Thursday, October 31, 2013

Feeling Like I Always Mess Something Up

I wrote earlier about the Halloween party and how Isaac knocked over a dish of candy corn by wagging his big happy tail.  But I didn't really explain how much that upset me.

I want to make it clear that I'm not upset with Isaac.  Isaac was so good at that party.  I'd been a bit worried because he is used to being in the common area of that building when he's not working, not in his vest, and he is used to seeing our neighbors when he is not working, not in his vest.  In fact, many of our neighbors have never seen Isaac in his vest.  I think a couple of them saw him the day I came to look at the apartment for the first time, and Isaac was with me, and in his vest then.  But he doesn't wear the vest in our building, normally.  Most of the time, I keep it in the car.  Since Isaac is used to being off duty when he sees those people, and is used to running up to great some of them quite enthusiastically, I was a bit worried he'd want to act like that when he saw them at the party.

But he didn't.  He gave them his big goofy doggie smile, and his happy tail was wagging like crazy, but he didn't try to climb in one single person's lap.  He did not try to nuzzle anyone's ears.  I could see he was happy and excited to see people he likes, but he stayed calm and professional.  He was even good when the person sitting next to me tried to feed him a bite of a cookie and I told her not to and she took it away at the last second.  Oh, he looked a bit disappointed, and he gave her the sad puppy eyes to try to make her change her mind, but he didn't whine, he didn't beg, he didn't stick his head in her lap and get up to try to sniff at what was on the table.  He was so good.

And it's not his fault he knocked the candy dish off the table.  That was my fault.  I should have been paying more attention.  I should have moved the candy dish or else had Isaac move so that his tail was safely away from things he could knock over.

But I was so embarrassed.  I was so mad at myself.  I'd worked really hard to have things go well for the party.  I put so much thought and effort into Isaac's custom, and I know it looks like a really simple costume, and it was simple to make.  But I thought really hard about how to make a costume that would be cute but also be comfortable for  him to move in.  I wanted it to feel to him like wearing his service dog vest so that he would be in "work mode" when he was wearing it.  I didn't want anything that would feel awkward or uncomfortable to him, because I didn't want him to act weird because he felt weird in his costume.  I tried it on him several times, made alterations, tried it on again.  Yesterday I cut his toenails and brushed him so he'd be nicely groomed for the party.

And things were off to such a great start.  We went in, found a place to put our cookies on the snack table, greeted a few people, found someone to snap a picture of us.  Isaac was behaving beautifully.  And then I messed up by not noticing the dish of candy.

I feel like things never go right because I always end up making stupid mistakes.

The fact that I worked so hard to make things go well is probably pathetic because it should not be that hard to prepare for a stupid Halloween party.  But it did take a lot of work for me.  And even with all that work, I couldn't get through the first 15 minutes without messing something up.

I am anxious and depressed.  I just took some more anxiety meds and I'm going to try a hot bath and then go to bed.  I had some writing to get done tonight but I don't think that is going to happen.  I'm too anxious and depressed to concentrate.

Halloween Party

Isaac and I went to the Halloween party my apartment complex had this afternoon.  I was kind of excited about it, which I guess just goes to show I need to get a life.  Yesterday, I make four dozen pumpkin spice oatmeal cookies to take to the party to share.  They were yummy.  I ate a few last night.  I wanted to take something to the party that was low enough in sugar that I could actually eat it.  I had suggested to the apartment manager that perhaps they should have some sugar free treats, because many of the people that live here are elderly and I bet some are diabetic, but I didn't think they were actually going to listen to me and I guess they didn't.  They had told me there would be Chex mix, which there was, and a cheese ball and crackers, which there was not, but I was glad I took something I could actually eat.

I was excited about Isaac's costume.  I think it turned out so cute.  I had to make a few alterations to it yesterday.  I had initially planned to attach the cow costume to his service dog vest with double-sided tape but that seemed to come off too easily when Isaac lay down or wiggled around.  So I sewed two little loops to the front corners of the cow costume, and the put the front straps of his service dog vest through those loops, so I didn't have to mess with the tape.  It worked really well.

Here's a picture of us together.  I have to add that I think I look terrible in this picture.  I think I look old and haggard.  But Isaac looks cute.

Isaac was really good at the party.  He lay down under the table, until the woman in the nun costume next to me tried to feed him a bite of a cookie.  Then he kept trying to wiggle his way closer to her, lifting his head to give her his sad, starving, puppy dog eyes.  But he was good.

When we first got there, there was this dish of candy corn on a low table.  Isaac wanted to sniff it but I told him to leave it and he did.  Then, a minute later, his big strong happily-wagging tail smacked the dish of candy and sent it flying.  I was so embarrassed.  It wasn't Isaac's fault, I should have noticed that the candy dish was in range of his tail and had him move.  Isaac was so good he didn't even try to sniff the candy that was all over the floor while I was crawling around, picking it up.  But it made me feel really self-conscious and anxious.

Other than that, the party was OK.  And everyone thought Isaac was adorable.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Woman Abusing Dog at Dog Park

Monday I took Isaac to the dog park.  The one nearest my home.  Often we are the only ones there, but that day, there was a woman, a man, and two kids there, with three other dogs.  Two were small dogs, but they had them in the "big dog" section.  The third dog was a big dog and the woman had him on a leash.  When Isaac and I went in, she said he was on a leash because "didn't know how he was with other dogs."  Well, if you don't know if your dog is friendly with other dogs, why would  you bring him to a dog park?  Duh.

Of course, her dog wanted to run around with the other dogs off leash.  So he was barking.  A lot.  And she didn't want him to bark.  So she was screaming, "Shut the fuck up!" at him.  And smacking him.  In the head.  Over and over and over again.

I was shocked.  I was horrified.  I've seen  people give their dogs a smack before.  But not over and over and over again and not in the head.  It was horrible.  And the man and the two kids were just sitting there like nothing was happening.

I thought about asking her to quit hitting her dog.  I thought about pointing out that cussing at and hitting a dog isn't the best way to get him to stop barking.  I figured she probably didn't want my advice, though.

I ended up getting Isaac and leaving after just a few minutes.  I couldn't stand to be there, watching her hit her dog.  Even if I didn't look, I couldn't stand hearing her scream at him over and over again.

On the way out of the dog park, I looked at the sign posted at the entrance with the park rules, hoping it had a phone number for the Humane Society or something with it.  I wanted to call someone to report the woman abusing her dog but I didn't know who to call.  There was a number for the county dog warden, so after Isaac and I were safely in the car, I called that number.  The guy I talked to seemed unsure about whether or not I was supposed to report animal abuse to him or not, but he took the information and said he would check with his boss about what to do about it.  I hope they went out to investigate.  I did not stick around to find out, though.  I wanted out of there.

I was really upset and anxious.  I took some anxiety meds and drove home and gave Isaac a big pork skin roll chew-thing.  I feel so bad for that dog.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soda Bottles

Have I ever mentioned how Isaac loves plastic soda bottles?  He likes water bottles, too, but they seem to be made from thinner plastic in many cases and don't last him quite as long, champion chewer that he is.  He loves the 16 ounce single-serving bottles and two liter bottles.  You'd think he had no toys whatsoever, the way he gets so excited over a soda bottle, chewing it and throwing it and catching it.  He adores them.

My neighbors think it's hilarious to watch him play with one.  Many of them have taken to saving their soda bottles for Isaac.  They leave their empty soda bottles in the hall outside my door sometimes.  When a new guy moved into the building, more than one neighbor informed him that he was supposed to save his soda bottles for Isaac.

It's a bit of a problem when Isaac spots one of my neighbors drinking a soda and wants the bottle before they are finished with their drink.  He seems to expect them to pour out their drink so he can have the bottle right away.  Of course, the fact that one of my neighbors actually did that a couple times probably encouraged him to expect that.

Isaac and I just came in from our before-bed potty outing and found three soda bottles outside the door.  I put two away for later and Isaac quickly chewed up the other.  Now he is lying on his blankie, snuggling it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Storing Medications

I recently heard a sad story about a woman whose service dog got a bottle of prescription medication off the kitchen counter, managed to open it, and ate about 90 pills.  I'm not sure what the medication was, but 90 pills were not good for the dog.  The dog's owner rushed him to the vet and after several days of veterinary care, and several thousand dollars, I'm sure, the dog is recovering at home and will probably make a full recovery.  He may have some lifelong kidney problems, they aren't sure yet.

This dog had never gotten anything off the counter before.  He'd retrieved prescription medication bottles for his handler but never chewed on them or shown any interest in doing so.  She doesn't have any idea why he decided to get this bottle off the counter and chew it open and eat the pills.

This story worried me.  I keep medications in a few different places.  Most of my medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, vitamins, and herbal stuff, are in my linen closet.  I have a small supply of meds to be taken as needed in my purse, which is normally on my kitchen counter.  There are some pain meds and anxiety meds in a small vinyl bag on top of an end table in my living room, which is what Isaac fetches for me when I need him to do that.  Then there is about a one-week supply of meds and vitamins sorted into one of those weekly pill containers that have little boxes for each day of the week, which I'd been keeping on my coffee table.  The meds on the coffee table are what I worried about when I heard the story of the service dog that ate the prescription meds off the kitchen counter.

I'd been keeping them on the coffee table because I take pills from that container three or four times a day.  It needs to be within easy reach so I don't put off taking them or forget to take them.  When I first got Isaac almost a year ago, I was careful to keep meds out of his reach.  But he never bothers them.  Isaac never counter surfs.  He never chews anything that is not a toy meant to be chewed by him.  He's never chewed a single shoe.  If I drop a bottle of pills, he picks it up for me and gives it to me with no interest in playing with it or chewing it.  Sometimes if he picks up something like a sock, he gives it a playful little shake, but not pill bottles.  Never, not in a whole year.

That's what the owner of the service dog that ate the pills thought, though.  She thought her pills were OK on the kitchen counter.  Then her dog almost died.

I decided I cannot keep pills on the coffee table anymore.  I have a plastic container, about the size and shape of a picnic basket, that holds craft supplies.  I keep whatever craft I am currently working on in it and keep it beside the couch.  I put the pills in that container.  I imagine Isaac could knock the lid off the container and get to the pills if he tried hard enough, but I think they are safe enough in there.  It's not like when they were just sitting on the coffee table where he could grab them, or knock them off wagging his big tail, and then decided to snack on them.

Those of you that have dogs, do you store medications out of their reach?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Problem Solving

I love watching Isaac figure things out.  Sometimes he is so smart.  Other times, not so much.

He has this toy that is shaped like a twig.  It's about as big around as the cardboard tube in a roll of toilet paper.  It's hollow in the middle.  However, he's gnawed one end of it so much that that end is pretty much closed.

He hadn't played with this toy for a long time but recently pulled it out of his toy basket.  So I stuck a treat in it for him.  The treat was in there pretty loosely.  All he would need to do to get it to fall out is turn the toy so that the opening pointed down. 

Well, since he knew the treat was in the opening, he held the twig between his paws with the opening pointed up.  He then chewed enthusiastically, hoping to chew through the toy to get to the treat. 

That did not work.  Eventually, he picked up the toy and threw it.  He does that with many of his toys if there are treats in them, hoping the treats will fall out.  Sometimes they do.  He also tries that with toys that have sticky stuff like peanut butter in them, but of course, peanut butter does not fall out. 

If throwing it himself doesn't work, he eventually brings the toy to me.  I can throw it harder than he can, so the treats are more likely to fall out when I throw it.  Or if they are really stuck in there good, I can get them out.  He likes getting them out himself, but he's willing to ask for my help when he needs to.

It's just really interesting to see him figure things out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Total from Isaac's Church Fundraiser

I finally got the total from the church fundraiser for Isaac, which was nearly a month ago.  I was starting to get concerned because they hadn't sent the money to Isaac's program and hadn't gotten back to me to let me know how much it was, and I was wondering what I would do, or could do, if they didn't send the money for some reason.  But they finally did.  They raised $330, which I think is fantastic.  Isaac and I are very appreciative.

If anyone that couldn't make it to the fundraiser would like to donate, please email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com for information on how to donate.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Sleeping Alone

I sleep alone these days and to be honest, most of the time I prefer it that way.  There is no one to hog the bed (or the couch, since that is where I sleep most of the time) or the blankets other than Cayenne, and since she weighs seven pounds, I win any tug-o-war over the blankets or any territorial dispute over couch space.  The  main reason I prefer sleeping alone, other than the fact that I just don't have any person I really want sharing my bed at the moment, at least not in an, umm, sexual way, is that I just don't sleep well.  I wake up a lot, I toss and turn, I sleep a few hours if I'm lucky and then I'm up for an hour or two.  I disturb anyone that shares my bed and I don't like to bother people when they are sleeping.  For gosh sakes, Isaac won't even sleep with me most nights because I am so restless in my sleep.  And I need the light on most nights and most other people I know prefer to sleep in the dark.  Go figure.

So most of the time, I'm happy enough sleeping alone.

The last few weeks, though, my sleep has been worse than usual.  I think it's due to all the dental problems I've been dealing with.  I've had more stress, more pain, more nightmares, my bad memories, more flashbacks, that kind of stuff. 

It is now a little after midnight and I got about an hour's restless sleep before getting up again.  I am exhausted but I can't sleep.

What I wish right now is that I had someone here with me.  I'd feel safer.  I want someone to hold me, someone that doesn't care if I am restless and keep them awake.  Someone to hold me and tell me I'm safe, to comfort me and soothe me and help me rest.  How weird is it that I'm sitting here thinking of who I might be able to call and ask to come over tomorrow and take a nap with me?  That's pretty weird, huh?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Living with the Memories

I haven't written much here about the actual experiences that led to my developing PTSD.  I'm not going to provide a lot of details because, well, people don't need to know them, they may be triggering to some people, and it's hard for me to talk about.  I'm going to talk about some of it now, though.  Last night was a really rough night for me, which happens sometimes, and sometimes talking - or writing - about it helps.

I was sexually abused by a close family member from about the ages of six through 12.  I'm a bit hesitant to say that the abuse I suffered was "really bad" because that makes it sound like there is some abuse that isn't really bad, and I don't think that's the case at all.  Any abuse of a child is really bad.  But, well, what I experienced... it was really bad.

I keep remembering being really scared and being totally helpless.  Wanting to be able to do something and not being able to.  Having to just lie there and let things happen to me.  I feel it in my body, this desire to fight back, and not being able to.  Having to be quiet and be still and wanting so much to scream and to fight.

Want to know the hardest thing about living with these memories?  It's just that - living with them.  The hardest part comes after you've worked through the feelings, remembered it, talked about it, done all the work.  And then you just have to rest with it.  Hold it inside you, incorporate it into the very fabric of your soul, know that it's yours.  It happened and you can't change it and you just have to live with it, from now until forever.  That's the hardest part.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Service Dog" Bites Customer in Pet Store

A couple weeks ago, this woman complained that she was asked to leave a store because she had a service dog with her.  The store manager says she was asked to leave because, when questioned about her dog, she became confrontational.  Apparently at one point, she said she wanted to be allowed to shop after the store had closed with her dog so that the dog would not bother other customers.  She got angry when she was told she would not be allowed to shop outside of the store's regular business hours.

Now, her "service dog" has bitten another customer in a pet store.  The bite was severe enough that the other customer required stitches.  I know a lot of details are missing from this brief article, but it does not sound as if the dog was provoked in any way.  The owner of the dog is trying to minimize the problem, saying it was more of a "nip" than a bite.  Um, yeah... a nip would not require stitches.  That's a bite.

She says she'll be getting some additional obedience training for her dog.  I really hope she doesn't mean that she intends to continue taking this dog out in public and calling it a "service dog."  But that's what it sounds like.  And she seems to think she is entitled to all kinds of special treatment, like stores should allow her to shop whenever she wants, even when they are closed, and she should be allowed to take her dog that bites into stores with her.

I'm putting "service dog" in quotes because I am very skeptical that her dog is actually a trained service dog.  Properly trained service dogs do not bite people in stores.  They just don't.  For that matter, properly socialized puppies don't bite people, not without some sort of provocation.  But trained service dogs?  They don't bite people in stores.  They don't bite people that startle them, that grab them from behind, that hug them too hard, that pull their tails or ears, that stick their fingers in their noses or mouths. 

Seriously.  They don't.  You can stick your hand in Isaac's mouth and he will not bite you.  Now, I do not recommend going up to service dogs you happen to meet and sticking your hands in their mouths.  But if you did that, they should not bite you.  Because kids do that.  Toddlers will come up to service dogs, and for some reason I do not understand their parents will let them, and stick their little fingers in their noses and mouths.  And pull their tails and ears, and try to climb on them and ride them like horses, and all sorts of other things.  And Isaac does not bite them.  He does not snap at them or growl at them.  If they are really bothering him, he will turn his head away.  That's it.

So this woman's dog is not a properly trained service dog.  And it should not be taken in public around other people again.  Never.  And I am offended that she is calling the dog a service dog because some people will then think that service dogs might bite.  The manager of the pet store said that the pet store had to pay for the customer's medical bills.  Business owners are not going to want service dogs in their stores if they think service dogs might bite their customers and they will have to pay for their medical bills.

By the way, the owner of the dog should have paid for the medical bills.  I hope the pet store sues her to recover those costs.  If the dog was a real service dog, the owner should have had insurance that would cover a bite.  My renter's insurance covers it, if Isaac bites someone.  And yes, the insurance covers it even if the bite occurs outside of my home.  I know I just got done saying Isaac would never bite anyone, but I have insurance anyway, just in case, because that is what responsible pet owners and service dog owners are supposed to do.  But insurance is not going to cover it if your poorly socialized pet bites someone when you take it to a store pretending it is a service dog.

A Couple of Cute Kitty Pics

I've been taking a lot of pictures of Cayenne lately.  I think I want to take pictures while she's still here.  Seven years ago, my cat Eileen died and I only have a few pictures of her.  I wish so much I had taken more.

So here is the cute kitty.

I'm Trying to Sleep

Cayenne says Isaac and I are making too much noise.  We are disrupting her nap.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Isaac's Cow Costume

As I mentioned a few days ago, my apartment complex is having a Halloween party and Isaac and I plan to go.  There are prizes for the best costumes.  I am going to dress as a farmer and Isaac is going to be a cow.

I spent most of the day yesterday working on his costume.  I was supposed to be writing some articles about  mold.  Making his costume seemed a lot more fun.

I bought some black and white calico from JoAnn Fabrics that looked like a cow.  It was really thin, like calico tends to be, so I thought the color of his vest would show through it, and a green cow was not the look I was going for, so I bought some white flannel to put under it.  I found a remnant of pink terrycloth to use to make an udder.  All in all, I spent about $8.

I cut the calico and flannel and sewed them together, then used double-sided tape to attach them to Isaac's service dog vest.

I traced my hand to get the udder shape and basically made it like a glove, stuffed with scraps of cloth.

Here's what it looks like on him.

I still want a cow bell to put in his collar but I couldn't find one at Hobby Lobby.  I might try to make one.

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.

Yesterday I baked myself a cake.  I had decided, since I would be spending my birthday alone (well, with Isaac and Cayenne, but otherwise alone), that I would make myself a cake.  It was a huge baking fail. 

First, I had decided I wanted a lemon cake but it is impossible to find sugar free lemon cake mix, so I bought a sugar free yellow cake mix and some lemon extract.  I bought lemon frosting.  When I was baking the cake, though, right after I'd added the extract, I realize I had somehow picked up orange extract, not lemon.  So I thought, OK, I'd have orange cake with lemon frosting.  That would probably taste OK, still, right?

Then the cake stuck to the pans.  I used non-stick cake pans AND I remembered to spray them with non-stick cooking spray, but somehow they managed to stick anyway.  And I mean, they stuck bad.  So, OK, my cake was not going to be very pretty.  It would still taste the same, right?  Yeah, I guess.

It depressed me.  It was a typical over-reaction, which I have sometimes due to my anxiety and depression and stuff.  All I wanted for my birthday was a stupid lemon cake and that wouldn't even turn out right.  I sat down on the floor and cried for a while.  Isaac came over and lay beside me and insisted on a belly rub.  I felt better, got up, and cut the cake up into cubes.  I put some in a dish, put a spoonful of frosting on top of it, and a scoop of no sugar added vanilla ice cream on top of that, and ate it.  It tasted all right.

Birthdays are  hard when you're alone.  I mean, I'm not totally alone, I have friends... but not a lot of close friends.  And a couple of my good friends live far away.  So I am here, in my apartment, alone on my birthday.  I made myself a cake because  no one else was going to make me one.  I thought about buying myself a gift, but since I still owe the dentist $1,195 for my bridge, I decided new teeth would count as my birthday gift to myself.  But no one else is giving me anything.  No one has sent a birthday card.  It's easy to get depressed and think no one cares that it's my birthday and it wouldn't matter if I had never been born.  But I don't want to go there.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today's Update on Cayenne

Cayenne finally settled early this morning and has seemed fine all day.  I did call her vet and unfortunately he will not give me any pain meds for her without seeing her.  I kind of understand why but in this situation I don't think it's very reasonable of  him.  He knows she has cancer.  It's understandable that she might have some pain.  He's been treating her for many years.  It's not the same as if I had called Isaac's vet when he was limping and asked for pain meds when we didn't even know the cause of the limp. 

And it's a 40-minute drive to the vet's office, which I don't mind but Cayenne does.  Last time she rode in the car, she puked all over herself.  Riding in the car and going to the vet is very stressful for her.  I don't want to cause her stress or discomfort when she seems to be feeling OK.

I guess I will take her to the vet sometime soon just to get her checked out and to get some pain meds so I can have them on hand.  I didn't want to do it today.  But it is possible she will begin to have pain at some point, maybe a lot of pain.  When that happens, I will have her euthanized but what if it happens in the middle of the night?  I want to be able to give her something to help her until I can get her to the vet.

About 15 years ago, I had a cat with feline leukemia.  The last few days of her life, she seemed very peaceful.  I knew the end was near.  She was just sleeping on the bed.  She wasn't eating, drinking, peeing, anything.  I thought she would just die in her sleep.  Then one night about midnight, she began having seizures.  It was horrible.  She fell off the bed, seizing.  She howled, these horrible, heart-wrenching howls.  I don't know if she was in pain or if the howling was just part of the seizure activity, but it sounded like she was in excruciating pain.  I cried with her all night long.  It was probably the longest night of my life.  I was waiting in the parking lot at the vet's office when she arrived in the morning and she was euthanized, but I felt so terrible for allowing her to spend her last night on earth like that.  I should have had her euthanized sooner.  I didn't want to do it too soon, but I ended up waiting too long.

I don't want that to happen to Cayenne.  And I don't want it to happen to me.  I don't want to spend another night like that.  I was living with a partner then, and it was still terrible, but I really don't want to go through that alone.

I think I'm a little afraid of taking her to the vet, though.  I think I'm afraid the vet will say it's time now, and I'm not ready yet.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Worried about Cayenne

I know just a few days ago, I was posting about how she seemed to be doing better.  She seemed fine all day today, but for the past couple of hours, she seems to be pretty uncomfortable.  She is sleeping, but she sleeps for a short time, ten or 15 minutes, then gets up suddenly, moves around, changes position, then lies back down and goes back to sleep.  I think something is hurting her.  It's like she's trying to find a way to lie down that isn't uncomfortable but can't.

I wish I had some sort of pain medication for her.  I don't.  If she still seems to be in pain in the morning, I think I will take her to the vet, but even if she doesn't seem to be uncomfortable then, maybe I will call the vet and see if they will give me some sort of pain medication I can give her if she seems to need it in the future.  I don't know if they will give me anything without seeing her, and if she's not in pain in the morning, I really don't want to take her to the vet because I don't want her to have to go through the car ride and everything.  She hates that.  That would make her uncomfortable and I don't want to do that to her.  But suddenly I am aware of what a long, difficult night I could have - and she could have - with nothing at all for pain.

I don't want it to be time for her to leave me but I also don't want her to be in pain.  I don't want her to suffer.  If she's still in pain in the morning, I will call the vet, and it may be time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Concentration.... or Lack Thereof

Difficulty concentrating is a common symptom of depression.  At times when my depression is most severe, I can't watch a movie or even an hour-long television show, because I just can't focus that long.  Half-hour sit coms, maybe, but then you don't really have to pay much attention to those in order to get the humor.  I can't read books when my depression is most severe, either, because by the time I get to the end of a chapter, I've already forgotten what happened at the beginning of the chapter.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can make concentration difficult, too.  There is the hypervigilence, startling at the smallest sound, things most people would just tune out.  There are the intrusive thoughts and memories.  Of course, sleep deprivation makes it hard to concentrate, too, and I am always sleep deprived.

I am on Social Security disability but I also supplement my disability check by doing some work as a freelance writer.  I get paid by the article, not by the hour.  No one would pay me by the hour to write because it takes me much longer than it would take most people to complete a 500-word article.  Most of the articles I do are about 500 words and I should be able to complete one in about an hour.  On a good day, a really good day, I can do that.  But I hardly ever have really good days.

Most days, I am really lucky to get two articles done.  Often I can complete one in an entire day.  Some days I can't even finish one.  See, you have to be able to concentrate to get an article done, especially to get one done in an hour.  And I don't concentrate well at all.

It frustrates me sometimes.  Mostly I'm used to it and I've adapted to it and I can deal with it since I work from home and usually don't have strict deadlines... but sometimes it frustrates me.

Unfortunately, there isn't much Isaac can do to help me with my lack of concentration.   Sometimes it makes it worse, because sometimes he wants to play when I want to work or needs to go out to pee when I am in the middle of writing something.  He's good company, though, and I'm willing to put up with him interrupting me sometimes.  Too bad there's not a task he can learn to do to help me focus, though.


Cayenne's Tumors

Cayenne has two tumors on her belly.  Which are almost certainly cancerous, since she's had cancer on her belly twice before.  The tumors are currently about the size of large grapes.  They feel very hard to the touch.  I previously noticed they were sort of scaly and scabby.

Tonight Cayenne was lying on her back and I was gently petting her soft little belly.  I noticed it looks like one of the tumors has been oozing.  It looked sort of like a sore, like maybe it had bled a bit and had oozed a little pus.  Some of her fur was stuck to it.

I'm going to try to trim the fur around the tumors, so the hair can't get stuck in any sores.  I'm going to put some neosporin ointment on them, so hopefully they don't get infected.

I just felt really, really bad for her, looking at that tumor that looked so sore.  She doesn't act like they are sore.  She doesn't lick them a lot or seem to mind if I touch them as long as I am gentle.  But they look sore.  And I just hurt for her.  I don't want her to be sick.  I don't want her to be in pain.  It was like when Isaac had a sprained ankle and it hurt me to watch him limp.  I'd rather be in pain myself than see Cayenne in pain.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Frustration of Living with Chronic Pain

Sometimes living with chronic pain sucks because, well, it hurts.  But sometimes it sucks more because of the frustration of not being able to do things I want to do.

It was a gorgeous day outside today.  Sunny, warm but not too hot, a clear blue sky, perfect for a walk in the woods.  So Isaac and I hopped in the car and met a friend at a nearby park.

The path we took was not too hilly, the terrain not too rough.  An easy hike for just about anyone.  There were some fallen leaves on the path and there was a fallen tree branch partially hidden beneath the leaves and I stumbled over it.  I didn't fall.  It was just a minor stumble.  The kind of thing that would be no big deal for most people.

It jolted my back.  Just about everything jolts the back muscles.  I never knew that until my back got so back.  Sneezing is incredibly painful.  It jars the back muscles something awful.  When I stub my toe, it's not my toe that hurts, it's my back, from the jolt.  Going up and down stairs jars the back, too.

Anyway.  My back muscles went into a spasm and horrible sharp pains shot all the way down both legs.  It made me cry.

But I wasn't just crying because of the pain.  I was frustrated.

I was frustrated because it was a perfect day for a walk in the woods and all I wanted was to be able to walk without pain.  I was frustrated because I knew the rest of the walk was going to be excruciating and I knew I would have to go home and take pain meds and lie down on the heating pad and I had other stuff I needed to do and I didn't want to have to spend the afternoon sleeping off my pain meds instead of getting other stuff done.  I was frustrated because I need to do some cleaning in my house and I've been putting it off because of my back and I want to be able to do basic, simple stuff like everyone else can.

And I know, not everyone else can do basic, simple stuff.  Some people have much more severe physical disabilities.  That doesn't help my frustration much, though.

Upcoming Halloween Party

My apartment complex is having a Halloween party and people are invited to wear costumes.  There will be prizes for the best costumes.  I have decided I will go and Isaac and I will dress up.

I had a hard time deciding what we would dress up as.  I don't want to spend a lot of money on a costume and I don't want to spend a lot of time and energy making costumes, either.  You can buy Halloween costumes for dogs but I really prefer to make something.

I have decided I will be a farmer and Isaac will be a cow.

For my costume, I will wear blue jeans, a flannel shirt (which I will get from the thrift store for a dollar or two), and hopefully a straw hat (if I can find one at the thrift store).

For Isaac's costume, I plan to cover one of his service dog vests with black and white fabric (that looks like a black and white cow, you know).  I am going to try to make a little pink udder that can be attached to the strap on his vest that goes under his belly.  If I can find or make one, I am going to put a cow bell on his collar.

I'll post a pic when I get his costume made.  Hopefully it looks cute.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good News about Cayenne for a Change

Recently I've been thinking maybe it was time to talk to the vet about euthanizing Cayenne.  For the past few weeks, she spends most of her time under the couch.  She creeps out to eat occasionally and that's about it.  And she eats less than she used to.  She still seems to enjoy her food when she eats it, but sometimes she does not come out to eat when I serve her meals.  Since she only eats small amounts now, I feed her several times a day, and if I get up during the night, I often feed her then, too.  But sometimes she goes for a whole day without eating anything.

Well, yesterday I coaxed her out from under the couch to eat and I picked her up and put her on my window ledge.  I opened the window, and it was a warm, sunny, breezy day out.  She always used to like to sit in the window when it was open and she seemed to enjoy it yesterday, too.

She also seemed hungry.  She ate some canned cat food, then some dry cat food, then some chicken baby food (stinky!), some diced up hot dog, a few kitty treats, and some banana yogurt, all over the course of a couple hours.  She wanted the yogurt so bad she was smacking my hand while I was trying to eat it.

I made her a nice nest on the couch, with a soft fleece blanket on top of a puppy training pad (gotta try to protect my couch from cat pee), and she snuggled in.  Isaac was delighted to see her because he loves Cayenne very much, even though the feeling is not mutual.  They sniffed each other politely, though.  For a while, she climbed into my lap while I was sitting on the couch.  She was friendly, cuddly, interested in attention and food.

I loved every minute of it.  I know it may not last.  I know at some point the end will come.

Today, I coaxed her out from under the couch again, and now she's sitting beside me on the couch, on my weighted blanket (please, don't pee on that).  She ate some turkey baby food, some canned cat food, and some squirt cheese (you know, that cheesy stuff in a can that you can spray on crackers?  I got it to spray on the side of the bathtub when Isaac gets a bath).  She is currently enjoying a lengthy bath, which is something she always used to enjoy.

I'm so happy she seems to be feeling a little better.

Distracted Doggie Doing Laundry

Isaac is so nosy but so cute. I did a load of laundry and took Isaac down to the laundry room to get the clothes out of the dryer for me. One of my neighbors was in the laundry room putting stuff in the washer and some other people were doing something out in the hallway and making noise, and Isaac was much more interested in watching all of them than in getting stuff out of the dryer. I tried to position my body so that it was blocking his view of the door so that he could pay attention to his work better, but he was so funny. He would grab an item of clothing out of the dryer really fast, then stretch his neck to look around me to make sure he wasn't missing anything. It was hilarious.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan is upset because his service dog is trained to grab mail when the mail carrier pushes it through the slot in his door and then bring the mail to him, but the post office says they cannot deliver mail that way because the mail carrier might be bitten by the dog.  Now, I'm not sure how the dog can bite someone through the mail slot, but I also don't understand why the dog cannot pick up the mail from the floor.  In the article I read, though, it says it is very difficult or impossible for his service dog to retrieve mail from the floor.

Isaac has no trouble picking up mail from the floor.  Everyone I know that has a service dog says their dogs have no trouble picking up mail from the floor.  In fact, most service dogs trained to retrieve things for their handlers can pick up much smaller, more challenging things than mail.

Today, Isaac and I practiced some retrieving.  Here are the items he was able to retrieve easily from my living room floor:

A protein bar wrapper, a coupon, a Panera card similar to a credit card, a large magnet, a tiny magnet (anyone else remember magnetic poetry?), and a nickle.  Yesterday he picked up a paper clip and a quarter, too.

When I first got Isaac, I was a little concerned that he might accidentally swallow something small like a paper clip or a coin.  However, Isaac never eats anything that is not food (with the exception of bugs and cat poop, both of which he believes are food).  When he rips stuffed animals to shreds, he never eats any of the stuffing.  Sometimes I see him really working with his tongue to get a bit of stuffing out of his mouth because he does not want to swallow it.  He shreds basketballs to little tiny scraps and never eats any of those, either. 

I am very grateful that he does not eat things that are not edible (disgusting as it is, apparently bugs and cat poop are easily digested by dogs).  I never find non-food items in his poop.  I have a friend whose dog eats shoes and socks and all sorts of things that are definitely not edible, and Isaac has never ever done that.  Therefore, at this point, I feel very comfortable that he is not going to eat a coin or a paper clip when asked to retrieve it for me.  If he did, he would just poop it out.  One coin or one paper clip would not hurt him.  But I have no fear that he will swallow anything he does not intend to swallow.

When I Need Help at Night

A couple months ago, I wrote about how I hate asking people for help but I don't mind asking Isaac for help at all.  It's mostly because Isaac never seems annoyed at being asked to help; in fact, he is delighted to help.  He thinks it's all fun.

Tonight something occurred to me.  I feel the same way about asking for help at night, only more so.  I often have trouble sleeping and sometimes have really bad nights.  However, I never want to wake anyone up to ask for help.  I have friends that have told me repeatedly that I can call them in the middle of the night but I never do.  I feel too guilty.

For a long time, I didn't want to wake Isaac up at night, either.  Isaac usually goes to bed between 8:00 and 10:00 in the evening.  Sometimes he'll fall asleep on the living room floor on one of  his blankies for a while, then eventually he gets up and goes into the bedroom and gets on my bed and goes back to sleep.  Sometimes he heads for the bedroom as soon as he gets sleepy.  I usually tiptoe around the apartment once he has gone to bed, trying not to wake him.

But tonight I was feeling lonely and I ended up wandering into the bedroom and sat on the bed and petted him for a few minutes.  And that's when I realized, I don't really feel guilty anymore about disturbing him at night.  Because he doesn't mind.  Not only does he not mind, he is delighted to see me.  He's not annoyed at being awakened.  Instead, he is happy and excited to get a little attention or to get the chance to perform a task like bringing my medication.

It's my understanding that dogs sleep differently than people do and if you've ever watched a dog sleep, you know what I mean.  Dogs sleep a lot during the day, napping or dozing, but it's usually a very light sleep.  The slightest noise or movement can bring them to their feet and they don't wake up tired and groggy like people do, either.  Isaac wakes up full of energy and ready for anything.  Even when dogs do sleep more deeply, they wake easily and become fully alert instantly.

Anyway, Isaac is just as happy to help at night as during the daytime.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Great Day for Isaac

This morning Isaac and I went out to run errands.

First we went through the drive-through window at the bank, where Isaac got one doggie treat.

Then we went to the dollar store, where I bought Isaac a braided pork skin chew.

Then we went through the drive-through window at the pharmacy, where Isaac got three doggie treats.  This pharmacist is a sucker for Isaac.  Isaac always gets at least three treats out of him - once he got six treats!  Isaac starts drooling the minute we pull up to the window.  By the time the pharmacist produces the treats, he has slobbered all over my headrest and my shoulder.  He really has the "I am a poor starving puppy, please give me treats" look down.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dealing with Dental Pain

I know I've said this before but I'm gonna say it again.  I used to have a really high pain tolerance.  I don't anymore.

There could be several reasons for that.  I think a lot of it is psychological.  I think it's because of my experience in the emergency room almost a year ago, when I was denied any pain medication during a very painful procedure.  That might explain it, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to deal with pain.

It could also be because I've had chronic pain for so long now, with my back problems.  There has been some research that suggests that when one has chronic pain, it's almost like wearing a grove in the floor from walking back and forth in the same line over and over again.  Those neural pathways in the brain are like groves in the floor.  So that could be part of it, too.

Whatever it is, it's a lot harder to cope with pain than it used to be.

The pain in my mouth reminds me of the pain in my arms when my cuts were stapled with no pain medication and no local anesthetic.  The pain feels similar, like a sharp, stinging kind of pain.  Monday night, after having my tooth pulled, my arms started hurting.  I knew there was nothing wrong with my arms, I knew that was completely psychosomatic, but nonetheless, my arms hurt.  And I couldn't make my arms stop hurting and I couldn't make my mouth stop hurting, and I was here alone in my pain, and that felt a lot like being in the hospital in my room alone with my stapled arms hurting and not being able to get any pain relief.

It's not just the physical pain that is hard to deal with.  It's the emotions that come along with it.

The pain is less today.  Actually, I think I would describe it more as discomfort than actual pain.  My mouth just feels a little sore and irritated.  It gets worse when I eat.  Eating cold things seems to be worse than warm things.  Even really soft things that require almost no chewing, like yogurt, make my mouth hurt.  Some of the places in my mouth that hurt aren't even places I had any work done, so I don't know what's up with that.   Maybe it's referred pain, maybe it's just psychosomatic.  I don't know.  I just know it hurts. 

I also know I'm hungry and then I eat and then it hurts a lot more and I regret eating.  I've been drinking a lot of protein shakes, which don't bother my teeth as much, although warm drinks feel a little better in my mouth.  If I drink with a straw, though, the liquid doesn't really touch my front teeth where I had the work done.

I'm worn out from dealing with this pain.

No, I Was Not in the Military

Yesterday I saw my dentist to get a temporary bridge put in.  This involved grinding down the teeth or either side of my now-missing tooth so that crowns could go over them, which is what anchors the bridge in place.  The whole thing took about 90 minutes, which is a really long to be in a dentist chair, especially for me.  We did take a short break in the middle somewhere.

A friend went with me to the appointment and I called the office ahead of time to ask if she could be with me during the procedure.  Dentists usually like people to wait in the waiting room but I wanted to ask if they would make an exception due to my PTSD.  I explained to the receptionist that I have PTSD and was very anxious about the procedure and she checked with the dentist and then told me it would be OK to have my friend with me.

When I arrived, the dental assistant led me and my friend to the back and got a chair for my friend.  Then she said to me, "So I hear you were in the military?"

I said, "No, I wasn't."

She looked confused and said, "Bridget said you were in the military."  Bridget is the receptionist.

I realized then what happened.  I said, "That's probably because I told her I have PTSD and some people think only people in the military get PTSD.  That's not true, though.  Other people can get it, too."

I've been asked a lot if I was in the military.  Actually, my last dentist asked me that, when I told him I have PTSD.  The pastor of the church that held the fundraiser for Isaac asked me that.  Other people have asked me that, too. 

I've never seen any statistics indicating how many people with PTSD are military veterans and how many aren't.  I do know, though, that many, many people with the condition were never in the military.  It's true that being in combat can cause PTSD but many other things can cause it, including childhood abuse and sexual assault.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Had My Tooth Pulled

I had my tooth pulled yesterday and I spent most of the day today recovering.  The actually procedure wasn't bad at all.  The only pain was the two Novocaine injections, which just stung for a minute.  The tooth came out super fast and I felt pressure but no pain whatsoever.  I was surprised it was so fast and painless.

The Novocaine wore off about the time I arrived home, though.  I was in pain and all the PTSD stuff kicked in big time.  It was a really rough night last night.  A lot of crying, some flashbacks, nightmares when I finally drifted off to sleep.

Today I tried to do a little writing but didn't have much success.  I just couldn't concentrate.  I was anxious and depressed.  I am so not looking forward to seeing the dentist tomorrow to get started on the bridge.  I've thought a lot about not going.  About just living with a gap in my front teeth.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sometimes I Think Isaac Is Just Brilliant

I know I complain sometimes about being frustrated when he doesn't do what I want him to do and I know sometimes I am embarrassed by his behavior (not often, but it's happened), but other times he is just so good and I am so impressed with him.  And then sometimes he is just so smart.

This evening I was sitting on the couch and he was standing beside me, wagging his big strong tail and getting petted, and his tail knocked my hairbrush off the coffee table.  I told him to get it for me, but it landed right next to one of his toys, so he started to pick up the brush, then started to pick up the toy instead, then thought about it for a second and decided the brush must be what I wanted and picked that up and gave it to me.  How smart is that?

Earlier this evening I ran to the grocery store for some yogurt because that's practically all I've been eating the last few days because of my tooth.  I got Isaac out of the car and was getting my groceries out when I saw the cat that has been hanging around here for the last few weeks.  Isaac is determined to catch that cat.  I spotted the cat an instant before Isaac did and I told him to sit and to stay - and he did!  He looked longingly at the cat and I could see he really, really wanted to run after it, but he didn't.  I was so happy and so proud of  him.

A few days ago I met a friend for lunch at Chipotle and took Isaac.  It was the first time I'd had Isaac in a restaurant in a while, probably over a month, which is really not a good thing.  I don't go to restaurants very often anymore and I don't always take Isaac when I do because I usually go with someone else and don't always need to have Isaac with me.  However, I think it would be better to take him more often just so he could keep in practice. 

Well, it was a Saturday at lunch time and Chipotle was really crowded and there was a very long line.  I wasn't sure how Isaac was going to do but he did brilliantly.  Waited very nicely in line and did not once try to sniff the butt of the guy in line in front of us.  At one point he got tired of standing in line (I don't blame him) and decided to lie down, and he has not yet learned that it's not wise to sprawl out in places like that, so I had to ask him to get up and move over.  He does that in line at the grocery store sometimes, too.  But he was very good. 

He was interested in sniffing the garbage can when we walked past but ignored it when I told him "leave it."  He did not try to sniff any of the other customers while I was filling my drink, and it was pretty crowded in that area, too.  He went right under the table when I told him to, lay down when I told him to, and stayed lying down quietly throughout the meal.  He was pretty near perfect.  I couldn't have asked for more.