Yesterday afternoon I saw an older man and a little girl walking down the sidewalk next to a busy street. He had a walking stick with him, a little more than waist-high, with a leather loop hanging about halfway down. He moved slowly but steadily along in his yellow jacket, just out for a stroll. The little girl had fallen behind him a ways. She was reaching up over her head to a broken tree branch that was dangling just above her outstretched fingers. I could see the thought in her head, that if she could just reach that branch, then she’d have a cool walking stick like Grandpa, and then she could catch up.
I saw these two by the side of the road as I left the hospital with Kender. It really caught my eye and made me think of the cycle of life, these two points, connected yet on the opposite sides of the circle, one heading up, one heading down.
Kender had his first exam under anesthesia since we brought A’Kos home. A’Kos and Kender both did fantastic. A’Kos was a little nervous about being in the new place, with all the new noises and smells, but he settled into his job just fine.
Kender’s behavior and attitude was completely different from the last few times we’ve been there. We only take him in every six months for these exams, but the regular nurses all remember us. Every single one of those long-timers commented on the changes in Kender, from how calm and cooperative he was to how talkative he was. No fuss getting on the scale, get his pulse-ox taken, getting his clothes changed, getting his temperature taken. Not only no fuss, but he was doing things himself with my direction, instead of me needing to handle him like a baby who happens to be big. He even wore the silly surgical cap…sort of…
We ended up having to wait nearly an hour past his scheduled surgery time. This isn’t uncommon; Dr. Trese schedules everybody for an uncomplicated exam under anesthesia with fluoroscein angiogram, but if he then finds something that needs fixing, whether it needs a simple laser cauterization or a full-out membrane peel and vitrectomy, he just does it right then while the patient is already asleep. Obviously this can throw the schedule off a bit! But I think most of us have been “that patient” at least once, so we just wait it out. Kender waited it out in style this time.
When it was time to go back, the nurses offered Kender a blanket. When he said no, they gave it to A’Kos instead. Then they pulled up the rails and took both A’Kos and Kender into the OR. I never heard a peep out of Kender, nothing like the crying I used to hear from down the hall when it was time for them to take him away. I chatted with one nurse while I waited, and another nurse brought A’Kos back to me once Kender was asleep. Such a good boy A’Kos was to behave even when his momma was away!
Kender’s eyes checked out good, no changes since his last exam, so all we had to do was wait for him to wake up from the anesthesia. As soon as they called me back to post-op, A’Kos got back into bed with Kender. Whenever Kender would start to fuss or try to take something off too soon, A’Kos was there with a “lap” command and a paw to calm him down. Post-op was the only place where we got anything resembling a negative comment, when an adult patient just waking up across from Kender asked what a dog was doing in there.
Again, even though he was still groggy as he woke up from the anesthesia, Kender was so much more responsive, helping to get himself dressed and anxious to get off the bed. He tried to walk to the car, but he was pretty wobbly still! The hospital makes everybody leave in a wagon or wheelchair anyway. Kender asked for pancakes for lunch, so we headed up to the Original Pancake House where both A’Kos and Kender took a nap while we waited for the food.
A’Kos was such a good boy for the whole day. Once we got home, though, it was like another dog had come to visit. A’Kos wanted to run and chase and play fetch for hours! He got an extra special peanut butter treat, too.
We are so incredibly grateful for all that A’Kos is bringing into Kender’s life and into our family, and for all the help that we received to help bring him home to us!
This was a perfect example of how a service animal can help an autistic child. What an amazing blessing and I am sure you all are much calmer in situations then in the past.
How cool to hear about your good experience. They are both good boys!
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