Category Archives: GDB

I’m Home

It wasn’t a geographical in the AA sense of things, since I wasn’t running away from something, I was running to something. And I think I’ve found way more than I bargained for.

That was the thought running through my head this morning that made me run to my computer after refilling my coffee, knowing I needed to write a blog post. I got out of bed early today since I lay awake thinking of how close I was to finishing the first draft of the memoir – finally. I used NaNoWriMo this year to fully commit to the memoir. I studied memoir in October, reading “The Memoir Project” by Marion Roach. The book was recommended on Twitter by Josh Hanagarne @JoshHanagarne), author of “The World’s Strongest Librarian”, and I will be forever grateful to him for that recommendation. The book showed me how to structure the memoir and how to plan to write it. It showed me to find the message I wanted to convey, and that helped me narrow down which parts of my life were relevant.

What I have is a 50,550 (cool number, eh?) word sketch draft of this memoir, with the ending I imagined while doing my prep work.

I have a finished, first terrible draft of a book!

I’m pretty sure it’ll be longer than what I have now, because as I wrote, I would remember things that will need to go in, but I just jotted those down as notes to be added during rewrites. I’ll be learning Windows and Jaws *gulp* for the editing process, because the Mac and Voiceover is sorely lacking in the word processing department. Luckily, I’m in the right place with a Windows geek who can help me with that. Pray for him. *wink wink*

When last I posted, I listed all the challenges I’d been through with my benefits. I had planned to post again with fun stories about moving here, and I’ll still do that, but not in this post. Today I just wanted to post about finishing my first draft, because the feeling is incredible. I’ve finished multiple drafts of two short stories now, and those felt great, but finishing the first draft of this memoir, a book that’s been fighting to get out since way back when I had a Blogger blog, feels absolutely incredible.

I think it’s this move to Washington. It felt like home before I ever got here, and I’m so grateful it has felt more and more like home the longer I’ve been here. My creativity has grown in leaps and bounds here. I can stand outside in the front yard and just be, just listen and feel and smell. It’s so alive here! Everything is alive. Grass, trees, the nearby ocean that I smell when I step outside, everything is living, including me.

Without a doubt, I know this is home now. though I suppose we’ll see what I say in February, eh?

I’ve had to put some money down on warm stuff, but not much. I got thermal underwear on Amazon that I wear every day under my sweats and three tops, ha! David’s, and now my, friend took me to Value Village for a member’s only sale. This woman knows how to bargain hunt! I got two winter coats and a bunch of warm stuff to wear around the house. I’m currently wearing wool socks, thermal pants, sweats, a tight tank top, thermal shirt, fleece shirt, hoodie, NaNoWriMo beanie, and fingerless gloves. I’m pretty much warm, ha! I freaking love it!

It’s not so fun when it’s wet, but I’m getting used to it. The raincoat I bought for guide dog school hangs in the mud room, ready to grab to keep dry, and I’m waiting on a rain coat I ordered from GDB for Jayden. I certainly never expected to be buying a doggy raincoat. I never expected to move to Washington, either, so it just goes to show how unreliable expectations are. Tip: don’t have expectations, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Near the end of October, while I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and taking a fiction writing class, we met up with some of David’s family and went to the Hobuck beach at Neah Bay. David, his son, and cousins, all surfed. In the cold. I’ll be trying it in the summer if all goes as planned. Hey now, watch those expectations.

For Thanksgiving, we went to David’s parents’s house for salmon dinner. A lot of Salmon is eaten here, which is excellent, because salmon is a good anti-inflammatory food. Antiinflammation food? Hmmm. Anyway, we eat a lot of salmon and I love it.

There have been challenges. I’m still ironing out all the benefits stuff. It turns out that Medicare does follow you from state to state, but if you have a Medicare advantage plan like I had in Arizona, tying Medicaid and Medicare together with an insurance company like United Healthcare, you have to do more than just cancel your state’s Medicaid. Unbeknownst to me, my Medicare stuck to Arizona even after I cancelled Medicaid, and the only reason I found out was because when my new doctor tried to write a neurology referral, my new health group didn’t take my Arizona insurance, which I thought I had cancelled. Long story short, I had to call Medicare and get on a basic plan, and get on a prescription drug plan. As far as I understand it, everything should be straightened out on December 1, and I’ll officially be a Washingtonian, *knock on wood*.

I wasn’t planning on going into all that, but the fingers write what the fingers write. I have another call to make about my Medicaid, because I have a navigator woman with my medical group, who said I should not be on that ridiculous spend down thing. So fingers crossed she’s right.

So there’s another update for you, my one dear reader *cough* Torie *cough*. I’m thinking as I revise the memoir, maybe I’ll post things that end up on the cutting room floor. Though perhaps not until I know for sure. Better safe than sorry.

***Tip*** When taking your dog to the beach, no matter how short a leash you have him on, he’s still at risk for beach gut. Did you know that’s a thing? Yup, that’s a thing. My did Jayden get sick. Silver lining: I took him to the neighbor’s vet, which I really liked.

13 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, family, GDB, gratitude, holiday, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, num num food, twitter me this, vet visit, Voiceover, weather, writing

Carnival Post: I Will Not Regret the Past (Except for the Purpose of this Post)

Posts are being written and compiled for the next round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, the topic of which is regrets. I’m down to the wire on this one. The deadline is in just over an hour as I paste my post into WordPress.

the first idea to come to mind when I pondered what I regret about my first and current guide dog, Jayden, is that we didn’t go to Muir Woods when we were at school together at guide Dogs for the blind. As if to punctuate that thought the day I was considering what to write about for the blog carnival, I ran across this article about Muir Woods’s tallest tree.

I knew about the trip to Muir Woods before I went to GDB and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I imagined beams of sunlight sneaking through the canopy of tall, stately redwoods, the scene suffused with a warm golden glow, a lovely and peaceful walk with my dog through the beauty of nature, the quiet and meditative quality of the stroll with my new partner, it was going to be beautiful.

My first mistake was having that expectation. Never, never have expectations. Nothing is ever what we think it will be.

My training at GDB was hard on me emotionally and physically and when it came time for the Muir Woods trip at the end of the three weeks, I didn’t have it in my heart to go. All I could think about was returning home with my boy and settling back in to life where I was comfortable, without instructors popping out and telling me what to do. why wouldn’t they tell me what to do? Even major league baseball players still have hitting coaches.

I regret being so damned willful.

What an experience that would have been, to stroll through those woods, to smell the trees, to take a break from the honking, humming and thumping of cars but I was just so tired. I was tired and I did not want to ride on the bus for an hour on a winding road, worrying about limiting my fluids, not just Jayden’s. Not being able to smoke. I regret that I used to be held hostage by nicotine.

Looking back, I always think Muir Woods would have been the perfect place to have that first amazing walk with jayden; our other walks were stressful for both of us while in class. I deeply regret letting the physical and mental fatigue win.

One of the ways I live today is not regretting the past, yet here I am doing just that. Jayden and I did have that first awesome walk together the day we arrived home in tucson and he guided me out of the airport, around concrete poles, following B through cold rain and biting wind to the car. I grinned the entire time even though it wasn’t majestic redwoods he guided me through.

Thinking about regrets is dangerous territory unless we look at regrets not as regrets, but as mistakes.

I made a mistake by not going to Muir Woods and I won’t make that mistake again. I learned my lesson. I have not turned down a trip since then and Jayden and I have had some pretty awesome experiences together.

If you wrote your own post on regrets for this blog carnival and if that post dredged up painful feelings, just remember the past cannot be changed and we only grow by making mistakes and learning from them.

On a lighter note,another regret I have is not teaching Jayden to stay out of the kitchen. I envy my friend Carin that she did with her guide and you can bet I won’t make that mistake again. This is a small regret, but it’s the only thing that can grow into a big thing when He won’t get out from under-foot. I’ve been able to teach him to stay on the couch when I put him there however, so I found a solution.

Oh and one more thing speaking of the couch, I regret that he was taught such good house manners with regards to furniture because here at home, he does not need permission every single time he wants up on the couch. It’s your couch too, buddy!

(Ok, that’s not really a regret since I’m incredibly grateful for his house manners. thank you to his puppy raisers!)

5 Comments

Filed under blog carnival, doggy school, fellowship, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, puppy raisers, sobriety, spoons, working dog

Blind People Can’t Do That – Changing our Expectations

My friend @BigBadEd sent me a link to a This American Life podcast episode this morning. I told him I’d listen while eating my serial, I mean cereal.

I had seen a retweet from Ed for a podcast asking the question, can expectations make blind people see. I gave it a split second thought about listening and then just kept reading tweets about the Golden globes and skipping passed pictures of cats. But then Ed specifically sent me a mention with a link to the podcast so I changed my mind and decided to listen. Why the initial hesitation? I had contempt prior to investigation and figured it was just more sighted people talking about something they think they know about even though they don’t. I trust Ed though and since he made it a point to bring my attention to the podcast, I decided it must be good. Especially since it’s a This American Life podcast and they brought us Serial which I loved. Also, the episode was called Batman. Huh? Did I hear that right? Yep, it’s called Batman and you can play it here.

I opened the tweet on my iPad and started the episode while I poured a bowl of chocolate frosted mini wheats. Shut up, they’re good.

The podcast begins with some fun science about rats that I found interesting. Maybe science is the wrong word. It was a social experiment with rats. Then it moved on to talking about this blind guy and I was like oh great a blind guy. A blind guy who clicks. This was nothing knew to me but it was entertainment while I ate my mini wheats.

This guy has been on the news showing off his clicking and I was like what’s special about him? He’s riding a bike which he can do because he can click? Before I went blind I saw a Dateline show or 20/20, one of those shows, about a blind kid who rode his bike and played basketball, all by clicking. Just the way this guy in the podcast rides his bike. the podcast acted like this had never been seen before and I just kept thinking about that kid I saw, literally months before I went blind. I even told B I should learn that clicking thing in case my other eye ever went blind. I clicked my tongue a few times, we had a laugh, I moved on. Just FYI, that is a really hard skill to learn, the clicking thing. He’s lucky he figured it out when he was a kid.

But then I warmed up to this guy on the podcast when he admitted how much he hates showing off his bike riding skills. It’s like, yeah I can ride a bike or bake cookies or take a computer apart or insert whatever it is that I or you or your kid or sister, blind or sighted, does. It’s like so what? That was this guy’s attitude.

One of the first blind people I met when I started getting my “blind education” at Saavi all those years ago is a guy just like this clicking guy except he doesn’t click. I was amazed by him, that he could get around the blind center without a cane. I was amazed by him because I was newly blind and didn’t have that confidence yet. Granted, I still would not walk around the blind center without a cane or Jayden like he does, but he was blind since he was a baby just like this clicking guy. When you learn skills as a child, it sticks.

*Aside* You know what’s weird? I had a dream about that guy just last night. The day before Ed sends me a podcast about a clicker guy who reminds me of dream guy. I was getting a manicure and the guy from Saavi walked in to tell me he got a Mac. He wanted to shake my hand but my nails were wet. Huh?*End aside*

So the podcast went on to talk about just that, and they talked to clicking guy’s mother and how she let him just be when he was a child. She let him climb trees and fences even when neighbors and the police told her oh no, he could get hurt. I was thinking, any kid could get hurt climbing a tree. I sure did when I was a kid. I remember watching a friend fall off our fence right on her face. We were all sighted. clicking guy’s mom let him be a normal kid and he’s grown up with the ability to see even though he has no eyes. The point was that her expectations for him were that he would be independent, especially when she saw how he developed ways of doing things without sight.

Ding ding ding! That’s when I got excited and thought about how my own blind life has been influenced by other people’s expectations for me. The point of the podcast was that we can see in our ways when the sighted stop putting expectations on us. There were interviews with other blind people, with professionals who work in the blind field etc. It turned out to be a very good podcast.

It got me thinking about how Saavi treated me when I started going there for training. They eased me into getting around there independently. On the podcast, they talked about how so many blind kids and newly blind adults are led around constantly, how food is brought to them etc. I thought back to my experience at Saavi and at Guide Dogs for the blind and they would certainly help you get around if you asked but they didn’t force the issue. After I learned how to use the white cane, I got around on my own at Saavi and actually led other blind people around who didn’t know the center yet. yes, the blind leading the blind. Saavi taught me how to safely use a knife and a stove. They taught by showing and then having us do. How else can one learn? I joke about Dave, my old orientation and mobility teacher, locking me in an elevator at the mall. Yes, it was a scary experience when he told me to go to the bottom floor and then come back up and then he walked out. My heart raced and I couldn’t believe he left me but how else was I to learn to do things on my own without him?

However out in the real world, people aren’t like the people at Saavi and GDB. They see a blind person getting near the street and freak the freak out. They don’t realize that being blind means we have to get up close and personal to something a sighted person can see from hundreds of feet away. I have to find a curb with my cane that you can see from way over there. Jayden can see it from way over there too but he has to take me right to it so I can feel it with my foot.

This is where the problem is and the podcast pointed that out when the clicking guy was working with a five year-old who had to find a curb by walking right up to it. His godmother freaked out and stopped the kid from learning how to do it his way.

Damn but this helped me understand the people in my life! When I’m on my own, I just do things. When I’m with B, the way I do things change. His expectations bleed on to me. When I’m out on my own I figure stuff out in my own way, the way I’ve had to learn to do. There’s no way sighted people can read my mind and know how I’m going to do something and the expectation is that “blind people can’t do that”.

Wow.

I never thought I would learn something about sighted people by listening to that podcast when it first started. Since I’ve gone blind I try to be an open book, to answer questions people have without getting offended because I remember when I was sighted being amazed by blind people. I don’t ever want to stop being open, but I did find myself being closed with that pesky contempt prior to investigation. I’m so glad I listened to it.

When the kid’s godmother stopped him while he was trying to find the curb, I thought back to an experience I had at the hotel in Florida. Jayden and I got lost and no one jumped out to help. I don’t think anyone was around or if they were, they were very quiet. Jayden and I wandered around for awhile until I got sick of being lost and asked a jogger for help.

That’s how it should bee. Don’t jump in and help because you assume someone needs it or that “blind people can’t do that.”

I could go on and on about this but just go listen to the podcast whether you’re blind or sighted. For the blind, it might shed some light for you on why the sighted are the way they are. For the sighted, well I can’t say what it might shed light on for you.

This goes so much deeper than how the sighted people’s expectations effect the blind. How about expectations about men and women, black and white? Could the root cause of all the isms out there simply be caused by expectations? We expect a woman to be weaker than a man, a white person to be better than a black person? Is it all down to expectations causing groups of people to be what they are? B thinks it would be dangerous for me to walk in my neighborhood since there’s no sidewalk, or along the nearby street that has a sidewalk but lots of driveways because he can’t imagine doing it the way I do it so that fear has rubbed off on me and I haven’t gone exploring even though I have the needed skills to avoid getting hit by a car. Heck, i pay more attention than some sighted people walking down the street texting. The news and social media expected the destruction in Ferguson. Did that have an effect on the people there? We expect people to act in a certain way so they do?

Food for thought.

PS – I appreciated that clicking guy said anyone could learn that skill and use it to ride bikes and hike and stuff as long as they didn’t have another disability stopping them.

Random Link from a Random Tab

A tab I had open when I opened the podcast link had a Mental Floss article about why electrical plugs are different in Europe. I thought I’d share for your inner Arthur Weasley.

1 Comment

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, dream, fellowship, GDB, Jayden, no no sightie, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, twitter me this, white cane, working dog

Walking and Writing

I’ve gotten a lot of work done on the novel today and I really want to get back to it but I need to write today’s post. Dang NaBloPoMo haha.

This afternoon B walked with Jayden and me to check out our street. It’s a nice residential street but unfortunately there are no sidewalks. We walked down our side almost to the end before turning back towards home. Jayden was very distracted by smells along the curb but he did a decent job of staying on the curb. I had to recall my sidewalkless street training from GDB and do a curb check every once in awhile. We crossed the street to go back and he was obsessed with trying to go up driveways. There’s an area near the house where there’s a complex of duplexes and there’s a sidewalk in front of them that Jayden happily took me to. It curves around alongside the main road so we followed it for a bit but there’s houses along there and B didn’t like the driveways. I think I’m going to check with GDB and see when there might be a representative out this way to do a refresher and help me learn the area. It was nice to take a walk with B though! He just sees the world as a sighted person with every danger a sighted person sees for the blind without the training to know what the blind can use their ears and guide dog to “see”.

I had started work on the novel this morning, taking a break for the walk, and then got right back to it. I got a few chapters done today. I’m learning I like to write by chapter. I’m taking out bits of the novel I had written years ago and refining it and shaping it. I’m getting good feedback from my test reader so it’s very exciting! Ok, back to it. Not editing this post. I want to get back to work.

Leave a Comment

Filed under GDB, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2014, working dog, writing

Tampa Bay Trip – Day Two

Ok, so day two of the trip of a lifetime. This day was supposed to be a recovery day after traveling. It’s a good thing I planned a recovery day in case I needed it, but I didn’t need it. I must have slept hard after staying up late the night before talking with Manda. The Starbucks iced mocha after I landed in Tampa was probably partly to blame for staying up late haha. I would have slept later if not for the seagulls. Did you know those birds scream in the mornings? wow. Oh and my room was right next to the pool. And there were a lot of kids staying at the hotel. The combination of seagulls and kids screaming makes it pretty impossible to sleep too late. It’s a wonder I slept as long as I did. Thank you, ear plug.

I got up and for once Jayden didn’t get excited the second I got out of bed. I could imagine him laying on the bed, opening one eye to look at me and then deciding he was on vacation and didn’t need to budge. I used the coffee maker in the room to warm up water to make my Starbucks instant coffee. That is the best way to avoid nasty hotel coffee. At least it usually is. The coffee maker didn’t make very hot water so I woke up with some lukewarm coffee and checked email and Twitter on the iPad.

I had made plans with Davis for that morning. I had asked if he could bring Egg McMuffins since I can never get to a McDonald’s before they stop serving breakfast. Foiled again though, since I didn’t wake up until around 10am. Why couldn’t those meddling kids have woken me up earlier?

Davis came buy anyway because he wanted to see how Voiceover works on my iOS devices. Davis is blind in one eye and since meeting me, some of the fear of losing his good eye has gone. It was good for him to see how technology still works for me. I showed him some of the apps I use that help me identify objects and color and text. He’ll just need to switch to iOS from Android haha. Though I hear Android is making great strides in accessibility.

After the technology demo I was feeling a little hungry so Davis and I went to downtown St. Petersburg. I had decided I wanted to try the Tijuana Flats place he goes to all the time. The weather was absolutely beautiful! There was some car rase going on downtown and when I opened the car door I was greeted by the distant whine of racecars! So cool! Oh we had also driven by Tropicana Field. I’d finally be there the next day!

When we went to the counter they all knew Davis by name and after he introduced me, one of the girls started calling me Arizona. Nice! Like Alabama in the Quentin Tarantino movies!

I ordered nachos and got a plate big enough for Hagrid to eat. I check in on Foursquare where Davis is the mayor so in the comment on the checkin I wrote, “Lunch with the Mayor”. I think my dad thought I meant the actual mayor haha!

I don’t have a picture, but I VandalEyesed the napkin dispenser.

After we ate we walked over to Starbucks so I could get more of the Via instant coffee. It turns out the ones I bought in Tucson with my friend Lori were not the right kind even though Lori specifically tried to make sure they were. The barista had kept trying to give me decaf. The ones I finally got were caffeinated but they turned out to be the iced coffee blend, which I didn’t know until Manda read the package at the hotel. All that joking Lori and I did about my Florida friends not wanting to see me decaffeinated and I still ended up with the wrong coffee. So we got the right stuff and Davis drove back to Treasure Island.

We took Jayden to his litter box and then decided to walk down to the water. I took a couple videos. Too bad the iPhone can’t block wind sound. That’s loud! The first one is a little over two minutes as we were walking. I’m holding the phone so I bet it’s bouncy haha. The second one is about 45 seconds with feet in the water. I tried to get Jayden reacting to the waves.


Direct youtube link #1

Direct youtube link #2

The sand there is not like what I’m used to. It’s not fine like the sand in San Diego. There’s a lot of history about the Treasure Island beach that Manda told me about the night before but I can’t remember the details. There’s actually plants and trees on the beach which I can’t even begin to fathom. The waves didn’t roar like they do in SanDiego since Treasure Island is on the bay. I didn’t feel the power and enormity like I did in San Diego. It’s a gentle tied. It’s like a different world!

After Davis left I hung around for a little bit and then Manda came over so we could write in the cards I got from the Guide Dogs for the Blind store to put the tickets to the suite. I had the suite schedule for each of the three nights so I would tell Manda who the card was for and how many tickets and she’d describe the puppy pictures on the cards. It was good times! I told her what to write in the cards and several times I got emotional. The enormity of the trip had finally sunk in. Tomorrow I would be going to the Trop for the first time and I’d be meeting even more people. I was suddenly exhausted!

I don’t know how we got through all those cards. We took a break at one point and ordered Cheesesteak delivery.

Manda organized the cards into piles so we could keep them all straight. I don’t remember what time we finished and called it a night. I just remember being exhausted from getting so emotional. I thought I would sleep like the dead. I didn’t sleep at all. I rotated between trying to sleep, listening to my book, checking Twitter, but no sleep. How was I going to manage Opening Day on no sleep?

3 Comments

Filed under #RoToTrop, accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, coffeeholic, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, misty eyes, num num food, plugs, silly girl, spoons, twitter me this, video, Voiceover, weather, working dog, wow, youtube

The Latest

Singing hurts when your jaw hurts, did you know that? Whoa, why did my iTunes radio just stop? Odd. It’s like it knew I had just written that singing was painful. Oh well, I put on some local radio since I had just been thinking it would be nice to hear some other music mixed in with the Christmas music I had been listening to on iTunes radio.

Christmas music? You’re listening to Christmas music?

Why yes, yes I am. I don’t start listening to it as early as most seem to do, like right after Halloween, but I was in the festive spirit this morning and Christmas music lifts my spirits. I just need to remember that singing hurts. This station doesn’t seem to be playing regular music with Christmas music though. Anyway, I wanted to write an update about my dental hell, er health, not music.

I can’t remember what I last wrote about though, let me go take a gander. Oh so I did already write about irrigating the sockets and stuff. I had completely forgotten. Wow. Next time I whine about my normal MS fog, I need to remember the pain and Vicodin induced fog, ok?

I had decided to write a post while I was having some chocolate ice cream for lunch. Yum, right? Yes, when you are having ice cream as a treat. Not so much when you just need calories and sugar in you because you were dizzy but if you ate anything solid you’d have to irrigate your sockets so ice cream is just easier. Also, I really like additives in my ice cream like chocolate chips or brownies. My how I mis texture!

I am developing an addiction to Stouffer’s mac and cheese. I’ve always liked it but since it’s really the only thing thats comfortable to eat right now, I’m eating a lot of it. So wait, is this addiction or dependence? I am dependent on Stouffer’s mac and cheese. Hi, I’m Ro and I’m a Stouffer’s mac and cheese addict. Hi Ro!

Speaking of addiction, I’m keeping a very close eye on me and this Vicodin. When it comes time to take a pill I take stock of my pain to make sure it’s needed. I told my massage guy last night that one thing I’ve noticed about being on Vicodin is that the rest of my body benefits from it, too. However I hate hate hate the additional cognitive issues and it makes me sleepy.

My sleep has been all over the place. I’ve really noticed that my sleep seems to be effected whenever I introduce a new medication of any kind. Wednesday night I could not get to sleep, which is usually never a problem. After B came to bed I decided to get up for a bit thinking that would help but when I went back to bed I was still wide awake so I just didn’t sleep at all on Wednesday night. I had a massage at 4pm Thursday and luckily was able to doze for a bit in the afternoon before the appointment and last night I slept all the way through after waking briefly when B came to bed. We both said uh oh, but I fell back to sleep quickly.

This morning I thought I might be able to clean up my kitchen but no. Just making the bed and messing with some tangled computer cables wore me out. I’m just so under nourished! I forgot to ask B to grab some Ensure from the store yesterday. I started sweating while organizing the cables and had to turn the heater off.

The heater? In Arizona?

It’s rainy and cold out, yes. We do get cold weather sometimes. I turned the fan on and before long I was cold. I’m glad I’m having my thyroid checked next month though I suspect the elevated temperature sensitivity has to do with all the work my body is doing to heal my mouth and the narcotic in my system might have something to do with it as well.

So that’s where it stands. The left side of my mouth doesn’t hurt at all anymore but that pesky right side is taking forever to catch up. That’s the side that had a really deep root and the pain goes all the way down to my jaw and up into my ear. Woo hoo!

I have more dental work to get done next year but there’s no way there will be this much pain. I’m glad I did all the extractions at once so that when this is done, it’s just done.

You know what I can’t wait for? Chili Cheese Fritos!

Oh PS – My massage guy and his wife adopted a career changed dog from GDB and when she was dropping me off last night, A said Jayden always looks so happy. She said she’s been paying more attention to the guide dogs at work and some of them look so sad. She said whatever I’m doing keep doing it. That made me happy because it was a great compliment, but sad knowing there are miserable looking guide dogs. I remember hearing a woman talking to her guide dog one day at the blind center and the angry edge in her voice was sharp as glass and I thought, poor dog.

I got to thinking last night about Jayden being a happy dog and beyond the fact that I love him more than life, I think I just always remember that he’s a living being first and a service dog second. I’m just so glad he looks happy! He has been such a rock for me during this last really really difficult couple months, as always.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Dental Health, GDB, guide dogs, holiday, iTunes, Jayden, music, num num food, spoons, weather

Doggy Diaries – Together Three Years

Today is three years since I was matched with Jayden! I just can’t believe it. It feels like last month that I was given the perfect dog to be my guide and companion in this chapter of my life. I love this dog so much! He’s curled up on the couch beside me. I think I wore him out a bit with all the spoiling hehe! He went on a run around the house earlier when I asked if he wanted a banana, making B and me laugh. He has added so much to our life!

Every anniversary I look back on the writing from Dog Day. I’m so glad I have it! I’ll paste the first two here and then link to the third. All of the writing from that day is raw and unedited.

***

Today is dog day! I can’t believe it’s finally here! I got to work with two dogs in training yesterday, just doing some heeling and obedience, and it was the coolest thing.

I’m all over the place in this journal. I just started this one for today even though I haven’t finished the first one I started writing lol. But I just couldn’t finish that one on Dog Day.

Three people got their dogs last nighty. They are retrains who chose the three week retrain class over the two week one. None of them have dogs from GDB, oh wait no one did, I think, yeah. But the other two didn’t. The other two had in home training through another school, and the one has a german shepard who was just getting way too protective. The other person’s dog started getting a soft esophogus. Not sure why the third person had to retire her dog.

Anyway, so at dinner last night, I’m exausted. We had done lots of Juno work and the work with the two dogs and we also did work in downtown San Rafael and it was actually hot. I didn’t prepare because I didn’t realize we’d be doing a long Juno walk, so I got pretty hot. So we got back and actually had an hour and a half free time before dinner, yay! I talked to B and my dad and uncle and was about to get in the shower when Carin called the room phone, awesome! She put up a blog post for me, letting everyone know I ws safe but had no internet. That morning, Barb called. She’s Carin’s best friend in Canada and I’m staying in her old room hehe! So that was great.

AFter phone calls I got in the shower since after dinner was yoga. So I’m sitting there all exausted and one of my table mates says, I’ve got my dog here!

I think he had been bursting to tell me and the other table mate hehehe! Both of us were shocked; we had no idea there was a dog there. So the guy is like yeah! I just got him an hour ago! He told us his name and that he’s a yellow male and we were so happy for him. Then he told us the other two got their dogs. So then I was all excited. I tured to my table mate and was like, that’s us tomorrow! Gary told me we’ll get the dogs before lunch! Gary is a trainer and he’s really cool.

So I eat and we’re talking and then I wanted to check in with the others who got their dogs so I went over to their tables and they told me about their dogs, a black female and another yellow male. Sweet!!

I went back to the room and Called Carol. I didn’t have a lot of time before yoga but I wanted to say hi. So we talked briefly and then I went down for yoga. I wasn’t going to do it because I was sooot tired but I also don’t want shin splints, and my body was hurting. I had packed my work out clothes for yoga, so I might as well, right?

The retrains had to leave their dogs on tie down for class and one of them was like, I don’t know why I’m doing this, I didn’t want to leave my dog already.

Yoga was fab though. Felt great! Then I had to crawl in to my damn hard bed. It’s awful. So now I’m all sre again. And I never sleep to the alarm. I did a little better last night, but still didn’t sleep well at all.

So now it’s 6:23am and breakfast is in a little under an hour. I guess I should get dressed and then wait. After breakfast I think we’re doing more Juno and then we get our dog before lunch. Insert will have a name soon! Holy crap! Ok, I should be able to write while I’m waiting for them to bring me Insert!!

***

We had a lecture on meeting your dog and then the instructors took their sweet time coming to tak to us. they went around the room and gave everyone theier dog’s names. three no four people were ahead of me and there were some funky names, thats for sure. one guy asked if he could change it and then kept talking. they gave another lady her dog’s name and then they got to me.

you will be receiving a yellow labrador male named Jayden. J-a-y-d-e-n.

Wow! Jay jay, jay, jayden. I kept whispering the name. Jayden. Yellow male. Jayden, wow!

Then it was time to go back to our rooms and wait. So Here I am. Waiting. My door is open, I hear a vacuum, people talking, footsteps. I wonder how long I’ll wait? They are taking me to an instructor’s office to meet Jayden. So I just wait. I’m not calling anyone. I thought about texting Carin or calling friends or family or B but I just want this time to myself, to listen, to write. Jayden. I’m not crying yet. I feel a little misty. Will I cry when I meet him? I just heard an instructor say Gary are you eady? I think they’re starting. Who are they taking? I just heard another classmate say his dog’s name.

Oh man. Jayden. Lala. I hear people. Gootsteps. They pssed my room.

I have my leash around my neck and my treat pouch on. Jayden. Jayden. Jayjay. I wonder who won the pool. I get to go look at that soon. I hear them. They are taking the person across from me. Oh my goodness. I think they are going backwardsd which means I might be next. I need Gatorade. Ok that’s better. So glad I have my computer to write down this moment. I’m not recording it. I don’t want to focus on a stupid iPod when I have a Jayden!

La la la. Hmmm. I wonder who his raisers are. Yellow fur will be good in the sun. Good. Oh it’s gonna be Jayden, Spinelli, Timmy and Fi. Hehehe!

Insert is Jayden. I think I got the most normal name hahaha! I love it! It’s pretty quiet out there now. Quiet quiet. Something rolling. Cleaning people maybe. I hear them coming back. I hear her dog, the woman across from me. I might be next. Yep she’s coming back! Oh dear. Am I next? Am I? Am I? He’s walking away. I hear the lady across from me talking to her dog. Oh goodness. I hear an instructor again.

Ok I heard “do you wanna get the next dog ready?” Is that Jayden? Is it? Nerves. Can’t wait! Oh goodness. Where are they. It’s finally hear. Ok now I feel like I might cry. The lady across from me is crying, softly talking to her dog. My hands are trembling. Lump in throat. tears in my eyes. Jayden, yellow lab male, Jayden. Ok crying now. footsteps.

***

And here is the link to the third part. I had been without internet so I was writing and saving documents until I was able to post.

I’ve been thinking about that three weeks at school a lot lately coming up on this anniversary. It is still the hardest and most amazing thing I have ever done in my entire life! Thank you, GDB, for my incredibly awesome yellow mellow guide dog, Jayden!!!! Jaybay, Jayden Bailey, love him so much!

3 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, anniversary, Doggy Diaries, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, on this date, working dog

Carnival Post – Top Ten

Here is the complete Carnival!

***

It’s the tenth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival! Click here to read about what the blog carnival is and click here to read about this round and it’s topic. The ADBC has come full circle in this round, being hosted by the original host, After Gadget.

I have had the ultimate writer’s block but really wanted to submit since I submitted in the first round. I’m just going to write and not try to be organized haha! The topic for this post is “Perfect Ten”. I wracked my brains trying to come up with an idea but my inner creative chick is still sleeping apparently so I’m just going to jump in to some free form and see what comes out. Sometimes writing about Jayden is like trying to express gratitude. I tend to get very flustered when my heart is so full.

Jayden isn’t perfect and nor am I but I always say our match was perfect. Guide Dogs for the Blind was perfect in matching Jayden to me. I can’t imagine anything that is lacking from our partnership. When GDB asked me what I wanted in a dog I had no idea since I grew up with cats. I told them I just needed a chill dog who would be ok when my MS flared up and I needed to rest. I think GDB gave me the most chill dog available haha! He is cool with whatever I need. He loves to relax on the couch with me but when I need him to work he snaps to attention like a soldier. He has gotten so in tune with me that he knows exactly what I need, sometimes before I do. He’ll slow down on walks when he knows I’m tiring. Sometimes I try to speed him up and he disobeys and then I feel my fatigue. He knows before I do; it’s pretty crazy! He really was the perfect match in so many ways. I’m amazed at these schools and how well they do in the matching process.

I never imagined all the added bonuses (non guide work stuff) that would come with a guide dog. Let’s see if I can come up with ten added bonuses:

Good Potassium Numbers

When I was in the hospital when I went blind, my potassium was dangerously low. They gave me a pill and after I saw my doctor upon my release, she ordered a banana a day. That didn’t work out so well because I couldn’t make bananas last long enough; they went bad so quickly. After I got Jayden, I remember his raiser telling me Jay loved bananas. Now my potassium stays in good shape thanks to bananas and orange juice. How could anyone not want to share a banana with a dog who goes crazy when he hears the question, “do you want a banana?” (That link has audio) Oh and orange juice taste even better when it’s a banana chaser!

Tear Soaker Upper

I should have known what a comfort Jayden would be when I’m sad. Heck even my cats have soaked up tears over the years but they don’t hold still like Jayden does. Since Jayden and I have that incredibly strong bond of assistance dog and handler, he knows when I need him to just lay still and let me cry on him. It’s a good thing tears don’t hurt his coat haha!

A Schedule A Dog Makes

One of the hardest parts about going blind and being medically retired was the sudden loss of a schedule. Weekends were no longer anything special since every day was like a weekend. Working folk think this would all be a dream come true but when you’re twenty-nine and suddenly can’t be self supporting, it’s a huge loss of identity. It’s amazing what a schedule will do to add a sense of purpose, at least it did for me. Jayden is on a feeding and relieving schedule very similar to what he had at guide dog school. Working my life around his schedule led me to realize how great schedules can be for adding structure to my otherwise structureless life. I’ve since come up with workout and cleaning schedules that turn my week into a “work week” and allow me to enjoy weekends with B. Amazing how a pee schedule for my guide dog turned my day-to-day life into something more “normal”.

Fitness Lives

When I decided to get a guide dog I knew I’d have to do some work to build up my stamina. I needed to be able to walk a mile since I’m pretty sure that was one of the requirements for acceptance to GDB. Luckily the blind center has a gym and a health and wellness program and my name came up on the waiting list at the same time I decided to apply to GDB. Serendipity? My whole life I’ve wanted to be fit and healthy but it’s hard without guidance and I was never successful. I reached my goal of being prepared for guide dog school but I never stopped with the fitness. It has since become something of an addiction for me and since I no longer can work out at the blind center, I’ve developed a program for myself at home. I’m more fit that I’ve ever been and exercise has been the best form of treatment for the MS. This might be the most important added bonus!

Ex-Smoker

Ok this is easily a tie with the fitness as one of the best added bonuses. Anyone who smokes or used to smoke knows how hard it is to quit. For me it was easier to quit drinking than it was to quit smoking. Jayden became another motivation however, when I thought about what would happen to him if I wasn’t around. I also hated exposing him to that and I’ve now been quit over a year.

Someone To Watch Over

I’ve never wanted children. Ever since I was a teenager I didn’t want children. It’s almost as if something prepared me for my future. It’s not that I can’t have kids now,I’m fully capable, but I wouldn’t have the energy. The MS is definitely my primary disability, not the blindness. However as a woman, it’s in my nature to want to care for something. I worked in therapy about the choice not to have children because even though for years I told myself I didn’t want them, there was still this huge sense of loss when I realized I would never carry a child and rase an adult. Jayden has filled a huge part of that void and that is something I certainly never expected. I knew going into this partnership that Jayden would look to me to fill his needs but I never expected the fulfillment I get out of being that person for him! I take pride when the vet tells me how good his teeth look or when a fellow dog lover tells me how great he looks. Yes, he was raised by another before he came to me, but I’ve continued to mold and shape him and care for him and I think of him as my child. I think most animal owners think of their pets as their kids, I know I always did with my cats, but this goes so much deeper. I never expected my guide dog to fill most of the void left by the child I’ll never have.

Fear Management

The first summer after I went blind we had an insane monsoon season and during one particularly bad storm, I asked B to go into the spare room and get the cat out of there. I can’t remember why I wanted her out. B went to go get her and then I heard shattering glass and the door slam and I started screaming, not sure where B was. The wind had been howling and whistling, sounds I had never heard before. B was ok, he had just come out of the room when the wind blew the window in and caused the door to slam. After that I was terrified of wind. I was afraid I would transfer this fear to my dog so I asked at school what to do about that. I was told to just try and be as cool as possible and make storms fun for my dog. I never imagined how this would cure me of my fear! Now the wind has to be really bad to scare me but I don’t panic like I used to. I just calmly take Jayden with me to a safe spot in the house and “cuddle”. I feel safer and he doesn’t get freaked out. I love this added bonus! That fear of wind was getting debilitating before Jayden came around.

Ultimate Feet Warmer

As I’ve been writing this off and on over the last few hours, Jayden has been in several positions on the couch next to me. While I was writing the last bit, he got off the couch and lay down on my feet. It’s almost like he was saying, “don’t forget to include how much you love it when I lay on your feet!” There is just something so comforting about the weight of him on my feet and nothing is better at warming them! I love it when he does this. The only negative about when your dog is comfortable with some part of him resting on you is that you don’t want to disturb him and therefore don’t move. I’m pretty sure my feet are going to fall asleep haha!

Attitude Adjustment

It’s really hard to stay in a bad mood when you have a goober head constantly cheering you up. I might be feeling depressed and then it’s time for Jayden’s afternoon Kong Wobbler treat. I’ve taken to pronouncing “wobbler” so it sounds very French and you can’t stay in a bad mood when you’re asking your dog if he wants his Wobbler in a high pitched silly French accent. Then when he’s done with it and I ask him to show me and he takes me to where he left it, I get so proud and excited and he gets thrilled to get his reward “cookie”, that I find myself grinning so big my cheeks ache.

Fellowship

When I decided to apply for a guide dog, I told my friend Chupa that I wanted to start a blog to document the process. I jokingly said I could call it Doggy Diaries or something. She said I totally should and my old Blogger blog was born along with the Doggy Diaries category. Before I knew it I was a part of a fellowship of other guide dog handlers and puppy raisers and I felt so apart of the blind community, finally. I felt so alone when I went blind since no one I knew understood what I was going through. There was one woman I spoke with on the phone, a friend of a friend and it was actually her guide dog who was the first guide dog I met. This blog though, led me to the people who helped me feel not so lonely and they came with me on the journey of getting a guide dog. Some of those people are still my closest friends today and I bet some of those people are submitting posts for this very carnival. The fellowship in the guide dog community is certainly one I never in a million years expected when I applied to GDB in September of 2009!

Ok wow, my arms are aching something awful but look, I wrote the post! Haha, and it turned out more organized than I thought it would. I’ll come back and add a link to the complete carnival post when it’s up.

3 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, blog carnival, cats, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, guide dogs, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, monsoons, num num food, puppy raisers, relieving, spoons, therapy, weather, working dog, workouts, youtube

My thoughts on the RNIB ad that’s causing such a stir

I had been noticing several tweets referencing an ad the RNIB put out for fundraising. The RNIB serves the blind and visually impaired community in the UK.

Today I finally asked what the stir was and was directed to this youtube of the ad. The ad features the story of Emma, a little girl who is losing her vision. The stars fade away and one day she’s blind, calling out to her mother who she can’t see. The uproar over the ad is over the use of such a story to ask for money, because the story portrays blindness negatively and makes being blind sound like the end of a life, since Emma can no longer have the childhood she once had.

Here is where I will try and control myself. We all have different experiences. Someone who can’t remember seeing isn’t going to relate to Emma. Someone who is well adapted to blindness either because they’ve been blind since birth or have been blind for a long time, isn’t going to relate to Emma. Such people will be offended at the way blindness is portrayed.

I relate to Emma. The stars didn’t fade over time for me. The last time I saw the stars I didn’t know it was my last time. My surroundings faded away in the space of one day. I didn’t have the presence of mind to stare at my cat or a picture of my mom before my sight faded. I did stare at my boyfriend as my sight faded, and just made out the three lines on my three year sobriety medallion before my sight faded. So I relate to Emma.

Does my story make you misty? Do you think you might be more apt to donate to an organization that helps the blind? How about my guide dog school? Are you moved to help?

How is that any different than the ad featuring Emma, a child who will have to relearn how to do things with her friends? I had to relearn how to do things with my friends and I wasn’t even a child. I’m in awe of the fact that Emma will be able to ride a bike again and I’m blind. Should I not be in awe of her?

We need organizations like the RNIB, ACB, NFB, local blind centers etc. I wouldn’t have the life I have today without the blind center here or Guide Dogs for the Blind where I got my dog, and those places need money. A person with a lot of money to donate who isn’t blind or low vision or knows someone who is might just have a child Emma’s age and when they think about their own child losing their sight, they can personalize blindness, making it easier for them to open their wallets.

The RNIB wasn’t asking for four pounds a day or whatever it was to fund a vacation for the CEO. They were asking for help for future people who will need their help. I just don’t have a problem with it. I understand those who do, I suppose. I can try to understand, I guess, but all I have is my own experience which is very much like the child Emma’s.

Plus, the narrator sounded like the butler from Downton Abby and I love that show.

6 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, GDB, gratitude, misty eyes, mom, sobriety, twitter me this, youtube

Doggy Diaries – Jayden’s clean bill of health and perfect teeth

We saw the vet today for Jayden’s second wellness check since we’ve been together. I’m still having a difficult time believing we are in our third year together already!

Jay was given a clean bill of health and the vet asked if he can use me as an example. An example of what, you might ask? An example for how to keep a dog’s teeth in perfect condition. Why yes, you may.

I explained that GDB pounded into our heads about good grooming habits, not only because our dogs go into public, but also for the health of the dog. I have no desire to have to have Jayden put under for a teeth cleaning, and he enjoys getting his teeth brushed haha! Really it’s just the fact that the toothpaste tastes good and not the brushing itself.

I also explained that Jayden has a variety of Nylabones he chews constantly and his favorite toy, the Kong Wubba with the burlap type material, makes for great teeth scrapings in between brushes.

Jayden weighed a perfect 65 pounds which is right where he was when we left school and the vet had no complaints about his belly like last year. Jayden had indeed gained some weight at our visit last year, and the vet taught me that his belly should be right in line with his last rib, so that really has helped me make sure he felt at the right weight.

His years looked great, eyes, feet, everything. He’s in perfect health!

Thank God. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been at least a little worried about today’s visit with how this year has gone so far. Once again, Jayden is the one concrete and constant thing in my life. I don’t think I’d be as ok as I am without him.

Oh, while waiting for my ride, a girl with her little puppy complimented Jayden’s behavior and I gave credit to the puppy raisers. I always do when I get compliments on how Jayden behaves. Sure, I have to keep that up, but his puppy raiser is who trained him. I told the vet as well, when he commented on how good Jayden was about having his nails clipped. I explained that the people Jayden grew up with made sure to touch him everywhere, knowing that his blind handler would need to go by touch to make sure to find anything abnormal.

Another woman exclaimed, “what a beautiful animal!” when we walked out of the exam room. Jayden really is the lady killer, I gotta tell ya.

I also had a brief discussion with the handler of a German Shepherd who was there when Jay and I arrived. The dog was originally trained to be his wife’s wheelchair service dog but retired after becoming way too aggressive in wanting to protect her. The man said his dog was surprisingly calm around Jayden, even though jayden was staring him down. This dog was a hundred pounds, compared to Jayden’s sixty-five haha!

Going to the vet is just so much fun when we’re there for check-ups. Jayden forgets all about me when we’re in the exam room. He hangs out by the door waiting for the doc and his techs to come in hehe!

This post is all over the place. What else, oh, GDB grads? Are you remembering to have your vet fill out the wellness report we got in our binders? Remember the vet at school telling us only fifty percent of grads do this? Remember how these reports go into making our dogs great by tracking the health of the breeding lines?

I told my vet this poor stat and he was surprised. He said it doesn’t take any time at all to fill it out and they are more than happy to help the school. I always take my binder with me when going to the vet. Are you doing that too? I feel it’s my duty to have this little form filled out for GDB after all they have done for me.

Ok, I think that’s it as far as the vet visit. Finally something happy making to write about. Tomorrow is the first Rays spring training game, so there should start to maybe be some happy baseball posts, though writing about baseball last year kind of broke the writer in me haha, so maybe not.

1 Comment

Filed under Doggy Diaries, dogs, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, puppy raisers, vet visit