10-09 Foster Johnson

Foster has endured many tests in trying to discover the cause of his epilepsy.

A bake sale was held at the Pop Warner football games on Saturday Oct. 5 to raise funds for Foster Johnson, age 6. He is the son of Darwin and Candace Johnson of Lakeview. 

At this time, the Johnsons are in great need of a seizure alert/response dog. Foster loves playing sports and board games with his eight siblings, and loves Paw Patrol and everything to do with dogs and puppies. But Foster was diagnosed with genetic idiopathic (meaning they don’t know why or no source) generalized epilepsy in December 2018 and has been having seizures daily since August 2019.

Normally there is a 3+ year wait list for a seizure alert/response dog, but they are fortunate to have found here in Lakeview a litter of poodle puppies that are great candidates for service animals.  While the puppy will still need to be trained before it is able to help Foster, this drastically decreases the wait time.  A trainer a few hours from Lakeview has been contacted and is able to board and fully train the puppy to provide the services Foster needs.  This dog will be a great blessing to the whole family, particularly Foster.

These dogs are highly trained, which means they come with a high price tag not covered by insurance. Jana Ochs, Foster’s aunt, is organizing a fundraiser using GoFundMe.  It’s going to cost between $12,000 and $15,000 just to get the dog and have it trained.  

Any extra funds will go towards and medical and travel expenses for Foster.  

Foster’s seizures affect the whole brain.  He also has been diagnosed with a processing disorder and has speech therapy twice a week.  After many tests, several medications to control seizures were attempted, with mixed results.  One medication caused Steven Johnson Syndrome, a rare and serious reaction.

He currently is having seizures daily and medication seems to have no effect.  “A service dog wouldn’t only bless Foster’s life but our whole family,” writes his mother, Candace.  “My older children worry about him and sacrifice their time on the playground to watch Foster and make sure he is safe. My husband and I lose so much sleep watching and worrying about him. A service dog would allow us to rest, knowing that it will alert us when he has a seizure. Those absent seizures we often miss won’t be, because we could be warned beforehand that he is going to have them. The dog would keep him safe during a seizure and can retrieve medications and assistance.” 

Seizure Response dogs demonstrate specific assisting behavior  “during or immediately after a person’s epileptic seizure or other seizure. When reliably trained such dogs can serve as service dogs for people with epilepsy,” according to Wikipedia.  “Tasks for seizure dogs may include, but are not limited to:

* Find someone to help

* Activate an emergency response system

* Stimulate a person to help them “wake up” after a seizure

* Use body weight to keep the person in a specific position

* Act as a brace to help the person up

* Retrieve a phone or medication

* Physically remove the patient from an unsafe situation (i.e. middle of a street).

A dog demonstrating specific behaviour prior to a person’s epileptic seizure is also referred to as a seizure alert dog (SAD).  Reports suggest that some dogs can be trained to anticipate epileptic seizures.  However, this ability has been questioned.”

Candace Johnson posted last week on his GoFundMe page, “Epilepsy sucks. Foster’s day starts out typically with his mom waking him up to find him soaking in urine. Sure sign of seizures during the night. His bed sensor didn’t go off so that means absent seizures that we often miss. We get him cleaned up and ready for school.  He eats his breakfast.  Currently the only thing he will eat is hotdogs.  So yes, I let my son have hotdogs for breakfast.  I figure it’s better than nothing. 

“Then it’s time for medicine.  Two medications he can’t swallow and has to take with applesauce. This process usually takes 15 minutes of me telling him to swallow and him gagging.  Then for the liquid medications.   He has had two extremely rare and deadly reactions to medications already.  Then we get his medical alert ID necklace on him and get him to school, where I pray he doesn’t have any seizures.  When he gets home from school the first thing I notice is what pants he is wearing and if they are the same he went to school in.  If they are different I know I will be getting a call from the school, if I haven’t already, informing me of his seizures throughout the day.

“The rest of his day is spent with his family trying to get him to eat, or off to soccer games or practice.  Where I sit and worry about him having a seizure on the field or kids catching on about his accidents — but not the seizures — and him being made fun of.  

“We try to let him have as normal a life a possible and want him to feel like a regular kid. So I have to allow him to run and play, and pray he doesn’t have a seizure on top of the playground.  At night we get the same medications and the same response.  Then it’s bedtime.  Sleep is so important when you are epileptic.  He goes to bed after going to the bathroom and I adjust the camera, make sure his bed sensor is on, and say a prayer for a good night.  Our day isn’t over then.  We spend the rest of the night checking on him, changing him from seizure-caused accidents, rushing up the stairs when the sensor goes off and watching him sleep on the camera.” 

The Johnsons are looking into other ways people can donate, but meanwhile, you can make a donation through Foster Johnson’s GoFundMe page:  www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-foster-johnson-get-a-seizure-dog?utm_source =customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

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