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Bailey’s story from puppy to lifesaver.
For 10 years I battled with life-crippling symptoms and dealt with so many dismissive doctors that I truly had started to give up. I had to go to a doctor purely by chance due to a chest infection that couldn’t shift and I reluctantly went to a new doctor. When I heard the words, “you have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome” to say I was confused would be putting lightly. I had no idea what it was, and for hours after my appointment, I was researching like a demon-possessed. Looking up every website, article, leaflet, or Facebook post I could find. I would then go on to add postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTs), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), hemiplegic migraines, and non-epileptic dissociative seizures (NEDS) to my ever-growing list of comorbidities.
It took ages before my head would stop spinning, but then again it wasn’t long before I fainted at home alone and ended up in the hospital, again. We came to the conclusion that I couldn’t be left alone anymore. The conversations we had me feel about two inches tall. We talked about help buttons, mobility aids, carers, and moving back to my mums which obviously at 27 years old wasn’t a good sign for my independence.
I always knew I wanted to have lots of animals on my acreage property in the hills of Australia in my pre-diagnosis dreams. I knew about assistance dogs, but it never occurred to me that one day I may actually need to know about them or even qualify for one. After yet another research session, I came to the conclusion that this would be the perfect management tool and a cute one at that.
Six months later, I put into my assistance dog plans into action. After talking to organizations, Facebook groups, landlords and body corporates, puppy schools, and of course, watching more YouTube videos than my internet plan would allow. I checked some rescue groups which is not good when all you want is to adopt every puppy on the site, but I saw Bailey, and for some reason, he just stuck and I knew I had to meet that puppy. I had to go to the foster home of a canine rescue group. I was met by a very energetic Kayla and Bailey, who just plodded behind, waiting for his sister to move so he could have a cuddle.
I did a temperament test called the Volhard Test and Bailey passed with flying colors. I stood and talked to his foster mum, and as we got into a flow of conversation, Bailey came over and flopped right across my feet. We giggled and awed when his foster mum told me he had never done that to anyone before. Evidently, it seemed that Bailey had chosen me. They had 60 applicants for the litter but the only person who applied for Bailey… was me. Finally, on January 5, 2018, I brought home my 12-week old, Great Dane cross Bull Arab bundle of paws and ears.
What a journey we have been on! Once we got through the puppy tears and tantrums, him having the tantrums and me having tears and tantrums, he learned the most critical skill that has saved my life on more than one occasion. One day Bailey was asleep in the bedroom, and I was in the kitchen making us both dinner. Bailey suddenly came screaming into the kitchen. Pawing at my legs, crying, and scratching at the floor. So I put down the enormous bread knife I was using and said, “What is wrong with….”
Next thing I knew I woke up on the floor, face down with Bailey sat on my back looking at me as if to say, ‘I tried to tell you!’ Once I got his tongue out of my ear, pulled myself to my feet and looked for an ice pack for my now thumping head, I finished making dinner and thought it must have been a fluke.
I was in a nice hot shower, which was not the smartest idea when you have a fainting condition, and it happened again. Bailey came screaming into the bathroom, pawing at the shower door, crying, scratching up the bath mat, and this time I listened. I got out and tested my heart rate, and it registered at 160 bpm; then here came the colors. I woke up on my bed with Bailey on my chest chewing at my towel, looking very proud of himself. I couldn’t believe it. I knew I could teach faint and fall response, I never thought we would have made such a connection that he could actually alert to my heart rate elevating.
He is 2 years old now. To this day, Bailey has stopped me falling down concrete stairs, fainting in shopping centers, and has even protected my head from hitting the floor with his paws. He has stopped more hospital visits than I can count and helps me lead an independent hope-filled life, which I thought had gone up in that diagnosis puff of smoke. Bailey comes to university with me, (which I’m pretty sure he will qualify before I do!) and we have plans to go to the UK, USA, and New Zealand.
Bailey really is the ever so goofy, wonder dog, and the best decision I have ever made.Tags: assistance dog, comorbidities, Coping, Diagnosis Journey, POTS, research
Categorized in: Stories