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Former NewsChannel 3 meteorologist Dr. Duane needs your help as he battles rare illness

Posted at 5:04 PM, Apr 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-24 17:04:13-04

Norfolk, Va. - Severe narcolepsy has stolen Dr. Duane Harding`s quality of life and sent him to the hospital.

“I have broken lots of bones falling out of bed or running into walls,” he says.

Duane`s violent dreams are just part of the problem. He also has cataplexy which are attacks where he loses muscle control and collapses.

“Sometimes I can fight it, fight if off. Sometimes I can recover. But other times I can`t. I just go down to the ground for twenty minutes or so,” says Duane.

Duane lives alone. A year ago, his beloved cat Tipper died. Over the nearly 20 years they were together, Tipper trained herself to wake Duane from the violent dreams.

“As soon as the cat would hear that, she would jump on the bed and wake me up out of the dream,” says Duane.

Duane did his research and learned that service dogs, which have been used for years to help the blind, people with seizures and other disorders, are also being trained to help people with narcolepsy.

The man haunted by dreams now has one he`d like to see come to life-to get a service dog.

Gemma Soberano is a service dog trainer with paws training centers. She has begun working with a non-profit foundation, paws4people, to try to locate a dog for Duane.

Service dogs are specially trained to help people perform tasks necessary to daily life. For Duane, the dog could rescue him when the dangerous dreams come.

“At night when he has nightmares, we can train the dog to wake him up from those nightmares,” says Soberano.

The dog could also help with cataplexy.

“If I had an attack, a service dog could help me to the ground,” says Duane.

Duane carries a card in his wallet which explains his condition. But during an attack, people don`t see it.

“It says I have cataplexy, see back of card. For some reason, they don`t turn it over,” says Duane.

The dog could change that.

“Find the identification card, put it on his chest, and put it somewhere where the public sees it. 17:31 so that anyone who approaches will read what the situation is.' 17:34

The situation for Dr. Duane is tough. But there is hope on four legs.

More Information: 

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – What is Narcolepsy?

PAWS Training Center, which recently opened a branch in Virginia Beach, provides Service Dog training for many unique needs… including Narcolepsy. A Medical Alert Assistance Dog can be specially trained to wake up their handler, or keep their handler from going in the wrong direction or doing something dangerous. They are also trained to alert their handlers to specific times of day to remind them to take their medication.

PAWS Training Center– Types of Training

Share your memories and leave your well-wishes for Dr. Duane in the comments section below.

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Former NewsChannel 3 meteorologist Dr. Duane struggling with rare condition