There is always a really odd push and pull tension in our household; it lays somewhere between autism’s need for constant routine and predictability and primary immune deficiency’s call for spur of the moment (or how everyone is feeling) decisions. One condition dictates that we plan as far in advance as possible so that we can “first,” “second,” and “third” the heck out of anything that is going to happen or just might possibly happen. The other condition strips any ability to plan out of our hands, as a well-child one moment doesn’t preclude a feverish, dangerously ill child the next.
The tension isn’t unbearable in our household, though. It is almost as though yin and yang exist, a balance between heat and cold, night and day, crawling and running. Somehow in this mix, Dan and I have evolved as a couple in a way that balances this tension. We’ve gotten to a point in our relationship that almost inevitably one of us feels comfortable taking the lead on a decision and the other feels comfortable with that lead being taken. Or more realistically, I jump into a decision and Dan uses his thinking time to figure out how to get us out of whatever mess that I’ve gotten us into. Sometimes my impulsivity works and other times, well let’s just say that I’m thankful that I have a very, very understanding and forgiving husband.
I knew a service dog made perfect sense for Caden the moment I first came across the idea. Dan wanted to do more research and think awhile. He wanted to sit with the information and really digest it all thoroughly. Of course I had the fundraising completed by then and thankfully he saw the wisdom of my decision by the time we headed to 4 Paws For Ability to meet and train with Elf. I honestly don’t think it is a decision that either of us has ever looked back upon, although I really doubt Dan could articulate when he ever said he was on board with the decision either. Then again he is still contending that I coerced him into marriage almost 8 years ago so maybe this memory loss is really just his mode-of-operation.
Last October, Ryley woke up with a migraine that to-date hasn’t gone away. The symptoms have instead transformed into short term memory loss, occasional disorientation/confusion, joint pain, fatigue, dizziness, and a whole host of other problems. We are working with a diagnosis of postural tachycardia and potential chronic fatigue and pain syndrome on top of the daily persistent headaches and primary immune deficiency and so on. We have more testing this week and even more coming up in the next few weeks. I learned a long time ago though that medical answers are never easy to come by when you have a zebra so I’m not expecting a simple answer nor a fast solution.
This latest round of symptoms has hit my beautiful 12-year- old hard. She is at the age where she is trying to find her own individual sense of self (which by the way seems to be grounded in the direct opposite of whatever I suggest….thank you mom for wishing a daughter just like your own on me) and establish independence. I think we’ve honestly been raising her for this moment, and none of us expected her to be hit so hard mentally by yet another wave of medical conditions.
I knew we needed to do something drastic and quickly. Dan agreed and moved into thought and research mode. By that time, of course, I had already decided on a service dog for Ryley. And not just any service dog mind you. Ry needs a distraction now--not after fundraising or training is complete in a few years. She needs something that needs her just as much and it helped that she’s been dreaming of being a dog trainer when she grows up. Honestly, I would eventually like to train my own search and rescue dog so it only made sense (at least in Jennifer world) that we would adopt a puppy and train it for Ryley ourselves. And so it was with much delight (or dismay depending on which one of us you talk to) that we adopted Sophie a few weeks ago.
And just like that, we have chaos amidst the calm again; a fully trained and operational service dog on one end of the spectrum and a wiggly undignified bundle of puppy love on the other end. A husband who has no idea how he went from enjoying his bachelor days with one dog to living in a furry zoo and a wife determined that she’s on the right course of action for her daughter. Add in a puppy who isn’t quite potty trained and a few ticked off cats and you’ve got the next installment of Caden’s tale.