Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fierce Doggie

Look at this fierce doggie playing tug with what's left of his basketball.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And, Just Like That, My Tutoring Job Has Ended

TK is going to be transferring to an alternative school, where he should be getting extra help.  Dad doesn't think he'll need to continue with tutoring at this point, though he might in the future, and dad says he will be calling me if they decide he needs a tutor again.

I feel disappointed.  I'm glad TK is going to be going to the alternative school because I don't think he was going to be able to catch up at his regular school, and also I don't think tutoring was going to be enough help for him, especially since his parents seemed unable or unwilling to get him to tutoring on time and all the other goofy stuff dad was doing.  So I'm glad for the kid but I'm disappointed for me.

Also, I can't help feeling a little like maybe I wasn't doing a good enough job.  I don't think that was the case.  Dad told me that if I need a reference for other tutoring jobs, to please feel free to give people his number.  I don't think it's about me.  But, blah, sometimes the depression says it is.  And I was feeling kind of depressed today, anyway.

Guarding the Service Dog

Every since hearing about the service dog that was attacked by a customer in Walmart, I've been a bit more wary than normal when I'm shopping with Isaac.  This was not the first story I've heard of a service dog being attacked but for some reason it stands out in my mind.

Service dogs are sometimes attacked by other dogs and sometimes by humans.  It certainly doesn't happen every day, but it's a common enough occurrence that it's a common topic of discussion among service dog handlers.  Not just that attacks, but how to prevent them and how to protect your dog.

Some service dog handlers carry pepper spray.  Apparently pepper spray is not legal in all areas, or at least not pepper spray of a certain strength.  Some service dog handlers suggest carrying a stun gun, which is also not legal in all areas.  A commonly-heard suggestion is to carry an umbrella, the kind that pops open when you push a button.  An umbrella may not be much of a defense against violent humans, but if an aggressive dog is coming toward your dog, you can point the umbrella at the aggressive dog and push the button so it pops open, forming a barrier between your dog and the aggressive dog and also startling the approaching, aggressive dog, hopefully stopping him in his tracks.

While an umbrella might be fairly effective protection against aggressive, uncontrolled dogs (that shouldn't be in public places anyway), logistically it seems awkward at best to me.  I thought about it the other day while grocery shopping with Isaac.  I have only two hands.  While grocery shopping with Isaac, I must hold Isaac's leash, push the shopping cart, hold my shopping list and still manage to pick up items and put them in my cart.  How would I hold an umbrella at the same time?  Just putting the umbrella in my cart wouldn't be effective.  I'd need to have the umbrella ready to pop it open at any moment.  I'd have to have another hand. 

You're probably thinking, why would a service dog be attacked by another dog in a grocery store?  Dogs aren't allowed in grocery stores, right?  But there are people claiming their dogs are service dogs that bring aggressive dogs into public places where they shouldn't be.  I know a service dog handler that is currently dealing with an issue on her college campus.  Another student has a dog she claims is a service dog that has attacked a couple of legitimate service dogs on the campus.  I don't know why the university disability services continues to allow her to bring her dog onto the campus.  But anyway, it happens.

It's a ridiculous thing to have to worry about when you're out shopping with your service dog.  But as I was shopping the other day, I was aware of the risk.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Who's in Your Contacts List?

A few days ago, I was going through my phone, deleted contacts that are people I rarely or never call and that I didn't think I needed to keep in my phone.  Like the general surgeon that did my breast biopsy last May.  If I need a general surgeon again some day, I'd probably go back to him, but I'm not expecting to be calling him any time soon.  I have his number in my address book if I need it.

And I decided to delete my mother's number and my sister's number.

They have not spoken to me since November of 2013.  I don't expect they will wish to speak to me any time soon.  Or any time distant, for that matter.  Maybe my sister will call me to let me know when my mother passes away or something, but she is not expected to die any time soon, either, as far as I know.

I have their numbers, and their addresses, in my address book, if I need them.  But I don't need them in my phone.

I have considered deleted them from my contacts before, but kept putting it off.  Not because I thought I might want to give them a call one day soon.  Just because, I guess, it's hard to sever those ties.  It's hard to acknowledge that they've been severed.  But now it's done.

And you know what? 

I think I'd like my contacts list in my phone to be full of people I like and respect, people that like and care about me.  I have two contacts in my phone clearly designated as emergency contact people, but really, I like the idea that if I was in a serious car accident on the way to tutoring tomorrow and the paramedics picked up my phone as I was being rushed to the hospital and just pressed "send," my phone would dial someone that cared about me.  Someone that would care that I was critically injured.  Someone that would ask, "What can I do to help?"

Yes, OK, if the paramedics happened to dial my auto mechanic, he probably would not drop whatever he was doing and rush to the hospital to be with me.  But you know what?  I'm scrolling through my contacts right now and this is what I see. 

The number of a good friend, one of my designated emergency contacts. 

Isaac's vet, who, by the way, will provide any necessary emergency medical treatment to Isaac even if I am not available to hand over my credit card at the moment. 

A friend. 

Another friend. 

My primary care physician, who, I bet, would at least make an effort to contact an emergency contact person on my behalf. 

Isaac's trainer, who would come and pick him up if I was critically injured and unable to take care of him. 

A friend. 

A good friend, my other designated emergency contact person. 

Another friend. 

And another friend. 

And another friend. 

My psychiatrist, who, I think, would also make an effort to contact an emergency contact person on my behalf (if anyone actually got in touch with him, that is; his office staff these days is not so hot). 

My dog walker, who would come and feed and walk Isaac if necessary. 

Another friend.

Cayenne's vet, who is a wonderful, caring man and would board both Isaac and Cayenne if necessary while I was in the hospital with critical injuries.

And then there are a few other numbers, my auto mechanic, my pharmacy, my insurance agent, the county welfare office (who I am certain would be of no help in any kind of emergency), etc.

But this is a revelation to me.  I never thought about it until now.  I want my phone to be full of numbers of people that care about me.  People that would care if I was being rushed to the hospital, half dead.  And you know what?  It is.  It mostly is.

How awesome is that?

And I will continue to delete the numbers of people that wouldn't care.  Because those are not people I want in my life.

Now.  Take a look at your phone?  Who's in your contacts list?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Another Trip to the Grocery Store

Yes, I realize that I write about going to the grocery store a lot.  Well, I don't go that many places.  But also, when you have a service dog, routine trips to the grocery store become, well, a little less routine, I guess.

There's a blog I've been following, Rolling Around in My Head, and I read a post there where the author mentioned that he realizes he writes a lot about doors and floors, but that as a wheelchair user, those two things become much more important than they are to many other people.  Maybe it's the same with service dog handlers and grocery stores.  Because I'm not the only person I know with a service dog that always seems to have a story about a recent trip to the grocery store.

Anyway.  Today I went grocery shopping and I was ringing up my stuff at the U-Scan, Isaac lying quietly between my feet and the scanner. For a change he did not try to sprawl out in the middle of the floor in everyone's way (I make him move when he does that, he just does not seem to get the concept that he is likely to get his tail run over with a shopping cart that way). One of my purchases rang up incorrectly so I had to get an employee to assist me. He came over to the scanner and practically stepped on Isaac before noticing there was a dog there. Which is actually good, it means Isaac was being quiet and well-behaved and unobtrusive, like he is supposed to be. The poor startled teenager just kept saying, I'm sorry, I didn't know there was a dog there!

I don't know if you realize how cool that is, but service dog handlers tend to get pretty excited about it when someone is surprised to notice their dog.   It means the dog is doing a great  job and it's what you want to happen.  Not the surprise, I mean, but the fact that people don't even notice the dog.

A few minutes later, a more typical interaction occurred.  Isaac was still lying quietly on the floor while I was lifting my bags of groceries into my cart.  There was a young couple using one of the other U-Scans and I heard them talking about Isaac.  I heard the young man point out, "It says do not pet," which indeed Isaac's vest does say.  And then the young woman came over, bent down close to Isaac's face, and started baby-talking to him.  She didn't pet him, though.

I told her to stop.  I used to feel bad telling people to leave my dog alone but I don't anymore.  I feel annoyed at their behavior, but beyond that, I feel like my first and primary responsibility is to Isaac, and he needs people to leave him alone. 

She looked startled and then apologized.

I finished loading my groceries and then decided to spend a minute educating, or at least attempting to educate.  So I went over to her and explained that even if it looks like Isaac is just lying there, he's working, he's paying close attention to me, and it's very hard for him to pay attention to me when people are talking to him because he loves the attention.  She and the guy with her nodded.  Hopefully they learned something.

Isaac, I should add, did beautifully.  He did stand up when the woman was bending over talking to him, but that's it.  His tail was wagging, but he didn't attempt to jump on her or kiss her or anything like that.  And he refocused on me as soon as I told her to leave him alone.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The State of My Pain

So it's been almost a week since I stopped taking Tramadol for pain and Flexeril for muscle spasms.  Well, I've taken a Tramadol twice since then, but I was taking four a day.  And I haven't had any Flexeril.

I'm taking 500 mg glucosamine/400 mg chondroitin and 100 mg gabapentin a day.  I'm not sure if I will keep taking the glucosamine/chondroitin or not but I bought a 20 day supply so I will at least finish that.

In another day or two, I am supposed to increase the gabapentin to 100 mg twice a day.  I hope that doesn't make me drowsy during the day.  I've been taking it at bedtime and the first couple days, I think it made me sleep well.  However, the last three nights, I've slept like crap.

The night before last, I was really worn out so I went to bed early.  Like a little after 8:00 pm.  But I couldn't sleep.  My back hurt and my arms hurt and I was thirsty.  Like, so incredibly thirsty.

I think the gabapentin is making my mouth dry, drier than usual.  And my mouth is already dry.  I think it's a side effect of the Cymbalta.  It's a common side effect of so many psych meds.  I've dealt with it for years.   But now, it's like I can't get enough to drink.  Literally two minutes after drinking something, my mouth is like cotton and I am so incredibly thirsty.  It's hard to sleep because I am so thirsty.  I drink, then I lie down, and before I can fall asleep, I am so thirsty I have to get up and drink some more.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is what it is.

Anyway.  At night I can't sleep because my back hurts and my arms hurt and my hips hurt and I am thirsty.  The night before last, I was also hot, then I kicked off the covers and was cold, then I put the covers back on and was hot and sweaty, and so on.  I was so tired I felt like crying.  But it was after midnight before I fell asleep.

Yesterday I was up before 6:00 am.  I did nap for about an hour during the day.  And last night?  It was a repeat of the night before.  My arms hurt and I couldn't find a comfortable position.  Any way I lay, it hurt at least one arm in some way.  I went to bed a little after 9:00 pm and it was after midnight before I slept.  My head ached, my hips hurt, I was thirsty, I was hot, I was cold, I was so exhausted I didn't want to move.  Except I had to move, because my arms hurt in the position in which I was lying.  But any way I moved, something else hurt.

This morning I managed to sleep until 6:10 am.  I have not slept at all, all day.

I've been fairly busy the last few days and I think that distracts me from the pain, at least a little.  But at night I'm not distracted.  And the pain is worse at night, and the anxiety is worse, and it makes it hard to sleep.  I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't get some sleep tonight.

I've been using my anxiety medication to help manage the anxiety that the increase in pain brings up.  It doesn't do anything for the pain, though.

I'm functioning better than I thought I'd be, really.  Today I did a load of laundry.  Yesterday, the weather was really nice and I took Isaac for a long walk, about 45 minutes.  Tuesday I picked up a few items at the dollar store, I tutored TK, and I even stopped at the office supply store to pick up a planner for him.  His dad cancelled his tutoring session today, but I was planning to do it.  So I'm functioning.  I'm not just huddling on the couch under my electric blanket.

I don't know how long I can function on so little sleep, though.

Oh.  I also think the gabapentin is making me nauseous.  I've been nauseous, anyway, off and on.  I'm hoping that goes away as I get used to the medication.  When I first started the Cymbalta, I was nauseous for almost three weeks.  Horribly nauseous.  I was about ready to quit taking it but then I guess I got used to it and the nausea went away.  This is not as bad, but I feel icky off and on throughout the day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kids and Kids and More Kids

I meant to write about this a few days ago but was too busy writing about being in and about having a meltdown and throwing my groceries around my kitchen.

But before my meltdown, Isaac and I went grocery shopping.  I rarely go grocery shopping on the weekends.  I prefer to go during the week, when the store is less crowded.  But it was the weekend and I needed groceries.  So grocery shopping we went.

There were a lot of kids in the store and Isaac seemed unusually interested in/distracted by them.  I don't know why.  He kept stopping while we were walking through the store to watch kids.

At one point, this man with a toddler chased me down an aisle to ask me if his kid could pet my dog.  Isaac really, really wanted to say hello to that kid.  The kid was about as tall as Isaac.  They stood there, nose to nose, Isaac's tail wagging hard.  The kid was about two, maybe three.  He reached up and petted Isaac on the side of the face, really, really gently.  It was so cute.  Isaac loved it.  And the kid told me "thank you" really nicely.

A few minutes later, this kid that was about seven or eight came running toward me, asking, "Ma'am, ma'am, can I pet your dog?"  So I said yes and he petted Isaac and he asked me what my dog's name was.  He was shopping with his grandma and later on, when Isaac and I were on our way up to the front of the store to pay for our stuff, we saw the kid and his grandma, and the kid said, really loud and excited, "Grandma!  Look, Grandma!  There's Isaac!"

Isaac had a great time.  I didn't have an awful time, but I concluded that my plan about shopping during the week was a good one and I should do that from now on.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sometimes It's the Parents

This kind of fits in with my earlier post about blame.

When I was a social worker, running an anger management program for teens, I frequently found the parents were as trouble as, or sometimes more troubled than, the teenagers.

One of my job duties was doing intakes on kids referred to the program.  I met with the kid and at least one parent or guardian and gathered information about why they had been referred to the program and determined whether or not they were suitable participants for our program.  Kids with serious mental illness or serious substance abuse programs, for instance, needed more intense treatment than what we provided and they were referred to appropriate services instead of enrolled in our program.

On more than one occasion, I met with teens that behaved fairly appropriately during the intake and that apologized to me for the inappropriate behavior of their parents.  I remember one telephone call in which an angry mother, upon being informed she was expected to attend the program with her child, shouted at me, "I don't need no anger management," along with some profanities.  She called me back a little while later after her coworkers - apparently she had made that call from work and her coworkers could not help but overhear her cursing and shouting about how she didn't need no anger management - suggested that perhaps she could use a little anger management after all and told her that she should call me back to apologize.  I was impressed that she actually listened to them and did call to apologize.

In the time that I worked at that job, I had the opportunity to facilitate anger management group sessions for teenage boys, teenage girls, and parents.  The boys were the easiest.  Teenage girls were more challenging, but the parents were the most difficult.  I liked the parents group that I led for more than a year, but it was very, very challenging.

Often, it was quite obvious why the kids had anger management problems.  It would have been surprising if they hadn't.

Well, today was my third tutoring session with TK.

The first day we met, dad brought him to the session.  We meet at the public library.  They arrived about five minutes late.  No big deal.  I had asked dad, four days earlier, to take TK to an office supply store to buy a daily planner in which to keep track of his assignments, prior to our first session.  I explained that I wanted TK to pick out the planner.  Dad agreed to do this.  However, he "forgot" to do it and so TK showed up without a planner.  Dad assured me he would do it before our next session two days later.

Two days later, TK's mother brought him to the session.  They were 20 minutes late.  Mom apologized to me several times and said she'd "forgotten" she was supposed to bring him to tutoring.  Dad still had not gotten him the planner.

Today, dad sent me a text message at 2:59.  Tutoring is supposed to be from 3:00 to 4:00.  The text read, "We're on today for 4, right?"

As soon as I read that, I threw up my hands and said, "Good grief, it's not the kid, it's dad!"

I didn't think for a minute that dad really thought tutoring was supposed to be at 4:00.  He's the one that picked the time in the first place.  And he got the kid there almost on time, at 3:00, the week before.  He knew what time he was supposed to be there.

I texted him back, "I thought it was 3 but we can make it 4 if that works better for you."

He then texted me back, "No, we'll be there in a few minutes."

So TK arrived about five minutes later, but dad did not come in with him.  He still did not have a planner.  He also "forgot" to bring any of his school stuff other than his geometry stuff.

At this point, I do not blame TK a bit for "forgetting" his other school stuff.  If dad is forgetful and disorganized, which he certainly seems to be, how would TK have learned to be organized?  Organizational skills are just that - skills.  You have to learn them from somewhere.  You aren't born with them.  And it seems unlikely he's had the opportunity to learn them from dad.

I'm very skeptical that dad is really as forgetful as he seems to want me to think he is.  Maybe he's just not prioritizing his kid's tutoring, but if that's the case, why hire a tutor (and pay a tutor $60 a week) in the first place?  I think he's being passive-aggressive or sabotaging his kid or something, although I don't know why.  But if dad, and mom, are behaving like tutoring isn't important enough to be on time for or to be prepared for with the proper supplies, like a planner, why would the kid think it was important to be prepared and bring the proper supplies, like textbooks? 

On my way home, I stopped by an office supply store and bought TK a planner.  I'd have preferred dad to do it, and I'd have preferred that TK got the opportunity to pick it out, but I want him to have it and that's the most important thing.

I'm going to have to think about how to deal with dad. 

On Blame

I know there are some people that never want to take responsibility for anything.  They spill their coffee on themselves and sue McDonald's because the coffee was hot.  Of course, they ordered hot coffee.  They would have been unhappy if they'd been served lukewarm coffee.

But there are other people, a lot of people, in our society that want to blame victims.  Maybe victim isn't always the right word, but sometimes it is, and they do blame victims.  But they are the people that insist you are responsible for the choices you make, no matter what.  They ignore the fact that the choices we have are sometimes, maybe oftentimes, limited by forces outside our control.  They ignore the fact that the choices we see may also be limited by forces outside our control.

What do I mean by that?  Well, we may not always see all the choices that are actually available to us.  We are limited by the information we have.  We are limited by the education we've had.  We are limited by the psychological development we've achieved and the experiences we've had.

For instance.  When I was 16, I got pregnant.  I choose to marry the father of my baby, against the advice of my parents but with their consent, because in the state in which I lived, you had to have your parents consent as well as permission from a judge in order to get married if you were under 18. 

I had PTSD then, although it hadn't been diagnosed.  It hadn't been diagnosed because my parents never took me to a therapist or doctor, even when I sort of overdosed on some Tylenol when I was in 8th grade.  After I got married, I was an emancipated minor, which means for most purposes I was not considered a minor.  So I did not need my parents' consent to see a therapist.  However, I had no money so I did not seek therapy.  I was aware that therapy costs money.

Now, you could saw that I chose not to seek therapy, that I could have gone to a mental health clinic that operated on a sliding fee scale or that I could have applied for and received Medicaid, which pays for therapy.  Only I did not know those things existed.  I grew up in a middle-class family and we had health insurance.  Once I got married, I no longer had health insurance.  My parents did not bother to tell me that things like clinics with sliding fee scales and Medicaid even existed.  So I didn't know that I had a choice.  A teacher at school talked to me one day and told me where I could go for counseling and that it would be free since I had no money.  Another teacher told me that I could get Medicaid, and where to go to apply for it, and that it would pay for all sorts of medical needs.  And suddenly I had a lot more choices.

Today I read something in which the writer was complaining about overweight people blaming others for their weight.  I think it is important to take responsibility for ourselves but I also think it's important to acknowledge how the actions of other people affect us, especially the actions of our parents when we're growing up.  With regard to weight, well, as children we eat what our caregivers provide for us.  We cannot earn our own money, shop for our own food, and prepare our own food.  We also don't know what food is healthy and what food isn't.  We rely on our caregivers to meet our needs, including buying food and preparing it for us.  As we grow older, we start learning more about nutrition, like at school, but most schools don't provide very healthy food, either. 

As teenagers, maybe we are able to get an after school job and earn some money, and I guess we could use that money to buy healthy food, and as teenagers we are probably able to prepare food for ourselves, but by then we might already be obese and might have developed very poor eating habits, not of our own choice, but because children learn what they are taught.

So when we become adults, yes, we're responsible for buying and preparing our own food and making our own food choices, but we come to that point carrying baggage, and it's not baggage that we chose to carry.  It's baggage placed on us by our childhood caregivers.  Now, we can decide we don't want to keep carrying that baggage and start taking steps to let some of it go, but most people can't just do that instantly.  It can take time, sometimes lots of time, and hard work.

Even as adults, there are many things in our lives we have control over, but there are some things we don't.  For instance for the past three months, financially things have been really rough for me.  I had to have some costly dental work done, and I didn't choose to have dental problems and they weren't caused by something like me choosing not to brush my teeth.  I guess I could have chosen not to get the dental work done, but having a broken tooth in the front of my mouth not only looked bad, but was causing a lot of pain.  For more than a month, I lived mostly on protein shakes and Greek yogurt and soup. 

So I made the choice to get the dental work done but it was very expensive and I live on a very tight budget anyway, and that large expense meant I needed to rely on food from a local food pantry for a few months if I wanted to eat.  I made the choice to eat, so I visited the food pantry.  I did not have control over what food was given out at the food pantry.  Yes, I had control over whether or not I ate it, but when given a choice between eating Poptarts and Frosted Flakes and things like that or not eating at all, I think most people would choose the Poptarts and Frosted Flakes.

I am not blaming the people at the food pantry for the fact that I ate less-then-ideal foods for a while.  Some of the food I got at the food pantry was actually excellent - I got some Greek yogurt, some avocados, some bananas, some cottage cheese (which I don't actually like but chose to eat anyway because I wanted to eat and it was healthy for me), etc.  And I did buy some groceries myself and made healthy choices there, but I was not able to afford to buy enough food to feed myself for a whole month. 

Again, I'm not blaming the people at the food pantry for the fact that I ate less-than-ideal foods, but I'm not blaming myself, either.  I made the best choices I could in a difficult situation but the situation was not my fault.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cayenne's Trip to the Vet Yesterday

Cayenne went to the vet yesterday morning.  I consider it a great trip because she did not pee, poop or puke in the car and because I spent less than $100 there, which may be the cheapest trip to the vet with her ever.  Cayenne has less positive feelings about it because it did involve riding in the car, and seeing and hearing other cats and dogs at the vet's office, and being poked and prodded by the vet, but whatever.  It was good for me.

The vet said her belly is infected and she has antibiotics now, which of course she enjoys (not).  He also said that, unfortunately, getting the sore on her belly to heal will be very difficult because the sore spot in on one of the tumors and apparently these types of tumors tend to end up cutting off their own blood supply as they grow, which then causes the tissue to break down.  We want to try to prevent infection, though, because she could easily get very sick and end up dying from infection long before the cancer has a chance to kill her.  Those weren't his exact words, but that's the bottom line.

However, other than the infected belly sore, she is in good health.  She actually weighed four ounces more than she did the last time she was at the vet.  She was also very vocal in the car, loudly announcing her displeasure about the trip, which is annoying and headache-producing, but it's normal for her and the last couple times we went to the vet, I was actually a bit concerned because she was quieter than normal in the car.  I think she was quiet because she wasn't feeling well.

More on Yesterday

I realize that in my post last night, I probably sounded like a lunatic.  I was sort of crazy but maybe not in the way I sounded in my post.  I was not really throwing my groceries around the kitchen, not exactly.  It was more like slamming things down on the counter, slamming cabinet doors, stuff like that.  I did throw a package of hotdogs into the freezer, but since I was standing right in front of the freezer, it wasn't much of a throw.  I was stomping my feet and being loud, though.  And that is not at all typical of my behavior.

I do think it frightened Isaac some.  Cayenne was sitting on the couch the whole time, not looking fazed at all.  I'm  not sure, but I think Isaac was bothered because he knew I was wanting him to do something but for some reason that I don't quite understand, he didn't understand what it was that I wanted.  And then I was getting mad and of course that didn't help him figure out what it was that I wanted.

After I finished putting the groceries away and stomping around, I sat down on the couch and cried.  Isaac came over to me, crept over, like he was a little unsure it was the right thing to do.  He put his head on my knees and I put my arms around him and hugged him and then he was fine.  He sat there with me for several minutes, then went and found a toy and brought that to me, which is typical Isaac behavior.

I realize my thinking last night was really irrational.  What I was thinking was something along the lines of, no one is helping me, I need help and no one will help, the rheumatologist won't help, my other doctor won't help, there is no one to help me, and now Isaac won't even help me.  Of course it's not true that no one will help, but it was true that there was no one around last night to help me.  And it is true that I don't always have help when I need it.  But I tend to get stuck in black and white thinking at times like that, where it's all or nothing.  No help at that moment means no help ever, period.

And of course it's not true that Isaac won't help me or was refusing to help me or didn't want to help me.  Isaac, for reasons I am unsure of, didn't know what was expected of him last night when I was having a major meltdown.  That is not the same as refusing to help.  Isaac very  much wants to help but he is a dog, not a computer or robot or mind reader, and sometimes he gets mixed up or doesn't understand.  And usually, it's because I am not communicating things to him clearly.  Which is my fault, not his.

Today Isaac and I practiced doing the lights and getting the meds a few times.  We are going to practice those things a lot in the next few days.  One of the problems may have been that I was standing in the doorway asking him to get the lights and we have not practiced that command from there very often.  The light he gets the most often for me is the living room light and most of the time I am on the couch when I give him that command.  He can turn on the lights in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, and we practice all of those occasionally, but probably not enough. 

I was wanting him to turn on the kitchen light last night, but maybe he wasn't sure which light he was supposed to get.  Really, it would have been OK with me if he turned on the living room light instead, but if he was confused about which light, it makes sense he didn't turn on any of them.  He needs to be given clear instructions and it's my job to be clear with him.

In addition to practicing the other lights more, we are going to practice getting the meds.  Isaac and I have practiced that extensively, with me giving the command from all rooms in my apartment, and with me sitting on the floor, standing up, lying on the bed, etc.  But we haven't practiced it with me given the command in different tones of voice.  Either I say, "Get the meds," in a calm voice, or we also practice it with me sitting and rocking back and forth, which is something I do when I'm very anxious, and he knows that means to get the meds without being told to get them.  But by the time I told him to get them last night, I was upset because he hadn't turned on the light and because of everything else that was going on, and I think I was loud and angry-sounding.  So we're going to practice it with me saying it in different tones of voice.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Not Such a Good Day Today

Yesterday I saw the rheumatologist and for the most part, I think the appointment went well.  She diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, which I was expecting, and also told me that I have osteoarthritis in my hands.  She recommends continuing with the Cymbalta and also prescribed gabopentin, which is an anti-seizure medication that is also sued to treat fibromyalgia.  She also recommended taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement.  I picked some up but I'm not sure if I'll continue taking it, because the research doesn't seem too promising that it will really help, plus it's expensive, plus most of those supplements are made from shellfish and bovine cartilage and I am a vegetarian and do not feel good about taking supplements made from animals.

The only bad news is that she doesn't want to prescribe pain medication or my  muscle relaxer because she says those don't help much with fibromyalgia and can even end up making fibromyalgia pain worse somehow.  Well.   Maybe that's all true, but what about my back?  I have degenerative disk disease.  My back doesn't hurt because of fibro, or at least, not only because of fibro.

And my primary care physician won't prescribe those meds anymore, either, because he said the rheumatologist should be treating my pain.  But rheumatologists don't typically treat degenerative disk disease.

So I have about a dozen pain pills left and even fewer muscle relaxers.  So I decided I needed to stop taking them right away and save the ones I have left for when I really, really need them.  Like if I can't get out of bed at all.  Or if I can't get out of the car.  That's happened before.  Once I lay in bed for about eight hours before I was able to move.  Another time I could not get out of the car and had to call Mike and he had to leave work and come home to help me.  But that's when we were together.  If that happened now, I would have no one to call.  But I have my purse with me in the car and I always have pain meds in my purse.  So I need to save the few I have left for things like that.

For the last couple of months, I've been taking four Tramadol and three Flexeril a day.  This morning, I took one Tramadol because I had to take Cayenne to the vet and it's very difficult and very painful for me to lift the cat carrier with her in it.  She weighs 8 lbs. 4 oz.  I have a hard time lifting a gallon of milk, which weighs five pounds.  So lifting and carrying Cayenne in her carrier is hard for me.   So I took a pain pill.

But no more all day.  I've cried twice today, because of the pain.  I managed to nap for about an hour.  This evening I went grocery shopping, which I dreaded because I was already in pain and I thought lifting groceries would make it worse, but I had very little to eat in the house.  The last few days have been busy for me and I can't do too many things in the same day.  So I went shopping.  I didn't buy anything heavy.  I bought a half gallon of almond milk, but that's the heaviest things.  I didn't buy a gallon of milk because I didn't want to have to lift that much.  I bought yogurt.  I bought a couple protein bars.  Light stuff.

When I got home, I was in a lot of pain.  I had forgotten to leave a light on and it had grown dark while I was at the store.  So I told Isaac to turn on the light.  And he acted like he had no clue what I was talking about.  Wouldn't turn it on.  I don't know what the problem was.  I ended up having to walk into the dark house and turn on a light myself.

By then I was really anxious and also angry and just overwhelmed.  I told Isaac to bring my meds.  Again, he acted like he had no clue what I was saying.  That might have been because I was upset and yelling.  I think I scared him.  I was also throwing my groceries around the kitchen.  I really lost it.  I got my own meds and I practically tripped over Isaac because although he didn't want to get my meds for me, he wanted to be right by me.  So I yelled at him to go lie down.  Which he did.

And he stayed right there until I was done putting my groceries away/throwing them around the kitchen.  After that I sat on the couch and called Isaac over to me and  hugged him.  Then I just cried for a while.

I'm in so much pain.  I don't know how I'm going to deal with this without any medication.  I just don't.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cayenne Goes to the Vet Tomorrow

I decided I had to make her an appointment.  One of the tumors on her belly looks positively awful.  It is oozing bloody stuff and she keeps licking it and licking it.  The vet is probably going to give her antibiotics and one of those Elizabethan collars that make pets look like satellite dishes.  She will hate that.

I think her belly is bothering her a lot.  I don't think she is in terrible pain, but she is definitely uncomfortable.  She's still on the anti-inflammatory/pain medication but it doesn't seem to be giving her much relief.  She is eating well and still seems to enjoy being petted and brushed.  But she's uncomfortable.

I'm afraid of going to the vet.  I'm afraid of hearing there's not much else they can do for her.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Remember the Dog that was Kicked by a Woman in Walmart?

Remember a week or so ago when I posted about a woman kicking a service dog in Walmart? Well, she was arrested and charged and will be going to court at some point. Apparently at the police station, when they tried to fingerprint her and stuff, she got aggressive and smacked a cop, so now she is also being charged with assaulting a police officer.

The bad news is that the dog, while he is recovering from his physical injury, now behaves nervously in Walmart and refuses to go down the aisle where this happened and shies away from strangers that approach him, especially women of the same ethnicity as the woman that kicked him. His owner has scheduled an appointment with an animal behaviorist, but the dog may end up having to retire.

Do you understand how devastating that would be? It could be more than a year before the owner could get another service dog. I don't know about her finances, but it's possible should can't afford two dogs, which would mean in order to get another service dog, the current dog would have to be re-homed. I don't know what the maximum penalty the kicking woman can get, but I'm betting it's not nearly severe enough for all that.

Seeing the Rheumatologist Tomorrow

I see the rheumatologist tomorrow.  I'm anxious about it.  I'm worried she's not going to listen to me (and I found numerous reviews of her online, where prior patients complained that she doesn't listen) and that she won't want to prescribe adequate pain medication.  My primary care physician doesn't want to keep treating my pain, but right now I don't even have a diagnosis, so who knows if it's something the rheumatologist would treat.  I mean, if she thinks it's fibromyalgia then she would treat that, but what if that's not the diagnosis? 

And what about my back?  I don't think my back problems are caused by fibromyalgia, even if I do have fibro.  The back pain is due to degenerative disk disease and/or a herniated disk, depending on which back specialist you think is right, and that's not the kind of thing rheumatologists treat. 

So I'm worried that I'm not going to get adequate pain medication.  The medication I have currently is just barely adequate.  But I will run out of it over the coming weekend and if the rheumatologist doesn't prescribe more, I'm not sure how I'm going to cope.  I'm trying not to panic about it now, to wait and see what happens, because anxiety only  makes the pain worse and there's no sense making it worse now when I don't even know that's going to happen.  But it's hard not to worry.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bought an Exercise Ball

Today I went to Walmart to buy a stress ball for the kid I am tutoring.  The stress balls were in the fitness equipment section and happened to be right beside the exercise balls.  I had been considering getting an exercise ball, not because I'm going to exercise on it (might as well admit that up front), but because sitting on one is supposed to help strengthen your core muscles.  I thought it would be worth a try to see if it helps my lower back pain any.

Well, they were on sale, marked down from $18 to just $8.  So I decided to buy one.  Hopefully Isaac doesn't think it's a toy for him and pounce on it as soon as I inflate it.  I plan to store it in the closet when I'm not using it because even though it's supposed to be burst-resistant, I'm sure Isaac could manage to burst it.  He bursts basketballs, for goodness sake.

I read an article online that said sitting on a ball while watching television or reading or something like that burns an extra 30 calories an hour, as compared to doing those things sitting on the couch.  So that would be cool, too.  Not than I'm going to spend many hours on it in one day, but still.

I may take it to tutoring with me one day, too, so TK can try it and see if he thinks it helps him focus.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How Was My First Day Tutoring?

How was my first day tutoring, you ask?  Well, I'm so glad you asked.  It was great.

The kid I'm tutoring, I'll call him TK, is 15.  He's very likeable.  He's articulate, seems pretty bright, and at times even seemed insightful.  Now, I won't fault a teenager for lack of insight.  Teens are often pretty un-insightful.  It's actually pretty developmentally appropriate for teens, although it can certainly drive parents and educators crazy at times.

However, at one point I asked him how he gets along with his teachers and he told me, "I try to be really respectful to my teachers all the time.  If you're respectful, they sometimes go a little easier on you or give you a little extra help.  If you're disrespectful, they don't do that."  Now, that is pretty insightful for a teenager.  When I was a social worker, I spent I-don't-even-know-how-many anger management sessions trying to explain that concept to teens that were in trouble for things like beating up their teachers and threatening to blow up their schools.

Then at one point he was telling me that sometimes he doesn't feel very motivated to do his schoolwork and I asked him why he thought that was.  He said he wasn't sure.  He told me that his dad thinks it's because when he was in middle school, some of his teachers graded him unfairly and that his dad thinks that made him not feel like trying anymore.  That is what his dad told me when I met with him.  TK said he's not sure if that's really the reason, though.  It might be but he isn't sure.  I thought that was kind of... well, maybe insightful isn't the right word.  But it was interesting that he is aware of what his dad thinks is the problem and that he's considered it carefully and hasn't just grabbed onto it as an excuse.

I asked him a bunch of questions and he seemed to be answering honestly and thoughtfully.  A couple times he seemed surprised by a question and said, "I need to think about that for a minute."  And then he thought for a minute and then tried to answer as clearly as he could.  A couple times he gave rather vague answers and then asked, "Do you want me to be more specific?"  In which case I said, "If you can be more specific, that would be good."  And then he would elaborate on his answer.  I think he's pretty articulate.  He seems able to express himself pretty easily.

I asked him if he thought his teachers like him and he said yes, he knows they do.  Now, dad thinks the teachers dislike the kid.  I did not tell him dad told me that.  But I found it very interesting that dad thinks that and that TK thinks the opposite.  What I'm thinking is that the teachers don't dislike TK, the teachers dislike the dad.  It's possible TK just can't tell that they don't like him, but he doesn't seem socially inept in that way.  I think he'd know.  Now, it's also possible that the teachers don't like him and he knows it but just didn't want to admit it to me.  He might feel embarrassed about it.  But he seemed pretty comfortable telling me how his grades are really poor and other stuff that he might feel embarrassed about, so I think he was probably being honest about the teachers liking him.

All I did today was talk to him and ask a bunch of questions.  I wanted to get to know him and to establish a rapport and to let him know what he can expect from me.  Like, he can expect me to treat him like an intelligent being, he can expect me to care about his thoughts and opinions, he can expect me to be respectful towards him, he can expect me to support him in his goals, etc.  I feel like that went very well.

Together we were able to identify a couple of things that might be helpful.  I noticed him fidgeting a lot and asked if he felt he could focus better when he was moving and he said yes, definitely.  I mentioned that some people find it helpful to have one of those stress balls to squeeze while they work and he really liked that idea.  So tomorrow I am going to go find a stress ball for him.  Hopefully Walmart has them. 

I also told him that I'd read an article recently that was written for adults with ADHD and that it suggested sitting on one of those exercise balls while you work.  I wasn't sure what a teenager would think of that.  I thought he might think that seemed too silly or weird.  But he actually thought it sounded like fun.  I've been thinking of buying one for myself, to help strengthen my back muscles.  Maybe I'll go ahead and get one and then take it with me to tutoring one day and let him try it out and see if he likes it.

I had a good day and I'm looking forward to continuing to work with him.

Isaac Went to the Vet Yesterday

Isaac has an awesome vet.  (And here is a link to a review of the veterinary practice, in case anyone is looking for a good vet around here.)  The vet is near where I lived with Mike so it's a bit of a drive from where I live now but I still take Isaac there because I really like the vet and because they give me a discount because Isaac is a service dog.

Yesterday Isaac had to go to the vet to get his annual vaccines and heart worm test and all that stuff.  Isaac likes going to the vet.  Of course, Isaac likes going anywhere.  He loves car rides. 

A trip to the vet is super fun for Isaac.  First he gets a nice car ride there.  Then, on the way from the car to the office, he gets to sniff places where many other dogs have peed and pee on those spots himself.  When we get inside, there is plenty of other stuff to sniff.  The vet sits down on the floor with Isaac and so does the vet tech and they both pet him and talk to him and tell him he's a good boy.  They also give out doggie treats.  Then when we leave, he gets to sniff and pee some more on the way to the car, and then he gets another ride in the car.  What's not to like?

Well, the only part Isaac didn't like was getting blood drawn.  He had that same look on his face that he gets when I cut his toenails or make him get in the bathtub.  He stood perfectly still and let the vet draw the blood.  But he looked like his heart was breaking, he was so sad.  It's that look that says, "Why, oh why, are you being so mean to me when I love you so much?"

So he got his shots and he is very healthy.  He weighs 79.5 lbs, about a pound less than the last time he was at the vet.  He is a big boy.

Starting my Very Part Time Job Today

A few days ago I wrote about taking service dogs on job interviews.  I ended up not taking Isaac to my interview, but I got the job and I start today.  I will be tutoring a teenager that maybe has ADHD and/or some sort of learning disabilities.  I will be doing one hour tutoring sessions twice a week.

Working two hours a week is a very, very part time job.  Which is why I think I can do it.  I have to be there at 3 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which means I don't have to get up early for it and I have a day off to rest and/or get other stuff done in between.  I'll be working sitting down and will not be doing anything physically strenuous.  I should be able to do it.

It has been almost 11 years since I had any kind of a normal job.  I'm not sure tutoring two hours a week counts as a normal job, but it's more of a normal job than freelance writing.  I have to be there at a certain time, I have to interact with other people, I can't decide to just take a nap instead because I'm tired or don't feel well.  I can't do it from my living room couch wearing my pajamas.

I think I'm going to enjoy it.  I don't think it will be too difficult for me.  I know working with teenagers is challenging, but I used to be a social worker and I ran an anger management program for teenagers.  If I could get juvenile delinquents to show up for and participate in anger management groups, I think I can get one teenager to do some homework.  I know how to get reluctant teens to engage.

I'm looking forward to it.  I hope it goes well.  The money will definitely be nice, but even more than that, I'm just looking forward to doing something with some meaning.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Starbucks Employee Embarrassed Man with Service Dog

The headline says "Amputee veteran turned away by Starbucks employees who wouldn't let his service dog in store," but if you read the article, he wasn't turned away at all.

A Starbucks employee told him dogs weren't allowed.  He said his dog was a service dog.  The employee said, "You're not blind," which is a fairly stupid thing to say, but people say it.  I was asked by an employee at Jiffy Lube if I was blind.  Yes, I drove my car up, got out of the car with my service dog, sat there until he was done changing my oil, paid for the oil change and signed the credit card slip, and then, as I was preparing to get back into my car, he asked if I was blind.  I laughed and pointed out that if someone drives to Jiffy Lube, they probably can see OK.

Anyway.  The Starbucks employee then asked what the dog was trained to do.  Employees are allowed to ask that.  The U.S. Department of Justice says so.  It is not a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to ask that.

The man with the service dog answered the question and then the employee asked him why he can't do those things for himself.  That is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The employee should not have asked that.  He was wrong.

However, the disabled man was not required to answer the question in order to enter the store and make his purchase.  He was not turned away, either.  Another employee stepped in, told the first employee to stop asking questions, and told the disabled man he could bring his service dog into the store.  Problem solved.

But the man with the service dog was embarrassed.  Well, I can understand that.  But there is no law prohibiting employees from embarrassing customers, whether or not the customers have service dogs or disabilities.  There is no law preventing employees from being rude, either.  

So the problem was resolved on the spot and the man with the service dog was not denied access.  But he was embarrassed, so he made a big stink and involved the  media.  Starbucks issued an apology but he says he'll never go there again because the employee embarrassed him.  Well, OK.  He certainly doesn't have to go there if he doesn't want to.  But I find it objectionable that he's stirring up the media and they are printing headlines saying he was turned away when he wasn't.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Service Dogs on Job Interviews

I had a job interview of sorts today.

I came across an ad online the other day from a father looking for a tutor for his teenage son.  The son has some learning difficulties and perhaps other issues, such as ADHD and depression, that have not been formally diagnosed.  The dad wants a tutor to help his son get organized and help make sure work is completed on time and to help with study skills and test-taking skills and stuff like that.  I've worked with kids with learning difficulties and ADHD and things like that extensively in the past and I have experience teaching and it sounded like a great fit for me.  And it's for one hour twice a week.  And it will pay me enough to pay Isaac's dog walker, which may not sound like much but his dog walker is one of my largest expenses.

So this morning I was to meet the dad at a coffee shop to discuss the job.

I had to decide whether or not to take Isaac with me.  And, if I wanted to take him with me, I had to decide whether or not to call the dad and tell him I would be bringing my service dog or to ask if it was OK with him of I brought my service dog or if I should just show up with the dog.

The issue of whether or not to bring a service dog to a job interview is an issue of great debate among people with service dogs.

Those who think it's best to bring a service dog to an interview generally think so because:
  • If you wait until after they hire you to tell them you have a disability and require a reasonable accommodation in the form of a service dog, they may feel you tricked them or were deceptive by not telling them before they hired you, even though under the law you aren't required to tell them before they hire you.
  • If you are able to go to the interview without the help of your service dog, they may wonder why you aren't able to go to work without your service dog.
  • And of course, if you have a service dog, it's generally because you need a service dog, so if you don't bring your dog to the interview, you'll have to figure out how to do things that your dog usually does for you in another way.
Those who think it's better to attend an interview without your service dog generally think so because:
  •  If you walk into an interview with a service dog, that's the first thing they'll notice about you.  They may make assumptions about the fact that you have a disability, like assuming you won't be a good employee because of your disability, without taking the time to get to know you first.
  • They may assume you're going to want lots of special accommodations or be a difficult employee in some way.
  • They may not know much about service dogs but may assume, incorrectly, that your dog is going to be disruptive in the work place.
  • While legally they can't refuse to hire you because you have a disability or require an accommodation like a service dog, they may instantly decide they don't want to hire you as soon as they see your service dog, for any or all of the above reasons, and you'll never know for sure or be able to prove it, but you may not get the job because you took your service dog to the interview.
Now, this was a bit different than a "normal" job interview situation for a couple reasons.  First, I don't think the ADA applies to dads that hire tutors for their kids.  The ADA definitely does not apply to private homes, so if I am tutoring a kid in his own home, whether I work for a company to which the ADA does apply or not, the family does not have to allow me to bring a service dog into their home.  Second, I wasn't even planning on asking to bring my service dog to the home to tutor the kid, and I wouldn't have been considering bringing my dog if I had been meeting the dad at his house instead of a coffee shop, so it wasn't like I would have to have "the service dog talk" with him later on if he offered me the job.

So why was I thinking of bringing Isaac to the interview?  Really just because it's easier for me.  Was it possible for me to go without my service dog?  Sure.  And that is what I ended up doing.  But it wasn't an easy decision for me.

And it's not only because it's easier for me to bring him, but also because I don't like the feeling that I have to hide something important about myself in order to get the job. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Find the Hotdogs Game

This morning Isaac and I played a couple rounds of Find the Hotdogs.  It's one of Isaac's favorite games, since it involves hotdogs.  Isaac firmly believes hotdogs are the most wonderful food in the whole entire world.

Cayenne likes them, too, by the way.  She wanted to get in on the Find the Hotdogs game.  Although she wasn't really that interested in finding them.  She just wanted to eat them, really.

Anyway.  The game.

I tell Isaac to sit and to stay.  He does and then he watches with rapt attention while I "hide" small bits of hotdogs around the room.  I usually do five or six hotdog pieces at a time.

Then I tell him, "Find the hotdogs!" and he finds - and eats - the hotdogs.  He usually remembers where he saw me "hide" the last two pieces.  He goes directly to those and gobbles them up.  He knows there are more but doesn't remember exactly where, so he goes around the room, sniffing for them.  If he has trouble finding them all, I give him a hint by pointing him in the right direction.

Isaac likes the game because it involved hotdogs, but I like it for several reasons.  First, he has to practice staying even when he sees enticing hotdogs.  That's good practice for him.  But it also helps with memory, and with nose work, and with learning about he concept of "finding" something.  And it's fun for a cold day when Isaac does not get to go out for a run.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Update on the Pretty Kitty

Yesterday Cayenne was licking her belly a lot.  She usually doesn't lick her tumors much.  They get scabs on them and sometimes ooze a little and I try to keep the hair around them trimmed so it doesn't get stuck in the oozing/scabby stuff.  When I see her licking her belly a lot, I look to see if she's actually messing with the scabs or tumors or if she's just washing the rest of her belly.  If she's licking the tumors, I try to distract her and discourage her from licking them.

Well, yesterday she was licking her belly, and I looked to see what she was licking, and it looked like her whole belly was awash in blood.  I am not particularly squeamish, but it kind of freaked me out.  I said, "Oh my god, Cayenne!" and froze for a second, then jumped up and grabbed some clean rags.  I couldn't even see where the blood was coming from, there was so much. 

Of course, Cayenne did not appreciate my assistance and was not particularly cooperative.  I tried to wipe off as much blood as I could, so I could at least see where it was coming from.  It all appeared to be coming from one of the two tumors.  It appeared she had pulled a scab off, a big scab.  I tried to put pressure on it for a little while, to help stop the bleeding, which Cayenne also did not appreciate.

It didn't seem to be particularly painful for her.  She did like me touching it but she didn't like me looking at it, either, and I know looking with my eyes did not hurt her.  When I let go of her, she trotted over to her food dish and ate a little dry cat food.  Then she lay down on her blankie, on her belly, probably because she figured if she was lying on it, I couldn't mess with it.

It probably wasn't really that much blood, but it looked like a lot.

Last night and today, it's been oozing a little blood, but not like it was yesterday.

She didn't eat much dinner last night and didn't eat much breakfast this morning.  That is unusual for her and it worried me.  I gave her half a jar of stinky turkey baby food this afternoon, while Isaac was out for his run, and she gobbled that up.

Maybe I'll give her an extra dose of her anti-inflammatory this evening.  She was without it for a few days because we ran out and I had to wait until I got paid to go to the vet and get more.  That stuff is $38 for a small bottle.  I feel bad that I ran out for a few days, though.  She didn't seem like she was uncomfortable during that time but maybe it made the tumors bother her more.

My Isaac's Smarter Than Your Isaac

This morning, on our way back in from peeing in the snow, Isaac spotted one of our neighbors, we'll call her N, and her daughter, we'll call her C, sitting in the community room.  Isaac has figured out that neighbors no longer gather on the patio since it's cold out, but instead they hang out in the community room.  Every time we come inside from an outing, he checks to see if anyone is in there.  If there is someone in there, he insists on stopping to say hello.

N loves Isaac.  Everyone loves Isaac, but she absolutely adores him.  At Christmastime, she gave me a card address to "Kelly and the Dog That I Love."   She's the one that told me sometimes she feels scared but she always feels better when Isaac is around.  He climbs right up in her lap and she wants him to, even when his feet are all wet from the snow.  He kisses her face and she loves it.  She's also the one that, several months ago, happened to be walking by the laundry room when Isaac was getting clothes out of the dryer for me and, even though I'd told her that was one of his tasks, was astounded and amazed to see him actually doing it.

C loves Isaac, too.  A week or so ago, I was telling her about some of the things Isaac does for me and I dropped my hat and had him pick it up for me and then I had him turn on the lights in the community room.  She was suitably impressed.

Today, N was sitting on the couch in the community room and C was sitting on a chair next to the couch.  Isaac climbed into N's lap, kissed her, then climbed over the arm of the chair into C's lap and kissed her.  Then he climbed back over onto the couch and lay down between them where they could both pet him.

Now, please understand I am only letting him climb on people, and on the furniture, because both of those people wanted him to climb on them and are perfectly OK with him being on the furniture.  I let Isaac on my furniture, but I wouldn't let him on someone else's without making sure it was OK with them.  The furniture in the community room belongs to the apartment complex, and I don't really know how the owners feel about my dog being on the couch, but if the residents who use that room are OK with it, then I'm OK with it, too.  I don't want to sound like I just let my dog go nuts, though.

So, after pets and kisses and cuddles, Isaac settled down between his two friends (totally ignoring me), and the following conversation ensued.

C: This dog is so smart.

N: He is smart.  He's a real smart dog.

C: Mama, this dog is so smart, he can cut on the lights.

N: He's so smart he takes her clothes out of the dryer for her.  I seen him do it.

C: The other day she dropped her hat on the floor and told him to get it and he picked it right up and gave it to her.

It was the funniest conversation.  It was like they were trying to top each other.

I told them that Isaac's trainer said he was the smartest dog she'd ever trained.  They both looked very satisfied and said, "See, I told you he was smart.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Am So Out Of Spoons

Yesterday, I had a long list of errands to run.

I left my house about 8 am and stopped by the rental office to pay my rent.  I went to the gas station and filled up my car, drove 40 minutes to  Meijer (where I bought vitamins, protein bars, dog treats and an MP3 player, so it's not like I did a ton of shopping), went to the farm supply store to buy dog food, went to Cayenne's vet to pick up anti-inflammatory medication for her (I called ahead so they had it waiting for me so that was a quick stop), went to the post office (where there was no line so I was in and out quickly), went to the pharmacy where I went through the drive up window so I didn't even have to get out of the car (and Isaac hit the jackpot and scored a whole handful of treats from the pharmacy technician), and went to the bank to get quarters for laundry (where I also went through the drive up window so I didn't have to get out of the car, and where Isaac scored another treat).  Then I drove 40 minutes home and hauled all my stuff inside.  The whole thing took me just over three hours.

A normal person would not be completely exhausted by that, right?  I mean, it was a lot of stuff but it only took a few hours and I spent more time sitting in the car then I did actually out doing things.

I came home and sat on the couch.  I tried to set up my MP3 player, or started to, anyway, and decided I was too tired to figure it out.  The dog walker came and took Isaac out for a run (yay!  First run in two weeks.  But I was so worn out I could barely stay awake and Isaac had enough energy to go for an hour-long run).  I ate a protein bar for dinner because I was too exhausted to fix anything.

I fell asleep on the couch about 6:30 pm and slept for four hours.  I got up about 10:30 pm, took Isaac out to pee, had something to drink and went back to sleep.  Isaac woke me up this morning at 5:30 am and I had to drag myself out of bed to take him out.

This is ridiculous.  I should not be this worn out after spending three hours running errands.

I am supposed to be having a friend over for dinner tonight.  Not only does that mean I need to cook dinner, but in order to do that, I have to go to the grocery store.  I also need to do a bit of cleaning up around the house.

I barely had enough energy to stand up in the kitchen long enough to make a protein shake for breakfast.

I'm frustrated by this, but even the frustration, and probably some feelings of guilt as well, feels blunted or dull.  I don't have enough energy to be really frustrated.  Frustration takes energy.

I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too much yesterday.  I felt OK while I was running my errands.  I'm surprised to find myself this exhausted.

I think I have to cancel my dinner plans for this evening. I don't see how I can go grocery shopping when I'm think tired.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

When You Clip a Dog's Toenail Too Short

I've done this to Isaac twice.  Once was the first time I used the nail clippers made especially for dogs, which ironically enough are supposed to prevent you from cutting the nail too short.  The second time was yesterday.

The first time I did it, Isaac let out this yelp like I'd chopped off a toe.  The nail bled like crazy.  I mean, there were big red drops of blood all over the carpet and everything.  I felt terrible and was really scared to cut his nails again.  The reason I did cut them again, and later that very same day (I needed to finish the job because I stopped when I cut the nail too short), was because I didn't want Isaac to become scared of having his nails cut.  I thought finishing the job later the same day would help.  I wanted to do it without acting afraid at all (which was not easy for me because I was afraid) and I wanted him to see that he could get his nails cut without it hurting him.

Yesterday when it happened, I still felt bad, but I'm not scared of cutting his nails again.  I didn't panic as much this time.  I knew what to do. 

So here's a handy little trick.  I keep a glass jar (used to hold salsa) with cornstarch in it.  To stop the bleeding, just stick the dog's toes into the cornstarch.  In less than a minute, the bleeding was stopped.  I can't remember who told me that trick.  It might have been Isaac's trainer.  I'm not sure why or how it works, but it does.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Isaac and I Went for a Walk Today

It's still cold out but it's warm enough that some of the snow and ice is beginning to melt.  So Isaac and I went for a walk.  I am continuing to use the prong collar with him and he seldom pulls on the leash anymore.  Once in a while he does pull, when there is something he really really wants to sniff.  That suggests to me that the collar isn't causing too much discomfort even when he does pull, which I am glad about because I don't want it to be too uncomfortable for him.

One of my neighbors commented on the fact that he isn't lunging at and jumping on people so much anymore.  That sounds really bad, like he was completely out of control and like I was letting him jump on people all the time, and that's really not the case.  But his enthusiasm for greeting people was getting out of hand.  He is doing much better and I'm glad my neighbor noticed.

I've also continued to work on the commands "paws up" and "off" with him, so I can give him permission to put his feet up people that don't mind or even like him to do that and I can also tell him to get off people that don't like it.  The other day we came in from a walk and his feet were all wet and cold from the snow and one of my neighbors that Isaac really likes (and she really likes him, too) was sitting in the lobby of our building.  She likes him to put his feet on her but I told him not to because his feet were wet but she said she didn't mind, to let him do it.  So I did.

Anyway, back to the prong collar.  Today on our walk, Isaac spotted a squirrel running across a snowy lawn.  He was excited to see it.  He stopped in his tracks, he was very alert and tense, and his tail was wagging like crazy.  But he didn't attempt to take off after the squirrel.  I wish I would have had some yummy treats with me to give him for that, but I didn't.  He got a lot of praise, though, and an ear rub.

I am very pleased with his behavior when using the prong collar, but even more pleased that I can walk him now without worrying about hurting my back.  When he would pull in the past, or try to take off after a squirrel or something and I would try to prevent him from taking off, it really aggravated my back pain.  It often triggered painful muscle spasms.  There were times it made me cry.  I know Isaac didn't mean to hurt me, but it was a real problem.  I'm so glad we can now take long walks together again.  I know Isaac loves walks and I need the exercise, too.