Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
UWPCH, ADPL3(2), ADPL3(GC), NC, NI, NE, SCN, SIN, SEN, CZ8B, NV and NN... 47 and counting...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What Does It Mean?

Yesterday we went to DaPaws to practice, getting ready for the upcoming RallyFrEe video event.  I have a video partner who will meet me at Pawsabilities next Thursday so we can video each other's submissions.
During the last two practice sessions there, Gimme didn't do as well as I expected.  I'd give her a cue and she'd move forward as if to do the behavior, but then she got "distracted" or "got stuck".  It looked a lot like she was distracted and unfocused, but doing focus training didn't seem to help. 
While yesterday wasn't our best practice, at least I figured out what has been the issue recently.  Now I know it wasn't a focus issue, it was her not knowing what I wanted.  She knew I wanted her to do something, moved forward to start, but then didn't know what to do next.  What I discovered is, basically Gimme needs me to "remind her" a couple of times what each cue-behavior is, then she is good for the rest of the session.  "Reminding" consists of cuing the behavior and then helping her do it (usually luring).  When I started by reminding her about each behavior a couple of times, then she went right to responding on her own and correctly to the verbal cue for the rest of the session.  This morning, of the behaviors I cued from the session yesterday, she had "forgotten" again.  So it seems this will be a need for each training session, at least for the foreseeable future.

I don't know what is causing this; I just know its not the way she's been before.  Interestingly, its behaviors she's learned over the last year which are most affected.  Stuff from before then seems to still be very solid.  For example, she aced weave poles on the first cue, even though we haven't done them in nine months.  
I don't know if this is from the seizure, her medication (Keppra) or a combination of both.  If its a side affect of the seizures, hopefully when Tonya has done enough energy healing sessions this will start to get back to normal.  If it has to do with Keppra, then I hope it will get back closer to normal when we start tapering off her dose.

In my online research focusing on seizures, I found interesting stuff - though I would have expected changes related to damage to be more immediate.  Her best session of the 4 we've done at DaPaws was the one 3 days after the seizures.  Here are the applicable (edited) notes:

  • memory may be adversely affected by a generalized grand mal seizure
  • may increase ADHD, which Tonya thinks Gimme has
  • may increase inattention and impulsivity
  • inattention includes: being easily distracted; forgetfulness; and difficulty following directions
  • tasks that were previously routine may become more difficult
  • it may take longer to process new information or to complete tasks - I am teaching her a new behavior and we have had to almost start over at each session
  • seizures disrupt connections between nerve cells, which may make retrieval of memories and information difficult and may also inhibit the formation of new connections
  • re-learning process takes time
  • diminishes "working memory", which is the ability to access information previously acquired and to make generalizations about this information, most likely because seizure activity disrupts the storage and/or retrieval of information
In my research about Keppra I found interesting stuff as well.  There is commonly a short term period of drowsiness when one first starts taking the drug.  While the whole list of potential side affects is extensive, Keppra is well tolerated by most individuals.  For those with side affects, some are simply tolerated, some get better results with a higher dose while others have to go off the medication.  Here are the applicable (edited) notes:
  • Applicable side affects include: aggressive or angry outbursts, anxiety, irritability, quick to react or overreact emotionally, rapidly changing moods, mood or mental changes, problems with memory, and/or trouble concentrating
  • Wording from reported experiences: 
  • "feel very tired and spacey. I am having trouble remembering what i've read and giving feedback to my professors." 
  • "mind was in a total fog, I was easily confused, I couldn't read because I couldn't comprehend what I was reading!" 
  • "spacey, foggy feelings went away after a while" 
  • "hard for me to remember what I read and studied"
So, there is a whole lot of "don't know" and "time will tell" in this, which is starting to feel very familiar.  <sigh>

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