Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Surprising depth of emotion

So, I put off writing this blog because A) I couldn't think of a way to say what I was thinking without sounding ridiculously dumb, and B) I didn't want to jinx anything. This might still be ridiculously dumb, but it's been over a month now, so I'm pretty sure I'm not jinxing anything.

On February 15th, Casey had a seizure. I did not see the seizure. It happened in the middle of the night. I was awakened to the sounds of Casey crying and frantically digging to get out of her crate. Since she's normally so well behaved, I was a little alarmed. Still, I got out of bed and put on my sweats thinking she just needed to go out.

When I let her out of her kennel, I noticed that she sort of weaved to the right. But "the right" was also towards my bedroom, so I thought she was just trying to pull a fast one and sneak into bed with us.

"No Casey. Let's go potty."

I opened the door to let her out and almost had a heart attack. Here's where the side effects of the seizure were really apparent. My normally energetic, bounding, excited dog was walking along the side of the porch railing to hold herself upright. It looked like she had gotten a hold of the boyfriend's Jack Daniels. I watched her, speechless with surprise.

When she got to the end of the porch, and there was no more railing to support her, she stumbled to her right and into the grass. It was at this point that she saw another dog walking by. She started barking and ran towards the dog, only to stumble on her two front paws and fall down. I watched with growing alarm as she picked herself up, turned back to me and tried to walk back home. She weaved onto the sidewalk and off the curb into the street.

It was at this point that I started to panic.

I went to her, and coaxed her inside. She again got up gingerly, weaved to the porch (the other dog completely forgotten,) and leaned against the building to get herself back inside the front door. Once inside, she collapsed on the linoleum entryway and lay there trembling and urinating on herself.

The panic gave way to full fledged freaking out. I went to the boyfriend to try to explain the enormity of what I had just witnessed. He came out to see Casey, and we were both surprised to find her hiding underneath the table in fear, about as far back in the corner as she could go. She was still trembling. She wouldn't come out to our coaxing and she cringed away from us if we tried to reach her.

The boyfriend mentioned that perhaps she had eaten something she shouldn't have. Maybe she was worried because she had done something she shouldn't have? In near hysteria, I tried again to explain the drunken walking and stumbling. He suggested that I watch her for a while, and then proceeded to get ready to leave for work. (He leaves ridiculously early in the morning.)

I went to get some pepperoni, and found that Casey wouldn't even come out of hiding for her favorite treat. I went to show the boyfriend. He was still unimpressed. "I'll bet she just ate something that didn't agree with her."

At this point, at a complete loss for words for the terror that I was feeling, I began to cry. I tried again to explain the walking and stumbling. I'm not sure if it was the tears, or the obvious hysteria in my voice, but the boyfriend finally seemed to understand that I wasn't overreacting, and something very wrong had just happened to my dog. He suggested that I call the vet when they opened. I know them well, so he thought I could probably get her right in. That calmed me down a little bit. Then he left for work, I took cleaned Casey off and took her into bed with me. Once there we slept until my alarm went off. Well, SHE slept. I fretted.

When I got up, I noticed that Casey was sluggish, but otherwise the normal dog I knew and loved. Still, I remembered the terror that occurred in the early morning hours and took her to the vet anyway.

Apparently dogs can just have seizures. Like people. There is very little we know about seizures and what causes them. Sometimes there's a trigger - sometimes there's not. Casey could have epilepsy, or she could not. Basically, the vet and I talked, we ran some tests, and he determined that she was just fine. The behavior that I had witnessed is very characteristic of post-seizure behavior. Disoriented, confused, scared, and finally, extremely tired. She may just have seizures. As long as they don't occur more than once per month, there's no need to medicate for this condition. If she has another one, turn off the lights, leave the room, and let it finish. If I interact with her in any way, it will just prolong the seizure.

Was he kidding me?!

Thoughts of how Casey was alone most of the day ran through my mind. What kind of dog mom was I if I couldn't keep an eye on my dog? What if she had a seizure when I wasn't there? Oh my God, what if there was something I could have done to prevent this? The terror and helplessness that I had felt in those early morning hours kept coming back to me. There was something wrong with my baby, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to help her. This was very different from the various ear infections and stomach problems that she had had in the past. This was obviously something wrong that medicine couldn't fix. Right away when I saw her unable to walk, I knew it was something serious and it scared the hell out of me.

It sounds ridiculous, right? She's a DOG, for crying out loud. She's my first dog, but still... I guess I didn't understand what it was like to have a pet. A friend of mine in college had her dog die. I said I was sorry to hear that and then I didn't even give it a second thought. (I'm sorry Kate. I didn't know.) But this sort of reaction? What was wrong with me? I feel silly even now talking about how scared I was. I was embarrassed later that same day when I even THOUGHT about how I was feeling and how I reacted. It's not like she's my CHILD.

And right then, my respect for mothers grew about a thousand fold, and my certainty that I wasn't cut out to be one increased just as much.

My mommy friend Lynn had a quote on her myspace page for a while, and it read like this, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I read it, thought it was interesting, but never gave it much thought. Even now, I still don't quite GET it. I think you have to be a mom to get it. But good God, if I felt that terrified about something wrong with my DOG, I am sure as hell not ready to have a CHILD. I can't even imagine the fear and worry that moms face daily when there are so many things in the world that you can't control, and your child can face any of them at any time.

When my friend Kristen had her child, he was so beautiful and so perfect that I asked her, "Aren't you just so....PROUD when you look at him? I mean, you MADE that!" I still think that when I see my friends' children. They're all so perfect! That's about as far as I had gone in wondering what it felt like to be a mom. Now I know it's not only pride, it's fear, and love and worry and probably a mix of a thousand different emotions that I can't even begin to comprehend. Hell, I don't have any idea what it feels like to be a mom....I can only guess.

Kudos to you moms out there. That's an amazing decision that you made and a great adventure that you're embarking on.

Me? I'm not ready for that kind of risk. I'll love my dog in a pale imitation of what you guys feel. That's scary enough. I don't know that I could handle anything stronger.

But I'll spoil your kids for you if you want :-) And if you need someone to remind you how cute they are when they're driving you insane, I'm your girl. One thing I can do is appreciate cute. Like this picture after Casey recovered...

And it's been over a month now, so I feel like we're out of the woods. Hopefully that was just a freak one time thing. Keep your fingers crossed.

It would be a shame for something like that to happen to something so cute.

(I obviously mean me, and not the dog...:-)


alisa said...

I am so sorry to read this and am so glad to see that it has been a month and Casey has been seizure free. I can't even imagine. I'm so lame I started crying while reading this.

AnnD said...

Oh my gosh! Poor dog! The horrible thing with animals is that they don't even understand. It might be scary for a human to have a seizure, but eventually you can explain to a human what a seizure is, what to do next time and answer any ?'s they have. You can't do that with a dog! All they know is that something is very wrong with them and can you imagine how terrifying that must be! Hopefully it's a one time incident and you won't have to worry about it happening again. Pets are more than that to some people and there is NOTHING wrong with that. I often have clients who become suicidal after a death of a pet, it is a true and real loss when someone you have so loved and cared for dies. Pets are our best friends and such better friends in many ways compared to other humans.

ems said...

I don't think I'll be suicidal after Casey's death...but I based on this experience, it's going to be pretty hard. It's weird how quickly pets worm their way into your heart...

kate said...

Awww, you remembered that? Wow you really do have surprising depth of emotion after all. And no your not pathetic. I knew something was wrong with Sparky when he would not stop walking, even late at night. He didn't make it and you better believe years later I still clearly remember the frantic drive to the 24 hour hospital. So no, you're not pathetic - human, but then again you always thought you were superhuman, so sorry to drop you down a notch...