Voice on Fire Blog

Home of Lira the Amazing Pet Therapy Dog

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Sometimes when you walk into a room you know you are going to be touched.  Whether it is physically, emotionally and or spiritually… sometimes you just know.   Maybe… just maybe one of you out there may remember from this little story… that if you happen across someone with cerebral palsy that inside that prison of a body they are like you and I in their minds.

Her brown eyes were special because I could tell by her eyes alone that she understood me.  She smiled brightly as if she was expecting me.  It struck me her smile… because it showed such joyfulness.  Her arms were moving uncontrollably, her fists clenched, she was making unrecognizable sounds and her long straight brown hair was stretched neatly on the pillow of her extra high hospital bed.

I asked her if she would like to visit with Lira.  She answered with a sound that I took as a yes.  Lira hopped way up into the bed beside her and the young woman squealed with delight.

At this time the supervising nurse stepped in.  This woman is an angel in my eyes.  She is the kind of nurse that goes the extra mile in ways that count.  On this ward there are a lot of long term patients.  She will do whatever it takes to make the patient more comfortable emotionally, spiritually and physically. She told Vanessa that she would return later to read to her from the book of dog stories she had brought to her room.  She loves her nursing job and it shows.

When nurse Angel walked in she said, “Oh good, you’re here.  This is Vanessa, she is 22 years old and she has cerebral palsy.  She is essentially trapped in her own body but can understand everything you say to her.”  She introduced us.  She then continued to tell me that Vanessa loved animals.  Her dream was to grow up and be a veterinarian.  She was unable to accomplish this goal because she couldn’t find an assistant to help her in college.

As Lira was in bed beside her I could tell Vanessa was trying to touch her.  I must say that I was proud of Lira.  Even though the patient’s movements were sporadic and jumpy she remained calm and understanding as if she knew Vanessa couldn’t help it.  I was careful to protect Liras eyes and told Vanessa that I was doing so.  I took her clenched fist and assisted her in petting Liras head and very soft body.  I could tell that whenever she touched Lira that it ignited a positive emotion and that this would make her inadvertently move her arms in quick uncontrolled ways.  She obviously was enjoying the encounter very much.

What touched me about this patient? The joy she exhibited.  I can’t fathom what it is like to deal with this illness.  Can you imagine knowing everything that is going on around you but it doesn’t appear that way to the world? Everyone talking around you, about you, not to you… yet you can understand it all. It must be hellacious. What struck me though is Vanessa’s joy.  I could tell this young woman knew joy more than just about anybody I have ever met before. You could feel it… I was touched by it.