It’s been a little while since I posted. There was being sick and a spring break that was mostly snow and student shenanigans and scattered sundries — and finally now, the end of term is in sight and it seems like I might survive. Never fear, there are some very cool pictures of butterflies and other newsy notes about life as a chronically-ill graduate student coming soon!
In the meantime, I want to share a new site and plan with you. I’ve decided to pursue getting a service dog. It wasn’t a decision made lightly. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it for over a year. By now, I and my medical teams have run through a lot of different treatment options for my alphabet soup of conditions. I’m doing really well in many ways. But it’s not always good enough to function safely. Of particular concern has been my increasing allergic reactions and problems keeping my balance when walking (from POTS and EDS combined). Even when I’m down on the floor, I’ve been ignored by people walking by. In fact, I’m probably lucky that I don’t get stepped on. I’m a small human, what can I say. The fact that most of my wardrobe is a professional musician’s basic black tends to make me invisible, too.
After a great deal of research, I decided to work with a group called Buckeye Service dogs in Central Ohio, which has had experience working with people with MCAS, POTS, and EDS. It will cross-train dogs and use less allergenic breeds. There are so many options out there, but for my particular combination of needs, Buckeye makes sense.
When I first started graduate school, I of course wasn’t planning on getting sick. Nowhere in my budget did I put in a header and thought “okay, year 3, going to get seriously ill here, so I’ll throw in a few extra thousand!” Even at the beginning of my budget planning for this school year, I didn’t put any money in for a dog. I know, that might seem silly … but frankly, even at the lowest cost I could find, it was the equivalent of my whole years’ salary. I couldn’t plan for a service dog because there was nothing to budget with: it is as unreachable as Pluto. I can’t afford a service dog on my own. However, I do know that if this dog keeps me from landing in the ER just once, whether that’s because it saves me from a fall, being kicked in the head, going into anaphylaxis, or alerts to a POTS episode (not to mention any of the other neat stuff we can learn to do together), that dog will have paid for itself for the year. And for good food and treats for that year, too. As I’ve already been in the ER far more than once in the last school year, I’m confident this will eventually be a good fiscal decision in addition to a good decision for my continued health and safety.
It’s just going to be a bit more of a journey to get there, and one that has me humbly asking for the help of strangers as I travel down this new path.
I’d like to invite you to help me on this journey. Actually, I’m requesting permission to humbly plead. And what I’m pleading for is any one of a few quick, simple actions on your part:
- If you’re able, consider donating at my GoFundMe page. https://www.gofundme.com/a-mutt-for-mel
- Consider sharing this post by reblogging!
- Or, if reblogging is not to your fancy, please consider just sharing this post individually with any of your contacts who might be interested in following this adventure.
- Leave an encouraging message, picture, or tip!
- Check out my new blog, A Mutt for Mel! https://amuttformel.wordpress.com/
- Don’t like inflicting friends and family with this sort of a plea? Consider spreading the word anonymously to strangers instead! Simply print one of the flyers below and ask permission to post on a community bulletin board near you — they’re lovely decorations for campus rec centers, libraries, pet stores, beach showers, steak restaurants, and flower stalls. 🙂