Syringomyelia Awareness: Book Review For the Love of Ollie

Guest post by Anne Singleton of Fight for Ella

“To the world you are just one, but to me, you are the world” is exactly how i feel about this book.  How can I possibly write a review of the book that means exactly that, the world to me? I have several pages of scribbled notes trying to try to say it just right, but I think its best to just let this come from my heart.

I need to tell the story of how this book brought awareness of SM to me and saved the most important thing in my life, Ella.  I did not know when I stumbled upon the website www.fortheloveofollie.com how important that day would be. I was trying to write a newsletter and  was looking up something to write about Cavalier Health back in April 2009. I saw the beautiful picture of a cavalier named Ollie and a book that says is a story of compassion and courage.  I saw that if you buy the book proceeds would go towards research for something called Syringomyelia so I thought I would buy it. Something called Syringomyelia would soon become something that I would soon become very familiar with because 6 months later she would be diagnosed with severe syringomyelia which I know call SM

April happened to be the same month Ella turned 3 and for that same newsletter I wrote about her birthday party. I did not understand why she seemed so tired recently and I thought she just must have played too long. Now I know there was a different reason for that.

The book tells a story from the heart from Sandy Smith (Ollie’s Mom).  She tells about Ollie as a puppy which still puts a smile on my face but she also tells how she went through not knowing what was wrong with Ollie until she got a letter from her breeder telling her about a condition that she should know about.  I feel the same way about this book as she must have felt when she got that letter. Answers to a puzzle that you finally could put together.

SM awareness is so important to me because had it not been for this book, I would have not called in tears that one Saturday morning and demanded Ella see a neurologist.  I had talked to my vet about my concerns with Ella especially after reading this book because I knew that Ella was doing several things that the book said were symptoms.  We had already gone a year with thinking she had food allergies and ear infections. I even took her to the vet to have him watch her walk up the stairs because just looked funny.  He said he didnt see anything strange when she walked up the stairs, which could be because its not something she did all the time.  “Let’s just wait and see because I dont think there is any reason to assume she has syringomyelia yet”.

I thought I was crazy and maybe I was over reacting from reading the book until several months and visits later. It was a Friday in December and I had talked to him again about my concern because we eliminated food allergies but now he thought she could be allergic to smoke.  He gave some drops to numb her ears and said we should still not jump into conclusions. She was shaking her head so much it just wasnt normal. Yet it was not a concern and all my friends also thought i was over reacting.

The next day i went to my cousins house and was in the back yard and was going to do what Ella loves more than anything, throwing a ball.  When i threw it and she didnt move tears came down my eyes and i knew what i had known deep down a long time ago, I was not crazy at all.

The picture of him staring at his favorite toy a black plastic bowling ball popped in my head and I immediately ran home crying calling her vet but I spoke to his partner and she referred me to a neurologist to see first thing Monday morning.

The neurologist said he definately thinks she should get an MRI, i thought if most it would be mild but it wasnt.  The next two weeks she tried medication but it only got worse.

Had it not been for this book and I waited I dont know how much longer, I dont think Ella would be with me know. As i say those words tears are falling and that is why this book means so much to me.

When I read it after everything it has a deeper meaning. I feel like she is telling everything exactly how I felt. Each time something else comes to mind so my book is worn from tears stains and also from referring to different things.

This book is more than a story, it also has a lot of helpful information and the book has raised a lot of money to fund research for SM.

It also has a letter from Ollie’s breeder who Sandy is so thankful for, who tells what it was like to learn about Ollie and his sister Maggie May had this condition. It was devastating because she felt the pain and how much sorrow she brought but Sandy did not blame her. In fact it was her who made her aware of syringomyelia.

This is a book is what SM awareness truly is and includes and touches everyone.  There is a lot of information now available on Syringomyelia but nothing quite sticks with you like a book with a picture of a cavalier named Ollie and his story.

Ollie, a cavalier king charles spaniel that will remain in my heart forever. Thank you for sharing your story to save another.

I would personally like to thank Sandy Smith who also reached out to me when I did not know where to go. She gave me the courage, strength, and helpful advice at a time when I was lost.

If you do anything this week, please buy For the Love of Ollie. I promise you that you will never forget it!

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