August 1, 2016~
Hello! If you loved our posts on Wix, I know that you will enjoy them here on WordPress. A little back-round to our story sure won’t hurt! In September of 2000, I learned after a five-year search that I did indeed have Multiple Sclerosis, MS as it is commonly called.
I didn’t think very much more about it, till in 2004, while working as a nurse at a local hospital, I had a Gran-mal (the big kind) seizure. After numerous CT’s and MRI’s my doctors decided to put me on anti-epileptic drugs. Great idea….but I’m not epileptic, so they didn’t work. All they did was sedate me like a zombie. I didn’t feel like “Lisa” anymore. I was just existing.
At that point my epileptologist put me in a hospital hooked up to all sorts of wires and cables, and slowly, very slowly over the course of seven days, he weaned me off of my anti-epileptics. And they did…it was like a re-birth. Even though I still had the seizures to contend with, it was wonderful being “me” again! For the second time, my husband wept…first when I was diagnosed, and secondly when I ‘came back to myself’ after so many months of being a ‘zombie’.
The plan was for me to ‘rehabilitate’ my brain, much like someone who has had a terrible insult to their brain, like a stroke patient or someone who has had a traumatic brain injury. We had discovered that I had ongoing brain damage from the MS to the optic nerve center of my brain. That is what was tripping off my seizures. Flashing lights, bright sunny days, flickering light through the trees, flashing light from the TV…these can and have all set me off! No anti-epileptic in the world would keep me from seizing. My doctor said to pick a brain exercise that fits me and do it every day.
So I did. I read, and read and read some more. All that reading morphed into my first, second, third and now fourth blog following! Little could I have imagined a bit over a year ago, that over a quarter million people would love and read my first blog. It’s very gratifying. All the reading and writing helped tremendously. I had less seizures, but I still had them. I finally made the painful decision not to work as a nurse out in the community anymore. I was working to pay my taxi-fare to the hospital, since now I couldn’t drive. I was offered a nurse consultant job working from home, and it was a perfect fit. I loved working at home as a nurse.
During this time, something magical occurred. I found the website for Canine Assistants. And my life was changed for the good…forever. My husband Bill and I discussed it and it seemed a great idea to have a service dog that might be able to assist with my mobility, and maybe even give me a ‘heads-up’ when I was about to seize, allowing me to get to a safe place, take my medication, and hopefully not seizure at all, or very little. I was accepted into the program. Now all I had to do was…wait.
During the scalding hot summer of 2006, I was working at home on the phone and computer as a telephone triage nurse. All of a sudden, I lost my core strength, my legs and arms turned to noodles. Luckily Bill was home and he carried me back to bed. It took a long time to recover from that relapse. I had home health coming out to give me steroids through my arm every day for a week. Finally, I turned the corner, and things started getting better. I could sit up better, but to be able to work, my employer offered the accommodation of being able to work off of a laptop at home from my very own bed! So that’s what I did. Bill and I also called Canine Assistants to let them know that I had a major change in my condition. They called a few days later to inform me that I would get my first dog~ Jet in the January class of 2007!
Down below is a picture of Jet and I when we were teamed up at the Canine Assistant’s farm in January 2007. You can see the Joy on both of our faces. It was a perfect match, perfect. I firmly believe that Jet was sent to me by a loving God who knows me more than I know myself. He knew that the best way to get me up and going, living life to the fullest, was to send me an angel in the form of a perfect little yellow dog. So that’s what he did.
Jet and I were teamed up January 2007. He died in my arms Good Friday, 2011. He wasn’t even six years old. We had been a team less than four years. He died of a rare form of oral cancer. The last year of his life we spent working as a team, because that’s what Jet wanted. I made him a promise. No hurt. When it got to that point, I was reassured that Jet would let me know. He did. He was on powerful pain medication ’round the clock the last year of his life, but he never hurt. I promised. And partners have one another’s backs, you know.
Jet did amazing things. The most amazing was being able to predict my seizures twenty minutes before they occurred. I was able to get to a safe place, take the medication from the doctor that he had prescribed, and many times I was able to thwart the seizure. I might feel ‘kinda gross the rest of the day~ but at least I wouldn’t seize! With that one thing, Jet opened back my world to me…in six months I could drive again. I was able to go swimming for therapy.
With Jet at my side, I never worried about tripping and falling, or not being able to get up again. He was able to keep me walking confidently. If I needed to get up, and couldn’t, Jet could get me up…He had over 100 commands. FREEDOM had four strong legs and a waggly tail!
The Canine Assistant’s folks were wonderful. They put me back on a waiting list for a dog that last year that Jet was alive. Eight months after Jet passed away, a goofy looking, gangly and BIG service dog named Frax, took the little bit remaining of my poor bruised and beaten heart, and loved me back into fighting some more. He’s not as quick about picking up on seizures. He’s very good at mobility however, and as I’ve gotten older and have some more health issues related to my broken immune system, he is the ‘right dog at the right time’ as CEO of Canine Assistant’s Jennifer Arnold always says. She also says that ‘there’s a little of your old dog in your new helper too.’ She’s right on that point as well.
And Here is Frax! All seventy-five pounds of him! He is a BIG boy! But a very good one. As we drove away, his trainer Karen yelled after us~ “Don’t forget, he’s all about the food!” Truer words have never been spoken. It’s a constant struggle for him to feel comfy, and not constantly be begging for food. One good whiff of food and whatever he thought he was going to do is lost…caught up in the delicious smells that waft through his senses like a siren’s call. It’s made life a bit…well, challenging. But we will talk about that. I know there are more out there with doggies that think they have holes in their bellies and as such have to keep feeding it! Poor things. We’ve come up with a few tricks to make him feel less hungry, but it’s still a challenge for him!
I know you will grow to love team Lisa and Frax just as team Jet and Lisa were loved. If ever this loss taught me something it’s these things: savor life when it’s good, it’s those memories that get us through the bad times that will ultimately show up. The other is that I had no idea the capacity of a heart to heal and mend after such devastation. I wasn’t sure at all if I could wind up being what Frax needed, as well as what I needed. All those worries are down the sink now.
I know you will love our day to day lives, as we work together a team to try to make one another’s lives easier. By reading my blog, I will give you an insight few can share, of what a truly bonded canine team is, how it acts, and how it’s more superior than so many of the folks turning out ‘service’ dogs as fast as they can.
Oh my, Frax has raised his ginormous head, he’s wanting breakfast. He’s thirty minutes early, since I’ve been typing away tonight. Maybe I can delay him just a bit, maybe till 845am….worth a try at least:)
You can find my four different blogs at these places: On LinkedIn just look up Lisa Vaught
and there’s over a hundred articles all dealing with service dogs and what affects them and their handlers.
On Face Book as well, just look for Lisa Vaught
and you will find many of the same articles from LinkedIn, and now articles coming from “My Helper Wears A Fur Suit” here on WordPress and on Wix. The address for the Wix account is :
As of tonight, there’s 368K following through Wix and Google, and 5.1K off of Facebook! My cup runneth over!
Then of course, you are here! Again at “My Helper Wears A Fur Suit” lisavaughtandfrax.wordpress.com
So, I’m off to do some more work on the various blogs. Frax and I are pleased as punch to invite you into our lives and our hearts to share the special magic that a service dog team can be, and the wonder of how they make our lives worth living again.