I woke up expecting a Sunday like any other in May. Late that Sunday afternoon though, it became a day I will never forget.
Last February, I became very sick. An eating disorder had taken me too far off the beaten path. I had to decide: I could continue to merely survive, or I could take time away from all reality, fight my demons, then thrive.
I decided it was time to fight. I dropped out of school and with a sense of hope in my heart, went into treatment at the nation’s leading facility in Denver, Eating Recovery Center. While there, seizures began to plague my every day life. I was confused and scared.
In late April after a painful weight restoration process and a quick, unexplained discharge, I left ERC feeling abandoned and more hopeless than ever before. The seizures continued to occur and my depression took over.
I spent day after day lying in bed, praying my life would end.
The second Sunday in May was when the phone call came; there was a service dog who needed a new partner. The original partner had neglected the shaggy, blonde Labradoodle, and from my profile we appeared to be the perfect pair for each other.
I would have to come out to meet Maggie to make sure, but if we were compatible with each other, the working, seizure-alert dog was mine. All it took was a matter of seconds.
From across the yard, I swear she could hear the brokenness in my voice and amidst her own brokenness, she turned, looked at me and came running full-speed into my arms.
Not only were she and I immediately a match for each other, we were best friends. I took her home and put her bed next to mine. The first morning together, I woke up to the gentle licking of my hands, and for the first time in weeks, eagerly jumped out of bed.
Maggie Rose, as I named her, became not just the reason I got out of bed each day, but the reason I am here today.
She came everywhere with me: all my appointments, Target, the drug store, coffee shops, and when I was sent back into treatment in Chicago in June, she came too.
She put a ray of sunshine into each day.
Whether it was the simple wagging of her tail or the way she made sure to be up in my bed to snuggle each morning, she made life worth living.
She detected every seizure that came with her loud, alerting bark and furious pawing at me. She did her job so well, getting help for me when needed, retrieving medications and never leaving me alone.
It was her unbridled loyalty that taught me how to trust again. It was her unconditional love that taught me it was okay to let people into my heart.
Her constant joy taught me that it wasn’t always big things in life that created happiness; more often than not, it was the smallest that were worth celebrating. My long-term goal in treatment and in life remains to be the person my dog thinks I am.
The progress I made in Chicago never would have been possible without my Maggie Rose. She became my other half; my better half.
We weren’t home long from Chicago before we were sent to St. Louis for one last round of treatment. In St. Louis they placed a feeding tube and I felt as though I would never get better. I wanted to quit fighting, to give up and go home.
It was Maggie Rose who comforted me and reminded me of the value of my life during those days.
Today, I am home receiving treatment on an outpatient basis. My seizures have diminished almost completely thanks to an incredible neurology team and their medication recommendations. And my Maggie Rose? She’s lying right beside me, looking at me with her deep brown eyes, permanent smile stuck on her face.
She continues to be my constant companion and my inspiration. She gives me a reason to get up every morning and a reason to smile each night. I truly cannot put into words how much I love my shaggy servant and how much of a divine intervention I know she was.
She was and is my lifesaver…all five flavors. She will be my hero for my whole life and my better half for her whole life. Without her I wouldn’t be here today, but because of her I have the courage to fight each day with the unfailing motto, onward and upward.