Living with narcolepsy isn’t easy. A typical morning finds me laying in bed, drifting somewhere between awake and asleep. If left to my own devices, I would stay in bed all day, napping. Yet, even if I were to stay in bed sleeping all day, the persistent feeling of tiredness would never leave. This is where my service dog comes in.
My service dog helps me get my day started. Every morning, if I am not awake by my usual time, my service dog will start checking in with me. At first, she might stick her nose on my pillow. But if I take too long to get up, she’ll do something amazing – fetch my morning narcolepsy medication!
When my service dog retrieves my medication in the morning for me, it helps kick-start my day. I am able to take my narcolepsy pills and then snooze in bed until the medication begins taking effect. When I do this, it feels like I allow my body to “wake up” in a more natural way.
My service dog can also be verbally asked to fetch my medication. When I want my dog to retrieve my medication, I say the words, “Go get medicine!” In order to make it easier on my dog, I keep all of my medications in a special bag that I’ve had since she was a puppy. I trained her to find the bag and bring it to me. It’s so cute to watch her run around looking for it!
My service dog’s medication retrieval task is helpful because it allows me to have access to my medication even when I am not well enough to get up to take it. For example, when I am having a sleep attack, my cataplexy can keep me from being able to walk around. I also have extreme confusion during these episodes. As a result, I might get up to get my medication and then forget immediately what I was doing. My service dog is able to fetch my medication for me in times such as these.
Another task my narcolepsy service dog is trained to do is alert to my automatic behaviors caused by excessive sleepiness. Skin picking is one example of a problematic automatic behavior that can result in infections and even scarring. Now, as soon as I start picking my skin, my dog interrupts me. After years of picking my skin terribly, I’ve finally been able to stop thanks to my narcolepsy service dog!
Even though living with narcolepsy isn’t easy, a service dog has helped make it a bit easier for me. And I got a furry best friend out of it, who always has my best interest at heart.