Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Forward

I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore.  People almost never keep them anyway.  I set goals, but I don't do that just once a year.  I do it when it seems important to do it.

However, I like taking time to look forward to the coming year.  It's good to have things to look forward to, I think.

In no particular order, things I'm looking forward to in 2016 include:
  • Camping with Isaac.  We are planning to camp with a friend and her lab in Delaware, where Isaac will see the ocean for the first time and play on the beach with her lab.  I always want to visit Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, which I had hoped to do in 2015 but it just never happened.  Isaac and I will probably camp in Wayne National Forest again, since we had such a nice time there last fall.  And maybe somewhere else, I don't know.
  • Visiting my friend Susan in New Jersey.  I hope to head up there and visit her after camping in Delaware.
  • Doing a lot of canning.  I had planned to do that in 2015 but it didn't happen.  I stocked up on canning jars but ended up doing very little canning.  But hopefully in 2016.
  • Doing some winter hiking.  If we ever have winter here.  As I write this a few days before the end of the year, it is 50 degrees out and rainy.  It has rained so much lately I feel like I live in a swamp.  But I have lots of winter hiking gear and Isaac and I are going to hike in the snow, if it ever snows.  I want to do some hiking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park this winter, if it ever snows.
  • Fixing up my van.  There are a ton of things that need to be done to it.  The windshield needs replaced because it has a crack in it.  The anti-lock brakes need fixed.  The passenger side window won't go down.  I want to put up curtains I can close to separate the front seat from the back.  I plan to build a bed in the back.  Well, I don't plan to build it myself, but I plan to get someone to build it for me. 
  • Training Isaac to hunt for shed deer antlers (we got a kit to train him with for the holidays) and then, hopefully, finding some antlers in the woods.

A Chance to Help

A woman I know from an online forum for people interesting in service dogs has a 19-year-old cat named Hobbes.  The cat's owner is disabled and currently lives with a relative who is kicking both owner and cat out of the house soon.  The owner is probably going into a nursing home, which is kind of sad considering she is only 51 years old.  But the relative has been verbally and emotionally abusive for quite a while and it's not a good living situation and the cat's owner needs much more assistance than the relative is able or willing to provide, so...

There's not anything I can do about that.  I believe in helping where I can, and I do help when I can, but I can't fix everything.  None of us can.

But I can help Hobbes.

Her owner has been working frantically to find Hobbes a good home.  Hobbes is 19 years old and while she is healthy, she is a senior kitty and it is hard to find homes for senior kitties.  Her owner is heartbroken over having to rehome Hobbes and I can empathize, because I would have felt the same way about Cayenne.  She wants to make sure her kitty is OK.

Hobbes is probably going to either Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah (are you familiar with them?  It is such a awesome place) or The Cat House in Nebraska.  Hopefully we will know for sure in a few days.

My job?  To transport Hobbes from her current home in Florida to her new home.  Because that it what I can do.
If you'd like to help, you can donate to cover the transportation costs.  Thank you for whatever you can do.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Being Disabled is Expensive

I first discovered this when I was 18 and still in high school.  I got a job as a live-in home health aide for a man that was quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.

He'd fallen off a railing around a deck when he was 18 and just out of high school, just getting ready to enter the army.  The deck wasn't high, it wasn't a far fall, but he landed in such a way as to break his neck.  Instead of entering the service, he entered intensive care and then a rehab center, where he learned to live with paralysis.

When I met him, he was in his early 40's, divorced with two children, a teenage son that lived with him and a  younger daughter that lived with his ex-wife.  He had a nice home and good job as a computer programmer for the city.

I earned something like $4.80 per hour and worked about 30 hours a week, bathing him, feeding him, doing light housekeeping and meal preparation, taking him grocery shopping on the weekends and picking him up after work (someone else drove him to work on days I was in school).  I got up at 4:30 AM to bathe and dress him and feed him breakfast before showing and getting ready for school, then driving almost an hour to the vocational school I attended.  In addition to my hourly wage, I got room and board.

The state paid most of my wages, out of some program designed to keep severely disabled people out of nursing homes and off Medicaid and welfare.  He paid the rest, as well as paying for my room and board.  I was surprised to find out that although he had a good job and good health insurance (provided through his job), he had to pay out of pocket for a lot of his medical supplies, like catheters and dressings.  He also had to buy a wheelchair accessible van and a home that was wheelchair accessible.  I remember thinking then how expensive it was for him to afford his disability (not that he had a choice about it) and that he was lucky he had such a good job.  I remember wondering what happened to people that couldn't afford their disabilities.

Well, I am not in my 40's and I have learned that most people with serious disabilities don't have good jobs and can't afford nice homes.  I knew the man I worked for was lucky even back then, even when I was just 18 and still in high school, but I know it even more now.  And I know what happens to people that can't afford their disabilities. 

According to one source I found, Americans spend an average of 17.6% of their income on health care.  That's a lot, I think.  Some sources say it's less, more like 11%.  I had trouble figuring out which number might be most accurate.

But this year I think I spent a little over 25% of my income on health care, much of that related to my disability.   And my income is low.  I am above the poverty level, about 200% of the federal poverty level, in fact, by income, but geez.  Have you looked at the poverty level guidelines?  They are low.

Service dogs are expensive.  Isaac is a big part of my health care expenditure.  But he's not the only cost, not at all.  I don't understand how our country expects people with low incomes to pay so much out of pocket for health care.  It shouldn't be this expensive to be disabled.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Please Microchip Your Pets

I so wish people would microchip their pets.

I just picked up a dog on the side of the road. He was soaking wet, very dirty and his fur was very matted. He was very friendly, though, came right to me when I called him and was happy to hop in my van.

He had on a collar but no tags. I drove to the nearest house to see if he lived there or if they knew where he belonged, but no one was home.

We were about half a mile from the county animal shelter, so I drove over there so they could scan him for a chip but of course he didn't have one. So I left him there and they will try to find his owner or else to find him a home. 

It seems obvious he belongs somewhere because he is so friendly and is used to riding in a car and also walks nicely on a leash. If only he had a microchip, he might be back home already instead of at the shelter. 

Microchips are not expensive and it is a simple procedure.  They are injected, like giving a vaccine.  I saw Whiskers get hers and it didn't appear painful at all.  They are the best way to make sure a lost pet gets back home.  Of course a dog should have tags, too, but those can get lost.  A microchip can't.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Eve Service

Isaac and I ended up going to a candle light service at 11 pm last night at a nondenominational church with Mike and his mom.  It's the church Mike usually attends and he asked the pastor if it was OK for me to bring Isaac and the pastor said it was.

Isaac and I went for a walk in the morning and he took a dip in a lake and got all wet and muddy and smelly, so he had to get a bath.  I also brushed him well because he has been shedding like crazy lately and I brushed his teeth.  He was all prettied up.

He was snoozing when I announced it was time to leave for church because he tends to go to bed early, but he was happy to get up and go somewhere, anywhere, so off we went.  We got to the church a little early and I chose to sit near the back, at the end of a pew near the wall.  But there was room to get in and out of the pew by the wall.  I just didn't want to sit on the center aisle.

Isaac lay down by  my feet, partway under the pew in front of mine.  It didn't take long before he was sprawled out on his side, snoozing away.  When the service started and everyone stood up to sing, he lifted his head and started to get up, but I gave him the hand signal for "lie down" and he went back to sleep. 

At one point during the service, he moved closer to me and rested his head against my leg.  But he was quiet and unobtrusive and the people in the pews in front of and behind mine didn't even know he was there.

At the end of the service, a few people noticed him as we were exiting the pew and the leaving the church.  But I think most of the people in the church never even knew there was a dog there. 

I'm not positive the pastor even realized Isaac was there, even though he'd told Mike it was OK for me to bring my service dog.  Before the service started, the pastor was going around shaking hands with people and he reached around Mike to shake hands with me, but I'm not sure he noticed Isaac lying on the floor at my feet.  If he did, he didn't mention the dog at all.

The music was nice and candle light was lovely.  It's a really beautiful, ornate church, with stained glass and stuff.  It was gorgeous in the candle light.

There was no need to be in special seat or anything like that. 

Isaac was very, very tired when we got home.  He went directly to bed and actually let me sleep until 7:30 this morning, which is most unusual for him.

Christmas Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with minced hot dog, cheddar cheese and a pinch of catnip.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Man with Service Dog Denied Access at Gym

When the owners of the gym said he could not come in with his service dog, the man handed them a card explaining the Americans with Disabilities Act and suggested they call the ADA Info Line, the number of which was on the card, if they had any questions.  The owners refused to call the number and refused to allow him into the gym

So the man called the police.  This happened in Michigan and in just a few weeks a law goes into effect in the state of Michigan making it a misdemeanor to deny access to someone with a service dog.  The man wanted to office that responded to explain the ADA and the new state law to the owners of the gym. Instead, the office said he didn't know anything about the new state law (which goes into effect in about three weeks, mind you, which he will be responsible for upholding and enforcing) and instead suggested the man just find a new gym to go to.

The owner of the gym now says she and her husband are "getting up to speed" on the laws.  Well, the ADA has been in effect for 25 years, so they've had ample time to get up to speed.  She also says they just did not know what to do.   Well, how about complying with the law and not discriminating against people with disabilities, to start with?  Or maybe calling the ADA Info Line, the number of which was given to her, and asking what to do?

But she says she mean no harm.  She violated the federal law and discriminated against a disabled veteran.  Well, I'd say that's harmful.

Here's the article if you want to read it.

Merry Christmas, Whiskers

Whiskers got a crinkly tunnel for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Recal Level: Master and Recall Level: Fail

A few days ago, Isaac and I were hiking in a local park with a friend.  Isaac was off leash and he really needed to run.  We'd gone on walks the previous two days, but not anywhere he could run off leash.  He was racing around super fast.  You could just see he really, really needed to run.

Then, off in the distance, we saw a couple other hikers, with a dog.  Isaac saw them and started off in their direction.  I got out my whistle, which is what I use to recall him, and blew.  I wasn't very confident he was going to come.  Another dog is about the greatest distraction ever, except maybe food.  Or deer poop to roll in.  Anyway, I thought there was a good chance it was going to take some doing to get him to come back to me, or else maybe I'd have to go get him.

And then Isaac stopped.  He stood still for a second.  And then he turned around and raced back to me at top speed.

Isaac got a whole handful of treats for that.

Recall Level: Master

But then there was today.

It rained all day yesterday.  It was raining this morning, too, but by afternoon, the sun was out.  I knew it would be all muddy but I also knew Isaac really wanted a walk.  I decided to go to a small park with a lake where he could swim, because it is so warm.  60 degrees here, three days before Christmas.

So I let him off the leash.  He ran around, sniffed things, peed on things.  He started getting farther away from me than I liked, as well as closer to the road than I liked.  So I blew the whistle to recall him.

He ignored me.  Kept running.  Got father away.

I blew the whistle again.  He stopped running, sniffed and peed on some stuff, but didn't come to me.

I got close to him.  Pulled the leash out of my pocket.

He looked at me and then loped off in the direction from which I'd come.  At least he was no longer heading toward the road, but still.

I was pissed.

He didn't go too far and then he stopped to sniff and pee some more and then I caught up to him and snapped his leash back on.

I informed him that our walk was over.  Don't come when you're called or even worse, run away, and it is time to go home.

Recall Level: Fail

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Discrimination Is Not Helpful

Quite a few people have suggested to me that the first church I called, the one that said I could bring Isaac but we would have to sit in a special reserved seat, was not trying to discriminate or make me uncomfortable but was trying to be helpful.  Well, I don't know what their intentions were.  You would assume a church would want to be helpful and welcoming, but then, many churches refuse to allow people with service dogs to attend at all, so those churches do not intend to be helpful or welcoming.  So that is not the intention of all churches.

But maybe it was the intention of this church.  I don't know.  I didn't ask them.

The bottom line is, no matter what their intentions, discrimination is not helpful.  Discrimination is not welcoming.

And yes, segregating a person because they have a disability, insisting they must sit in a special reserved seat when everyone else gets to choose any seat they like, is discrimination.  Offering to reserve a seat or asking if I would need a special seat, that would be offering to be helpful.  But insisting I sit in a special seat when I do not need or want a special seat?  That is discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Justice even says it is discrimination.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal for a business to do that.  But of course, churches are exempt from the ADA, so they are allowed to discriminate.  The fact that it is legal doesn't make it helpful, though.

The thing that surprised me is that many of the people suggesting the church just wanted to be helpful and that I was being unreasonable have disabilities.  I've written before about how bigotry can be internalized and this is yet another example.  I am unreasonable for objecting to discrimination.  The people discriminating against me are not unreasonable.  I should appreciate them just allowing me to attend their church and not expect to receive equal treatment. 

Well, no.  I don't appreciate discrimination and I don't find it helpful.  Not at all.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Midnight Mass, Round Two

Last year I posted about how I was thinking of going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve but was unable to find a church where I could take Isaac.  It wasn't that I found a bunch of churches that said no service dogs allowed, it's that I wanted until the last minute to call and then either no one answered the phone in the church office or the person that answered didn't know if they allowed service dogs or not and the person that would know was not available to ask.  I called six different churches and then gave up. 

I live in a pretty rural area and there are only so many Catholic churches within a reasonable driving distance.  There is actually only one Catholic church in my entire county, and of course, not all Catholic churches have midnight mass and I really wanted to go to midnight mass, not an earlier service. 

I don't want this post to be about religion, but I will say that I am not Catholic, I am not even Christian, but I have always thought it would be interesting to go to midnight mass on Christmas eve.  I just wanted to see it.  And I've heard the music is lovely.  I do not support the Catholic church for many reasons and certainly would not donate any money to them.  But I'd like to go to midnight mass one time.

So anyway.  I decided to plan ahead this year.  I started making phone calls today to find out where I might be able to attend midnight mass with my service dog.

And no, churches are not required by law to admit service dogs.  They are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means they are permitted by law to discriminate against people with disabilities.  Some churches welcome people with disabilities, including those with service dogs, but they are not required to by law.  It is up to each church.  If you want to read what the U.S. Department of Justice says about why that, you can read it here.

A Catholic acquaintance tells me that the American Council of Catholic Bishops has made some sort of statement that service dogs should be welcomed in all Catholic churches, but I don't have a link to that statement so I can't verify it.  It's probably true, though.  But probably not all Catholic church employees or volunteers are aware of it.  So some would probably tell me I couldn't bring my service dog and maybe I'd have to produce the statement from the Council of Catholic Bishops and try to convince them they are wrong.  And this is not a battle I want to fight since I'm not Catholic and do not want to attend church on any kind of regular basis.

So anyway.  I decided to plan ahead this year and started making phone calls  to find out where I might be able to attend midnight mass.

I called the first church on my list, whose website stated they have midnight mass on Christmas Eve.   The women that answered the phone did not know if I could bring my service dog or not and put  me on hold.  When she finally returned, she said I could, but she needed my name so that they could reserve a special seat for me.  I asked why they needed to reserve a special seat and said I did not need a special seat.  She said they had to reserve a special seat up front since I would have my service dog with me.  I told her I was uncomfortable with that, that I did not need or want a special seat up front, and that if they would insist I sit in a special seat, that I would just check with another church.  She said OK.  Apparently it was just fine with her if I did not attend.

So I called the next church on my list.  They do not actually have a midnight mass but one at 10 pm.  Which Isaac would actually prefer, because he does not like staying up late.  The woman that answered the phone said she was pretty sure it would be OK but asked me to hold on while she checked to make sure.  She came back and said it was fine.  She said she hoped she'd see me there.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cat on a Shelf


Had a Tooth Pulled Today

I had a tooth pulled today and I got the dentist to prescribe me some Tylenol with codeine. I'm not sure why I have been having such good luck with doctors lately. Usually around here it is extremely difficult to get any type of pain meds. But a few days ago I got a muscle relaxer and now I have Tylenol 3.

And it is working wonderfully. Unlike last time I had a tooth pulled, I am having no pain at all. I'm sleepy and getting ready to lie down for another nap. Whiskers is pleased with all day napping. But my mouth does not hurt one bit.

Isaac was great during the appointment.  I had to have an x-ray taken and he did a perfect down stay in the hall outside the door (which was left open), even though there were people walking around in the hallway.

It was a lovely day today and I am sure Isaac would have enjoyed a walk.  But I gave him a new beef knuckle bone to entertain him.  Whiskers finds napping on the couch with me entertainment enough.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Wish I Had a Picture

When I saw the audiologist about my dizziness, I had a hearing test.  I was informed my hearing is excellent, no hearing loss at all in either ear.  I didn't realize I was worried about my hearing until I got that news and discovered I was re. lieved.

If you've never had a hearing test (this was my first), it is usually done with the patient in a little booth, about the size of a phone booth (remember those?), which is soundproof.  The audiologist sits right outside the booth and there is a window so you can see out and you wear headphones and can hear the audiologist and she can hear you.  Without the window, it would have felt claustrophobic to me but since there was the window, it felt OK.

I planned to have Isaac in a down stay in the exam room near the audiologist while I was in the soundproof booth.  When I sat down in the booth, however, Isaac got up and walked over to the door of the booth and looked in at me.  He looked worried.  I told him it was OK and to go lie down. 

Instead, he came into the booth with me.  I don't know why he didn't want me in the booth without him.  He does not have separation anxiety.  Once recently he was happy to have my acupuncturist take him outside to go potty (because he waited until she was almost done putting needles in me to announce that he had to poop right away and she generously offered to take him out).  He was also happy to lie in the hallway outside the little x-ray room at the dentist office recently.  The door was open but he was not in the room and couldn't easily see me.  He was fine with that.

So I don't know what it was about the booth for the hearing test that worried him.  But he looked worried.

The audiologist said it would be all right for him to be in the booth with me so I had him lie down at my feet.  It was crowded.  He didn't care and neither did I.

I wish I had a picture of him in that booth with me, though.

And, even with a snoring dog in the booth, my hearing still tested excellent.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Been a Rough Few Days

I don't think I ever posted about the outcome of my visit to the ENT and the audiologist, but I was diagnosed with something call benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which is apparently a very common cause of dizziness and usually very easy to treat.  And sure enough, the treatment seemed to help.  For a couple of weeks, I was dizziness-free and loving it.

Friday evening I had a severe episode of dizziness, but thought it was probably due to low blood sugar because I ate a bunch of crackers, which tends to make my sugar crash.  Luckily a friend was here and he got me something to drink and something to eat and eventually it went away.

Also, Friday I had a horrible muscle spasm in my neck.  There was this giant knot on the right side of my neck and I could hardly turn my head.  I tried heat, my TENS unit, stretches, everything I could think of, and nothing helped.  Saturday morning, I was miserable and desperate.  I decided to go to urgent care.  The physician's assistant touched the knot, said "Wow!" and seemed most impressed, and prescribed 20 tablets of a muscle relaxer. 

I was amazed she gave me that many.  Apparently she thought my knot was really, really something.

It was huge.  I mean, you could feel it.  Maybe even see it.  Like having an egg-shaped lump on the side of my neck, made of muscle.

I took one tablet and by the next morning, the knot was almost gone.  It was a normal muscle knot, anyway.  The kind I get in my neck and shoulders all the time.  My neck hurt, but it was a normal pain for me, not something I felt I needed urgent care or prescription medication for.

I am guarding the rest of those muscle relaxers like they are gold, let me tell you.

Isaac was great at urgent care, by the way.  Snoozed the whole time.

Then Sunday night, I had another really bad dizziness episode.  Couldn't stand up.  I took my blood pressure and it was 79/49.  Tried it again a bit later and it was 78/48.  I debated going to the ER.  Finally decided not to, partly because I thought they would just give me IV fluids and I didn't think I was dehydrated and just didn't think they would be able to do anything to really help, and partly because going to the ER would have meant walking out to the car, driving to the hospital, walking from the car to the ER, etc.  And I couldn't really stand up.  Definitely not long enough to do all that walking, and I wasn't sure it was a good idea to drive when I felt like that.

And then I had an anxiety attack.  I think the anxiety was about feeling anxious and guilty and stuff I needed to get done, including some articles I was already late finishing, and feeling anxious and scared about how dizzy and sick I was feeling, and feeling depressed and alone about not being able to go to the ER because I was too sick to drive myself there. 

And yeah, I could have called 911 and gone by ambulance.  I didn't want to.  How would I get home if I did that?

Anyway.  I ended up crying, and Isaac brought me my medication, and I took some, and then I got down on the floor with him and lay down with him and he rolled over for me to rub his belly.  And then Whiskers came over and licked tears off my face and curled up next to me and purred for a while.  And after a while, I felt better.

So it's been a rough few days.

I need to call the audiologist back because I probably need another treatment for the BPPV (I'll have to explain what that is later).   Wednesday I have to have tooth pulled and I'm trying to get prepared for that.  So it's also been busy.

Isaac and I did get to go for not one but two walks Sunday, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, before the dizziness hit me.
It was very  nice.  We both enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Interesting Aromas

Isaac and I met the nicest little boy at the library today. He was about five. We were leaving at the same time he and his mother were leaving, and he hurried to hold open the door for us.

He asked if he could pet Isaac and his mom told him no, because that is a service dog, and I said it would be OK to pet Isaac if it was OK with his mom, and thanked him for asking. So Isaac and the little boy said hello very nicely.

Then Isaac wanted to stop to sniff a brick column and the boy told him, "That's just a load of bricks."

I said, "Apparently it smells very interesting."

So the little boy bent down next to Isaac so he could smell the bricks, too. And he agreed it did in fact have an interesting smell.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Isaac's Holiday Gift

Here's what Isaac is getting for the holidays.
It's a training kit to teach dogs to hunt for shed antlers.  I dunno if he'll learn to do it or not.  I hope so.  I think it would be fun.  He really likes finding bones when we go hiking.  Why not antlers?

He is not actually a big fan of antlers for chewing.  Apparently he is one of the few dogs in the world that doesn't like to chew on them.  But he could still hunt for them and enjoy finding them.  Then I can give them to friends that have dogs that actually like to chew on them.

Are Emotional Support Animals Tax Deductible?

I get asked a lot if service dogs are tax deductible and sometimes I get asked if emotional support animals are, as well.

The answer is that service dogs can be tax deductible, if you itemize and deduct medical expenses.  You can read more about that here, in an article written by my accountant.

Emotional support animals are not tax deductible under the current IRS rules.  The IRS basically uses the ADA definition of a service dog, and that does not include emotional support animals.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

He Knows Better

A couple weeks ago I was at the Medicaid office, standing at the window waiting for my gas voucher.  A family with a mom, a dad and a little boy about three or four came in and the little boy made a beeline for my service dog.  He ran right up to Isaac and was nose-to-nose with him, hugging his head, before I realized what was going on.

I was talking to the employee at the window about my gas voucher but I stopped whatever it was that I was saying, bent down to look the little boy in the eye, and began giving him my standard lecture for kids that pet or hug or otherwise touch Isaac without asking.  It's a lecture I've given maybe a dozen times since I've had him.  I've given my adult version of the lecture many more times.

The little kid version of the lecture goes something like this.  "It is not OK to pet a doggie you don't know without asking first.  It is never OK to touch a doggie you don't know without asking because you don't know if he is a nice doggie or not."  I don't get into the issue of distracting a service dog because the most important thing for little kids is not to touch any dog without asking.

So I give the little boy the lecture and his father, who is standing right there, says, "He knows that.  He knows better than to do that."

I was thinking, umm, yeah, apparently he doesn't.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Just When I Think I've Heard It All

Every time I think I've seen or heard it all, someone proves me wrong.

Today I was at Rural King with Isaac, buying dog food (good sale, by the way). A woman stopped to tell me she has a dog just like Isaac at home and and she got out her phone to show me a picture.

Then her husband reached into their cart and pulled out a squeaky toy, which they must have been buying for their lab. It was a toy Isaac would destroy in about 30 seconds. He waved the toy in front of Isaac's face and started squeaking it!

I started picturing Isaac lunging for it, grabbing the toy and ripping it to pieces. I started trying to figure out how to get away fast but their cart was blocking my path.

Isaac, the good boy, just stood there, showing no interest in the squeaky toy. He was so good.

Sharing

Isaac got a beef hock today and there were all these little bits of crunchy smelly stuff in the package, which he likes. Apparently Whiskers likes that stuff, too. They shared.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Yesterday's Walk

Isaac was delighted to be able to run again.
And after a good run, you need to take a rest.


Cat Scratcher

I hung one of those cardboard cat scratcher things on the wall for Whiskers.

I'm hoping it will discourage her from scratching the molding around my bathroom door.  It seems she likes it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sample Letter for a Service Dog in No Pets Housing

Here is a sample letter for a landlord from a doctor or other health care provider stating you are disabled and need a service dog.  A similar letter could be used to state you need an emotional support animal.  The letter should be written on letterhead and dated, of course.  And of course, you'd put in your own name and list some of the things you have difficulty doing. Note that the letter does not need to say what your disability is, just that you are disabled.

Dear Landlord:

Kelly is my patient, and has been under my care for about six years. She meets the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Fair Housing Act. Due to her disability, Kelly has a number of functional limitations. For instance, she has difficulty bending forward to pick up items from the floor or to remove laundry from the clothes dryer. She may have difficulty retrieving medication or a telephone if she needs to call for help. In order to  alleviate these difficulties and to enhance her ability to live independently and to fully use and enjoy her dwelling, Kelly needs a trained service dog to assist her. A specially trained service dog will help to mitigate her disability and improve her quality of life .

Sincerely,

Doctor

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Merry Christmas


Returning the Rental Car

Friday I got to pick my van up at the garage and that also meant I got to return the rental car.

When I rented the car, I was informed that the rental company had a no pets policy, which seems to be typical of rental car companies these days.  Isaac was there with me at the rental car office and the employee that was assisting me said something like, "Of course, I see you have a service dog and that's OK."  He said, "I'm just going to write on this paperwork, customer has a service dog," and I saw him write it.

I had a sheet with me and I covered the entire back seat with it, not just the flat part you sit on, but the back of the seat, too.  Fitted sheets work great for that, by the way.  So Isaac never sat directly on the seat the whole time I had the car.

When I returned the car, I did notice a small amount of dog hair, mostly on the front driver's seat.  Where Isaac never sat, of course, because while he is very smart, he cannot drive.  That hair had been transferred to the seat from my coat.  Which would have happened even if Isaac had never been in the car, because my coat would have still been in the car.

The employee saw the hair and said, in a not-so-friendly tone of voice, "Did they tell you no pets in the car?  Did you sign that paper saying you understood?"

I said, "Yes, and no pets were in the car.  However, my service dog was in the car.  He is allowed in the car, because the Americans with Disabilities Act says he is allowed."  I added, "I think that small amount of dog hair will be easily removed with normal vacuuming."

She was looking unhappy and flipped through the paperwork to show me the form I signed agreeing to their no smoking and no pets in the car rules.

I said, "I think Gerry wrote something about my service dog on the paperwork somewhere when he rented me the car."

She flipped through the paperwork again and seemed a little happier then.

I was annoyed.  I hope they do not end up trying to charge me for the dog hair because it really was not a lot of hair and should be easily removed if they vacuum, which I assume they do between customers anyway.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Wise Women

Here's a Christmas story for you. I remembered this as I was putting up my tree today.

Many years ago, I lived with a woman that was Christian. Well, sort of Christian. Her religion told her she was going to hell since she was a lesbian, but she was still mostly Christian. So as we were decorating our tree one year, she had these ornaments that depicted the three wise men.

And I said, off hand, "I want three wise women on my tree."

She said, "You can't have three wise women!"

Well, I was like, "Why not?"

She said, "There weren't three wise women there."

So I thought about that. Surely there were women there when Jesus was born. I mean, Joseph didn't deliver that baby. Men didn't have anything to do with birthing babies back then. He would have been in the inn, probably getting drunk, while his son was born. Women would have attended Mary.

They would have summoned a midwife if possible, and midwives were wise. You had to be wise to deliver a baby in a barn with no modern medical stuff available and have both mom and baby come through the birth healthy. You'd have to be wise to do that today, and women are better nourished today and have better prenatal care. Plus Mary was a teenager, so her birth would have been riskier than that of an adult woman.

If there was no midwife around, other women would have attended Mary. Most women knew about birth back then. Maybe the innkeeper had a wife or daughters. They could have been wise.

And there were probably some prostitutes working at or around the inn. Who is to say they weren't wise?

There were women there. And if they helped a teenager give birth in a barn and the mom and baby both survived and were healthy, they were wise.

My friend was pretty shocked and upset that I suggested Jesus might have been delivered by hookers.

But the real story of Jesus's birth would have been that women helped deliver him, and it would have been bloody and smelly and, well, real. I know you don't see that in the nativity scene on the church lawn. But I've been at births. I know. And I know the women there were wise.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Cat

Whiskers is thankful for the bathroom rug and her toys.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Whiskers List

I am thankful for:
  • My house
  • My person
  • That dog
  • Things to scratch
  • Windows
  • Water bottle lids!
  • Catnip
  • My bed
  • My litter box
  • Cheese
  • Treats
  • Not falling in the bathtub too often
  • My water dish (the dog thinks it is his but it is not)
  • Naps
  • Cuddles

Isaac's List

I'm thankful for:
  • My mom.
  • My Whisker cat.
  • All my friends.  Including Mike and that lady that lives downstairs that lets me kiss her and Mom's doctor with the needles that always pets me first and that vet guy that gives good belly rubs and that man that brings hard boiled eggs and the UPS guy that wants to play with me but Mom says no.
  • That Hershey dog that lives across the hall.
  • Treats.
  • Hot dogs.
  • My Kongs.  All of them.  And my Blue Toy.  And Mr. Pickle.
  • Little people that pet my ears gently.
  • Cheese.
  • Hard boiled eggs.
  • Bones.
  • Walks in the woods.
  • Running.
  • Swimming.
  • Things to sniff.
  • Poop to roll in.
  • My bed.  Mom thinks it's hers but who sleeps in it more?
  • Car rides.
  • Dinner.  
  • Breakfast.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Snow.  But not rain. 
  • Squirrels.  And deer.  And ground hogs.  And wild turkeys.  Basically anything I can chase.
  • Lakes.  And creeks.  And rivers.  And ponds.
  • Belly rubs. 
  • Ear rubs.

Giving Thanks

Today I am thankful for many things.  My life is far from perfect and there are things I lack, things I want, things I wish were different.  But there is still much for which I am thankful.  And today I chose to focus on those things.

I am thankful for:
  • Isaac, of course.  For all the ways he helps me.  For his joyful energy.  For his constant, unconditional love.  And I am thankful he is recovering well from his leg injury.
  • Whiskers.  I did not want a cat.  But she wanted me and she is playful and cuddly and so much fun.  And I am grateful I was able to give her the care she needed and the home she deserved.
  •  For all the friends, as well as some strangers, that donated money to allow me to go to Nebraska to get Whiskers and bring her home.
  • All my friends.  I am going to name some specifically, but I know I'll miss some, and I am truly thankful for them all.
  • The friend that sent me, Isaac and Whiskers a care package recently.  Which arrived in five installments.  Full of treats for all of us, including catnip mice for Whiskers, a bone Isaac thinks is just terrific, sugar free candy for me, warm socks for me, lavender Epsom salts for me, and many other goodies.  Isaac also truly enjoyed the visits from the UPS guy.  
  • The friend that sent me what she called a "winter hike in a box," a package full of warm winter hiking gear.
  • The friend that canceled plans to come pick me up when I had a minor car accident and my car had to be towed.  And then bought me dinner and gave me some money for groceries.
  • The friend that, upon hearing I had gone to the drugstore to test my blood pressure when I was feeling ill, bought a blood pressure monitor for me.
  • My neighbors.
  • My health care providers.  I think I have an awesome team of health care providers.
  • My dentist, who managed to create an environment where I feel very little anxiety when receiving dental care.
  • My acupuncturist, for providing the most pain relief I've gotten from anything in years.
  • My car insurance company.  I'll share - it is State Farm.  When I was recently involved in a minor accident, the insurance agent took my report, arranged for a tow truck and a rental car (and the rental was covered in full by my insurance) and, as much as possible, made a stressful situation easier to cope with.
  • The local food pantries that have made sure I have food to eat these past few months, when my medical bills have been high and I've been short on cash for groceries.
  • A kitchen full of food.
  • My home.
  • My van.
  • My new gym shoes. A birthday gift from a good friend.
  • My laptop computer.
  • Work that supplements my disability income and gives me something interesting to do.
  • Hiking with Isaac.
  • My daily spiritual practice.
  • The traveling Isaac and I got to do over the past summer.  Visiting a good friend in Michigan.  Visiting a friend and her service dog Jake in Nebraska.
  • The opportunity to go camping twice over the past summer.  And my camping gear, which we will be using next summer.
  • Books.  And books on CD.
  • Music.
  • Medication that helps me.  Better living through chemistry.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Juice? I'll Get You Juice!

Today I was practicing Get the Juice with Isaac, where he gets me a juice box from the fridge. He is now obsessed with getting me juice. Every time I start to tell him to do something, without listening to see what I am actually going to say, he guesses it will be "Get the juice!" and he runs for the fridge. Then he looks confused about why he doesn't get a treat when he delivers my juice (I only treat when he does it on command).

Service Dogs in Rental Cars

I have a rental car at the moment because Friday I had a minor car accident and my van is in the shop.  I have stuff related to the accident to blog about, but not right now.  Later.

But rental cars.  This is the second time I've had a rental car since I've had Isaac.  Under Title III of the ADA, service dogs are allowed in rental cars.  It seems many rental car companies specifically do not allow pets in the cars, but a service dog is not a pet.  They are allowed.

The first rental car I had, the employee that assisted me seemed unsure when I told him my service dog would be in the car.  I told him the Americans with Disabilities Act says he is allowed.  The employee looked unsure but said he guessed it would be OK.

The current rental car is from a different company.  The employee that assisted me informed me that they don't allow pets but that of course my service dog would be OK.  Then he informed me that if there was excessive dog hair in the car, I would be charged for cleaning.  Well, yeah, but it would have to be so much hair that  normal vacuuming would not remove it.  And that is unlikely. 

I put a sheet over the entire back seat to help keep the seat clean.  I am not worried about hair.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Show Down

I was working on a very fascinating article about mold when I heard Isaac whimpering. So I looked over to see what he was whining about and there was Isaac's Blue Toy (a toy he likes a lot that you can stuff treats in, we call the Blue Toy because, well, it is blue) with Isaac on one side and Whiskers on the other, having a show down.

Whiskers does not even want to play with that toy, but she has been a bit rude to Isaac here lately. Isaac wanted his toy and she was daring him to try to pick it up. So he was afraid to try to get it. Poor doggie.

I had to tell him it was OK, he could get his toy, and he crept forward, snatched it up quickly, and ran away with it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

So, Like I Said, I Saw the ENT Today

And when he finished telling me about his affinity for labs, he did examine me.  It was a pretty quick appointment.  He wanted to schedule some testing, which is what I expected to happen.  He asked some questions, seemed to be making sure my dizziness and other symptoms were not likely to be caused by something like a stroke or a brain tumor (I already know they were not), and then said he thought the best thing to do was to do some tests to see if there is something wrong with my inner ear(s).  Which made sense to me. 

So still no answers and no treatment, but they were able to schedule the testing for next week, which seemed really quick to me.  And I will see the doctor that same day, right after the tests, so I will get the results and hopefully we will have some answers then.

Saw the ENT Today

The first thing the new ENT doctor says upon entering the exam room: Oh! A lab! I love labs. I had one but I lost her in May of 2014. She was a chocolate lab. I just love labs.

Me: Yes, they are nice dogs. Um, would you like to hear about my symptoms?

ENT: So this is a service dog? Does that mean he gets to go everywhere with you? How nice.

Me: Yes, it is nice. So, should I tell you about my dizziness?

ENT: I just have a real affinity for labs.

Isaac: I have a real affinity for you, too. May I sniff your crotch? And then I'd be happy to help you out by catching that fly buzzing around your window.

Update on the Doggie

Isaac seems to be feeling better today. When I took him out to pee, he lifted his right leg to pee on some bushes, which meant a lot of weight was on his injured left leg. Until now, he's been lifting his left leg to pee so his weight was on his good leg. At the moment he is busy gnawing on a knuckle bone, but he is pretty unhappy that I won't take him for a walk since it a gorgeous day here today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Give a Dog a Bone

A friend sent Isaac some treats and toys, including this bone from Nylabone. Isaac loves it.  He's been carrying around for two days.
Whiskers got some toy mice, which she has been enjoying.
She also really liked the box the mice arrived in.



Service Dog Off Duty

Isaac injured his leg today at the park. He was running and apparently ran into something, maybe a fallen log he tried to jump over, I'm not sure because while he was within my eyesight, I was not close enough to see what happened.

I heard him yelp and then he came back to me limping. At first he wouldn't put any weight at all on his left back leg. Then he started walking on it sometimes, but not all the time, but still limping.

We must have been at least half a mile from our car and I was scared I wouldn't be able to get him back to the car. I thought about trying to carry him but he weighs nearly 80 pounds. There is no way I could carry him. I was considering calling a friend and begging him to leave work to come  help me, but Isaac seemed able to walk as long as we went slow, so that's what we did.

I could tell he was in pain. He was panting heavily and his eyes were really wide. He looked very stressed.

We went to the vet and he as a lot of swelling and a nasty scrape on that leg. Fortunately nothing is broken and the vet does not even think anything is sprained. He has anti-inflammatory medication and unfortunately for him, he will not be able to go for long walks or run or do anything active for two weeks (at least). He will mostly be off work for two weeks, as well, although I may take him to a few appointments I have that will not involve much walking IF he is no longer limping and does not appear to be in pain.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What Disabilities Qualify for a Service Dog?

I get questions a lot like can you get a service dog for depression?  For generalized anxiety disorder?  For Tourette Syndrome?  For asthma?  Insert your disability here.

When determining whether or not you qualify for a service dog, it doesn't matter what your disability is.  What matters is how your disability affects you.  It's a matter of how severe your condition is, not what your diagnosis is.

A real simple example is that of visual impairments.  Many people wear eyeglasses.  But most are not disabled by a visual impairment.  With their glasses, they can see all right.  Some people, though, have such poor eyesight that glass don't help or that, even with glasses, they cannot see very well at all.  They have trouble doing all sorts of things due to their poor eyesight.  They are blind or visually impaired and are considered disabled.

The same can be said for many, many conditions.  Lots of people with PTSD are not disabled by the condition.  Many people have anxiety disorders, and maybe they see a therapist or take medication for it, but they aren't disabled.  They are able to do daily tasks with little or no assistance.  Some people, though, are unable to manage basic tasks due to their severe anxiety and they are disabled by the condition. 

Lots of people have diabetes but are not disabled by it.  They have to watch what they eat and maybe they need to check their blood sugar a few times a day and maybe they take medication or even insulin injections, but they are able to see and hear and think and communicate and concentrate and breathe and all those basic life activities just fine.  Some people, though, have severe highs and lows with their blood sugar and for some reason aren't able to feel it when their glucose drops dangerously low (I sure feel it, but some people, often children, don't), and it can be life-threatening.  They might be disabled by their condition, even though many people with diabetes are not.

I could make a list of disabilities for which someone might have a service dog, but it would be a super long list, and I'd be sure to forget to include some conditions.  The bottom line is that it depends on how the condition affects you.  If you're not sure if you are disabled by your condition, whatever, that condition is, that is a conversation to have with your doctor.

And if you're not sure how to go about talking to your health care provider about a service dog, check out this post.

Isaac Made a New Friend

Today at the Medicaid office, Isaac made friends with the cutest little girl. She was probably three or four and as soon as she spotted Isaac in the waiting area (he was conked out on his side sleeping), she announced to everyone, "That dog is sleeping! We should not be too loud. That dog is sleepy. We won't yell so we won't wake him up."

She was fascinated with him, though, and kept moving closer and closer. I asked her if she wanted to pet him and of course she did.

She ended up sitting on the floor beside him, petting his head gently and talking up a storm to him. She told him about her new shoes, about how she had lost a tooth, and some other stuff I didn't quite understand. At one point I heard her tell him, "You're my friend. I like you and you like me. You are my friend now." It was absolutely adorable.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Update on the Issue with the Eye Care Place

About a week ago, I wrote about how I went for my biannual eye exam and was asked by two different employees why I have a service dog.

A couple days ago, I was able to go in and speak with the office manager (who happened to be one of the employees that asked me inappropriate questions about my service dog) a
bout my experience.  It turned out he knew why I wanted to speak to him and was already aware there had been a problem.  I think maybe the eye doctor told him how I'd pointed out to her that she was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by asking why I need a service dog. 

The office manager told me that he'd done some research after my visit and that he was aware that he asked the wrong question or phrased it the wrong way.  He was able to tell me what the two questions are that the staff is allowed to ask under the ADA.

He did try to tell me that they were only asking because they wanted to make sure they provided the best possible care for me.  I addressed that, pointing out that if there is concern one of the eye tests could trigger seizures, they should be asking all patients if they have a history of seizures, not just those with service dogs since many people with seizure disorders will not have service dogs.  He agreed.  He also mentioned diabetes and was aware that there are service dogs that help people with diabetes (usually type 1 diabetes) and he himself pointed out that most people with diabetes won't have a service dog so it is important that they ask all patients if they are diabetic.

He told me that they all thought Isaac had done really well, he'd been very well-behaved and was clearly well-trained, and he was welcome there any time.  He asked me some general questions about service dogs, like how long it takes to train them and things like that.  He told me I was their first patient to come in with a service dog and I said I understood that and that I know people usually do not mean to be intrusive or to offend and that I just wanted to be sure they understood both the law and how to deal with patients with service dogs in a sensitive and respectful manner.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Internalized Ableism

I remember reading about a study once in which researchers offered both black and white dolls to both black and white children.  Both the black children and the white children preferred the white doll.  That is telling, right?

Well, people with disabilities internalize ableism, too.  They internalize prejudice and sometimes discriminate against others with disabilities.  Also, they sometimes cooperate with people that want to discriminate against them.

Examples?

In the last few weeks, I have had discussions with:
  • Two different EMT's, both of whom are disabled and have service dogs, that believe service dogs should not be allowed in ambulances.  One went so far as to say she would refuse to transport a service dog in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Another service dog  handler, not an EMT, who also thinks service dogs should not be allowed in ambulances.  She informed me I would be risking my life if I insisted on taking my service dog with me in an ambulance and said she thought the paramedics should refuse to transport my dog.  Besides risking my life, I would be inconveniencing the paramedics, who would have to disinfect the ambulance after transporting my dog.
  • Someone with 12 years of experience working in an emergency room, who is himself disabled with a service dog, who said people should not bring their service dogs to the ER.  He said it was just "common sense."
  • Another service dog handler who said a group of five friends, all of whom have service dogs, should not have gone to eat in a restaurant together with their service dogs.  A group of disabled people with service dogs is too noticeable and might intimidate some people.  Plus, that much dog hair would be a health hazard.  Later, she said a regular restaurant would be OK but not a buffet, because of the dog hair.
The U.S. Department of Justice has clearly said that people can take their service dogs in ambulances, to emergency rooms and to restaurants, including buffets.   Now, if someone feels it is risky to take her service dog in an ambulance, or doesn't want to inconvenience the paramedics by making them disinfect an ambulance that has been exposed to dog hair (they must clean the ambulances anyway, right?  I sure hope so!), or doesn't want to take his service dog to the ER, or is uncomfortable being noticed in a restaurant or prefers not to dine out with other disabled friends - well, they are not required to do so.

But does it surprise you that these people, who have disabilities and service dogs, hold these beliefs and argue vehemently against the rights of fellow service dog handlers?  It surprised me.  This is internalized ableism.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A New Experience at the Grocery Store

I had a new, and somewhat disturbing, experience yesterday.  And I don't have new experiences at the grocery store too often anymore.

I was at the grocery store, doing the self checkout thing, when a little girl about five or so came over close to Isaac. She was looking at him and maybe going to ask to pet him (or maybe pet without asking, I don't know), when her father, who was at another self checkout thing, started yelling at her. "Get over here! Leave that dog alone! That dog is working, you can't pet him. You can't bother a working dog. Get over here right now! Don't make me come over there and get you!"

While I usually appreciate parents that tell their kids not to bother working dogs, I've never had a parent yell at their kid about it like this. I hate when parents yell at their kids. It's a trigger with my PTSD. And it seems so rude. Would they talk to anyone else that way? And if not, what makes them think it is OK to talk to their kids like that?

While I finished ringing out my stuff, I thought about it, and I wondered how the dad would respond if I yelled at his kid that way when she was looking at my dog. I would never do that, of course, but I bet he wouldn't like it if I did. So why does he think it's OK for him to talk to her that way?

They were just getting ready to leave when I was done paying, and I decided I needed to do something. I approached them, said "excuse me" and asked the dad if it would be OK if Isaac said hi to his little girl (as long as it was OK with the little girl, too, of course).

He said yes, so I asked her if she would like to say hi to Isaac. She did. She petted him really nicely and I told her his name.

I told her I'd noticed her looking at him earlier and told her it is OK to ask if she can pet a dog in a store, but that she always needs to ask before petting a dog she doesn't know. I also said sometimes the dog's person might say no, and then she should said "OK, thank you" and not bother the dog.

I asked her if she would like to give Isaac a treat and she said yes, so I gave her a treat from my pocket and told her to tell him to sit first, which she did, and Isaac sat right away, and she liked that.

I thanked the dad for telling her not to bother a working dog and told him that it's OK to ask someone to pet a SD as long as you realize the handler might say no and that's OK.

I felt pretty good about how I dealt with the whole situation, but I still hate when parents scream at their kids like that.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Night Time

Isaac is so cute. He heard me talking to Whiskers (telling her to leave it, which was about as effective as you would imagine it would be), so he got out of bed and suggested I talk to him, too. I did, and petted him, and then he got his Kong and brought to me to ask if I would put a treat in it for him. I informed him that we were not going to play Kong because it is night time, so he shrugged, dropped the Kong, and trotted back to bed. He totally knows what "it's night time" means.

A Few Fall Pics

And a selfie with Isaac, taken when I still had hair.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bald, Beautiful and Brave



Today I shaved my head in support of a friend who has lost most of her hair due to an autoimmune disorder. Yesterday, she decided to shave her head, what hair was left there, and it was an emotional thing for her. A few people decided to shave their heads, too, in support of her.

There are actually many illnesses that cause hair loss, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, trichotillomania and eating disorders. I am hoping I can raise a little awareness and also help challenge traditional ideas of what beauty is. 

It's been interesting so far and I'm sure it will become even more interesting.

Many people have told me I am brave.  I have said, repeatedly, I don't think I am that brave.  My friend, the one going through a serious illness, is brave.  It takes a lot more courage to face that than to shave my head, especially when I know my hair will grow back.  My hair has always grown quickly.  

I was thinking about it and I wonder if, were I to tell people I was shaving my head because I had a serious illness that was making me lose my hair, would they still tell me I am brave?  Or would they feel sorry for me?  I bet it would be the latter.  And they might also be a bit afraid that they might catch whatever serious illness was making me lose my hair.

It is brave to do something so unconventional.  It's brave to stand out.  But I don't want everyone telling me I'm brave and wonderful for doing this.  That's not why I did it.  That's not the point.

This was Isaac's first experience at a hair salon, by the way.  He treated it like any other public access situation.  I allowed him to say hi to the woman that shaved my hair, because she really wanted to pet him.  Turns out she had to euthanize her cat last week.  In addition to petting Isaac, she kissed him and nuzzled his face and let him kiss her and nuzzle her neck.  It seemed very important to her to pet him and I was happy to let her.
 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

All Tucked In

Look who tucked herself into bed.

Why Do You Have a Service Dog?

A couple weeks ago, I went to have my biannual eye exam (yes, I know it is recommended annually but Medicaid will only pay for it every other year and since my prescription barely changes these days and I have no problems with my eyes, I only do it every other year).

While I was sitting in the waiting area, you know, waiting, the office manager came over to me and asked, "May I ask why you have a service dog?'

I gave him my standard answer.  "I don't share that information with people I don't know."

Yes, the ADA allows businesses to ask two questions for the purposes of "gate-keeping," making sure a dog is really a service dog, but that's not what he was doing.  And he wasn't asking one of those two questions, either.

He said he understood and left.

As soon as I got back into the exam room, the doctor asked me, "And why do you have a service dog?"

I sighed and said, "You know you aren't really supposed to ask that, right?  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are only allowed to ask two questions.  You can ask if it is a service dog and -"

She cut me off.  "You don't have to answer if you don't want to."

Well, I knew that.  Which is why I didn't answer.  But apparently she was in need of some education, so I wanted to offer that to her.  She was not interested in being educated, though.

"It's just that, in a medical setting, you know," she went on, making excuses that I wasn't buying.  "I wondered if there was some medical condition we should know about."

If that was true, then why not just ask that?  And why not ask it of all clients?  Why assume only clients with service dogs might have medical conditions?

"For instance," she went on, "if you have seizures, some of the tests we do, they could maybe trigger a seizure.  So it would be important to know about that."

If that was true, shouldn't they ask all clients if they have a history of seizures?  Not all people with seizure disorders have service dogs.  In fact, probably most don't.  Two years ago, though, when I was there without Isaac, no one asked me about seizures.

And if what you really want or need to know about is seizures, why not just ask about seizures?

I don't think she was really asking in order to get medical information.  If she was, well, there is a better, more appropriate, more respectful way to collect medical information.  And a way that doesn't violate the ADA.

Note that when I went to the ER recently, the day after my eye exam, in fact, no one there felt the need to ask why I have a service dog in order to gather the necessary medical information.  They just took a medical history, the same as they do for all patients.  My primary care physician has never asked why I have a service dog.  My rheumatologist has never asked.  They just took careful medical histories, like doctors should do with all patients.  If none of those medical professionals need to violate the ADA, and therefore violate my civil rights, by asking why I have a service dog, why should an eye doctor need to do so?

Edited to add: And yes, I am going to address this with them.  I called the next day to find out who was in charge, who I should speak to.  Turns out to be the office manager, the one that first asked me the inappropriate question.  Great.  But he was not in when I called.  I've tried calling two other times, plus I stopped by once, and have yet to catch him in the office.  He must not work very much.  But I will catch up to him.  I have printed out some educational material to give him and I plan to offer to speak to the entire staff at a staff meeting or training session.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Update on the Dental and Health Stuff

The dental work went well.  The most painful part of the procedure was injecting the novacaine.  A couple places where the needle had to go, it hurt.  But then I didn't feel anything during the procedure.  And it didn't take that long.

There were a couple moments where my PTSD was triggered a bit.  My jaw was starting to ache from having my mouth open so wide and the feel of the dentist's hand on my face was triggering.  I was able to push it away, to force myself back to the present.

I slept much of the afternoon.  Nothing about the procedure should have made me tired, yet I felt wrung out.  Whiskers curled up beside me and we slept off and on most of the rest of the day.

That was Wednesday.  Thursday I felt a little tired still but got a lot of stuff done.  Then Thursday night, I had nightmares.  I woke up for a while, managed to go back to sleep, had more nightmares.  Finally dragged myself out of bed, still tired, but not wanting to even try to sleep anymore.  And then Friday night was the same.  I'm guessing the nightmares were triggered by the dental procedure.  Hopefully I will be able to sleep better tonight.

The dizziness continues.  It seems to get worse in the evenings for some reason.  That's really the only pattern I've noticed.

I have an appointment later this month with an ENT.  Hopefully he has some ideas about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dental Work Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning I have some dental work scheduled.  I'm expecting it to be painful but hopefully not horrible.  Hopefully I will recover relatively quickly.  But it's not just the recovery from the procedure itself, it's the way it may trigger my fibro pain and the way I expect it will trigger my PTSD.  Because dental stuff like this always does.

In the past, I've tried to get someone to go with me for procedures like this.  This time, I didn't bother to try.  I've had so much dental work done over the past year and a half, and I was able to get a friend to go with me one time, and a friend to come be with me at home afterward one other time, and that was it.  There was one other time a friend had agreed to come with me but then backed out at the last minute.

Isaac will go with me.  We have to go to the periodentology clinic at the dental college and he was wonderful on our first visit there.  I was horribly stressed out because it was ridiculously hard just to find the place and the appointment took forever, but Isaac was cool.

Today I went grocery shopping and I have protein shakes and herbal tea and ice cream, in case my mouth is sore, and because I figure a treat will be good.  I never buy ice cream.  Can't remember the last time I bought any.  But tomorrow I will have vanilla ice cream topped with warm apple butter and chopped pecans.

I also did some cleaning, straightened up the house, downloaded a new audio book to listen to, did everything I could think of to have things arranged to make myself comfortable while I recover.

Feels like it shouldn't be that big a deal for some fairly minor dental work.  But it is what it is.