After fourteen years with too numerous to count misdiagnoses, this is my daily journey living with an unknown disease that has made me fully physically dependent, living by the help from my family, friends, and beloved service dog. It is how I have chosen to define myself to remain whole in spite of it.

I once heard Dr. Oz say that people who have their dogs sleep on their bed sleep less than people who don’t. Obviously he has never met my service dog, Camelot. Camelot has a very high value for sleep, and what's more, he feels the only quality sleep he can reach at night is in a completely dark room with no noise whatsoever. In other words, he is the perfect sleep-patient.

I, on the other hand, am not. Sleep is not something that comes easily for me. I just can’t sleep for very long at all, when I actually do fall asleep. With my ever-growing list of reactionsboth allergic and intolerant—to medications, sleep aides are not an option. So, I choose to embrace my insomnia. Nothing new, and I’m perfectly reconciled with it. Being productive is not an option for me at night, I can’t go look for a book that I want in the middle of the night, but devices such as the kindle, iPod, and iPad have created life-transforming moments. That is, until Camelot came into my world.

As I said before, he does not like any noise or light disturbance when he's sleeping—say, from a TV, stereo, or any other device. I mean, if, say it is past his bed time and I have stubbornly kept my television on, he becomes inflicted with a snoring condition… a loud snoring condition. Miraculously, it is cured as soon as the TV is turned off.

I was first made aware of Camelot’s, shall we say, ardentness, when he was only 8 months old. My remote fell off my side table early one morning, just as I was reaching to grab it. Unable to pick it up from the floor, I noticed Camelot’s eyes were open. His treats were in reach, and since he was familiar with retrieving, I decided to make a lesson of it.

 “Camelot, pick it up.” After a gentle prodding, he got up, stretched, and quickly identified the object (the remote), and picked it up, showing me he had it.

  Thenoops, it fell. Tail wagging, he picked it up againand oops, it fell again! Gaining in incentives, I quickly tried to dampen his playing to bring it. But oopssomehow the remote, and Camelot, both went mysteriously underneath my bed. Then, to my amazement, Camelot came out the other side, tail wagging, big smileand no remote.          

He jumped up on my bed, and very smug, curled up and went back to sleep in the peace and quiet. When my mother entered an hour later to get Camelot, I relayed to her what had occurred. She kneeled under the bed, and burst out laughing. There was the remote, dead center under the middle of the bed.

Now, while I can not say that my sleep quality has improved since I have had my night—"nanny" Camelot, I can say that I am much closer to doing what the experts say I should be doing—and all because of a dog!

Snow Angels at the Cleveland Clinic

New Year, New You?