Hi there! My name is Roe, I'm 25, and have recently had to abruptly return to my home country of Australia from NYC (where I'd been living and working the past 2.5ish years) with nothing but a suitcase of clothes due to the pandemic halting my industry - the beautiful and vital world that is Broadway, at this point, indefinitely.
If you know anything, as in *anything*, about me it is that Barnaby Aladdin Brooks (BB for short), my 2-year-old Labradoodle who moved to New York with me as a puppy, is my life and my saving grace. Being my trained service dog and best friend, our bond far exceeds that of any relationship I've had with an animal (or, let's be real, human) before. You’d also know that I’m not one to ask for help, and especially not one to ask for money when I know full and well that there are SO many more people who deserve it so much more than I do. I was encouraged by many friends and people involved in my recovery to ‘swallow my pride’ make this GoFundMe - so here we are.
I'd like to first recognize how lucky and how privileged I am to have, despite the heartbreaking circumstances, returned to a country with great health care and a decent grip of the pandemic. I know this isn't the case for everyone, nay - most people, and a lot of people are having a much more difficult time keeping their head above water in life, and even more so during this pandemic and this catastrophic year that has surrounded it.
While it was barely one I got to make, it was the hardest decision of my life to have to move back to Australia after exhausting every legal option to stay in New York; not knowing what the future held. I thought I would be back within the next six months or so, a year at tops. I knew he would so entirely loved on and cared for by my sweet friend Keri in the meantime, but it still hurt my heart knowing he wasn't with me. As much as I loved seeing each of the many update pictures and videos, I found myself crying as I looked at them - wondering if he remembered me or if he was resented me for leaving him or if he missed me or if he was sad. I missed him. I knew I was coming back and he was living a beautiful life, though my heart was with him but my body wasn't. I felt empty and broken.
As reality set in, it became more and more obvious that I wasn't going to be back in six months or a year, nor two years. And then my health started to further deteriorate.
I was already dealing with health issues that Barnaby would assist me with, in particular; agoraphobia, grounding me during dissociative episodes, C/PTSD, ASD, anxiety, and minimizing self-harming behaviours. Upon returning, I had no pupper support for this.
A few months after returning my arms seized up one night, followed by weakness, tingling, and loss of motor control for a week. I continued to work my usual 40 hours as a barista before going to the hospital one afternoon after a morning of multiple episodes in my arms again by the end of that week. The hospital said it was nothing and sent me home. I returned to work the next day and within 10 minutes, this rapidly progressed to my arms seizing every 10 minutes. I went to the ER where they did an MRI and told me it was nothing and wanted to send me home. I was starting to lose connection with my legs so pushed for hospital admission and had to fight with 3 doctors to be admitted. Once admitted, my legs began seizing, then my whole body. I was seizing for 5 - 45+ minutes. When not seizing, my whole body was filled with indescribable sensations. The doctors were still wanting to send me home, however I was pushing to stay. It wasn't until a neurospecialist saw me later that night that he admitted me straight away to the neuro ward (finally!). After two weeks in hospital and endless testing, I was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).
I had to, and am still doing so, re-teach myself to walk and do everything independently again. I am still, on a daily basis, dealing with the symptoms of this disorder and it is now more than ever that I need my best friend and service dog by my side to assist me keep my symptoms under control as best as I can. FND is incurable, lifelong, and essentially untreatable - just manageable. I may have days, weeks, perhaps even months where I feel okay - living with just minimal symptoms that may not greatly affect my day-to-day life... And then one day I could wake up to my right leg being in complete paralysis for 3 months. The beauty of a misfiring brain.
This is not only a strong desire of mine to bring him back home, but comes as a strong recommendation from multiple doctors, physios, psychiatrists, and neurospecialists who are involved in my care (if only they would foot the bill, right?!).
I have sought out quotes from multiple companies, and have chosen PetExpress. The quoted cost provided was an estimated AU$15,370 (US$10,850), which doesn't take into consideration pre-departure vet work, and any costs associated with having him certified as a service dog in Australia - which I will be covering independently. I have the goal set at AU$15,800 as GoFundMe takes 2.9% of all funds + 30c from each donation.
I am required to put down 20% of the quoted cost AU$3,074 (US$2,170) to confirm the booking within 30 days, and the complete amount will be due 21 days before his flight (in around 6 months time).
I had been putting money away into ‘Barnaby’s Return Fund’ since I returned to Australia and was (very lucky to be) working as a barista, however it has gotten difficult to continue contributing independently as I am currently unable to work.
While I have been encouraged to create this page, one of my greatest hesitations is due to my inability to repay those who may donate and/or not quite knowing how to pay it forward in my current situation and location. If that means handwriting a thank you card to each and every person, then I will. Any way I can show my appreciation for any and every cent that anyone puts towards me and my sweet boy being reunited is beyond a blessing, and I am truly, truly thankful for you and will ensure to make sure you know that.
DonationsSee top donations
- Welcome Home Barnaby!
- Fleur Spruyt
- KEVIN BUTLER
- Kevin Butler
- Elaine and Ayla Schwartz
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