Medical/assistance dog for Jonathan

My husband Jonathan is 39 and Daddy to our 2 beautiful young children. Jonathan suffers with a serious and complex combination of Addison's secondary disease and separately diagnosed M.E.

Jonathan's Addison's condition means the pituitary gland in his brain is damaged which means his body doesn't produce cortisol. Cortisol plays a complex role in regulating body functions and is essential for survival. This condition is unpleasant to live with but can quickly become life threatening in hours.

Theoretically his medication should have stabilised him by now and he "should" be leading a normal life. But this hasn't happened. To date the specialists he sees have been unable to explain his symptoms nor his lack of recovery, despite the years of testing and evaluation.

He battles daily with managing his pain and limited mobility, meaning for the most part he's bed bound, unable to manage even being downstairs with his family. He needs full time care and has a low immunity leading to regular battles with infections.

One of the reasons your body needs more cortisol is to cope with an infection. Trying to gage the right amount of cortisol for your body is not a straight forward calculation as it changes as your illness worsens and there is no home test for it. With each infection the risk increases of Jonathan going into a fatal Addison's coma or developing sepsis as his medication masks initial symptoms. It can become fatal within hours.

This risk became a reality last April 2016. Despite following the Addison's medical advice during an infection, Jonathan went to sleep and didn't wake up, instead he went into a coma as his body started to shut down. I found him unconscious, blue and breathing just 3 times a minute. It was the scariest moment of my life as I was unable to move him from the bed to start chest compressions and had to wait for the ambulance crew to arrive. I watched as they struggled to resuscitate him, an air ambulance arriving on a nearby field then in the final moments he regained consciousness and started breathing again. Unfortunately there have been multiple episodes like this as Jonathan is regarded as an "extreme case".

His ill health started in May 2013 when he contracted chicken pox. This initially triggered post viral fatigue leading to full blown M.E. After 18 months of being bed bound with M.E., sleeping 20-22 hours each day, Jonathan started to recover. He returned to work in November 2014 but it was short lived and began catching illness after illness, needing more and more antibiotics. By April 2015 he was collapsing daily, sweating excessively with extreme fatigue that left him feeling barely able to breathe.
Finally in October 2015 he was diagnosed with also having Addison's disease (secondary).

We were initially relieved. Finally we had an explanation for the black outs, the extreme fatigue, loss of limb control, nausea and extreme pain. What was important is that the majority of Addison's patients recover and go on to lead a "normal life".

Upsettingly, Jonathan is in the minority and this elusive recovery hasn't happened.

We are raising money to provide Jonathan with a medical assistance dog for 3 key functions; 1) to detect if his cortisol levels are low, prompting him to take life saving medication, 2) alert someone if he goes into a coma, as initial signs would appear he was simply asleep, and 3) to act as a disabled assistance dog, giving him support during collapses.

A dog suitable for being a medical detection and disability dog are expensive to source, and fully train, as they are not readily available. There are charities which could provide a suitable dog but their waiting lists run into years.

Jonathan needs this dog now.

He lives daily with the fear that he may sleep and not wake up, trying desperately to sleep only during the day when he can be monitored more closely. He's scared of moving about when unsupervised in case he collapses and seriously hurts himself. Simple trips to the toilet can be daunting for him.

Jonathan is my husband of 13 years and Daddy to our 2 children who are 5 & 3 years old.
He's the love of my life and it breaks my heart watching him struggle each day.
It's hard to watch such a strong man be reduced to an existence where he mostly watches or listens to life going on around him. A life where he can't be involved with our family as it's physically too much for him. This includes not being able to join us for dinner, or chase the kids in the garden, or read books at bedtime. We try to bring as many activities to Jonathan as possible, wherever he's resting but the reality is he's usually too exhausted and our animated chatting is overwhelming for him. At their age our kids quiet voices don't last for long!

Until the day he was struck down by this awful condition he hadn't been to the GP in over 20 years. He was a picture of health who laughed at "man flu". Nothing stopped him.
Prior to being ill, Jonathan was a healthy career man who worked tirelessly to be a provider for our family. He was a devoted father and would create the most original fun games for our son to play, spending hours with him, making sure he knew he was the centre of his universe. Involved at every point of family life we knew we were blessed. Jonathan and I were a regular couple, enjoying nights out together and with friends and family.

He was also very physically motivated. Everyone who knows Jonathan knows he has non-standard interests. Those interests were working dogs, climbing mountains and peaks, martial arts and outdoor survival skills. In everything he did he gave 100%. He thrived in being challenged and was like a kid again organising "expeditions" with his friends.
With his conditions, he still gives 100%. He's now an expert on himself. He's researched every aspect of his conditions, physical rehabilitation, medication, the correct diet, supplements, therapies for relaxation and emotional well being. He's tried lots of alternative therapies. And he will continue fighting.

He is a proud and motivated man and I am constantly in awe of his strength to fight and never give up. But he desperately needs a break from this fight.

We are asking for help to allow him to keep fighting...safely.
Despite him being there in body we desperately miss him being more involved in our lives. A medical assistance dog will allow Jonathan to have stop living in fear, have a higher quality of life and take steps towards being more mobile.

Any help you can give to help us reach our target will mean the world to us.
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Nicola Sheldon

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