10 years ago today I was at the grand opening of our first local dog park. I had been having some weird medical issues but thought it was just how everyone felt as they were into their mid 20s. My general practice physician told me I was just getting older and stressed by building a career. He ignored my multiple joint dislocations as normal for an equestrian and avid hiker. He ignored my uncontrollable “migraines” 6-7 days a week. He said it was just stress, take the benzo he prescribed as needed.
At the park 10 years ago today, two medium sized labradors bumped into me while playing. My knee dislocated and shattered. It was the beginning of the journey I’ve been traveling for the last decade. That one incident angered what we later learned was already a very compromised immune system. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what life was like before that day. I loved to hike, ride horses, muck stalls all day, walk all day long at the zoo, and work 12-14hr days 6-7 days a week.
My days are now filled with very different activity. I still love my career, but can only work 2-3 days a week for 5-7 hours and sometimes even that is too much. I still love horses but came to the realization that owning a horse and actively riding is no longer able to be a part of my life (I am very grateful for horsey friends who let me come smell their horses and sit on them quietly). Hiking is no longer possible at all. I still love the zoo but often utilize a mobility aid like a scooter.
My weeks are filled with multiple appointments with specialists and bloodwork, tests, and procedures.
While thinking about my life before that day, I am often filled with sadness and regret. It doesn’t help anyone to pretend I don’t long for those things. I certainly do. However, these changes have brought me friends, colleagues, and relationships I don’t think I would have ever had without it. I have an amazing support system. My career took a focus I don’t know it would have if all had remained the same. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has fulfilled me professionally as much as my service dog program. I have friends who I absolutely know love me for me, and not what I can do for them. Because many times I can do nothing. I have a partner who is with me because of who I am, not how I look or what I do. Those are gifts of certainty I never had before.
So while I think it’s ok to look back on the time before with longing and maybe some frustration, anger, and regret, there are also pieces of certainty, focus, and peace that came with all the changes.
I’m having trouble ending this post. Maybe there isn’t an end. Maybe that’s the point. I guess all I really want to say is while I’m sad, I’m also grateful. I’m especially grateful to my support system. You are the driving force behind any good I see in this.