In October of 2014 I also suffered a concussion from a cheerleading stunt fall that left me a different person than I was before, including causing severe depression and anxiety. I still have concussion symptoms on a day to day basis after 4 years. My doctor at the Mayo Clinic believes the severity of my POTS is due to both the genetic condition and the concussion. The neuropathic POTS triggered by my concussion caused the onset to be rapid and more volatile than the genetic condition alone. The effects of the concussion and POTS together have taken away my independence. I am an 18 year old who still lives at home, I am not in school, I don't have a job, and I can't drive. I lost the ability to participate in the activities most dear to me, such as cheerleading, which is the only thing I really remembered how to do after my cuncussion. I also was a contemporary lyrical dancer, but lost some of my coordination and endurance, and have trouble with cognitive function needed to quickly memorize choreography. I was always athletic, but now just walking up a flight of stairs leaves me dizzy and faint. I spend most of my days going to physical therapy, pulmonary therapy, or getting IV saline therapy to increase my blood volume and blood presssure to control episodes of syncope.
Many individuals with POTS utilize a service dog to enable them to gain independence in their daily life. I would benefit greatly from the assistance of a service dog. The dog will be trained to fetch water or snacks when I am unable to to get out of bed and am in and out of consciousness. This is a tremendous help as the pre-syncope and losing consciousness causes my digestive system to shut down which makes me feel extremely sick until I eat something, and my blood sugar crashes when I am not able to get up and eat regularly. The dog will also assist me when I fall unconscious or if I hurt myself due to EDS. Other tasks the dog will perform are tunneling underneath my legs to elevate them and increase blood flow to my brain, and apply Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) by laying across my abdomen and licking my face and hands to anchor me to coniousness. Overall, a service dog will comfort me and create a safety net, as passing out or coming near to it in public is terrifying and is not something you get used to.
A service dog is overall something I need, not want, to become part of society again. Unfortunetly they are expensive due to the extensive training required starting at 8 weeks of age, and extensive testing for health and the proper temperament. While a tool for independence, the dog is also a living being and will require a crate, vaccinations, a service dog vest, routine grooming to ADA standards, food, leash, and so on. This proves hard for me since I am not able to work outside of volunteering a few hours a week with a local cheer team. However, the dog will aid me in gaining control and independence so I may finish my education and be able to work. Any contribution is greatly appreciated and will help me towards rejoining society and getting my life on track and out of this medical limbo.
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