Author Topic: Service dogs for epileptics?  (Read 3673 times)

Offline CadillacQueen

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Service dogs for epileptics?
« on: June 15, 2009, 12:49:02 pm »
I'd like to know more about this.

I have grand mal and petite mal seizures.
Most common is my petite mal seizures {abscence seizures}, where I "blank-out" for up to a minute. I do this up to, or surpassing, about 30 times a day. I lose a good hour of my day through absence seizures.
During that time I can't communicate, hold objects, keep my balance or do anything. Basically I 'freeze' to the spot.
Once or twice I stop breathing.
I don't remember these episodes unless they're strong onsets, and they have a very heavy effect on my life.
When my daughter was born, I was only allowed to hold her if she was in a sling attached to my chest or if I was supervised.
I can't cook unsupervised or do anything like pour tea, operate machinery or unload the dishwasher. The second I have an absence seizure, my hands either tighten in a vice-grip around what I'm holding, or they jerk and it drops.
Imagine holding a pot of boiling vegetables and then dropping it.
During most of my absences, I lose my balance. My family and friends are used to me suddenly swaying and falling, but in public it's embarrassing and irritating. One second I'm walking with a basket of groceries, next thing I'm kneeling on the floor and my food is everywhere.

I've been through tests, MRIs, EEGS, sleep depos, medication depos...everyt hing.
My neurologist doesn't know what's wrong with me. His team conclude that all tests show I don't have epilepsy, but I'm clearly not faking it. I'm on 2000 mgs of meds a day, and they work to stop the grand mal seizures, but they don't stop the absence seizures.

He suggested about a year ago that a service dog might be of use. I'd heard of dogs that can detect when seizures are forthcoming, but I never thought I was bad enough for that.
He gave me more information on it and told me that although it was a relatively new form of control, and was in it's experimental stages, it can be done.

The information said that Giant breed dogs were trained to assist with helping epileptics keep thier balance, and commonly Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds were used for this work, as most people can easily use them to steady themselves as they walked.

I've only just started to explore this as a possibility, as the falling and swaying has gone from a mild disturbance to an outright annoyance. As I was wheeling the pram the other day, I swayed and the pram fell with me.
If I had had a baby in it, they could have been seriously injured.

Now, I'm not at the point where I'm making requests that a dog be prepared for me.
I want to do a lot of research before I even consider doing this, as I know how hard it is to keep a service dog. Meatloaf is an ex-service dog {of a different sort, though}, and the first year away from his 'job' was hellfire and brimstone. He got depressed and anxious easily and needed constant companionship and playing to ease his stress.
After a year I guess he gradually realised that his job was over, and a new job was needed; if only as a companion and a friend to my children.

Does anyone here know of anyone who has a service dog for this purpose, or can give me more information?
I've googled non-stop over the past few weeks to give me a better understanding of what it is and why I would need it, but first-hand accounts are always better than a million pages of information.

I'm going to say again, in case anyone wants to have a go at me for anything I've said, that I'm not YET considering it.
If I consult with enough people who use a dog for this purpose, and my neurologists start saying it would be a definate life-changing help instead of a possible assistence to me, THEN I will start looking into it.