by Amy Zellmer, Editor-in-chief
A few years before my brain injury, I rescued a sweet little Yorkie from the local Humane Society. She had come in over the weekend and was underweight, scruffy, and scared. On the phone they warned me that she was mean and would try to bite anyone who held her. When they brought her to my house for an in-home visit, she came right up to me. I picked her up,and she proceeded to lick my entire face.
It was love at first sight . . . I named her Pixxie.
After my fall that caused my brain injury, I was worried that Pixxie was going to have a potty accident in bed because I was sleeping 12-14 hours, but not once did she have an accident or bother me to get up. She knew I was hurting and she comforted me. In some ways I think she rescued me. She was my reason to get up every morning, she kept me in a routine.
Pixxie traveled the country with me. We visited 42 states plus Canada in her eight years with me. She became the face of my advocacy — I mean, who doesn’t love a cute dog with her tongue sticking out! If you’ve ever met me in person, there’s a good chance you got a puppy kiss from Pixxie!
In May I noticed several large lumps pop up out of nowhere on Pixxie’s belly. A biopsy revealed an aggressive form of cancer, and within a month the tumors had more than doubled in size. By July more tumors started impeding her ability to walk and lay down. I realized I didn’t have much time left with her and, as much as it broke my heart, I knew what needed to be done to give her the most comfort. She was her spunky little self right up until the end.
The moral of the story: it’s ok to feel all the feels and allow ourselves the time we need to process whatever news we are given. The loss of my fur baby is hard to process. I’ve had to allow myself to feel a range of emotions from anger to sadness to fear. Change and grief is hard for anyone, but after a brain injury it can be incredibly difficult. It’s OK to take all the time you need, and it’s OK to ask for help.