I was born with a serious hereditary heart condition which worsens over the years, making it harder and harder to perform some of the activities most people do every day without a second thought. My body has tried to compensate by overproducing certain stress hormones to try and maintain a pulse of at least 60 beats per minute. I also take medications 8 times a day to help keep my pulse up. Without intervention, it drops dangerously low and I often fall and/or pass out on the floor, unconscious. My heart condition is not reversible or fixable. It causes me to faint and stop breathing or to have unfathomable chest pain. Sometimes both. I work hard every day to keep my body in balance with food, fluids, medications and exercise. Every day is different and can change from one minute to the next. I avoid taking my medication at night for at least 3 hours before going to bed. This means night time can be especially difficult. The dizziness and other symptoms are worse at night as my medication wears off.
I strive to maintain a “normal” life and work very hard to ensure people around me do not see the pain and struggle I go through. It is hard to be dependent on your loved ones. They love you and will do anything for you, but to have to ask is the hardest choice of all. In light of this, our family is currently training a puppy to be a medical alert dog for me. My puppy, Luna, was a birthday present for me from my parents. I found her at our local shelter. Then, after a lot of internet searching, we found our trainer Patsy through PAWS.
We live in Massachusetts and Patsy lives in Virginia. At first I thought no way would that work! But Patsy is wonderful, and we can complete lessons via facetime in between Luna and I making the 12 hour drive down to Virginia Beach to see Patsy. Right now we are working on training Luna to push an emergency call button on my bedroom wall which alerts 911 that there is an emergency. We are also training her to retrieve help by going upstairs to get one of my parents (even if that means opening their bedroom door) and leading them back downstairs to me.
Never in a million years would I have thought this would be possible, but slowly this dream is becoming a reality. Having Luna with me, especially at night, gives both myself and my parents the peace of mind that when I’m off my cardiac meds at night I will not pass out and be on the floor unnoticed. Even if I can’t give Luna a verbal command she will be able to alert someone. This could be life saving for me! I cannot thank Patsy enough for all her hard work and dedication. And of course, my parents and Luna too. Sometimes I don’t know who rescued who, but either way I am grateful.