Thursday, May 30, 2013

Service Dog Fail

Today Isaac and I were at Hobby Lobby and I heard a little boy, maybe four or five years old, asking his  mother about Isaac.  "Why is there a doggie in the store?  What's a service dog?  But what does he do?  Can I have a service dog?  Why is he wearing that cape?"

I was feeling good (because I had not gone to Walmart yet; that place sucks) and decided to ask the little boy if I could answer any questions for him.  I like to educate kids when I am able to.

He asked me what Isaac does to help me and I said, "One thing he does is pick up things for me if I drop something because it is hard for me to bend over."

The little boy looked skeptical and asked, "Really?  Your dog knows how to do that?"

I said, "Sure!  Watch!" and dropped my keys on the floor and told Isaac to get them.

Isaac picked them up but instead of giving them to me, tried to give them to the little boy.  The little boy wasn't expecting Isaac to move toward him and he stepped backward and refused to take the keys from Isaac.  So Isaac dropped them on the floor.

I told Isaac again to get them.  He looked at me, yawned, and flopped down on the floor to rest.

The little boy suggested, "Maybe he will be able to get them if they are closer to his paws," and used his foot to push the keys over to Isaac.  Isaac gave him a big goofy doggie grin and thumped his tail happily, but refused to pick up the keys.

I ended up having to pick them up myself.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Today I Pray for Peace

Most people that know me probably already know I am opposed to war.  I am pretty much a pacifist.  I just don't believe that war will ever lead us to peace.  I believe that peace is the way to peace.

I am saddened for all those that have lost their lives fighting in wars and for their families and loved ones left behind.  I don't think glorifying war is the best response to that sadness, though.  Instead, today I pray for peace.


Remember the picture of the ugly blue bucket in my bathroom?  The one I make my laundry detergent in?

I bought some shelf paper on sale, the kind with adhesive backing.  I covered the bucket, which was not quite as easy as it sounds, but I think it turned out well.

I had some shelf paper left over and I'd been wanting something to hang on the wall by my front door to put outgoing mail in.  You know the kind of thing I mean?  I'd looked at the thrift store but not found anything suitable that I liked.  So I covered a box that protein bars came in with shelf paper.  I like the way it turned out, too.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Isaac Doesn't Like One of Our New Neighbors

Isaac likes everyone, you know.  Actually, like is probably not a strong enough work.  He loves just about everyone.

Except one of our new neighbors.

This is the second person Isaac has ever met that he didn't like, at least in the six-plus months that he's been with me.  The first person was a guy that changed the oil in my car at one of those quickie lube places.  It was weird, because there was a man working there and a woman working there, and Isaac liked the woman just fine.  She came over to the car to take my money and give me my receipt and stuff, and Isaac wanted to sniff and lick her hand.  But whenever the man got too close to the open window or spoke to me or Isaac,  Isaac barked at him.  And it was not his usual friendly bark.  It was a "back off, buddy, I don't like you" bark.

That's the bark Isaac uses when he sees our neighbor.  Sometimes he barks more, sometimes less.  Sometimes he even growls.  But it's not a "hey, I'm glad to see you" bark and it's not a "hey, Kelly, look who it is" bark, which are the barks he usually uses when spotting neighbors outside or in the hallway of our apartment building.

I've been working with Isaac not to bark, even his usual friendly barks, when spotting neighbors because while I know they are friendly barks, he is a big dog with a loud bark and people sometimes find it intimidating.  Plus, I don't want him to wake up everyone in the building when he announces he sees someone he likes.  And he has gotten better about keeping his voice down.

But not with this one particular neighbor.  Isaac does not like him and he is not shy about voicing his opinion.

I don't know why Isaac doesn't like him.  I'm sure there is something different about him that Isaac notices that I don't.  I have wondered if maybe it was something like a particular medication he takes that Isaac can smell or something like that.  I am inclined, though, to trust Isaac's instincts.  If Isaac thinks there is something wrong with this guy, there probably is something wrong with him.  He doesn't seem like a scary guy to me, but I bet Isaac is a better judge of character than I am.

It's awkward because if I am standing in the lobby or outside talking to another neighbor, Isaac will be happily wagging his tail and, if I let him, sniffing the neighbor, rubbing himself against their legs, being petted by them, etc.  Then along comes the neighbor he doesn't like and he barks his "stay away" bark.  And this guy doesn't seem to realize Isaac doesn't like him.  He's not scared of him at all.  He comes up and wants to pet him, although he does it nicely, holding out one hand for Isaac to sniff, trying to win him over.

I don't want to tell the guy, "Hey, my dog doesn't like you so just stay away, please."  I don't want to tell my other neighbors that Isaac doesn't like this guy because I don't want to offend him or stir up gossip.  But I am more concerned with Isaac's well-being and with myself than I am about offending a neighbor.

I don't want to correct Isaac for telling me that he is uncomfortable around this guy.  However, I don't want him to feel anxious every time we see the guy, either, since he does live right next door.  I also don't want Isaac to think it's OK to behave in an aggressive manner and I certainly don't want him to begin acting in a protective way.  I don't want him to think it's his job to protect me, because it's not, and because that type of behavior is inappropriate in a service dog.  Service dogs are not guard dogs.  Under federal law (the Americans with Disabilities Act), dogs cannot be both service dogs and guard dogs.  But I don't want Isaac to think I am ignoring his warnings about the guy, either, and I don't want him to quit warning me if he thinks someone is up to no good (which I'm afraid he might do if he felt I always ignored his warnings).

I asked my online service dog handler friends for advice, and they all encouraged me to heed Isaac's warnings.  If Isaac thinks something is not right about the guy, then steer clear of him.  They suggested letting Isaac know he doesn't have to be so loud in telling me he doesn't like the guy.  He can tell me in a more subtle way.  That's basically what I've been doing with Isaac with regard to barking when he hears someone out in the hall or sees the dog that lives in the house next to my building through the window.  He can tell me, but he doesn't need to tell me over and over again, at the top of his lungs.

A Blissfully Happy Dog...

rolling in something undoubtedly stinky.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I've Been Struggling

I've been struggling since my biopsy.  You know, I feel like the surgery went pretty well.  Yeah, the nurse in radiology was rude and difficult, but it turned out OK because the radiologist was so great.  And I complained to the hospital about that nurse and their response was good.  My recovery has been pretty easy, too.  I've had some pain but nothing too bad, and I have adequate pain medication, so that's been OK.  I was sleepy for a couple days, but that's not bad, either.  So I think it went well.

I'm not afraid of what the results might be.  I think they are going to turn out OK, but even if they don't, I'm not afraid of it.  I am a bit worried about how I would deal with further treatment, if it was needed, but I'm not terribly worried about it.

So I don't know why I've been having such a hard time since the surgery, but I have.  I think it just triggered a lot of the PTSD stuff for me.  I've had nightmares almost every night, which is even more than I've been  having them since my hospitalization last November.  And that's when I'm able to fall asleep at all.  I've been up a lot during the night lately, just feeling too scared to go to sleep.

I've been feeling depressed and angry, too, about not being able to get any kind of therapy now.  I mean, I could go to therapy if I wanted to.  If I felt safe enough.  But I don't feel safe enough.  If I went to therapy, I'd feel like I had to be so careful to make sure I didn't say the wrong thing, to make sure I didn't say anything that could possible lead anyone to think I might injure myself or anything like that, to make sure there was no reason they could possibly try to hospitalize me.  And what's the point of going to therapy if you can't talk freely about how you're feeling?  Going to therapy and trying to pretend everything is just fine would just be work.  It would be stressful.  And I don't see any benefit to it.  I just see risk.

I have all this stuff I feel like I can't talk to anyone about.  I can't go to therapy and talk about it.  Who am I supposed to talk to?  But I don't know how someone is supposed to just hold it all inside, either.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Frightened Customer Sprays Service Dog in the Eyes with Bleach

I read this story this morning and was horrified.

A customer in a Florida grocery store was alarmed to see another customer, who is blind, with her guide dog.  She says she has schizoaffective disorder and that makes her paranoid (which very well may be true) and thought the dog was vicious (although she admits it was not behaving in an aggressive manner at all) and might attack other customers or children in the store.  She asked the woman with the guide dog to leave the store, but the woman declined to do so.  Apparently she wanted to complete her shopping and of course she has every right to have her trained service dog in the store with her.

The woman the grabbed a spray bottle of Clorox cleaner off the shelf and sprayed the service dog in its eyes.  The police were called, thank goodness, and they cited the woman for animal cruelty.  Perhaps that was the only local law they could use to cite her, but I think she should be charged with something more.  Yes, what she did was certainly animal cruelty, and she should be charged with that as well.  But she didn't only do something cruel to the dog.  She endangered the dog's owner, a blind woman that depends on her dog.

The article states that the dog appeared to be uninjured, which is surprising to me but I hope that's true.  Even if the dog is physically OK, though, it could be emotionally traumatized by the experience.  Something like that can cause a service dog to be unable to work for a while, or even unable to work ever again.  From the article, it appears the dog's owner was shopping alone.  How would she get home if her dog was temporarily unable to see clearly?  It seems to me that in addition to committing a crime against the dog (animal cruelty), the woman also committed a crime against the dog's owner, much like if she had damaged a disabled woman's wheelchair so that the woman could not safely use it. 

Only it is much more expensive and takes a lot longer to replace a service dog than a wheelchair.  Especially a guide dog for the blind.  While it costs about $20,000 to train most service dogs, it costs about $40,000 to $50,000 to train a guide dog.  While many service dogs can be trained in just 18 months, it usually takes at least two years to train a guide dog.  And while many service dog programs have one to two year waiting lists, the waiting list for a guide dog is often two to three years.

I read the comments on the article and one commenter said he thought the woman should be involuntarily hospitalized as she is clearly a danger to herself and/or others.  I agree that she is a danger to others, if indeed it was her mental illness that caused her to behave this way, which seems to be what she is saying.  What will she do the next time she sees a service dog in the grocery store?  In the article, she is quoted as saying she guesses she overreacted but she still doesn't think the dog should have been in the store.  I hope the court orders her to be evaluated to determine if she is still a danger to others. 

She could get up to a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for the animal cruelty charge.  I hope, if the court determines she is not "not guilty due to insanity," that she at least gets the maximum fine.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Playing Tug

Look at this fierce doggie playing tug!

Reminder - Don't Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car!

Now that warm weather is here, I thought it was time for a reminder.  Don't leave your dog alone in the car!  Not even for a few minutes in  hot weather, not even if you park in the shade, not even if you leave the windows cracked.  The inside of a car can become unbearably hot very quickly.  A study conducted at Stanford University found that even when it was just 72 degrees outside, within an hour the temperature inside a car reached 116 degrees, hot enough to cause heatstroke and even death - and cracking the windows had almost no affect on the temperature inside the car.

The temperature inside a car can reach 19 degrees higher than the outdoor temperature in just 15 minutes.  That means if it's 80 degrees outside, it could be 100 degrees in your car in just 15 minutes.  People can have heatstroke when the temperature rises above 104 degrees.  Dogs can also have heatstroke and can die from the condition, just like people can - and you can't call 911 and have your dog rushed to the nearest hospital emergency room if he has a heatstroke.  How far is the closest emergency vet from where you live?  It's about an hour away from my house.  Would your dog survive that long?  He might not.

Even if you think you'll be in and out of the store in just a few minutes, don't take the chance.  Leave your dog at home unless you can take him inside the store with you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Talked to the Quality Assurance Person at the Hospital Yesterday

Yesterday afternoon I called the hospital where I had my biopsy to talk to someone about the nurse in the radiology department that was so insistent that I could not have my support person with me during the procedure to insert the guide wire in my breast before the biopsy.  It wasn't so much that I wanted her to get in trouble, although I did want her to be informed that her behavior was not acceptable; what I really wanted was for her to be educated.  I wanted her to be required to learn something about PTSD and how to care for patients with the condition.

The person I spoke with was named Nancy and she was wonderful.  Unlike the unhelpful, uncaring director of the ER that I had a frustrating and unproductive discussion with after my last experience in a hospital, Nancy was open and receptive and understanding.  She apologized for the nurse's behavior and said she was very glad it ended up working out OK.  She said that they typically don't allow friends or family members in the room during procedures like that, but that of course they can and do make exceptions when needed.  She said that if I need to have additional procedures performed at that hospital in the future, I can call her in advance if I want and she will do everything she can to smooth the road for me.  I can also call her if I encounter any problems when undergoing treatment at that hospital.  I plan on doing that.

Nancy also suggested that in the future, I ask my doctor to write something like, "Patient needs support person present during procedure" on the order for any tests or procedures.  She said there is a place to write in any special instructions and that a simple note like that from my physician could make things go much more smoothly.  I plan on doing that, not only if I need further treatment from this surgeon or at this hospital, but any time I need any kind of medical tests or procedures done.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Happy, Exhausted Doggie

Isaac absolutely adores his new running buddy (aka dog walker).  Of course, Isaac loves everyone.  But he gets so excited every time his running buddy arrives.  I love to see how happy and excited he gets.  Isaac cannot wait to start running, so the two of them take off running down the hall to the elevator.

His new running buddy is a senior in high school.  He has another part time job somewhere, I'm not sure where.  I think he must run faster than Isaac's old running buddy, because Isaac usually comes home more exhausted than he used to.  He also tends to keep  him out a bit longer than the old running buddy.  I hired him to take Isaac for 45-minute runs but he often keeps  him out about an hour.  When they get back, both are out of breath.  The running buddy is all sweaty and Isaac's tongue is hanging out of his month.  He has a really long tongue (Isaac, not his running buddy; I assume the running buddy has a normal tongue)!

Here he is, fresh from a run.

 He guzzled a bunch of water, then collapsed on the kitchen floor beside the water dish.  He's still there, half an hour later.

Poor Silly Doggie

Last night I fell asleep on the couch.  Isaac was sleeping in my bed.

He woke me up in the middle of the night whining.  He does that occasionally and if it is still dark outside, I just say, "It's not time to get up yet.  Go back to bed," and he usually does.  Every once in a while he is insistent that he really  needs to go out and then I get up and take him, but that's very unusual these days.

Well, last night, he kept whining.  It was a different kind of whine, too, than his, "But I have to poop right nooowwww" whine.  I finally opened my eyes and looked at him and saw what the problem was.

The woven blanket I keep on my bed had gotten caught on the ring on his collar that holds his dog tags and he couldn't get it loose.  When he got out of bed and came out to the living room, he was dragging the heavy blanket by his neck.

Poor baby.  I unhooked the blanket for him, gave him a kiss on top of his head, and told him to go back to bed.  He did.

How Health Care Professionals Can Help Patients with PTSD

The nurse in radiology handled things poorly.  But what should she have done?  How can  health care professionals best help patients that have PTSD?

Here are some tips, but the most important thing you can do if you are a health care professional is to ask your patient how you can best help.  Not all people with PTSD are alike.  They don't all have the same needs.  The patient is the one that knows her condition best.  She is the one that knows her needs best.  Ask, and listen to the answer.


  • Ask the patient how you can help.
  • Listen to the answer.
  • Acknowledge her needs as valid, even if you don't fully understand and even if you can't meet every request.
  • Offer alternative solutions if you can't do exactly what the patient requests.
  • Ask the patient if she can think of alternative solutions if you can't do what she initially requests.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Explain procedures fully to the patient before beginning them.
  • Give the patient time to ask questions and express concerns.
  • Tell the patient what you're getting ready to do before you touch her.
  • Tell the patient she can let you know if she needs to take a break at any time during a  procedure.
  • Check in with the patient often during a procedure to make sure she is OK, to see if she needs anything, and to see if she needs to take a break.
  • Introduce yourself and any other health care professionals that come into the room, explaining their role to the patient.
  • Protect the patient's privacy.
  • Allow the patient to have a support person present if at all possible (and it is usually possible, even if it's not typically done; for instance, support people aren't usually permitted to accompany a patient into surgery, yet that is routinely allowed when a woman is having a Cesarean section, and could easily be allowed during other types of surgery).
  • Give the patient choices whenever possible.
  • Remember that the patient has the right to refuse any procedure for any reason.
  • Suggest that a patient's needs or requests are unreasonable.
  • Tell the patient she shouldn't worry or be afraid or feel whatever she feels.
  • Deny a patient's request for a particular accommodation without suggesting an alternative or asking the patient is there is something else that might meet her needs that would be permissible.
  • Deny a patient's request for a particular accommodation just because that's the way you always do something, without considering whether or not a patient's request could be met.
  • Try to push a patient into doing something she's not comfortable with or suggest she's being silly or stupid or irresponsible if she chooses not to go through with a particular procedure.
  • Tell the patient a procedure isn't "that bad" or doesn't hurt "that much" or otherwise suggest she's overreacting.
  • Try to trick or coerce a patient into going through with a procedure if she is uncertain or doesn't want to do it.
  • Continue with a procedure if a patient asks you to stop.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Updates on Stuff

Update on Me

I'm feeling pretty good.  I have some pain from the biopsy but it's not too bad.  The dressing is uncomfortable and I'm looking forward to removing it tomorrow.  The incision is also kind of itchy.  I think the tape is irritating my skin, too.  And I think that is kind of reminding me of when I had the staples in my arms.  They were itchy and just irritating and even when they weren't really painful, they bothered me.  I think I will feel a lot better when the dressing comes off, although I am a little bit worried about what it's going to look like under the dressing.

I napped a lot today.  Isaac is being sweet.  He's been napping a lot, too.  At one point I woke up and I didn't know where he was and I said, "Where's my doggie?"  It turns out he was in the bedroom, sleeping on my bed (I was on the couch), and I heard him hit the floor and he came trotting right out to the living room and over to me as soon as he heard my voice asking where he was.  I just thought it was really sweet.

We did go for a few walks today.  We walked slow, which is fine with Isaac because he likes to stop and sniff everything anyway.

It stormed last night and the power went out for a little while.  That was just what I needed on top of everything else.  I have flashlights and candles and was able to get those lit and I got through it OK, but it was anxiety-provoking.

Update on the Refund from the Doula

I finally got a check from her a couple days ago, but it was for less than the amount we'd agreed on.  So I emailed her and asked about it.  She acted like she didn't know we'd agreed on a different (larger) amount but I was able to forward her the email in which she agreed to the amount I'd requested.  Then she said she'd send me the rest "if it meant that much to me," but pointed out that she had to pay for gas and childcare and blah, blah, blah.

Well, that's what you do when you have a job.  You pay for gas to get there, you pay for childcare if you have kids.  And, if you care about your job, you show up on time.  If she'd told me in advance she was going to be 40 minutes late, I would not have agreed to pay her as much.  I would not have hired her at all, actually.  I felt that asking for only half my money back was pretty generous on my part.

So she agreed to send it but I haven't received it yet.  The remaining amount isn't that much so if I don't get it, I probably won't pursue it, but I don't like the fact that she tried to make me feel bad about requesting a refund.  She was irresponsible and refunding half the money is really the least she can do.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Had the Biopsy Today

I guess for the  most part it went well.  I got about two hours of sleep last night and I was hungry and thirsty by the time I got to the hospital.  I also arrived about ten minutes late because the road was closed on the route Map Quest directed me to take.  There not even any detour signs so we had to find our way around the closed road.  The closed road, by the way, was literally within walking distance of the hospital; if there had been a place to park, we could have parked there and walked the rest of the way.  I didn't realize when we come to the place where the road was closed that it was that close, but I bet we could have walked from there to the hospital in less than ten minutes.  Instead, to get to the hospital, we had to backtrack about six miles, then drive another 12 miles to get to where we were going.

I was really, really glad my friend arrived early to pick me up.  She is a wonderful friend and has many good qualities, but she is not always very punctual.  However, she got to my place in plenty of time this morning, which I really appreciated.

The nurses at the hospital seemed a bit disorganized.  Most of them were nice enough, but they just seemed like they didn't quite have their stuff together.  For instance, I had to ask them twice to make copies of my advance directives.  Every other time I've been admitted to the hospital for any type of outpatient procedure, I've been asked if I had a living will and/or power of attorney for health care.  In this case, I had to ask them twice to make copies.

Then, apparently whomever made the copies neglected to copy the third page of my living will.  Just before I was wheeled into the OR, someone came up to me and informed me that the living will was not a valid legal document because it had not been signed or notarized.  I said it had, looked at the two pages she had in her hand, and explained that the signatures and notary's stamp were on the third page which she did not have in her hand.  I asked if they had neglected to copy the third page.  She said there wasn't a third page.  I insisted there was and said if she brought me my purse, I would get it for her.  She then went and got my purse and went through it herself, looking for the paper, which I thought was inappropriate.  Of course, she found it.

The nurse that started my IV had a hard time with it.  When I was significantly overweight, they always had trouble drawing blood and starting IV's.  They always said I had small veins, but I think the real issue was that I was too fat.  Since I've lost weight, they have no trouble.  At least, usually they have no trouble.  She seemed very nervous about doing it, though, and when she finally got the needle in, she had blood running down my arm and dripping onto the bed.  I was tempted to ask her how many times she'd started IV's before.  I checked her name badge to see if maybe she was a student, not a real RN, but it said she was an RN.  She finally did get it started, though.

The worst part was the nurse in radiology.  I had to have some mammogram films done and then the radiologist, who was very nice and compassionate and as helpful as he could possibly be, had to insert a wire into my left breast, into the area of tissue that the surgeon needed to remove.  The purpose of the wire was to guide the surgeon, to make sure he excised the correct area of tissue.  I was awake for that procedure.  It was done under local anesthesia.

Well, the RN kept saying my friend could not be with me during the procedure.  She had a long list of reasons why not.  The room was too small for an extra person (it wasn't); it would be too hard for her to keep track of another person; it was a sterile procedure so my friend could not be present because even if she wore a gown, gloves, mask, hair cover and shoe covers she might contaminate something (although neither the RN nor the mammogram tech wore any of those things and the surgeon only wore gloves while doing the procedure; apparently they were not possible sources of contamination for some reason I did not understand); my friend would be exposed to radiation when they took the x-rays, and even if she wore one of those lead aprons, that would not provide adequate protection because her eyes would still be exposed to radiation (she offered to sign a waiver saying she understood the risk of exposing her eyes to radiation and agreed not to hold the hospital liable for any damage but the nurse just moved on to other reasons my friend could not be present); they just don't allow family or friends in the room for this kind of procedure, ever, for any reason; the radiologist would not allow it (which wasn't true; when he came in and I asked him, he said, "Sure, of course," with no hesitation); sometimes when they allowed women's husbands to be in the room it caused some sort of problems, the nature of which she could not specify (she also didn't seem to understand how that made no sense; if they never allow family members in the room,  how come the husbands were there?); she didn't want to have to take care of two patients instead of one; and on and on.

My friend and I figured out that she simply did not want to accommodate my request and we also figured out that it really wasn't up to her, it was up to the radiologist.  So we said we'd just wait and ask him when he came in.  She tried to discourage us from even asking him, saying he would never allow it.  I cannot imagine why she felt so strongly that she did not want me to have a support person in the room with me, but apparently it was very, very important to her because she spent quite a bit of time trying to talk me out of it.  None of her reasons seemed particularly valid to me and I can't see how it had any kind of  negative effect on her.

In fact, I tried to explain how it was in everyone's best interests, since I have PTSD and have severe anxiety about doctors and hospitals and medical stuff.  I explained that it would be bad for everyone, myself, the radiologist and her, if I had a flashback or anxiety attack during the procedure, especially since it's very important to hold very still while the wire is inserted.  If the wire ends up in the wrong place, the affected tissue might not be excised and then the results of the biopsy would not be accurate.  Also, it might be dangerous if I started jerking or flailing around or something when sharp needles are being used; the medical staff certainly does not want to end up with a needle stick.  She seemed unconcerned about those issues, though.  She was much more concerned that the room might be crowded or she might have to "keep track of" an extra person.

The radiologist agreed right away to allow my friend to stay in the room and the nurse did not protest at all then.  I held my tongue and didn't ask him if he wanted my friend to sign a waiver since her eyes would be exposed to radiation or if he wanted her to put on gown, gloves, mask, hair cover and shoe covers.

As it turned out, I did end up having an anxiety attack anyway.  The surgeon injected the lidocaine, which barely hurt, then inserted the guide wire, which hurt a little despite the lidocaine but was not unbearable at all.  Then they took another x-ray, then the surgeon and the mammogram tech left the room, I think the develop and examine the x-ray, to make sure the needle was in the right place.  During this time, my breast was still in the mammogram machine.  To make sure they got a really good view, it was compressed really flat.  And they leave you like that while they check the film and make sure it's in the right place.  I find that a bit... I don't even know what the word is.  Barbaric comes to mind.

Well, I wasn't aware of feeling anxious about that.  But all of a sudden, I got very dizzy.  My hands got numb, I started sweating, but it was a cold, clammy sweat.  I felt nauseous.  I said, "I feel dizzy, I'm not feeling good at all."  The RN didn't even hear me.  My friend heard me and said, "Hey, she says she is dizzy and not feeling good." Guess who got to hold the emesis basin for me while the RN grabbed the phone and called for the doctor to come back in?  Yes, my friend, the one the nurse had not wanted in the room.  So in the end, even though I did have a panic attack, it seemed like it ended up working out to the nurse's advantage that my friend was there.

The radiologist did decide it was an anxiety attack, by the way.  I told him it felt sort of like when I get low blood pressure or low blood sugar, but I couldn't understand why my blood sugar would have dropped so suddenly and so severely at that moment, and I've had lidocaine or novacaine before without having a big drop in blood pressure like that.  He checked my vital signs and examined me and said he didn't think it was a reaction to the lidocaine or anything else physical; he thought it was an anxiety attack, brought on by the stress and my PTSD and everything.  I think he was probably right.

At one point my friend asked the nurse if there was something she would suggest we do differently in the future, to make sure the staff was aware of my needs and to make things go more smoothly.  The nurse said it would have helped if my surgeon had let them know I had PTSD.  I said, "He did.  Or his staff did.  I know, because a few days ago one of the nurses from the outpatient surgery unit called me to confirm the appointment and go over some instructions with me, and she also reviewed my history with me.  She said her records showed I had depression, anxiety and PTSD and asked if that was correct, and I said it was."

The nurse said, "Well, that was the nurse in the surgery department.  That was not me."

I said, "So you would have preferred my surgeon to call you directly to tell you that information?"

She said yes.  My friend, who happens to work in a large inner city hospital, had this incredulous look on her face.  Like any surgeon is going to call the hospital, try to figure out exactly which nurses will be working directly with his patient in a few days, then personally review that patient's history with each one of them.  Because, you know, that would be much more effective and efficient and cost-saving than expecting a nurse to be able to read a chart.  Right?

I do plan to write a letter to the administrator of the hospital, sharing both how wonderful the radiologist was and how unwilling the nurse was to work with me in order to meet my needs.  I am still baffled about why she felt so strongly about not wanting me to have a support person with me.  I just can't see how it created any additional work or problems whatsoever for her.  Even if it did, well, that's her job.  I just don't understand it.

Once I got done in radiology, things went really fast.  They got me into the OR quickly and the procedure went well.  Apparently the surgeon removed a hunk of tissue the size of a lemon.  I'm picturing this big gaping hole in my breast.  There is a very large dressing over it that I am not supposed to remove for two days, so I have no idea what it looks like.  But a lemon?  That's big.

When I woke up from surgery, I had no pain at all in my breast.  My right arm hurt quite a bit, though, from the IV.  That nurse needs to review her IV-insertion skills.  I just took a Percocet a few minutes ago, the first pain pill I've taken since the procedure.  I was having just minor pain but I wanted to take something before it got worse.

I've eaten, I've had an hour-long nap.  I'm feeling OK.

The Need for Constant Training and Reinforcement

One thing I did not realize, before getting my own service dog, was that even when you get a fully trained service dog, there is a need for constant training and reinforcement.  Most of the time, it's not that difficult to do.  It's necessary, though.

Last night, I was tidying up and I wanted to put my gym shoes away in the closet.  I didn't want to bend over to pick them up, though.  My back has been bothering me more than usual lately, maybe because I had to stop taking the turmeric I normally take every day to help reduce inflammation in preparation for my biopsy.  So I pointed at a shoe and told Isaac to "Get it."

Isaac normally loves picking things up for me.  This time, though, he acted like he had no idea what I wanted him to get.  He picked up his Kong, which was nearby, and gave that to me instead.  I pointed back at the shoe and repeated, "Get it."  He gave me the confused look and lay down.  I bent over so that I was almost touching the shoe and told him again to "Get it."  He looked around for something else to pick up for me.

I finally picked up one shoe myself, then tried to get him to pick up the other.  It wasn't working.  He seemed confused and I was getting frustrated.  "Why aren't you helping me?" I asked.  Isaac rubbed against my legs, wagging his tail.  I put the shoes away and sat down to think about it.

It occurred to me that I do not usually ask Isaac to pick up my shoes.  Once in a while, when he is in the mood to retrieve, he will bring me a shoe.  He will bring me all sorts of things I haven't asked for, and I always tell him, "Not now."  Maybe he has the idea that shoes are things he isn't supposed to pick up.

So I got up and got some doggie treats.  I picked up a dish towel in the kitchen and dropped it.  Almost before I could give the command, Isaac pounced on hit and picked it up for me.  I gave him a treat and told him what a good boy he was.

Then I picked up a shoe, one of my flip flops this time.  I dropped it, pointed and said, "Get it!"  Isaac happily retrieved it and earned a treat.  I pointed at the other flip flop, still on the floor, and said, "Get it!"  Isaac happily retrieved that one, too.  Another treat, more praise.

Then I got one of my gym shoes out of the closet, dropped it, and gave the command.  Isaac picked it up and gave it to me, tail wagging happily.  I took the shoe from him and gave him another treat.

For whatever reason, he just didn't understand what I wanted initially.  Instead of being frustrated, I just needed to show him what I wanted.  He wants to please me.  He loves to help.  He just didn't understand at first.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Biopsy is Tomorrow

I've had medical procedures and surgeries before.  I've never felt so much like I was going through it alone, though.  A friend is driving me to the hospital, staying at the hospital with me while I have the procedure, and driving me home.  But then she'll be going home and I'll be alone.

I've tried to make sure I'm ready, not just for the procedure, but to take care of myself afterward.  Over the last two days, I have:
  • Cleaned my house, washed all my dishes, and done my laundry.
  • Gone grocery shopping and stocked the house with my favorite protein bars, blueberry frozen yogurt, all the ingredients for my favorite cappuccino protein shakes, frozen cherries, and bagels.
  • Cooked and stocked my fridge and freezer with plenty of my favorite meals, all measured out in single-serving portions.
  • Positioned my favorite lotion, my favorite lip balm, a bottle of Tylenol, and other items I might need on the coffee table within easy reach of the couch, where I plan to lie down when I get home from the hospital.
  • Given Isaac's newest running buddy a set of keys in case I'm not home when it's time for him to take Isaac running tomorrow afternoon.
  • Packed my purse with a list of emergency phone  numbers for my friend (just in case) and copies of my durable power of attorney for health care and my living will to give to the admitting staff at the hospital (also just in case).
  • Updated the list of instructions and other information I have stored with my will.
I asked someone to come over on his lunch break to take Isaac out, but he acted annoyed at the request, so I said never mind.  Isaac will be home alone all day.  I plan to get up extra early so I can take him for a long walk before leaving for the hospital at 6:30 am.

Now I just have to figure out how to get through the night without panicking.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Doggie Version of Simon Says

Isaac and I have been playing this game this evening and I thought I'd share it with you.  Try it with your dog, if you have one, and let me know how it goes.

Isaac loves this game because it involves lots of treats for him.

To start, get some yummy doggie treats and tell your doggie to sit.  When he sits, toss a treat in front of him and see how fast he runs to get it.  When he comes back to you, tell him to sit again.

Now, tell him to stay.  Toss another treat in front of him.  He is supposed to stay until you tell him "OK."  Then he can run and get the treat.  If your dog doesn't know how to do this, practice it by itself first, because you play Simon Says. 

Alternate between tossing the treat and allowing your doggie to get it right away and telling him to stay first and making him wait before he goes for the treat.  He has to really pay attention in order to get it right.

When Isaac and I play this game, he is allowed to make one mistake.  The first time he forgets to wait until I say "OK," we will continue playing.  The second time he doesn't wait for my "OK," the game ends.

Tonight, though, I ended the game when I decided he'd scarfed down enough treats already.  He didn't make any mistakes.  One time he started to go after a treat, then realized I hadn't said "OK" and stopped.  He just stood there looking at it.  I told him to sit, told him to stay, then gave him the "OK."  I was really proud of him for catching himself and he got a couple extra treats as a reward that time.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

No, I'm Not Training Him for a Blind Person

A few days ago, I was shopping at Meijer.  This is not the Meijer I used to shop at regularly, but the Meijer closest to my new home; close is a relative term, since it's nearly 20 miles away.

I was selecting some yogurt when an employee asked me if I was training Isaac.

I replied with my standard answer: "No, he's already trained."

She looked confused and said, "You're not training him for a blind person?" 

I said, "No, he is already fully trained.  He's my service dog."

She started telling me how she used to have a dog that she got from "those people that train them for the blind," and how he was "too friendly and too nosy" so they let her adopt him.  She said he was a great dog.

And then she asked, "So you're not training him for a blind person?"

I said, "No, he is already fully trained.  He is my service dog.  Service dogs help people with all kinds of disabilities, not just blind people.  And you can't always tell if someone has a disability just by looking at them."

To which she replied, "I know that!  I just thought maybe you were training him for a blind person."

I sighed and said, "I have to finish my shopping now," and walked off.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why I Didn't Go to the ER When I Cut My Finger

A couple days ago, I accidentally cut my finger while chopping an onion.  I am sure it needed a stitch or two.  It bled for more than 12 hours, although it wasn't gushing blood or anything like that.  If I put pressure on it, the bleeding would stop, but it would start again as soon as I let up on the pressure.  I don't believe I was in any danger of bleeding to death, but it did need a stitch or two.  I did not go to the ER, though.

I felt frustrated when well-meaning friends advised me to go to the ER and seemed unable to understand why I wouldn't go.  I realize that I am extremely anxious due to my horrible experience in the ER last November and maybe I am a bit paranoid.  But I am afraid of things that could actually happen.

Back when I was a social worker, in my former life, I ran an anger management program for teens.  Their parents had to come to the program, too.  There was a mom in the program that had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.  I'm sure this was not the only reason for the diagnosis (at least, I really, really hope it wasn't), but one reason her doctor thought she was paranoid was because she was afraid her son was going to kill her.  She locked her bedroom door at night so he could not come into her room and kill her while she slept.  Well, it turned out that her son was telling her he was going to kill her.  He was threatening to stab her while she slept.  And he had a history of behavioral problems and had been arrested for something, I don't remember what, but probably for getting in a fight or something.  Something that made his probation officer think he needed to attend an anger management program.  Mom may indeed have been paranoid, but her troubled son was also threatening to kill her.

The moral of the story?  Just because you are paranoid, that does not mean they are not out to get  you.

I didn't go to the ER because there was a possibility they would not believe that I cut myself accidentally.  They might believe I did it on purpose.  They would know I had a history of self-injury, even if I didn't tell them, when they saw the scars on my arms.  I considered wearing a long-sleeved shirt and trying to keep my arms covered, but they would want to take my blood pressure and would want me to push up my sleeve for that.  I thought about whether or not I could just refuse to have my blood pressure taken, but I could not think of any kind of plausible reason to give, and it would at least make them very suspicious if I refused when that is such a routine medical test.

They'd ask if I was getting treatment for depression and if I was honest and said not anymore, that would worry them, especially if they were wondering if I had cut my finger on purpose.  I could lie and say that I was, but if they asked who my doctor was and wanted to contact him, they'd discover I was lying.  If I said I was getting treatment but refused to tell them who my doctor was or refused to give them permission to contact my doctor if they wanted to, they would become suspicious.

If they thought I was lying about stuff or just thought I was behaving oddly, they would be more inclined to think I'd cut my finger on purpose.

If they thought I cut myself on purpose,  the way they treated me might change.  They might still treat me with dignity and respect; I've been treated with dignity and respect when I've gone to the ER for self-inflicted injuries in the past.  But they might not.  And unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance which way it will be.  You can't call the ER and ask, "Hey, I accidentally cut my finger but I'm afraid if I come in, you might think I did it on purpose.  If you do think I did it on purpose, will you treat me in a disrespectful manner and be mean to me?"  I mean, you could call and ask, but you won't get an honest answer.

If they thought I cut my finger on purpose, they might refuse to give me anything for pain when they sutured the cut.  Since something like that happened to me less than six months ago, no one is going to convince me it couldn't happen again.  The same people that are now trying to tell me it won't happen again would have told me it wouldn't happen if I'd expressed concern about that before going to the ER last November.  When it did happen.

If they thought I cut my finger on purpose, they might decide to admit me to a psychiatric unit.  In Ohio, they can legally admit you for three days - and those are three business days, so if you happen to be admitted on a Friday, like I was last November, they can actually hold you for five days - without any kind of hearing or any way for you to argue that you are not a danger to yourself or others or any way for you to appeal their decision.  If they want to keep you longer than that, they have to have a hearing in front of a judge or magistrate.  However, they can wait up to two more days before your hearing.  That means you could end up hospitalized against your will in a psychiatric unit for up to seven days (if you were admitted on a Friday) before you had any opportunity to appeal or object. 

Yes, if you weren't really a danger to yourself, one would hope the judge or magistrate would realize that and you would be released after the hearing.  But that doesn't give you back the week you lost.  That doesn't make up for any of the trauma you might have experienced during that week.  There are no consequences for the doctors that admitted you involuntarily, either; nothing happens to them if the judge decides they are wrong and you don't need to be hospitalized.

Is it likely they would admit me involuntarily, even if they did think I cut my finger on purpose?  I don't know.  I have no idea.  But the fact that I'm not a danger to myself right now does not mean they wouldn't decide that I was.  It doesn't mean they wouldn't decide to admit me.  It is possible.  Legally, they could do it.  It happened to me last November, remember?  And I would have recourse, no recourse at all.

That is a risk I simply cannot take.

Virtual Tour of My Apartment: After

It may not be totally finished yet, but it's close to it, and it's reasonably clean, so here you have it!  You can see the Before pics here.

This is my entryway.  I would like to get some sort of little table to put under that picture of the beach, but I haven't found one I like yet at the thrift store and I don't want to spend a lot of money on it.  I even talked myself out of spending $34 on one at Hobby Lobby the other day!  It was on clearance and everything, but that was not what I went to Hobby Lobby to get and I managed to leave without buying anything I hadn't gone in there intending to buy.  Good for me.

This is my kitchen, which I like because it has lots of counter space and lots of cabinet space, although I have almost nothing in any of the lower cabinets because it hurts my back too much to bend over to get things out of them, so I don't actually have as much usable cabinet space as it might look like I have.

I don't have a kitchen table.  I just put two chairs at this counter that is between the kitchen and living room area.  It works great.  I usually eat on my couch, anyway.

The picture over the sink is an image of Demeter.  Demeter, if you don't know, is a Goddess of the harvest.

This is the living room.  See the kitty curtains?  I made them.  I love them.  They are a little bit too long, though.  Maybe I will hem them more eventually.

This is a drawing of a cat I used to have, Eileen, that my friend Twyna did for me. 

 Here's something interesting.  I met Twyna through a program that matched volunteers with women in prison.  The volunteers wrote to the prisoners, providing friendship and support.  Twyna was doing time for drug-related offenses.  I think she ended up doing about ten years.  She was paroled about18 months ago.  After being released from prison, though, she went to a drug treatment program and then to a halfway house, so she's only been living on her own for a few months now.

But anyway, she was in prison in Texas, and in Texas, prisoners are required to work (she worked in the kitchen most of the time she was in prison) but they do not earn any pay for their work (in most states, prisoners earn money for work they do, although it's far less than minimum wage; they may earn something like one dollar a day).  However, prisoners are required to purchase things like personal hygiene supplies, including toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and tampons.  In the prison where Twyna was, they were given a certain amount of toilet paper, I think two rolls a month, and if they wanted more, they had to purchase that.  To purchase these things, they had to have money in their prison account, and to get money in their account, family or friends had to send them money.  Well, as you might imagine, some people that go to prison don't have many friends or family members that can or will support them financially.   To get things like deodorant and tampons, Twyna decided to teach herself to draw.  She drew pictures and greetings cards and portraits and things for other inmates, who then "paid" her in tampons and deodorant. 

She also did these drawings of Larry and Cayenne.

And finally, she did this drawing for me for Christmas one year.

These are a bookshelf and a storage cabinet, obviously.

That wooden box on top of the bookshelf is actually an urn.  It holds Eileen's ashes.  I made a little bag for her ashes, using a piece of really pretty fabric and lined with a piece of her favorite blanket (which wasn't so pretty, hence the pretty fabric on the outside).  Cayenne's ashes will go in the urn when she's gone.  I don't know if I'm going to put them in the bag with Eileen's or not; the bag was sewn shut so I'd have to cut it open and then sew it shut again, I guess.  I haven't decided yet.

This is my couch.

And this is a close-up of the collage that hangs above the couch.

This is the bedroom.  Isaac's crate is taking up most of the space, other than the bed, at the moment.  I never use his crate anymore so I think I am going to take it down.  I just haven't done it yet.  It's kind of hard on my back.

I made these curtains, too, and I really like them.  I ended up spending a good bit more than I planned on that fabric, but I really liked it.

The wind chimes in the bedroom might seem a bit odd.  But I like them and I don't have anywhere outside to hang them here.

These are bookshelves, obviously.

This is the picture hanging across from the bed.  It's an image of Yemaya, who is a Goddess of the ocean.

And this is the bathroom.

That big ugly bucket is what I make my laundry detergent in.  It doesn't match my bathroom and I was going to keep it in a closet but it was hard to get to in there and it's much too heavy when it's full to drag it around.  I think I've either going to paint it or just find a green bucket or something that matches the bathroom better.  It's very convenient having it there, I just would like it to look better.

Here is what the emergency pull cord thing looked like (with the cord taped up).

Here is what it looks like now, with a framed quote over it.

The quote is from Les Guerilleres by Monique Wittig and says, "There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that.  You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied.  You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember.  You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist.  But remember.  Make an effort to remember.  Or, failing that, invent."

I like my apartment much more than I did at first.  It feels very comfortable to me.  I think the energy feels really good, if that makes sense.  It doesn't feel as small as it did at first, either.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Updates on Stuff

Update on my finger

It finally quit bleeding, but it did bleed for more than 12 hours.  I was getting really upset, not because it was that painful, although it was kind of painful, and not because I thought I was going to bleed to death, because it was not bleeding that much, but because I felt like I could not get any medical help and because it seemed like no one I talked to about the problem understood.  It triggered some of my PTSD stuff, feeling like I was not allowed to get medical help like anyone else would be, because I would be accused of cutting myself on purpose and I might be involuntarily hospitalized.  Anyone else could just go to the ER and say, "Hey, I cut my finger while I was chopping an onion," and they would believe that and put a stitch or two in it and that would be that.  I feel good that I was able to go ahead and get Cayenne to the vet yesterday, though, and get some other stuff done, even though I was extremely anxious and upset.

Update on Cayenne

Cayenne has two masses on her abdomen, which I knew before she went to the vet.  She has had cancer in the past, and twice had similar masses surgically removed.  Last summer, she got so sick after having a couple masses removed that I thought she was not going to make it.  I missed a free vacation to the beach, as you may recall, because I was afraid to leave her because I was afraid she would die while I was gone. 

Well, I have to decide if I want to surgically remove the masses again, or if I want to just let nature take its course.  She is almost 14 years old and she is diabetic, although her diabetes is well-controlled with insulin and a special diet right now (and has been for several years, for the most part).  If I don't have the masses removed, we are probably looking at a matter of months; if I do have them removed, she could have a "normal lifespan," whatever that means for a cat.  According to the vet, most cats live for somewhere between 15 and 20 years, some a little more, some a little less.  He can't tell me how much longer Cayenne might live; having the surgery might only be giving her an extra six months, or it might be giving her an extra five years.

I hate having to make these kinds of decisions.  The surgery is kind of costly, but I'm trying not to base my decision on money.  I want to do what is best for Cayenne.  Not what is most affordable for me, not what is easiest on me or makes me feel better, but what is best and kindest and most loving for her.  At this point I am leaning toward not doing the surgery and just keeping her comfortable and spoiling her rotten as long as I can.  I'm not sure, though.

Update on the doula

You know how she said she would refund half my money?  Well, I'm still waiting for it.  I emailed her yesterday and asked about it but she hasn't replied yet.  I guess getting the refund isn't going to be as easy as it seemed after all.  Bummer

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cut My Finger While Chopping an Onion Today

It was a big onion, so I was pushing the knife hard to get through it.  Somehow, my hand slipped and I sliced open my finger.  I knew right away it was a bad cut.  The blood pooling instantly on the cutting board under my hand was one clue.  I hurried to the sink, ran cold water over it, and wrapped it in a clean rag.  It was hard to get a good look at how deep the cut was because it wouldn't stop bleeding.  I finally wrapped a bandage really tight around it and finished chopping my onion.

I decided I would wait an hour, then take off the bandage and see if the bleeding had stopped.  I was scared.  I was pretty sure it needed a stitch or two, but there was no way I was going to the emergency room. 

It occurred to me, as I was sitting there hoping the bleeding would stop, that if I went to the ER, they  might not believe me that it was an accident.  What if they thought I did it on purpose?  If they saw the scars on my arms, they would know those wounds were self-inflicted.  They might not believe me when I said I hadn't done this on purpose.  If they thought I had injured myself, they might think I should be admitted to the hospital.  They could do a three day involuntary admission.  Who would take care of Isaac?  What about Cayenne's appointment with the vet tomorrow?

It had occurred to me before that I would not be able to go to the ER if I had a cut that needed stitches.  It had not, however, occurred to me until today that even if the cut was the result of an accident, they might not believe me.  I was anxious and upset, thinking about it.

Since it had occurred to me that I would not be able to go to the ER if I needed stitches, I bought a surgical stapler.  Did you know you can buy those on Amazon?  Seriously.  Cost me $10.  I hoped I would never need to use it, but I had it on hand, just in case.

I decided I would wait an hour, then take off the bandage and see if the cut was still bleeding.  If it was, I would put a staple in it to close it.  Well, when the hour was up, I was afraid to take off the bandage.  I was afraid it would still be bleeding.  I didn't want to have to staple it.  I ended up waiting 90 minutes before I took off the bandage.  And, wouldn't you know it, it started bleeding as soon as I uncovered the wound.

I started preparing to staple the cut closed.  I got the stapler, then I got the staple remover (in case I did it wrong or something and had to take the staple out right away).  I took four Tylenol, the only pain reliever I have right now.  I took some of my anxiety medication, too.  I got some clean bandages, some topical antibiotic ointment, and a clean rag.  I sat down on the couch next to Isaac.

I opened the stapler and I decided to do a couple practice staples first.  I wanted to make sure I knew exactly how to line up the stapler with the cut and how hard I would have to squeeze it and everything like that.  So I stapled a piece of cloth a few times.  It seemed easy enough.

I cleaned off my finger and positioned the stapler and... I just couldn't do it.  I could not bring myself to squeeze it.

I give myself B12 shots every week.  I used to be squeamish about that.  But I found a trick to doing it that works for me.  I line up the needle, then I look away, think about something else, and really quick, stick myself.  It doesn't even hurt.  It's just hard to stick myself if I'm looking, if I'm thinking about it.

I thought I would use the same trick if I had to staple myself.  But I couldn't do it.  I tried to make myself, and I just couldn't.

I finally gave up, cleaned off my finger again, and wrapped a bandage really tight around it.  It's not bleeding if it's wrapped tight.  My plan now is to leave the bandage on for at least 24 hours, probably longer.  I'm annoyed that I couldn't staple the wound shut and I'm annoyed that I opened my sterile surgical stapler so it is no longer sterile.  It's supposed to be a single use only device.  I wiped it off with rubbing alcohol, though.  I might keep it.  Although I don't know if there's a point in keeping it, if I can't actually make  myself use it. 

I am exhausted now.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cute Kitty Picture

Here's a picture of Cayenne I took Friday, when I was at Mike's.

Cayenne is still at Mike's.   She wants to spend a lot of time outside since it's so nice out and I want her to be able to do that.  I'm thinking this is probably her last summer and I want her to be happy and get to do whatever she likes.  Which is mostly eat and sleep, and right now, sit out on the patio.  I don't think I could let her out here at my new place.

I don't have my own entrance.  To let her out, I'd have to carry her down the hall, take the elevator downstairs, and carry her through the lobby area.  She does not like being picked up and would be quite annoyed with me by the time we reached the front door.  She would have no way to let me know when she wanted back in; I couldn't hear her if she meowed or pawed at the door (that's what she usually does, paws at the door, so it's not very loud).  It would be difficult to check on her often to see if she wanted back in, and then when she did want in, I'd have to pick her up and carry her again, which she dislikes.  And I just feel uncomfortable letting her out in a strange place, although it must be at least as safe for a cat here as it is at Mike's.

So she is at Mike's for the time being.  When it gets hotter, she'll probably want to stay in more, and then I'll bring her to my new apartment.  Or if she starts to get sick, I'll bring her here to take care of her.  She has an appointment with her vet next week and we'll see what he thinks, but I'm pretty sure her cancer is back.

Anxiety and Running out of Spoons

If you're not familiar with spoon theory,  you can read about it here.

Yesterday I had a bunch of stuff to do.  I had promised Mike that when I moved out, I would pay someone to come pick up all the dog poop in the yard.  Did you know there are professional pooper scoopers?  Well, there are.  It cost me $10 to have all the poop picked up and it was definitely worth the cost.

Since I had to be there to pay the pooper scooper, I planned to do some other errands while I was in town.  I had a coupon for 10% off anything I bought at Lowe's, so I wanted to get curtain rods and some other things there.  I wanted to go to the thrift store and get some shorts and tee shirts for summer and a few other things.  I thought I might stop at Hobby Lobby and the dollar store, too.  I had also asked Mike if it would be OK if I did a load of laundry while I was there.  I hate the fact that I now have to pay to do laundry.  And speaking of paying to do laundry, I also had to go by the bank to trade in some nickles and dimes for quarters because the washers and dryers in my building only take quarters.

I went to the bank first, which Isaac likes because they give him a doggie treat there.  Then I went to the thrift store, and there was another service dog in the store, and Isaac barked at him.  He stopped when I corrected him, but I was still really embarrassed.  I bought the stuff that was already in my cart and got out of there, but I was annoyed because I wasn't really done shopping.

Then I went to Mike's and visited the cats and started my laundry.  I decided to leave Isaac there while I went to Lowe's.  I was unhappy with his behavior at the thrift store and I knew I would have to look around for a while at Lowe's and I just thought it would be easier to leave him at home.  Well, that was a bad decision.  I had a lot of trouble finding stuff at Lowe's and ended up getting so frustrated and anxious that I decided to just buy the curtain rod and forget about the rest of the stuff I wanted and get out of there.  Then I couldn't remember where I parked and had trouble finding my car.  By the time I found my car, I was exhausted and super anxious.  I took some medication and felt a little better, but not much.

I went on to the dollar store and then I just went back to Mike's.  I was too tired to go anywhere else and I felt frazzled.

Mike was supposed to help me with a couple things on my new laptop, which I just got right before I moved.  I'm still getting used to it and finding things I don't like or want to change, and I get all confused if I try to change the settings on it.  Well, I thought it would just take him a few minutes but he was messing with the laptop for a long time and finally I told him I had to go home and maybe we could work on the computer another time. I took another pill for anxiety before I left and I actually wanted to take a third, but I was afraid to take that much when I had to drive.

On the way home, I got mixed up and missed a turn and ended up driving way out of my way before I figured out what I'd done and turned around and got on the right road.  I was so relieved to be home.  At least my apartment feels like home to me and it feels good to be here.  It feels like a safe place.  I took another pill for anxiety and lay on the couch and finally started to relax.

I know it doesn't sound like I did that much stuff - I went to the bank, the thrift store, Lowe's, and the dollar store.  I did a load of laundry and sat on the couch while Mike messed with my computer.  It seems like I shouldn't be so exhausted and overwhelmed and anxiety-stricken just doing those things.  But I was completely out of spoons.

I need to plan better and not try to do so many things in one day.  It seemed to make sense to do all those errands at the same time since I had to drive 40 minutes to get there, but for me, it would be better to make the drive another time and do fewer errands on one afternoon.  I hate that, though.  That's something I hate about my disability.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Walks with Isaac

Isaac and I have been taking lots of long, leisurely walks near our new home.  I love how quiet and peaceful it is here.  Last night we went out a bit later than usual and it was dark out and I was amazed at how dark it is.  We didn't walk far because of that; there are some lights around my apartment building, but the little dead end road we're on was completely dark, no streetlights at all.

There is a stream across the road and when we walk down the road, I can hear it gurgling.  I love that sound.  Most of the time all I hear outside is the stream and the birds.

A little ways down the road, the road crosses the stream.  There is a bridge, a wooden bridge if you can believe that, but apparently it's not safe for cars anymore and so it's blocked off.  You can walk across it, though.  Isaac wants to swim in that creek.

That's the view from the bridge.

Isaac likes walking in the tall weeds in the ditch on the side of the road.  The weeds are almost as tall as he is.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Isaac and the Elevator

Just for fun, I've been teaching Isaac to push the button that calls the elevator in my new apartment building.  I am perfectly capable of pushing the button myself, but it's fun to teach Isaac new things and he likes learning new things, too.  I think he gets bored sometimes if he isn't learning.

Getting him to touch the button with his nose was easy.  I held a yummy treat in my hand, held it up to the button, and told Isaac, "Button!"  Of course, he went for the treat, touching the button with his nose in the process.  I let him have the treat and told him he was a good boy.

We did that for two days.  We practiced it every time we took the elevator, so several times each day.  Then I started pointing to the button, giving him the command, "Button!" and he would nose the button, then look at me expectantly for his treat.  He learns so fast.  He's such a smart boy.

The only thing is that he doesn't always push hard enough to actually call the elevator.  I'm not sure how to get him to push harder.  Now that he's been nosing the button consistently on command, I think I'm going to start only giving him a treat when he actually does it hard enough to call the elevator.  That's pretty much the same thing I did with him turning on lights.  He would touch the light switch with his nose but didn't always actually flip the switch up so the light would come on.  He finally figured it out when he started only getting treats when the light actually came on.