In a few months, Isaac will have been with me for three years. I was thinking today about the difference he's made in my life.
I was hospitalized for five days about a week after Isaac came to live with me. I haven't been hospitalized since, despite some pretty stressful stuff that's happened over the past three years. The last few weeks, I've been feeling more anxious than I had been for several months, but I'm still handling the anxiety better than I used to. It's been quite a while since I've had a full blown anxiety attack.
Recently I've also been having a bit more pain from the fibro, but that is also much better managed than it was 18 months ago. Eighteen months ago I could not lift a gallon jug of milk. Eighteen months ago I could not sleep through the night because pain woke me up every time I turned over or changed my position. Oh, I still have trouble sleeping, but at least it's usually not due to pain.
I'm more active now than I've ever been in my life, I think. Isaac and I hike an average of three miles a day, almost every day. Some days more. And I'm sure that has been good for my health.
I realized today that, while I certainly do still have some anxiety and PTSD stuff going on, some of it has greatly improved. For instance, I used to be afraid to take a shower at night, especially if I was home alone. And of course, I live alone, unless you count Whiskers and Isaac. That meant I had to plan my schedule carefully to make sure I could get a shower while it was still daylight out.
One of the things I wanted a service dog to do was to sit in the bathroom with me while I showered so I would feel safer. Well, that's not exactly a task, so I guess I wouldn't have to have a service dog for that. A pet dog could do the same thing. But that's one of the things I was hoping would help me when I got Isaac.
And it has helped. He rarely sits in the bathroom with me while I bathe these days, but he often sits in the doorway or just outside the door (which I leave open since I live alone and cats and dogs do not like the bathroom door to be closed). But anyway, the fear of showering when it was dark outside just kind of went away without me even noticing it leaving. I just realized today that I can't remember the last time I wasn't able to shower because it was dark out and I was too scared.
That might seem like a little thing. But it's a big thing when you can't shower.
Geez, I remember shortly before I got Isaac, when I was still living in my old house, one night when I really really needed to pee but was afraid to walk down the dark hallway into the dark bathroom to do it. I remember at the time, I was thinking how great it would be when I had my service dog and he could go ahead of me and turn on the bathroom light.
And that might seem like a silly little thing, being afraid to go into the dark bathroom, but I was really terrified and I really had to pee. I mean, I was thinking of what alternatives might be available to me, like could I find a bucket under the kitchen sink and pee in that and then empty it in the morning? Or could I pee in the kitchen sink? I mean, it's a drain, right? I know, that's gross, but that's how bad the PTSD-related fear of walking into a dark room was.
In case you're wondering, I did finally make it into the bathroom. I did not pee in my sink.
Anyway. It's been a very long time since I had trouble getting to the bathroom to pee. And that is a huge difference.