. I get it. I empathize.

Aoife is my sanity. She is the light bloom to Enzo’s dark malady. When Enzo is ill, my Court Jester, Nut-Ball, Wild Child is calmer, sweeter, and better behaved. Then, she administers her own brand of medicine; within 24-hours of a gut-wrenching seizure, I have found myself bent double with laughter, gasping for breath at her shenanigans. Within two days of Enzo’s last cluster of seizures, I found myself at a Nose work trial, walking floating out of a search area. I read her body language, I knew she’d found the hide; then, she’d turned and told me so. We were a team in sync. My “Alert!” to the judge was certain and true.

Enzo still has good days. He is now learning nose work too. And although I will never enter him in a trial, it makes my heart sing to watch him- engaged, happy, willing to work with me, and eager to search out the hide. He is having fun.

I’m learning to hold my hands up in the air and let go… of everything. There’s no cure. In life, there’s never a guarantee… of anything. So my advice? Find joy. Ride the ride. Scream when you have to, cry when you must, and laugh whenever you can.