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Nixa – February 2002 – January 2010

Renee Zimmerman
Nixa and owner Renee ZimmermanIn 2002 I went for surgical removal of abdominal adhesions and overnight hospitalization. I woke three months later in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit on a ventilator. Imagine my surprise! My surgery had gone horribly wrong. A loop of perforated bowel went unnoticed at closing, and infection was soon followed by total body sepsis.

According to my spouse, I was a cornucopia of medical problems: fluid in my lungs, uncontrollable high blood pressure, kidney failure and massive swelling in my brain. The last proved hardest to overcome. The areas of my brain that control balance, coordination, speech and cognition were compromised.

After the three months in a coma, I spent another three months in the hospital recovering and learning how to be a person again. There I received speech, cognitive, physical and occupational therapies. After release from the hospital, I lived in a hospital bed in my living room for weeks, continuing with all of the above therapies.

I spent the better part of a year working on regaining the functions I had lost. I relearned how to speak, read, write, walk, feed, dress and all the other activities that make one human. However, no matter how hard I worked, I could not stop falling. One moment I’d be standing up and the next thing I knew I would be on the floor. I was also dropping things all the time.

In July 2004, Nixa came into my life. Nixa, a beautiful black lab, was my service dog and my constant companion. You saw me, and you saw Nixa. She kept me safe and kept me from falling. When I would start to lose my balance, Nixa would stand totally still so I could lean on her shoulders to steady myself. Nixa picked up the hundreds of things that fell out of my hands. I had no idea how many things I was dropping until Nixa starting giving them to me! Nixa found all my lost pens.Nina the black lab taking a nap

Nixa and owner Renee playing in the snowWords cannot express how Nixa changed my life. Sometimes I was so thankful to have her that I would well up with tears. Nixa would lick my cheeks as if to say “Mom, it’s my job.” She gave me confidence and comfort. I knew that Nixa would be a big help to me. I had no idea that Nixa would give me back my life.

Now I picture Nixa in a wonderful place with plenty of rabbits and squirrels to chase. Nixa drinks from a stream that occasionally bubbles up peanut butter. Nixa gets to romp as much and as long as she wants. I am so thankful to have had Nixa. I miss her so.

Nixa’s Brick on the Walk of Honor