On April 11th early morning around 1 am, I was awoken to my 1 yr 10 months old maltese, 4 lbs, having a grand mal. It was the first time I saw her having a grand mal. At that time, I had no idea what it was and was in panic! She was unconscious, violently jerking full body, salivating and then went very ridgid. I have no idea how long the seizure lasted. When she came out of the state, I took her to an emergency. At triage there, they kept us waiting for 45 minutes and she seemed fine so I brought her back home without seeing a vet.
Later that morning around 9 am, I gave her some honey water and a few spoonful of lean beef boiled in water & its broth. It was more or less the first time I feed her some "human" food. I wanted to treat her to a "delicious food" as her appetite has not been good for sometime. Her usual diet consisted of dry premium puppy food mixed with a half of Caesar wet entree. Lately she got alot of beef jerky treats as she wasn't eating her food.
Around 10 am, I took her to a bigger & progressive looking animal emergency and admitted her for a check up. She was fine at that point. When they took her back into a treatment area, she had the second seizure(grand mal? i didn't see it). They put a catheter in her and started propofol sedative. Dr said that she wasn't responding to phenolbarbitol & valium so he wanted to watch her under sedative. Her vital signs were said to be normal. Blood test showed high liver enzymes and Dr thought she may have liver shunt but could not rule out central nervous system etc. He initially thought the blood test was normal but came back and said that enzymes were high. They had to go through the process of elimination for diagnosis. They didn't want to feed her until the liver test could be done. She was also on Sodium Chloride drip.
Around 3 pm, they gave her a small dose of phenobarb & stopped propofol to see if she would come out ok. She was paddling and was immediately put back on propofol. After another few hours, they increased phenobarb dosage and stopped propofol. She had seizures so they put her back on sedative. The hospital did this 3 times - the last time with some medications to treat potential liver shunt &/or water in her brain. They couldn't do any liver test as they couldn't stop the seizures. I was not in a good position to make right decision at that time. My dog appeared to be fine the day before but I was being told that I may have to make a hard decision soon.. but in truth I didn't know exactly what the Vets were saying. 3 different Drs there treated my dog and they all seemed have different degree of hopefulness??? One didn't seem to care and kept throwing out medical terminologies - extrahepatic/intrahepatic protosystemic shunts without layman's explanation(I had to look up the words afterward!). All I cared for was to know if they could make my baby better and how long it would take. They didn't want her to eat anyting because they wanted to do a liver test first. And I was worried about this too. My beloved appeared to be fine the day before and suddenly she couldn't come out of sedation and I was worried about its effect. I wanted to give her a chance to come out of sedation and fight seizures on her own. I made a decision to take my baby home at midnight. She was said to have tons of medication in her system so she seemed relatively calm and quiet. At home, she would howl loudly for 30 minutes and then sleep for 15 minutes or so and then howl again. I gave her some crushed tylenol and honey water and prayed for a miracle. In hindsight, she was having multiple seizures. She lost bowl movement a couple of times during the night. In my ignorance, I took her from a controlled safe clinical enviornment and caused her excruciating pain... This is what tears my heart. I wasn't able to care for my dog who was coming to me for comfort and assurance.
At 8:50am Saturday, I took her to her regular clinic and waited for her vet. Her vet wasn't on call that day and the other vet declined to see her - his reason was busy and no resources for tests. My baby was going lifeless so I rushed her to another emergency. There they gave her stat treatment. She couldn't lift her head and they were very worried. Blood test showed very low glucose & potassium levels. Dr wanted to balance her electrolytes first. My baby didn't have any seizures while she was at the new emergency. The vet there hoped to have her treated and send her home by the next day. She gave me hope. So I left her in her care. But at 11:45 am the vet called to say that my beloved died from a cardiac arrest.
If my dog stayed at the original clinic under sedation, would she have improved eventually? I read alot about canine seizures online during those two horrible days. In hindsight, I realized that there were signs of minor seizures leading upto a grand mal that Friday morning - fearfulness, hyper sensitivity to noise, pacing, lose of appetite, minor drooling, trembling since Early April...I enquire to find some closure and also raise awareness for other pet owners so that they become more intelligent pet owner and can handle similar situations way better than I did.
I'm so terribly sad to read your story. Please try to understand that something was horribly wrong with your baby and I seriously doubt anything could have saved her. You did the best you could do with the information you had at the time. You have suffered enough. It's obvious you loved her and you did every last thing you could. There is no point in second-guessing decisions made while in the midst of a traumatic situation. The mythical sense of "closure" merely means acceptance. There are some things we humans can't control. There are things medicine can do, and things it can't. It's time to accept that you and the doctors did their best, and there is no one and nothing to blame for her death. I hope you find peace soon. For your own sake.
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