• Emily Cashel

Kathy & Jax

How can an animal save a life? Most people who know me know my story and my struggle with Scleroderma, especially with Raynaud’s phenomenon (Autoimmune Disease). Usually when I talk about my fight I leave out a very important four-legged fur kid named Jax. I have suffered from Scleroderma & Severe Chronic Raynaud’s for years, but July of 2011 it took over my fingers with a vengeance. I lost 95% blood flow in both hands causing severe ulcers, bone infection, ischemic and gangrene tissue, the whole nine yards. I had 11 surgeries in a 10 month period, starting with a sympothectomy that failed, to partial amputations of 4 fingers that failed to heal. I had skin grafts to try and save an open wound that exposed a tendon. The surrounding tissue was dying and exposed the bone, which ended up with the remainder of the fingers being amputated. I’ve had a total of 18 surgeries since 2005 on my hands.

I then had Arterializations of the venous system on both wrists to restore blood flow to the hand. During this year long process I was home bound, and sleeping and living in my recliner. This caused the muscles in my legs and arms to deteriorate. I couldn’t bathe myself at times as both hands were bandaged; my legs barely had the strength to stand up from a chair or toilet. I was on Morphine, Vicodin and Dilaudid for over a year, as HIGH as Ozzy Osborne. I was angry, sad, depressed, and just downright mad! Along with all of that, my 13-year-old German Shepherd, Sabre. died. My thoughts were, “Now just what in the hell could happen next?”

My husband, knowing me so well and knowing I’m an avid animal lover, got online one day and called me into the computer room. He had found a GSD Breeder in Michigan. The picture showed a litter of Black Sable puppies. I looked at him and said, “No way in hell!” and went back to my recliner. But this little 4-legged fur creature simply stuck in my mind, and I couldn’t stop thinking of him. So, needless to say we called the breeder, went through the interview process, and flew this little 4-legged fur creature to Houston 6 weeks later.

He was a Czech/East German working line bloodline, with extremely high drive and the teeth of a piranha. He forced me to get my ass up off the recliner, and for the first time in over a year I walked around my back yard, chasing him around the house, trying to keep him out of anything and everything. I spent my time walking him, throwing his ball, taking him to the park, and getting up and down on the floor with him. I literally spent from dawn to dark with him, and I still do.

Little did Jax nor I realize at the time, but my body became stronger. I regained muscle strength in my legs and arms, and I got stronger and stronger over time. I was recovering from a over a year of a living hell. This little high drive abundance of energy and love of my life saved me in a way no one can possibly understand. Jax has no clue either. I often hear other’s say “It’s JUST a dog.” Well allow me to simply punch those people in the face please! NO! He is not just “A DOG”.

They teach us more than we will ever teach them. They are God’s angels sent to rescue us in ways unimaginable. This little boy gave me a part of my life back that I thought I had lost forever. Today, three years later (2015), I have gained all of my strength back, and Jax and I walk three miles every day we can. There is nothing I can’t do, I just do it differently and a little slower. So, this story is for my Jax who literally saved my life!

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