I’m usually the first to hear it, especially if it happens in the middle of the night. I am not necessarily a light sleeper, but in the years since Millie started having these episodes, these seizures, there is a part of me that, even when sleeping, is always listening for the tell tale signs. Last night, around 1:00 a.m., I woke up. hearing the sounds, sensing the vibrations, of Millie stirring awkwardly in the bed. I found her at the foot of the bed and sure enough, she had started having a seizure. Eric woke up when I started talking to Millie, telling her she was going to be okay. “She’s having one,” was all I needed to say and Eric was beside her too, also holding, also calming her.
Millie’s seizures, which started in February 2011, are unique, just like she is unique. She does not lose consciousness, her eyes do not roll back, she does not foam at the mouth, but merely salivates more than usual. She shakes, her paws clench. If we were to put her on the ground, she would try to walk, but stumble about. These seizures have happened enough that we know what to do, or at least we think we do. We hold her and tell her that we love her until the episode passes. Usually, it lasts about 10 minutes, and once she’s out of it, she’s still not 100% Millie for awhile. Even this morning, the morning after, she’s quieter than usual, more reclusive. When I walked her and her brother Ricky a few minutes ago, she did feel impassioned enough to bark at another dog on the sidewalk which, under normal circumstances is annoying and embarrassing, but today was a relief of sorts, an indication that she’s getting back to normal.
Eric does better when she is having her seizures than I do. In fact, the way he is in those moments, is probably Eric at his very best. He becomes the chief Millie holder, the coddler. I have to run into the closet to grab a towel in case she wets herself, I have to run into the kitchen to take a Xanax, but the whole time, Eric lays there on the bed and holds her, kisses her, tells her that we love her and need her. As my mind runs away with the worries, he is calm and present for her. When she appeared to come out of the seizure last night, I ran back to the kitchen to get her a little treat, to see if she would eat it. She nibbled on it gingerly while Ricky hopped and moaned and pounced. He has some compassion for his sister, but when treats appear, he becomes quite single focused.
After the treats and the hugs and the “you’re a good girl”‘s, we settle back into bed, Millie at the foot, in the same place where she was when it started and ended. Ricky lays on his pillow in the middle of the bed and Eric, on one side, me on the other. Eric’s joke is that the two of us are always sleeping on a celery stick because of these two. They are our little bed hogs and we love them. As I lay there worrying about Millie and how we need to go to the neurologist and how the seizures have picked up frequency in the last few months and how are we going to pay for an extra vet bill, extra medicine and on and on and on, I hear Ricky and Eric snoring. Millie looks at me and I look at her. What is she saying to me? I don’t know.
And this is the morning after. There is a glow that comes from surviving a crisis. Eric is at work, but told me to keep him posted. Ricky is sleeping on the couch. Millie is napping under the bed, also known as, her hotel suite. And here I sit, typing away, trying to make sense, trying to ease my pain. We survived another storm, weary and shaken, but happy to see the sunshine of a brand new day.
Millie is probably thinking, “How is a girl supposed to get her beauty sleep with those two sawing logs?!” And while Eric is great in the moment of the crisis, M knows that you worry and keep an eye on her, and she loves you for that.
Your post brought me back to another time in my life. We’re an all-boy doghouse now, but then it was the girls: Remi and her daughter Jesse. Jesse was 6 when she started having grand mal seizures. I remember my terror at witnessing her first. They never became routine, but like you and Eric, we did develop a calm and coordinated response to get her safely through each episode.
I always took comfort knowing that she was oblivious to the seizures and didn’t suffer; but it was my nerves that were shot after she was lapping up water and snoozing sideways between us again. It’s what we do, right?
Indeed. It’s what’s we do.
As a doting pet parent who has cared for an aging pooch, I understand the feelings you’re having. My partner was definitely the cooler of the two of us in a crisis. Back then. Since he passed, I’ve learned some of those skills. Millie is lucky to have two doting dads!
I am trying to figure out how to type this and continue to give Truman belly rubs…Those things that happen to us in the middle of the night strengthen our bonds as a family. Wishing Millie good health.
SSo sad to see them suffer, the poor dear.