The things I fear

There are many things I fear in this life.  Spiders, failure, drowning in the ocean after a plane I’m on crashes….but the thing I have discovered that feels the most daunting to me, is the potential loss of my disability, and by extension, my ability to use a service dog.

Sounds strange, right?  A disabled person not wanting to lose their disability?

I will tell you upfront that I do not feel this way because I want to avoid work, or “leech off of society”, or avoid responsibility for my actions.  It is extremely hard and emotionally exhausting to teeter on the edge of  being disabled and not, and I do it everyday.  Some days I am 99% functional, and other times, I have stretches that last weeks where I wonder myself how I am surviving without help all the time.

When you have a service dog, that dog becomes an extension of you.  You share a bond with that one dog that no other dog will ever be able to touch, and that nobody else but a fellow service dog user will understand.  You will look at your retired dog, and feel sorrow, and even a little regret.  You will look at your new dog, and feel guilt, and pride.  You will look at the people you have met, and think about the people you WILL meet, because of the dog you have at your side.

When you share your life with another entity the way I share my life with my service dog, everything changes.  And the thought of losing that piece of yourself (myself), losing part of who you are (who I am), chunks of who you have become (who I have become and will become) because of that dog, that bond….it eats at you.

I am a shy person, much as some would like to tell you otherwise.  I struggle with making friends.  Very much so.  And when you are a military wife, being able to make friends is crucial to your emotional survival.

I am too afraid to approach people on my own.

You know how I meet people?  Through my service dog.  They see the dog, and they are fascinated.  I really would not meet people if it were not for him, and all the ones that will come after him.

In order for a dog to qualify as a service dog, the dog must be trained to do certain tasks, and those tasks must be directly related to my disability.  What Strauss does for me to allow me to socialize comfortably for others is not trained, nor is it directly related to my disability.  But all of you out there reading…you must know, must try and understand, how absolutely, heart stoppingly terrifying it is to realize that perhaps one day my tics may be so subdued, and/or so infrequent, that I will no longer be able to use my dog.

In an instant, I can lose something that has become a lifeline of sorts, and I could be out in the ocean, all on my own, with nothing there to help me.

The point of this post is not to garner pity, or generate fear, but to try…TRY to get people to understand that these service dogs we share our lives with as disabled people are more than dogs.  They are more than partners or friends.  They are so much more than anything I ever thought I could even fathom with my little brain, that there are no words.

They have earned a love, respect, and trust from their handlers that is unshakeable, unmovable, and undeniably indestructible.

And I don’t ever want to lose that.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

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~ by ClassicalSpazz on December 14, 2011.

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