It started off as any other day, a bright sunny Monday afternoon in Southern California. My dog Crash and I were enjoying our daily walk to the community dog park. This was a place where we went often because he loved to dig, run, bark and play. I noticed that my Parkinson’s was a little off, but I knew I could handle walking my pooch. I can’t live under a rock just because my PD is acting up… plus being under a rock sounds painful. What if the rock was heavy? I digress… With a wagging tail and a wet nose Crash approaches the gate and we see two pit bulls enjoying an off-leash romp. Then one of the hounds detects Crash on the opposite side of the fence and runs to the gate and starts aggressively barking at us. With teeth and foamy mouth it was obvious that our presence wasn’t welcomed. The owner stated they were just leaving, as he begins to put on their metal prong collars, Crash and I moved away from the fencing to give them room to exit the park.
Now before I go any further… there are bits of information that you would be helpful to note. As many of you read my last blog, (which you should because it’s kind of mind-blowing) I was trying focus on the positive things I can still do regardless of my health because I having a difficult time with my Parkinson’s symptoms. My fluctuations were so dramatic that I would go from extreme dyskinesia to slow as sloth (although an adorable sloth)… at any time, without warning. My normal medication regimen wasn’t effective and the unpredictability made my daily life daunting. I knew something was wrong… but what?
After trying to control this change with adjusting my medication, with no luck, we turned to my Deep Brain Stimulators, which were placed in 2010. But it was the last thing we thought it could be, seeing as I had just gotten my batteries replaced in January. Then Detective Perky and her PD Wolfpack got a break in the case. A side effect! What started as a feeling of muscle spasms underneath my armpit later progressed to electrical jolts felt throughout my whole body. And yes, it wasn’t a pleasant jolt, like a delicious cup of coffee in the morning. It was more like, “Why am I being poked by a cattle prod?”
So we decided that my Neurosurgeon replace my right side battery and the wiring up to my connector… which goes up to my brain… like all up in there. Even though they didn’t need to go back into my brain…. Bonus… I was still going to have an incision behind my ear and in my armpit, where the battery is located. So that’s the plan…. another surgery… and we didn’t even know what we were looking for. We were just going off my side effects and the fluctuations. I kind of felt that my name should have been switched to Sparky the Parkie… but I had faith that my PD Wolfpack would figure it all out.
Now let’s jump back to the beginning of my story… bright sunny day… crazy mad pit bulls… Crash and I moving out of the way… y’all caught up? The two pit pulls where being wrangled up by the owner. As the man placed metal prong collars around their necks he says, “They never act this way” as they were growling, barking, and pulling on their collars with the intention to devour Crash and I. They started to exit the gates of the dog park. At this point I didn’t feel threatened. We were at a safe distance, and the owner had them controlled (as much as he could) with their metal collars. But then it happens. With a snap of the choker one dog is free and sprinting towards us. Everything went into slow motion. It felt like a dream.
Within seconds, the pit bull had Crash by the neck and shaking him. In a chaotic blur, somehow the second dog got free and they were now both on top attacking him. The air was full of screams, growls, and yelping from Crash. I felt helpless. I was kicking the dogs, but they didn’t flinch. At one point Crash tried to crawl up on me, and our eyes met. I tried to pull him up, but the pit bulls kept pulling him down to the ground. Then the owner of the pit bulls jumped on Crash and I spotted my chance to pull him out from under the man and turned my back to the attack. Finally, the owner had control of his ________________ dogs. (Feel free to fill in the blank)… I have many words that came to mind.
Hearing the commotion, a community maintenance man drove his golf cart over to investigate. When he offered to drive me to my apartment so I could get Crash to the Veterinarian, I could barely move. My Parkinson’s was so bad from the stress of the event. As I move slowly to his golf cart, I begin to cry. My rigid, slow and shaky body wasn’t able to protect Crash. My disease impacted how fast I reacted. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t even think of what the next step was to do. Call the Veterinarian or just get in my car and drive…. but drive where? As I sit in the golf cart with Crash on my lap shaking, I look up to see the owner of the pit bulls kneeling on the ground restraining his dogs. Both dogs were covered in Crash’s blood.
Crash went into surgery that night to repair his injuries, needless to say, I had very little sleep. I kept thinking about how lucky we both were. I didn’t even think twice of getting injured when I tried to stop the attack and Crash, although traumatized, was going to make a full recovery…. well except for a little doggy PTSD therapy. The following morning I was able to pick my dog-son up and let me tell you, I got a dose of what it must feel like being a parent with sick kid. Just seeing him with the all his staples and drains. I just wanted to take away his pain. I almost wished that I had gotten attacked… and what’s worse…. He was wearing the cone of shame.
Although my surgery was the following day, all my attention was focused on my injured pooch. My Dad came from Arizona to help Crash and I recover. The morning of my surgery, I took “Uber” to the hospital… who does that? The intention was to have my Dad stay with Crash, who couldn’t even walk and needing medication every few hours. Then my Dad could pick me up from after I recovered from my surgery and then of course take me to Yogurtland. Who cares that I looked like I got hit by a truck and was sporting a mesh head wrap… obviously I was high on pain medication. Don’t judge me.
My surgery went famously… except for a few pictures my Dad took for blackmail. Thanks Dad! You really captured the moment. They did find the cause of my shocking. It was a wire that got cut at some point. So the fluctuations that I had been struggling with was due to a faulty wire… I was not crazy!!! There was a mechanical reason that I was not getting symptom relief. Now before you start asking questions… we don’t know how we got a slice in my wire. It is what it is. Sometimes things just happen, especially with medical technology. I don’t view this as something that would make me apprehensive about getting DBS… It’s kind of like getting maintenance on your car. They looked under my hood and realized that we had a problem. So the battery and connector were replaced and I am back on the road again.
So now, Crash and I are recovering together. He has 15 staples on his neck and I have 14 staples behind my ear. He has 16 stables on his inner thigh and I have sutures under my armpit. He had to wear pants so he couldn’t lick his wounds. I had to wear bandages so I didn’t lick my wounds. Crash and I are even getting out staples out on the same day. This week we have been recovering by binge watching Netflix and Hulu, taking our pain medication and antibiotics topped off with … of course Fro Yo! Hey, it’s packed with a ton of healthy bacteria, so I hear.
This situation made me aware of how difficult Parkinson’s is to deal with alone. I couldn’t have done it without my Dad! Then when he had to go back home, I had my PD Wolfpack to fall back on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It was a difficult thing for me to do but I found that there’s a ton of love and support out there if you just reach out.