This is our vivacious little girl, Andi Ober. She has so much personality, but is shy and reserved when away from home. New places and people can be quite difficult for her to adjust to. Most of this anxiety stems from her having Epilepsy. When Andi was a baby, she would have periods of time where she was overly tired, wouldn’t focus, and threw up in the car often. She would shake her head about and be unresponsive; she was very hard to calm after these episodes. I had no idea what was going on, and thought she was just a goofy, high-needs baby. Then, it all changed. She had moments of going limp in my arms and twice she stopped breathing on me, which resulted in several 911 calls. I mentioned these episodes to my mother in law, who is a nurse. She was able to see Andi go limp in a shopping cart at Target on my older daughters 3rd birthday. That’s when I heard her say something I never thought I’d hear in my life, “Jessica, I think she’s having seizures.”
The following month, our world was turned upside down. We visited her pediatrician, obtained referrals to our local Children’s hospital, and Andi had numerous EEGs and EKGs. After her initial EEG showed over 300 abnormalities in less than 30 minutes, neurologists diagnosed her with Epilepsy. Her diagnosis came when she was only 20 months old. She is now 4.5 years old. Over the years, she has struggled greatly. She has been on six different Epilepsy medications and still continues to have seizures. She has had multiple EEGs and MRIs, something no child should have to go through. Since she was diagnosed at such a young age, Andi doesn’t know any other life. She handles the testing with so much bravery and courage. It was found she has a brain malformation called Cortical Dysplasia and she also has a pocket of fluid on her brain. Her official diagnosis is Intractable Focal Epilepsy with a risk of SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy). Because of this, brain surgery has been discussed many times. A majority of Andi’s seizures occur at night, and we have taken steps to keeping her safe; a different bed, mattress and special anti-suffocation pillows. We are also trying to get her a bed pad monitor for safe sleep.
After we lost our son last June to stillbirth, we did further testing on Andi and discovered she carries a genetic variant that causes Cortical Dysplasia, Epilepsy, and developmental delays. Her neurologist warned us that she would lose developmental milestones with age and would need “intense physical and occupational therapies”.
While we have taken steps to make her life better (therapies, medical equipment, etc.), we still have a long way to go. I’ll never be able to monitor her 24/7 for seizure activity, especially during the night when she is at her highest risk for SUDEP. I also want her to be able to have more independence and confidence when I’m not able to be with her. Andi receiving a seizure response service dog would change her life! It would lift stress from our entire family, while keeping her safe. I also hope her having a seizure response service dog will help her bridge the gap socially. When she started having seizures in her gymnastics class this year, the other kids made fun of her and stopped including her. It really hurt her feelings and now she worries about making friends and people liking her. Andi having a service dog would turn her epilepsy into a special and unique thing with other children her age and help stop it from being something “weird” or “scary” and hopefully help her to be included.
It costs at least $46,000 to specially train a dog for Andi. Families cover only a portion of that cost, a fee of $17,000. We are fundraising to help cover the fee required to provide her with a life-changing service dog. Donations in support of Andi should be made directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Andi Ober on the memo line. Mail checks to:
4 Paws for Ability
In Honor of Andi Ober
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, Ohio, 45385.
If you wish to make an online donation, the website is www.4pawsforability.org/donate-now. Include Andi’s name in the “instructions to merchant” through PayPal. You may also call to make a credit card donation over the phone at (937) 374-0385 – Monday thru Friday 9AM to 4PM EST.
Thank you for your support!