To give some background, in early August 2014, our female terrier-mix started having seizures--at least that's what we thought at the time, so keep reading--and would twitch and lose her balance. That kept happening about once a week, so we took her in to the vet near the end of August and we were told it was likely epilepsy and started her on phenobarbital at 16 milligrams. Not too long after, we increased the dosage from a half in the morning and a half at night to one in the morning and a half at night.
On Wednesday, September 17, 2014, she had her first severe seizure and we wanted to take her in on Saturday to talk about it. Unfortunately, the vet we visited wasn't open on Saturdays, so we switched to a clinic that was. When we took her in there, we were told it very likely wasn't epilepsy, but a brain mass instead, because epilepsy is very rare in older dogs. It was gradual, of course, but we eventually increased her dosage to three pills a day--one in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and one at night.
Maggie was due for another checkup in May, so we took her in on May 23 to a different vet because the other one wasn't available, which can be a good thing sometimes because you can get a second opinion. Unfortunately and fortunately at the same time, she was seizing that day--twitching, losing balance--at the time we took her in, so it kind of made it easier to diagnose. The vet did some blood work and it was discovered her blood sugar levels were dangerously low, so they gave her something to eat and the seizure stopped.
My mom went in on May 28 to have a liver panel done on her while I was at college; on June 3 we got the results from that and she tested positive for insulinoma--in layman's terms, pancreatic cancer, which is a tumor--which causes hypoglycemia, which in turn causes seizures. My mom could hardly get Maggie up that day, and it was later discovered that her blood sugar levels were once again dangerously low--they were at 25 and normal is between 95 and 120. They gave her food and got them up to 114. According to the vet, though, her blood work from her very first vet visit with regard to this issue showed signs of hypoglycemia, so all this time we could have been properly treating her.
This week we started weaning her off the phenobarbital and started her on Prednisone (steroids), which help her pancreas produce the right amount of insulin. Well, like with any kind of medication, it has side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and restlessness. Well, she has gotten little sleep and hasn't eaten her special food that helps the last two days while crying/whining at the same time--it wasn't quite as bad between last night and today. That went away, though, and she slept all day yesterday, but about a few hours ago when she was there, she was trembling when she breathed in--we didn't notice the latter at first, so we thought she was just cold.
We're leaving her there today for general care and testing. We haven't gotten the results back yet, so we can't be 100% sure, but we think it's pancreatitis. It's caused from her special foods with a lot of fat and the steroids, but we're in a catch 22 as well because we can't just stop those, either, unless we want her to have frequent seizures again--in other words, she needs to have those. The root of everything, though, is the insulinoma. I'm a little upset with the previous two vets because if we had known this in August, we could have been treating her properly all this time; instead, we just wasted money treating her for what we thought was the issue.
Putting the costs aside and focusing on her well being, now we have to look at our options of whether to put her down or not because it appears we started treating her properly too late--again, if we had started treating her properly sooner or right off the bat, she may have not gotten this bad. However, they're going to give her something for the vomiting and if she comes back positive for pancreatitis, something for that as well. We'll see where she's at after that.
After she was prescribed phenobarbital, I started keeping a log. If anyone's interested, these are the totals for everything I've logged: