A Service Dog for Imani

A Service Dog for Imani

From Imani Dial-James

I am raising money to get a service dog! All donations will go towards service dog related expenses, such as orthopedic x-rays, service dog gear, and working with professional trainers and behaviorists.

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Update #1

over 2 years ago

How do my disabilities affect my daily life? Today has been a very good example of what makes hypermobility syndrome (HS) disabling for me. Despite the name, HS isn't just about what happens in my joints. Every part of me is affected.
Today I was supposed to go to work. When I got up this morning I took a shower, bushed my teeth, washed my face and got dressed. After I put my clothes on I turned to leave my room and was suddenly overcome with dizziness and nausea. I stumbled to a chair and almost fell over. I felt incredibly sick to my stomach, my head was pounding and the world was spinning. I could not stand or bend over without heaving.. I called my boss and told him that I would be kind of late for work because I did not feel well. He expressed concern and called my coworker to see if she could cover for me. Luckily she said she could cover the whole day so I didn't need to come in at all.
After a long nap I awoke feeling much better than I had. I decided it would be fine to walk around and do normal things with the assistance of my cane. I was wrong. I had a nasty fall and hurt my back. I was lucky that I did not hit my head. Now I am only walking with the assistance of my rollator.
All of this is not to say that my life is terrible, or to gain sympathy. I just want to educate people about the realities of what it means when your condition "substantially limits (a) major life activity." Today I could not go to work. The reason is that the process of getting ready for work was more than my body could handle at that moment. It is incredibly frustrating to be limited in this way. But my life is still good. I got some extra sleep, made some phone calls and sent some emails, and now I am going to get some extra time reading a book. Life is full of ups and downs. But being able to think about the things you are grateful about is an important part of coping with a disability.

More Info

My name is Imani and I am a 25 year old disabled woman who is looking to get a service dog. I believe that adding a service dog to my medical treatment plan will be helpful to me because my strengths lie in working with animals. I would like to train my service dog to perform pressure therapy by laying on me, to alert and respond to incoming panic attacks, and to interrupt self harming behavior. I would also like this dog to help me keep my balance when I am dizzy, and to perform forward momentum pull to keep me walking when I have a lot of leg pain. I have seen many people like myself have great success with service dogs, and I hope the same will be true for me.

I have had symptoms of disability since I was a child. The most noticeable that when I was very young family members would describe me as being “afraid of everything that made noise and moved.” Symptoms of anxiety became worse and I developed symptoms of depression at 9 years old when my mother died. Throughout middle and high school I did several different types of therapy, multiple times a week. In my sophomore year of high school I was diagnosed with dysthymia with periods of major depression. I went to college in 2012 and after a year was forced to leave because I had poor grades, caused by poor mental health. In December 2016 I moved from Connecticut to Upstate New York. After the move for around a year I had a period of relatively good (although far from perfect) mental health, during which I was seeing a therapist and psychiatric nurse practitioner. Late 2018 I began experiencing a decline in my mental health, which resulted in me being hospitalized in November. I was then diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Recurring Major Depression, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Throughout my journey I have tried a number of different therapies and have been on a number of different medications. I am currently on psychiatric medication, seeing a therapist, and seeing a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

In terms of physical ailment, I have also had symptoms since childhood. I have had joint, back, and foot pain as well as headaches for as long as I can remember. At first it was chalked up as growing pains, however in adulthood it became obvious that was not the case. In 2017 I was diagnosed with joint hypermobility syndrome. I currently see a rheumatologist regularly, as well as several other doctors on an as needed basis for my physical symptoms. I also take a few different medications for these symptoms. My biggest physical symptoms are: chronic pain, migraines, temperature sensitivity, loose joints, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. 

It is difficult for me to run errands (most notably grocery shopping) because I get overwhelmed. I also had to stop going to school, but I would like to earn my bachelor’s degree. I have a lot of trouble forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships because I find socializing difficult, and I struggle with irritability and poor emotional control. I also have trouble concentrating at work, and sometimes fall asleep at my desk (and in other inappropriate areas). Standing for too long (particularly in heat) can make me dizzy and I sometimes fall with no warning (I do not lose consciousness).

I believe that a service dog could greatly improve my life. With a service dog I will be able to be more of an "adult" by being more productive at work and running errands on my own. And although it is not a true "task" I hope that handling a service dog will help improve my confidence so that I can get out in the world and be more social.

For this campaign I had a good friend of mine create an art piece with the slogan "Just Keep Stimming." The slogan represents my pride in being neurodivergent. It also serves as a reminder that no matter how "strange" it looks to other people, you should continue to do what helps you the most. Self stimulating behaviors (shortened to "stimming") are important for many neurodivergent people like myself. Stimming helps us to regulate sensory input and also to communicate. Rather than "correcting" stimming which isn't self injurious, followers of the neurodiversity movement encourage people to stim as much as they need to! When you click on my "donate now" button, you will be presented with the option of "giving levels". A donation of a certain amount can earn a donor items ranging from pins to hoodies, all of which feature the art that my friend made. If none of the giving levels seem right for you, you may also choose to donate without selecting a giving level. 

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Imani Dial-James posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #1

How do my disabilities affect my daily life? Today has been a very good example of what makes hypermobility syndrome (HS) disabling for me. Despite the name, HS isn't just about what happens in my joints. Every part of me is affected.
Today I was supposed to go to work. When I got up this morning I took a shower, bushed my teeth, washed my face and got dressed. After I put my clothes on I turned to leave my room and was suddenly overcome with dizziness and nausea. I stumbled to a chair and almost fell over. I felt incredibly sick to my stomach, my head was pounding and the world was spinning. I could not stand or bend over without heaving.. I called my boss and told him that I would be kind of late for work because I did not feel well. He expressed concern and called my coworker to see if she could cover for me. Luckily she said she could cover the whole day so I didn't need to come in at all.
After a long nap I awoke feeling much better than I had. I decided it would be fine to walk around and do normal things with the assistance of my cane. I was wrong. I had a nasty fall and hurt my back. I was lucky that I did not hit my head. Now I am only walking with the assistance of my rollator.
All of this is not to say that my life is terrible, or to gain sympathy. I just want to educate people about the realities of what it means when your condition "substantially limits (a) major life activity." Today I could not go to work. The reason is that the process of getting ready for work was more than my body could handle at that moment. It is incredibly frustrating to be limited in this way. But my life is still good. I got some extra sleep, made some phone calls and sent some emails, and now I am going to get some extra time reading a book. Life is full of ups and downs. But being able to think about the things you are grateful about is an important part of coping with a disability.

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