Cassidy

@cassidyandsonoma | contributor
I am from Connecticut. My life changed from being an avid pre-professional ballet dancer to being struck by chronic illness, especially chronic Lyme disease. Today, as a result of my many experiences I have been inspired to raise awareness for tick-borne diseases and eventually go to college to become a physician’s assistant. 

10 Cures for Chronic Illness You'll Find on the Internet

You might think chronic illness has no easy fix, that it’s a complex problem that often has no cure because it’s widely misunderstood and medically complex. You might think people who are chronically ill deserve nothing but love and understanding on their journey. Well, you’d be wrong. They just need to Google a couple of things on the internet and then they’ll be all fixed! In my afternoons of mining the internet, and my personal experience, for the right advice and treatments, I discovered there are tons of ways to just easily fix everything. So, to help out, I’ve compiled an easy list of instant cures for you or a loved one today! 1. Drink more water. The life giving source is all you need. Add some cucumber and bam, you’re all better! Mmmmm. So easy, and so refreshing! Tired? In pain? Rushing to the bathroom? Get some nice fresh spring water in you and your problems will be cured. 2. Go to my Aunt Eliza’s husband’s cousin’s naturopath, because he was absolutely brilliant and he cured the cousin of some ailment that I can’t quite remember but that was probably worse than yours. He has some great herbs and stuff. Honestly, if you don’t go you’re just asking to stay sick. He was cured in under a week so you’re probably just wrong about your “illness.” 3. Think positive. Like, just think really positive, and it will completely cure you. Completely. This is revolutionary. Wake yourself up in the morning and think, “I am positive I do not have a chronic illness. Everything is wonderful!” If this backfires and you end up in hospital, make sure you tell all the doctors and nurses that you don’t need any medicine, you have positivity! Ask them for a nice smile and maybe even a motivational photo or two. You’ll be fixed in under a day, guaranteed. 4. Put some makeup on. Wear some nice clothes and do your hair — wow, you won’t look sick anymore! And we all know, if you don’t look sick, then you can’t be sick! #lifehack 5. Just straight up get over it. Stop ever mentioning it, being limited by it, struggling with it, just shut up and move on. This definitely won’t lead you to be miserable and alone or to have a hard time managing your illness. It will completely fix you. Just toughen up! We all know that’s how you fix other things. If you have a brain tumor? Just get over it. Ignore it and go about your life instead of being a little wuss. That way if you did die from it you could do it triumphantly, saying “I was over that brain tumor years ago!” Clearly the same treatment plan applies for chronic illness. Don’t think or talk about it, and it won’t be there! If you ask a doctor the most common cause of illness, you might expect a big medical word. But nope, it’s “Not getting over it!” Woah, what a relief! All anyone had to do all these years is get over it. 6. Just try a different doctor. Obviously if the first doctor you’ve been to hasn’t cured you (and most of us have only tried one doctor or specialist of course!) then you need to stop being silly and just find another one. She’ll have a different office, you’ll get to redo all your paperwork, and she’ll quickly fix you, because she also helped my ex boyfriend’s sister’s dad. 7. Oh boy, this is a big one. Right up there with “not getting over it,” the second highest cause of illness is (you could probably guess this one) laziness! Just stop being lazy. Pain, gut issues, sleep issues, hormonal imbalances, impaired immune systems, depression, broken nervous systems, they’re all just symptoms of laziness! Who knew it had so many side effects? Clearly if you just stop being lazy and lounging around in that bed all day doing nothing, all the laziness symptoms will disappear as if by magic. “That’s not scientifically possible!” I hear you crying. Well, you’re wrong. I Googled it once and a man on a forum said he stopped being lazy and started going to the gym and it cured him. It’s incontrovertible proof. Even some doctors endorse this one. Just do some exercise. It’ll fix everything. In your home, at the park, in the gym, in the ambulance, this cure works anywhere! Heart problems? You should definitely exercise. It’ll fix it. Exercise is quite literally magical . You won’t feel terrible at all. It will 100 percent fix it all but you’re too lazy to try it of course. So get out there, stop being lazy, and there’s your cure in one easy step! 8. Just eat healthy. Have you eaten anything in the last three months that actually tasted like food? Then you’re doing it wrong. You have to eat the “kale and broth only” 56 and a half day ketogenic paleo FODMAP fructose-friendly vegan diet. Or, actually, if that sounds tricky, just cut food out altogether and drink more water. Bam, double cure! 9. Watch an online seminar for $79.99 on how a random dude filming in his basement somewhere in Europe fixed his entire illness. He probably has a book you can buy too, and some extra program advice for only $60, and a diet map and supplements for only a couple of hundred more. You are guaranteed before you pay the money that it will also cure you for sure. 10. Quickly fix your mental health. If your illness is depression or anxiety, just fix it. Make it disappear right now. OK, try this — think happy thoughts about a puppy in a nice sunny field any time you get sad. Wow! Solved. If you’re depressed and anxious because you have a debilitating, life altering chronic illness that’s affecting your quality of life, economic situation, ability to fulfill your dreams, and to have a social life or job, then just stop being so sad about all that, and it will cure your illness. Even if the illness came first, if you get depressed later the depression is automatically the cause of the illness. We all know that most illness is psychological, and can’t be treated in any way with modern medicine. Cancer, scoliosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s, all mental. They’d all be cured if people just cheered up. Chronic illness is no different! So listen to those jaded old people on the internet, fix the depression and you won’t simply be in a slightly better place to cope with a difficult situation, no, you’ll be completely cured! Share this list with anyone in your life who might not have realized that you know about all these fantastic cures already. It’ll save you both some time! Now what are you doing? Go drink water, you lazy thing, and get cured so you can start your life right today!

Cassidy

What Parents Should Know About Child With Lyme Disease

Everyone with a chronic illness knows that the only people who really understand are those who have an illness, too. Whether you have made friends with people who share the same disease you do or not, people with chronic illnesses make up an amazing community that support each other and understand each other, because we’ve gone through a lot of the same things. For all the healthy people out there, living their lives completely carefree, it’s hard to think that someone could be struggling so much, an invisible struggle. Some people try to understand and support us, and some don’t, leave us hanging, and drift apart from our lives. Even the closest people to you cannot fully understand your illness unless they could spend a month in your body. My parents, who are huge supporters of me, are a great example of this. They know the realities of my life, but there are still things they don’t know or understand. Simply, because they will never be me. 1. I hide a lot of my pain, problems and symptoms… because there are just too many. Since dealing with chronic pain from Lyme disease, autoimmune encephalitis, and many other conditions for seven years, pain is not new to me. Discomfort is not new to me. When you see me smiling and having a good time, it doesn’t take away the pain. I have an incredible capacity to hide the amount of pain or distress I am in, because I want to have fun, but inside I am often still struggling, and you often don’t see that. I don’t want to complain, so I keep a lot to myself. 2. I feel bad about your situation too, and it makes me guilty sometimes. I don’t want to be a burden to you, but I definitely feel like I am. I am highly aware of the extremely high medical bills, from every doctor that doesn’t take insurance. I know ambulance rides are extremely expensive and I get a lot of them. To make matters worse, I feel guilty that you work less than ever before to take care of me. I see the distress on your faces as I get taken to the hospital, see you make stressful phone calls and wish it could all go away. I know I’m the one with the illness, but the illnesses impact the entire family. I have worried about our finances and if we have enough money for all my treatment. I feel guilty because it’s extremely unfair, but there’s not much we can do about it. But I want you to know that I am extremely grateful for all the money, time and commitment you have given me to try to make me feel better. 3. I cry more than you think. I am a strong person, but I do break down. I cry myself to sleep, I stay up late Googling how to fix things, and cry about wanting my old life back. I cry about things I have missed, friends I have lost, feeling isolated, and being healthy and active. You know me as having an extremely positive mindset and someone who never gives up, which is true, but it doesn’t mean that my illness doesn’t take a toll. You don’t hear me crying at night, and I don’t want to disrupt your sleep either. 4. If I wake up in a bad mood and lash out you for no apparent reason, I probably had a bad night. When I’m up all night in pain, mad and annoyed, can’t fall asleep, and everyone else is sleeping, it is frustrating. Especially when it happens all the time. When you may think I’m having an attitude the next day, you don’t realize it’s because I probably spent two hours immobile on the bathroom floor, woke up every other hour, my whole body felt like it was breaking, and I was dealing with it by myself in the middle of the night. It’s hard to get quality sleep, and even without it, I try to wake up with a smile because I survived the night. It’s nothing you did, it’s the disease making me irritable. 5. I wish you realized how my illness made me lose aspects of my childhood innocence. The chronic illness world can make you grow up very fast, and I feel that’s very true for me. Stressful doctors appointments since I was in middle school have made me need to be mature beyond my years, and dealing with life-changing medical problems, that many people cannot relate to, makes me feel like I went from a child to an adult. I wish I didn’t have to worry about medical appointments, medications, and how to deal with my life of chronic pain at such a young age, but now it’s really all I know and remember. I wish I could have been more carefree as a preteen and early teenager, but I know that living with a chronic illness has made me a more compassionate and understanding person. It made me mature when I should have been able to just be a kid, but it has also given me wisdom to help others. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Community Voices

Silly photo of my dog

<p>Silly photo of my dog</p>
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Cassidy

What I Wish People Understood About Service Dogs

I have had a service dog for about a year and a half and the experience has truly been life-changing. My dog Sonoma, a yellow Lab/Great Dane mix from ECAD — Educating Canines Assisting With Disabilities — has made me much more independent. I have chronic Lyme disease, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses. Sonoma helps me navigate through my life and helps me with my disabilities. Many people do not understand the importance of service dogs, their many purposes, and can be ignorant. Here are 10 things I want people to understand about what it’s like to have a service dog. 1. It is not a luxury. Although having my dog is amazing and has many benefits, he needs just as much care as I do And it’s a big responsibility having a service dog. I wouldn’t have a service dog if I didn’t need one. 2. You may not pet him. Service dogs need to be focused on their handler at all times. Sonoma needs to be with me to be able to alert for a seizure. We are not being mean or rude by denying petting, but it simply puts our health at risk, as our dogs are working dogs. 3. Do not distract my dog. Even if it is not petting… there are many more ways to distract a service dog. From staring a dog down to giving them food, yelling “doggy doggy,” making barking noises… I could go on and on about this one. If you have a question please talk to me, the handler. 4. Please do not ask me nosy questions about my disability. I know many people are truly interested about service dogs since they can do many amazing things, but medical or highly personal questions violate my privacy. If we’re talking and you’re being respectful and I decide to share my disability or how my dog helps me, that’s up to me. But don’t expect me to share details that may be uncomfortable. Also, sometimes there just isn’t time to talk! 5. Do not even think about putting your lap dog in a fake service dog vest from online and claiming it’s a service dog. There is a big problem with fake service dogs. They distract real working dogs and give service dogs a bad rep. Leave your pets at home; they don’t need to be in the store and they can wait. 6. Service dogs do work, but they love it. That is why they are chosen to be service dogs. Everything is a game to them. Do not say “that poor dog only works” or “let the dog be a dog.” Trust me, I think my service dog has more fun than any dog. When he is home, he will perform tasks for me, like retrieving medication and helping with seizures, but he is a normal dog that runs outside and wants to play, snuggle, chew a bone and relax. My dog is not overworked and gets plenty of down time. 7. Respect the vest. Sonoma wears a service dog vest which says “service dog” and “do not touch,” as well as “seizure alert.” Things like “do not distract” “don’t call me I’m working,” “do not separate from handler” etc. are useful information. Also, sometimes there are pockets labeled with emergency information in them, so if you see a person with a service dog in trouble and call 911, they may have medical records of importance right with their dog. Sonoma has my records and his ID from ECAD on him at all times. The problem is, despite seeing a dog in a vest, people often do not stop and think “that dog is working.” 8. Educate children, family and friends. Some of the best things I’ve seen in public are times when a young child points and says “dog!” in a store, and a parent explains that they need to let the dog be because the dog has a special job. In my experience, kids handle it way better than adults. If a child comes near me to pet my service dog, I politely say my dog is a special working dog and that he cannot be pet. Children are easier to educate than adults, who are often already petting the dog while I try to stop them. I have had wonderful conversations with children about my service dog. I do not go into the nature of my disability, but I say he helps me when I’m not feeling well, and that he’s very smart. I explain some of the tasks he can do and the children are very interested to learn. 9. Follow the lead of the handler. We are all different. I may enjoy educating some youth on my pup, but some people may be rushing to pick their kids up from school. Some people like to talk a lot about their service dog, and others like to keep it much more private. Never pry. If a person wants to explain more, they will. If they want to keep it vague, they will. I never ask a stranger about their medical history — physical or mental! Feel free to look up videos about service dogs and learn more if you’re interested. 10. They change the world for us. Things that were impossible for me are now possible. Service dogs are “not just dogs”. They are truly special dogs with amazing training to help a person conquer life with less troubles. They are amazing companions, hard workers, and deserve a lot of credit and respect. I got my service dog when I was 19 at ECAD in Connecticut. I absolutely love the foundation and they have helped me so much. I would not have my service dog Sonoma without them. I continue to educate people about service dogs through volunteering with ECAD, as well as being a part of the new curriculum, “Canines Assisting in Health,” which will be a new nursing course at Pace University to teach nurses how to work with disabled people and their service dogs. To learn more about their service dogs, you can visit ECAD’s website.

Cassidy

What I Wish People Understood About Service Dogs

I have had a service dog for about a year and a half and the experience has truly been life-changing. My dog Sonoma, a yellow Lab/Great Dane mix from ECAD — Educating Canines Assisting With Disabilities — has made me much more independent. I have chronic Lyme disease, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses. Sonoma helps me navigate through my life and helps me with my disabilities. Many people do not understand the importance of service dogs, their many purposes, and can be ignorant. Here are 10 things I want people to understand about what it’s like to have a service dog. 1. It is not a luxury. Although having my dog is amazing and has many benefits, he needs just as much care as I do And it’s a big responsibility having a service dog. I wouldn’t have a service dog if I didn’t need one. 2. You may not pet him. Service dogs need to be focused on their handler at all times. Sonoma needs to be with me to be able to alert for a seizure. We are not being mean or rude by denying petting, but it simply puts our health at risk, as our dogs are working dogs. 3. Do not distract my dog. Even if it is not petting… there are many more ways to distract a service dog. From staring a dog down to giving them food, yelling “doggy doggy,” making barking noises… I could go on and on about this one. If you have a question please talk to me, the handler. 4. Please do not ask me nosy questions about my disability. I know many people are truly interested about service dogs since they can do many amazing things, but medical or highly personal questions violate my privacy. If we’re talking and you’re being respectful and I decide to share my disability or how my dog helps me, that’s up to me. But don’t expect me to share details that may be uncomfortable. Also, sometimes there just isn’t time to talk! 5. Do not even think about putting your lap dog in a fake service dog vest from online and claiming it’s a service dog. There is a big problem with fake service dogs. They distract real working dogs and give service dogs a bad rep. Leave your pets at home; they don’t need to be in the store and they can wait. 6. Service dogs do work, but they love it. That is why they are chosen to be service dogs. Everything is a game to them. Do not say “that poor dog only works” or “let the dog be a dog.” Trust me, I think my service dog has more fun than any dog. When he is home, he will perform tasks for me, like retrieving medication and helping with seizures, but he is a normal dog that runs outside and wants to play, snuggle, chew a bone and relax. My dog is not overworked and gets plenty of down time. 7. Respect the vest. Sonoma wears a service dog vest which says “service dog” and “do not touch,” as well as “seizure alert.” Things like “do not distract” “don’t call me I’m working,” “do not separate from handler” etc. are useful information. Also, sometimes there are pockets labeled with emergency information in them, so if you see a person with a service dog in trouble and call 911, they may have medical records of importance right with their dog. Sonoma has my records and his ID from ECAD on him at all times. The problem is, despite seeing a dog in a vest, people often do not stop and think “that dog is working.” 8. Educate children, family and friends. Some of the best things I’ve seen in public are times when a young child points and says “dog!” in a store, and a parent explains that they need to let the dog be because the dog has a special job. In my experience, kids handle it way better than adults. If a child comes near me to pet my service dog, I politely say my dog is a special working dog and that he cannot be pet. Children are easier to educate than adults, who are often already petting the dog while I try to stop them. I have had wonderful conversations with children about my service dog. I do not go into the nature of my disability, but I say he helps me when I’m not feeling well, and that he’s very smart. I explain some of the tasks he can do and the children are very interested to learn. 9. Follow the lead of the handler. We are all different. I may enjoy educating some youth on my pup, but some people may be rushing to pick their kids up from school. Some people like to talk a lot about their service dog, and others like to keep it much more private. Never pry. If a person wants to explain more, they will. If they want to keep it vague, they will. I never ask a stranger about their medical history — physical or mental! Feel free to look up videos about service dogs and learn more if you’re interested. 10. They change the world for us. Things that were impossible for me are now possible. Service dogs are “not just dogs”. They are truly special dogs with amazing training to help a person conquer life with less troubles. They are amazing companions, hard workers, and deserve a lot of credit and respect. I got my service dog when I was 19 at ECAD in Connecticut. I absolutely love the foundation and they have helped me so much. I would not have my service dog Sonoma without them. I continue to educate people about service dogs through volunteering with ECAD, as well as being a part of the new curriculum, “Canines Assisting in Health,” which will be a new nursing course at Pace University to teach nurses how to work with disabled people and their service dogs. To learn more about their service dogs, you can visit ECAD’s website.

Cassidy

What I Wish People Understood About Service Dogs

I have had a service dog for about a year and a half and the experience has truly been life-changing. My dog Sonoma, a yellow Lab/Great Dane mix from ECAD — Educating Canines Assisting With Disabilities — has made me much more independent. I have chronic Lyme disease, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses. Sonoma helps me navigate through my life and helps me with my disabilities. Many people do not understand the importance of service dogs, their many purposes, and can be ignorant. Here are 10 things I want people to understand about what it’s like to have a service dog. 1. It is not a luxury. Although having my dog is amazing and has many benefits, he needs just as much care as I do And it’s a big responsibility having a service dog. I wouldn’t have a service dog if I didn’t need one. 2. You may not pet him. Service dogs need to be focused on their handler at all times. Sonoma needs to be with me to be able to alert for a seizure. We are not being mean or rude by denying petting, but it simply puts our health at risk, as our dogs are working dogs. 3. Do not distract my dog. Even if it is not petting… there are many more ways to distract a service dog. From staring a dog down to giving them food, yelling “doggy doggy,” making barking noises… I could go on and on about this one. If you have a question please talk to me, the handler. 4. Please do not ask me nosy questions about my disability. I know many people are truly interested about service dogs since they can do many amazing things, but medical or highly personal questions violate my privacy. If we’re talking and you’re being respectful and I decide to share my disability or how my dog helps me, that’s up to me. But don’t expect me to share details that may be uncomfortable. Also, sometimes there just isn’t time to talk! 5. Do not even think about putting your lap dog in a fake service dog vest from online and claiming it’s a service dog. There is a big problem with fake service dogs. They distract real working dogs and give service dogs a bad rep. Leave your pets at home; they don’t need to be in the store and they can wait. 6. Service dogs do work, but they love it. That is why they are chosen to be service dogs. Everything is a game to them. Do not say “that poor dog only works” or “let the dog be a dog.” Trust me, I think my service dog has more fun than any dog. When he is home, he will perform tasks for me, like retrieving medication and helping with seizures, but he is a normal dog that runs outside and wants to play, snuggle, chew a bone and relax. My dog is not overworked and gets plenty of down time. 7. Respect the vest. Sonoma wears a service dog vest which says “service dog” and “do not touch,” as well as “seizure alert.” Things like “do not distract” “don’t call me I’m working,” “do not separate from handler” etc. are useful information. Also, sometimes there are pockets labeled with emergency information in them, so if you see a person with a service dog in trouble and call 911, they may have medical records of importance right with their dog. Sonoma has my records and his ID from ECAD on him at all times. The problem is, despite seeing a dog in a vest, people often do not stop and think “that dog is working.” 8. Educate children, family and friends. Some of the best things I’ve seen in public are times when a young child points and says “dog!” in a store, and a parent explains that they need to let the dog be because the dog has a special job. In my experience, kids handle it way better than adults. If a child comes near me to pet my service dog, I politely say my dog is a special working dog and that he cannot be pet. Children are easier to educate than adults, who are often already petting the dog while I try to stop them. I have had wonderful conversations with children about my service dog. I do not go into the nature of my disability, but I say he helps me when I’m not feeling well, and that he’s very smart. I explain some of the tasks he can do and the children are very interested to learn. 9. Follow the lead of the handler. We are all different. I may enjoy educating some youth on my pup, but some people may be rushing to pick their kids up from school. Some people like to talk a lot about their service dog, and others like to keep it much more private. Never pry. If a person wants to explain more, they will. If they want to keep it vague, they will. I never ask a stranger about their medical history — physical or mental! Feel free to look up videos about service dogs and learn more if you’re interested. 10. They change the world for us. Things that were impossible for me are now possible. Service dogs are “not just dogs”. They are truly special dogs with amazing training to help a person conquer life with less troubles. They are amazing companions, hard workers, and deserve a lot of credit and respect. I got my service dog when I was 19 at ECAD in Connecticut. I absolutely love the foundation and they have helped me so much. I would not have my service dog Sonoma without them. I continue to educate people about service dogs through volunteering with ECAD, as well as being a part of the new curriculum, “Canines Assisting in Health,” which will be a new nursing course at Pace University to teach nurses how to work with disabled people and their service dogs. To learn more about their service dogs, you can visit ECAD’s website.

Cassidy

What I Wish People Understood About Service Dogs

I have had a service dog for about a year and a half and the experience has truly been life-changing. My dog Sonoma, a yellow Lab/Great Dane mix from ECAD — Educating Canines Assisting With Disabilities — has made me much more independent. I have chronic Lyme disease, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses. Sonoma helps me navigate through my life and helps me with my disabilities. Many people do not understand the importance of service dogs, their many purposes, and can be ignorant. Here are 10 things I want people to understand about what it’s like to have a service dog. 1. It is not a luxury. Although having my dog is amazing and has many benefits, he needs just as much care as I do And it’s a big responsibility having a service dog. I wouldn’t have a service dog if I didn’t need one. 2. You may not pet him. Service dogs need to be focused on their handler at all times. Sonoma needs to be with me to be able to alert for a seizure. We are not being mean or rude by denying petting, but it simply puts our health at risk, as our dogs are working dogs. 3. Do not distract my dog. Even if it is not petting… there are many more ways to distract a service dog. From staring a dog down to giving them food, yelling “doggy doggy,” making barking noises… I could go on and on about this one. If you have a question please talk to me, the handler. 4. Please do not ask me nosy questions about my disability. I know many people are truly interested about service dogs since they can do many amazing things, but medical or highly personal questions violate my privacy. If we’re talking and you’re being respectful and I decide to share my disability or how my dog helps me, that’s up to me. But don’t expect me to share details that may be uncomfortable. Also, sometimes there just isn’t time to talk! 5. Do not even think about putting your lap dog in a fake service dog vest from online and claiming it’s a service dog. There is a big problem with fake service dogs. They distract real working dogs and give service dogs a bad rep. Leave your pets at home; they don’t need to be in the store and they can wait. 6. Service dogs do work, but they love it. That is why they are chosen to be service dogs. Everything is a game to them. Do not say “that poor dog only works” or “let the dog be a dog.” Trust me, I think my service dog has more fun than any dog. When he is home, he will perform tasks for me, like retrieving medication and helping with seizures, but he is a normal dog that runs outside and wants to play, snuggle, chew a bone and relax. My dog is not overworked and gets plenty of down time. 7. Respect the vest. Sonoma wears a service dog vest which says “service dog” and “do not touch,” as well as “seizure alert.” Things like “do not distract” “don’t call me I’m working,” “do not separate from handler” etc. are useful information. Also, sometimes there are pockets labeled with emergency information in them, so if you see a person with a service dog in trouble and call 911, they may have medical records of importance right with their dog. Sonoma has my records and his ID from ECAD on him at all times. The problem is, despite seeing a dog in a vest, people often do not stop and think “that dog is working.” 8. Educate children, family and friends. Some of the best things I’ve seen in public are times when a young child points and says “dog!” in a store, and a parent explains that they need to let the dog be because the dog has a special job. In my experience, kids handle it way better than adults. If a child comes near me to pet my service dog, I politely say my dog is a special working dog and that he cannot be pet. Children are easier to educate than adults, who are often already petting the dog while I try to stop them. I have had wonderful conversations with children about my service dog. I do not go into the nature of my disability, but I say he helps me when I’m not feeling well, and that he’s very smart. I explain some of the tasks he can do and the children are very interested to learn. 9. Follow the lead of the handler. We are all different. I may enjoy educating some youth on my pup, but some people may be rushing to pick their kids up from school. Some people like to talk a lot about their service dog, and others like to keep it much more private. Never pry. If a person wants to explain more, they will. If they want to keep it vague, they will. I never ask a stranger about their medical history — physical or mental! Feel free to look up videos about service dogs and learn more if you’re interested. 10. They change the world for us. Things that were impossible for me are now possible. Service dogs are “not just dogs”. They are truly special dogs with amazing training to help a person conquer life with less troubles. They are amazing companions, hard workers, and deserve a lot of credit and respect. I got my service dog when I was 19 at ECAD in Connecticut. I absolutely love the foundation and they have helped me so much. I would not have my service dog Sonoma without them. I continue to educate people about service dogs through volunteering with ECAD, as well as being a part of the new curriculum, “Canines Assisting in Health,” which will be a new nursing course at Pace University to teach nurses how to work with disabled people and their service dogs. To learn more about their service dogs, you can visit ECAD’s website.

Cassidy

What I Wish People Understood About Service Dogs

I have had a service dog for about a year and a half and the experience has truly been life-changing. My dog Sonoma, a yellow Lab/Great Dane mix from ECAD — Educating Canines Assisting With Disabilities — has made me much more independent. I have chronic Lyme disease, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses. Sonoma helps me navigate through my life and helps me with my disabilities. Many people do not understand the importance of service dogs, their many purposes, and can be ignorant. Here are 10 things I want people to understand about what it’s like to have a service dog. 1. It is not a luxury. Although having my dog is amazing and has many benefits, he needs just as much care as I do And it’s a big responsibility having a service dog. I wouldn’t have a service dog if I didn’t need one. 2. You may not pet him. Service dogs need to be focused on their handler at all times. Sonoma needs to be with me to be able to alert for a seizure. We are not being mean or rude by denying petting, but it simply puts our health at risk, as our dogs are working dogs. 3. Do not distract my dog. Even if it is not petting… there are many more ways to distract a service dog. From staring a dog down to giving them food, yelling “doggy doggy,” making barking noises… I could go on and on about this one. If you have a question please talk to me, the handler. 4. Please do not ask me nosy questions about my disability. I know many people are truly interested about service dogs since they can do many amazing things, but medical or highly personal questions violate my privacy. If we’re talking and you’re being respectful and I decide to share my disability or how my dog helps me, that’s up to me. But don’t expect me to share details that may be uncomfortable. Also, sometimes there just isn’t time to talk! 5. Do not even think about putting your lap dog in a fake service dog vest from online and claiming it’s a service dog. There is a big problem with fake service dogs. They distract real working dogs and give service dogs a bad rep. Leave your pets at home; they don’t need to be in the store and they can wait. 6. Service dogs do work, but they love it. That is why they are chosen to be service dogs. Everything is a game to them. Do not say “that poor dog only works” or “let the dog be a dog.” Trust me, I think my service dog has more fun than any dog. When he is home, he will perform tasks for me, like retrieving medication and helping with seizures, but he is a normal dog that runs outside and wants to play, snuggle, chew a bone and relax. My dog is not overworked and gets plenty of down time. 7. Respect the vest. Sonoma wears a service dog vest which says “service dog” and “do not touch,” as well as “seizure alert.” Things like “do not distract” “don’t call me I’m working,” “do not separate from handler” etc. are useful information. Also, sometimes there are pockets labeled with emergency information in them, so if you see a person with a service dog in trouble and call 911, they may have medical records of importance right with their dog. Sonoma has my records and his ID from ECAD on him at all times. The problem is, despite seeing a dog in a vest, people often do not stop and think “that dog is working.” 8. Educate children, family and friends. Some of the best things I’ve seen in public are times when a young child points and says “dog!” in a store, and a parent explains that they need to let the dog be because the dog has a special job. In my experience, kids handle it way better than adults. If a child comes near me to pet my service dog, I politely say my dog is a special working dog and that he cannot be pet. Children are easier to educate than adults, who are often already petting the dog while I try to stop them. I have had wonderful conversations with children about my service dog. I do not go into the nature of my disability, but I say he helps me when I’m not feeling well, and that he’s very smart. I explain some of the tasks he can do and the children are very interested to learn. 9. Follow the lead of the handler. We are all different. I may enjoy educating some youth on my pup, but some people may be rushing to pick their kids up from school. Some people like to talk a lot about their service dog, and others like to keep it much more private. Never pry. If a person wants to explain more, they will. If they want to keep it vague, they will. I never ask a stranger about their medical history — physical or mental! Feel free to look up videos about service dogs and learn more if you’re interested. 10. They change the world for us. Things that were impossible for me are now possible. Service dogs are “not just dogs”. They are truly special dogs with amazing training to help a person conquer life with less troubles. They are amazing companions, hard workers, and deserve a lot of credit and respect. I got my service dog when I was 19 at ECAD in Connecticut. I absolutely love the foundation and they have helped me so much. I would not have my service dog Sonoma without them. I continue to educate people about service dogs through volunteering with ECAD, as well as being a part of the new curriculum, “Canines Assisting in Health,” which will be a new nursing course at Pace University to teach nurses how to work with disabled people and their service dogs. To learn more about their service dogs, you can visit ECAD’s website.

Community Voices
Community Voices

What is going on with me?

I have chronic lyme, chronic fatigue, CIRS, MCAS, copper dysregulation, hypothyroid, low iron, overmethylator, SIBO, candida, possibly bipolar. My moods have been so low for months, I have periods of paranoia, staring into space, rage at times when un very irritable, cant handle any type of stress at all, I'm completely exhausted all the time, I have no stamina. Idk if there is anything else going on with me or not. Wanted to get some insight if anyone has similar issues or know what is going on.
#LymeDisease #CIRS #MCAS #chronic fatigue #ChronicIllness #Bipolar #Borderline #Hypothyroid

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