Category Archives: goalball

Blah

I just thought I’d write quickly, since I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been doing my fall cleaning, even though fall still hasn’t hit us yet. We set a record yesterday; 104 degrees. Blech. I’m so sick of this heat.

I’m grateful to have been able to really tackle the deep cleaning our house has needed. I’m not sure if it’s all the cleaning I’ve been doing or what, but holy hell do I feel terrible today. Just out of no where. Attack of the spoon thief I guess. Except my hands hurt. My hands and my wrists and all my joints. Normally I would say that means rain. There are rumors of rain and cooler temps next week, but who knows.

I’m supposed to play Goalball again tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe my body said no cleaning today so I’d have energy tomorrow.

I’m reading blogs, just not commenting much. My mental energy has been on the fritz too. Maybe that’s why cleaning is a good passtime when the body is up for it haha.

Anyway, that’s what’s up. Nothing much to report; just business as usual. 🙂

Oh yeah, happy birthday Gamma! 86. Wow.

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Filed under birthday, desert life, Gamma, goalball, spoons, weather

A whole lotta Goalball

I have two words for the day after Goalball: ouch pain. That just about sums it up. I didn’t write yesterday because my arms were sore, but I should have known it would be even worse after sleeping for awhile and not moving. I know moving will help, but it hurts to move, so I’m just stuck haha!

Despite the pain, I am hooked!

When I was a pool player, the words “wanna play some” were just what you used at the pool hall, when trying to find someone to play with. If I wasn’t already with someone, I would scope out the kind of player I wanted to play with. If I was with a group of people, I’d ask that question of the one I knew would challenge me.

I have so missed pool since going blind. It’s been the one thing I just can’t do now.

So when I decided to try Goalball, I had hoped it would rekindle my competitive spirit. Did it? You bet it did. I wanna play some, now!

I woke up at the arse crack thinking we had better actually be able to play, unlike last week. I guess last week was the dry run for getting to the gym, so it wasn’t all a wash. I wasn’t nervous at all yesterday like I was last week since we had already done it. I was however, really tired. Last week we had some storms come in which brought on a pretty icky fatigue. I didn’t go work out at all, which is again that whole movement helps but it hurts to move catch 22. Basically I had been too tired to get to the gym. Probably if we had Star Trek technology and I could have just beamed there, it would have been ok. But when my spoons are low, it’s just too much to get myself and Jayden ready and wait for transportation, so we didn’t go work out last week.

I made sure to tell Lisa I still wasn’t at my best and of course she understood.

I guess you can tell the doors were open this time. Yep! Jayden got me there again no problem and this time we could go in. When I had been there with Dave though, we couldn’t get down to where the restroom is, so after Lisa was done setting up the court, she showed Jayden and me where the ladies locker room is.

Ok, think about all the scary high school killer movies you’ve ever seen. You know the ones. Imagine the scene in the basement of the school. That’s this place, haha!!

Stairs and twists and turns and zigs and zags and the thump thump thumpy heart beat of the building’s boiler room. Freddy Krueger anyone? Jayden was having the time of his life. You know that prance they get when they are really enjoying the work? Oh yeah. Jayden was prancing. And not the I have to relieve prance. I could feel his tail thumping my leg and he was pulling me through all the zigs and zags like it was a maze. Fun!

After that I got us settled in our spot and Jayden got all excited when the crochet mat came out of my bag. I brought his Goughnut but he wasn’t interested. He got settled and Lisa brought me some pads to try out. She had told me not to buy any until I knew I wanted to play. She had two different kinds of knee and elbow pads and I picked the ones I liked the most. She said hip pads are optional, and she’s going to have me playing in a down position, meaning I won’t be falling as far, so I might not need hip pads. She showed me some that she uses that she made herself, and they also have football player type pads. Another girl was there and she played last year. She plays in a down position and doesn’t use hip pads, so I tried without. I’m still not sure if I’ll use them or not, as my hip is a little sore, but not bruised.

I put the knee and elbow pads on and knelt and exclaimed that I needed these for cleaning the bathtub haha! Then I started crawling and sliding all over the floor. Yes, I am a goofball.

Lisa gave me court orientation. She had told me before that cords would be stretched on the court for orientation, so I had been imagining big old ropes haha! Um, no. The cords are about as big as a clothesline maybe. They are ducktaped to the floor. I was like, how do you feel those when you’re playing??? She assured me I would.

I’m not gonna remember all the terms, but basically you have a rectangle all along the basketball court. Where the baskets are is the goal line. The goal stretches along the whole width of the cort on both sides. Then you have your perimeter line on the long sides. That’s the foul line or something. Then you have a line maybe three feet from the goal line that is perpendicular to the foul line, and that’s the wing line. It only juts into the court about two feet maybe. Then you have the point line I think, then the high ball line. That line is in the middle of the court and you can’t cross that when you’re throwing or you get a penalty.

I would be playing wing. I thought there would be no way I’d stay oriented on that court, no way. When you get a ball, you have to back up to the goal line to start your throwing approach. You have ten seconds. Are you serious?

After that we started off with warm-up drills that took awhile. Jake, the other coach, said we’ll usually do those pretty quick, but Lisa had to show me each of them. First we did a couple laps around the gym and I just did human guide with Lisa. After that I think were these lateral shuffle steps across the gym, then butt kickers lol. You run across the gym kicking your but with your heel. I was joking that the girls were all graceful and when the boys did it it souded like thunder.

Then we did this karaoka thing that I’m not even gonna try and describe. Oh yeah, and high knee skipping. That one was fun.

Then we got on the floor and did hands and feet. Lisa got me into defensive position. You lay on your side and stretch your legs out, lifting your top leg about hip height. My old Pilates workouts helped with that. You stretch your arms over your head and hold your top arm over your face, holding your head back. Hands are held spred out, about shoulder width apart, so you’re creating a net to block the ball. Once I was in that position, Lisa rolled the ball and my feet and legs so I could feel how it would be and keep my body stiff to block the ball. Mandy, the other girl, rolled the ball back to Lisa. After that she rolled it at my arms and hands. Then we all switched and I was rolling the ball back.

After that were cannon balls. You lay on your side in the fetal position and when Lisa said “out” you sprang out into defensive position quickly. When she said “in” you spring back into fetal position. We repeated that a few times. I was grateful for my Pilates and strong core because it would be easy to fall forward or back when you spring out.

We also did passing drills and Lisa was happy that Mandy and I were able to successfully pass to each other. I guess passing to the other wing is hard. Really? I didn’t think it was.

After that we started throwing the ball agains the wall. Throwing is hard. You throw it/roll it like a bowling ball, but there’s no holes. So you’re pretty much using your centrifical force. Lisa and I had messed around with a goalball at the gym one day. It took me a bit, but I got the hang of it. At one point I threw it and it went way over to the left. I laughed and said I put some funky english on that ball. Lisa said not to worry about english yet. I asked if they put english on the ball and she said yes, but not yet. Sweet!! I understand english! I loved putting funky english on the cue ball when I played pool.

After that Lisa had me go sit with Jayden and listen to a bit of scrimmage. She wanted me to hear the cadence of how it all went, because when she was explaining the theory to me, it just wasn’t clicking. So, the two girls took on the two guys. There weren’t a whole lot of us yesterday which was good, because they were really able to focus on teaching me.

I went to Jayden and sat next to him and he put his head on my leg as if to say, what the heck is going on?

Listening to it didn’t make a whole lot more sense. The guys kept talking, saying things like, “set!” and “left!” Huh? I asked the girls about it after they had won the scrimmage and they said the guys just like doing that haha!

I could tell when Lisa would throw the ball. That thing hardly made any noise and rarely bounced. She’s goooood. Guess you have to be to be a paralympian?

Finally I got to play. We put me in the left wing, because I’m more comfortable falling to my right. You can fall both ways depending on where the ball is going, or you can fall one way and just kick out. So if the ball is going to my left, I can fall to the right and kick out. Lisa said it’s whatever feels natural, though that’s kind of an old way of doing it. Whatever, that felt natural to me.

You have two wings, who play near the goal, then you have your point, who plays in front of the wings and who moves a lot more. Her job is to try and get the balls, and the wings get the ones she misses. So your best player is point, and Lisa is point on her team. So she played point, but she only went after balls that were coming hard, as she didn’t want me to get hurt right away. Eventually I was like I don’t care if they’re hard, after a hard throw hit me in the stomach and then bounced off my head for a goal hahaha! It didn’t hurt.

There wre only two guys, so they didn’t have a point. They played a lot before though. So it wasn’t really a fair match up, three girls against two guys, one of the girls being a paralympian. But, one of the girls, me, was brand new, so it evened out.

Lisa was right. Court orientation made total sense once I started playing. I blocked a few balls right from the start, so I had to throw.

After you block the ball, You jump up and back up doing a shuffle step to feel for the goal line. It’s a lot like a moonwalk haha! Then you line up your throw. Instinct told me not to throw it in the same place every time so they wouldn’t know what was coming. You have ten seconds from the time the ball touches your body to jump up out of your defensive position and back up to the goal line to throw.

You are only allowed to throw twice in a row. So if you block it a third time, you have to pass it to a teammate. You call their name and they tap the floor and you do a bouncey roll to them. This all has to happen ten seconds after the ball touches your body. Meaning you have to pass it, they have to catch it, line up, and throw in ten seconds.

I passed it to Lisa because she was right there.

I did manage to score a goal. I don’t remember how many times I had thrown it, but it wasn’t very many throws into the scrimmage. The coach, acting as ref, said goal and I was like, really??? Hahaha!!

I did get scolded. Jake asked me if I could please have some more fun, smile some more, laugh some more. 😉

I ended up blocking quite a few goals and scoring twice. I think it was pretty good for my first ever scrimmage.

My right arm is killing me today, since that’s my throwing arm. My left leg is killing me, since I kneel on my right knee in a squat type position, so I can kick into my defensive dive with my left leg. I’ve been working on this post in fits and starts today, because I have to keep moving or I freeze up and hurt really bad.

By the end of the scrimmage, I was having a hard time getting up after I blocked a goal. Jake told me I could pass it rather than throw if I was getting tired, so that’s what I did. I ended up with the ball a little more since I was playing left wing, because if the other team rolls the ball out, your team gets it and the ref always gives it to the left wing.

I think that’s about all there is to tell about the practice. It’s just a really cool game. It’s a little hard to tell when that ball is rolling your way, because it’s so full of echoes in the gym. I would dive only to discover the right wing had gotten the ball haha!!

Hey, just realized it’s appropriate that I played left wing, since politically, I’m rather left. Ok, bad joke.

My legs barely wanted to work at the end. B was picking me up thank goodness, so I didn’t have to wait for paratransit. I hardly even remember Jayden getting me to the car. Thank God for him. That would have been hard trying to use a cane after all that.

After a shower I felt pretty good. It wasn’t until this morning that I really felt it, but I was expecting that. I’m sure it’ll hurt less once I get used to it. I’ll get all healed up only to do it again next week, but I can’t wait!

We’ll see if I’m able to do this. There is no way I could have even attempted Goalball had I not been in shape. That’s the difference between Goalball and pool hahaha!! I didn’t have to be in shape to play pool, though strongish legs and back helped. Hopefully I can continue playing, but just like with everything else, it’ll be a wait and see game. I’m praying I can continue to handle it as it’s the most fun I’ve had in a really long time.

Oh, and as Lisa was walking me back to Jayden, Jake began laughing. Jayden was sprawled out on his back with his legs spred wide apart. I don’t think he minded being in the gym. 😉

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, goalball, Jayden, pool, silly girl, spoons, weather, working dog, workouts

No Goalball for us

Does the title make you think I hated it? This was hard to write, But Carin alluded to it in a comment.

Yeah, woke up at 6am to be all ready for my ride scheduled to be here between 8 and 8:30. Van arrived at 8:10. I was nervous, since it would me the first time getting to the campus gym without Dave. I was also very excited and all ready to go.

We arrived at about 8:30 or so. Practice was to begin at 9am. I had Jayden’s mat all folded up in my backpack, was wearing the socks I have to wear that go up to the knee, to protect my shins, had my long sleeved athletic top tied around my waist.

I made sure the van was where I needed it and got off. Jayden tried to go left for some reason, but I told him to hop up, keeping my alignment facing forward. I had brought my braille compass, just in case.

I told Jayden to find the stairs and he took me to them, pausing for each one. He paused at the doors I don’t need but continued on when I said hop up. He showed me the ladies room, but it was locked. He always gets a kibble there.

We carried on and got to the gym without a hitch, and two others were there. I hadn’t met them before, so we talked about our eye conditions, etc. Another got there and soon Lisa and her husband, our coaches, arrived.

“The door isn’t open?”

“Nope.”

“I gotta make a call.”

So Lisa called campus security and we waited. Lisa’s husband was telling me how the practice would go, warm up stretching, a few laps around the gym, then court orientation. He was excited and so was I.

The security guy got there. He is familiar with the group.

“I don’t have clearance to open the door.”

Ugh. Lisa and her husband got upset, but not at him. They had scheduled this six weeks ago, and had checked and double checked that it was confirmed.

“I’m gonna have to find a bush,” I said, my morning coffee begging to escape. The security guy opened the ladies room for me, since we couldn’t get into the gym.

Next came figuring out how we’d all get home. I didn’t want to wake B so early on a Saturday, partly because he likes to sleep in, but partly because he works hard all week and I don’t want him responsible for the blind part of my life. Lisa totally agreed with me, as she’s the same way with her sighted husband. So she and her hubby would take me home after we made sure everyone was spoken for.

The wheelchair soccer team practices after us, so Lisa was trying to let them know not to come, but couldn’t reach anyone.

She’s gonna open a big can of woop ass on Monday and make sure this gets taken care of, so hopefully we can practice next week.

Highly disappointing. I don’t have much else to say. I got home and B was just waking up and he wondered why I was already home. He was disappointed for me. He pointed out though, that at least I did what I had been nervous about; I found the gym with Jayden with no help, and Jayden was absolutely flawless. So, there’s the silver lining.

So, better luck next week.

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Filed under coffeeholic, goalball, Jayden, working dog

A quick hello

I’m starting to get e-mails and blog comments asking where I am and if I’m ok. This soooo warms my heart! I’m doing fine, just been doing some fall cleaning. I don’t know why I call it fall, because we’re still having hundred degree weather, but ya know. About twice a year I do the deeper cleaning, so that’s what I’ve been up to. Gotta take advantage of the great spoon days to get this stuff accomplished. I sure hope I don’t end up paying for it.

Everything is holding steady. Jayden is doing great as usual. We start Goalball on Saturday. Oh and I finished the crochet mat and he loves it.

That’s really about all there is to report. I’ll try and get back into the blogging routine soon. Thanks for checking on me! *hugs*

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Filed under desert life, goalball, gratitude, Jayden, spoons, weather

Doggy Diaries – 6 months home and a “typical” day

Can you believe that six months ago today, Jayden and I flew home from GDB? Wow. Six months we’ve been home now. It’s kind of hard to believe!

I hadn’t had a post planned, not a specific topic anyway. I knew I’d write something, but wasn’t sure just what. Then I got an e-mail from Beth Fink asking if any of us have written a post about a typical day with a guide dog. Someone had asked her about it for help with a research project. So, since today is six months since Jayden and I have been home, and since it’s already been an eventful day, I thought I’d write about it, filling in the later part of the day with what’s typical for us.

As Beth pointed out in the e-mail, there’s never a “typical” day with a guide dog. This is most definitely true for me, since I never know when a fatigue will hit, disrupting our plans, or when a burst of energy will hit, causing us to do something different. Maybe a friend calls with sudden plans, or maybe a storm comes through and cools things off so we’ll take a walk, or maybe something comes along that makes me change the feeding and relieving schedule. You just never know, so a typical day is only typical after it’s done and we say good night.

Here are the questions she asked.

“Can you describe your daily like routine? Such as waking up by using
alarm, going shower, prepare food for both you and your dog….etc. Do you spend your time with your dog 24/7? Does the dog sleep in your room?”

During the week, I set an alarm. I had tried getting up and going for a walk in the mornings, but it was already too hot and wasn’t good for the start to my day. The alarm goes off at 7am on most days, except for today. Since I’ve been having early lessons with Dave on Tuesdays, the alarm goes off at 6am, yuck haha!

Jayden indeed sleeps in my room, on his comforter next to my bed. As soon as I sit up, he stands and waits by the bed. I change into a tank top and comfy pants. I check the spots where Timmy the cat might be sleeping so that I can put him in the spare room when I take Jayden outside. Jayden follows me all over the house while I set down my phone and such and look for the cat. If I don’t find the cat right away, I give up. I shuffle into the kitchen and flip the switch on the coffee pot. B gets it ready at night for me, what a guy.

I use the restroom and then walk into the kitchen again and Jayden starts getting excited. I grab is food bowl and go to his food container. He sits patiently next to me as I scoop his food and as soon as he hears it, he lets out a little squeal. He follows me into the kitchen and waits while I add some water and set the food down. He must sit before I set it down and he does this automatically. He waits for me to say “ok” before he begins to wolf it down.

I go and slip on my Crocs and grab a bag. He’s done eating in about two minutes. I rinse out the bowl and walk to the counter where his collar is. I put it on, attach the leash, and step outside.

If I haven’t found Timmy, I sweep the door with my cane as Jayden and I go outside. I prop the cane up by the door and take him to his spot. I don’t need to harness him up for this. He goes and if Timmy is out of the room, he stands by the door meowing. As we approach the door, I grab the cane, open the door a crack, and sweep the cat out of the way with the cane, telling Jayden go go go, like a military guy haha!

I take off his leash and he pretty much instantly goes into the living room and gets on his spot on the couch, right next to wear I sit at my laptop. He’s got the routine down. I get my coffee and get online to continue waking up. Jayden takes his morning snooze. Most mornings I start getting ready about an hour or so after this, for whatever the daily plans are. B gets up and goes to work sometime between when I get up and when I leave. On days where nothing is planned, I stay in my comfy pants. 🙂

If I start getting dressed, Jayden takes notice, because it means we’re doing something. He’ll follow me around most of the time, except for Tuesdays. I start getting dressed while he’s still taking his morning snooze.

On later days, I take him to relieve again before we go anywhere. Usually I can find the cat pretty easily, since after I make the bed, he goes to his spot.

I harness Jayden about five minutes before the ride will be here and he goes into work mode, laying down to wait for the ride. When the ride comes, I attach his leash and we are on our way.

This morning we went back to campus to work on the route to the gym where goalball will be. Jayden did great. He had only seen the route once, but he pretty much nailed it today. He kept showing me the ladies’ room, just in case, which he got big time praise for hehe. We worked these funky steps a few times. He did great!

Whenever we get home from being out working, I relieve him and then give him his frozen Kong treat. He knows he gets this every time so he’s always happy to take me to my door. This helps too, because since he’s occupied by that, I can decompress and get changed and cool off. I always call Gamma when I get home from anywhere, so I sit and chat with her.

I get on my computer while Jayden works on his Kong. When he’s done with it, he walks over to me. I tell him to go get it. He stares at me. I sit back and type. He goes and gets the Kong and drops it at my feet and anxiously waits for my praise and a piece of kibble. I rinse it off and go back to my computer and he settles in on the couch or at my feet for his after work nap.

Afternoons you never know what we’ll do. This will change when it cools off, but for now, it’s all inside. I’ll do my thing on the computer, or crochet or whatever. It’s really similar to one who would work. Except Jayden is home and can do as he pleases. Sometimes I turn obedience into a game of hide and seek. Sometimes we’ll play with the Cuz or tug rope. Today I have an empty rinsed out milk jug that we’ll play with until he destroys it in about ten minutes.

If no plans are in the way, he gets fed at 4:30pm. At about 3:30, he starts to tell me he’s hungry. If I move, he thinks I might feed him. He’ll walk up and put his head on my leg. Finally he gives up and takes a nap or chews a bone. When it’s time, he knows for sure, because I put on my excited voice and ask if he’s hungry.

Afternoon feedings are much more eventful than morning feedings. I’m awake so I’m all silly with him and he hops as he follows me to get his bowl and then to the food. Then he hops into the kitchen panting, and we do the same as we do in the mornings. I take him out and then we settle in to a baseball game, for now.

When B gets home Jayden greets him happily. When we have dinner, Jayden lays down on my left, right by my side. I told him he didn’t have to anymore, but he still does.

After dinner, I chill for a bit, B and I talk about our days and do our thing on our computers in the living room. Jayden has bonded with him now too, and will go lay by him, or lick his face if he’s laying on the couch. For now, I’m usually finishing up a baseball game.

By 8pm, I’m pretty much spent. I need some time relaxing in bed with the tv before I sleep. I’m so grateful Jayden is cool with being in bed for a good ten to eleven hours every night. Before bed,we have a romp fest. Sometimes with the Cuz, or the rope, or just me. Jayden never knows what will happen. I like to switch things up, even though we’ve got a pretty set routine. At 8:30, I take him out for nightly relieving and now that it’s nice in the evenings, B comes out too and we hang out for a bit, sometimes letting Jayden leash guide me around a bit.

We come in and I ask for Jayden’s collar. He walks to me, knowing it’s bedtime. I remove the collar. I do this because the tags jingling in the night was a bother, and I think Jayden likes being naked at night. 😉

After the collar is removed, Jayden goes and stands by the treat pouch. I ask him if he wants his good night snack and he follows me happily into my room and gets on his bed. He gets seriously excited over four pieces of kibble haha! He gets kibble because when he was sleeping the kennel, I gave him kibble when he went inside to keep it positive, and it’s just carried over. After he’s had his kibble, I hug him and pet him, he licks my face, I climb into bed to watch tv and he promptly begins snoring, ever so lightly. He dream yips and wags every night, so I know he’s a happy dog. I reach over quite often before I’m asleep and give him a pat, and he usually responds with a little happy grunt, especially when I find him on his back and give him a belly rub.

Lather, rince, repeat. The days vary depending on the activity, but that’s pretty much how it goes. Weekends everything is done a bit later since I don’t set an alarm.

I should sum up by saying that the dog is matched to the person, depending on their circumstances. GDB was aware of the fact that my blindness is not my primary disability. I have MS, so that is the main thing that tends to control my days. I told GDB I’d need a dog who would be fine on days where I’m pretty much useless. They couldn’t have matched us better.

Now that we’ve been home six months, Jayden just knows when it’s his time and when it’s my time. As I’ve been writing this post, we’ve been home about an hour. He knows that when I get home, I have to chill a bit before another possible burst of energy. He started off at my feet and now he’s on the couch next to me.

It’s perfect that Jayden has adjusted to my lifestyle. He’s totally cool with a quick ten minute play fest followed by a few hours of recovery time. He can spend an entire day lounging around. He gets tons of love and affection, and returns it with gusto.

So, since there is no “typical” person, there is no “typical” day for a guide dog team.

In a nutshell, this is what a day is like for us. I’ll have to do what the day is like when we go to Gamma’s too, because it’s so adorable how he knows what the routines are there, as well.

There’s nothing like the freedom I have today. There’s nothing like going to the gym twice a week and just following him as he gets me there. There’s nothing like showing him a new route and watching him get it so quickly. There’s nothing like knowing I can start something new, like goalball, in a completely foreign place and know we’ll be just fine. There’s nothing like knowing he’s watching my every move and looking out for my best interests. He knows when I’m getting fatigued and actually slows his pace and is extra careful.

There’s nothing like having a constant companion and friend. Yes, we are together all the time, to finally answer that question. We may not always interact, but we are always together. And he snaps to attention the second I call him and grab the leash. When he sees my shoes go on, he waits patiently and happily accepts the harness, waiting to run off into our next adventure.

I absolutely adore my guide dog!

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Filed under coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, Gamma, GDB, goalball, Jayden, plugs, spoons, Timmy, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – A gym, a mat and a Cuz oh my!

Oh I love my Saturday mornings when I get to catch up on my blog haha! Flooding much? Just knocking all this out before the fog sets in. I really am at my best before noon.

So anyway, Tuesday morning Dave and I set off to the university to check out the route to the gym where Goalball will be. I will have to let Jayden tell you about the route from the car where we had to park. I won’t tell him he’ll probably never see that route again except for the next and last time we go to learn the route to the gym. My ride won’t have to park and therefor we won’t have to walk that part again. He had waaaaay too much fun haha!

We couldn’t practice where I’ll need to walk from where I’ll get dropped off because they were working on the pavement so we had to go around in a way we’ll never have to go. It was only 8am but it was already hot, and since there’s grass on campus, it was really humid since it’s been so rainy this week. I had to use a restroom that’s off an outside wall and it was like a sauna in there. By the time we got to the gym, it felt so nice. Dave showed me where the water fountain is, and the long bench where people put their dogs on tie down during practice. I got on my hands and knees to feel where the tie down spot is and instantly knew I’d have to crochet Jayden a mat to lay on.

Now I know that since the beginning of time, dogs have laid on hard surfaces. But he’s my dog and I’ll spoil him if I want to haha! I remembered L^2 writing about crocheting a guide dog’s resting mat, and decided I’d try it.

I modified it a bit, since she uses an ‘M” hook I think, and I don’t have one that large. I think I’m using an “H” size, though I can’t remember. It’s the biggest one I have.

I had some yarn for a blanket I never made. It’s solid white, and a variegated with bright magenta and pinks and blues. Very very bright. Since you work with two strands of yarn, I figured it would work nicely. I also modified the starting row. I chained however many I thought I’d need and I made it pretty wide, oops. Instead of using the two strands for the foundation, I just did one row of the half double crochet in the solid white. I then started using the two strands. When it’s done, I’ll add a row of white half double crochet to the other three edges, and then slip stitch around the whole thing with the variegated.

It’s coming out rather thick, which will be comfortable for Jayden. I had to set aside the doggy pool projects to get this done by next month. It was really slow going to start, since I’ve never worked with two strands of yarn, and I’ve never used a half double crochet stitch, which requires you pulling yarn through three loops at once. It creates a short fat stitch, so it doesn’t work as fast as a double crochet, plus I’m working in every stitch. I’ve been pretty much working on it straight this whole week, since pretty much all I’ve been able to manage in the afternoons is crocheting to a movie or a game.

So, long story short, Jayden will have a comfy mat to lay on during practice.

Yesterday, Dave took us back to Petsmart. I told him I had a lame request in going there with him even though I can get there independently, but really what else were we gonna do? We’ve been stuck indoors on Fridays because of the weather and I needed dog food. I haven’t been so good at planning to get it delivered haha. I also wanted to finally find a Cuz toy for Jayden and I needed a backup Kong and tug rope. The tug rope Mimi gave him is about to meet it’s demise and Jayden just loves it so I knew I needed another.

On the way there, Dave explained to me that by getting a ride with him doesn’t mean I’m not independent. He said whatever means we use to get things done gives us independence, if that makes sense. Just because I might go with a sightie doesn’t mean I’m not doing things on my own. Basically I just used him as transportation. So that helped me feel a little better about asking to use a lesson for that. I just cringe at the thought of having to wait on paratransit for a twenty minute shopping trip, especially with my energy levels this week.

So we went to Petsmart and couldn’t find the Cuz. I finally asked an associate and she found them. They are called Good Cuz and Bad Cuz now lol. I got the bad cuz with the horns but really the horns don’t last long. Now I know guide dogs aren’t supposed to have balls and these are shaped like a ball. But they’ve also got feet so when you toss it, it goes every which way. It also squeaks and he’s not supposed to have a squeaker, but it doesn’t have a squeaker he can get. It’s the kind with the hole that lets air out all funny. I’m only doing supervised play with it and so far the horns were the only thing to show evidence of wear. The horns are just little pieces of rubber that he bit off and left on the carpet.

Anyway, he looooooooooves it!!!! Holy crap. I would toss it and he’d run after it and then run around the house with it, while it squeaked with every gallop. The thing sounds like he’s murdering a seal hahahaha!!

He loves to play keep away with me but then he’ll let me have it so I’ll toss it. Then he’ll take it into the corner and squeak it hahaha!!! It cracks me up, until I’ve had enough of the squeaking and put it away. We’ve only had two play sessions with it. I showed B last night and while he said the squeaking didn’t bother him, I still would rather play with it when Jayden and I are alone.

It’s most certainly a hit, though. I can’t wait to get it out today. I’m able to manage short burst of energy, so luckily Jayden gets the benefit of it.

Other than that, it’s life as normal. Workouts and stuff, did laundry on Thursday. Met a lady in the laundry who has a sister who is blind, so we talked a lot. She also gave me her number in case I need anything. Really nice lady.

I’ll end here and then let Jayden tell you about Tuesday morning. 🙂

Oh, I should say that Jayden did great in Petsmart with the dog distractions, even when twelve dogs peered at him through the window into the classroom haha! Dave said it was really cute.

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Filed under crochet, Doggy Diaries, dogs, goalball, Jayden, jayden quirks, plugs, spoons, working dog

ACB – Reflections from the Mission Vision Sports Festival

It’s incredible what they are doing for the blinded service men and women who have fought for our country! I thought this was awesome! I can never say enough about how athletics have improved my life. This article speaks to how I feel about it all.

***

Blinded Veterans Re-learn Competition
By David F. Cline
 
The questions sound typical of most athletes.
 
“What’s your best time on the bike?” “How much can you bench press?” “Have you tried the discus, or do you only compete in shot put?”
 
It is the next round of questions that jolt the listener.
 
“Was it a mortar attack or an IED?” “How long were you in theater before you were hit?” “Do you prefer having a guide dog or a cane?”
 
At the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Sports Festival & Mission Vision Program, wounded service members received workout tips, sport-specific training, and the opportunity to do something many thought impossible when they were injured: Compete.

 
Held in Colorado Springs, the Mission Vision Program was developed to promote physical activity as a main element of rehabilitation and recovery. Staff members from Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Centers across the country, as well as former Paralympians and collegiate coaches, offered their skills and assistance to work with the athletes. Training was available in swimming, running, track and field events, tandem cycling, and weight lifting and conditioning.
 
“One thing I do is get them acclimated to where they are, and help them get comfortable enough to move around on their own,” said strength and conditioning coach Mark Sampson (Woodland Park, CO). “Sometimes they are reluctant to get involved, so I try to get them to do one lift, or do 10 minutes on the treadmill. Once they do that, most of them realize they can do this, and they will come back for more.”
 
One of Sampson’s assistants is Cody Colchado (Linn, TX), a 19-time world champion power lifter, a three-time national champion in the pentathlon, and a national champion in CTF Tae Kwan Do Brick & Board events.
 

Colchado has been blind for 30 years, and is also legally deaf. He credits Sampson, and his coaches through the years, as reasons for his success, and said the same techniques used to spur him into competing are the same ones he now uses with newcomers to his gym.

“You have to gain their confidence, and let them know they can have confidence in you,” said Colchado. “It’s easier with some more than others, but steady encouragement goes a long way.”
 
 Joe Crespo (Fairless Hills, PA) knows about confidence. As a Marine serving in Vietnam, Crespo suffered head, neck and chest injuries from a mortar attack. He awoke from a three-month coma to a diagnosis of blindness; in addition, he was suffering from amnesia.
 
Once very involved in running and other activities, Crespo saw his participation seriously hindered because of his wounds. Over the years he has worked his way back into physical activity, and the Veterans Administration rehabilitation coordinator he works with in Philadelphia recently introduced him to a long-distance runner. Using the Guide Running technique, in which a sighted runner and a blind runner hold opposite ends of a two-foot long tether, Crespo can now run on tracks, paths, and perhaps long-distance courses such as hills and dirt tracks.
 
“I have learned to adapt and with intensive and ongoing training I’m doing quite well,” Crespo said. “Mission Vision has opened up a whole new world for me, as I will now be involved in a local running program.”
 
Many service members and Veterans are former athletes, and those wounded in battle face a multitude of adjustment issues: recovery, rehabilitation, inability to play sports, and a lack of competition. Mission Vision was created in part to address those issues by fueling their competitive fire.

 
Rich Cardillo (Monument, CO), USABA’s Military Sports Program Coordinator, said disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces who are blind or visually impaired who simply want to enhance their lives and to accelerate their rehabilitation through sport, recreation and physical activity will have the full support of USABA. The organization has paid for veterans, their guides and their coaches at numerous programs around the United States; to include, several learn to race cycling camps, the 2008 State Games of the West, the 2009 State Games of America, the 2009 California International Marathon, the 2010 USABA Winter Sports Program and the 2010 Rocky Mountain State Games.
 
“Our mission is to increase the number and quality of world-class athletic opportunities available to all Americans who are blind or visually impaired, from the grassroots to a competitive, elite level and Operation Mission Vision is just one of several programs we have to offer,” Cardillo said. “The strategic goal of any of our programs is simply to bring normalcy back into the lives of those disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces who are blind or visually impaired and to accelerate their rehabilitation process through sport, recreation and physical activity.”
 
Army veteran DeDe Fox-Birdwell (Centennial, CO) has known athletic competition most of her life. In the early 1990s, she was selected as female athlete of the year at her post in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. She competed in horseshoes, softball, volleyball, power lifting, and 10k runs, and was the first woman to participate in the 5k combat cross country run, in which a service member runs the distance while outfitted in full uniform with a utility belt and canteen of water.
 
Then came her vision loss.
 
Diagnosed with a disorder that sends clots to the blood vessels in her eyes, Fox-Birdwell lost her peripheral vision in both eyes and was medically retired in 1997. Since then, she has been working out in a home gym and paying attention to the athletic exploits of her children.
 
“There are no team sports now. I had to move away from them because of my eyes – until I found Goalball!” Fox-Birdwell exclaimed.
 
For the uninitiated, Goalball is a sport created specifically for the blind and visually-impaired. Competitors, three per team, wear goggles that have been completely blacked out, leaving everyone on the court with the same level of awareness. A rubber ball with nine small bells inside is rolled back and forth; the object of the game, as the name implies, is to get the ball past the defenders and into the goal.
 
While it may sound simple, there are strategies, including rolling the ball quietly so the opposing team cannot hear the bells. Crespo played the game for the first time at Mission Vision, and plans to introduce it to the blind children he works with in Philadelphia.
 
As for Fox-Birdwell, she found energy and re-discovered the joy of playing a team sport. “I will be contacting anyone and everyone I can to hopefully participate in Goalball and power lifting, and I live close enough to try out for the Goalball team,” she said.
 
Here, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and just miles from the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Joe, DeDe, and the others are not just visually-impaired, they are not just wounded warriors, and they are not just Veterans… they are athletes.
 
_________________________________
 
David F. Cline is a Senior Communications Specialist with General Dynamics Information Technology, and works in support of  the Vision Center of Excellence (VCE). GDIT was a co-sponsor of the Mission Vision Program.

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Filed under ACB, Adjustment to blindness, goalball, gratitude, sports

Goalball and lightening

Last week I was talking with Lisa about possibly joining the local Goalball team. It starts next month. Hopefully they have enough interested women this year. Guys and girls practice together, but last year only the men got to compete because they had enough players.

So after the workout today I asked to see a goalball. She got one out and handed it to me. It’s heavy! It’s about the size of a basketball and it’s got bells inside.

She showed me the defending position. You actually fall over on your hip and stretch completely out, so yu’re laying on your side with your body kinda in an arc position, with your arm up over your face. She rolled a ball at me slowly to show me how my body would catch it. So basically you hear it coming at you and dive. Once you have the ball, you have ten seconds to throw it and try to score a goal against the other defenders.

To throw it, you get up quickly and roll it like you’re bowling. Thing is, there are no holes, so you have to palm the ball and do it fast enough that you use centrifical force to keep it in your hand. We tried having me throw it at her and she was pretty impressed with my throws.

It’s going to be fun! She seems to think I’ll be good, just from the little she saw today. We’re gonna play around some more on Wednesday. I’ll wear lots of padding and stuff and I’ll need to get clothes that cover most of my skin, as that ball is hard and rough.

We’ll see how it goes with the MS. Now that I’ve been home awhile, I’m seriously dragging. So I hope that little bit wasn’t too much.

Last night we had some pretty crazy storms. I took Jayden out about 8:30 and thought I actually saw a lightening flash. So when I came in, I stood at the screen and told B I thought I was seeing lightening. He came up to the door and I would say “there!” when I caught a flash and he kept saying, yep, yep. I was seeing lightening. Now, I’ve never tried looking for lightening before, so I don’t know if I’ve always had that ability since going blind. It was sooo awesome though! I just parked it on the floor by the door and watched the flashes. Some were so bright I actually jumped.

I really doubt I’d ever get anything useful back. I’ve always had the ability to notice a sudden light change, like if the room is dark and the light goes on, I’d notice it, sometimes. And I can tell the difference between light and dark clothing when they are next to each other. Lately though it seems like the contrast is a little sharper, and Timmy’s patterning, being a black and white cat, has been more noticeable.

With optic neuritis, vision tends to come back in a few months, a little muted. It’s been four years for my right eye and over two for my left, so I seriously doubt I’d ever get much more back. But it’s certainly odd to notice some improvement. Or maybe I just got so used to being blind, I quit trying to see. So maybe it’s the same non vision I’ve always had but now I notice it more? Who knows. Like I said, it’s nothing useful, can’t use it to navigate or anything, but it’s cool to watch lightening. 😉

Ok wow. Total spoon attack. Damn fatigue. I hate you haha.

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, goalball, Jayden, monsoons, spoons, weather, workouts

The power of activity

Today has been another lazy day. I worked out yesterday but just walked on the treadmill. No lifting. A two mile walk felt great though, and my energy levels the rest of the day were much, much better.

Today started with an early Rays game. I had no laundry, so we got today off. Lucky too, with the game being early. It was a fabulous game and we won 5-3 over the Padres.

But, it ended a little after noon and so I did my usual morning reading, that I had missed during the game. Like blogs and FB and Twitter. I’m following the World Goalball Championship since Lisa is there now leading the USA team to try and qualify for the 2012 paralympics. Team USA is undefeated so far, so qualifying looks good.

I just got done reading everything and was going to go make the bed, yes I know it’s already after three and I haven’t made the bed. Jayden is curled up next to me on the couch so I leaned over to cuddle him and he made the cutest little grunty squeal type noise. I can’t explain it. Then he started to lick my face but stopped and yawned right in front of me hahaha! It was the cutest thing, and led to me deciding to write a blog.

It’s amazing how activity really helps me. All I need is a bout of inactivity to remind myself that I need at least a little activity. My back feels totally fine now, but I’m still being really careful so as not to reinjure it.

Safari is royally pissing me off and now I need to find out if I can undo the update. But I’ll do that another time. Time to go be active.

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Filed under apple Inc, baseball, goalball, Jayden, jayden quirks, spoons, workouts

Nothing here but nothing

Ah, it’s been awhile since I wrote a nothing post. I really don’t know what to do at the moment and haven’t enjoyed blogging for blogging’s sake in so long. So, when you’re bored and killing time, what better thing to do than open up a blank blog and just write?

I’m feeling a bit blah right now. Yesterday I went and worked out like normal, came home and felt my normal afternoon fatigue, settled in to crochet and wait for the game when a wave of exhaustion, a deluge of pure fatigue from my bones to my skin, crashed over me with no warning. My eyes didn’t want to stay open. I zoned out completely during the game until something happened and the announcer’s voices got louder. Whoa, that kind of mind altering fatigue is always disconcerting. I instantly jump to why. Why am I this tired? What did I do differently? Then I remind myself that my body doesn’t need an explanation.

It was becoming clear though, that I didn’t feel well. My throat felt sore, my ears felt full of pressure. Allergies? Or am I getting sick? As the hours passed I felt worse and worse. I told B I didn’t know if I should call Dave and cancel this morning’s lesson. We meet early on Tuesdays, so if I was gonna cancel, I didn’t want him to wake up early. B said that by judging how I looked and sounded, I wouldn’t feel up for a lesson this morning. So I called Dave and he said someone at work had gotten smacked by a bug that came on fast and took her down for a few days. Great.

I took some cold medicine and went to bed and woke up this morning to a visit from Aunt Flo. Ooooh. Is she the reason for the sudden onset of body numbing fatigue? You know, Aunt Flo is a real brat. I hate her monthly inflitrations. Bah.

Lori and I are supposed to hang out today. We’ve been getting together Mondays, but she was busy yesterday and Tuesdays actually work better for me anyway. She sent a text this morning asking if we’re on and I told her I think so, but I’m playing by ear.

So that’s where things stand. I’m in this moment between feeling like utter crap and feeling ok. It’s a limbo. I think, yeah I’ll be fine to hang out, run to Walgreens, grab a Starbucks. No problem. I’ll just stay loaded up on Advil and I have plenty of Always Infiniti. But then I think, ok a shower will feel great and that way I’ll be presentable to leave the house. And I have those cute new capris Gamma ordered me. I get excited thinking about putting on my new clothes, if only to see my clerks at Walgreens, when the realization that I have to take a shower rushes in.

A shower. Invigorating. Hot water massaging my aching muscles, cascading on my crampy belly. It sounds so inviting. But will it be an exhausting shower? It’s hit and miss with me. Sometimes a shower makes me feel great, other times I have to collapse for awhile after. Since I’m coming out of a recent fatigue, and with Aunt Flo nagging at me, a shower might put me down for the rest of the day.

That’s a long explanation for why I’m sitting here contemplating whether to shower. But, welcome to my life haha! I’m so brain missing that I can’t even concentrate on reading my classmates’ last assignment and giving feedback. The writing workshop has come to a close and I really need to get over there. But have you tried to make your brain work when you feel about four hundred pounds, full of aches, like you’re stuck in quick sand? Yeah, I’d rather write about nothing.

Writing about nothing is such an oxy moron. Is it possible to write about nothing? Nothing is a word, so it’s something. I never know what will come out when I sit down to write about nothing. I really didn’t expect to share my womanly woes with the world. Sorry to the two men who read my blog haha. There might be more men. They don’t comment though, if they read.

I hear a cat eating. I wonder if it’s Timmy monster. I have to lock him up every time I leave the apartment. He’s become a total escape artist. He’s so easy to trick though. In the mornings I just open the door and he runs to howl at the screen. I snatch him up and put him in a room. Other times, I just open and shut the screen door and he comes running. He meows and purrs, rubbing on my leg, making it easy for me to grab him. I hope he never gets wise to my schemes.

The weather has been nice enough that I can leave just the screen open for most of the early afternoon. I love hearing the birds chatter amongst themselves. Jayden loves to lay by the door, getting fresh air. It’s all so soothing. Until Timmy starts. Meow! Howl! Meeeeeow! Let me out! I want out! Let me get dirty! Let me let me let me!

It’s not so peaceful anymore. I grit my teeth and wait for him to tire himself. He does. He’s quiet. Until Jayden wants to go out, I trick Timmy, lock him up, let him out and meow meow meow let me out let me out let me out!

Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

For now it’s quiet. I hear Alex echo my letters as I type. I hear a song bird outside, the kind I love. She sounds so merry. I hear B’s computer hum. I hear the fridge making it’s strange click clack noise.

I love the quiet.

Oh hey, you know what I haven’t done in awhile here? Brag. About me. I brag about Jayden, but I haven’t bragged about myself and I feel the desire because I’m so proud. Back in my drinking days, at my heaviest weight, I was about 230. I wore a size twenty two. When I stopped drinking, the weight poured off after cutting all those calories and carbs. I think the smallest I got was maybe a 16. Then I got sick and quite inactive and I ballooned up again. Then I went blind and started O & M and dropped weight again. But I still wasn’t exactly fit and strong. I started working out in September to prepare for Jayden and to help with the MS fatigue. At first weigh in I was 179. I really started noticing changes, clothes fitting looser, muscles getting firm, less flab.

Now I’m so active that the changes are impossible to not notice. I got tons of compliments at the bbq on Saturday. But the coolest thing is that Gamma was able to order me clothes out of a catalogue and they fit. She got me two pairs of capris and two tank tops. and actually I could have gotten away with a size smaller than I got. She ordered fourteens and they’re somewhat loose. I don’t think they’ll fit for long. And I’m strong. I’ve never felt strong. I’m getting an athlete’s body, something I’ve never had. I don’t feel jiggling when I walk. I don’t feel like my arms have wings when I wave. I’m freaking strong! It’s so cool to be strong. I don’t feel like a wimpy woman. I don’t feel afraid. I love being strong! It’s looking like I’ll even join a goalball team in the fall! Me, strong. Me, with an athlete’s body. It’s sooo cool! I’m twelve pounds away from my target weight of 150. I can hardly even believe it! So there’s my brag on me hehe! Man, can you imagine how horrible the fatigue would be if I wasn’t strong? I can hardly remember. I mean, the fatigues are still horrible. They’re still bad enough that I can’t even commit to a Tuesday Walgreens run. It will never get to a point where I could work and be reliable, but it’s definitely more manageable now that I’m strong. And when I need to, I can put on a burst of energy to carry me through a twenty minute walk with Jayden.

Alrighty, I need to find something to put into my stomach. I decided not to risk a shower. I don’t smell, so I won’t knock people down at Walgrens hahaha! Well, I won’t knock them down with smell, but I could knock someone down with my muscle haha!

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Filed under accomplishment, Alex, Gamma, goalball, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, random stuff, spoons, The Nothing, Timmy, weather, workouts