Category Archives: accomplishment

#NaBloPoMo – A plea to the future me

Dear Ro of the future,

This is a plea to you, yep a plea. Take a sip of coffee. Ready? Ok.

Now, I’ve forgiven the past me for the stupid way I packed the last two times I moved. I was so anxious to get into my new places that I thought I’d save time by just shoving everything I owned into boxes and big plastic Rubbermaid containers. Or coffee cans. Or plastic cat litter containers. Sure, I got rid of a lot of stuff but why did I keep all the pens?

Future self, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that slacking at the time does not save time. Sure, you might think it saves time in the moment, but you know that law of conservation of energy? Well, that applies to packing and storing and cleaning. Whatever time you push forward remains and collects dust. Yes, time collects dust. Just remember your sinuses and itchy eyes and all the sneezing.

In case you don’t believe this post, which knowing me, you will but just in case, and because you’ll probably do some slacking between now and whatever chunk of time might collect dust if you’re not on top of things, here are a couple reminders. Here is how it all started. Don’t let all of Carol’s hard work go to waste. Just don’t. Here’s a post about the cats’ room. That room has been the hardest of all. today’s work on that room is why I’m writing this letter to you, future self. It’s awesome in there. It really is. Everything is dusted and now covered with old sheets. The window is actually open. You emptied a bottle of Febreeze and a bottle of Lysol in there today. You vacuumed the heck out of that room, moving everything in there. It’s amazing. Do not, I repeat, do not, let that room go. Seriously.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it most likely will have by the time you read this post in the future. Carol will be coming over to help me go through the stuff that didn’t get tossed. She’s going to be putting more hard work into this house. Don’t let that be in vain. I’m not sure what to threaten you with. Just remember this sense of accomplishment. Remember forgiving your past past self for the stupid packing because how were you to know that you’d go blind and leave all that stuff for way too long? Will you be in that forgiving of a mood six months from now? A year? I don’t think so.

You haven’t always been the best at keeping clean and organized, but you’re damn good at it now. Don’t forget that. It’s ok if you have some bad spoon weeks when you can’t do it, but pick it up as soon as you’re able. Remember, you live with four animals and a boy. Remember that. Keeping this kind of house hold clean is a full time job.

Ok, finish your coffee and go clean something.

Love,

The November 2011 Ro

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, cats, coffeeholic, fellowship, gratitude, letters, NaBloPoMo 2011, spoons

#NaBloPoMo – The Cats’ Room

I had another post in mind for today but I got busy and then I got a link on Twitter that I want to write about but I’m too fatigued for that either so I’m just going to write about why I was busy and this will be fairly pointless except for my own memories in a year when I look back on cleaning the cats’ room. How’s that for a run-on? Future self, I want you to ask yourself a question right now. How’s the cats’ room? Have you been keeping up on it? Please, oh please, tell me you have.

I might have mentioned the spare room here recently since it is included in all the cleaning I’ve been doing. Basically it’s been the catch all room since B and I moved in here February of ’08. I haven’t tackled that room since going blind. You can imagine the clutter and dust, I’m sure. Add to that the fact that before I got Jayden, we moved the litter boxes in there so I could put a baby gate up. It was already pretty much the cats’ room, since there was an old chair from B’s old apartment in the corner, with an old comforter over it which created a nice little cave behind it. Spinelli had also enjoyed an old robe on top of a cabinet thing in the closet for a long time.

When L gave me a couch to replace the old and battered one I’d had forever, I decided to put that in the cats’ room as well, since they had already clawed it to high heaven and well, I spoil my animal kids. It had just gone into the room in front of the growing pile of clutter and eventually, there was just enough space in there to get to the litter boxes for cleaning. The closet wasn’t arranged in a way most conducive to space. Old clothes and scrubs from my days in medicine hung there, collecting dust and providing a medium for smells to cling to.

In a word, the room was gross. I was mortified at the thought of anyone seeing it and when B’s dad visited here the first time, I couldn’t believe B actually showed him the room. Why, oh why, would you purposely point out that room?

Now that I’ve begun work on it, and made a huge dent, I think what that room symbolized for me was the last of my sighted world. I put things in there when I could see, when I had plans for the room. Combine that with my tendency for pack rathood and what’s left is oh no, don’t go in there. Close the door. Don’t let anyone see.

It’s been liberating to clean out that room. Carol has been offering to help me with it for over a year now. I decided to make a start on it on my own though, to decrease what dust and clutter I could before allowing her to inhale that air. I’ve thrown out so much stuff. So much had been ruined by being left untouched and so much junk had been kept by the old sighted and sentimental me. I wish I had counted how many pens I threw away. Pens? Why did I keep so many pens?

The last time I worked in there I managed to move the couch along the wall to get it out of the way so I could get at what was behind it. I knew I needed to move the chair in the corner over a bit so the couch could move towards the corner and give us more than a six inch path between it and the wall so that was my goal today.

I found the Harry Potter braille book Georgie got me when I was about four months blind. That, along with a braille labeler, extra tape I had lost, which I also found today, and my white cane, was how she pushed me into action and put me on the road to learning how to live blind.

The book was in a cardboard box, the top volume covered in dust. I retrieved a plastic zipper bag, the one my bum cushion came in. It was perfect to store the book just in case I ever learn contracted braille. Maybe that will be a project after the room is done, to sign up for Grade 2 braille at Hadley.

Long story short, I had to kill Spinelli’s den behind the chair so I could vacuum. I hope she forgives me; it had to be done. I’m vacuuming every bit of carpet I end up freeing. There’s only one more corner left to tackle in the room, and then I can have Carol go through the stuff I’ve set aside. Most of it for possible donation, some of it because I can’t quite remember what it is. I had moved the bookcase that was taking up room into the closet, so now it’s perfectly set up for storage once I clear out the “Carol pile”, as we’ve been calling it.

Today I was able to reach the window. It was like a long awaited destination, to be able to straighten the blinds and scrub the glass. The room hardly even smells dusty now. What a hard job, but it’s leaving me with such an incredible feeling of accomplishment and liberation that I’m not even embarrassed to write the details of just how bad it was anymore. Look all you want! I think we might even be able to do away with the baby gate once I’m done. B found an igloo style litter box that seems pretty impossible for a dog to get to the contents.

After I met the goal for today I showered off the muck and finished reading ‘Carri’. That might be another post. It’s amazing how much I related to that book. I had to finish it because since I listened to music on the iPhone while cleaning, I lost my place in the book and it was just easier to find my place on the laptop. The book had been burned from CDs, so the iPhone doesn’t hold the place like it does an Audible book. Such a luxury problem. 🙂

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, Audio books, braille, cats, fellowship, gratitude, iPhone, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2011, Spinelli, white cane

My Inner Monica

B’s dad was here last weekend so just like any time a guest is coming, I wanted to clean the house. I do maintenance cleaning but come on, who doesn’t do a little more when you’re going to have company? Especially living with so many animals, vacuuming and dusting even more was imperative.

I couldn’t thoroughly clean around Brian’s stuff since there was no way I was going to touch his electronics. Carol came over to go through my audio books for donation and to help me straighten up and I swear we conjured Monica. We really do conjure people. She’ll attest to that. This was our first fictional character, however.

She attacked all the places I haven’t been able to get to. Since B has converted to using iPods, his stereo sat untouched, collecting dust. He agreed to let me donate it, and Carol’s neighbor has fallen love with it. Yay! It took a day to get the living room cleaned up since that’s where B’s desk and my desk live, where we spend the majority of our time, which means so do the animals and their fur. After it was done, it felt so nice in here. I don’t know about you, if you’re blind that is, but for me when a room is freshly and thoroughly cleaned, the room feels lighter and more open. Am I just weird?

It didn’t stop with the living room. Monica stayed with me when Carol left, she just took a long nap while B’s dad was here. I took Monday off and did nothing but talk to Carol all day. Then Monica woke with a vengeance on Tuesday and hasn’t stopped.

You know that deep cleaning that you do, for some it’s called spring cleaning, some may do it twice a year. Or maybe for those who have Monica all the time, it happens constantly. I’m talking the kind of cleaning where every drawer, every cupboard, every nook and cranny gets emptied, scrubbed, stuff sorted into trash and donation, the things being kept goes back into it’s place nice and organized. That sort of cleaning has not happened in this apartment since we moved in.

Something about going blind two months after moving in to a place really kills Monica. At least it did in my case.

I realized just what a shover I am. I want to clean this off. Shove. What do I do with this? Find a drawer and shove. There, it looks neat on the outside, but oh please, don’t open a drawer. The closet? No!!!

Furniture has been in the same place for nearly four years. That means a vacuum has never touched that carpet. *Start the horror music*

The bedroom was the hardest room. That’s the room with most of the drawers, you see. Oh Monica had a field day with that room. I wish I had kept track of how many runs to the trash Jayden and I took. All the working out really paid off when I moved all the furniture. Jayden thought the world was ending when his kennel and bed disappeared.

I have to wonder if the canisters full of hair and dust my vacuum sucked up should have been saved to help with the next oil spill.

Putting everything back in it’s place and taking deep breaths made Monica giddy with the sense of accomplishment. The smells of Lysol and lavender swirled about, dancing on the air as a reward for all the hard work. My cool changing screen with the pockets has a rightful home again, instead of being folded up and propped between a wall and a chair. I put it there when I was sighted, with plans for it that just never took fruition until the task of cleaning finally didn’t seem so daunting with no sight.

Every drawer has an old candle tucked inside so the pretty scent masks that of old wood. I can reach into any of them and find exactly what I want. It’s very, very happy making.

Saturday was meant to be a day off. Perhaps I’d attempt some writing. Maybe I’d do some reading. Monica was still awake though, and she would have none of it. You aren’t too tired to do the hall closet. That won’t be a huge job. Not after the bedroom. You can do it, come on, let’s go…

After that came the kitchen cupboards, where once again my shoving was evident. I even found chocolate! Score! There was now room to put serial in a cupboard rather than on on top of the fridge. My step stool came in quite handy for all these tall places. Gamma had just told me about how to climb a step stool with a sore knee. Up with the good, down with the bad. That little rule came in quite handy.

This time B ran the trash out, which was good since it was rather hot out. Yes, October and it’s hot.

Today will be a day of rest. I’m taking strawberry rhubarb pie to Gamma. Monica is accepting this fact, though bitterly. She still has me stopping and thinking, oh that would work better there. I tell her to shut up. We’ll pick it up tomorrow. The spare room must be tackled. Monica will have loads of fun in there. It’s been the catch all room since we moved in. Oh my.

All this work has had me thinking on more than one occasion that perhaps I could work. I have to play the tape through though, and remind myself that this is temporary. It’s work in my own home at my own pace and is purely physical. Anything mental taxes me much more these days. I’m being very careful, too. At the first sign of fatigue, that’s it. I’m done. I’m taking baths and doing plenty of stretching and I should probably take out stock in Advil. That wouldn’t work since I use the generic.

Why did I write all this? Well, I don’t go to Gamma’s for awhile and Monica was threatening to start me cleaning again. I also need to prepare for next month, which will be a post a day after doing no writing for quite awhile. I think this is perfect. Baseball ends and the deep cleaning begins. This will be the time every year when the furniture gets moved. When Monica finally goes away, maybe the writing will begin again.

PS – Blogger has done its own insane reorganizing, and soon we may all be forced to adapt. As of what I know now, this will mean no accessibility for us blind folks. If I suddenly stop writing next month during NaBloPoMo, that is what happened.

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, desert life, family, fellowship, Gamma, Jayden, spoons, weather

Seven. Seven, seven. Seven, seven, seven…seven seven seven!

I’m only seven pounds away from my target weight. Seven pounds!!! I’ve been plateaued for quite awhile now which means I need to change something. Since I like pizza and In and Out, I’m adding more exercise, when spoons allow of course.

So this week, on top of the gym twice a week, I’m doing my Pilates abs and legs workouts as well as yoga. I’ve added pushups since I don’t have a good Pilates upper body workout. I’m doing these on days I don’t go to the gym.

What to do about cardio though? It’s too hot to use my gym and the elliptical here, so dance is it. I have a thirty minute playlist in iTunes full of high energy music.

Today I thought about the movie Flashdance and decided to do some cardio to the maniac song. Holy crap. Do the dance like she does in the movie and you even feel it in your arms. Blinks, the dance is basically running in place like a crazy person while pumping your arms maniacally. It’s fun. And holy cardio. Girls, wear a sports bra. I learned the hard way. Ouch!

Seven pounds. When I hit 150 I swear they’ll hear me screaming in St. Petersburg.

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Filed under accomplishment, workouts, youtube

Workouts, spoons and gravity

Workouts are back in full swing again after my schedule and fatigue levels put it on hold for a bit. The funny thing about exercise and spoons is the whole vicious cycle thing. When I don’t do it, the fatigue worsens. When I’m too fatigued, I can’t do it. Chicken? Egg?

So it’s difficult when a wrench is thrown into the works which keeps me from exercising because it sets off the vicious cycle. Lose lose.

When I get back to the gym, I take it easy for the first two times or so and then I’m so rejuvenated that I dive in head first and go balls to the walls. That’s what I did yesterday and ouch today. Lactic acid anyone?

I love it though. While my upper body is screaming in protest at me today, I’m loving it. What started as conditioning to get ready for guide dog school has become a way to replenish the spoon drawer and boost my self esteem big time.

I’m sooooo close to my target weight of 150. I fluctuate between 155 and 157 at every weigh in. These last few pounds are just pesky little creatures, probably because I still enjoy In and Out burger.

I love that I’m not ashamed to admit my weight to the world. I mean, I lied on my driver’s license. Who doesn’t? If I were to get a new ID today though, I’d tell the truth. So awesome!

I used to think 150 was way too heavy for a girl. Now that I know more however, I understand the difference between muscle weight and fat. I have a lot of muscle on my body, something I’ve never had before and I love it. I love the strength I have today, in spite of my illness. I used to feel so weak all the time and just took it as par for the course.

What I’ve learned though, is that the more strength and muscle I have, the less likely I am of falling and the more ability I have to fight, should that kind of situation ever arise. Of course I hope it never does, but knowing I have the ability to defend myself has taken so much fear out of being a blind woman out in the world and all its evils.

Why am I rambling about this? I don’t know. I was pouring coffee and my arm cursed at me for daring to make it perform in such a way and I decided to write. I’m also trying to get back in the habit of writing on a more regular basis, and it’s been fun to track my weight and success in the gym, so I decided to do a little update.

Should I finally reach 150, you’ll probably hear my screaming from the gym all the way in Florida.

As I read this back, I remembered I wanted to admit I did fall somewhat recently but it was too funny. I’ve only fallen twice since going blind. The first time was at a meeting with a friend. I misinterpreted her “ok” as “sit” so I did. On the floor. That taught me to always feel for a chair first.

The second time was a few weeks ago. I was sitting on my desk chair backwards, adjusting the back cushion straps and when I stood up something happened I wasn’t going to stay upright. I thought the couch was there so I gave into the law of gravity and let it take me, expecting to sit on the arm of the couch. Instead, arse met carpet between the couch and the coffee table. All I could do was laugh.

I definitely still get clumsy, but I shudder to think how much worse it would be if I didn’t have strength and conditioning training. Yikes.

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, blind blunders, coffeeholic, funnies, spoons, workouts

Doggy Diaries – Year ago recap 35 – Weight loss and clicker fun

Last year was our first independent trip to Saavi. I cracked up reading it because I was all excited over losing ten pounds. Little did I know then that by this time I would have lost over twenty. I love annoying my past self. Does that even make sense?

Today has been good so far. I got plenty of sleep last night thank God. It was a bit chilly this morning since we had a rain storm last night, so we didn’t go anywhere. I was on the phone awhile and then I had lunch and we went for a walk.

I wasn’t really feeling the walk moo since I’m still a tad fatigued from the no sleep incident, so when I heard people and dogs ahead, I turned us around. I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. We checked the mail and I got a big newspaper thing. I had asked B if he keeps the spam mail and he doesn’t, so I wanted to throw it away but wasn’t sure where the recycle trash was. I asked Jayden to find the trash and he was like, huh? He showed me a wall. Yeah no. So we went and got the clicker.

It had been awhile since we’d play’d clicker. It’s so much fun! I had him targeting the bin but when we back chained and I told him to find it, he took me to the wall. A few more clicks at targeting and we tried it again and he nailed it. We backed up a few more times, then pretended we had just checked the mail. So we were facing away from the bin when I told him to find it. He nailed it. Clicker is soooo fun!

After that I groomed him. He’s back to needing daily brushings since he’s throwing his winter coat. Then I wanted to give him some off duty outside sniffy time so I unfolded the stick but he was like, what are you doing? No, I don’t want to walk when you have that thing lol! He turned and pulled me in the direction of the door and I decided not to fight it. I was feeling pretty tired.

So we came in and now I’m writing this. Nice relaxing day.

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Filed under accomplishment, Doggy Diaries, Jayden, on this date, spoons, weather, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Year ago recap 33 – Shopping and exercise addict

Last year I left Jayden at home when I did laundry and felt terrible about it, and then later in the day we went out with Kevin and Jayden disobeyed to keep me safe. Sounds like it was a good day, aside from leaving Jay at home to do laundry haha!

Today was pretty busy. We went shopping with georgie and her daughter. I was in need of a new swimsuit and wanted to see if I could find some shorts and tank tops. I don’t remember the last time I wore shorts. I’ve always hated my legs above the knee, so I’ll do capris, but not shorts. Well, I got shorts. Yay me! The clothes I fit into today just fueled my motivation to keep working hard on my body. It’s not just the way it looks these days, but my strength is just incredible and now that Aunt Flo has gone back home until next month, I feel great again. I even found a way to do some strengthening here at home with no kind of equipment. It’s amazing what a huge water jug and a brick can do.

I actually bought juniors shorts. Juniors!! And a tankini swimsuit with boy short bottoms. And the tank tops I got are medium. Medium!! At my heaviest, I was wearing double extra large and like size twenty two pants. And now I’m in medium tops and juniors shorts. Wow!!!!!! How could that not encourage me to keep working hard? I love it! I’m addicted!

I think Jayden got a little too hot today. He also started off just terrible, refusing to follow Georgie in the store, saying hi to everyone, so out came the GL. He hates the thing and so do I but it turns him into the perfect guide dog he can be when he wants to haha. After that there was absolutely no issue. I know some guide dog school’s won’t accept a dog who needs the GL. I can’t imagine if GDB had not accepted Jay because he needs the GL to straighten him out now and then. Anyway, back to what happened. After shopping we went to Sauce for lunch. Yummmmmmy salads. It was absolutely freezing in there. Ok, it’s like eighty here in AZ. We’re wearing tank tops and sandals. So why, Sauce, was your restaurant like sixty degrees? We shoveled food and couldn’t wait to get outside. Georgie’s daughter wanted Frost, I think it’s called. It’s a gelato place. So we went there and sat outside and I had Jayden lay down. My stupid ice cream was melting and all of the sudden Georgie’s like, Jayden just puked. What!!! Georgie said it was only like a table spoon and looked like he barfed up the few pieces of kibble I had given him while we were at Sauce. Georgie had gotten him some ice right before that, so I’m wondering if the extreme temp change maybe affected him or something. I also didn’t realize that the pavement was warm. It’s gotten warm so fast here. It wasn’t terribly warm, but I think he just got hot. Once we got home and he had his frozen Kong, he was fine, but it really freaked me out.

Aside from that it was a great day. The Rays game was on not long after I got home and we beat the Red Sox. Wooo hoooo! It was like a freaking home run derby against Wakefield. Great game.

I exercised during the game and then B got home and we ate and I almost forgot to write today. Not sure how much longer I’ll keep up on the recap posts. Probably as long as last year’s posts are still fun for me with interesting firsts.

I think that’s about it for today. I can’t believe the energy I have, wow. Jayden doesn’t second that. He’s pretty pooped. I wonder if he hates shopping?

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Filed under accomplishment, baseball, desert life, Doggy Diaries, Jayden, on this date, treat for me, weather, workouts

Doggy Diaries – The MS Walk and Jayden’s hidden talent

*The above image is a thumbnail of the pink spaghetti strap tank top I had specially made from L^2. She designed the shirt for me after I mentioned on Twitter that I needed a top for the MS walk. On the light pink shirt is bold black print that reads: MS blinded me and all I got was this awesome guide dog. You can find a link to L^2’s shop on the above link. thanks, L^2!*

I didn’t write on the twelfth last year, so today’s post is dedicated strictly to the MS walk Jayden and I participated in today with my good friend L. She picked us up at 8:30 this morning so we’d have plenty of time to arrive at the park and begin the walk at 9:30.

I had a backpack laden with water for Jayden and Gatorade for me, along with some peanuts in case I got to feeling weak and the usual guide dog supplies. I also limited myself to one cup of coffee that I saved from the day before to keep us from encountering mafia guy bladder halfway through the two mile walk. 😉

It was a rough start when we arrived, since many walkers were there with their pet dogs. I’m pretty sure Jayden was the only guide dog, but only because the people I was with didn’t mention any others.

Just trying to walk from the car to the registration area was next to impossible. Jayden just would not concentrate. Obedience didn’t work, so on went the Gentle Leader, which L laughed at, watching Jayden’s demeanor change haha! After that, he was whipped into shape and did great.

While we were registering, one of the people at the desk must have read my shirt because he asked when I was diagnosed. We had a brief chat and then joined L’s friends from work, who had come to walk it with us. They were really cool and totally fawned over Jayden while asking me questions about how I stay healthy and keep my balance and such. I explained that exercise has done wonders for me.

We stood and chatted for a bit and then things were getting underway. There was talking over a loud speaker, but I’m not sure what they were saying. Lots of people were cheering and a band started playing to send us off.

At first we were in quite the cluster of people, but eventually it thinned out and we were able to pick up our pace. Though there were tons of things to see, Jayden showed me every curb and step until we were on level ground. L’s friends got a kick out of watching him and I kept hearing them exclaim from behind us.

Once we really had a clear path, I put on my excited voice and slapped my leg, giving the high pitched hop up command. Jayden started literally trotting. It was so awesome! We kept having to slow up and go around people, but once we had the all clear again, Jayden began trotting happily. I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt that much spring in his step, at least not for long periods of time. Thinking back on it, this is definitely the longest we’ve walked just out and about, not stopping to shop, or out on a lesson with Dave. It was so incredible. I really got to just walk with my dog.

The weather was beautiful until we hit a patch that was in direct sun with no breeze. It was probably a little over halfway through the walk. I decided we needed a water break and Jayden agreed, lapping it up and then rubbing my leg with his face. I decided to take the GL off since he’d gotten into his rhythm. It had really been awhile since we’d done anything other than our usual walks and Saavi trips, so I wasn’t angry that he had been hard to control in the beginning.

As I watered myself and Jayden, L explained to her friends about how important it is that I not get overheated or too fatigued. We set off again and I tried pushing Jayden but he disobeyed me.

One of the things I have gotten out of Jayden that wasn’t part of the deal, and something I haven’t really mentioned here, is his ability to alert me to coming fatigue. Dave noticed it a few times, where Jayden would slow down and Dave could see me starting to fade, but I haven’t noticed it without Dave until today.

Jayden will absolutely refuse to let me push him. The first time Dave noticed it, I said Jayden must be tired. Dave informed me that no, Jay could probably run a mile, but I was fading. So today, when Jay disobeyed, I obeyed him and sure enough, about five minutes later, I felt the fatigue try to set in.

I thought the two mile walk would be a breeze, since I do two miles twice a week at the gym. However it’s one thing to do two miles on a treadmill in an air conditioned room, and a completely different thing to do two miles outside in Arizona in March on non-level ground while working a guide dog and paying attention to where we needed to go. We even had a few street crossings, which I did human guide through, since the first one freaked me out haha! I didn’t think to make my friends stand and wait with me while I read traffic, and when L said to go, I couldn’t tell where the traffic was and freaked out. Because of the way we travel on a daily basis, we don’t do many street crossings, so I was out of practice.

So back to Jayden refusing to walk as fast as I wanted; it was just incredible to really see him alert to my fatigue. Wow. Are these dogs smart or what???

We heard music in the distance as we approached the finish and L and I were singing silly tunes from our old choir days. As we drew closer, people were there cheering us on, telling us we were almost done. Jayden got a little distracted right at the finish and ran me into a person, but they were good natured about it and then we walked under the arch of balloons, completing the walk. People were cheering and Jayden was panting and my legs felt like jello haha!

We said goodbye to L’s friends and found some shade to give Jay some more water. Then we loaded into the van on our way to Starbucks! Oh how I craved coffee, having not had my fill this morning.

I got an iced venti mocha no whip, my favorite, and Jayden got a cup of ice. He practically ordered me to move my leg so he could sprawl out in the front floor well at my feet haha! I gave him a piece of ice between my sips of coffee and L and I talked about trying to do a walk every other Saturday or so. I sure hope we do that. It was so awesome to be out walking with Jayden in a safe place with my buddy. And Jayden just loved it. I love that bouncy feel in the harness handle.

When we got home, Jayden enjoyed his frozen Kong while I did my stretches. I could feel the ache in my shins like I had at GDB, so I made sure to do the yoga stretch for that along with my normal quad and hamstring stretches. I called Gamma to let her know how it went. After that I filled B in and called Georgie. Both Jayden and I still had energy, but it didn’t last haha!

I got on the computer for a bit and Jay crashed on the tile and then my body ordered me to the couch where I crocheted on the first blanket for Japan.

At one point I got up and Jayden took my spot. When I came back I had him move to the other side which he did, but then promptly put his head on the pillow where I was about to lean back. I didn’t have the heart to move him, so I just stretched out beside him and leaned back on the arm of the couch. He was so passed out that he didn’t even realize it was dinner time. B and I said “food” a few times and Jay just looked at us. Finally I got him to get up long enough to eat and relieve, and now he’s back on the couch as I write this.

It was an incredible day and it wore me out more than I had expected. I felt even more satisfied than I do even when I kill in the gym at Saavi. Not only did I get to walk with my dog and my friend in the beautiful fresh air, but I got to walk for my disease. I didn’t really chat with anyone other than that first guy, but we were all there for the same reason. Not everyone there had MS, but those who were there care enough about it to come and raise money for it. If I find out how many turned out, I’ll update with the number. It definitely felt and sounded like loads of people.

Now I’m off to finish my coffee and crochet some more. My body still feels rather tired, but it’s such a good tired feeling. It’s good to give up some spoons for the cause of finding the cure for the spoon thief.

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Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, crochet, desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, Gamma, GDB, gratitude, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, spoons, weather, working dog, wow, yoga

O & M – Over & Mystifying

O & M actually stands for Orientation and Mobility, as most of you know, but today the letters have the meaning of over and mystifying to me because the lessons I’ve had with Dave nearly every week since November of 2008 have come to a close.

In the beginning, our lessons were all about teaching me to use the white cane, to know my position in space, to orient myself by sound and sometimes the position of the sun. Dave showed me how to be mobile again after I lost my vision. Having these skills led to me being able to use paratransit to get places like Saavi to work out or to be able to walk to my mail or take out the trash.

The independence I gained from the skills Dave taught me were the first things I grabbed ahold off to regain some semblance of normal life after going blind.

Dave was not only my O & M instructor, he was a mentor for me even though he is sighted. He told me about services Saavi offers and encouraged me to do anything I thought I might want to do. On our way to the locations of lessons, we’d talk about life, our pasts, our families, anything. I told him of my adventures, I rambled about the latest technologies I’d found, I bounced my wild ideas off of him. He became like an uncle or a big brother.

When B went out of town back in July, Dave turned our lessons into an opportunity to get whatever thing I might need. When my coffee pot died, we turned a lesson into going to Walgreens and when we got back home, he opened the box and made sure I could find my way around the coffee pot. He knows what a coffeeholic I am.

When I decided to get a guide dog, our lessons became all about preparation. Dave had done training for O & M instructors at GDB and even did my first ever Juno walk.

He made sure I knew what I was getting into, he listened to my fears. He gave me strength while I was in class, knowing I would be returning back to him, his mild mannered speech, his understanding of my fatigue, his faith in me.

He helped me adjust to life with jayden, taught me how to show Jayden new routes, took phone calls from me in the summer when Jayden’s heavy panting scared me, assured me Jayden was fine after every new dog thing occurred. Dave is a dog person so aside from being my instructor, he also helped me ease into being a dog mom.

For the last month or so, we’ve been grasping at straws to come up with ideas to do on our weekly lessons. After I arrived home with Jayden, Dave and I met twice a week, carrying over the pre dog schedule. Going down to once a week was an adjustment, but there wasn’t as much for me to do, so it was ok.

We both knew our lessons were coming to a close. We’ve known it since we first started inventing things to do, new places to pattern. This morning there just wasn’t anything. There was no new place to check out, no route to master. Finally I mentioned that I still felt uncomfortable finding the relieving area at Saavi so we went and did that. I had gotten help from other staff, but there’s just something about an O & M instructor’s brain that really helps you map things out in your head, especially when you know longer use a cane, which offers much more feedback than the gentle turns of a guide dog.

Upon arriving home, Dave said he thought we were done. As tears filled my eyes I had to agree. I don’t need him anymore. That fact is incredibly bittersweet, because the fact that I don’t need him anymore means I’ve accomplished a lot in the less than three years I’ve been blind.

He asked me if I could visualize how far I’ve come and all I could say is that it’s night and day. I won’t share anymore of our conversation because that’s between him and me.

I will say that I will greatly miss our Tuesdays. I’ll miss his jokes and his friendship. I’ll miss the confidence he had in me, which transmitted to my own self assuredness. He’ll still be there though, if there’s a new route to learn.

It’s completely mystifying to me that that I’ve graduated from O & M lessons. It’s overwhelming to look back on the last nearly three years. The difference between who I was when I first met Dave is not even comparable.

Orientation & Mobility. Over & Mystifying. Complete. Mission Accomplished. Independence acquired. A truly irreplaceable friendship made.

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, coffeeholic, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, Juno walk, misty eyes, Orientation and Mobility, spoons, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Human vet visit

Today was my first time going to the doctor on my own since going blind. I’ve only been a few times, twice for physicals and once for a mole removal, but those times either B drove me or a friend went. The first time I had a physical, a friend actually stayed in the room until the doctor came in, helping me change into the paper gowns and such.

The second time I had a physical, my friend stayed in the lobby and I used my cane when they called me back. Today I went with Jayden and took paratransit. I was like 6 months overdo for my physical. Oops!

I was a little nervous about how it was all going to work with paratransit. Since I schedule a return trip, it’s a little nervous making when you can’t be positive how long you’ll be at a place. When I used to work in the lab way back when, I’d have patients take paratransit there. We were a walk in lab, so you never knew how long it was going to take. You can do a will call, so you don’t schedule your return trip; you call when you’re done. I would have patients waiting for two or more hours for their return ride, because they have to fit you in since you don’t schedule a return. No way in heck I’m ever gonna do that.

When I made my appointment, I told them I’d never done paratransit there and was there any way I might be able to guestimate how long I’d need. We decided to schedule me for the doc’s first appointment of the day. The physical is a thirty minute appointment, but she recommended leaving a little leeway time in case things ran late.

I had an 8:50 appointment, and decided to schedule my return at 10:15. So to get picked up, my window was 7:50 to 8:20 and my return was from 10:15 to 10:45.

I was dreading being up and ready to go by 7:50. I was picked up at about 8am and got a little nervous when we encountered traffic and still had to pick up one more passenger. I wanted to have plenty of time to get in and use the restroom and stuff. We got there about 8:30, perfect.

Jayden had never been there before, so I asked the driver if we were right in front of the door and we were. I remembered that it’s a somewhat long sidewalk to the door and told Jayden to find the door once we stepped off the van. I love it when you can feel them sight in on what you ask. As soon as I said the words, we were off. He lines me up perfectly to reach out and grasp the handle. Wow.

I knew the counter was right to the left once we walk in, and the receptionist had actually seen me get there and had come out to sign me in. I asked if I had time to use the restroom and she asked if I knew where it was. I said I did and directed Jayden to find the door. I felt him sight in on the door into the office and I saaid “go right, find the door” and then I felt him sight in on the restroom. Wow.

When I was done I said to find the chair and he took me right to one. I already knew he was good at that lol.

The receptionist called through the window that she had a sheet for me to fill out.

“I…can’t…”

“Oh! I knew that,” nervous laughter.

I laughed back, “No problem, do you need my Medicare card?” She did, so I had Jayden find the counter. “People ask me if I need light, things like that, all the time,” I said, “I even seriously thought about borrowing a book from my sighted boyfriend.”

I’ve noticed that when people do that kind of thing, it helps if I tell them it happens all the time. Jayden found the chair again and then we were called back.

He did great while I was weighed and measured and when the vitals were taken. Then we went into the exam room and he stayed by my feet. Suddenly I had to pee again. Carin, remember mafia guy bladder? Yeah. Crap. It’s my appointment time, but there’s no way I’m gonna be able to manage the doc prodding my abdomen. I began cursing the one cup of coffee I’d had in the morning along with my glass of milk. There was no waiting.

Now, before Jayden, this would have been a pain, to stik my head out and get some help. Instead, I walked out with Jayden and ran into the doc, asking if her if I had time to use the restroom, saying I was sorry with the bad timing. Jayden got me back out to the restroom and back into the exam room no problem, and quick. Would have taken forever with my cane.

When the doc came in she asked who the great dog was, but didn’t try and pet him. In fact, no one did. They all said how beautiful he was but everyone knew the rules.

The doc always does the interviewing part before the xam part and Jayden lay quietly at my feet. About a week ago, I had asked Carin what she does with Trixie while at the doc, because I honestly didn’t know. Do I have him lay beside the table and hold his leash? Carin said she just loops the leash around the chair leg and I figured that would work just fine. I don’t think it’s even necessary to tie Jayden to anything anymore, but it helps just as a precaution.

I warned the doc and the nurse that Jayden would probably give them the evil eye, as he did with my massage therapist when I first started seeing him. It’s like Jayden is saying, what the hell are you doing to my mom? He indeed was giving them the evil eye, which they thought was really cute, but once he realized that I was ok, he took a nap.

Everyone raved about how good he was. I can’t tell you how awesome the whole experience was, being at a place I knew and knowing I could show Jayden where to go. He understood “counter” and “door” and “chair” no problem.

When my doc said what a good dog he was, I made sure to say it was all in the raising. I told her his raiser was a teenager and he had been her first dog. My doc said, “she did a great job!” Yes, yes she did.

We’ll have another doctor adventure some time soon, as I need to see a specialist. It’ll be a place I’ve never been, but my doc’s medical assistant called around to find the most accessible location for me. I’m sure it’ll go off just fine. Everything’s ok, it’s an auto immune thing and now that I have Medicare, I can actually see a specialist.

My vitals and everything were good, I just need to get my labs done, which will be another adventure. I’ve got to find the best place to go. I’ll be cabbing that trip for reasons explained above. My doc was majorly excited about my weight loss. I told her I’ve lost 20 pounds. (I was glad to see that I hadn’t gained any weight even with Thanksgiving and my inactivity. Looks like my metabolism knows how to act now, and I’ve got enough muscle to keep the fat at bay.) My doc was curious and looked up what I weighed when I first started seeing her in 2004. Since then, I’ve lost a total of forty-six pounds! She reminded me that I was drinking back then, and she was happy to find out I’m still sober.

Oh yeah, I was freaking out a little bit after the second bathroom break, thinking that my doc had to be in there by at least 9:30 so I’d have time to use the restroom again before my early window time of 10:15. Damn mafia guy bladder. Sorry if TMI. 😉

I heard the van arrive right at 10:15 and made my way out to it. The driver took me home right away and no one else was on board, so the return trip went off without a hitch.

Oh wait, need to tell you about the lady on the way there. So another passenger gets on and of course she comments on how beautiful my dog is. Then she coughed and said, “sorry, he looked at me.” Alrighty then. She said, “he must have thought I was barking.” I forced a giggle. Then she asks if I’m training the dog. I explain that no, he’s my eyes. She asked how long they train. I explained about the puppy raising and then the guide work training. I can’t remember how I said I hadn’t always been blind, but she said, “it’ll be nice when there’s no blindness in the world.”

“Yeah, someday…” I said, thinking about stem cell research but deciding not to bring that up. It’s a touchy subject.

“Oh no,” she said, “it’s promised. The heavenly father said so.”

What to say. Anything? Hmmm. That’s your belief, I’m not gonna disagree. But hmmm.

“Actually, my life has gotten awesome since I went blind,” I said. It has! She didn’t speak again. What do you say to something like that? I mean, the God I believe in has no control over what we consider to be tragedies. Or maybe he does. I don’t pretend to know God’s will. I wasn’t going to have a theological debate with her though.

After I got home, I’ve literally been on the phone the entire rest of the day. Except for when my battery died and I turned the phone off to get a quick charge. Then my doc’s office called back while I started this post, I tried scheduling the specialist but they have to wait for the records to arrive, another call came in, and now I’m finally finishing this post. This day literally flew by. Wow! It was a great day. I’ve been so absent from life since not knowing if I was sick, starting the novel, the weather turning cold so I cuddled with Jayden and read books and ate pie and now it looks like I’m back to my regularly scheduled program. Ries are scheduled for the gym next week. I need my routines back! =D

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Filed under accomplishment, doc, Doggy Diaries, faith, Jayden, puppy raisers, white cane, working dog, workouts, wow