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Trying to understand what happened: triggers & recovery, possible seizures


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Hello, I hope you can help. I'm trying to understand an incident that happened a few days ago, our greyhound took ill suddenly and died within 4 hours. she was 10 years old and over the past year had a few bouts of what the vet had pinned down as the early stages of dementia (temporary confusion, standing in corners etc) but it had been 3 months since the last episode.

From what I remember during a number of panicked calls to various vets, she might have had a series of seizures(?) and eventually one big one at the end. It was incredibly hard to watch, and due to Covid restrictions and the fact it was a Saturday evening, we couldn't get a home visit. Also, having no car, her deep fear of vets and our apprehension about moving her meant we couldn't rush her to a vet. We felt totally helpless.

Ultimately I have a few questions about triggers and recovery to try and help us understand and get a bit of closure, but I suppose I should explain what happened. Apologies in advance if this is a bit graphic and upsetting.

She was fine with no symptoms beforehand, she got up of the couch to scratch her head, but unable to satisfy the itch I started scratching her head for her (something I've done many times before), during this she suddenly jolted, it looked like she had been given an electric shock and a sudden loss of her back legs, she managed to stay upright by making all of her legs and body stiff. This lasted about 1 minute and then she walked out of the room and ran upstairs to lie on the bed. It was clear something was wrong, she had a wide panting expression and a lot of drooling. She alternated between laying down and seeming more calm to lifting her head and panting /drooling. After about 45 minutes she tried to stand up but her back legs were really wobbly so she flopped back down. There were no spasms, head tilts or darting eyes.

This continued a number of times, sometimes she could stand and we supported her to walk, it felt like she wanted to go downstairs to go to the toilet (smell and tail position indicated this) but she kept retreating to the bed, her front legs became less able as this went on. She seemed confused and distressed throughout with moments of calm and seeming to recognise us again.

A combination of her trying again to go downstairs for a third time and the vet saying we need to try and bring her in, meant I decided to pick her her up and carry her downstairs. When downstairs, however, her whole body was lame and eyes were moving around rapidly. She lay in my lap and within the next 10/20 minutes she had a a final big episode, this time with convulsing and leg spasms,  whimpering and she passed moments later.

Our interpretation is that she had a series of small neurological events when upstairs (or perhaps a couple that were prolonged) over a timeframe of about 2hours 45mins and that moving her downstairs perhaps distressed her further resulting in a more serious episodes.

I guess the questions I would like to ask to try and get a better understanding and find some closure, would be:

1) are we right in thinking this was a neurological issue, possibly seizures?


2) Are neurological events like this 'waiting to happen' and it would have happened anyway, or could something have triggered it, perhaps even the head scratch I gave her?


3) Could she have recovered from the first phase of events upstairs that lasted for about 2hrs 45mins or are instances like this usually a chain of events and it was always likely to progress to the same end? 


4) Did picking her up and moving her downstairs progress the situation and should we have just left her upstairs to periodically try and wander rather than picking her up? ...Did I just speed up the inevitable or make it worse?

Thank you for your time.

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So sorry to read of your traumatic loss. Quite possibly something was already wrong like a brain tumor, or an aneurysm pressing on surrounding brain tissue, possibly even an unknown fracture in her neck.  Don't blame yourself for scratching her head, it is a normal and loving thing to do. It sounds like a sequence of seizures took place with the last one being prolonged and fatal. Try to look at it that it it was just her time to go. Even were it not for the Covid-19 disaster preventing vets from making home visits, they probably would not have been able to save her.  I don't think there's any lesson to be learned from this; you did your best and she did not pass unloved and alone.     :grouphug 

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I am very sorry for your loss of your sweet girl.

IMO, it sounds more like a stroke or aneurysm than a true seizure.  Loss of hind limb movement first is more indicative of a spinal stroke, rather than the more overall loss of body coordination that comes from idiopathic brain disease or seizure.  Due to the progressive nature of your description, most likely a series of them.

It's very difficult to mistake a true, what we used to call "grand mal," seizure when you see it: uncontrollable shaking and trembling, they usually fall to the floor with loss of muscle control, paddling of the legs and feet, air biting and heavy drooling, complete loss of urinary and bowel control, unresponsive to outside stimulus.  A lighter episode -  focal seizure, or similar - would be unlikely to cause a fatality by itself.

Regardless, as John said, there was likely little any vet could have done for her except release her earlier than she left herself.  Nothing you did or didn't do caused her further harm, and she passed in your arms knowing she was loved.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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:bighug

So very sorry for your sudden loss.

What was your girls name?

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge

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9 hours ago, JohnF said:

So sorry to read of your traumatic loss. Quite possibly something was already wrong like a brain tumor, or an aneurysm pressing on surrounding brain tissue, possibly even an unknown fracture in her neck.  Don't blame yourself for scratching her head, it is a normal and loving thing to do. It sounds like a sequence of seizures took place with the last one being prolonged and fatal. Try to look at it that it it was just her time to go. Even were it not for the Covid-19 disaster preventing vets from making home visits, they probably would not have been able to save her.  I don't think there's any lesson to be learned from this; you did your best and she did not pass unloved and alone.     :grouphug 

Thanks for your reply, yeah I know I shouldn't beat myself up over the head stroke. I appreciate your input, it helps a lot. 

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7 hours ago, greysmom said:

I am very sorry for your loss of your sweet girl.

IMO, it sounds more like a stroke or aneurysm than a true seizure.  Loss of hind limb movement first is more indicative of a spinal stroke, rather than the more overall loss of body coordination that comes from idiopathic brain disease or seizure.  Due to the progressive nature of your description, most likely a series of them.

It's very difficult to mistake a true, what we used to call "grand mal," seizure when you see it: uncontrollable shaking and trembling, they usually fall to the floor with loss of muscle control, paddling of the legs and feet, air biting and heavy drooling, complete loss of urinary and bowel control, unresponsive to outside stimulus.  A lighter episode -  focal seizure, or similar - would be unlikely to cause a fatality by itself.

Regardless, as John said, there was likely little any vet could have done for her except release her earlier than she left herself.  Nothing you did or didn't do caused her further harm, and she passed in your arms knowing she was loved.

Thank you, this really helps. 

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