Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fetching Juice

A few days ago, I woke up and my legs hurt something awful.  I think it was the day before I got to go back to my acupuncturist, and I hadn't been in a week, plus I'd had the flu, so I was having a lot more pain than I'd had since I started going to acupuncture.  And for a few days, my legs were aching something awful.  It was keeping me up at night, waking me during the night, which hadn't happened since I'd started seeing the acupuncturist.  I mean, I've had trouble sleeping for other reasons, but not due to pain.

The morning, though, I woke up and my legs hurt so much it was hard to move.  So I called Isaac and asked him to get my meds.  My meds are in this little vinyl pouch and I have both anxiety meds and meds for pain in there.  I don't have many pain meds in there because I simply do not possess many pain meds these days, but I have a few Tramadol left from last year when my doctor was still prescribing them for me. 

Normally when I need Isaac to bring my meds, it's for my anxiety meds.  Those are a small capsule, easy to swallow even without anything to drink if I don't happen to have a drink handy.  Usually when I need my anxiety meds, though, I can get a drink if I want one.

I don't think I've ever taken a Tramadol without a drink before.  They aren't big tablets so I would have thought it would be easy to swallow.  And honestly, my thought had always been that if I really needed a pain pill, I'd take it without a drink if I had to, even if I had to chew the darn thing.  I mean, when you are in too much pain to move, you don't really care about stuff like a bad-tasting pain pill.  You just want relief.

Well, I had no idea Tramadol tasted so bad!  That's how I know I must not have ever taken one without something to drink before.  I'd remember that icky taste.  I got it down because I needed it, but ugh.

So I decided Isaac really needed to learn to fetch me something to drink.  I started to teach him that once before but it wasn't something I really needed and I was having trouble with training him to do it for several reasons and I just gave up.  That was about a year ago, though, and Isaac and I have both learned a lot since then and I think I know what the problems were last time and I decided I needed him to learn it now.

I decided to buy some juice boxes and teach him to fetch one of those.  I decided on juice boxes for a few reasons.  If I am taking a bad-tasting pill, might as well have something flavored to get it down with.  Water doesn't always cover up a nasty pill taste so well, I have discovered.  Also, sometimes my blood sugar drops really low and it might be helpful at some point to have him bring a juice box because the naturally-occurring sugar in the juice would help get my blood sugar back up.  Finally, Isaac loves to play with plastic bottles, like water bottles.  He thinks they make great toys.  Teaching him to fetch a bottle of water might therefore be difficult (I think that was part of my problem last time I tried to teach him to get me a drink) because he thinks of them as playthings instead of something to bring me.

Oh.  And water bottles fall over easily in the fridge.  Juice boxes don't.  And that makes them easier to pick up.  When I tried putting a bottle of water in the door of the fridge, it was likely to fall over when Isaac opened the fridge.  Juice boxes sit nicely in the door of the fridge.

So.  Juice boxes it is.  I know, it's a terribly choice from an environmental perspective.  But it's not like I'm going to drink a lot of them.  I bought a pack of eight and I expect those will last me a year or so.  I seldom drink juice at all, and if I can go into the kitchen myself and get a drink, it won't be a juice box.  Those are just for when I need Isaac to fetch a drink for me.

Today I started with having Isaac pick up a juice box out of the fridge.  I used the command "get it" to start with, while pointing at the juice box.  He found them pretty easy to pick up.  Then I started adding the word "juice," like saying "get it, get juice," while still pointing.  We did that multiple times today, just about each time I went into the kitchen for anything.

Tomorrow I will start with "get it, get juice," to remind him of the word, then I will point to it but just say "get juice."  Then I will drop the word "get" and just say "juice," while still pointing to it.

That's all I plan to work on tomorrow.  Supposing that goes well, which I expect it will, the following day I will start with "get juice" while pointing to it (kind of a refresher each morning, going back one step), then move on to just saying "juice" while pointing to it, then seeing if he will get it if I am standing right there but not pointing at it.  Or maybe I will stand a few steps away but still point, while saying "juice."  Gradually I will move further away from the fridge, so he has to bring the juice to me when he picks it up.

I will also have him open the refrigerator door, which is something he already does on command, before getting the juice (as opposed to me opening it instead of him doing it).  At some point, I will say "juice" and point to the refrigerator door as a reminder that he needs to open the door in order to get the juice and see if he can figure that out.  I think he will be able to.  And then later on, I will say "juice" without pointing to the refrigerator door and see if he thinks to open it on his own.  If he doesn't, I'll point as a way of giving him a hint.

At some point, I will open the door and then go into the living room and sit on the couch and tell him "juice" and let him go into the kitchen and get the juice box and bring it to me.  Later, I will progress to having him open the door himself in order to get the juice.

At some point I will teach him to go back into the kitchen and close the fridge, but I am not really worried about that right now.

Isaac learns really fast.  While this sounds like a long, slow process, it will go fast.  We will practice several times a day, only for a few minutes at a time.  We did a similar thing with learning to carry things for me, and he learned that in a weekend.  This is a bit more complex, but I bet he is doing it in no more than two weeks.  Probably less.  I will keep you updated.  And at some point, I will try to get a video to post.

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