Six years ago today, Trevor and I brought home the single most important agent of change we would ever meet. We had NO idea what adventure we were about to embark upon. That one decision, to adopt this deaf, blind puppy has altered our life in ways I never could have imagined.
I have written about it every year and it is still just as true, Asha is continually teaching me things. She holds up a mirror and often I don't like what I see, but as the years have passed, I have seen myself adapt and grow. I will always be grateful for that opportunity, regardless of the package that provided it!
Here are my previous posts:
One Year With Asha
Two Years With Asha
Three Years With Asha
Four Years With Asha
Five Years with Asha
The further we get into Asha's life, the fewer milestones we achieve. In those early years we were celebrating any increase in peace & quiet, any change in sleep patterns or behavior modifications that improved our quality of life. We marked the passing of time by the number of specialists and doctors we had added to our team. For two years, when she had been very sick, we were relieved that she had even survived. Then we counted the days from when some of her medications ended, wondering if this was the year she would go backwards.
In year Five, we finally began looking forward again to new adventures. In year Six, we continued that.
Asha has spent this year volunteering at Aultman Hospital in Canton as a Therapy Dog. We've had some special friends do stories about us. There was THIS on Channel 3 News & And this one in the local newspaper I LOVE any chance to tell our story.
This volunteer work has been incredibly rewarding. Asha LOVES it. We've been going there for about 18 months now, usually about every two weeks. Asha has the hospital mapped out. She knows where her favorite people are (Lee in the Volunteer office, Lexi in the cancer center and some special treats in the desk of the 2nd floor waiting room). We have been doing it long enough that people know who she is and look forward to seeing her. Every time we go there, I witness some miraculous connection between Asha and a patient, family member, staff or visitor. My very favorite thing is when people realize how special she is.
These days, life is pretty close to normal. It is normal to us, only when I tell someone about it does it seem NOT normal. Which is quite different from 5 years ago. Back in those days, I would not tell anyone how our life was. I felt like if I talked about it out loud to anyone, then I would have to admit that we were losing our minds. I'd have to admit that things were completely out of control and we didn't know what else to do.
We've built a great team for her here in Ohio. We have a behavioral vet who takes great care of her and a regular vet who loves her. They even hung the newspaper article about her in their lobby. Asha makes friends everywhere and finds what she needs.
Asha still wakes up in the middle of the night and calls for me. She stands up and make a soft little bark - which my friend Ashley recently equated to a human saying "ahem" when they are wanting your attention. Asha makes that noise, I get up and touch her face, she then jumps into bed and rests her head in my hand. Every. Single. Night. The truth is, I would miss it if she didn't.
Life was going along just fine until about a month ago. One night we woke up and Trevor said, "I think she's having a seizure". We got up and sure enough, there she was at the end of the bed, seizing. We moved her away from the bed, the wall and the door. We got the other animals out the room and we waited with her until it was over. It probably lasted about 3 minutes, but it felt like an hour.
Asha has epilepsy. We found that out pretty early on. She had her first seizure two weeks after coming to live with us. She has been on phenobarbital for 5 and a half years. There have only been three seizures since then. She had one when she was in the ICU three years ago. They had just done a CAT Scan and some of the medicine they use in that can cause seizures. Then she had one the day my Grammie died, about two and a half years ago. She had it within 15 minutes of my Grammie dying and I have always believed it was because she felt a disturbance in The Force. The third happened last month. There was no rhyme or reason for it.
It took a couple days, but Asha got back to normal. She has been fine since. She gets blood work every six months to check her phenobartial levels and liver function. We just had those tests done six weeks ago and everything looked great! We are hopeful that we go a long time, maybe forever, without seeing another seizure.
After she comes out of it, Asha is very confused and groggy. She spent about three hours mapping out the house again, panting, running into things. Not only is she dealing with the aftermath of a seizure, but it greatly raises her already high anxiety level. During that time, I couldn't help but wonder if this was the beginning. I know that Asha is different and her body doesn't work like a "regular" dog. I know that at any moment, the wires could cross and there wouldn't be anything we could do about it. I try not to think about this, but that night and the days after, I couldn't help myself.
You see, this dog....this is my soul dog. I think you get a couple animals in a lifetime like this. Anyone who's had animals in their life knows this...you love them all, but there is always one. Asha is my one. I have no doubt the Universe sent her to change me, teach me and show me a different way. I have no doubt I was sent to her to be responsible for her soul here on earth. She's taught me trust, love, loyalty, fearlessness and joy. She has shown me that we are all okay, no matter what obstacles we face, we can be happy. And as I said in our TV interview..."When you think you are at the end of the road, there's always another opportunity and you never know when it’s going to present itself.”
So another year has passed. We have met the most amazing people. We've had the chance to tell our story and hear the story of other's. I remember the days when life was so unmanageable and all I wanted was for time to move forward. Now, all I want is time to stand still. As each year passes, we all get older. I hope that Asha will grow into an old woman, that she'll get to be a senior dog. I hope that for all our animals, that they will live out a long, healthy life. We take one day at a time around here and make the most of what we have been given. I know the end of the road will actually come one day, there won't be another opportunity. When that days comes, I will have no regrets for how we have lived our lives with Asha. And until then, we'll keep telling our story. Thanks for following along!