After trying several drug regimines and enduring their corresponding side effects, deep brain surgery (DBS) was suggested but unfortunately was not completed due to his uncontrolled problem with syncope (passing out). The neurosurgeon continued to be perplexed with the ongoing symptoms that now included changes in his personality and behavior.
A DATscan and MRI showed the signs of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a disease considered to be a type of parkinsonism but with more widespread effects on the brain and body. A rare, degenerative neurologic condition, there is no specific treatment or cure and the average lifespan of such a diagnosis is estimated to be only a few years.
It was also during this time that the family dog, and Marty's constant companion, Smuckers, was also in failing health. Smuckers sat by Marty's side every time he fell, encouraged him to go for walks and remain mobile, and also to just be by his side watching sports. Laying by Smuckers' side as he passed away, Marty was consumed by a deep depression. Partnered with depression from the news of a disease that would shorten his life, Marty's desire to interact with family and friends changed.
With some therapy, and love and support from family and friends, Marty is looking to tackle MSA head on. Unfortunately, his mobility is sometimes challenged and the idea of a service animal was discussed. After researching and applying for several programs, Marty was faced with two significant heartbreaking challenges; 1) unable to qualify for a service/mobility animal due to the fact that he is both visually impaired and requires mobility assistance, and 2) the cost of the dog and specific training averages $25-30k.
So what do you do? You obtain a dog, and train and certify it to be a mobility service dog. While the cost is significant, the financial burdeon of training a mobility/service dog is daunting. With financial support for a mobility/service dog, Marty will have the opportunity to carry on with the bucket list of items while he's physically able.
As a father, husband, and grandfather, Marty wants to create as many great memories as he can for his family. A mobility dog will be able to assist him with day to day activities including dressing, open and close doors, picking up items and operate light switches, provide "alerting" to environmental sounds like alarms, doorbells, and other safety-related situations, assist him with gait and balance while walking, and helping Marty to remain as independent as possible.
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