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Megan and her Assistance Dog Milo

Posted Mon 23rd Oct 2017 at 12:07
by Megan Dummer


16 year old Megan shares her story about Milo - her amazing assistance dog.

Milo’s Journey – An Assistance Dog in Training

My name is Megan and I'm going to tell you about me and Milo and the path that led me to where I am on this day. I will explain in depth how I discovered any of these routes in the beginning; but also the benefits Milo will eventually provide me with and lastly the dreaded lead up to what became the unmanageable danger of my tics.

In year 8 I was a pupil in my local academy, but soon endured constant bullying. This resulted to me leaving education and began home-schooling. Following from that incident we became eligible for a position in a pupil referral unit. The teachers who control this centre are medically trained and instantly noticed the several facial tics and grunts I made occasionally, over the next two months it worsened.

I went into the town centre that day, doing nothing but the usual things except I became rather verbal and physical. I had randomly become unable to control my limbs or vocal speech; I had developed a complex range of tics. My mum had no idea what was wrong and contacted everyone possible which is when the investigations were underway. In a short space of time it was confirmed I had tic syndrome. When the definition of Tourettes was explained it surfaced that I had been showing signs of tics since my early ages. Due to the short knowledge and publicity of the syndrome my family knew of no such thing until they had been informed by a doctor.

After the official diagnosis my tics became extremely volatile towards others and myself, I would have tic attacks daily. It became such an issue that I was being sent home from school on many occasions due to the danger. Because of the co-morbid conditions I have alongside my Tourettes made this hard for me to understand and accept. I would have large bursts of anger that caused atrocity, yet once it had calmed I remember next to nothing about what happened. Around this time was when I had been taking a variety of medication in attempt to control my tics, following several failed trials we took a leap with another. My parents were very aware of the effects Aripiprazole could cause, therefor left the decision down to me. I had been taking Aripiprazole for no longer than a week but the side effects were unbearable.

It was the 12th December 2015 and I suffered a collapse and unconsciousness for a period of over 15 minutes, I remember little of this day or what had happened but the original suspicion was meningitis. Luckily I was free of this but that still left many questions unanswered, I was seriously ill and had no answer as to why this had happened. Whatever it was left me with a loss of memory, extremely poor mobility, regression in mental age and emotional changes. It was a very scary time for me and my family, all of us unable to comprehend what had happened to me and why I had changed so much. Over time my memory got a little better although I still suffer with short term memory issues. My mobility is variable so some days I can walk around the house without issue whilst other days my legs give out when I stand up and I cannot walk far at all. Any kind of outside activity I use a wheelchair due to the fact that I cannot manage distances. My emotions are still very strong and these do have a massive effect on my tics.

Due to my previous experiences it has made me rather hesitant to take any form of medications for my tics. This decision was fine to begin with, my tics weren’t pleasant but I learnt to deal with it. Unfortunately once I was making holes in the wall; ending up with a broken hand for the second time, I knew something needed to be done. Medicine was a genuine fear for me, I didn’t know where to turn. I have always carried a love for dogs and many occasions thought about having a working dog, but Tourettes isn’t something any organisations were providing dogs for. I stumbled across a page called ‘Lexi the super dog,’ it was a dog in training for someone who has Tourettes! I messaged her owner Charlotte who kindly spent many hours explaining the entire process of owner trained assistance dogs.

With help from Charlotte I was confident I could do this, we had an 8 week old Golden Retriever come home in August. I began fundraising and making sure I could start a training course ASAP, which I did and passed with flying colours. We are now near the end of the bronze course, the exam is soon and it’s safe to say I’m rather nervous! But I know Milo will be fine, he always is. It’s just me being the scared one!

Since I brought Milo home my life is so much more rewarding, my tics reduce massively when I focus on his training and wellbeing. As he got a little older he began biting at my hands, I never took much notice but it happens that my hitting tic he is deflecting and helping me… this made me fill with excitement, he was learning a task on his own with zero instructions. As the days go by my connection with Milo is growing and so is my confidence, I never knew how much something that could be so simple could help. It’s a shame the organisations don’t see Tourettes as a physical disability, nor provide or train any dogs for people with the condition. This is a huge hardship considering how many of us can be affected by it, I hope one day to see them doing it though.

Like I mentioned I am in my bronze course and will continue through until gold, this is for tricks and his obedience mainly. With much help and suggestions I found a team that were willing to take me and Milo on and do all the required training he needs, which will include public access tests and the working uniforms for him etc. The downside for this was the pricing, but I haven’t given up and me and my family are trying desperately to raise what we can! I did originally have a lady, but she pulled out which left me in a bit of a sticky situation.

That’s all and I hope it was worth your time to read, if you’d like to  follow Milo's story, you can visit my Facebook page.

Thank you for reading!

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Megan and her Assistance Dog Milo

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