Do you think I could get a service dog? Where to start, though?

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Do you think I could get a service dog? Where to start, though?

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Old 09-06-2015, 06:08 PM
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Do you think I could get a service dog? Where to start, though?

Hi, long time no talk!

I'm not sure at all if my condition would warrant a service dog, so if you don't believe it does, feel free to say so... I won't take offense. I plan to talk to a neurologist as well.

I was diagnosed with "occipital lobe migraines" when I was younger. Before this year, I haven't had one since the 7th grade (I'm now 19)... but in the past 2 months I've had them twice. This is obviously a large increase, which is why I plan to talk to a neurologist. Each and every time I've had one I've been doing something different, so there isn't a pattern or trigger that I can tell.

My symptoms have increased dramatically from when I was younger, too.
When I was younger I would lose my vision for a few seconds, and my limbs would go tingly, but I was still "aware". I remember just thinking in my head, talking to myself until it was over - it never lasted long, literally no longer than a minute and then I'd be good as gold.

Now (these past two episodes, in less than 2 months)...
Episode 1)
I was in the shower... obviously not the safest of places!
My vision started going in and out and my limbs started tingling. I crouched down in the shower trying to stabilize myself, thinking it would be over quick. It wasn't, so I wrapped myself in a towel and found myself to the toilet and sat down, calling for help. When my vision wasn't out, it was still super wonky.. it felt like I was looking through a kaleidoscope. I was still 'aware', though it was hard to stay focused. I'd feel myself "wondering away" and then come back. Although I never fully passed out, the people who stayed with me told me I was very, very pale and what I was saying didn't make sense. Once my vision started returning to normal and my limbs stopped tingling they helped me to the sofa. I had a headache and was exhausted, and just laid there for the rest of the day.

Episode 2)
Happened today.
My vision started going in and out and my limbs started tingling. I walked to a tree and leaned up against it to stabilize myself. When I was still aware I asked my boyfriend's friend to go find him for me. I could hear a group of people start calling for him, but then I started "wondering again". I could feel myself going in and out... and I guess I completely went out (fainted), because when I came to, my boyfriend was kneeling besides me (I fell to the floor). My awareness came back (I was able to speak to my boyfriend) before my vision fixed itself. I don't have a headache this time, but I am so tired from it. I am pretty spooked that I actually fainted because that's never happened before.

ANYWAYS. The whole reason I got to thinking this was because my friends GSD puppy was with me when it happened today. Before I started feeling weird she started whining for no apparent reason. Then once I started feeling the symptoms creep on me she started getting more antsy. The last thing I remember (keep in mind, I fainted) was her barking loudly.

I really feel like she knew that there was something wrong before I did, and then she was trying to get me help.... and after it happened, for a good long time for her (she is an energetic puppy), she just sat with me laying on my feet. It's almost like she didn't want me to get up (I assume, because when I do get up after a spell I get really dizzy, and sometimes my vision goes out again for a few seconds)

The truth is, I don't need any medical help for this issue. It kind of just runs its course and is over within a few minutes-hours (depending on how bad I feel after I come to completely). But if it happens when I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time... Well, something bad could happen. But maybe I'm just spooked and it's not that big of a deal. I just think it would be so helpful to have something alert me that something isn't right, so I could make sure I'm in a safe place with the right people (/ I can explain to someone before it happens) before the problems occur.

I mean I haven't been in the safest of situations when these episodes occur. The time before today, I was in the shower. I easily could have slipped and hurt something. Or what if I'm driving? Or in class - and everyone sees but no one knows what to do?

Is this crazy? Am I just spooked by what happened today? It was by far the worst I've ever had, so that's definitely a possibility that I'm over thinking possible options.
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:28 PM
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I'd have a very long talk with your doctor first. There are over 100 medications for migraines, I find it hard to believe none would help at all. Plus, the sudden increase in frequency needs to be explored prior to anything else.

As for a service dog, 3 things:

1. Finding a dog who can sense them in advance, not all dogs can.

2. Caring for the dog. Service dogs need exercise, food, vet care, etc., just like any other dog.

3. Service dogs have to do 3 tasks related to your disability to qualify as service dogs. What 3 things should your dog do for you?
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:37 PM
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Oh I'll definitely be talking it over with a doctor! Dog or not, I'd need to have a discussion about the increase of occurance + the more drastic symptoms.

I would not want to be put on medication though, if avoidable. I don't need medical attention when this happens. I just need to be in a safe place to let it run its course. It may sound crazy but I'd rather do that than take medication if possible... There are so many crazy side affects and risks with medication that it just isn't always worth it in some cases.

I'm not sure if I'd need a service dog per say, but I've read briefly of medical alert dogs... Used a lot for seizures and diabetes. I'm thinking I'd have a dog like that, if at all. The three things I've read them doing is 1) notifying owner 2) getting help of possible 3) remaining calmly with owner after getting help/if help isn't available. I'm not sure if that counts as the three things or not though.
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:13 PM
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Oh, wow. Kind of OT, but does your doc think that the "tingly" feeling in your limbs is due to the migraine or panic you're feeling associated with the migraine? I only ask because I have had migraines for 13 years, but a few years back I had one (the only time I have, thank goodness!) that sounds exactly like what you're describing -- zigzags in my vision that quickly led to temporary blindness and then that kaleidoscope thing, tingly limbs (that they told me was due to panic), and inability to speak correctly - I was aware I was doing it, but I wasn't able to make myself say the right words no matter how hard I tried. And, of course, blinding pain. I ended up in the hospital with that one. :/

Anyway, I digress. But I totally sympathize - I don't ever want another headache like that again! Do get checked by a neuro, better safe than sorry. I know how you feel too about medications - some work great, others don't, and even more have weird side effects. I don't like to take my meds unless I really have to, unless the pain is really uncontrollable. BUT it's not beyond exploring, or at least having the conversation about what's available and what preventative medications could do. No harm in having the info

I don't think your idea is a bad one, but you would have to go through the trouble of finding one that could actually sense what was coming. Do you know of anyone who has a seizure alert dog? Does your doctor have any advice?

I don't know much about service animals, so sorry I'm not terribly helpful. I just felt I should leave a message of support since I know how nasty migraines can be.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:01 PM
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I'm so happy to talk to someone's whose gone through what I have! I explain it and it's like so many people don't believe it can be "that bad" >.>

They're sure it's the migraine though. Tingling of limbs, or heaviness or numbness of limbs is pretty common in occipital lobe migraines with aura.

I don't know anyone with a seizure alert dog! Or anybody with any type of service dog to be honest. I just truly feel like Nala sensed what was going on, so I bet there are other dogs who could do it too. I haven't talked to my doctor yet, I just had the idea because of how Nala reacted. I will be bringing it up with him though.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:23 AM
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That's interesting. The whole experience can be very scary, and I can see why you'd want a warning!

My suggestion to talk to your doctor was that if he knew anyone with a dog like that, he could potentially find out the next person for you to talk to to see if you could find one. He may also know more about the qualifications for a service dog in you area (which admittedly, I don't know much about).

I think it would be similar to a seizure alert dog and the functions would be basically the same, so as long as you can find an actual dog capable of doing this, I don't see what the problem would be. Clearly your problem is more incapacitating than "just pain" (ha) so it's more serious than "just a painful headache" (again, ha) and I can see why the alert is needed, similar to a seizure alert.
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Old 09-07-2015, 10:19 AM
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This sounds rather similar to my one problem that isn't psychological. I don't have a migraine problem, but I do have some type of seemingly-neurological disorder. For over ten years, I've had what I can only describe as absent seizures. I go into a state of dissociation where I am aware of everything around me, but I'm not otherwise "there". Sometimes I simply cannot move other times my body continues on autopilot from muscle memory of the task at hand. I have collapsed, fallen down stairs, and even stopped being able to move in the middle of a crosswalk on a busy main road.

More recently (within the past few years) I started to get ocular migraines that I now associate as being an aura for particularly bad absent episodes. It basically feels like an ice pick trying to pry away part of my skull (always my right temple) and my left eye progressively goes completely blind. In the beginning it lasted for about an hour, which I've read is normal. My most recent OM lasted for a total of FIVE hours, and that was absolutely excruciating. I am also "in the market" as it were for a service dog to help me. If I can end up with one who is able to detect beforehand, that would be great, but I can live with it if the dog cannot. The dog can still be trained to stabilize me, keep me safe if I do fall, or even alert people around by barking for help if needed (among other things I need for my psychological issues).

Now where to start? Discuss the progression of your illness with your doctors. Only they can make the call on whether or not your are legally considered disabled from it. You can bring up the possibility of a migraine detection service animal. Yes, there are medications for a lot of things but they don't always work for some people (myself included; the only pain killers that work with my body are heavy things like Vicodin and Morphine, which sucks when I have a bad pain and all I can take is a Tylenol which doesn't even make a dent).

Once your doctor tells you that your migraines are a disability and they agree that you could benefit from a service dog, then they can write you a "prescription" more or less. With that, you can find one of many service dog training organizations. They may have a dog already that can help you, but more likely you will have to have one trained to suit your particular needs. Typically, training a service dog takes up to two years and costs anywhere from $10,000-20,000. Afterwards, the organization can direct you to the proper place to acquire gear such as vests and whatnot. If you already have a dog that you want to be a service dog, it will have to be evaluated before it can be trained.

Once that is all said and done, it's all said and done.

Things to look out for include certification and registry websites. They're all fake and exist solely to take peoples' money. You can register anything as a "service dog" on these website, including inanimate object like umbrellas. It offers no protection and is, quite frankly, disgusting and detrimental to real service dogs and their handlers.

Your dog does not require a vest or identifying gear of any kind, however I will likely always use it just to avoid unnecessary confrontation (though people will still come up and ask questions). It is a good idea to carry around copies of ADA information and state laws regarding service animals just in case (as well as even a note from your doctor if possible). Individual people/civilians will likely try to play 20 questions with you. Businesses, on the other hand, are only allowed to ask two questions: if the dog is a service dog and what tasks/work the dog performs. You absolutely do not have to go into detail on exactly what the dog does. You can simply say that the dog performs tasks to mitigate your disability. Nobody can ask/force you to display any of the tasks. Some places are very misinformed and may even ask for identification or registration information. At that point you could show them your handy legal information handouts and inform them that there is no service dog registration.

Good luck to you!
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Old 09-07-2015, 09:42 PM
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Thank you for the input Larkspur!

10-20k is quite a bit, though! Is there any way to get financial help for that, if it's decided that one would be beneficial? I assume insurance wouldn't cover it...
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Old 09-08-2015, 12:15 PM
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I would also suggest speaking with your Dr. First.

I am also a migraine sufferer. I had them really bad in High School, then got them under control, but recently have started suffering from them again. I have a few different symptoms (I don't pass out, I throw up instead) but I do get the vision problems. I was told when I ended up in the hospital with one that what I experienced is called a Migraine with Aura. Terrifying. Nothing quite like looking down and feeling like I can see my fingers moving but feeling like they aren't attached to my body. I also go very white. A lot of people who have seen me in the midst of one (Cause they seem to like to happen at work) say that I am very white and I do not look right. My voice also changes, which is weird.

Honestly, mine seem to be hormonal. BC helped stop them for many years, but recently have been struggling with other side affects of it and got pulled off and that I when they started happening often. I think I get mine once every 4-6 months. Which isn't too bad.
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Old 09-08-2015, 03:01 PM
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You mention driving. Please consider the safety of others and speak to your doctor soon about medications.

A service dog does not have to provide three different tasks for their owner. @amaryllis, where is this info located? I've heard that before but have yet to see it on the ADA site. Perhaps this applies to a country other than the United States? A dog is considered a service animal if it alerts the owner to the onset of a seizure, drop in blood sugar, reminds the person to take needed medication, etc.
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