Hi guys. The letter below is from a good woman I know. It doesn’t describe 1/100th of what she does out of love for her fiancé. Please help this young couple if you can. And you absolutely can, no matter what, by maximally sharing this post—and especially this link. Please do that, a lot. The dogs you’ll read about below cost serious money to maintain and train—and the visionary who does that work has already given these kids so many breaks he qualifies as a saint.
I know any amount with which you can help the three of them would be more appreciated than words can express
Here’s the letter:
Hi there. I’m sending this e-mail to many people. Some of you know me better than others. I’m Christie Landtroop. I am asking for your help and prayers.
My fiance, Matt, has been suffering for a long time (his whole life, really). He had been doing fairly well when we met in 2009, but he quickly unraveled before my eyes.
The past three years have been filled with doctors and therapists and tests and medications. There have also been trips to the ER and hospital stays.
The trouble is that Matt has things going on with his brain.
In September of 2011 (after a lifetime of being treated for ADHD and then for bipolar disorder) he was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, also called high-functioning Autism. The hard part about his Asperger’s is that right now he is not at all high-functioning. That term means only that his IQ is not affected. He is, however, distinctly limited in his understanding of people and social norms. He has never fit in, and has few friends. He is disabled by his anxiety and sensory over-stimulation. He has frequent panic attacks and has trouble being around anyone but me (and at times he can’t stand to be near me, either). He also has a tendency to intentionally hit his head against walls to cope with the turmoil in his head. Matt knows he is different, but he can’t understand why many people don’t like him. And this causes so much pain for him.
This past spring, Matt was diagnosed with something called Dysautonomia. It is a dysfunction of his Autonomic Nervous System. That is the part of the nervous system that regulates things like body temperature, blood pressure, and the body’s “fight-or-flight” responses. Matt’s symptoms have shown up as him losing consciousness during normal activities like standing up, walking across a room, or lightly (accidentally) bumping his head on the car door frame when getting into the car. This, in conjunction with his Asperger’s, has produced some very scary situations. His Dysautonomia is the reason he lost his job at Walmart over two years ago. Thankfully this Dysautonomia is now mostly controlled by a medication he started a few months ago. He still gets dizzy at times, and if he forgets to take his medicine it is usually a very bad day for us both.
Just last month, in September 2012, Matt was finally diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). This is a condition you tend to associate with war veterans and victims of violent crime. Matt is not a veteran, but is a survivor of a different kind of trauma. Much of the trauma he endured had to do with the severe bullying he got growing up. There are other things as well, but the point is that due (as we’ve now learned) to his PTSD, Matt is suffering from nightmares and frequent episodes of dissociation. PTSD also causes Matt additional, unfounded and unpredictable anxieties that pop-up several times a day. These random PTSD anxieties plus the Asperger’s anxieties overwhelm him; they’re a very intense combination.
Last year during holiday time, Matt experienced some really tough times due to his conditions. He experienced many frightening things and something called a Dissociative Fugue. You can hear from us about what happened because we recorded the below YouTube videos to document it. (Keep in mind that all we knew at the time was that he has Asperger’s.)
Matt has tried many different ways to cope with his symptoms, from group therapy, to intensive inpatient therapy, to individual therapy, to medications than I’ll ever remember. Unfortunately, none of these has provided lasting relief or help to him.
*** Now for the good part!!! ***
We somehow got the idea that getting a service dog would be a helpful and stabilizing influence for Matt. I was fortunate enough to find the world’s best dog trainers for neuro-psychological service dogs only one hour away from us. Bob Taylor is the President of DogWish.org, and he is an amazing man. He invited us up to the DogWish kennels to meet with him and his other trainers as well as some dogs.
We have been up there six times now, and whenever Matt is around those dogs he is a different person! He is happy and calmer. He is focused and present. The moment the dogs go away, he is back to the tormented Matt that struggles to survive.
There’s a terrier there called Brat that will run and jump into Matt’s arms. A little six-week-old puppy named Dezzy loves to lick Matt’s face and untie his shoelaces. Matt loves the German Shepherds like Lexi and Coby. The way his whole face and demeanor lit up when he first saw Lexi was an absolutely priceless moment for me to witness. I was near tears the whole way home just replaying that moment in my mind.
Our goal is to raise the money to get Matt a properly and highly trained service dog through DogWish. Bob thoroughly evaluates and examines each dog before he pairs them up with their handler to make sure they are a perfect match. The dogs are trained for six months before they are released into the care of their handlers.
Matt’s dream dog is a fluffy German Shepherd. Bob told us to go ahead and start searching near us to find some for him to check out. Normally, we’d have to wait until we got a large down payment together before we could get to this point, but Bob is so kind and generous that he has agreed to get started now and we will raise as much as we can as fast as we can along the way.
If you are able to help in any amount please follow this link to Matt’s DogWish page. If you are not able to help at this time but know of others who would be touched enough to share this or contribute, please forward this e-mail to them in its entirety. Please leave comments of support and encouragement on our fundraising page as well so Matt knows that there are people out there who care and want to help him.
I thank you so very much with ALL of my heart for taking the time to read this.
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will get back to you!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.