Many patients seen at Rocky Mountain Veterinary Neurology are referred from their family veterinarian. Although most return to their family veterinarian’s care, some need regular check-ups and medication adjustments over a longer period of time. Patients that suffer from seizures are an example of a case that needs to be monitored closely by a neurologist. A seizure is characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled electrical discharge from the thalamus and/or cerebral cortex of the brain. Regardless of the cause of a seizure, anticonvulsant therapy is often required. While receiving anticonvulsant therapy it is important to have regular examinations and blood work to monitor anticonvulsant levels, response to treatment and to assure that toxic or untoward effects are not occurring to the body.
Murphy Tuttle, a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) started having seizures at 8 months of age. Dr. Lane first saw him when he was 10 months old and placed Murphy on combination anticonvulsant therapy. Murphy’s family was dedicated to giving him the best quality of life, and committed to giving multiple medications, with regular adjustments and examinations. Over the following years, Murphy experienced a variety of seizure activity. This included generalized motor seizures (whole body), partial seizures (twitching, head and neck tremors, fly-biting, collapse), and cluster seizures (multiple seizures within a few minutes or hours). Regular assessments were made by Dr. Lane to control Murphy’s seizures and provide quality of life.
Although Murphy experienced recurrent seizures, he was able to live a happy and outgoing lifestyle with his family at home. Murphy loved racing around his backyard, jumping over his obstacles in the obstacle course his owners had created, all the while, barking and smiling at his loving owners.
Dr. Lane and the technical staff also had the opportunity to get to know Murphy’s ‘people’, Linda and Paulette. Even when supporting the Colorado Rockies during the baseball season, they gave unconditional love to Murphy.
Murphy was seen regularly at RMVN over 8 years, and as stated by Dr. Lane, ‘”defied all odds of longevity with all the clinical challenges he faced.” In February 2011 the long-term effects of anticonvulsants and continued seizure activity was affecting his liver function. Murphy’s liver was giving out and Murphy was slipping away. Dr. Lane and Murphy’s family considered his quality of life, and the long battle he had fought. Quality of life was always held as the goal of all treatments for Murphy. Linda and Paulette made the most difficult decision they had had to make and say good-bye to a friend of 9 years. They had attempted to provide all they could to give Murphy unconditional love and the ability to live his life to the fullest regardless of any neurologic condition. He will be missed by everyone he came into contact with.