Sunday, August 31, 2014

At the Nature Center

Yesterday Isaac and I went for a long walk at a nearby nature center.

OK, Isaac ran more than he walked.  I love that I am able to let him off leash at certain parks now.  He does not have perfect recall and I wish it was better and I do plan to keep working on it.  But he doesn't go far from me.  He runs ahead a little, then comes running back to check in with me, then runs ahead a bit more.  He also likes to go off the trail and kind of circle around and come up behind me. 

Mike often goes for walks with us and Isaac displays what I think is kind of herding behavior, which is really funny to me.  He goes a little ahead of us, then comes back and checks in with both of us, and nudges Mike if he is dropping behind. 

I put him back on the leash if other people are around, because Isaac has not yet figured out that not everyone wants a big doggie running up to them at full speed, trying to kiss them.  Luckily most people like Isaac but it's still not good manners.

Isaac also got to go for a swim in the pond, which was full of lily pads.

He really loves to swim!

I hate that winter will be here soon.  We are trying to spend as much time as we can outdoors while the weather is still nice.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guess What I Did Last Night?

Oh, OK, I'll just tell you.  You'd never guess.

I went to the emergency room.  Well, all most.  My local hospital has an urgent care center that is attached to the ER and when I went in they asked me if I wanted to be seen in the ER or in the urgent care and I ended up choosing urgent care.  But that was awfully close to going to the ER.

See, yesterday afternoon I accidentally sliced open my thumb on the blade of my food processor when I was putting it away.  To me, it looked borderline - like maybe it needed stitches, maybe not.  Like it could go either way.  I put a bandage on it and didn't worry.  That was about 4:00 pm.

About 8:00 pm, I removed the bandage.  As soon as I did, the cut started bleeding again.  It was still gaping open.  I figured that meant it needed stitches after all.

And stitches meant going to the ER.

I thought about it for a little bit.  I could think of many, many reasons not to go.  All the same reasons I didn't go when I accidentally cut my finger while chopping onions last summer.  But I could think of many reasons to go, as well.  Beyond the obvious medical reasons, I thought that if I was able to go and if I had a positive experience, that would be a really good thing for me.  And I'd been to my local hospital for lab work and I felt good about those experiences.  Staff always seemed nice and respectful and stuff.  So I decided not to think too much about all the reasons not to go and all the ways it could go wrong, but just to go.  And I went.

And it turned OK.  More than OK, really.  It was, in fact, a good experience.

They asked if I wanted to be seen in the ER or the urgent care and I said urgent care would be fine as long as they could do stitches there.  Turned out the nurse practitioner didn't think I needed stitches, though, she thought steri-strips would be sufficient.  Which means I didn't really need to go in after all.  But since I was there, the NP wanted to clean and dress my thumb.  Why is it that when you have a little wound on one digit, you end up with a bandage that looks like your hand was almost amputated?

The NP was really nice.  She asked me questions about service dogs while she took care of my thumb.  Good questions, like if programs that train service dogs trained recipients with the dogs before placing the dogs.  Which they do.  She didn't ask me anything about the scars on my arms.  She was respectful and friendly and treated me like I was an intelligent adult, completely unlike the doctor in the ER two years ago.  The RN was friendly and polite, too.

Isaac slept through most of the visit.  He said it was past his bedtime.  He drooled a little puddle on the floor.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Few Pics from Cayenne's Last Day

She spent some time sitting in the window, which she always enjoyed.
She ate lots of Pounce cat treats.
In the car on the way to the vet's office, she choose to spend part of the ride resting in the backseat with Isaac.  This was most unlike her and surprised me a lot.  I thought it was very sweet, though, and I am so glad I got pics of it.  The rest of the trip, she rode in my arms.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rest Well, Sweetheart

In Loving Memory of Cayenne

1999 ~ 2014

from love 
into love
carrying only love

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Prayers for Cayenne

As the spiral turns and turns,
Wind will blow and fire will burn.
Water flows upon the earth
As we dance from death to birth.

We have taken,
We give back,
Release all and nothing lack.

We all come from the Goddess
And to her we shall return
Like a drop of rain
Flowing to the ocean.

May the circle be open but unbroken,
May the love of the Goddess be ever in your heart.
Merry meet and merry part
And merry meet again.
Blessed be, blessed be, blessed be.

Mr. Cucumber?

I was getting a cucumber out of a grocery bag and Isaac looked interested in it. I held it out for him to sniff. I figured he'd realize he does not like veggies and ignore it. Instead, he took it out of my hand. I let him because I was curious about what he was going to do with it. He killed it. Ate some of it and shredded up the rest. What a weird dog.  Maybe he thought it was Mr. Pickle?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Response to Stress

As you might imagine, this is a pretty stressful time for me.  My symptoms of PTSD and DID always get worse, a lot worse sometimes, during times of increased stress.  Lucky for me, much of the time my life is fairly low in stress.  That's one of the reasons I'm not able to work at a regular job or to work more hours even at my super easy work-at-home job.  That increases my stress level and my symptoms get worse and then my symptoms are too severe to work at all.

So this is a stressful time.  I'm not sleeping well.  And I'm... it's kind of hard to describe.  Forgetful, disorganized, disoriented, almost confused at times.

This evening, I am trying to bake some lemon zucchini bread.  A friend sent me the recipe and it sounded really yummy.  I hope it turns out OK but I'm not sure it will.  I have had all sorts of trouble just trying to mix up the batter.

First, I started measuring the baking powder with a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon.  Luckily I caught my mistake, but since there was no way to remove the excess baking powder from the flour and salt already in the mixing bowl, I had to toss that out and start again.

Then I was unable to find the brand new bag of Splenda I am positive was in my kitchen cupboard.  I remember buying it a while back because it was on sale and then I got home and realized I had more on hand than I thought I did but figured oh well, it would keep.  So I should have had a partial bag and a full, unopened bag.  Well, the full, unopened bag has somehow disappeared.  I don't know how.  I searched all my kitchen cupboards in case I somehow put it in a different cupboard, not with my other baking supplies, but it is no where to be found.  And I am sure I did not somehow use up a whole bag of the stuff without remembering doing so.  Luckily I had just barely enough in the other, already opened bag.

I did find a coffee cup in the cupboard with my baking supplies that I have no recollection of ever seeing before.  I don't know how it got there.  Or when it got there.  I mean, unless some fairy or elf sneaked into my kitchen, stole my Splenda and left a coffee cup in its place, I must have put it there.  But I don't recall buying it or ever seeing it before.  How weird and disconcerting is that?  That's actually something that some people with DID experience on a frequent basis, but I don't.  Never have.  Weirds me out.

I was supposed to add the Splenda to the eggs in a separate bowl but somehow ended up adding it to the other dry ingredients instead.  Oops.

I squeezed the juice from two fresh lemons and adding the correct amount of lemon juice to the batter.  I was supposed to save the rest of the lemon juice to use to make a glaze for the top of the bread.  But I poured it down the sink instead.  Hopefully I can wring a little more juice out of those cut lemons.  Luckily I hadn't thrown them out yet.

So I got the batter all mixed up and it seemed too thick to me.  I read through the recipe a couple of times, trying to see if maybe I forgot to add something liquid to it, but I think I got it right.  Of course, I could have ended up putting too much flour or something in it.  Who knows?  I added a little bit more milk so it would be what I thought would be the right consistency.  I've never made zucchini bread before but I've made banana bread and applesauce bread and quick breads like that, so I figured the batter for the zucchini bread should probably be similar in consistency.

I guess we'll see how it turns out.  I'm trying not to stress about it.  I don't like it when my symptoms are bad like this.  That in turn can stress me out more.  So I'm trying not to worry about it.

He's Breaking the Rules

I met Mike at Panera for lunch today. Isaac loves Mike and he hadn't seen him in a while so he was very excited to see him. Whenever we meet at a restaurant or something, I let them greet each other before we go in so that Isaac is being calm and service dog-like in the restaurant.

While they were saying hello, a man walking across the parking lot asked "What does that thing on your dog say?"

So I read it to him: "Service dog, please don't pet me, I'm working."

He looked over at Mike and Isaac nuzzling each other and announced "He's breaking the rules!"

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pics of Cayenne

Wanna Help Homeless Kitties Get Treats and Toys?

From now until the end of August, use the coupon code 4CAYENNE at my Etsy store and save 20% on anything you buy.  I'll use the money I earn to buy treats and toys to take to kitties at the local animal shelter in honor of Cayenne.

If you aren't interested in purchasing anything but still want to help, you can donate through Paypal at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com.  Cayenne's favorite cat treats, Pounces, are just $1.59 a jar, so you don't have to donate or spend much to help.

If There Was a Way

If there was a way to give you one more day,
I'd hold you in my arms here forever.
Is it wrong for me to feel this way?
Is it selfish to want you to stay?
I know sometimes love means letting go
but I'm bleeding deep in my soul.
I can't stand to see you suffer,
I'd rather watch you die
so I'll stand here in my tears
and find a way to say good-bye.

Happy Doggie at the Lake

Some pics from our most recent trip to the lake.

Barking at an egret (or maybe it was a heron?).  Whatever it was, it was not intimidated by a very noisy doggie.

Digging for treasure (dead fish) on the beach.

Where Do Service Dogs Poop?

People often find this blog by searching for things like "do you have to pick up a service dog's poop?"  And it's a fairly common question I get.

And the answer is yes, you do have to pick up your service dog's poop.  In some cities there are local laws saying don't, at least not if you are unable to due to your disability, but in most places, there are no laws letting you off the hook.  Most places have laws saying dog owners must pick up after their dogs and those laws apply to owners of service dogs as well as pets.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, by the way, doesn't say anything about picking up a service dog's poop.  It does require reasonable accommodations, so if, for instance, my disability made it simply impossible for me to pick up Isaac's poop, my landlord would need to make a reasonable accommodation for me.  For instance, maybe I could always toilet Isaac in one area, away from my apartment building, and have my dog walker pick up the poop in that area on the days he takes Isaac for a run.  I'd still be responsible for making sure the poop got picked up, but my landlord would need to make some sort of reasonable accommodation in order for that to get done.  It would not be reasonable, though, to just let my dog poop all over the lawn and leave it there.

Recently I was asked where service dogs poop.  Well, they poop outside, like all housebroken dogs. 

My landlord doesn't care where Isaac poops as long as I pick it up, but a landlord can ask you to toilet your service dog in certain areas or to avoid certain areas.  For instance, if an apartment complex has a playground for kids, the landlord might ask you not to allow your dog to poop in the playground area. 

Your employer can ask you to toilet your service dog in certain areas, too, or to avoid certain areas.  For instance, they might not want customers to see your dog pooping right in front of a restaurant or doctor's office.  They might ask you to toilet your dog behind the business, instead.

Otherwise, when out in public, I try to toilet Isaac in out-of-the-way areas, whether he's pooping or peeing.  For instance, I usually give him the chance to go potty before we go into a store or restaurant.  I usually take him to a grassy area at the side or back end of the parking lot to do that.  I generally prefer he doesn't pee or poop right in front of a business.  Even though I pick up his poop, not everyone wants to see a dog pooping. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Breakfast in Bed

As you might imagine, Cayenne is going to be a very pampered kitty for the next five days.  I know, you are probably thinking, she already is.  But you haven't seen anything yet.

Breakfast this morning was grilled chicken breast, freshly pureed with chicken stock, served in her bed (which is my couch).

Tuesday, August 26, 2:45 pm

That is the day and the time that Cayenne will leave this earth.

How strange is that, to know the exact day and time one will die?

The decision was made yesterday, after much soul-searching and a long talk with the vet.  I don't think she is in much pain, I don't think she is really suffering yet, but her condition is definitely deteriorating. 

She had surgery to remove two large masses on her belly at the beginning of May and now, less than four months later, she has multiple small masses and one the size of a large grape.  Two days ago, I noticed the skin was starting to break down again.  She has a few small sores and they look and smell infected.  I think the infection and skin ulcers are unlikely to clear up and heal, since they didn't in May.  That's why we had to do the surgery.

She has lost weight, I'm not sure how much, but she has little appetite these days.  The only things I can get her to eat now are Pounce brand cat treats and chicken or turkey baby food.  She hasn't eaten dry cat food in a while.  She recently began refusing wet cat food.  She will not even eat minced hot dog, minced chicken breast or shredded cheese.  I would think she was having dental problems or maybe a sore throat since she is happy to eat baby food, except she is also happy to eat Pounce treats and she has to chew those and she requests them often.  She does seem to enjoy the baby food but only eats a small amount at a time.  A few days ago, she surprised me by eating a total of seven tablespoons of baby food in a whole day.  That surprised me because for the two or three days preceding that one, she's only eaten about two tablespoons per day.

Remember, Cayenne has always loved food.  All sorts of food.  To see her refused minced hot dog is mind-boggling.  And heart-breaking.

Over the last week, she has peed on my couch multiple times.  She has only gotten off the couch to pee twice in a week.  Now, peeing on the couch is not real unusual for Cayenne.  That's why my couch is covered with cheap shower curtains and old towels.  But peeing on it daily is a bit unusual.  I think she doesn't feel well enough to bother getting off the couch to pee.

When she walks, not all the time but often, she seems kind of wobbly.  That just started in the last week.  It's almost like her back legs aren't quite working right.

She doesn't seem to be in pain.  She spends most of her time sleeping, but she's slept a lot for the last few years.  She is an elderly house cat.  That's what they do.  She does move from place to place, sometimes sleeping on the arm of the couch, sometimes on her pillow on the couch, occasionally sitting and dozing in the window, especially when I open it for her.  She seems to enjoy being petting and brushed, as long as I brush very gently.

But I think her quality of life has reached the point where it's time.  I don't want to wait until she is in horrible pain and suffering a lot.

I'm deeply sad but I also feel a sense of peace and maybe even relief.  I think it's the right decision.  Since I can't cure her illness, since I can't make her live, the best I can do for her is to give her a peaceful death.  And I'm going to do that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Was a New One

Today at Kroger, a little boy, about six or seven, with no parent in sight, came up to me and asked if he could take my dog for a walk. 

Every time I think I've heard it all, and prepared responses to it all, I hear something new.  I just said, "Um.... no."

He said, "OK," and walked away.

Do Service Dogs Bite?

A number of people find my blog by searching for something like "do service dogs bite" or "when service dogs bite" or "what if a service dog bites."

Well, a service dog is still a dog, and I imagine any dog will bite if sufficiently provoked.

The thing about a service dog, though, a properly selected and trained service dog, is that he would require a lot of provocation before he would bite.

Service dogs should have a certain kind of temperament.  When a professional service dog trainer or an animal behaviorist evaluates a dog to see if he might make a good service dog, they do things like touch the dog all over to see if the dog tolerates it.  Of course, there is a lot more to an assessment than just that.  That's why, even if someone plans to train their own service dog, it's a very good idea to have a professional at least help in the selection process.  When I was having trouble finding a service dog program and thinking of training my own service dog (with lots and lots of help from a professional trainer), the trainer I was talking to was going to help me choose the dog.

But anyway.  A dog that is quick to be startled or upset or that is really sensitive to being touched in certain ways or certain places probably wouldn't make a good service dog.  A service dog should have a pretty easy-going temperament and not be quick to growl or snap or bite, even if he really doesn't like something.

Like Isaac.  I think, for Isaac to be provoked into biting someone, you would have to restrain him so that he couldn't get away from you and then do something that didn't just bug him but that was pretty painful or otherwise unpleasant. 

If Isaac doesn't like something, his first reaction is typically to try to move away from it.  He doesn't necessarily try to even get away from the person doing it, just to move that part of his body out of reach.  For instance, he doesn't really like his feet handled a lot.  He is happy to shake hands, but if you want to touch his toes a lot, he will try to pull his paw away.  He doesn't try to walk away, he still wants attention and wants you to pet him and play with him and stuff, he just prefers you stop touching his toes.  Or, he doesn't like his talk messed with very much, either.  You can pet it a little but if you try to play with it a lot, he will turn his body so his head is closer to you and his tail is further away.  Then he will probably try to kiss you.  Because he's not mad at you for touching his tail, he'd just rather you scratch behind his ears.

As long as you're not really hurting him, though, he will tolerate you doing something he doesn't like.  He allows me to hold his foot and cut his toenails, even though he'd rather I didn't.  He will attempt to pull his foot away sometimes but I just tell him to stay and he sits there and holds still.  He just gives me the sad puppy eyes about it.

But he's been trained to cooperate.  So in addition to having the right sort of temperament, he has training that makes him unlikely to bite.

There is a man at the nursing home we visit that likes to pet Isaac.  He doesn't pet very gently, though.  Now, Isaac is not real picky about how he gets petted.  Cayenne sure is!  Probably most cats are pickier than most dogs, but she is really picky.  If you don't do it right, she just won't let you pet her at all.  But Isaac doesn't much care.  He has favorite places and ways to be petted, but he is happy with almost any sort of petting.  But this particular man has trouble stroking.  He doesn't pat, either.  He kind of scrunches his fingers together and sometimes he sort of pinches.  I don't think he means to and I don't think he understands what he's doing, but Isaac doesn't much like it.  He will tolerate it for a minute or so, but when it gets too pinchy, he backs away.

How long would Isaac tolerate it if I didn't allow him to back away?  I don't know.

And that's the other thing about service dogs and making sure they don't bite.  The owner has to pay attention.  When Isaac backs away, especially if he does it more than once, he is saying, "Hey, I don't like this."  He would probably stand still for it if I told him to, at least for a while.  But if I didn't listen when he told me he really doesn't like something, he might start telling me in a louder, more insistent way.  He might growl, for instance.  Or snap at the man.  And if that didn't work, he might feel he had no other choice but to bite.  That would be his last resort, though, and I would consider that my fault.

You Know That "Dentist Office" Smell?

Yesterday I went to the dentist.  My regular dentist.  To see if he agreed with the periodontist that I do not have advanced periodontal disease or with the oral surgeon that I do have advanced periodontal disease and need to have two teeth removed.

Nice man, he said I do not have periodontal disease and he would not remove any teeth.  He said oral surgeons just like to pull teeth because that's what they do.  So I called the oral surgeon and left a message with his receptionist, explaining that I would not be scheduling any tooth extractions and why.  I really hope she passed it on to the surgeon.

I love my dentist.  He did not even charge me for the appointment.

Isaac was really good.  He was lying on his side, snoozing away during the whole appointment.

You know that dentist office smell?  Well, as the dentist was examining my mouth and Isaac was snoozing away, suddenly, that dentist office smell was replaced with a most foul and offensive odor.  Isaac had farted.

The nice dentist pretended not to notice. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Do All Kids with Disabilities Need Service Dogs?

Well, no.  Of course not.

But it seems like every day I read more news stories about families raising money for service dogs for their kids, asking the public for donations.

Like this story.  A family wants to raise money for a service dog for a three-year-old boy with multiple disabilities, including a muscular disorder, a feeding disorder and a seizure disorder. 

The boy is nonverbal and hits himself when he gets upset.  Um, what is going to keep him from hitting a dog when he is upset?  Most service dog organizations won't place a service dog with someone that regularly harms himself, especially not someone that is nonverbal and hasn't learned other coping skills.  But the particular organization this family plans to get a dog from apparently will place a dog with anyone that comes up with the money.  I guess it's just too bad for the dog if he gets hurt.

The boy has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder but hasn't had a seizure in a year.  So does he really need a seizure response dog?  The family says they want a dog that can alert a family member when (or if) he has another seizure.  But this child has a home health nurse with him for 20 hours a day, five days a week.  So why can't the nurse alert a family member if he has a seizure?

They also want to tether him to the dog so he doesn't wander off and get lost.  Well, tethering kids to dogs is very dangerous, as I've discussed before.  But also.  He is three!  He should not be without adult supervision, at all.  Even a non-disabled three-year-old should not be without adult supervision.  So why would you need to tether him to anything?  Can't an adult (like the nurses that are with him 100 hours a week, for instance?) keen an eye on him?  Can't an adult hold his hand?  Or, if the family really wants to tether him to something, how about a responsible adult?  Which would be much, much safer than tethering him to a dog.

I know firsthand how helpful service dogs can be.  But they aren't helpful or necessary for everyone with a disability, especially small children.

My Relationship with Isaac

It is coming up on two years since Isaac came to live with me.  I've been thinking about our relationship and how it's changed and developed over that time.  I used to hear people with service dogs talk about how their dogs were like a part of them and I thought I understood that but at the same time, I did not feel that way about Isaac.  I loved Isaac.  Well, maybe I didn't love him when I first got him, but I liked him a lot from the beginning, and I soon grew to love him.  But he didn't feel like a part of me.

It's interesting to me, the relationships we have with our animal companions. 

I once had a cat named Eileen, who died eight years ago, that I considered my soul mate.  I told people she was my best friend, and she really was, but I feel like she was even more than that.  I'm sure it sounds weird to many people to say she was my soul mate, but that's really the best term I can find to describe out relationship.

Cayenne is like a family member that I love a lot.  She's not my best friend.  She is not my soul mate.  But I love her.  People often refer to their pets as their babies and maybe she was like my baby when she was younger.  But now she is elderly.  And she seems elderly.  So it doesn't make sense to call her my baby.  She doesn't seem like my baby.  She doesn't seem like a child.  Maybe she seems more like a grandmother.  She feels like family, though.

Isaac, I would say now, is like my partner.  People with service dogs often use that term.  They say things like, "I am partnered with a yellow lab named Isaac." 

They also often refer to themselves and their service dogs as teams, saying things like, "I met another service dog team today."  It is not inaccurate to say Isaac and I are a team, but that brings to mind something like a sports team and that's not what our relationship is like, not at all.

It's more a partnership, I think.  Almost like a marriage.  I love Isaac deeply, I feel responsible for caring for him, and I feel like I can trust him to take care of me.  It's an intense relationship and probably somewhat codependent, but then, it's designed to be that way, isn't it?

Isaac and I communicate like a couple that's been together for a long time, I think.  Longer than two years, really.  But I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we are together all the time.  Most couples don't spend nearly the amount of time together that Isaac and I do.  Also, dogs are really sensitive to body language and I've tried to be very sensitive to Isaac's body language, since he can't communicate verbally.  But we can often communicate with just a look.  I have a look I give him that means "sit" and he knows that look.  He has a look he gives me that means he needs to go out to pee and I know that look.

And we can often anticipate each other's moves and needs and desires.  He knows when I need him to pick up something for me.  I know when he is thinking of chasing a rabbit.  I love how well I know him and I love how well he knows me.

I should add that it took a long time to get to this point.  The first year of our relationship was rather rough.  I'm told that's common in service dog partnerships.  I mean, we liked each other the first year, but we didn't fit together instantly and seamlessly.  It took time and work to get to that point.

I'm not sure it's accurate to say he feels like a part of me.  But I'd say it's close to that.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Update on the State of My Mouth

I saw the oral surgeon today, who told me I have "advanced periodontal disease" and two teeth need to come out.  He said there is no saving them.

I asked how come the periodontist I just saw two days ago wasn't able to diagnose advanced periodontal disease and he said "I don't know.  That's a good question."

He advises removing the two teeth ASAP and strongly recommends doing it under general anesthesia because of the degree of infection and inflammation.  He said if I really wanted, he would do it under a local with me awake, but he suspects it will be very painful because the infected, inflamed tissue won't numb properly.  Well, I'd rather be out anyway, except it costs more and I have to have someone to drive me.  They want me to have someone stay with me for 12 hours after the procedure, but there is simply no way that will happen.  I might - might - be able to get someone to drive me rather than take a cab but they would probably just drop me off at home.  Maybe come in with me for a few minutes but not for 12 hours.  But OK, I just wouldn't tell the surgeon that.

After removing the two teeth, I can get a bridge or dental implants.  Except I can't, because I cannot afford it.  There is no way I can possibly afford it.  Maybe in a year or two, but not now.  So I would have a big gap in my teeth in the front of my mouth.  Which normally would bother me but I don't even care that much right now because I just want my mouth to stop hurting and want to be able to eat again.

But I was really confused because not only did the periodontist that I saw two days ago not diagnose advanced periodontal disease, but neither did my regular dentist that I saw maybe six weeks ago.  And when I had my teeth cleaned 11 months ago (Medicaid only pays for it once a year, not every six months), my dentist said my gums were "in great shape."  How can you develop such advanced periodontal disease in less than one year?

So after I left the oral surgeon, I called the periodontist to tell him what the surgeon said.  He said he absolutely disagrees, that he saw absolutely no sign of periodontal disease (advanced or otherwise) in my mouth.  He does not know what is causing the inflammation and pain and stuff, but feels certain it is not periodontal disease.  He does not think the two teeth need to come out.

Well, so far I have seen three physicians and spent $1,146 out of my pocket, and I am still in pain, still cannot eat any solid food, and still don't even know what is wrong with me.

I called my regular dentist to ask what he thought and am waiting for him to call me back.

The oral surgeon also thought the infection was really bad and he prescribed two different antibiotics for that.  So I will start taking those today (it's a total of eight pills a day, ugh) and try to figure out what to do.  I am so frustrated!

Day at the Lake

Isaac and I went to Lake Erie today.  I woke up feeling tired and just not-good, but eventually dragged myself out of bed and decided to go to the lake.  As always, as soon as we got there, I was glad I went.  I need more time in nature.  I love the lake.  I love the feel of the warm sand under my feet.  I love the sound of the waves lapping at the shore.  And I love the pure joy I see in Isaac as he runs across the sand and plays in the water.

For some reason I've having trouble posting some of the photos I took with my phone today, but I am able to post this one.  This is Isaac, rolling in a dead fish he dug up on the beach.  Yeah, I know it's gross.  But he was already doing it before I could stop him.  And he was having so much fun.  He was so happy to be rolling in the stink.

He'd already been in the water so sand was sticking to him all over.  Look how dirty he is!  But look how happy, too.

He stunk.  I had to leave the windows down the whole way home.  He got a bath as soon as we got in the door.

But he was such a happy, happy dog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Feel Like My Body Just Doesn't Work Like It's Supposed To

Of course, fibromyalgia is pretty much a body not working like it's supposed to.

But it's more than that.  Today I saw the periodontist again, follow up from my surgery and biopsy two weeks ago.

I am still having a lot of pain and there is still a lot of swelling and inflammation.  I knew things weren't right.

The periodontist confirmed that.  That was good, at least.  Too many times I've been told doctors couldn't find anything wrong, like with my back.  I hate being told something shouldn't hurt as much as it does and stuff like that.  I asked the periodontist if he could see the swelling in my mouth and he said, "Of course I can see that!"  He confirmed that something is definitely wrong, that there is much more swelling than there should be at this point, and that things are not healing like they should.

He just doesn't know why.

So now I have to go see an oral surgeon.  The periodontist said he thinks the surgeon will probably want to do a CT scan and then maybe another biopsy of a different area of my mouth.

I am not happy.  Not happy at all.

I see the surgeon on Friday.

I have no idea how I'm going to pay for all this.  My insurance might cover the CT scan, but won't cover the oral surgeon. 

And I am tired of my mouth hurting and tired of living on protein shakes, yogurt, pudding and applesauce.

And even though I know it's not my fault, I feel kind of like it is.  Like I'm doing something wrong.  Like it's my fault my body isn't working like it's supposed to.

Staring Contest

I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm gonna talk about it again.  I get really tired sometimes of people staring at me and my service dog.  It's rude and it makes me uncomfortable.

Not long ago, I was at the grocery store.  I noticed this woman who had stopped in the middle of the aisle to stare at me.  I got my milk out of the cooler, put it in my cart, and saw that she was still standing there, staring.

Now, I've decided that I am going to say something to people that do that.  I am going to say something like, "Excuse me.  I just wanted to let you know, it makes me really uncomfortable when people stare at me like that.  I thought maybe you didn't realize that and wanted you to know."  But so far, I haven't actually said that.  I tend to chicken out.

For some reason, this woman was really irritating me, though.  Instead of saying something to her, I stood there and stared back.  Just stared.  For kind of a long time.

Eventually she turned away.

I won the staring contest.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Again with the "Suicide is Selfish"

It shouldn't surprise me that after the death of Robin Williams by suicide, people are making the same old ignorant comments about "suicide is selfish" and "cowardly."  And maybe I'm not so much surprised.  But I'm angry.  And I'm hurt.

He died of depression.  It's sad.  It's tragic.  But it's not selfish.  It's no more selfish than if he'd died of a heart attack or cancer or a stroke.  And it's no more cowardly.

Mental illness is an illness.  It's not a choice, it's not a character flaw, it's not a moral failing, it's not a weakness, it's not an act of cowardice or selfishness.  It's an illness.  Why is it so hard for people to get that?  Why do people refuse to acknowledge and accept that?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Great Day at the Nursing Home

Today was our regular day volunteering at the nursing home and it was a great day.

Other than when I stepped in a puddle of urine with my sandaled foot.  Because ick.

But other than that, it was a great day.

We visited a resident I will call Edith, whom we've visited a couple times before.  The first time, she petted Isaac for a long time and cried and cried while she petted him.  She didn't talk, but babbled a lot, no words I could make out.  She didn't respond to me at all, just to Isaac.  The second time, she didn't cry, but still didn't talk, didn't respond to me at all, just petted Isaac for a long time and babbled some.  She looked sad.

Today, she looked happy to see Isaac.  This is the first time I've seen her look happy.  She petted him and stroked his face really gently and lovingly.  She was babbling, no words I could make out, but then she started to croon to Isaac.  It was like you would sing to a baby.  Still no words I could understand, but definitely singing.  It was beautiful.  I said to her, "I think you really love dogs," and then she looked at me as if she was surprised and said, clear as day, "Yes!"  I was delighted. 

I fished a treat out of my pocket for her to give to Isaac and helped her open her hand flat and placed the treat on her open palm.  Isaac gobbled it up, leaving her hand slick with doggie slobber.  And she laughed.  Loudly.  She looked so delighted.  She looked at her slobbery hand, looked at me, looked at Isaac, and laughed again.  I wiped some of the dog spit off her hand with my own hand, laughing too.

Then, with her other hand, she pointed at her palm.  She was clearly asking for another treat to give Isaac.  I understand her perfectly.  I got out another treat.

One of the housekeepers was walking by and heard her laughing and came to see what was going on.  I told her how Edith had been singing to Isaac and how she'd said yes, she loves dogs, and how she's asked for another treat to give him.  Then I handed her one more treat, just so the housekeeper could see.  It was such a lovely thing to see.

I wanted to stay there all day, engaging Edith.  It was so beautiful, so incredible, that she was responding like that.  That is why I want to do therapy dog work with Isaac.

It was a good day in other ways, as well.  We visited Dorothy, the woman Isaac kissed on the nose the first day we met her.  He did not kiss her today but she told the residents sitting near her, "Sometimes he gives kisses right here," and pointed to her nose.  I love it that she still remembers how he kissed her and that she loved it so much.

There were two residents in the dementia unit that remembered Isaac's name.  That surprised me.  And pleased me.  It was a really nice day.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Separate Entrances

Have you heard about the luxury condo development going up in New York that will have a separate entrance for lower income residents?  In order to get big tax breaks, the developers decided to include some units for lower income residents.  But those residents will have to use a separate entrance, not the front door.  They also will not be allowed to use the pool or the gym.

A lot of people are outraged by this.  Or at least bothered by it.  Which I understand.  I don't like it, either.

But you know, lots of businesses have separate entrances for customers with disabilities.  At least, for those that use wheelchairs or can't climb stairs.

Or did you know that?  The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses to have accessible entrances (although there are many exceptions or exemptions), but the law does not require any businesses to make their main entrances accessible.  In many instances, the wheelchair accessible entrance is a back or side entrance, maybe back by the dumpster.

The other day I was at my local post office and for the first time, as I climbed the many steps to the front door, it occurred to me that no one using a wheelchair or walker would be able to get up those steps.  So I looked around to find out how they would get in.  They would have to go around to the back of the building and go in the entrance usually used for deliveries.

Now, if a restaurant or other business put a sign on the front door that said "African Americans must use rear entrance," people would be upset.  If they put a sign on the front door that said "Jewish people must use rear entrance," people would think that was wrong.  People don't think poor people should be required to use the back entrance, either.

But I hardly ever hear people complain about people with disabilities being required to use the back entrance.

And here's the thing.  It would be a violation of the ADA to post a sign at the front door saying "People with disabilities must use rear entrance."  But it is perfectly legal, and apparently acceptable to most people, to create a front door that makes it impossible for people with certain disabilities to enter.  It's illegal to have a policy requiring people with disabilities to use the rear entrance but perfectly legal to build a building that requires them to do so.

How does that make sense?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The welfare people have decided I have to provide a prescription for my service dog, otherwise they will no longer count service-dog related expenses as medical expenses. Why they've decided this after 14 months of counting those expenses with no script, I don't know. Neither do they; I asked. But this is what they wanted, so this is what I got. 

It cracks me up. I wonder if I should have asked my doctor to put a couple refills on it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Eyes Are Fine, Thank You

Today I had a doctor's appointment and while I was sitting in the waiting room, this other patient asked me "Do you have trouble with your eyes?"

I couldn't figure out why on earth she would ask that and I said "No, do you?"

She said "I thought maybe you had trouble with your eyes and that was why you had the dog." Duh.

Not sure why I didn't catch that in the first place. But I was just baffled by her question.

Are You Talking to Me?

Next time this happens, I think I'm just going to ask: Are you talking to me?  Or are you talking to my dog?

It's happened a few times.  The first time went something like this.

Isaac and I were walking through Kroger.  I saw an employee heading in our direction.  She nodded at other customers in greeting as she passed them.

As she approached me and my service dog, though, she broke into a huge smile and said, in a loud, high-pitched voice, "Hello!  And how are you today?"

I wasn't sure if she was talking to me or to Isaac.  She seemed to be looking at us both.  It's not uncommon for people to greet Isaac and not me or to otherwise speak to him and not me.  I don't mind that, usually.  Sometimes I just ignore them, other times I answer for Isaac.  If they say, "How are you today?" to Isaac, I might say, "He's fine" or "He says he's great."  It just depends on my mood, I guess, and what I'm doing at the time.

But this time I couldn't tell.  She was using the tone of voice people often use when talking to dogs.  If she was talking to me that way, it must be because she thought I was intellectually disabled since I had a service dog.

I was not prepared for this situation.  I wasn't sure what to do.

I ended up responding, just as loud, in the same tone of voice, "I'm fine, how are you?"

Which I think was a perfectly suitable response.

But I really am curious about whether she was actually talking to me or to my dog.  So next time, I think I'm just gonna ask.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Listening with Doggie Ears

Today was our regular day volunteering at the nursing home.

And here's a picture of Isaac dressed for work in his new bandana.  Cute, isn't he?

Today while at the nursing home, and afterward, I was thinking about the issue of consent and how Isaac and I communicate with the nursing home residents, particularly those that aren't able to communicate real clearly verbally.

One thing I always try to do is to get a resident's consent before bringing Isaac into their room or before bringing him real close to them, before letting him sniff them, before letting him kiss them, before letting him put his paws up on the arm of their chair or on their bed, before letting him jump up on their bed, and so on.  While many of the residents love him, I know not everyone likes dogs (Isaac does not know that, though, so shhh!  Don't tell him).  Some people are afraid of dogs.  Some are happy to pet a dog but don't want to be licked by a dog.  Some of the residents like dogs but sometimes they may not feel well or may be tired or in pain or may be busy doing something else and just not want to pet him at that very moment.

Plus, it's just part of being respectful.  I don't think nursing home residents generally get  a lot of privacy, they often have people intruding in their personal space (which may be necessary if they need a lot of help with personal hygiene and stuff, but it's still an intrusion in some sense, I think), they don't get to make a lot of choices or exercise a lot of control over their environment, and I want their experience with Isaac, and with me, to be different from all of that.

So if someone is in the dining room, I stop a short distance from them and ask "Do you want to pet the dog?"  If someone is in their room, I knock on the door (even if it's open) and ask if they want to pet the dog.  There are some people that I know always want to pet the dog, but I still knock before entering their rooms or greet them from a short distance away and make sure they want a visit from Isaac today.  With some of those people, I don't really have to ask if they want to pet Isaac because as soon as they see us coming, they call out to him or beckon him over to them.  But in general, I ask.  And if I think they could reach him better if he put his paws up on the arm of their chair, I ask if it's OK for him to do that.  And so on.

But how do you get consent if someone doesn't speak?  Or doesn't make sense when they speak?

I've realized that Isaac has gotten better at reading signals from people.  He is still certain everyone loves him and wants to be his bestest friend, but he no longer seems to believe they all want to be kissed on the lips by him.

Dogs rely a lot on body language, though, and tone of voice.  Isaac listens to those things more than to the words someone says.  When we still lived with Mike, Mike would tell him to lie down or leave something alone, but Isaac wouldn't do what Mike told him to do.  Mike didn't know why.  I knew why, though, and I tried to explain it to Mike.  The problem was that Mike said "leave it" in the same tone of voice you would say "come on, let's play!"  Mike said "down" in the same tone of voice you would use to say "good doggie, I want to pet you!"  Isaac responded to the tone of voice, not to  his words.

I've found that if I listen with doggie ears, or pay attention to things like tone of voice and body language, I can get a pretty good idea of what people are saying or trying to say.  I can tell if they want Isaac to come closer or if they don't want him to come closer.  I can tell if they are happy he is near them or if they would maybe prefer to be left alone.

I may not be perfect at interpreting these things.  But it seems to be working pretty well so far.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Animals in My Underpants

An acquaintance of mine told me she was browsing my Etsy shop and she thought I should make more cloth menstrual pads from batik print fabric.  Currently I have a couple of those listed but I also have a lot of animal prints, mostly various kitty cats, but also some whales and dolphins.  She told me she felt weird about having animals in her underpants.

That cracked me up.  I never thought about it.  But then I wondered if others feel the same way.

Anyway, I love batik fabric.  So Isaac and I took a trip to the fabric store.

He is very patient while I'm picking out fabric but he thought the woman cutting the fabric for me was taking far too long, so he decided to lie down and wait.

And here is some of the beautiful batik fabric I bought.

I don't have anything made from them in my Etsy shop yet, of course.  I hope to soon.  And if you find anything you like, remember to use the coupon code "BLOGREADER" to get 10% of whatever you buy!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

How Did My Dental Surgery Go?

Ugh.  And ouch.  I think that about sums it up.

But if you want to know more, well, first of all, I was exhausted on Wednesday because Monday night Cayenne kept me up a good bit of the night puking and then Tuesday night I was too anxious about the surgery to sleep well.  So I was exhausted.

I did not take Isaac with me, for two reasons. 

One, it's my understanding that medical people generally don't want a dog in the room when they are doing surgery because they want things to be as clean and sterile as possible.  Now, this was dental surgery and it was done in the same room I had my exam the previous week, not in an operating room, but still, the dentist and the assistant wore masks and gloves and you can't put a mask on a dog.  It is allowable under the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude service dogs for this reason.  However, as soon as I got there the assistant asked me where my dog was and assured me it would have been no problem having him there.  Well, now I know for next time.

But the other reason I didn't take him was because it's hard to talk and give commands to a dog when someone is performing surgery inside your mouth.  I did not feel comfortable trusting Isaac to hold a down stay for an hour without needing to maybe tell him at some point to lie back down.  And I didn't trust myself to be able to pay enough attention to him, either, to even notice when he was starting to get up or something.  I knew I would be very focused on what was happening in my mouth and on dissociating from what was happening in my mouth, and as smart as Isaac is, he is also aware of when I'm not paying attention to him and is not above trying to sneak in a sniff of something he's not supposed to sniff or sneakily soliciting a pet from somebody.  I definitely did not want my dog distracting my dentist while he was operating on my mouth!

So I didn't take him.  I did take my weighted blanket.  I always feel sort of weird settling into the dental chair with my blankie, but you know, whatever it takes to get through it.  I explained to the assistant what it was and how it was supposed to help with anxiety.  She was not familiar with weighted blankets but said she liked the idea.  She said she likes to be under very heavy blankets. 

The actually surgery itself was not bad.  It took less than an hour and he gave me tons of novacaine.  I did not feel a thing.

Unfortunately, the tons of novacaine began to wear off when I was almost home and by the time I got inside my apartment, I was in tears.  As I'd feared, the aftermath was worse than the actual surgery.  The pain was really bad.  A lot worse than my dental surgery last fall.  However, unlike the surgery last fall, it didn't trigger flashback of having my arms stapled.  The severe pain did cause a lot of anxiety, though.  Panic, really, I would say.  I cried a lot.  I wanted to sleep but was in too much pain.  I also felt feverish, although I took my temperature and it was actually slightly below normal.  But I was freezing cold; it was 78 degrees in my apartment and I was only warm enough when I was under two blankets. 

Fortunately, I felt a lot better by the next day.  Now, three days later, the pain is pretty minimal most of the time as long as I don't try to eat.  At times it starts to ache a lot but Tylenol is sufficient to reduce that pain.  But eating... I am starving.  I've been living on protein shakes, mostly.  I had some tomato soup yesterday and today I had broccoli cheddar soup from Panera, although I didn't eat much of the actual chunks of broccoli.  I can eat yogurt but honestly, I lot some crunchy stuff in my yogurt, but that hurts too much to eat right now.  I also really like chia seeds in my yogurt, but those tend to get stuck in my teeth, and there is no way I could floss right now.  Today I baked some diced apples with Splenda, cinnamon and nutmeg, and I cooked them until they were really, really soft, and that was yummy.  But I'm still hungry and wish I could eat actual food.

I've been napping a lot the past few days.  Recovering, I guess.

The periodontist said he was surprised to find nothing abnormal or unusual during the surgery.  He thought he might find some sort of debris under the skin of my gum, like a tiny food particle or even just a lot of tartar buildup.  But there was nothing.  So he did a biopsy.  It will take seven to 10 days to get those results back.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Picture Day

Pretty kitty, sitting in the sun.

Off-duty doggie racing along the shoreline at Lake Erie.

He was in a big rush to get to these doggies.  He really, really wanted to play with them.

Happy doggie riding in the car.  He loves to go for a ride.