This is a hard post to write.
That’s the thing about disability— it like a kaleidoscope of worry and health and what you can and suddenly can’t and then can do. It’s a revolving door of chaos and bodily revolt.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I am lucky. Every damn day I get up, take care of myself, go to work, pursue my side business, go to the gym, and try to do what’s right for the teenager and the pets.
I can walk, even if I may never run that 5K I dream about. I work in a warehouse, even if sometimes it’s hard. I try to listen to and take care of my body. And I am grateful.
But despite all the doctors, the physical therapy, the personal trainer (thank you Apex Training), the vitamins, the stretching, the medication and the regular visits to my lovely chiropractor, Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and wellness center, I still “randomly” have accidents.
I trip over my own two feet and have hands that look like this:
And I fall through the old screen door in the garage.
I burst a tendon and spend 12+ weeks nursing mallet finger from taking off my socks.
I’ve broken bones, smashed teeth, fallen down stairs (most recently at the hospital).
I’m getting older and I’m falling more. In a few more years, the teenager will be a full-fledged young adult and won’t necessarily be here to babysit me.
So I filled out a pre-qualification questionnaire. I probably won’t be disabled enough to warrant a dog, but I have the means to pay for it. I live independently and my condition cannot be mitigated with medication.
But I can walk and function you say, and I do. What could a dog possibly do?
- Help me take off (and put on) my shoes and socks
- Help me retrieve objects from the floor when I can’t bend.
- Help me retrieve objects when I fall.
- Help me get up when I fall.
- Help me up and down the stairs.
- Bark to alert neighbors or people in the household that I need help.*
- And I wonder if a dog could “nudge” me if it notices I am unstable and get me to fix my gait or rest.
* this one is apparently controversial — some trainers claim barking in any form is a nuisance and that a service dog should never bother/impact the general public.
Like any topic within disability, it’s complex. But with each fall I take I feel progressively more vulnerable and fragile. It feels like another option to consider.