Canine carer restores life and hope to disabled woman

TRACY Wells was once an active woman who lived life to the full. She played county rugby, jogged every morning and had an active social life.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Boston Target

But, two weeks after getting married and returning from her honeymoon she fell down some stairs into a cellar at the shop in which she worked as an assistant manager.

  1. Tracy Wells

    PAWS FOR THOUGHT:Tracy Wells and her canine partner Sophie

She went to hospital and X-rays were taken which showed nothing more serious than a sprain.

Eight weeks later she still could not bear weight on her leg which was starting to go black.

It emerged she had broken her ankle and severed ligaments in her right foot.

Her leg was put in plaster for five months, but when the plaster came off she still could not bear weight so was given physiotherapy.

But, after 257 sessions of physiotherapy and 49 sessions of hydrotherapy it still it was not any better.

She went on to have bone and MRI scans that diagnosed reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), for which there is no cure.

Tracy said: “My leg now sweats more, it gets swollen and is 2.5 degrees colder than my other leg. Because of the damaged ligament, it gives way frequently.

“I can’t have surgery as that is classed as trauma and will make the condition worse.

“I always walk with two sticks and use a wheelchair. The RSD has caused fibromyalgia, which gives me burning pains through my body.

“There is one hospital in the entire country that deals with RSD, which is in Bath.

“I have had one week of intensive therapy as an inpatient there, which I had to raise £6,000 to fund.”

Before the accident Tracy had an active social life and her diary was always full.

But, after the accident she went from not having enough hours in the day to spending the entire day on her own on the sofa.

She explained: ” We had to move the bed downstairs as I was having lots of falls and my husband would often come home to find me having been on the floor for six hours.

“As a result of not being able to stand for long, I wasn’t able to cook, do the housework or go out on my own.”

The couple eventually moved to Boston where they now live in sheltered accommodation, as Tracy’s condition has deteriorated.

She added: “We had gone from owning our own house to being housed by the local authority, we lost everything – friends disappeared and parents backed off.

“It was now just me and my husband, it was hard to adjust, but after eight years we cope.”

Tracy applied for a dog through Canine Partners and was soon told they had a suitable dog for her.

She said: “When I met Sophie, she came straight up to me and instantly started rubbing her nose on me.

“We were asked to do a couple of tasks to see how we bonded and I tell you, for the whole day I had a massive smile on my face.

“Before I had Sophie, I very rarely went out and housework was impossible.

“I was starting to get depressed and felt I was a burden to my husband.

“Now I have Sophie, I don’t have to rely on my husband so much and I am confident to go out on my own.”

Sophie helps Tracy with every day tasks including the washing, dressing, opening and closing doors, fetches the post and picks things up that Tracy drops.

She also keeps Tracy company while her husband is at work.

Tracy said: “Having Sophie has changed my life and I no longer feel a burden to people.

“I cannot describe how I feel about having Sophie. I am so privileged to have her. She is not just my carer, she is my best friend and soul mate.”

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