White Italian Greyhound walking across water pooled on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah

Yesterday was a hellish day. We packed an overnight bag and set out in the morning from San Jose heading 4 hours north to Fort Bragg to explore for my birthday weekend. I’d found several dog friendly hikes and beaches along the coast and we were all eager to see a new . 1 hour into our drive, Hazen suddenly had a violent seizure. It only lasted two minutes but he suffered full-body convulsions, foaming at the mouth and his jaw locked open.

Throughout his lifetime, Hazen has experienced mild “pre-seizures” (one every 6-12 months) where he goes ridged for 10 minutes and drools. These are caused when half of the brain is seizing and he’s always retained consciousness. Seemingly out of the blue, his condition escalated to full blown seizures that involve the entire brain and render him unconscious. We immediately pulled off the freeway and took him to an emergency vet. All of his bloodwork and vitals came back clear and we were advised that this could be an isolated event with the same sparse frequency we are used to and we should just go about our day and monitor him. If a second or third seizure occurred within 24 hours, there might be a larger issue at play.

So, we got back on the road and drove another 3 hours through the winding hills and forests of coastal California. We were 30 minutes away from our destination when a second seizure suddenly hit. The convulsions lasted the same amount of time but, he’d now had 2 seizures just 3.5 hours apart and we knew we had to turn around and head all the way back to San Jose to be near proper medical care.

Black and white portrait of a white Italian Greyhound holding his ears back and staring into the camera.

The drive back was long and exhausting but, thankfully, uneventful. The Italian Greyhound group we’d met last weekend recommended a great clinic in San Jose so we let them know we were coming in for a consult. When we were just 10 minutes away, an accident occurred on the freeway and we sat in stand-still traffic for 30 minutes. Finally, we were able to move but, just 3 minutes from the facility, Hazen slipped into his 3rd seizure. We raced to get him through the door so they could see the tail-end of what is officially called a ‘cluster’ of seizures (2-3 or more seizures in a 24 hour period).

The doctors immediately administered anti-convulsion rescue medication and recommended that Hazen be admitted to the hospital overnight for monitoring. Lots of scary scenarios were discussed and Russell and I got to spend a precious few minutes with him before saying goodbye for the night and heading home terrified and drained.

The main concern is if he had another seizure despite the medication that there might be a much larger cause than a progression of epilepsy. The main risk is a brain tumor that is causing bleeding or stokes which means we would not have any good options ahead. The first step in diagnosis is a chest x-ray to see if there are visible tumors in other areas (which would indicate a high probability of a brain tumor). We when home and held our breath for several hours until the doctor called with the good news that his chest is perfectly clear. We managed through a rocky night until this morning and were greeted with the news that he had a great night and hasn’t had any further seizures.

His progress and response to the medication seems very positive but, epilepsy is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning we would have to do a brain MRI to be sure he is tumor free. We are currently weighing the pros and cons of this peace-of-mind that comes with a $4500 price tag.

In the meantime, I am slightly in shock and reminded just how quickly things can turn from being ‘perfectly normal’ to ‘never the same again’. Hazen will, best case scenario, be on anti-convulsion medication the remainder of his life and we will now have full seizures to worry about at any moment. However this turns out, I am excited at the prospect of the best birthday gift: we get to bring him home later tonight so I’ll have my little man to snuggle for the last couple hours of the evening.

White Italian Greyhound sitting and posing in green grass in front of a sunset in the distance.

One comment on “Everything is Fine Until it Isn’t

  • My prayers for your sweet Hazen. GOD gives us our wonderful companion pets that become FAMILY. Cherish your moments, capture those once in a lifetime shots with your camera and HOLD HIM CLOSE….let him feel your love in the warmth of your touch and the beat of your heart. My love and prayers for all.

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