My name is Emily, and I am a Central Florida resident. I’m a 29-year-old single mom and have two beautiful toddler daughters that are my whole world. I am recovering from heart surgery after I almost lost my life to Sick Sinus Syndrome. I now have a permanent Biotronik pacemaker to control the bradycardia associated with Sick Sinus Syndrome, but my journey is not over. It is just the beginning. This year I was diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome as well as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I have also been diagnosed with Dysautonomia, Lupus SLE, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (my father was killed due to a traumatizing carjacking), Fibromyalgia, Narcolepsy Type 2, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and Uncontrollable Hypothyroidism.
I have spent the past year commuting to Mayo Clinic Jacksonville to seek treatment for my complex conditions. I am on Short Term Disability unable to work as my full-time job is now staying alive, going to my appointments, and taking care of myself so I can be there for my kids. After almost losing my life and realizing my daughters would have been left without a mother, I am more focused than I have ever been on stabilizing these conditions.
These conditions cause a range of complications from syncope and collapse to constant pain, fatigue, allergic reactions, hypotension, hypertension, bradycardia or tachycardia. I never know how I am going to feel on any given day. My biggest fear is having a syncopal episode and passing away alone without anyone knowing.
Before these diagnoses I was an active mother who frequented the gym, salsa danced, enjoyed running, social gatherings and spontaneity. My quality of life has diminished. But I refuse to give up. I grew up with a mother with chronic illness who could not do much. I want my kids to have a normal life full of laughter and love. I want them to stop asking me at such a young age how my doctor appointment was and if my “boo-boos” are better, and if “Mama’s heart hurts?”. I want to be strong and healthy for them.
The first step I need to take is to restore independence. Topaz Assistance Dogs can offer that for me. Their skilled canines are capable of:
- Calling 911 on a canine rescue phone when I fall unconscious
- Retrieve a phone during emergencies
- Provide Tactile Deep Pressure Therapy after a fall to get the blood back up to my brain.
- Provide Balance and Stability Support
- Help with household tasks like opening doors for first responders when they arrive, carrying groceries, helping retrieve dropped items, bringing water, assist with laundry and so much more.
It is hard to manage so many complex diagnoses. All the doctor appointments are overwhelming. I have had panic attacks at Mayo Clinic and in public after a syncopal episode. I have felt alone and misunderstood for so long because I feel like a burden on my family and loved ones. I have always had a connection with animals and having a skilled service dog would put me at ease when I awaken from a syncopal episode, lift my spirits during back-to-back 10-hour appointment days and make me feel safer with my children at home. I’m an animal lover, always have been. Having a service dog join my family would be life-changing for me.
It takes a lot of resources, sacrifice and dedication from the Topaz Team to breed, raise, train, assess, and place these wonderful canines with their human partners and forever homes. Topaz does not just drop off a dog at your doorstep, they continue to offer guidance, training and resources throughout the life of the Service Dog. I am blessed to be part of the Topaz community and am looking forward to the day I am matched with my canine who will change my family’s life.
If you are able, please share this story. Every share and every dollar will help me reach my goal. Thank you for reading and God Bless all of You.