Wednesday, June 16, 2010
How Do I Explain Liberation to Tilley ?
A trip to the store, doctor or friend’s home became increasingly difficult when I could no longer multitask. Sometimes I took the wrong medication, or skipped another altogether because I couldn’t focus on a single detail. In fact I think my life had become a long string of jumbled details. Nothing is more frustrating than forgetting everything that happens in a ten minute span of time. I could remember yesterday in general. Instant recall is necessary for keeping my wits about me.
I was online looking at wallpapers for my laptop when I ran across a picture of a bulldog assisting a person in a wheelchair. The idea of an animal having the ability to assist MS patients intrigued me. I always thought seeing eye dogs were heroic looking.
Tilley, the proud Pomeranian, became my service animal. I was determined to find someone to help me who I wouldn’t feel guilty about. The idea that a pooch could do that is wonderful news for many disabled people. Tilley was trained to keep me from walking into people and telephone poles when my balance made me list to the right without me noticing. She has saved me from all manner of embarrassment. Even putting on a pair of shoes and socks can be a long drawn out process when I lose one sock while never getting up from the chair. It happens all the time. She is always patient with me. I don’t have to worry about what she is thinking about my many stumbles, and slips. She doesn’t laugh at me when I poke my mascara wand up my nose trying to get ready for church. When I space out because I can’t concentrate, she gets me back on track before people start looking at me funny, or funnier. If a panic attack is on its way, she knows I need a chill pill. When I nod off at Sizzler’s while everyone else is deep in conversation, she gently gives me the sign so I can snap out of it with perhaps the aid of the “it’s time for Mamma to wake up pill.” MS is just like that, no rhyme or reason. The frustrations of daily living have been bearable thanks to my furry, sweet companion. For five years she has ridden on my lap proudly wearing her service tag that gives us passage into the doggie forbidden zone of restaurants and grocery stores. I t hasn’t always been easy. We had to educate the whole town of Caldwell about service animals and the ADA regulations. A number of the most reluctant store managers smile now when we roll in on my scooter.
She came with me when I had my surgery. She loves hospitals and doctor visits. She hates most doctors and nurses. She sat in my friend’s lap quietly and watched me go into the only place where she cannot follow. She gets very agitated after a couple of hours and I don’t return. She always jumps onto my lap and gives me the once over. This time she had a strange look on her face as I walked toward her. She cocked her head to the left and made no move to come nearer. After all the hullabaloo was over, I took her in my arms and led her for a change.
I know she is happy that I feel so much better. I catch her looking at me each time I get up, or walk to another room. She doesn’t miss a step and stays by my side as always. I think she feels a bit lost now. I stopped the medications she was trained to help me remember. I don’t use my scooter. There was a time when I carried her inside a store and placed her in the grocery cart. Later, in the basket of my walker. Finally, her place was in my lap with me in my power chair or “run run” as my grand kids call it. She doesn’t know quite how to react, but her devotion remains the same as does mine to her. If I ever falter again, she will be there to shore me up.
This morning I watched her while I was getting dressed. She seemed so sad. I sat down and pretended I lost one of my socks. I didn’t fool her. She picked it up, jumped on the bed and unceremoniously dropped it in my lap. She did seem to hold her head a little higher today than yesterday.