Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Service Dog

Since the bleeds, in some ways, reality is confined to the here and now. If all is well now, I’m fine, I’ll always been fine.
When Cindy first suggested that I get a service dog, I wasn’t sure what one could really do for me. I had no idea that a service dog could help prevent my descent into the maw that is sensory overload.
Since the surgeries, I’ve had trouble processing high volumes of sensory input. When too much is happening around me, I feel assaulted from all directions, unable to sort out all the data, unable to discern the sources. In the worst case scenarios, I panic, my brain seizes up, and I stand frozen, incapable of communicating and moving, which keeps me from extricating myself from the overwhelming situations.
My friend, Tonya, suggested that an appropriately trained dog could provide the much needed needed focus, an anchor, that would prevent the sense of complete disorientation and confusion that leads into overload. Cindy added that a dog could guide me away from the source of my difficulties and help me when my balance became precarious. Some dogs are trained to warn of incipient seizures.
On bad brain days, when the bloody brain torments me with excruciating headaches and pushing my various deficits to the forefront, I am usually not even capable of thinking of anything constructive to do, let alone taking action. In particular, on those days when I should realize that I need help, any thoughts related to acquiring a service dog don’t even enter my mind.

On good brain days, I know that getting a service dog is ridiculous. Theoretically, I am realistic about my limitations to a large degree. But since the brain surgeries, in many ways, I live very much in the moment, I often fool myself into believing that the bad days are rare. My reality is that I’m fine now, therefore I am fine, always, past, present and future. When all is well, I forget the rough patches—of course I don’t need a service dog—the bad brain days are rare and really, my issues aren’t a big deal.
Yes, I’m aware that on bad days, my balance is affected, but it always passes quickly. And the seizures, though there have been some hints that maybe they are not completely a thing of the past, they probably are. I’m fine, I don’t need help, I’m perfectly able to manage independently.

Independently. More than anything, I want to be independent. I don’t like feeling needy, and I can’t stand the thought of being a burden on others. And instead of viewing a service dog as a way to allow me to be more independent, I see it as an admission that I am disabled. I see it as an expensive, time and energy consuming, inconvenient, yet lovable, symbol of my lack of independence.

But really, ultimately, today is a good day—of course I don’t need one.

Also, my ideas for the type of service dog I would want aren’t exactly practical.