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Wisconsin woman has grand mal seizure; family dog sounds alarm

Melinda Crozier was curling her hair on Sept. 3 with the gold-plated curling iron her best friend gave her when the world went black. Her daughter, Lauren, 15, was in the adjacent room of their of Maple home when she heard a thud, followed by the...

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Jared (from left), 11, Jason, Melinda, and Lauren Crozier, 15, gather around their 16-month-old shepard mix, Kona, in Maple, Wis. Wednesday night. Melinda was curling her hair over labor day weekend when she experienced a grand mal seizure -- her first seizure in two decades. Luckily Kona, was standing nearby and barked enough to alert Melinda's daughter, Lauren to come in and find her mom before she could be burned more severely. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
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Melinda Crozier was curling her hair on Sept. 3 with the gold-plated curling iron her best friend gave her when the world went black. Her daughter, Lauren, 15, was in the adjacent room of their of Maple home when she heard a thud, followed by the family dog barking.

When Lauren opened her bedroom door, she saw her mom on the bathroom floor with the curling iron on her face and their Labrador-collie mix, Kona, lying on her mom, pawing at her and whimpering. Lauren said she initially thought her brother, Jared, 12, was making the ruckus.

“I thought it was just Jared messing around,” Lauren said. “Then I saw my mom, lying on the bathroom floor, shaking.”

Melinda, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 14, had a grand mal seizure - her first in 15 years, she said. The curling iron caused third-degree burns on the right side of her neck and her right ear. If the dog had not alerted the children, and her children had not responded quickly, Melinda said the resulting burns would have been far worse.

“She saved me,” Melinda said of Kona. “If it had been any longer at all, I’d be getting surgery and skin grafts.”

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After Lauren found her mom, Kona ran outside to find Jared.

“She did come to me right away. She knew where I was,” he said. “The dog was telling me something - to come on.”

When Jared found his mom and sister inside, he called 911. Their Wi-Fi was not working, so Lauren texted a friend for instructions on first aid while they waited for an ambulance.

“I’m so proud of them,” Melinda said of her kids, who didn’t know she had epilepsy until recently. “One day I decided I was going to tell them, just in case.”

After the incident, Melinda researched dogs’ ability to tell when humans are having a seizure. She found a very small list of dog breeds. One breed pictured looked familiar, she said.

“One of them looked just like her - had the same markings,” Melinda said. “I got a newfound respect for her.”

Jason Crozier, Melinda’s husband, was at work during the incident. He said he is not sure what would have happened if Kona had not alerted his daughter.

“Our dog is kind of the hero of the whole thing,” he said.

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Melinda said she usually sees auras that warn her of an oncoming seizure, but this time she did not. Auras are a visual disturbance, such a perceiving a strange light, that are also experienced by some people with migraines.  

She occasionally experiences absence seizures, Melinda said, which look like a lapse in attention. Melinda said she can usually feel a seizure coming, but that particular day seemed normal.

“This time I just dropped off the edge of the world,” she said. “When that happens, it’s traumatic.”

Melinda said she saw a plastic surgeon while she was in the hospital, who told her the burns should heal in three to four weeks.

“If I don’t have scars, I’ll be amazed,” she said. “One more minute without the dog or the kids and my neck would be a stump.”

Related Topics: HEALTH
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