Two-year-old Charlie simply adores Brianna, who suffers frequent epilepsy seizures, and is very protective of her any time he senses she is about to have a seizure. In fact, the family pet will push her against a wall and will not leave her until someone comes to her assistance.
Brianna’s mother, Arabella, describes the dog’s sixth sense — acquired without any training — as “amazing”.
“Charlie is so sensitive to her needs — if the other dogs get boisterous, he will stand by her side to ensure she doesn’t get knocked over,” says Arabella. “We know, when he is acting strange, she is going to have a seizure.
“It is frightening because her seizures tend to happen at night. I don’t tend to sleep well, because I am conscious of what might happen. For Brianna’s first seizure, she got very stiff and stopped breathing. She was resuscitated twice in the hospital. She went blue and stopped breathing.
“She has gone through eight different types of medicine and it now looks like she needs brain surgery. She is never out of anyone’s sight on a 24-hour basis.”
Arabella’s four other children: Farrah, 17; Harry, 15; Mia, 13; and Rose, 11; and her husband, Brian, are all aware that medication has to be administered to Brianna within two minutes of any seizure to sedate her.
Arabella has joined forces with Deirdre Cullinan from Ahane, whose daughter, Mia, 3, is also being treated for epilepsy, to raise €18,000 to purchase an ambulatory EEG machine sanctioned by the University Hospital Limerick. The women met in UHL while their daughters were getting treatment.
Arabella is hosting a Fun Ride with the help of the East Clare Harriers Hunt this Sunday, starting at 12pm, at Smith O’Brien’s GAA field. Deirdre works for GE Capital Aviation Services, which has offered to match whatever the pair raise.
With one in 115 people suffering from epilepsy, the EEG machine will benefit a number of children in the Mid-West. The mobile recording unit can be worn for 24 hours, which significantly increases the chance of identifying the area of the brain where a seizure is happening.
There is only one ambulatory EEG machine in Dublin, which has a large waiting list.