5.23.2008

Layla Jean Abell


I'm up for a 2 a.m. feeding and wanted to share some sad news about Layla with you. I think we have told all of you this, but Layla has had seizures since May 2007. The year prior to that, she was on medication for severe anxiety, which she didn't display at all during the first 9 months of her life. With the medication and some environmental changes, we were able to get the anxiety under control. Like I said, though...the seizures began in May 2007. We have changed her medication (type and dosage) several times in order to get them to decrease. For the past several months, Layla would have a seizure everyone month and a half to two months, typically in the middle of the night. They would last for no longer than a minute and were completely manageable.




However, Wednesday afternoon things went to a new level. Layla had what they call cluster seizures, where she had a seizure, and then just as it was stopping, she went into another seizure. It was the scariest thing I have ever seen happen to a dog. I am usually cool, calm, and collected during her seizures, but these were very violent (flipping backward), and she wasn't getting a break. Ryan got her outside after the second seizure as I was in the middle of calling the vet, but she then had a third seizure outside. It was horrible. We gave her two pills of her regular medication, and then Ryan brought her inside. She was really jumpy and not at all herself, but the seizures had stopped. Well, 20 minutes later, she had another seizure in the house. At that point, Ryan loaded her in the car and drove her to Franklin Animal Hospital. They gave her oral Valium, and we gave her another dose of oral Valium at midnight. She was very subdued the entire evening and not quite herself, but we were thankful that the seizures had stopped. We had an appointment with our vet the next day (he had been out of town the day of the seizures) and were looking forward to hearing what he had to say. Ryan and I both agreed the night of the seizures on a few things. First, we were not going to give her to anyone else. Our goal had always been to make sure that Layla's quality of life was positive, happy, and strong. With the seizures reaching the cluster level, we knew that her quality of life would only decrease. With clusters comes brain damage, risk of injuring herself/others, and behavioral changes. We didn't want to see her go through those risks and challenges. Second, we had to put Noah's safety first. When it was the two of us, Layla didn't pose a threat to us. However, with a seizing dog who has no control over herself and a little newborn who will gradually spend more time on the floor, we couldn't guarantee Noah's safety. Third, if the doctor could increase her medication to a point that the seizures would stay at a minimal level, and if he could guarantee that Noah would be ok, then we would consider doing that. Otherwise, we were going to have to say our goodbyes and put her to sleep.


So, Ryan met with Dr. Dave (Briarcrest Animal Hospital...best vet in the world), and we got our answers. Layla's seizures had progressed to a new level, and she wouldn't return to the seizures that only occurred approximately 6-8 times per year. He was concerned that she was having seizures that often given the dosage of medication we had her on. Even with doubling that dosage, he said she would still have the clusters. Noah's safety was most definitely at risk. He told Ryan that we had done a really good job with her from the day we had her and said that most people would've given up with the anxiety problems she first displayed. It made us feel good to know that he didn't think we were just giving us or taking the easy way out because we had this new baby. In no way did I ever want to say goodbye to Layla...I had a better relationship with her than I did with Kya. I knew as a parent that I would have to make difficult decisions, but we just had no idea it would be in the first week of Noah's life. In sum, the doctor felt that Layla was a risk to hurting herself significantly (internally and externally), and now she could really hurt Noah, as well. Ryan made an appointment to put her to sleep for later that afternoon (Thursday) at 3 p.m.


When Ryan and Layla got home from the vet, we both shed a lot of tears. You know how much we love dogs, and Layla was really the happiest, most gentle, most obediant dog either of us had ever had. Her biggest crime was wagging her tail so hard out of joy that it would snap people in the legs. We poured all of the dogs' toys in the back yard and just let them run crazy and play! It was a gorgeous day, and Layla had the time of her life. We took a million pictures and even some video of her and tried to stay strong all day. Of course doubt creeps into your mind...are we rushing things? Are we making this decision too quickly? After playing outside for a couple hours and giving her some ham (a real treat since we never give her people food!), we went inside and took a few more pictures/video of her. Ryan was laying on the floor with her afterward, and poor Layla had another seizure at 1 p.m. While I hated to see her experience that, it was just what I needed to know that we were for sure making the right decision. Ryan remembered that the Franklin Animal Hospital vet had given him Valium to inject in her rectally to stop a cluster if it happened again, so he did just that. Layla snapped back from that seizure quickly and just stayed relaxed for the next two hours. My mom came to watch Baby Noah while we went to the vet. However, before we left, we had Kya say goodbye to Layla. It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen, but they were best friends, and the moment was very special. We took Layla to the vet's office in Bargersville. We asked the doc if he could put her to sleep outside so that she didn't have to go inside, which makes her really anxious. We wanted her last moments to be happy ones. He happily agreed, so we just laid Layla in the grass, held her tight, told her we loved her, and it was over within seconds. Her last moments on earth were outside, on a beautiful sunny day, in the grass...her favorite.


Our hearts are aching right now, and it is really difficult to see Kya without Layla. She is really lost at home right now, and we're doing our best to help her through this, too. We really appreciate your thoughts and prayers right now because we both feel somewhat empty without Layla. I know she is a dog, but she was truly one of our very best friends. The birth of Noah is helping of course. It helps ground us and keeps us focused on the future. Layla had been wonderful to him ever since he came home, and we are so grateful for those days they had together, too. Ryan and I are completely at peace with our decision, knowing it was what had to be done. Her last day was beautiful and perfect while she played in the yard, and we will always remember that. We love her very much and will miss her so much!


Again, we would really appreciate your prayers for us. We can feel God holding us right now, and Noah gives us a lot of strength, too. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope I didn't upset you too much, but I wanted you to know exactly what happened and what we're experiencing right now. We love all of you and cannot thank you enough for your support right now.

2 comments:

Erin said...

Amy,
I am in tears right now but I only feel regret for not hearing you share the story in person. I can't imagine how difficult of a decision it was but I am sure that you and Ryan are doing what is best for Layla and Noah...I agree that her having another seizure right before the appt. was a sign. Please know that you are in my thoughts and I look forward to seeing you Tuesday evening.
Love,
Erin

Lauren said...

Like Erin, I sat at my desk and cried reading this. I cannot imagine dealing with so much happiness and then sadness so close together. Nate told me once that if he could have anything in the world it would be for Ralph to live forever. Pets just become so much a part of our families. I know you both did the best thing for Layla... she wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I'm here for you!

Lauren

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