Monday, September 30, 2013

Coping Skills Round Up

So I get to go through the oral surgery and the recovery on my own.  And I'm not happy about that.  But it is what it is.

I've been dealing with my PTSD, my anxiety, and being pretty much on my own, for a long time.  So I have a lot of coping skills.  I can spend a lot of time and energy being upset that one of those coping skills is not having a friend to go with me or I can channel that energy toward using my other coping skills.  Guess which is going to be most helpful?

So, to get through the oral surgery, I will:

  • Use my weighted blanket.  The half-sized one I just finished making yesterday.  It's pretty.  It's so soft.  And it only weighs about ten pounds so I can carry it to the dentist with me, unlike my full-sized weighted blanket, which I love, but it weighs about 20 pounds so it's all I can do to drag it from the living room to the bedroom when I need to.
  • Repetition.  I learned this from a book, a work of fiction by Abagail Padget, to be precise.  She wrote several mysteries (I wish she'd write more) in which the main character was a social work for child protective services who happened to have bipolar disorder.  When she was stressed and needed to distract herself from the emotional distress and calm herself down, she would recite the names and dates of old shipwrecks.  Once when she was working with a teenager with emotional problems, she taught the teen to recite the states and their capitals.  I can do the states and their capitals, or I can do the multiplication tables, and it works pretty well.  Gives me something to focus on other than my emotions.
  • I can consciously tell myself to relax and focus on relaxing my various muscle groups.  
  • Scent works for me sometimes, too.  I will spray my weighted blanket with lavender water before I leave for the dentist.  It will help combat that "dentist office smell," too.
  • I will take my anxiety medication before going in to the appointment.
  • I will let the oral surgeon know I have PTSD and that I need him to talk me through what he is doing including letting me know how much longer it will be until he is done.
I supposed I should feel better, having a plan and all, right?  Eh.... maybe a little.  But not that much.

Seeing the Oral Surgeon Today

And I am a mess.

I am a mess not only because I have to have oral surgery but also because a friend was supposed to be going with me and at the last minute, like 10:00 last night, told me he can't make it.  I had known there was a slight possibility (I thought it was slight, anyway) that he would not be able to go to the appointment with me, but he had said that if he couldn't do that, he would be here afterwards.  And now he's not coming at all.

He has a reason.  An excuse.  Whatever.  It doesn't seem like a good enough reason to me.

My feelings are hurt.  I also feel angry at myself, for counting on someone.  I should have known I'd be doing this alone, like I do most things in my life alone.  I could have scheduled the dog walker to come take Isaac out this afternoon, or I even thought about asking my  neighbor if he would be willing to walk Isaac later, in case I am in a lot of pain or doped up on pain pills or something.  But I didn't, because I was counting on my friend to be here.  That was stupid on my part and a mistake I won't make again.

I can get through this by myself.  I've gotten through harder things by myself.  When I had my breast biopsy in May, a friend drove me to the hospital and drove me home, but left very soon after that.  I was alone after that.  I took care of Isaac, took care of myself.  That was worse than getting a tooth extracted, right?  So I can do it.  I'm just sad that I have to do it alone.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sleeping Arrangements

I had hoped that my service dog would sleep with me at night but Isaac does not.  Well, he does every great once in a while.  But not often.  He is super snuggly during the day but I thought he just liked a lot of room at night when he was sleeping.

I have had an overnight guest here a couple times lately, though, and I have found that Isaac is happy to sleep in bed with my guest.  He just doesn't like to sleep with me.

My feelings are not hurt by that.  I am thinking I must still be really restless in my sleep.  I know I used to be but I had thought that had gotten better.  Like, I used to wake up screaming often but I very rarely do that now.  But I also know sometimes Mike would tell me I was screaming in my sleep but I didn't wake up doing it and I would never have known if he hadn't told me the next morning.  I also know sometimes I would wake up hitting or kicking him.  And I used to wake up kicking the cats off the bed sometimes.  For a long time Cayenne refused to sleep with me because I'd kicked her off the bed too many times.  I had assumed I didn't do that so much anymore, but I usually sleep alone these days, so maybe I do and just don't know it because there is no one to tell me about it in the morning.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Confession: I Am a Lazy Service Dog Owner

I have come to a realization.  And it's OK, because you know what they say - the first step is admitting you have a problem.

I am a lazy service dog owner.  What I am lazy about, specifically, is training my service dog.  Which is why I wanted a fully trained dog from a program, but here is what I have figured out.  Even a fully trained dog from a program needs ongoing training.  Without practice, he gets lazy.  Without practice, his skills get rusty.  And no matter how much training he's had, there are always new things that will come up.

Here is an example, the example, in fact, that led me to this conclusion.  Someone I know is in the process of training her own service dog.  The dog is maybe 15 months old now, not fully trained, but getting close.  She's had him, and been training him, since he was eight weeks old.  She has a lot of experience training working dogs and has owned service dogs before, so she's very qualified to train her own service dog (something I am definitely not qualified to do).

She said that the other day, she went to a picnic with her dog.  She noticed a paper napkin with barbeque sauce on it on the ground under one of the picnic tables.  She knows that her dog likes to eat paper napkins, whether or not they have sauce on them.  In that situation, I would have chosen a seat far away from the napkin, so my dog would not be tempted by it.  I mean, Isaac has no interest in eating napkins, but if he did, I would have sat far away from it.  If no seats were available far away from the napkin, I probably would have picked it up and disposed of it so that I would not have to worry about Isaac eating it while I was eating my lunch.

This person, much more experienced with service dogs and not as lazy as I am, chose to sit right by the napkin.  She wanted to give her dog the opportunity to learn, and practice, not eating napkins, no matter how tempting they might be.  Yes, she had to pay attention to what her dog was doing while she ate her own lunch and she had to remind him a few times not to eat the napkin.  But in the future, when she is busy with something really important, she will not have to worry about her dog eating a dropped napkin, because she knows he has been trained really well not to do that.

I need to put more time and energy into training Isaac like that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Isaac's Fundraiser

Isaac's fundraiser was three days ago and I think it went well.  I still don't know how much money was raised.  They didn't give me the money at the fundraiser and I don't think they'd counted it yet, either.  I'm not sure if they plan to give the money to me directly or send it to Isaac's program.  Either is fine, but I'm curious to know how much was raised.  If I don't hear from the pastor in a few days, I will give her a call.

I ended up taking Isaac.  I wasn't sure I was going to because of his ankle but I really wanted to have him there.  I thought it would encourage people to donate more.  And he had not been limping for a few days by then, so I thought he was OK to go.

Before the fundraising lunch, we attended church.  The pews were very close together and Isaac did not want to go between them.  Instead, he wanted to sprawl out in the aisle.  I told him that was not going to work and that he needed to go between the pews.  Once he lay down, he had plenty of room, it was just crowded while he was standing up.

While we were waiting for the service to begin, an elderly woman in the pew in front of me turned around and commented, "I really admire you for doing that."

"For doing what?" I asked.  I wondered if she meant that she admired me for attending church but that didn't seem to make much sense.

"For taking care of those puppies," she said, nodding at Isaac.  Then I realized she thought I was a puppy raiser or maybe that I was training Isaac, as in training him for someone with a disability.  "He's in the training phase, isn't he?" she asked.

"No," I said.  "He's fully trained."  That's my standard answer when people ask if I am training him but I decided to give her a little more information.  "He is my service dog," I said.  She just looked confused.

So then the service started and Isaac sprawled out under my feet and partly under the pew in front of me and dozed until it was time to talk to the kids.  See, at this church, they do a Children's Time near the beginning of each service.  The kids are invited up to the front and the pastor talks to them for a few minutes about something before they are dismissed to go to Children's Church.  Only this day, Isaac and I were talking to them instead of the pastor.  So we went up to the front and I sat on a low stool and Isaac sat in front of me and the kids (about a dozen of them) sat in a semi-circle in front of us.

I asked the kids if any of them knew what a service dog was and a couple kids raised their hands.  I asked one girl what it was and she said they do things like guide blind people.  I said yes, exactly, and they help people with other disabilities, too, and gave a bunch of examples.  I also told them some of the tasks Isaac does for me and I made sure to point out that you can't always tell if someone has a disability just by looking at them.

I told them how long it takes to train a service dog and that usually they can tell if a dog is a service dog because it will usually be wearing a vest like Isaac's, although some service dogs don't wear vests and they don't have to.  I explained how Isaac knows he is working when he has on his vest and that he behaves differently when he is working than when he's not, kind of like they behave differently at school than when they are playing around at home or out in the back yard.

Then I asked one of the kids to read the patch on Isaac's vest, which says, "Please do not pet me, I'm working."  I asked them why they thought it was important not to pet a service dog when it was working and not to talk to the dog or otherwise distract it.  The kids were easily able to grasp the fact that a service dog needs to pay attention to its job.  I asked what they thought might happen if a service dog was guiding a blind person and the dog got distracted and they said well, the person might get hurt or fall down or run into something.  I also asked them what would happen if they were at school doing their math problems and someone came up to them and started petting them and talking to them.  Would they be able to concentrate on their work?  They laughed and said of course not.

I did allow them to pet Isaac at the end of our little talk and Isaac was in doggie heaven.  First he lay down, then he rolled onto his side, then he rolled onto his back and stretched out as long as possible, with a dozen kids all rubbing his belly at the same time.  His eyes were rolled back in his head and his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth.  He was loving it.

The rest of the service went well and so did the lunch that followed.  They had a bunch of sandwich fixings, baked beans, pasta salad, potato chips, and a variety of homemade desserts.  I chatted with people about service dogs and about dogs in general during the meal.  People seemed to want to tell me about their pet dogs; many of them had pet labs.

I think it went well and I'm looking forward to hearing how much they collected.

If you weren't able to attend but would like to donate, please email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com.  Thanks!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Update on the Critters

First, an update on Isaac’s ankle.  It seems to be doing well.  He has been off the anti-inflammatory medication for a few days now.  We’ve been going for short walks a few times a day, which he enjoys very much.  Sunday he came to the fundraiser at the church (I’ll post about   how that went later).
This morning, we went to the dog park for a little while.  I knew there would not be very many other dogs there and in fact, Isaac was the only one.  I wanted to give him the opportunity to run a bit if he felt up to it without there being other dogs to encourage him to run and play more than he really felt like doing.  I also wanted to give him the chance to run a bit without being encouraged by his running buddy to run longer than he felt like running.  Because Isaac loves running with his running buddy (a.k.a. the dog walker), he is likely to keep going even if he feels some pain.  Same thing if he is playing with other doggies.

We only stayed about half an hour and Isaac spent much of the time just sniffing around and peeing on things.  He did run a little and a couple times it seemed to me that his gait was a bit odd, but I couldn’t exactly say he was limping.  He was going too fast to really get a good look at what his injured ankle was doing.  When we left, he seemed ready to leave, which is a bit unusual.  He definitely was not limping as we walked back to the car, though.  And he seems perfectly fine right now.

Second, an update on Cayenne.  She is spending nearly all her time under the couch now, where no one can bother her.  She comes out sometimes to eat, although she is eating less than normal, maybe about half her usual amount.  I serve her stinky canned cat food and top it with a spoonful of stinky chicken or turkey baby food, which she loves.  Sometimes she just eats the baby food off the top, other times she goes on to eat some of the canned food.  The baby food is also very moist and runny, so she gets more liquid from that than from the canned cat food, which is good because I have not seen her drink any water in several days.  I don’t think she is peeing much, either, unless she’s doing it under the couch where I cannot see it (or reach it to clean it up, which is definitely possible).

I’m just taking it one day at a time with her for now, petting her and loving on her a little when she does come out to eat, and then leaving her alone since that seems to be what she wants.  She doesn’t seem to be in much pain, as far as I can tell.  She just wants to sleep under the couch where it is dark and quiet and no one can disturb her.

She is almost out of canned food so I will stop by the store tomorrow and pick up a couple cans.  I’m not going to buy very much since she may not be around to eat it.  She hasn’t eaten any dry cat food in several days.  She will probably never finish the bag of dry food that’s in my cupboard.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Update on Isaac's Ankle

I guess this is good news, but I was kind of hoping for better.

The ankle is healing well.  There is still a little bit of swelling, though.  The vet said to go ahead and stop the anti-inflammatory medication and see how he does.  He is allowed to increase his activity level, but slowly.  So we can take a rather short walk this evening, but he cannot go for a run yet, or to the dog park, or work.

I'm glad he's getting better and we can go for a walk.  And I'm glad I took him back to the vet instead of just deciding to let him resume his normal activities all at once since he's no longer limping.

I just wish he could go for a nice run.  I wish we could go to the lake.

I don't think I will be taking him to the fundraiser Sunday, either, which I feel bad about, but I think that might be too much activity for him.

Isaac enjoyed the trip to the vet, at least.  He loves riding in the car, and he likes the vet, and he enjoys sniffing around outside the vet's office and peeing in all the places other doggies have peed.

Another Update on Cayenne

Today I moved the couch to get Cayenne out from under it.  It had been almost 24 hours since I'd seen her and almost 36 hours since she'd had anything at all to eat or drink, so I was worried.  I was kinda scared she was no longer alive under there, to be honest.  So I dragged the couch out from the wall and turned it on its side so I could get to her.

She was very much alive, thank goddess.  She looked a bit annoyed that I was disturbing her.  She jumped up on the back of the couch, which is now the top since it's on its side, and let me pet her.  I got her to eat a little canned food and she also ate a few tiny bites of cut up hot dog.  She had peed and pooped under the couch (I guess that's good, right?  At least her kidneys and intestines are still working), so I cleaned that up.  I want to vacuum back there, too, but haven't done that yet because I know the noise of the vacuum bothers her.

I decided to go out and buy some baby food for her.  Last summer when she was really sick and refusing to eat, the thing I was finally able to get her to eat was some disgusting chicken and gravy baby food.  I can't believe how stinky that stuff was.  I can't believe people actually feed it to their babies.  But Cayenne really liked it so I got a couple jars for her.

When I got home, I saw that she'd eaten some more of the canned cat food and she was on the window ledge, drinking some water.  So I feel good about that.  I guess she's going to be with me a little longer.

Earlier today, before I moved the couch, I was at the dollar store picking up some dog treats for Isaac and a couple other things, and while I was in the pet supplies aisle, I thought that maybe I should pick up some canned food for Cayenne.  Then I thought, Cayenne might not be around long enough to need more cat food.  I still have a few cans at home.  It was all I could do not to start crying in the store when I thought that.  I did cry once I got back to my car.

I know she's not going to be here forever.  She is about 14 years old now, and she is diabetic and has cancer and is losing interest in food.  It probably will not be much longer.  But I'm not ready.  I'm not ready to lose her.  I know whether or not I'm ready doesn't matter, and anyway, are we ever really ready to lose someone we love?  But I'm not ready.

Oh.  And now my couch is turned on its side, so I can't sit on it.  I can't put it back by myself, but I'm not sure I want to put it back right now, anyway, because I don't want Cayenne going right back under it where I can't get to her.  I want to let the carpet dry, anyway, where I had to clean up cat pee.  But this means I have to sit on the floor or on my bed, neither of which is as comfortable on my back as sitting on the couch.  Plus my back really hurts from moving the couch in the first place.  Blah.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Update on Cayenne

I was able to get her to eat a little more last night.  About 2:00 am, she went back under the couch and she's still there this morning.  I moved the couch, which was really hard on my back, and got her out, and then she went right back under there.  So I'm going to just let her be for a while.  I'm worried about her.  This may be the end for her.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Too Much to Deal with Right Now

There is just too much going on for me right now.  Of course, the Universe does not care if it's too much.  It's not like you can say hey, this is too much, can you throw crap at me one thing at a time, please?

Here are the highlights at present:

  • My back hurts.  A lot.  I think it's a combination of stress and not having as much assistance from Isaac as I usually get, due to his sprained ankle.  Maybe also not getting as much exercise as I normally do; I typically walk at least an hour a day with Isaac, sometimes more, but haven't been walking lately since Isaac can't go for walks.
  • Isaac has been unable to work for nine days now, due to his sprained ankle.  In addition to not having his help with things, I've been worried about him.  He has not been limping for the last three days, though, at all.  He goes back to the vet Friday and I am hoping he will be able to return to his normal activities after that.
  • This may be TMI, but then, I've shared plenty of stuff here that probably is too much information for some people.   I seem to have some sort of infection.  I thought it was a yeast infection but saw my primary care doctor and got treatment for that, which hasn't helped.  I did some research online (you know how doctors love it when patients diagnose themselves with assistance from Google, right?) and now I think it is probably a bacterial infection instead, since the treatment for a yeast infection didn't help.  Apparently bacterial infections of the vagina are pretty common in women; it's called bacterial vaginosis.  But I need to go back to the doctor for that.  Besides being mildly uncomfortable, having discomfort in that area can be pretty triggering with my PTSD.
  • My mouth hurts.  I am wondering if maybe I am getting some sort of infection under my damaged crown or where the broken root is.  I am having more pain today than I did for the past few days, plus the gum seems pretty swollen in that area.  Also, the lymph gland on the left side of my neck is a bit sore and swollen (the broken tooth is on the left side of my mouth, if that means anything).  I don't have a fever, though.  I guess I will call my dentist in the morning and ask what he thinks.  Besides the discomfort, the pain in my mouth is triggering my PTSD stuff, too, plus I'm really anxious about the upcoming dental procedures.
  • And, to top it all off, Cayenne seems to be feeling poorly today.  She seemed fine this morning, but spent most of the afternoon sleeping under the couch, which is not normal for her.  She came out when I was ready to feed her dinner, but she did not want to eat initially.  Throughout the evening, I've been able to coax her to eat a little; she had a bit of shredded cheese, some tiny pieces of hot dog, and some of her canned cat food, though not as much as she normally would eat.  She's sleeping now and doesn't seem to be uncomfortable, but I'm worried about her.  I expect I won't get much sleep tonight; I'll be getting up frequently to check on her.

Relaxing in the Shade

I bought a ten-foot cable from Petco that I can use to tether Isaac to the picnic table beside my apartment building.  Then I can sit at the picnic table and work on my laptop, or read, or talk on the phone, or whatever, and Isaac can roam around a little or lie down and relax in the sun or the shade, and I don't have to worry about him catching sight of a deer in the empty lot next door and taking off after it.  Strong as he is, he cannot run off dragging the picnic table behind him.  I'd been considering getting a cable like this for a while but decided to go ahead and do it since Isaac has not been able to go for walks or to the dog park because of his sprained ankle.   I have a picture, but for some reason I'm having trouble posting it.  Maybe later.

Isaac has a hole under the picnic table that he's been working on a little at a time.  He really enjoys digging.  I probably shouldn't let him dig there, but no one ever sits at this table but me and Isaac, and he has so much fun digging.

He also thinks I am brilliant because when he gets his cable all tangled up around the legs of the picnic table, I know how to untangle it.  Like, he goes under one of the benches, and then goes around the table leg and back under the bench, and soon he can barely move because his cable is so tangled up.  But I can point under the bench, and he goes under, and I can point for him to go around the table  leg, and he does it, and soon his is all untangled again.  He thinks it's like magic and I must be absolutely brilliant to know how to do it!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reading Old Journals

Today I was reading through some old journals.  I have journals going back to 1990-something.  I rarely look at them.  Often, reading them upsets me or makes me anxious or sad or something.  But I have them.

Today I read back in 2002, I had a dream that I went to see an eye doctor and was told I was going to lose most of my vision.  I was advised that I should apply for disability benefits and consider getting a service dog.  I had completely forgotten that dream.  How weird is that?  That was when I was still working, before I applied for SSDI, long before I'd ever considered that I would one day have a service dog.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Smart Doggie Sucking Up

I think I have the best, smartest dog ever. He is sort of a suck up, though.

I was lying on the couch and Isaac was standing next to the couch, getting petted. His tail was wagging happily and it knocked my hair brush off the coffee table. I didn't even notice he knocked it off but Isaac noticed, and turned around, and picked up the brush and gave it to me. I told him he was the best dog ever and kissed him on the head, which he liked so much that he then turned around, spotted my hair scrunchy thing on the coffee table, and picked that up and gave it to me. He wanted some more pets and praise.

Central Ohio Dog Parks

Here are a few reviews of central Ohio dog parks Isaac and I have visited.

This is by far Isaac's favorite, the one with the doggie beach.

Alum Creek State Park

Here's Isaac, sniffing and being sniffed, at the dog beach at Alum Creek.

Isaac and I also like Kaufman dog park in Marion, Ohio.

Isaac had fun at Deer Creek State Park but I was not impressed with it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Petting Is Not a Task

To be a service dog, a dog has to be trained to perform tasks that mitigate the handler's disability.  Petting is not a task, because a dog does not have to be trained to be petted.  I understand that. 

Still, petting Isaac is very soothing for me.  A couple days ago, I took Isaac with me to get the oil changed in my car.  I thought I was going to one of those places where you don't even have to get out of the car, but at this place, they wanted me to sit in the little waiting room while they worked on the car.  I put Isaac's service dog vest on him and took him into the waiting room with me.  It was only a very short distance from the car, so it wasn't much walking on his sprained ankle at all, but if I'd known he would have had to get out of the car, I would not have taken him with me.  I think he was really glad to get out of the house, though.  And he did great in the waiting room.  We were there about half an hour and he just lay down and napped on the rug while we waited.

I was feeling anxious, though.  I was worried about money and about my teeth and about Isaac's ankle and all sorts of stuff.  Then the mechanic came in to tell me that the serpentine belt on my car (whatever the heck that even is) was badly cracked and would need to be replaced soon.  So that made me even more anxious.  I reached down and rubbed Isaac's head and ears and he sighed and stretched out his neck and it seemed that the petting was relaxing both of us.

I read somewhere that there was a study that determined people's blood pressures go down when they pet an animal.  My blood pressure tends to run low anyway, but that's beside the point.  Petting an animal helps anxiety.  Petting Isaac helps my anxiety, a lot.  It's not a trained task, but it sure is an excellent bonus that comes with having a service dog.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Super Stressful Day

My super stressful day began at 6:30 am (ugh!) when my alarm sounded.  I hate alarm clocks.  I consider myself very lucky that I almost never have to set one.  Isaac typically wakes me up around 7:30 or 8:00 am, which is plenty early for me.  It is much nicer, though, to be awakened by a happy doggie breathing in your ear than by a blaring alarm clock.  This morning, it was the alarm that woke me.  It woke Isaac, too, but he was in a better mood about it than I was.

I took the doggie out, fed the doggie and the cat, ate a protein bar, and attempted to take a shower.  The water would not get hot.  It was barely lukewarm.  I decided to skip the shower.

I got dressed, took Isaac out one more time, and was on the road by 7:30.  Stopped for coffee and made it to the garage by 8:00 am.  I was told the job would take about an hour, and I tell you, sitting in the little waiting room while mechanics worked on my car was stressful!  I kept expecting them to come in and tell me they’d found 27 other things wrong that really needed to be fixed right away and it would cost $7,000 or something like that.  Luckily that was not the case and I got out of there after forking over just $95.

Then I was off to the dentist.  The hygienist scraped several years worth of tartar off my teeth, which was not very pleasant, and then the dentist informed me that, other than this messed up crown, I have excellent teeth.  No cavities, no gum disease, no problems whatsoever.  So at least there was a little bit of good news.  The dentist also made impressions of my teeth, which will be used to design the bridge I need to get.  

At the end of this month, I have to see an oral surgeon to have the tooth, or what’s left of the root, anyway, extracted.  I had a choice of being awake for that procedure or being sedated, and the sedation would increase the cost significantly, so I had to opt for being awake.  I hate having to make health care decisions simply based on cost.  But I guess you do what you have to do, right?

After the remains of the tooth are extracted, I go back to the dentist and he fits me with a temporary bridge while the permanent bridge is made.  There is some reason why there needs to be a temporary bridge, and he explained it to me, but I forget exactly what it was.  I guess I was distracted by my painful gums and all.  They still hurt now, 12 hours later.

Then, to make the experience even more fun, I got an estimate of the cost for this bridge.  $2500.  Plus $300 to have the tooth extracted.  Plus the $150 I paid a couple days ago for x-rays and to have the crown cemented back in place.  Medicaid generously paid for the teeth cleaning today, but will not cover any of those other expenses. 

I was home by noon and slept most of the afternoon.  I was tired from getting up so early, but also mentally exhausted from the stress of it all.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Am Medicated

My back has been pretty bad lately.  I've been putting off certain tasks, like cleaning my kitchen floor, because my back just hurts too much.  But today I moved the mattress and box spring on my bed, because these two screws had fallen out of my bed frame, and I was worried that the bed frame was going to fall apart when I flopped down on it or something.  The mattress and box spring had to be moved so I could reach the place where the screws went.  I was going to have Mike come over and help me but then I decided that I know how to use a screwdriver and I am not weak or incompetent and I just wanted to fix it myself.  So I did.  It wasn't even that hard.  But now my back hurts a lot.  So I took some pain meds.

I've also been super anxious the last couple of days.  I have to go to the dentist tomorrow to get my teeth cleaned and figure out what I'm going to do about this crown and getting a bridge and everything.  The dentist makes me anxious and worrying about how I'm going to pay for a bridge makes me anxious.  I am also worried about Isaac and his ankle.  And today I got the oil changed in my car and was advised that the serpentine belt, whatever the heck that is, is badly cracked and needs to be replaced very soon.  If it breaks, my car will be dead on the side of the road.  The garage I normally go to cannot fix it until next Wednesday, but I have to go to the dentist tomorrow.  There is a garage near my dentist that can fix it tomorrow morning, before my dentist appointment, but they charge $30 more for it than my regular garage does.  Plus I have to be there at 8:00 am, plus that is right before I go to the dentist.  It is all too much to deal with, but what choice do I have?  So I took some anxiety meds.

The meds are not helping enough.  I want chocolate.  Like a big old slab of chocolate cake.  With ice cream.  Alas, I have no chocolate, no cake, and no ice cream in the house, and am afraid to drive the car.  I guess I will have some lovely yogurt later.  Blah.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Keep a Very Active Dog off His Feet for Two Weeks

So how do you keep a very active, energetic lab off his feet for two weeks?  Well, it ain't easy!  I am trying to find ways to entertain him that don't involve running or jumping or putting pressure on his foot.

We go outside and sit on the patio, where he can lie down in the grass and visit with various neighbors, all of whom are happy to pet him and provide belly rubs.  Of course, I've been providing plenty of belly rubs, as well.

I went to the grocery store this morning and bought some flavored rawhide chews and a beef bone, both of which he enjoys.  He can gnaw them while lying down.

At this moment he is busily gnawing on a Kong with a Beggin' Strip bacon flavored treat inside, trying to get it out.

I plan to take him for car rides, which he likes.  Tomorrow I think I am going to go get the oil changed in my car.  I'll go to one of those quickie lube places where you sit in the car while they change the oil.  Isaac can ride along.  I think one day soon we'll go through the automatic car wash, too.  My car could certainly use a wash!

Isaac has one puzzle toy but I might buy him another one.  Puzzle toys for dogs are toys that you can put treats in some way and dogs have to figure out how to get them out.  The one he has is really too easy for him; Isaac just likes it because he gets treats.  He could use a more challenging one.

I think we will also work on some training, things like instructing him to pick up specific objects so he has to learn their names to pick up the right object, and practicing picking up delicate or fragile objects gently (we'll practice that with things like a paper cup, so he can try to pick it up without crumpling it or biting a hole in it).

If all else fails, the vet said to give him 50 mg of Benadryl, which will make him very relaxed and drowsy.  I will do that if necessary but I'd rather not if I can avoid it.

I am hoping Isaac's friend K will come over to visit, too.  She can brush him, provide more belly rubs, and hopefully entertain him for a little while.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Hate Seeing Him in Pain

I think Isaac's ankle is causing me more distress than it is causing him.

Sometimes he only limps slightly, other times it is more noticeable.  He is still happy, friendly, enthusiastic, loving.  When I get ready to take him out, he stands by the door, tail wagging, eyes bright, waiting for me to put on his leash.  Then we start to walk down the hall and I see him limping.  I feel terrible for him. 

I wish I could make his pain go away.  I would rather my foot hurt than his.  I could much more easily cope with my own pain than with his. 

I feel like he is such a good doggie.  He deserves only good things.  He should not be in pain.

He is not complaining.  He is being friendly and cheerful and sweet.  I expect in a day or two he will be bored, and especially as his foot begins to feel better but he still doesn't get to go for a run or even a good walk, he may get a bit cranky.  It would be understandable.  But for now, he is just being so loveable and sweet.  I'm so sorry I can't make it stop hurting.

Fundraiser Coming Up!

Isaac's fundraiser is coming up soon!  It's Sunday, September 22, at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Mount Gilead, Ohio (less than an hour north of Columbus, just a few miles from I-71).  It's a fundraising lunch, to be served at 11:45 am.  People are welcome to attend church first, which starts at 10:30, but you certainly don't have to.  Isaac and I will be attending church and will be speaking to the children's church about service dogs, so if you want to come to church and want to bring your kids, feel free.

Lunch is at 11:45 am and I have no idea what they will be serving, but it will probably be yummy.  People can donate as much or as little as they choose for the meal.  Isaac and I will be visiting with people during/after the meal and Isaac promises to offer kisses to anyone that wants them.

Email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com if you need more information or directions.  If you can't come but would like to donate, you can donate through PayPal or by check (and if you make the check out to Isaac's program, not to me, your donation can be tax deductible because the program is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization).  Thanks for your support!

Service Dog on Sick Leave

This morning the dog walker arrived to take Isaac for his run.  Ten minutes later, they were back.  Isaac was limping and kept stopping to lick his left front foot.  Both the dog walker and I attempted to exam Isaac's foot but we couldn't see anything wrong with it.  I called the vet and made an appointment for this afternoon.

Throughout the morning, Isaac sometimes limped and sometimes didn't.  He did lick the side of his foot a lot.  I looked at the foot again but still couldn't see anything wrong.

We went to the vet this afternoon.  Isaac likes going to the vet.  It's just one more place to go and visit nice people that pet him and play with him and tell him he's a nice boy.  Plus they have yummy treats there.  And there are lots of places to pee outside the vet's office and lots of interesting smells.  It's a good time, as far as Isaac is concerned.

It turns out Isaac has a sprained ankle.  At least, that's what the vet thinks it is and I hope he is right.  I was worried it was going to be something serious and also something expensive.  Isaac's vet gives him a discount because he is a service dog, so this appointment ended up only costing $7, which was for some anti-inflammatory medication.  I just don't know how I'd pay for something expensive right now, on top of all the dental work I need.  I guess I'd pay for Isaac's care first and my teeth would just have to wait.  I was glad it only cost $7 today, though.

The good news is that it is not a severe sprain and he is expected to make a full recovery.  The bad news, as far as Isaac is concerned, is that he is supposed to stay off his feet for two weeks.  Seriously?  Do you know how active and energetic this dog is?  No running, no dog parks, no lake, no long walks, for two weeks.  The vet told me I can give him some Benadryl if necessary to calm him down and make him drowsy.

And no working.  Isaac is a service dog, remember?  He has the next two weeks off work.  No going to the grocery store with me, no helping me do laundry, none of that.  When a service dog is on sick leave (and it happens, service dogs get sick, too), the handler has to figure out how to do things without the dog's help.  It's going to be a very stressful two weeks for me and Isaac, I think.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Went to the Dentist

I went to the dentist today.

The good news is that I really like the dentist.

The bad news is... well, just about everything else.

The root of the tooth that has the crown on it has fractured and cannot be repaired.  He was able to cement the crown back in place temporarily but I will need either a bridge or a dental implant (unless I want to have a big gap where one of my front teeth should go, which I do not want to have).  I think I will be going with the bridge since the implant would cost about twice as much.  The bridge is costly enough.  I am not sure how I will cover the full cost.  About have of it can go on my credit card.  But I do not have enough credit on that card for the full cost.  I am going to apply for a Care Credit account and hopefully that can cover the rest.

I am worn out and in pain and stressed out.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I Have to Go to the Dentist

Yesterday morning, I bit into a protein bar and damaged the crown on one of my upper front teeth.  It hurts and the crown is very loose and wiggly, like a loose tooth.

I hate going to the dentist.  I haven't been to the dentist in six or seven years.  Luckily, I have really good teeth.  I have not had a cavity since I was a teenager.  About twenty years ago, I had my wisdom teeth removed. 

About 15 years ago, a child head-butted me in the mouth and broke one of my front teeth, which is how I ended up with this crown.  I was working with disabled children that were being mainstreamed into regular classrooms at the time and was sitting behind a first grader with autism and a visual impairment and she was upset about something, I don't even remember what, but she reared backwards and banged her head into my mouth, hard.  It was kinda my own fault because I should not have had my head right behind hers.  I'd had enough training to know better but was sitting in that position anyway.

Well, now I have to go to the dentist.  I'd actually been planning to go next month to get my teeth cleaned because I figure, good teeth or not, I should probably get them cleaned every six or seven years, right?  But now I have to go tomorrow.

I actually wanted to go yesterday.  It hurt, a lot, and I was afraid the loose crown was going to fall off.  Hatred of dentists or not, I grabbed the phone book and started calling local dentists to see if someone could get me in yesterday.  Unfortunately, being Saturday and all, no one could.  I did speak to a dentist on the phone, who sounded very nice, and he said he was actually out of town or else he would have been able to see my yesterday.  He said if I called the office early Monday morning, though, he would be able to see me that day.  So I am calling him first thing tomorrow morning.

I've been surviving on protein shakes and Greek yogurt since yesterday morning and I am hungry and sick of yogurt and protein shakes.  I did eat some tomato soup with shredded cheddar cheese melted in it this evening and that was a nice change.  Hopefully the dentist can fix my crown tomorrow and I will be able to eat again.

I am afraid this is going to be expensive.  Well, not exactly afraid of the expense; more of a concern than a fear, really.  I called the bank yesterday and go the limit on my credit card increased because I had a really low limit and did not have much credit left on the card.  So at least now I can cover the cost, which relieved that worry.

I am afraid it's going to hurt, and that is a fear, not just a worry.  And I just hate going to the dentist.  I hate having to keep my mouth open and having things put in my mouth and... oh, I hate all of it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Instructions for Making a Weighted Blanket

Here's how I made my weighted blanket.  I made mine weigh about 15% of my body weight, which is what I read is recommended.  You might want yours heavier or lighter, though.

What You Need:

Poly-Fil Plastic Pellets (I used 20 lbs, which I got on Ebay for about $40, the best price I could find)
Two yards of flannel
Two yards of fleece
An old sheet (I got one for $1.99 at the thrift store)
Needle and thread
Dried lavender (optional)

What You Do:

Cut the sheet into rectangles six inches by 12 inches.  Fold those in half and sew two sides shut so you have six inch square pockets.  How many you'll need will depend on the size of your blanket.  I ended up using 54 of the six inch square pockets and then making seven more pockets that were a bit more narrow, maybe six inches by four inches.

Divide the plastic pellets evenly among all the pockets.  How much to put in each pocket will depend on how many pounds of pellets you need to get the weight you want.  I put just over one cup of pellets in each of the six inch square pockets and about half that much in the six inch by four inch pockets.  I added a generous pinch of lavender to each pocket.

Sew the pockets shut.  Notice I did not say to turn the pockets inside-out before filling them with the plastic pellets.  You want the seams on the outside because you will use that little bit of excess fabric to sew the pockets to your piece of flannel.

You need your flannel and your fleece to be the same width.  When I was shopping for fabric, I found that flannel usually came in more narrow measurements than fleece.  I think my flannel was only 42 inches wide while the fleece was something like 50 inches wide.  Cut the wider fabric so it is the same width as the more narrow fabric.  I did that by spreading out both pieces of fabric on the floor and then cutting along the edge to make them both the same width.

Spread out the flannel and figure out how you are going to space out all your bean bags.  You need to space them out evenly.  I did it like this:

Row one: six full-size bean bags
Row two: six full-size bean bags, one half-size bean bag
Row three: one half-size bean bag, six full-size bean bags
Row four: six full-size bean bags, one half-size bean bag
Row five: one half-size bean bag, six full-size bean bags
Row six: six full-size bean bags, one half-size bean bag
Row seven: one half-size bean bag, six full-size bean bags
Row eight: six full-size bean bags, one half-size bean bag
Row nine: six full-size bean bags

I used a yellow marking pen to put dots where the corners of the bean bags would go.

Then, one at a time, I used straight pins to pin a bean bag to the back side of the flannel and then sewed the bean bag onto the flannel.  I don't have a sewing machine, so I sew by hand.  Even if you have a sewing machine, I'm thinking it might be difficult to do this by machine, especially once you get a few rows of bean bags sewn on.  The bean bags you've already sewn on would kind of be in the way, I think.

Spread the fleece out on the floor, then spread the flannel on top of it, with the bean bag side up.  Use straight pins to pin three sides of the fleece and flannel together and sew them.  You'll have something that resembles a sleeping bag.

Then turn the sleeping bag inside out, so the bean bags are now on the inside.   Sew the fourth side shut.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My New Blankie (Weighted Blanket)

Weighted blankets, if you're not familiar with them, are heavy blankets.  They are similar to quilts, but have little bean bag-like pockets sewn into them.  They are typically used by people with autism and other sensory processing disorders, but are increasingly being used by people with other conditions, as well.  I've read that they are being used in some psychiatric hospitals, too, which I think is a great idea.

They are expensive.  A full-sized weighted blanket often costs $150 or more, if you order it online.  Since they are so heavy, I imagine shipping is high, too!  I found instructions for making one and decided to make my own.

It's something I'd thought about for a while, and then a couple months ago, I had a urinary tract infection and it was really triggering a lot of my PTSD stuff, and I found myself piling couch cushions on top of my body during the night.  The weight, the even pressure, felt comforting and decreased my anxiety.  I decided then that I had to make a weighted blanket.

I liked the idea of making my own, not just because it was cheaper, but also because I could choose the fabric myself and because I had another idea I really liked.  I put dried lavender in all the little bean bags.  My blanket smells wonderful.

I spent about $65 on materials, I think.  I did not buy the dried lavender, it was given to me by a friend.  If I'd had to buy that, it probably would have cost me about $75 total, half what it would have cost to buy a blanket, and the one I bought would not have had the lavender in it.  I'll post instructions for how I made it sometime soon.

I love it.  It's green, lighter green on one side and darker green on the other.  One side is flannel and the other side is fleece.  It's super soft.  I love the feel of the bean bags under the flannel.

It is very heavy, about 21 pounds.  From my research, I learned that it's recommended that a weighted blanket be about 15% of your body weight.  Now, with my bad back, 21 pounds is almost too heavy for me to carry around.  Lying under it is fine, but actually carrying it somewhere?  Not so easy. 

Some people use smaller weighted blankets, like a lap robe, for carrying places with them.  For instance, I have a dentist appointment coming up next month.  If I had a smaller blanket, I could take it with me and put it over my lap in the dentist's chair.  I think I might make a smaller one, about half the size of this one, for things like that, although unfortunately it won't be ready in time for my dental appointment.

I tried looking for information about physiological effects of weighted blankets but couldn't find any.  Like, I notice when I have my blanket over me, my breathing slows down and I am pretty sure my heart rate slows down, too.  I'm curious about its effect on blood pressure, too.  I did read somewhere that weighted blankets help people with restless leg syndrome, but that's the only physiological effect I read about.  I read plenty of stuff that says it decreases anxiety but nothing that really explained how it does that.  But if you breathe slower and your heart rate slows down, that would decrease feelings of anxiety.

The only negative thing I've discovered about it, so far, is that it gets hot under this heavy blanket.  Last night I slept under it and I slept well, except for two times I woke up kind of sweaty.  I just pushed the blanket off and went back to sleep, then later pulled it back on.

Perks for Being Disabled

Blogger allows me to see search terms people used to find my blog.  Someone recently landed here after searching for "perks for being disabled."  Oh, sure, there are so many perks, including the fact that I get to take my dog everywhere!

Yesterday I was talking to someone about the different tasks Isaac does for me and explaining how I think the most important task is getting my medication when I start to have an anxiety attack.  I said that there are other ways I could accomplish some of the other things Isaac does for me, if I had to, like using one of those long grabber things to pick things up and installing one of those clapper things so I could turn on lights from a distance by clapping my hands. 

She said, "Those things are expensive, though.  And if you're on disability..."

I said, "Service dogs are expensive, too!  More expensive than a grabber and a clapper." 

Oh, but with a service dog, I get the perk of taking my dog everywhere with  me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Service Dog at Support Group

Tonight I attended a support group for survivors of sexual trauma.  The group meets once a month and is about one minute from where I live.  I am hoping a support group can, well, provide some support since I haven't been able to see a therapist in a long time now.

I took Isaac with me to the group.  He did really, really well.  One of the members of the support group is the mother of the little boy I saw at the food pantry a couple weeks ago.  The little boy that liked Isaac so much and told his mom, upon hearing that Isaac helps me to laundry, "Mom, I think maybe we need to get a dog like that!"  It was nice seeing someone I kind of knew.

The group met around a table, and so Isaac went under the table and lay down just like he does in restaurants.  The meeting lasted about an hour and 15 minutes and Isaac did well for the first 45 minutes or so, then started to whine a little.  After a few minutes of whining, I decided he was telling me he had to pee.  I took him out and he did pee, although he also peed right before the meeting and I feel pretty sure he could have waited.  I think it might have been he was just getting tired of lying quietly under the table.  However, I would much rather tell people, "I'm sorry but my dog says he has to pee right away, I'll be right back," than say, "I'm sorry, my dog is bored and I need to walk him around for a few minutes.  Hopefully after this, he'll lie down and be quiet like he is supposed to do."

So I did take him out to pee and when we came back in, he did lie down and was quiet for the rest of the meeting.  I was really proud of how well he did.

There was another woman at the meeting who said she wants to make her dog a service dog for her anxiety, but after talking to her for a few minutes, it sounds like her dog is an emotional support animal, meaning she provides her with comfort and emotional support, but she isn't trained to perform any tasks.  I told her that legally, under the American's with Disabilities Act, to be a service dog the dog would have to be trained to perform tasks that mitigate her disability.  She said, "But my disability is depression.  What tasks would she do?"  I said I didn't know, I didn't know her well enough to know what tasks a dog might be trained to do to mitigate her disability, but that legally to be a service dog, the dog has to be task trained.  It sounds like she has a friend that passes off her dog as a service dog because her friend has a lot of anxiety and feels less anxious when her dog is with her.  But that's not a trained task and doesn't make a dog a service dog.  I didn't want to argue with her about it too much, though, because that wasn't the purpose of the group.

Monday, September 2, 2013

You Know It's Not Polite, Right?

I had previously assumed strangers were more likely to ask me why I have a service dog than they would be to ask someone why they have a wheelchair, but perhaps I've been mistaken about that.

Yesterday I was talking to one of my neighbors, who wears leg braces and walks with a cane.  She told me that strangers will come up to her in the grocery store or another public place and ask her why she wears braces or what's wrong with her.  Sometimes they ask, "Did you have polio?  Do you have cerebral palsy?"

You know that's not polite, right?  Please tell me you don't do that.

I assume most adults know that's bad manners, but many just choose to do it anyway.  I don't understand why, though.  I mean, I get being curious.  But I don't ask complete strangers every little thing I feel curious about.  I know it's bad manners to ask people I don't know personal questions and I know it's none of my business.  So I keep my curiosity to myself.  Why is it that some people think they have the right to information that's really none of their business?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

So Tired of People That Say Suicide is Selfish

Don't get me wrong.  I don't think suicide is a good thing.  I've discouraged suicidal friends from doing it.  I once called an ambulance for a good friend that was swallowing a bottle of pills while on the phone with me.  When I was a social worker, I once put a teenager and his mom into a cab, which I paid for out of my pocket, to go to the emergency room because he was suicidal and mom didn't drive and I wasn't about to send her and a suicidal kid out to catch a bus to the hospital.

But my friend wasn't selfish when she called me on the phone and told me she was taking a bottle of pills.  She was severely depressed and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The teenager that sat in my office and told me he had a stockpile of pills hidden in his bedroom wasn't selfish.  He was severely depressed.

They were both sick.  They didn't get sick on purpose.  They didn't want to be sick.  It isn't selfish to get sick.

When my grandmother got breast cancer, she wasn't being selfish.  When my grandfather develop Alzheimer's disease, he was not being selfish.  When Mike's father developed congestive heart failure and died from it, he was not being selfish.  They were sick.  Sick does not equal selfish.

Most people that commit suicide are mentally ill.  They are very sick.  Mentally ill does not equal selfish. 

Someone that is suffering from severe depression or another serious mental illness can't just stop being sick, anymore than my grandmother or grandfather or Mike's dad could just decide not to be sick.  That doesn't mean they are selfish.

And I am so tired of all the ignorant people that think it does.