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Fri, 06/12/2020 - 19:56

As soon as an intelligent lockdown was announced, I knew Don was going to have difficulties with the sudden change. I just didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be until I woke up on Saturday morning with a cough from another planet. ​​​​​​​

My caregiver and I had already discussed the possibility of her working from home instead of going to the office. I had also received an app from our walking buddies asking if it was possible for my caregiver to walk Don, as having them coming to help me walk him, would pose more health risks for me. That meant a big change for Don. He’s sensitive, and very attached to his daily routines. I knew it would take a while for him to not only get used to my caregiver being in the house while she worked, but also he would have to get used to her going with him for walks. However, I was planning to keep the rest of the daily routine as normal as possible and keep him busy with puzzles, training and work tasks. It would be a challenge, but Don and I can get through anything. I wasn’t aware that the cough would ruin my plans. 

I figured it was just a cold. I had been to a physical therapy appointment at the hospital two days before. I always get a cough or cold when I spend time at the hospital. Howerver, the cough was quickly joined by other symptoms. Sore throat, headache, sore eyes, breathing problems and I was immensely tired. I had no energy to go with Don for walks. My caregiver did that alone. No training and very few work tasks. Eat, cuddle with Don, watch TV sleep and repeat quickly became my new routine.

Although it takes Don time to adapt to changes in a normal routine, when I am sick he quickly adapts to my situation. He starts guarding me. He usually does this by laying in a place where he can see me and he doesn’t take his eyes off of me. Quickly coming to me when I call him and if I move, he follows. I’ve never really paid attention to this behaviour before and have never tried to understand why he behaves this way when I’m sick. I just let him do his thing. 

4 days after my symptoms started however, I became very aware of why he was guarding me when I suddenly had an asthma attack. I haven’t had a huge attack since I was a child. This attack soon took me right back to my childhood, as I wasn’t only struggling to breathe, I was also nauseous and moved as quickly as I could to the toilet. Don immediately began to bark and growl and didn’t stop until my caregiver came to help me. I have no idea if he was ever trained to signal asthma attacks by barking for help. but that day, I’m glad he did.

We spent many days after that together on the bed, or I would lay on the bed and he would lay on the couch watching me. When I had energy enough, I played in the yard with him and he enjoyed walks with my caregiver. He had figured out all by himself that he needed to be helping me in a different way. He made sure I was ok. Took the initiative to get help for me when I needed it and provided lots of hugs. I am thankful to have a service dog as intuitive and smart as Don.

So, what was I sick with? a couple of days later, after my third asthma attack, we called the doctor. A phone consult with many questions and a long discussion lead the doctor to believe I had a viral infection. All the symptoms I was experiencing have been in the news quite a lot lately. All except one important one. I did not have a fever. I never get fevers. Even as a young child laying in the hospital with sever lung infections when I should have had a fever, I never did. At a guess, that would probably be due to me having Congenital Rubella Syndrome. This often confuses doctors as I rarely present with classic symptoms when sick. This time it meant my doctor couldn’t tell me what kind of viral infection I had and with no fever present, there was no reason for me to be tested. I was advised to use some medications I already have at home and call immediately if my situation got worse.

Currently, I’m doing much better. Almost all of the symptoms are gone. I still need to cough occasionally and have to work harder to breathe if I’m doing chores. I’m also still very tired. I guess it will take a while before that gets better. So I’m staying safe at home with Don keeping a watchful eye over me. 

Was it a flu, or was it that thing which is currently talked about so much in the media? We may never know. Well… Don might know… but he doesn’t have the ability to tell me. All I know is that he is my guardian angel and has helped me a lot the last few weeks. I wasn’t scared and I haven’t gone crazy, simply because I have Don by my side.