In May 2017, Cindy's story with her seizures took an unexpected and drastic turn. Within 48 hours, she went from walking with occasional assistance to needing a walker to not being able to walk at all. A few days in the hospital and some physical therapy later, Cindy was heading home, strong enough to use the walker again, but not allowed to be alone for fear that she could fall and seriously hurt herself and/or not be strong enough to get up again.
Three months of 3-days-a-week physical therapy put Cindy close to gaining some of her independence back. She was almost strong enough to start using a cane and had regained much of her coordination. Then, the battery in her vagal nerve stimulator (VNS- an implant just under the clavicle that provides a regular electrical pulse to the vagus nerve and assists with seizure abatement) died. The onslaught of seizures once again left Cindy dependent on her walker and unable to be alone.
After much research and discussions with doctors, Cindy started to pursue getting a service/mobility dog. This dog would be able to help Cindy get up if she fell, use a "panic" button to call for help, and provide other general assistance. Dogs with this extensive training, though, are not cheap. Between the cost of the dog itself, the training courses, and vet bills, and basic needs, the price tag easily skyrockets.
On November 23, 2017, Cindy went out to meet a breeder with a litter of Labrador puppies. As she sat in the living room watching the 2 little girls still available, one would not leave her side. The other had more exciting things to get into, but a little black puppy with deep brown eyes (Cindy's weakness!) refused to go. A week later, Cindy brought Fiona Noir home.
Fiona is now 1 year old and a wonderful companion for Cindy. Her training is going well, and she is on track for taking her service animal certification exam this summer. Until then, she continues taking weekly classes and working on her service skills.