"With my hearing dog Rula by my side, I am whole"
Posted by Sarah O'Brien
When Alaine found out she was going deaf, she felt unable to cope with her day-to-day life. Now with Rula by her side, she feels invincible. Read their amazing story.
“When I discovered I was losing my hearing, I was going through a very difficult time. My sister Marion was diagnosed with breast cancer, then the day after, my Dad went out on an icy day and broke his hip.
“For months I was swinging between Dad, Marion and my Mum – who had the start of Dementia – and my work who were very uncaring to my needs. I took a week off for holiday and during this break I developed an ear infection and vertigo. I went to my GP, who sent me for a MRI scan. The results showed I had Meniere’s Disease, so I have hearing aids and tablets for vertigo and tinnitus. My work released me about a year later.
“I completely fell apart. I developed depression, along with crippling anxiety that would bring on panic attacks. I felt like I was unable to leave my house, and I was totally reliant on other people to take me out.
“I couldn’t cope with any of it. I just wanted to stay at home and not see anything or anyone. On several occasions, people had said unkind things, like that I was being rude because someone had spoken to me and I didn’t answer – and saying I was deaf didn’t help as they thought I was being funny.
“People that I thought were friends began to ignore me or would run into another shop in the streets to avoid me. I was devastated and felt completely isolated and alone.
“I went to a Hard of Hearing group that meets in Andover once a month, and a lady was talking about Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – and it sounded like a good option for me. I applied and eventually got matched with a hearing dog called Rula.
“Rula is wonderful – she is my best friend. She is well known in our local town Andover. I now love going into town, because people speak to us and want to know what she does for me. Rula and I visit schools, universities and care homes giving a valuable insight into our daily life. People talk to us and are interested in what I have to say. It has helped me come out of my shell and I am so much more confident when I have Rula by my side.
“The biggest change Rula has made for me is that I am still alive. I went downhill when my Mum passed away in June 2012. I couldn’t get my head around it. Rula gave me a new focus on life.
“I love Rula to the moon and back – and her love is unconditional. She makes me safe. With Rula by my side, I am whole.
“Rula is caring, gentle, loving and giving. She is unique - and has an enormous heart. One of our friends had very stressful job, and when she came to see us Rula would sit with her and somehow de-stress her. Rula seems to know when you are not okay, and she will come and sit on your knee for cuddles. And she can also snore for Britain!
“To anyone who has donated time or money to Hearing Dogs - you have no idea how much it means to us. What you take for granted – going out by yourself, shopping on your own, or just going for a walk by the sea, is not feasible for some of us deaf people. Rula, and all the other hearing dogs that people have supported, are lifesavers.
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