frayed nerves and gratitude

It has taken me awhile to process the experiences in entirety, wading through the flotsam and jetsam of frayed nerves, illogical-logical emotions of despair, anger and fear. My body is still trying to recover from the sensory collapse, and it doesn’t help to have an equally sensitive autoimmune condition, of course. The experience has left us both frazzled, but for me, I now carry a deep sense of gratitude for my precious Lucy.

Well, we headed back to COFA on the shuttle bus on Wednesday afternoon. I needed to attend a meeting, and it was at 4pm. We set off at 2.30pm, it was humid and sizzling, after a week of rain, the sun decided to force its way out at that very moment. Up the hill we went, with Lucy trotting up in a hurry because the pavement was hot under her delicate paws. I did try to find shady areas, but the shady route meandered too much through the campus and I was unsure how long we’d take to get to the bus stop, what with Lucy needing to stop along the way to sniff around and do a pee or poo. (We needed to catch the 3pm shuttle, and we’d be late if we missed it, because the next one is at 4pm.) Lucy didn’t stop at all, and we got to the bus stop within 10 minutes. Too early for the bus, we had a brief rest by the benches nearby.

This was Lucy’s first time on the COFA shuttle bus. Four seats at the back have been removed to make way for wheelchair access, and if nobody is using it, then there is ample space at the back for Lucy. The spunky girl got up the mini bus without much fuss, but the ride itself was a sensory nightmare for both of us. The bus bounced, bumped and swerved left and right as it turned, and so did poor Lucy. I did bring a mat, but the smooth vinyl covered surface at the back where we were did not offer any traction for either mat or Lucy’s paws. I had to hold on to her the entire journey. To make things worse, I clumsily spilled Lucy’s water onto myself, soaking my jeans right through and creating a puddle on the seat. I wiped up the water from the seat, of course, but nothing could be done about my jeans. Fortunately, I was too distracted by the sensorial assault to be much bothered about the other smaller sensory intrusion of wet jeans. I wasn’t upset about the social embarrassment either, what mattered most to me at that moment was Lucy’s wellbeing.

My Princess is such a brave little girl, she was clearly distressed, who wouldn’t be? I have never seen her tail tucked under so tightly before, but she never whimpered or complained throughout the ordeal. I held on to her but her back legs swung around as she tried to balance herself. The ride back was slightly better, because she decided to lie down for most of the journey, but we were already very exhausted and our nerves very frayed by then. We missed the 6pm bus because one very nasty man jumped the queue and cut in ahead of us. An older man, Chinese (maybe Singaporean or Malaysian), bald with threads of hair splayed across his greasy skull, short and overweight. I have not seen him before, and I do wonder what he is doing on COFA campus. He had the nerve to grumble loudly about the 4 seats being taken out to make way for a wheelchair, saying what an inconvenience it is and “nobody uses it anyway!” I did give him a piece of my mind, about inclusivity and having compassion for the disabled, but he snarled at me and surged on ahead of us. Nasty person. If I weren’t so tired, I’d have been more forceful in my opinion about his petty prejudice and bigotry.We had to wait for the 7pm.

While we waited, I bought a bottle of fizzy mineral water at the bottle shop nearby. Lucy was really thirsty, so I poured a little into her bowl. She hated it, took a little lick and wriggled her nose, snorting! I had to get still water from the tap in the bathroom for the little girl. 🙂 She lay down next to me as we sat at the bench, waiting for the bus. By the time we reached home, we were both walking zombies. I gave Lucy her dinner, and she crashed into bed immediately afterwards. She didn’t even want to go out for her evening walk.

The whole experience showed me more clearly how wonderful Lucy is. She stoically faced the challenge without complaint or fuss, even though she was very afraid, and she allowed me to help her as much as I can. She didn’t freak out when my support was inadequate either. We are a team, of course, but I do marvel at how much she is willing to be dragged through on my account. People wax lyrical about the manifold benefits of having a service dog, but we seldom stop to think what we put our dogs through in order to fulfill our needs.  Many humans don’t even notice it, they lack sensory empathy for their dogs, even those with service dogs, who they no doubt adore and love. What I am saying is that not many of us humans are well tuned into our dogs, probably because we are not taught to do so by our human-centric society, and we are not hypersensitive so we don’t notice the subtler nuances. Having hyper senses, I am far more affected by sensorial stimuli, but I also make a conscious effort to tune into Lucy’s senses. And I know how much more it costs her because dogs are even more sensorially acute than hypersensitive humans. I am grateful to my beautiful Princess. She is extra special, because she does everything with such grace and elegance on top of the sheer doggy dogged faithfulness.

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