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Apr. 12th, 2012

life update

I haven’t written much since I said goodbye to Dee a couple months ago. I still miss her very much. Intellectually I know she’s not here, but when I first wake up, I think I need to go outside or is the water bowl empty? I walk out the door and feel as if I’m lighter or forgetting something, and it’s because I have no dog in my left hand. I also miss her being a guide dog, right now more than ever. However, Shelly says she’s having so much fun playing with her other dog, running around the farm, and going for long walks. She’s friendly and happy to see everyone as usual. She’s gained weight, so she’s not too skinny anymore!! Dee’s happy, and that makes me happy, even though I’m sad at the same time.
I have almost finished my guide dog applications. Southeastern still needs to come do a juno walk with me, but all the paperwork is in for them. Guide dogs of the desert has all paperwork, and I submitted my video last week. Guide dog foundation also has all paperwork and the video, and guiding eyes needs me to get a tb test and some other shot before they can send my application to the admissions people. I’m going to do that today. I really want a golden retriever or german shepherd, but it is soooooo tempting just to go back to gdb and get another lab. The health issues are just annoying enough to make me not want to wait for a non-lab breed dog.
The anemia is still here because I couldn’t get prescriptions for months since I didn’t have a Medicaid card. Now I have insurance again, but I won supplements in an auction started by After Gadget, so I have iron tablets which will hopefully help me not feel as tired and have random dizziness. I also have a b-complex, fish oil, and magnesium which should help with health in general and hypoglysemia. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been off supplements, I eat so much more junk food, and I can’t seem to stop. That is also not helped by the candida infection that I’m sure I have since I match 13 out of the 15 symptoms or something like that. Since I’m out of money, I’ve only been taking them on the days I have class in hopes that it will give me some mental clarity and concentration to make it through the four-hour lectures. I also notice that my balance is slightly off without a dog, and I walk slower on uneven surfaces.
A couple weeks ago, I went for a hearing test. I don’t remember if I’ve written about it here, but I noticed at the end of last year, maybe a little bit before, that I was having trouble crossing streets. I’d stand there at a lighted intersection that I cross frequently and think, “is that traffic on my right, or is it coming from my right side and going perpendicular to me?” And once I realize that it is indeed parallel, it’d be the middle of the cycle and too late to go. Consequently, I spend several cycles like this and take at least 10 minutes trying to cross. My travel confidence was going down, and I felt so incompetent. I lived in Minneapolis for 7 months, crossed eight-lane highways and the interstate, and lived on a lighted intersection that I crossed at least twice every day. I also noticed I was having more trouble than usual following people in noisy environments or having trouble hearing many people in a conversation. We’d be out at a restaurant, and I could hear the people sitting to my left, right, or directly across from me. However, if it was a larger table of more than four, I’d not realize someone was talking to me on the other side, or I’d hear them talking but not understand what they were saying. Sometimes, I can’t tell what direction people’s voices are coming from. I do better if people are sitting or walking behind me and talking than I do when they are sitting or walking in front of me and talking. The doctor says I have some hearing loss. He said that sometimes it only takes people to be aware of it and they will listen harder for sounds. I told him I’d been aware of it for a couple months, and that didn’t work for me. So, he’s ordered me something with amplification because he said he wasn’t concerned so much about communication as he was about safety. I said that was definitely my concern. Dee didn’t help with knowing when to cross because that was not her job; it’s my responsibility to decide when it’s time to go. However, I could tell her forward, and if It were the wrong time in the traffic cycle, she’d refuse the forward command. That would be so helpful right now. I’m hoping the amplification comes soon.
I still have not received funding from my state agency. I took out a student loan to not get purged from classes as well as to avoid being evicted. As I’ve written before, I’ve been paying my rent, and when I had Dee, dog food. That left little money for anything else; I could pay a reader/driver a couple times, and I could pay a couple times to go out to dinner for under $10. After that, I was broke, and thanks to my roommate, I can take a cab or pay for a reader or whatever after I run out. But, that didn’t leave me money for bills; my phone was shut off for months, and I didn’t pay my credit card bill. Since I didn’t pay my credit card bill, the bank suspended my checking account. I had my ssi and social security disability going in as a direct deposit, so I missed that money at the beginning of the month and therefore had no money for rent. Thank God my refund check came from my student loan. I keep getting declined to open a bank account, but I was able to sign the check over to someone else’s account and paid my rent and phone bill that way.
The quarter will be over in three weeks or so. Where has the time gone? So far, I’ve brailled a chapter of a children’s book, made 10 literacy games, turned in a 46-slide power point about phonics, read and attempted to memorize many tables and info about child development, and other mini projects. I still have to finish researching for a 12-page research paper and 15-minute presentation, finish research for another 15-minute presentation, do article summaries/reflection, read the rest of the info for child development, and practice my slate speed and accuracy so I can pass the test. School is overwhelming me right now. We went to a deafblind conference a couple weeks ago, and tomorrow, we’re leaving for the Louisiana state convention. I really wish I had this weekend to do homework!
Things I’m thankful for:
a friend that I met in Minneapolis last summer is coming to hang out and look at attending this masters degree program for teaching blind students.
My rent is paid and phone is back, so I don’t have to worry about that for another month.
My guide dog applications will be done next week, so all I have to do now is wait and pray someone has a dog for me this summer.
I have awesome friends who help me; whether it’s financially or can you tell me what this captcha says, they are great!
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Feb. 2nd, 2012

goodbye Dee

This happened last Monday. I was so tired when I left my house; I’d only slept 3 hours. Before we left for the airport, I took a 3 minute last walk with Dee, and my driver filmed it so I can add it as part of my video for the guide dog schools. Dee was giving me her old fast pace, and her tail was wagging.
We had no problems getting to the gates, and my flights were on time. Dee was stressed out, and she had an accident in the airport in Denver.
On my flight from Denver, I cried for awhile. The person sitting next to me tried to have a conversation, but I just turned away to face the window. We got to Portland 5 pacific time, and we met Shelley outside of the gates. She asked me how I was, and said sad and started sobbing. I calmed down a couple minutes later, and I was able to talk. We went to some restaurant where we had burgers and tator totts.
Afterwards, it was time to say goodbye. Shelley went to find someone to show me where the gate was, while I hung out on the floor with Dee. Dee licked my face, panted, and was whining a little. She rolled over, and I rubbed her belly. She was all excited when I took the baggies of food and a new kong wubba toy from my back. When I got the elk antler, she took it from Shelley, and tried to run in circles on her leash. I disassembled the harness, took of the leash, and put her tags in my bag. Shelley hugged me, said she was sorry, and I cried some more.
After that, I went back through security again. I was too upset to talk, and all I could was nod or shake my head. The airport person wanted to know if I was ok. I kept walking into everything with my cane and wasn’t judging my distances and turns well. I was so thankful that the flight from Oregon to San Francisco was relatively empty, so I had a row to myself. I faced the window again, put a handkerchief over my face, and tried to cry silently for the first hour of the trip.
I know Dee is happy with Shelley. She remembered her, and we saw her at the airport, Dee jumped in the air and licked her in the face. I miss her. I’ve been ok since the flight from San Francisco; I was able to talk about her and even saw another dog. But now I’m crying again, so I’m going to post this and read a book or do something to try to distract myself from the sadness.
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Jan. 17th, 2012

obstacles in retirement

This is my post for The Sixth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival
Because of back and shoulder problems, my four-year-old guide dog, a black lab Dee, is retired. We've had other obstacles in the past, but this is the one in my heart right now.
First, there are situational obstacles that do not allow me to keep her as a pet. I live in an apartment complex where no pets are allowed. the other major problem is lack of money. I am a grad student living on SSI and disability income. By the time I pay rent, electricity, and maybe the phone bill, I have enough money to pay for cabs or drivers and dog food for the new dog I will hopefully get some time this year. Even if I moved to somewhere pet friendly, it is not possible to pay for food, vet bills, toys, and grooming for two animals.
My next one was where did I want to place Dee. The guide dog school can placed retired dogs, but I would have no idea where she ended up, and I want updates for whoever has her. I had a few possibilities. One person who liked Dee would have given her a good home and attention, except there was no fenced in yard and Dee's off leash recall isn't as good as it should be. Another person was interested, but since she had a baby, she couldn't handle that and a new dog at the same time. Finally, I've been in contact with Dee's puppy raiser ever since I got her in 2009, and she gladly agreed to take her back.
Once she decided she wanted Dee, I had to figure out how to get her from Louisiana where I live to Oregon where she lives. GDB wanted to ship her as cargo, but I didn't like that. I was worried about her being under the plane in winter or that she would be lost in the airport transfers. I also want to say goodbye, and it feels like a better send off than putting her in a strange situation that might be scarey for her.
As I wrote before, I am on a fixed income, and plane travel is expensive. I talked to the guide dog school who will reimburse the price that it would have cost to fly Dee in cargo. I didn't have the money up front for the plane ticket. Fortunately,Dee's raiser paid for the ticket, GDB is sending her the check they would have sent to me, and I will give her the rest when I am able in a couple months.
Finally, there are emotional obstacles. I miss her guiding me; she was with me through everything: global issues conferences, interviews for journalism and research projects, my job working with blind children and adults, blindness training in Minneapolis, graduation from college, and my move from Pennsylvania to grad school. She was always so confident with her head held high and her tail enthusiastically wagging, except when it rained. She was the reason why I gained confidence crossing busy city streets with my cane, so I could teach her that traffic wasn't scarey. She helped me balance when my hips were hurting and after I sprained my ankles. She kept me crossing in a straight line when I was dizzy from problems with anemia and hypoglysemia, so I wouldn't veer into oncoming traffic. I will miss her companionship, just lying on the floor and petting her or watching her excitedly play with the other dog and person who live with us.
Sometimes situations cannot be avoided or overcome. Even though it breaks my heart to put her in a new home, the dog who guided me through everything needs me to get past these final obstacles, so she can be free to enjoy her well-earned retirement after her two years of service.
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Jan. 16th, 2012

good news

Things have gotten much better since my last post. My old boss talked to the lions club where he is a member, and they have graciously agreed to cover my $3,000 tuition bill from last quarter. That means I will now be able to register for classes in February, and the classes will start in March.
Shelley, Dee's puppy raiser and new owner, paid for my flight. GDB is going to reimburse her $500 and I will give her the rest. It's going to be a very long day. I leave Monroe, La at 9 am, get to Houston at 11, Denver at 2, Portland at 5 where I will transfer Dee, Sanfrancisco at 9, Chicago at 5:30 the next morning, and finally Baltimore at 12:00. After that, I am going to take a train to D.C. to spend a few days with my best friend Beckie who is in seminary there. Later that week, I will be attending a teacher leader seminar for teachers of blind students. I've also been able to get a few of the vitamin and other supplements that I need to keep me functioning ok. My medicare prescription card came, and I am so relieved!
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Jan. 4th, 2012

unwell

I haven't written in here in forever. I read the flist every day but am too tired/lazy to comment.
Things tend to go like this for me. I can usually handle a problem but when it causes multiple problems or little ones add up to issues, that’s when it’s bad.
I’ve said it before, but I’m exhausted and have no energy. I am also very broke. I get $720 per month. $570 of that is rent plus $30-$40 for electric. Dee’s food is $50. That leaves me $70 to have readers for grocery shopping and going out to dinner a couple times with friends. Because of this, my phone has been off for the past 2 months, and even though it is off, I’m still charged the $120 service, even though I’m not using it. I owe $400 to them plus $30 for late fees and $30 to reactivate my number. I owe $200 to a doctor in Minneapolis, $260 to a former roommate when I borrowed it last year, $120 or something to my current roommate, $100 to my uncle, and $300 for something, maybe a former internet service provider? Thank God for food stamps.
I was supposed to have classes this quarter, but I don’t. I should have qualified to at least get Stafford loans, but I did not. I cannot get a private student loan because I do not qualify, my mom doesn’t have enough money and thanks to me, not a good credit history, to cosign. Other family members plus other people I have asked can’t or don’t want to cosign for me. Rehab will cover me for the rest of my tuition for this degree, but because of ridiculousness on my end and others, I didn’t get unconditional admission last quarter. Since there was no unconditional admission, they weren’t able to pay. I owe $4,000 to the university, and until I can find some way to pay it, I can’t register for classes and rehab can’t pay until this balance is gone. Since I am not taking classes, rehab can’t pay for my rent.
Also, Dee is retired, which just makes me feel sad and all that horrible stuff. Her puppy raisers want her, but they live in Oregon. GDB wants me to take Dee to Dallas and ship her as cargo. First of all, I have no money; Dallas is a few hours from here, so I would either have to fly, take the bus, or hire a driver. Second, I don’t feel safe having Dee travel under the plane during the winter. If I did that, I would have to buy a crate which is like $100. The best way for her to get to Oregon is if I fly her as a service dog in the cabin. GDB says it’s too expensive and too long of a flight for them to cover the cost. I’m going to ask them if they can give me whatever amount they would have paid for shipping towards the cost of my plane ticket. I wanted to have Dee go this month, but that is definitely not happening now.
For some reason, I am having issues with both of my insurance providers. I am not getting Medicare anymore, even though I changed my permanent address with the post office and social security. I should also have Medicaid, but I still have no card. I’ve called them five times requesting new cards; they have said each time that they mailed one. I verified my address is correct with them, and still no card. No card means no prescriptions which are necessary to my health.
I usually take supplements in addition to my prescriptions. Omega oils, multi vitamin/mineral, b-complex, and probiotics. Since I am out of all of these, my ability to concentrate, digest well, and overall stress is making me feel awful.
Pray or send good vibes or whatever; something needs to give soon.
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Sep. 18th, 2011

First Major Trip

In Feb. 2009, my second guide dog Zorro went back to Seeing Eye to be rematched with another handler. After that, I finished a semester, traveled some, and signed up to go to Urbana, a student global missions meeting in St. Louis starting the day after Christmas. I got Dee, my third guide dog, Nov. 16, 2009. She did an amazing job during our two-week training, better than either of my previous two guides. When applying for and being matched with a guide dog, it can sometimes take up to a year or more till the school finds one for you, so I thought I'd be attending with my cane. After I got Dee, I was a little nervous about how such a new guide would do there. I'd been to conventions with the National Federation of the Blind where 3,000 blind people gather to discuss important issues, but I had never been to a conference with over 20,000 college students.
We started our trip by riding 26 hours on greyhound with 3 bus transfers. I was exhausted by the time we got there, but Dee had boundless energy since she spent most of that time curled up under the seat sleeping. After dropping off my bags at the hotel and meeting one of my roommates, I think we took a local bus to register at the dome center. Travel in unfamiliar places was, and still is to some extent, difficult for me, especially when it is crowded. Dee was hesitant at first, not sure which paths to choose through the sea of people. After a quick dinner, we went to the welcome plenary session. The first event was worship with a live band and vocalists. This stressed Dee out; I could tell because she started continuously licking her paws and the floor. She settled down afterwards during the Native American dances and speeches. After the session ended, I followed some random people outside and asked for help finding the correct bus that went back to my hotel. On the way, Dee had an accident, again because of the stress. I was relieved to reach my room and go to bed, and I prayed the next day would be easier for Dee and me.
We started the next day by oversleeping, quickly running outside to relieve, grabbed granola bars from the buffet, and caught the bus 30 seconds before it pulled out. Since I was hanging out with my roommates, I had people to follow and ask for directions to all of the sessions. This time, and the other four days of the conference, Dee acted as if she guided in crowds every day. From the moment we got off the bus, her ears were forward and her whole butt was wagging. She did excellent obstacle clearance, and I only bumped into one person the whole time when she got distracted by someone with a peanutbutter sandwich.
Besides the week of guide dog training in Portland, I hadn't spent time in a city since 2005, so I wasn't used to that form of travel. All of my time was spent on campus paths or residential streets in my college town. Dee stopped for all of the curbs, traffic checked when necessary, and didn't sniff or eat food from the ground in restaurants or in the grocery store. She was also good during the evening meal when we got in line for the buffet.
By the end of the second day, the music, and people clapping, jumping, and singing didn't bother her, and she napped through the sessions. My roommates and random people commented on what a good dog I had, and I couldn't agree more. She showed me her best on New Year's Eve. We started at 7:30 AM as usual, and we didn't return to the hotel till 1:30 the next morning. We probably walked 4 miles that day between running from one end to the other of the two-block long building, wandering St. Louis looking for lunch and dinner, and stopping at the grocery store for snacks for the road. Dee was so excited as we were exiting the conference at 1 am because everyone was in a good mood, yelling happy new year, singing/jumping up and down, and blowing kazoos. She wiggled her whole body as she guided at a fast pace. At one point I had to have her sit, because she was trying to guide too quickly and was having trouble keeping her traction on the slippery tile floor. When we got back to the hotel, as she did every previous time we returned, she enthusiastically ran to each of us for pets and belly rubs before picking up her kong and running fast circles for two minutes before sighing and flopping down on the floor for a well-deserved few hours of rest.
This is just one of many times we have traveled together. She loved her guiding, played as hard as she worked, and again showed me what it was like to be part of a happy and effective guide dog team.
This is my contribution for The Fifth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival

May. 26th, 2011

Dee update

Yesterday, Dee and I went to the orthopedic vet specialist. They did a physical exam first, where the vet said she has discomfort in her neck and pain in both shoulders. They did x-rays, and they found some arthritis and shoulder instability. She is going to have hobbles, braces to restrict shoulder movement, and she will have exercises that I can help her do. She might have physical therapy too. I talked to GDB yesterday, and they authorized $1,200 and said to call when it's about to run out. Dr. Patty asked me if i was hoping GDB would fund partial or all of it. I told her all of it, and if that didn't happen, Dee wouldn't receive physical therapy. Each PT session is $1,500, and for the eight that the vet wants her to have, that is $12,000. There is no way I could afford even one session.
It doesn't look good. Dee is in pain; the vet says the three to four months not guiding, and not playing or moving much should fix it. But I am weary of it happening again, and I don't want to cause Dee further pain by forcing her to guide. There is too much pressure and strength needed from the shoulders and neck, and I don't know if it will be safe.
I'm starting to ask people I know if they would take Dee or know someone who would in the probability of her retirement. I also have half of my application submitted to GDF; I just have the eye doctor report and video to shoot before it can go for review.
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May. 17th, 2011

graduation and stuff

I am now a college graduate!!! I graduated last saturday with a B.A. in sociology and a B.A. in journalism. It was a nice day, thank God! Bloomsburg had been getting torrential downpours for the past two weeks or so, but it was sunny all morning. I decided to wear a black dress under my gown and sparkly brown flats, because I just do not like heals; I already have ankle issues, and heels on the bricks on the quad would not have been a good idea. I also had a graduation cap for Dee; she was not happy having something on her head, but everyone thought she was adorable. We took the shuttle for the last time to campus, and we got in line to process. I wasn't really sure where I was supposed to go. dr. Samson, the chair of sociology, saw me and asked me if I knew what was happening. I said I didn't, so she offered to walk in front of me and tell me when to turn and stuff. Dee did well guiding in the procession; she didn't stop to sniff the people clapping and cheering on either side of the isle, and she wasn't distracted by all the noise. She had trouble following though, so I'm glad Dr. Samson was talking to me. We were at our seats; for some reason, Dee didn't want to back up for me, so it took a few seconds to get her into the row instead of lying on the walkway. After that, there were some borring speeches, and we finally got to go up and get our diplomas. Dr. Samson walked beside me this time, and we stood there chatting in line while we slowly moved forward. While I was in line, I saw Dr. Omori, the professor I had for statistics and quantitative research methods. She surprised me by coming over and giving me a hug and said great job I didn't know you were graduating! We made it up the stairs and across the stage without issue. It took me a few seconds longer than everyone else because we were supposed to cary the diploma in the left hand and shake people's hands with the right, but I had to stop each time, drop the harness handle, and switch. On the way down from the platform, I saw my English professor as well as the professor I had for Italian and Spanish. After some more borring speeches, we were allowed to leave.
I was kind of sad because my mom wasn't there; she was sick and couldn't come, so the other family who was going with her didn't come either. However, my boss and his wife were there, and I was so glad to see them. I've worked for him, teaching people Braille, assistive tech, and other blindness skills since October of my freshman year. He's seen me through all three dogs, my depression crash, and everything else. We've spent at least 100 hours on the road, so we've had a lot of time to talk. I'm glad he never gave up on me, even when I was in the worst part of my depression and barely speaking to anyone.
Now I'm back in Altoona at my mother's house. I hate being here!!! She treats me as if I am a child. She keeps asking me if I'm going to eat; I don't eat on her schedule. She eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner all within seven hours. I can't eat like that; if I eat breakfast at 11, I'm not hungry again till 6 or 7 at night. She says she's not a 24 hour kitchen, but I fix my own food so it shouldn't matter to her when I eat. She is also the same way about Dee. Does Dee have water; make sure you give her enough food. Does she need to relieve. I take her out four or five times per day, but my mother thinks she should go out every two or three hours.
We now have a possible idea what is wrong with Dee. When we went to the vet last week, I explained again that she was having trouble putting pressure into the chest strap, going uphills, ETC. They pushed on her and pulled her, but they said she wasn't yelping or flinching or anything; I said that didn't mean much since that wasn't her usual reaction. They took her outside and had her run circles in the parking lot; they came back inside all surprised because they said that was the first time they had a dog refuse to make left turns and run. After that, they took her to x-rays where she surprised them again by being perfectly still and not struggling in position. They found a pin-sized bone chip missing/floating in her left shoulder blade, and there is a separation between the servical vertibre 6 and 7, the ones from the neck to between the shoulder blades. Now, they want her to have a myelogram; they put her under anesthesia for awhile and put dye and stuff into her spine to see if the nerves are pinched. If they are, she will have to have surgery to have the disk removed so the two bones won't be separated anymore. Now that I'm $350 poorer and have to spend more of my scholarship money on vet costs, I might be staying here for the summer. I wanted to go to the NFB convention in Orlando, but if Dee has to have surgery, I won't be able to go. Please pray and send good thoughts for Dee; I miss having her gork for me.
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May. 1st, 2011

sad Dee update

Dee is the best guide dog I've had. She has been my travel buddy and helper for the past 1.5 years. I got her NOvember 2009, and we went from Portland Oregon to school. Two weeks later, the semester ended, and we moved to my mother's house for a week for Christmas. After that, we traveled to St. Louis on a 26-hour greyhound buss ride to attend Urbana a global missions conference attended by 20,000 college students. That was the first time I saw Dee's wonderful skills. After the first few hours of being stressed, she handled everything beautifully. Her pace was fast, but she slowed when she needed to. Her head was up, and her whole body was wagging. My roommates and others were amazed at how calm and focused she stayed. She even slept through the worship music which was loud and many people were dancing and jumping up and down.
When Urbana ended, we went to Philly to see friends and moved back to school. In May 2010, I moved to Minneapolis to attend BLIND, Inc. I wrote before about her reactions to a close call with a bus. Also while in Minneapolis we went to the Minnesota fair, an 8-mile hike, and just did everyday activities like going to dinner and movies with friends and grocery shopping. We moved to four different apartments while there and camped in Wisconsin, flew to Dallas to a huge hotel with 3,000 other blind people, and traveled to Chicago and Harrisburg to speak about blindness training. Dee was wonderful through all of that travel and change, so I hated sending this email to Dee's puppy raisers.

Hi Shelley,
Dee is not doing well. She is still a wagging tail dog and glad to see people and be petted, but she isn't guiding. I think I told you we fell on the ice a couple months ago. We went to the vet where they gave her prednazone for the inflamation. It helped for a little while, but as soon as she was off of it she was walking funny again. We went to the dog chiropractor and he adjusted her; it gave her stronger pull in harness some of the time but not enough to be constant. We are having x-rays done; they think it is a nerve or disk injury since she is a little flinchy when they pull her paws forward and is jumpy when I pet her in the middle of her back. My roommates said it sometimes looks like her back legs are going to give out when she is playing with her kong. She is very slow all the time and has difficulty getting out of the way of fast-moving people and traffic. A couple weeks ago, cars were coming up right behind us and she didn't speed up at all. She also has difficulty going uphill and making turns. Right now I am waiting for GDB to decide whether they are sending an instructor here or if they want to bring her back to them for evaluation to see what is wrong and if she can continue working. This makes me sad; I miss my fast-paced energetic girl who had plenty of initiative for everything especially crowd and traffic work. I take her with me if I am going to one class, but if I am doing class and errands afterwards, I leave her home and bring my cane.
I graduate next weekend, and I can't wait to be done here. I got Dee a doggie graduation cap, and I am going to have her guide there since it will be a short walk.

Martha

I thought it might be her nails so I trimmed them. She had a paw pad issue before, so I added paw healing balm and musher's secret but that didn't help either. She is also taking joint supplements that I get from International Association of Assistance Dog Partners Part of me says the medical issue can be fixed; we just don't know what it all is yet and haven't found the right combination of treatment. The other, more practical, part of me says I know the signs of retirement and it won't be able to be fixed. She runs away from and actively avoids the harness. She wags her tail while working, but it isn't as much as it used to be. She doesn't take the initiative to go around obstacles or find a clearer pathway to somewhere. If it took us 10 minutes to get somewhere before, it now takes at least 15 on a good day. I can no longer trust the dog who saved my life from a bus that came too close on the relatively quiet streets of my small town, let alone in a city with all the traveling and moving I need to do in the next three months. Please pray for Dee and me to make the right decision for our partnership.

selecting my spoons

Here is another post for blogging against disablism day.
Christine's spoons theory basically says that you start the day out with a certain number of spoons, choices energy, and everything else that goes into functioning. Unlike healthy, able-bodied people, it's about making choices of how to accomplish everything. I am totally blind, have mild scoliosis and joint pain, and have depression. The depression manifests itself as inability to concentrate, little motivation to do anything ensomnia and overall tiredness. Healthy people tell me just go and do it; it's no big deal. My response is always, if i could think myself emotional, energetic, and able to do whatever I want, I would do it in a second.
Here are some choices for the day.
First of all, do I want to get up; the answer to this one is always yes, even if it is only to feed and relieve my guide dog. Next is the choice to go to class; currently it's nearing the end of the semester, and I have to go to class to turn in papers, get final notes, and take exams. Do I want to take my cane, which could be painful depending if my muscles are stiff and my joints don't want to move as easily as they should, or do I want to take my guide dog, who has lately not been guiding well. Do I want to take the long way to class or take the shortcut which gives me an extra five minutes? If I am feeling disoriented, it has just snowed, there is noise and a lot of people around, I sometimes take the long way because it is a straight line and a right turn two blocks from the bus stop. If I have managed to sleep for more than four hours and have had water in the morning, I am more likely to take the zig-zag path across the quad and won't be confused by campus life. The second decision for the day is do I want to get lunch on campus, and if so, where? Sometimes I am just too exhausted by 1:30 that I just head straight to the bus to go to my apartment, even though it is not good for my health or concentration to skip a meal. If I decide to eat on campus, I usually end up at the pizza shop because it has only one line for ordering and checkout, unlike everywhere else that has food; this limits me to unhealthy pizza, strombolis, or wraps, but if i eat at all, it's a good sign. The other place I might choose is the husky lounge; this has sandwiches, grilled food, smoothies, entres, vegetables, and to-go food like apples and bananas. I just can't deal with all the people some days; I start panicking about it an hour or so before I have to go there. I sometimes feel dizzy and I have to keep asking people where the line is and if I am at the end of whatever line I want. Once I get my food from there, I have to find which, out of four registers, is open today, and I sometimes get lost in the place. Also, Dee is sometimes distracted by food on the ground and college students who think it is funny to throw things at her or anyone who wants to approach and ask invasive questions about my blindness or my dog or share info about some disabled person or their pet who died last month or last year. Once I get home with my food, I go to work; I help blind children and adults learn to read Braille, use technology, or learn daily activities like how to cook, tie their shoes, or use the phone. Most days it is children, who usually take the rest of my patience and energy. By the time I get home, do I want to eat dinner? Going to campus to get food is almost always a no; that is time waiting for the bus, a 10-minute ride to campus, at least a 10-minute walk to food, dealing with all the people, and the walk and bus back to the apartment. Since I was tired earlier and went to work, I didn't have time to find someone to take me grocery shopping, so I barely have food in the apartment. I pop in a frozen pizza or ramen noodles, more unhealthy chemically-laden food, or I place an order for delivery. Next is homework. I usually can't concentrate for more than a half hour at a time, which is exacerbated if I do not like the text of the books or research I am reading. It takes me at least an hour to write a page, and when I have to rescan articles, find all of my audio bookmarks, and figure out how to organize the info, I'm exhausted again. This leaves me no energy or time to socialize, which makes the depression worse since I've isolated myself from other people. My thoughts are racing like a hampster on a wheel, which means I get 5.5 hours of sleep on a good night and less than four on a bad one. The cycle of selecting which spoons I can give up starts all over again the next day, and able-bodied neurotypical classmates and friends wonder why some days I choose to sleep on the weekends and only leave to relieve and walk Dee.

unsent thank you's, getting it right

Ablism can be defined as discriminating against or being prejudiced towards anyone with a visible or invisible disability. This can be shown from the words, such as crazy or lame, to the actions such as excluding someone from a social event or emotional and physical abuse. I'm sure many of the Blogging Against Disablism Day writers will have several posts about ablist language and actions, but that's not what I want to write about here. It is often so easy as a blind person to notice and remember all the times people have been rude, invaded my personal space, distracted my guide dog, denied us access, or didn't give me a chance once they realized I was blind and associated that with lack of ability and intelligence. However, there have been several people, especially in education, who gave me an opportunity with expectations that I would succeed.

Dear Mrs. Lowe:
Thank you for being the first person to encourage my dreams of journalism. You not only saw my potential to write articles, but you assigned me to be the copy editor for the yearbook when I had no previous experience. This was my first time in a leadership position, where I learned the importance of speaking up to others as well as many of the rules for line, structural, and content editing. There were no problems; everyone gave me the work on disks, so the content was immediately accessible.

Dear Dr. Brasch:
Thank you for teaching me much about all aspects of journalism. I learned how to come up with more and more story ideas, even when I thought I was exhausted. When my story draft wasn't exactly what you wanted you made me go back and fix it to your specifications, even if it took six times to do it. You showed me how to promote the magazine in everything from baking and selling cookies to making balloons and painting with children at the local fair. You made me go to local businesses and get ads and distribute magazines, especially to places I've never been before. You made me copy editor and later a senior editor/main fact checker in charge of proofing all articles for accuracy. You told me I was going to lecture in front of your class of 250 students because I would be able to do a good job of discussing disability in the media and social justice. You came down hard on me when I missed deadlines and wasn't giving it my best because you knew I was capable of more than that. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of a team that had nothing to do with blindness.

Dear people on the study abroad trip to Guatemala,
Thank you for welcoming me as just another volunteer without the awkward, uncomfortable silence that so often greets me. On that trip, I learned to paint road lines, brick walls, and the ceiling of the medical clinic even though it terrified me to be so high up on a ladder. I went through the Mayan ruins, to the outdoor markets, and learned to make tortillas. After we went horseback riding up the mountain to see a volcano, thank you for helping me balance; after I dismounted, I was having severe hip pain because of my scoliosis and you helped me to walk the rest of the way to the lava without making a big deal.

Dear Dr. Podeschi,
Thank you for all the extra work you put into making the coding analysis program accessible. After having negative experiences with professors, especially one that semester who said I shouldn't bother him and he wasn't going to help me and should ask another student for computer assistance I was pleasantly shocked with your patience and creative solutions. It is one of the most visual-based programs that I have seen, and using a macro program to write computer scripts using keystrokes was a wonderful idea. You didn't have to spend at least 4 hours with the initial setup of Atlas TI and an additional 4 or five hours fixing all the bugs and crashes each time a new technical issue arose. Also, thanks for all the research project articles and suggestions for improving my independent study.

Dear Michael Collins,
Thank you for making intro to theater such a memorable and fun class. It was one of the best ones I've taken during my college career, and I loved your endless stories and the non-powerpoint way you lectured. I usually need to ask for accomodations, but you automatically gave me exams on a flash drive and emailed me any documents, ahead of time, that I would need for class that day. Finally, thank you for taking the initiative to auditorially describe the settings, costume, and actions in the plays and films we watched. I didn't even have to ask, you just came to sit near me and started talking about everything as if it were the most natural action in the world.

Sincerely,
Martha, an appreciative student
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Apr. 17th, 2011

20 more days!

I can't wait!!! I hope it doesn't rain on graduation day.
I finished my mental illness paper; it involved books by Goffman, Szasz, Jamison, and Stastny and Penny. Such depressing stuff; suitcases found in the attic of a mental institution, someone who says schizophrenia doesn't exist, being a mental patient is a career, and a professor who is bipolar. I have a belief statement due about education of people with disabilities, a paper about language of the internet and text messages, and my always looming bloggers with disabilities project. This is the *ghird* time I have had to restart my analysis!!! The first time, I had coded two transcripts, but it didn't highlight any of my quotes. This time, I had five transcripts highlighted and coded quotes, but the program wasn't text wrapping. I had to reload eall of my research and go again! I can't wait till it's done. I also have to finish the literature review for the beginning of the paper.
I am sooo tired of it all. I just want to be done. I am speaking about blindness as a stigma in my social deviance class some time soon, and the "blind role" whatever that is.
Dee is having some great days of guiding and some not. GDB wants me to go to an orthopedic specialist, but it is 65 miles from here. I posted adds for a one-time driver outside the financial aid office and craig's list, but no one has responded. Soooo frustrating. there is no greyhound or other bus that goes from here to there.
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Apr. 2nd, 2011

getting closer

Graduation is in five weeks!!!! I bought my ca, gown, and tassle yesterday. I also got a bracelet with the university name and husky charm; I can never have too many dog-themed items.
I have so much research to do. I have a paper due on mental illness for the professor who says mental illness doesn't exist. I als have to start open coding and taxonomy for my analysis of bloggers with disabilities project. Finally, there is a belief statement about children with disabilities and a socio-linguistics paper due; the net two weeks are going to be crazy!
I cannot tell if Dee is doing better. She had the adjustment at the chiropractor; she guided perfectly for 2 or three days; after that, her pace comes and goes, especially when going uphill. She made it up the hill at her normal pace for the first time today. GDB is trying to decide if they are going to send an instructor here or bring her back to Oregon for an evaluation. I wish they would decide soon; I would like to have her for graduation, and I will miss her if she has to go back to guide dog school.
My roommate Amber and I have been hanging out for the past few hours eating dinner, playing with Dee, and talking. We were both craving oreos and chips, but we don't have any. Tomorrow I am making a run to the univerity store and getting supplies. I tend to eat junk food during finals week, so I might as well stock up now. One thing I don't want is ramen noodles; I am sooo sick of those!
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Mar. 8th, 2011

tired

It would be awesome to wake up one day and feel completely healthy. I'm exhausted; last week, I didn't have energy to go anywhere. I ordered food from campus food 3 times because I just didn't have it to go down to campus and walk back up and deal with the crazy lines at the food places. My two-day headache is almost gone now, and it is easier to listen to things. the jaws speaking isn't going through my head like it was yesterday. my back keeps getting worse. it used to just be in the lower back where i had limited range of mootion but i have noticed it moves to the middle.

Things I haave accomplished so far this week:
contacted 8 more bloggers about interviewing about disability
half way through reading subtle suicide
read two chapters of language matters
read 3 chapters of intro to children with exceptionalities
ordered dog food and a brain teaser toy for dee
made chiropractor appointments
scheduled to visit 5 of my people tomorrow; it's going to be a long day 12-14 hours working
Bought chocolate
Reteaching myself math stuff i forgot from high school to take the GRE in april

Mar. 3rd, 2011

update

I have no motivation for anything. This week, I have continued contact with 3 bloggers, finished literature review summaries, started a draft of all reviews put together, read chapters of subtle suicide, read chapters for intro to exceptionalities, and practiced for the gre. I have braille copies of a practice exam as well as a cd one. If i do well, i can avoid the first praxis, which would be nice for my bank account.
Dee is doing better. She is no longer needing to pee 7 times per day. the pred treated and took down the swelling, but a chiropractor appointment will help a lot.
Work is going ok. This week, we read more of the magic tree house and the ninjas or something like that. We also worked on fractions and decimals; I haven't done this stuff for years, and math isn't my strong point. there is a reason i'm a journalism and soc major. I know the answers, but i'm not good at helping break it down into steps. She wants me to read something to her; I have some braille books somewhere and i will bring one next time as a reward for completing her homework.
I have been working with Dee on recalls. We do it inside in a room with the door shut. We are also practicing outside on a long line in an area with few people. her hand targeting is getting better. she can do it now with some distractions, but not if it is a person we see often. she is good at it when random people are passing, which she couldn't do a few weeks ago. her llw is not where i want it yet; same thing, good with random people but not good with people we know.
I am going to buy her a new harness soon. This one is driving me insane; it needs to sit lower on her body, not up closer to her throat than the breastbone. once I can get my london deposit check canceled, i will have money in my account and be able to do it. i don't know what kind i want.
I am going to my mother's for a week for spring break. I need things from there, and I can build up some more money, which is always useful when moving cross country.
Dee was hilarious earlier. My roommate was making a texture book for her special ed class, and dee kept spinning in circles trying to get the feathers hannah was holding in her hand.
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Feb. 19th, 2011

making a little progress

School was going well. I have not skipped any classes this semester, except the one I accidentally slept through because I forgot to set my alarm. I have turned in all papers, kept up with the readings, and got scanning and such done the first week of the semester.
We had a lot of snow and icy stuff 2 weeks ago. It was bad enough that they canceled afternoon classes, which they never do. However, we had class as normal the next morning. I fell at least twice walking across, which did not do good things for my already bad left ankle.
My sociolinguistics class is ok, an easy filler class. For the past two weeks, we have been watching videos about animal communication. The prof was nice and described to me what the animals and people were doing; however, it was not cool when he asked me if I knew what dolphins and parrots were. I am blind, not uneducated. We also watched jeopardy with Watson, the computer who competed and won against two human contestants. There was Alex the parrot who learned to tell the difference between shapes colors, ETC. There was also a border collie who knew 1,000 words.
Devience is the usual diatribe. Mental illness doesn't exist. If people don't like their current situation, they should just move. Welfare makes people lazy, not like it used to be in the old New England towns. We finished Methland about a small town in Iowa that diminished because of meth. The factory jobs disappeared; the meatplant laid off people and cut wages in half, and small businesses closed. Now we are reading about a black street corner bar in Chicago.
Intro to Exceptionalities is ok. We are writing a paper about accessability. We have another one due soon about a belief statement ealing with disability. I am losing points because I am not using the people first language, especially when I am talking about myself. I am going to say blind person and mental disability not person who is blind or visually impaired or person who has mental challenges.
I am working on my independent study about bloggers with disabilities, and I am overwhelmed. I have to find at least 7 more literature sources, but there isn't much research about people with disabilities and the Internet. There also isn't mch about bloggers; I have 8 studies so far, but that's it. I am also supposed to start contacting people and establishing repour. I am not good in social situations, and I have trouble with this in face-to-face conversations, on the phone, and in emails. I have sent two so far and probably sounded ridiculous.
I am not as tired as I usually am, which is an improvement. Maybe the vitamins are helping. But I still amnot sleeping right; no matter what I have done in a day, I cannot fall asleep till after 3 am and I have to get up at 7 am. I go to class, run errands, and go to work. People keep telling me to socialize, go to campus activities, eTC, but when there is no motivation or energy to fill out paperwork, do laundry, cook dinner, doing these social things is insurmountable. Some days I just come back here after work and collapse for a couple hours. Reading stuff for school takes imense concentration, and I miss the ease I used to have in forming coherent, analytical research papers and interview questions. I have an appointment with the psychiatrist next week to see what to try next. Because of medicare screw up and my moving so many times to a different state, something wentwrong with my insurancce and I wasn't covered for awhile.
Things are not well tech wise. For 1.5 weeks, I could not call anyone and didn't receive any voicemail, email, or texts. It randomly started working again, but that still sucked. Also, I lost my victor reader stream. I had it attached to my braillenote as usual, but it fell off somewhere between my exceptionalities class and the shuttle stop. I am in the process of looking for a new player; I don't know if I want a stream again or look for a different cheaper option. I really need a book player for my textbooks and leisure reading. I am waiting another few days to see if someone finds it before I buy anything. Since the trip to England was canceled because of a lack of people, I have money for things. I'm hoping a book player purchase isn't part of that.
Some of that money is going to a chiropractor for me and Dee. She has not been guiding for the past couple weeks because she couldn't lean into the harness. there is no public transportation here, and my driers were both ill with the flew and major bbronchitis/infections. We finally got to the groomer and the vet this week. The vet says it is a nerve injury from when we fell on the ice again this year. Dee tenses when she pulled both of her front legs forward at the same time; I said that made sense since she couldn't put pressure there to lean into the harness strap, was slow at turning, had trouble going uphill, ETC. She is now on pred for the next two weeks, and she has to relieve much more since her water intake has increased.I have been using my cane, and I am having no problems with orientation and stuff. I take her to class with me on leash so we can practice LLW, leave it, ETC, and it gives her exercise in a short distance. If I am going to class and another thing after, like errands or lunch, I leave her home. I think it would helpto get Dee realigned; it helped last year, but it is $70 and GDB doesn't reimburse nonconventional treatment.

Feb. 2nd, 2011

school and stuff

I think I wrote last about before Christmas. I was at my mother's house for a month, and that made all of my issues wose. There was no where I coul go by myself, and I hate being stuck somewhere.
We did Christmas at my aunt's house. It was weird because it is the first Christmas since my grandmother died, and we always did Christmas at her house. We had chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, and rice crispy treats. We later had chips and cookies. My family drives me crazy sometimes. They sent my *16* year old cousin to watch me pour hot water! HOnestly! I'm not a child, and I can make hot chocolate for myself without someone watching myback! They tried the same thing when I was serving myself food, and I had to keep insisting I could do it myself.
I worked some over break. One of the ladies haaschronic health problems in addition to her blindness. I felt bad because she cried after she didn't understand tab and shift tab. I think she is feeling lonely since is by herself and has family issues. Another person I worked with is a 13-year-old boy who has improved over the past two years. He used to sleep in class and barely say a few words. Now he does book reports by himself and walks to class by himself. He has so much further to go, but it's little steps in the right direction.
I started working with a new man last week. It took 1.5 hours to get to his house because of a snow storm and heavy traffic. He went blind from a turkey hunting accident in June, so everything is hard for him right now. We worked on the Internet, using headings and links to navigate the page, back and forward buttons, and google searching. His family was nice and gave me some pizza after we were finished.
I've also started to work with the 10-year-old girl again. I go to her house 3 times per week for two hours, and we work on her homework or read a book or play Braille games. We worked on long division; I know how to do it, but the method they use is different fromhow I learned. Math isn't my strong point, and I am trying to figure out how to help her understand. She also wrote 3 pages of her book report about The Teddy Bear Tree. We've read two magic Tree House books; her reading speed is much faster, and that makes me happy. She was very excited to show me her new Braille books that she got for Christmas, and we will be reading a couple chapters from one of those next time. The thing I am still having trouble with is how to refocus a child when he/she is off task. She *refused* to do her homework or read r put paper in the Braille writer for a half hour. She screamed and threw a fit; her mother, grandmother, and grandfather all yelled at her, but it didn't help.
I'm back for my last semester at Bloomsburg University. It was ridiculous scheduling classes this semester. I ended up with an Intro to Individuals with Exceptionalities class, which is an intro to special ed, its laws, ETC. I'm glad for this class; I can always pay attention, even though it is an 8 am. I also have a language and society class. We study how people talk, local dialects, gender and language, ETC. I do not like this prof. Yesteerday, he said, "ywhat do you have to say? You must hear better since you can't see and pick up on expressions more." I hate being pointed out in class. I notice expression and dialect because it has always interested me, not because I SUPPOSEDLY hear better since I'm blind. I have independent study. I'm researching bloggers with disabilities. I have to find people with disabilities to ask about internet, why do they blog, how has blogging changed them, advantages of blogging, ETC. Finally, I have Deviance. It's how people are different from society. This professor says mentalillness doesn't exist, and people beleive anything they hear just because a doctor says so; he especially thinks this about depression and ADHD. We're also reading Subtle Suicide, An nquiet Mind, Methland, The lives They Left Behind, and A Place on the Corner. Such depressing material.
Dee is not guiding right now because I think she hurt her back after we slid and fell on the ice. She has no pull in harness, and she had this issue this time last year when we slipped on a hill near my apartment. I've been caning to class; I'm so glad I had the BLIND Inc. training, because I wouldn't be confident with my winter cane use without it. Dee is bored though. We go for walks on leash and we play with the kong and stuff. She has a groomer appointment Friday and a vet appointment Monday. We were supposed to go yesterday and today, but we got the snowstorm and my driver can't drive in the snow.
I like my new roommates. They both love dogs, and we have good conversations. Hannah's family gave her like 10 bhaked potatoes, so we have those for a few meals. We are out of groceries; I should be going shopping for stuff friday. I need baking basics: flour, sugar, powdered sugar, oil, ETC. I also want to go to a farmer's market and get my fruits and vegetables. I always prefer to buy organic and local when I can, and I'm glad I found one that is still open in the winter.
I'm tired all the time. I'm taking a vitamin D supplement and a probiotic, and they seem to be helping some. I am *not* behind in school work for the first time in two years. I filled out and am mailing in faccomodations forms for the GRE and Praxis exams. I've sent my application to Louisiana Tech, and I won't know until after my exams whether or not I got in.
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Jan. 17th, 2011

staying in touch

Working with a guide dog involves many people: the people at the breeding station, the staff who cares for them in the kennels, and the trainers who teach them how to guide. However, the puppy raisers and the people who have them after they retire are an important part of the process.
I received my first guide Valerie in July 2006. At first I agreed with other students that I didn't want contact; I don't remember why, but that's how it started. A couple months later, I changed my mind. We received a puppy profile with basic info: name, age, what kind of environment, habbits of the puppy, how did the puppy let you know when it wanted to relieve ETC, but I wanted to know more. I also started to think that if I had raised a dog for a year, I would want to know how he or she was since it was like losing a family member with no idea what happened for the rest of his or her life. My puppy paper had the first names of the main raiser, her sister and brother, and the parents. I did a search online and found their last name. I found the main raiser on one of the social networking sites and sent her a message letting her know I had her former puppy and asking if she and her family would want to stay in contact. At first, she thought I had the wrong person, since Valerie's name didn't match. I knew that since Valerie was a reissue, a dog that had a previous handler, that she had another name. After we confirmed my information was correct, we started chatting on AIM, and I got to learn fun things about my dog. Valerie was the focus of her senior project for high school, so she was used to being busy and surrounded by lots of people. She went to volleyball games, bowling, the mall, and the airport. She had dog and cat friends, and she loved to cuddle with anyone who would hold her. She knew bed time, and she would come down the stairs to stair at people to come with her. I shared info about how it was to work with her in college. I told her how my French professor always pretended to offer Valerie coffee and tell me seeing her made him feel better on bad days. She loved to curl up in a beanbag chair and take a nap. She did a good job guiding through crowds of students, and I had never felt comfortable walking that fast before I got a guide dog. I also shared my struggles. How I got hopelessly lost for the first three weeks going to class on a new campus every day, how she would sometimes not move faster even with correction, and that she would scavenge for food on the ground.
Once we had been chatting for a couple of months, I said they could come visit Valerie and me if they wanted to. We met, and that was awesome. We talked for a couple of hours, while everyone petted Valerie and gave her beloved belly rubs. They took lots of pictures, and they gave us presents. There was a squeaky hamburger and a nylabone; Valerie of course has destroyed the nylabone, but she still has the burger. They also gave me a water bowl/bottle holder, a bone keychain, and my favorite, a photo album. It shows her from the day they got her at two months old to the postcard they received in the mail from when she was in training at The Seeing Eye; it is one of the things that is always with me, no matter how many times I have moved since 2006. We also met again a few months later when I went to their house for the weekend. It was great getting to see where Valerie was raised. I learned she loved to sit on a certain step and stare out the window at all the people passing by. She loved to chase snowballs with the other dogs in the family. She knew how to balance a treat on her nose, throw it up in the air, and catch it before it hit the floor. We went to the mall, a bookstore, and the movies, where they got to see Valerie guide and do her job well.
Over the next few months, I began to realize that we wouldn't make it long as a team. I called the school every three months or so with maor issues; they would straighten out for awhile, but then something new would happen. I also noticed her continuing health problems with infections and tiredness. It was eventually determined that she was stressed and had alergies to chicken, wheat, rice, and 17 other outdoor-related things. I was worried that they would be upset or angry that Valerie wasn't going to be working for a long time, but they were awesome and supportive.
When she retired, it took me a few months to find and decide on a final home for Valerie. The school would have gladly placed her in a loving home, but again, I wanted contact and would have had none if I had gone that route. She is now with one of my former roommates friend's parents about an hour away from where I go to school. I forwarded the puppy raisers the new contact info, and they went to visit her once she had been settled. The lady who has her now and I send emails every few months; I ask how she is, and she shares stories. Valerie goes for walks a couple times per day; I taught her with clicker and treats, and Valerie continues getting treats for sitting at the corner and other things. One day, she refused to move from the corner and cross the street till she received her reward. She chases grasshoppers, loves to steal tomatoes from the garden, and has dog and human friends, especially the little children in the family. I have seen Valerie twice since she retired almost 2.5 years ago. She is happy, healthy, and stress-free, and that is all I wanted for her.
As her raiser told me, "inside the heart of every dog guide beats the heart of a puppy raiser." I also say inside every former guide dog is the love of a handler who always tried to make the right decision for the dog based on his/her needs, even if it was hard hurt at the time.
This is my submission for The Second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival I hope you take the time to read posts by others who made decisions involving assistance dogs.

Dec. 13th, 2010

life update

I suck at updating, so I'm going to write in little blurbs.
I went to the NFB of Minnesota state convention, and I was bored. It was hilarious to watch blind inc people get drunk though, hilarious singing at the student karaoke. I rooomed with Joanne and Tay, nice people for roommates. This creepy former student at blind inc, who tried to pick me up one other time during the summer, tried it again. I was going into my room but I forgot that the magnet in my treat pouch would make an invalid key. He came down the hall and bumped into me, and Dee jumped up to avoid being stepped on. He knew it was me since I was the only one with a dog. He put his arm around my shoulders, so I ducked down to pet Dee/get the extra hotel card out of her harness sign. He was all I love you come on let's go play in my room. I said no and you don't love me and I certainly don't like you. He tried tot take the key from my hand, but I shoved him off and put it in. this one worked, and I sent Dee in ahead of me. He tried to force his way in after me. I shoved him hard in the chest and he stumbled back a few steps. He put his arm in the door, so i slammed it hard on it. He took it out and I slammed it for good that time. I *hate* men sometimes!!!
The pennsylvania convention went well. Al Spooner and I went to represent BLIND, Inc. We flew in with no problems. One thing that was funny is we thought we smelled hot pretzels in the ohare airport but we couldn't find them. When we finally got to the area, it was popcorn instead. We got there; I relieved Dee, and we went to Taco Bell for lunch. I met up with Helen and Dacia Powel, a lady who represents louisiana tech, and some others and we went to dinner.
The next day, we started with free continental breakfast. I'm glad I can now go through the buffet by myself, so I could go back when I wanted, especially for more juice and hot chocolate. I wandered around the exhibit hall, and there was this company Braille a wear that had t-shirts and pins and bags. There was also a lady selling natural products, so I had a protein bar and bought some alcohol free hand sanitizer. She had a service dog poodle, and her harness is different than any I've seen before. It's like a saddle, like you put on a horse with two packs hanging down from each side.
That night was the student division meeting. There was a lawyer who spoke about going into private practice; Laura spoke about getting a job and being social in college. A pannel of five of us spoke about attending an NFB training center. I think mine went well; I spoke for about 15 minutes, but I don't remember anything I said. I didn't prep at all; I just stood there and went blah blah blah. Afterwards, I went and houng out with Laura while we talked and ranted about training.
Saturday was the main part of the convention. Helen spoke about studying abroad in Europe. David Denotaris, the director of blindness and visual services for Pennsylvania, also had a good speech. We had lunch, which was soup and turkey sandwiches. I sat with David Denotaris and Buddy Branon, a dog user who loves technology as much as I do. All of us chatted for awhile, and they both said I would be an excellent teacher, which was kind of them. The training center pannel spoke again that afternoon to the whole convention. Helen spoke about what we as students could use from the nfb members.
That night was the banquet. I was not impressed with the banquet speech. Dee was not guiding well and stressed by that point, so at 11 or so, I took her back to the room and used my cane for a couple hours.
Sunday Al and I left to go back to Minneapolis. This time, we found anti-ann's pretzels in the chicago airport. I was soooo happy; I have been missing those since I left pennsylvania.
I finished my training at BLIND Inc. One day I was ent to a strip mall at 66 and lyndale to find a petco. The travel instructor told me to take a bus and it would drop me off there, but i took that one. it stopped about 11 blocks away adn i thought i could just walk back from there. not. I kept looking for places to turn. after an hour, i finally got out of the grassy areas and grocery sgtore parking lots. I was having one of my bad orientation days, and I just couldn't tell which direction I was going and lost count of the streets. I was kind of dizzy too. I finally, after another hour, found somewhere with an unlocked door. The address was somewhere I didn't recognize. I stopped the next person I saw after walking a couple more blocks because I thought I remembered what the street was. I was at 66 and lyndale, and I just had to cross. I wasn't sure where in the block I was because of snow, so i was running my cane along the curb at a ramp in the middle of the sidewalk. The person I just happened to stop was a police officer who said he couldn't let me j-walk. I said I wasn't, I was just checking the sidewalk. He walked with me to the corner, and I asked which direction I needed to go and if I needed to cross lyndale. I was pretty sure I didn't, only 66, but I was tired and varifying. He started asking me questions. What are you doing here. Where do you live? I said I was doing a travel assignment for a blindness training program. I told him I lived in uptown minneapolis, and he asked where specifically, so I told him 28 and hennepin. He said "so you're just up here for a walk, even though you have no idea where the place is?" I said yes because I was doing it as an assignment. I was in a suburb of minneapolis. I kept telling him I was fine; I just wanted directions. He asked for my Id, and he proceeds to say I need to check if the police are looking for you. I tried to take my ID back, but he wouldn't give it back to me. We stood there for like 5-10 more minutes. He was even more suspicious when my ID gave a Pennsylvania address. Finally, dispatch comes back with no criminal or missing persons reports for ms harris in pennsylvania or minnesota. I was sooo pissed. I finally found the petco and walked four blocks out of my way to avoid that cop on my back to a bus. I had to go through two blocks of construction, and it was just so noisy and I was hot and tired and hungry. I got back to blind inc, and since i had missed third period and lunch and some of fourth, I went to relieve Dee. While I was in the park, someone tried to snatch my purse by grabbing the bag and trying to break the strap. luckily my purse is a leather pouch and the strap is a guide dog leash that i attached, so it didn't tear under the person's grasp. Dee turned around and barked a few times, and the person ran away. That was a horrible day, and I went home and crashed.
Another assignment was to take a 17 bus to a 6 to southdale mall. take a 515 bus to mall of america and take the lightrail to downtown minneapolis and take an 18 from there back to blind inc. that one went well because i had awesome timing with all of those connections; less than 3 minutes between each one. Also sent to the malt shop where I bought a grilled cheese sandwich.
That next day was my grad walk. It's a 6-mile walk in unfamiliar places with specific directions. All I can say was that was a bad orientation day for me. I took a bus to a lightrail to go downtown. I got the wrong lightrail and had to get off at the next stop and get the other one. I was fine for about 1.5 miles. i was supposed to find this one path that wound around the river for a mile or so. I couldn't find it. I found the closed bridge wandwalked a half mile on it beffore i realized it was closed ahead and had to turn around and go back. It took me another 1.5 hours to find the path and follow it correctly to the correct bridge. After that, it was up and over the bridge, lots of crossings and turns and down to another bridge. finally, back over the bridge and to a bus stop. I was soooo happy when that was done. I was soooo cold and hungry. My granola bars had frozen as had my water bottle. I had double layers on, but I needed a tripple layer that day. I got back and rang the bell. Xai was awesome and grabbed me some chicken nuggets when he went on his travel assignment. I had to do my seminar that day, and my question was what did you unexpectedly like about training. I said I liked shop; it was my most relaxingt class. i also found i loved baking, even though I hate to cook.
That night, I ordered a medium pizza and proceeded to eat most of it by myself. I hadn't eaten much the evening before or all that day. when i'm nervous, i have stomach issues, so it is better if i don't eat before hand. i was starving by that point. after the pizza inhaling, i brailled more of my project. i slated about 250 taboo cards by the time it was done a day later. the next day was spent working deee in travel class since i finished the official requirements. I think we went to panera and mcdonalds. I also almost finished my desk. Friday, I rang the bell for completing my Braille project and finishing my desk. I'm sooo happy; i think it looks nice and will be my piece of furniture when I move out of here.
That day we had thanksgiving dinner at blind, inc. the food was awesome. I talked to rob some and gave feedback about the class. I graduated later, and everyone said nice things! I think we went to wendies that day.
The next couple of weeks were relaxing. I packed things and shipped things and went to hang out at Michelle's for a couple weeks. We did thanksgiving together, 7 of us. Michelle made turkey and Corn, Jen made mashed potatoes, Ginny made wild rice and mushrooms, Alyssa made corn and greenbean caserole, Rob made rolls, and I made chocolate pie.
I also watched Michelle's dog for a few days while she went to washington. He is a nice old dog, but he took dee's treat ouch and ate everything. It was also interesting walking him, since he is not a guide dog, he goes left to right looking for a spot on the sidewalk and i never knew when he was going to go.
Michelle came back on my birthday. Jonah, the dog, woke me up with his barking. we went to wolves den, a restaurant at the indian center, where I had a cheeseburger on fry bread and french fries. We also weht to the restaurant drink where I had chicken fingers. Michelle got me a lava cake with a huge sparkler; I could hear it coming towards me before I smelled the chocolate. Michelle got me a stuffed dog and a dog necklace. Diana got me a butterfly necklace, and Rob got me a can of godiva dark cocoaMy last day in minneapolis, I took stuff to UPS and shipped it. I also went to the love from minnesota store. I wandered around in there for awhile before asking a salesperson where the charms and keychains were. It turned out that they were the first things I passed. I got a mug keychain with pictures of animals from Minnesota; I also got a moose charm and a mn state charm for my bracelet. We went to old chicago for the last time. I invitged the people I wanted to see that I hadn't seen on my birthday. I ate pepperoni rolls, and all of us talked for two hours before going home.
The cab came about 5, and I said bye to Michelle and Mark. I hate airport security. I had to go through twice, once in minneapolis with delta and once in orlando for united. after orlando i flew to d.c. then to pennsylvania. My luggage was of course lost. I haven't checked luggage since 2008 for that reason. *every* time I check a bag, it is lost. The delivered it two days later, but it still sucked.
I'm soo tired. People tell me if i exercise more, the depression will go away. i walked at least 3 miles everyday or more sometimes, and i've eaten more fruits and vegetables. I'm sooo tired all the time. My sleep pattern is all off and i can't fall asleep till 4 am. i have no energy and no motivation to do anything. i have no housing for the spring semester. i am reenrolled in the university, but i haven't payed anyting. the loan people are after me because i was supposed to start paying them back last month, but they keep saying i'm ineligible for deferrment. i need to sign up for the gre, but that thought just overwhelms me. I don't want to go back to bloomsburg. I feel like i'm failing at everything and disappointing myself and everyone else who expects things from me.
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Nov. 4th, 2010

crazy busy

wow, i always think about updating and am just sooo tired and forget to do it. this is rambling and possibly has no order or sense.

The past month has been really busy. I helped Michelle move to her new apartment, which is across the street from here. Alyssa and I got lost in the parking lot for like 5 minutes, and we were pulling a huge cart. I got a new roommate, Joanne, and her guide dog is Ditra.
We went apple picking. They had these amazing apple doughnuts with cinnamon and sugar; i wanted like so many of them, but I only bought two. I also bought apple cider. Afterwards, we went to a restaurant with huge burgers. We went to target, where I bought socks and chocolate.
Michelle had a birthday, so we went to chipotle, and I love their tacos. I also spent time hanging out with Ginny and George at the beat coffee shop. we talked about working with children and our experiences being blind.
Industrial arts has been going well. I made a box to hold the drawer and attqached it to the desk. I also had to make the drawer. I never realized how complicated it could be. I had to use three different saws to make the length, width, and the grooves for the drawer. I am now in the process of putting finish on it.
Travel was challenging this month. I was sent to north fourth street, which is on the other side of hennepin passed downtown minneapolis. i spent like 2 hours trying to find the place, but i didn't end up finding it till the next day, a pizza luce. I was also sent to a book center, not hard to find, but i waited on the wrong corner for a bus for like a half hour. I also walked to lake of the isles with Dee; she was soo excited to go, that i got far ahead of rob and xai. I also went to burger king; he accidentally gave me the wrong address, so after an hour of checking all the stuff on the block, i called him to confirm and that's when he checked and said i needed to be a block over. I love burger king; michelle, joanne, alyssa, and I went another saturday and ate and hung out there for four hours. i was sent over the river to 215 east hennepin, a delly. i found it, but i couldn't figure out where to get the bus back to the center. i found the bridge though, so i walked back accross the river, which took aboout 15-20 minutes. i couldn't figure out where i was at first, but i realized the streets were washington and hennepin. it took me another half hour to realize i was on the wrong side of washington and i needed to walk another four blocks to catch a bus. i was sooo tired that day because i didn't get back to blind inc till 5:45. I went to lynepin, a weird street in minneapolis. You cross hennepin, but it was hard at first to tell the traffic pattern; get to an island and stand to wait to cross the turning lane. After another island, you wait for the light again and cross lyndale. I was also sent to common roots cafe, which was in a weird place in and over a hure porch. Joanne and I went to godiva. we got separated in thse skyway, but it was a nice, easy assignment.
Rob has been doing thiz thing lately where i pull cards with three places to go, and i have to figure out how to get it done in the shortest amount of time. i was sent to the theater ticket office and wells fargo. i had no problem finding the ticket office, but the wells fargo was harder because it was inside the sky way, and i went the wrong way at first. Another time, i had to find bills imported foods, a walgreens and a grocery store. that was on the day with 60-per-mile winds, and I had trouble crossing streets. I got stuck in the parking lot after i walked from the food place to the bus stop. I spent a lot of time waiting for buses that day, so i wasn't fast on that assignment. The next one was a na pet store, a nail salon, and cvs. I walked from the center the mile to urbanimal, walked over two blocks to catch a 17 and got off at uptown station where i walked a block to the nail salon. i knew the address to cvs, but i walked two blocks too far and had to come back. i always forget wich corner of lake and dupont it is, but i think it is the northeast or northwest corner. i walked back to uptown station, where i waited a half hour for a bus back to blind inc. I later found greyhound, fedex, and mcdonalds.
I had my third drop off!!!! This is the walking one that is 3-5 miles away from blind inc and you don't take any buses to get back. for some reason, i was thinking i wasn't allowed to ask a question on this drop. I later found I was dropped at mctc on 14 and hennepin. I must have gone east to lasow and walked a mile from there. i found a bus stop and waited there for 10 minutes to see if i recognized a bus. of course i didn't, it was a 673, a bus i've never heard of, so i kept walking. as you go downtown, the blocks get closer together. i kept hearing the traffic going only one direction, but i wasn't putting it together. i heard buses in the distance, so i walked that way. i realized i reached nicollet, because it is a small street that only buses and cabs are allowed to use. at that piint, i needed a bus to go, so i could tell if i were going north or south. i kept walking, till i found the ids tower, a huge center with at least four revolving doors, at 7th and nicollet. I walked from 7th and nicollet to 22nd and nicollet back to the center, about two miles. i got it done in two hours, which was awesome for me. I bought myself starbucks hot chocolate to celebrate! Now all I have is the grad walk.
I am going to the doctors soon to get another antidepressant, because the one i was on was obviously not working. i've been so tired lately; sometimes i didn't want to get out of bed, and little things like grocery shopping seemed so hard. I am considering going to depression rehab; it's like going away for a month to six months and focusing on getting control of depression with medications, therapy, and other things. I do well in residential settings; i couldn't do this training and go to college at the same time. The only problem is of course money; i am waiting to see how much my insurance would cover, but i think it would be helpful for me.
I am going back to bloomsburg pennsylvania for my last semester of undergrad, and i will graduate with my bachelors in sociology. i have 33 out of 36 credits for journalism, but i won't have that degree. there iw no way i can do an internship. my heart isn't there anymore, and i just can't do it for 3 months in a new place and all of that stuff. i have decided i want to go to louisiana tech for their masters for teaching blind students, probably not for another year or so though. i have to take the gre, and see depression above, i don't think that can happen any time soon. I can't concentrate, and i hve trouble remembering massive amounts of new information. i am going to london next summer for 5 weeks after i graduate to study abroad. i would also like to go to guatemala for spanish emersion, but i need to get all my mental stuff figured out first. if i can just get a little better in the head, i could do it. i'm just so apathetic and tired and can't concentrate.
Oh, i graduate from bllind inc in two weeks. just the 6 mile grad walk and finishing my desk and braille project to go!

Oct. 7th, 2010

yay!!!!

Travel was hard for a while there. after the time when i got lost on hennepin, he sent me to 18 and chicago. it should habve been a straight two-blocks there, but there was construction. i had to go around all of that, and then i had to take a bridge and overpass. by the time i got off the overpass, i had no idea where the hell i was. i stood there for like 5 minutes trying not to cry and not calling rob the travel instructor. i finally calmed down and asked someone what street it was. i found the address, 1811 chicago which was social security. i got back to the bus stop and was on the wrong side for like 20 minutes. Another time, i went to 38 and nicollet, transferred to a 23 bus, and transferred to a 17. i was on the wrong side of the street, and by the time i realized it was the wrong bus, i was like almost a mile away and had to walk back to uptown and wait for a bus. I was also sent to a dry cleaners, a bakery and a pizza place.
This week was my large meal, the one I make from scratch for 40 people. Monday I got out all of my dishes, arranged tables, and grocery shopped for 1.5 hours. Tuesday, I chopped onions, peppers, garlic, basil, oragano, and some other herb and put it with 3 pounds of ground beef to cook in a kettle. After that, I added cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and cooked that. I had two batches because one had no meat, since i and other people, don't like meat in the lasagna. I mixed the parsley, recata, and parm in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator for later. I washed apples and 5 pounds of green beans. I snapped them and did all of the dishes. Yesterday, I made french bread by hand. that took half he day because i made four loaves. i had to mix everything and nead it in to a ball. i put it in the oven with a warm pot to let it rise for an hour. after that, i made it into loaves, oiled it, and let it rise for another half hour. i made 7 pitchers of punch with the fruit juice concengtrate and 3 cans of water per pitcher. I mixed the boboli, which was parm, motzerella, pepperoni, and ranch dressing and put it in a bowl. I mixed three batches of toping for apple crisp.
Today was insane. when i came home yesterday, i went to dinner and hung out with michelle. we went for a walk and i came back here and slept. I woke up at 3 am, and joanne and i talked for awhile and made cocoa. i took out dee and was tired so fell asleep at 5:15 or so. I hadn't realized Dee was lying on my power strip, and she shut it off. my phone is my alarm, and since it didn't charge, no alarm. I woke up at 8:01; bllind inc. starts at 8. i was out the door and at the bus stop at 8:04. There was supposed to be an 8:20 17 bus, but it didn't show up till 8:40; i got from nicollet and 22 to the center in under a minute, put dee in the crate, and went to the kitchen. I had to peal, core, and slice apples, assemble and bake the 3 apple crisps, cook and butter the green beans, assemble and bake the five bobolis, bake the 3 lasagnas, drain fruit, put fruit together in a bowl, make the whipped cream and put it in the salad, slice, butter and bake the five loaves of garlic bread, and add sevenup to the seven pitchers of fruit punch. i served at 12:30. everyone said they liked it, and I think it went well, except for my being like 50 minutes ate.
I'm going to London!!!!! I signed up for a five-week study abroad next summer. it is a theater program, 3 days per week we see plays every day. we also take a shakespeare class, a race and gender one, and some other class. the rest of the time is time to explore.
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Sep. 23rd, 2010

updatage

I know, so much for regular updates.
After the minnesota state fair was break. I was soooooo glad for the time off; I needed it. Michelle, Mark, Alyssa, and I went back to the state fair. We did pretty well traveling together. Three of us are totally blind and one has a little bit of vision. I had strawberry custard, french fries, lemonaid, soda, and funnel cake with cinnamon and sugar. II looooove funnel cake. Someone broke my straight cane while i was at the fair. I need to buy a new one, sigh.
We also went to the low vision store, where I got a tiny telescoping cane to attach to Dee's leash. Sometimes with the dog, I just need one for like 30 seconds when I'm really disoriented and need a tactile landmark or finding a trash can, etc.
That thursday, I flew to Pennsylvania. I packed in one carry-on with both Dee's and my stuff. When i got to the minneapolis airport, i found the checkin desk and security by following directions. I went threw and set off the alarms, so Dee had to be checked since her leash has metal parts. I got assistance from there to the gate. How weird the person helping me used to live in Bloomsburg where I go to school, so we talked about what it was like to live there, classes, etc. The flight was an hour late because it was rainy and disgusting. After getting to baltimore, I went to another airline to check in and go through security again. They needed my weight, dee's weight, and the weight of my backpack so they could do weight distribution. That was the *smallest* plane I have ever been on. It had 8 seats. I was sooo glad when I landed. I got a cab to beckie's, and we grabbed hotdogs and went to her education class. It was interesting; the topic was what makes a good teacher.
Afterwards, we went back to her apartment for awhile, then we went to play curses with her friends. it's a game where you get a prompt and have to act it out; i got you are a boss and are firing someone or you are a mechanic and have to explain to someone how you broke their car. the curses are something like put your arms straight for the whole game, sneeze every time you talk, etc. it was hilarious.
Friday, we went to her friend tabbi's house. we had mac and cheese, and we went to a barn stormer's baseball game. i don't like baseball, but i go to the parks for the food. i had a pretzel and cotton candy.
Saturday, Beckie's grandmother and mother came up. We went to the olive garden where I had awesome garlic sticks and lasagna rolls. Beckie's grandmother wass crying because she said my dog has a horrible life since she has to be in harness and work for me. Later that evening, we played dungeons and dragons. we also played with nurf darts and nurf swords. it was hilarious. i won the nurf sword fight, and those things really hurt sometimes, lol.
Sunday, beckie and I went to the mall. She got lots of products at bath and body works. i got headbands. We found an aunty ann's pretzels, and i was sooo happy.
Monday, we walked likek a mile to find an atm, so i would have cab money. There were no problems flying back to minneapolis, and I was exhausted when i got home.
i've noticed my travel skills are improving. i could remember orientation things so much easier when i was in pennsylvania; i'd never been to her campus before, but i felt comfortable remembering where we turned, what streets were, etc.
travel has been going well here. i had hard assignments last week. one was to take a 2 bus to hennepin and franklin, and take a 6 to 12 and hennepin and walk. i missed a two since i was on the wrong part of the corner and had to wait 20 minutes for another one. it took me about 10 minutes to cross at hennepin because there was an island, so i had to do two crossings. i missed buses for about 25 minutes because i had to be standing at the pole instead of the shelter, which was only like 10 feet away. i got to 12 and hennepin and couldn't find it. i walked up awhile and realized i was at mctc, a community college. i got out of there and finally remembered it was an even, which meant i needed to be on the west side. i went over there and had to go around lots of construction and finally found 1260, which is a subway. i went to 11 and crossed and somehow went west instead of east, so went six blocks in the wrong direction and had to back those same blocks to end up at nicollet and franklin. that bus ride is normally ten minutes, but it took a half hour with traffic from the twins baseball game
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Aug. 28th, 2010

last week

After my small meal, I naturally couldn't sleep, so I tried to make pancakes, something I made successfully twice before. Note to self: do not attempt to cook after not sleeping and cooking all week. I either burned them or undercooked them, sigh. Beckie didn't make cook Friday; I got to unload the dishwasher and clean the stove and chill for the rest of the period. I couldn't focus much in communications, so I slated a bit and I helped Shawn because he was having trouble using the slate.
I moved in with Michelle Saturday. I didn't think I had sooo much stuff, but I had to make several trips with food and other kitchen supplies. While I was moving, this guy who worked with the kids program came over randomly. I have no idea how he got in, since you need a key, but he came over and helped me move some of my food. He wouldn't go away! Hwe was flirting with me, grabbing my hand and trying to touch my hair. I stopped talking to him after about 20 minutes, unpacked kitchen stuff, talked to Jen on the phone for like 45 minutes, ETC, and he *wouldn't* go away. Finally,, Hannah, the person moving into my old apartment, came over, and I gave her the keey, offered tohelp her move, and showed her to use some stuff in the apartment. He *finally* left; he has done this to two other ladies so far that I know of. Why do creepy, clingy guys like me!!!! Later, Michelle and I went to Old Chicago for pizza.
Sunday I completed my weekend travel assignment. I had to walk to CVS under shades and buy something. I bought a travel cosmetic bag for the tsa agents at the airport and some melatonin because of my sleeping issue.
Monday, I went to the chiropractor. I walked from 22 and Nicollet to Grand and Nicollet, about 8 blocks away. Rob, the travel instructor, showed me some things in the skyway, and he had me go ask what busineses were around etc. I found godiva and bought some chocolate pearls. The chiropractor helped a lot, but I had a headache for 1.5 days since he majorly adjusted my neck. He said i was 1/4 to 1/2 inches out of allignment in my spine and pelvis, so that's why it was painful to move.
Tuesday, I spent most of the day traveling. I was supposed to take an 18 to 36 and nicollet and walk to 36 abnd hennepin. I got off at 38 and nicollet since 36 wasn't called. some reason i wasn't thinking and walked two blocks south instead of north and ended up at 40 and nicollet. I figured i could just go to hennepin and reverse the four blocks when i got there, not. When i got two blocks away from hennepin, i found lots of grass and no sidewalk. someone told me i was in lyndale park, a couple blocks from Lake Harriet and that there were no more streets. I said screw this, and walked back to 40 and bryant, where I was sure there was a #4 bus that could take me to 0.5 miles from blind inc. I took the 4 to 22nd and lyndale and walked back crossing Lyndale, Garfield, Harriet, Grand, Pleasant, Pilsb ury, Blaysdale, Nicollet, and First. I missed lunch, and Becky was awesome and said I could should go relieve Dee and go to mcdonalds or something and eat. So I relieved Dee and walked to Wendies. Aftger that, since I have two periods of travel Tuesday, Rob sent me on the same assignment, since I got it wrong the first time. He said my problem-solving skills were good, but he wanted me to try it again. This time I got the bus to 36 and nicollet, walked to 36 and hennepin, took a 6 to uptown station, and took a 17 back to blind inc. In total that day, I crossed 66 streets, and I was exhausted!
Wednesday, I *finally* had a staffing with my rehab counselor. it is where they ask about your progress. This ponly happened because dick davis, the assistant director of blind, inc, emailed the state director of pennsylvania about all the problems we had; he emailed the regional director, who emailed her supervisor. I sent her repeated emails with no response. shawn sent her emails with no response. Al sent her emails with no response. She called and yelled at the secretary because she said she never got reports, but they were stappled under the bill for the program. I told her about my progress here. She was surprised that I went grocery shopping *gasp* all by myself because of my small meal. She was also confused that the travel instructor wasn't with me most of the time. When I go to a new area, like the skyways, rob goes with me a few times. After that, when he thinks I have an idea of what the area is like, he sends me on independent assignments. That is the *point* of this training, to be able to go by myself as much as possible, not have big brother instructor hovering over my shoulder. Jim Antonacci, the nfb president of pa, was also on the conference call with us. She wanted to know his interest and he said that since he has been a blind person all his life, a former rehab counselor, and since i was a pennsylvania memember, he wanted to offer support and help if it was needed. He, shawn, and I all agreed that she was trying to put a good face on it and cover her ass for the mistakes in the past, but all of us and one of her made her nervous. We have one scheduled for sept. 21.
Thursday, I had my second drop off. I had no warning. Rob just announced at announcements that it would be happening. I told him i wanted to know before hand. When I get nervous, I have stomach trouble, so if i know something major like that is going to happen, i make sure that i don't eat a heavy meal the night before and nothing in the morning. I spent like 10 minutes hanging out in the bathroom before I felt ok enough to go on the drop off.
When i got there, i realized i was in a parking lot. I got out of it ok, and after a few minutes, i realized i was at a park near one of the lakes. I wandered for a half hour or so and kept only finding bike paths and walking paths. We are allowed to ask only one question during these assignments, so I asked, "which direction do I need to go to get to the main road and other streets instead of the bike and walking paths?" I got good directions, thank god, and made it to the road. I walked for another half hour crossing streets till I found a busstop, where I waited about 20 minutes. I got on the 4b and waited to see if it was going the right direction. It said 36 and then 35, so I knew I was. I knew I would eventually end up at lyndale and 22, so I could get off and walk back from there. When I got back, I got to ring the bell. Everyone thought it was hilarious that I was tweeting during the drop off, so they were following my progress as I was coming back. I said I always tweet or blog. They are my version of pictures painted with words so to describe feelings and thoughts in the moment so I can look back later and remember.
I went to the chiropractor again and he did more adjusting. I have an appointment Monday.
Yesterday we went to the Minnesota state fair. It was cool; I got to hang out with Michelle and Emily, the communications instructor. I had fried oreos and fried peanut butter cups for the first time. We walked to different stores. I saw egyption tiles, irish quilts, wool blankets, knitted animals, lots of leather bags, jewelry, ETC. I got separated from the group, but I asked questions and got myself to the meeting point. I came back here and read for awhile.
Today, I attempted to go get pet food. I thought it would be simple, but I was going somewhere where I wasn't exactly sure. I got off and had tgo cross several parking lots. Dee wasn't working well today, and it took me a half hour to find the store. It took me 20 minutes to find the bus stop I needed to go downtown, and I eventually just asked someone to walk with me to it. Now, I'm hanging out here for the rest of the day. thank God we're on vacation from BLIND, Inc. for a week I need it!

Aug. 25th, 2010

small meal!

I am remembering to update sooner lol.
Last week was exhausting. From Monday through thursday afternoon, I stayed in the kitchen preparing my small meal. Monday was ironing, setting the table, and going grocery shopping day. Ironing wasn't too bad. At one point, I had to unplug and refill it with water because I somehow didn't put in enough. There are somehow only five cloth napkins instead of six, so wguess who didn't get one for the meal. The setting wasn't too bad either. Salad forks on the outside and regular on the inside. Spoon on the inside and knife on the outside. Teaspoon at the top of the plate, salad bowl on the left, and glass on the right. In the middle were a sugar bowl, sweet-in-low bowl, and salt and pepper shakers. I also had the serving platters for the ham, potatoes, and apples as well as a plate for the biscuits. Shopping went surprisingly fast, and Sophie, the shopper's assistant, was pretty good and we were done in 40 minutes or so.
Tuesday was the exhausting day. I baked the ham, which was heavier than I remembered; I think it was nine or ten pounds. It baked for 1.5 hours. I also had to make the glaze, which was a stirring constantly on the stove since it had brown sugar and mustard and pineapple. I loved the glaze. After that, I had to stick whole cloves throughout the ham to give it more flavoring. I had to spread glaze on the ham with a spatula or something. I asked why I couldn't pour it and Becky said it would get too much in the bottom of the roaster and it would burn. After that, it went in for another 20 minutes. I had to remove all the cloves, and that was kinda messy since it was all glazed. The hardest part for me was slicing the ham. Becky taught me to use an electric knife. I am not a fan. It requires using two fingers to squeeze the button and the trigger, so my hand is uncomfortable. I also had to cut at an angle since there was a bone. The knife was on its last legs, so it kept shutting off and I had to jiggle the power chord and rince my fingers since glaze would make the button stick.
I also made the pastry for eclaires. This was ok, just eggs, flour, water, and butter. Again, the hardest part was stirring. It had to form a ball on the stove before I could take it off and use a 1/4 cup to put little balls on a pan before I stretched them in to hotdog-like shapes for the eclaires. They baked for awhile, and this pastry turned out better than my test batch, which was not hollow enough and had too many dough filliments.
Tuesday was also the dressing. It was a raspberry viniagrette. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the smell of vinegar? It makes me feel nauseated, and I also despise raspberries. So this dressing had raspberry vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and some other stuff. I put all the ingredients in a jar and put it away.
The final Tuesday project was baking the potatoes for the first time. AAfter an hour, I scopped out the potatoes and left the skins in a shape. I mashed them and added cheddar cheese, sour cream, parsley, salt, and pepper. I forgot the green onions.
Wednesday wasn't as crazy as Tuesday. The grossest part was the bacon. I have a texture issue with touching meat. I can't stand it; it's all slimmy and disgusting. Becky had me cut up a whole pound of bacon, raw, with scissors so it would already be in bits for my potatoes and salad. it took me like a half hour to do it. After it finally finished sizzling, I added bacon bits to my potato mixture and spooned it all back into the potatoes. The biscuits took a while to make since they had to bake for a half hour I think. Since I did my test batch mixing all the ingredients, I was allowed to use bisquick and add milk, cheddar, and garlic. I absolutely love cheesy biscuits, so this was one of my favorite parts of the meal. I ended up making 23 biscuits.
I did a different recipe for my custard than for my test batch. It had cornstarch and egg yolks. I learned how to use an egg separator. My first couple eggs were fine, but I messed up my last one and had to throw away since my yolk broke and got into the egg whites. This was the looooongest stirring. It was 20 minutes of constant stirring on the stove, since milk cannot be left alone to burn. Afterwards, I had to slowly put some of the custard into the eggs and stir. Then, I had to pour the egg mixture into the pot and recook it to a boil and another minute. After that, I had to stir in the butter and vanilla. This custard ended up being thicker than my last one, which was nice.
I did tea too on Wednesday. That was interesting. I made lemongrass tea, a green tea from Asia. I usually use a tea kettle, but I had to boil water in an open pot and put in the leaves later. I wasn't sure how long to do it or if the water was the right temperature, so I took my tea leaves home and did a test batch at 3 am when I couldn't sleep. I scooped the extra dough filliments from the pastry, which took me like 20 minutes because I had to be careful not to take too much and make a hole in the pastry. Finally, I washed my apples.
Thursday was the crazy day since I only had three hours to finish the prep. The first thing was to make another pot of tea. I *hate* waiting for water to boil, about 15 minutes or so. Then there is five minutes for the tea to steep, slowly laddling it out into a one-cup strainer over the bowl, so leaves wouldn't end up in the tea. Then, I scooped out the cooler liquid into a pitcher.
Next was cleaning the spinach. I hate salad, but this was an easy step. I had to put the whole bunch into a bowl with cold water and let it soak. After that, I pulled of the stems and threw them away. The wet leaves went on to towels and sent back into the refrigerator. I boiled eggs, peeled off the shells, and used an egg slicer on each one. I washed strawberries. After an hour or two, I took out the leaves and served the salad in the individual bowls.
The baked apples took a surprising amount of time. I had to core the apples without going all the way through. That was the hardest part for me. I could get the chorer in and twisted, but it was soooo hard to get out the part i started. I had to slowly cut at it with a knife without going crooked and through the skin of the apple. I did four of them. Becky saw I was struggling and awesomely offered to do the last two for me. After that, I had to put two tablespoons of brown sugar and one of butter inside the apple wells. It was interesting getting all that stuff in such a tiny hole. I sprinkled cinnamon on top of the apples and let them set out while I did other things.
Next was the icing for the eclaires. It was dark chocolate chips mixed with whipping cream. It was five sessions of 30 seconds on the microwave because burned chocolate would have been disgusting. Before that, I had to put custard in the bottom halves of the eclaires. I should have made a double batch of custard because I only had enough for 7 eclaires but I had eleven pastries. I let the icing cool some and used a spoon to spread it over the seven eclaires. They went back in the refrigerator to chill.
I put the ham and the apples in the oven, since they needed to bake or reheat at near the same temperature. The potatoes needed to bake for the second time. The biscuits needed to be rewarmed. I poured tea in to individual glasses, and even though i made sixteen measuring cups of tea, I barely had enough for six glasses.
I put the ham slices, apples, and potatoes on their individual platters. It was hard to move the apples, since they were round and whole with butter/sugar mixtur bubbling inside and oozing out of them. The biscuits went into the basket. I poured the dressing into a serving bowl. The desert plates and cups and saucers were set up to go for the deserts and hot cocoa, which was the last thing I made. I almost messed up that one because I needed to make a double batch, so I had to add more milk and more cocoa and powddered sugar. That was *another* constant stirring on the stove until the milk was scalled. I had to stir in the cocoa/sugar slowly and added the vanilla where it went back on the stove for another minute. I had to get the cocoa into a coffee pot and plugged in to stay warm.
I was finally ready to serve 20 minutes after I was supposed to be ready. Shawn, the director of BLIND Inc, Becky the cooking instructor, and my friends Ginny, Michelle, and Greg came to my meal. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be, so I was able to eat some of my food. I played irish music during my meal, because I love it and thought it was fun. We had good conversations, and everyone said they loved my food. The hard part was putting the cocoa in the cups without overpouring and carrying the cups on the saucers to the correct people. I had to squeeze past Shawn every time in a tight spavce, and I was afraid I would spill the cocoa. I also had to do the same with the eclaires. The eclaires and cocoa were myh favorite part of the meal. With relief and happiness, I rang the freedom bell when I was done and the people came to congradulate me.

Aug. 17th, 2010

long post is loong

Wow, I haven't updated in like two months, and I have no idea where to start. Again, I'm looking back at twitter to see what i've done.
One of the major things was camping with BLIND, Inc. it was when all students, teens, kids, and dtaff went into the wood for three days. We stayed in cabins. We took a schoolbus there. I *hated* the school bus; it is *not* made for adults, and we were all squashed in for like three hours until we got to the state park. We also got stuck in a traffic jam, which didn't help. We finally got there after 2 pm or something, and we waited for lunch to be made. We had to find our cabins, and I totally sucked at orienting myself. I had no problem going from the cabins to the main area with the dining hall and the fire, but I couldn't find my way back. One of the students got mad at me because I was walking fast with my cane. For all intense and purposes, I am totally blind, having light perception only. She said it wasn't fair that I could do it and I was probably using Dee when I had out my cane and had Dee healing beside me. I roomed with Michelle. After we had tacos for lunch, we had an orientation to the grounds. Shawn and Emily brought their dogs Ani and Sistina, and Dee wanted to play with them at one point along the trail. Dee also puked on the way and she got majorly bitten by mosquitos and a fly or something because her mouth got all puffy.
We were exhausted Wednesday after dinner; I don't remember what it was, but it was good. Michelle and I stayed up till 1 or so chatting and trying to fend off the Minnesota state bird the mosquito. Note to self: get a different natural bug spray nexxt time.
Thursday was our activity day. I chose to go hiking. We made our lunches, which were ham sandwiches, an oatmeal cookie, and chips. It was so weird for me to use a paper bag and plastic sandwich baggies since I have been using reuseables for a long time. Dee was sooo energetic on the hike. Someone said we walked 8 miles, but it didn't feel like that to me. Some of the little kids were nervous since we were in an unfamiliar area, but it wasn't a hard route to remember. We had to crawl under a couple logs to get to the trail, and we maded a right turn near some moving water and other things that were distinct. We stopped in a dried up lake and stood there to have lunch. Somehow no one thought to check if the little kids had water, so we shared some of ours with them.
That night's dinner had ribs, and they were great! We also had a campfire. I missed some of it since that was my turn to be on clean up duty. My job was to retrieve dirty dishes and scrape the extra food into the trash can. After that, I washed the tables and put away some of the dishes. When I got to the campfire, people were singing down by the bay. After all the singing and guitar playing, we made s'mores. Those are one of my favorite camp foods. I managed not to burn my marshmallow, so that was nice. I gave Dee to one of the staff while I went to toast my marshmallow. Everyone loves her, so they were happy to get to pet her. Al said she just rolled over on her back for belly rubs. Rob, one of the travel instructors who used to have a dog, also played with her. He said Dee reminds him of his guide Virgil who died a while ago. Dee absolutely loves him. She wags her tail fast when she sees him now.
The next day was when we left. When i was rolling up my sleeping bag, I got it stuffed back into it's plastic zipper thing. It was hard to carry, so I could only have Dee leash guide me while i tried not to drop it and my bag and cane. Somehow, the zipper on the plastic thing broke, so i had to walk extra slowly so the sleeping bag wouldn't tumble to the ground. I was soooooo excited to be back to blind inc. Michelle and I wandered to McDonalds while we were waiting for our backpacks to come back in the van. when we finally got home, the first thing I did was get a shower. the camp only had cold water, so I didn't shower there. The sink in the bathroom was also weird. You stepped on a petal and water squirted out of this circle . It made it difficult to fill water bottles since it was a circle instead of a straight down flowing one like like a normal sink.
Home management has been going well. I cook some at home. One ay, I decided to make sugar cookies. I didn't realize my recipe would make so many, and I ended up with like 77 cookies. I also have made oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and blonde brownies. I made pancakes and I didn't b urn them, but I managed to flip one out of the pan.
My small meal is this week@! it is where you and five guests have a formal meal with cloth napkins and nice dishes. I'm making spinach salad, ham, twice-baked potatoes, baked apples, cheddar biscuits, eclaires, lemongrass iced tea, and hot chocolate. today was the ironing day, setting the table and finding the serving dishes, and going grocery shopping.
I have made progress in travel. Awhile ago, I got sent to lyndale and Frankllin, a walking independent assignment. While I was over there, I grabbed dog treats, since I was almost out. I had to take a 2 bus back to stevens and 22. I forgot stevens isn't lighted so isn't announced, so i had to get off at 3rd and 22nd. a couple months ago, i would have panicked since I wasn't in a familiar location. Knowing the names of the streets helped, and I knew I had to walk south on franklin, cross third, 2nd, and stevens to get back to the center. One time, I got lost going to the bank. i somehow crossed lake street without knowing it and I was lost for an hour because I kept being either on the wrong sides of lake or hennepin and got stuck in calhoon saquare, a shopping center, and lots of outdoor restaurants. I found a cool pet store at 36 ave. and west lake st. You get back 5% of what you spend at the end of the year, and any money back is amazing. I know how to get to ace hardware, and I bought some cable ties. When coming back from convention, I took dee to relieve sans harness or cane and got lost for 45 minutes. I'm glad dee is decent at leash guiding and recognized our building. Another travvel assignment was doing all four corners at first and franklin. Franklin is a busy lighted intersection, and it doesn't scare me anymore like it used to. One day, I spaced out or something and missed my stop on the bus and got off at nicolet and 18 andstead of nicolet and 22nd. I saw Zach the travel instructor after crossing franklin, and he was like you aren't afraid anymore are you? and I was like, no it's all good. One day, I decided to go somewhere I've never been with an address. I didn't find the wendies the first time because I went up and down the wrong sides of the street. It didn't help that I couldn't remember which was third and which was clinton, and I wasn't sure if i needed the west or east side of the street. I attempted it a second time after school that day, and I found it. I was sooo excited, my first indepent-initiated assignment ever to somewhere unfamiliar. Zach sent Kinsey and I to the spy house and the Bad Waitress to get business cards, an easy one. I had double travel on a friday, so Zach and I did four miles. I went on a pedestrian bridge, two overpasses, and crossed the on and off ramps for the interstate, and I wasn't afraid. That is an amazing feeling, knowing I can cross busy streets like that, even with all the ambient noise and distraction. I went to the wedge at 22nd and Lyndale. It is a natural store with organic food and eco-friendly beauty products. I bought sunscreen, bugspray, and shampoo. I walked to interstate 35, on the opposite direction of the other interstate. that assignment was to recognize when we got to nicolet without knowing the street names, since they are different on that side. For example, blazdale is called lasao instead and first is called marquette.
The big travel news was I got my first drop off! I was a little nervous before i left, but I was calm in the car and talked to Sid and Zach. I didn't pick a good direction to go. I knew I was dropped off in some college because people kept asking me if I was there for the orientation, but I said i was just exxploring the area. I ended up at the wooden barrier between the streets and the interstate, so I had to turn around and pick a different direction. After an hour, I finally got passed quiet streets and started hearing buses. I kept crossing streets and followed the bus noise till I found a shelter. I was never soo happy to see a bus stop. I ate a granola bar and drank my water while I waited 25 minutes for a bus to come. I got on at 28 avenue and Franklin; thank god the bus that came was a 2, a route number i recognize. I was hoping i picked a north-bound bus once I realized which one it was. I wasn't recognizing any of the street names, so I had to wait a while for an avenue number. I was soooo excited to hear 27 and 26, and that let me know I was going the right direction. When I got back a half hour later, I got to ring the freedom bell. We are allowed to ask only one question on these drop offs, but I didn't have to use mine. I made a grooming appointment at a new place I've never been to before, and I walked there in 20 minuttes. I took my cane, so I could go exploring the neighborhood instead of walking the almost mile home and back again. I found buffalo exchange, a thrift store, and I found a sleeveless night shirt for $9. I also found eye of horris, a cool new age store with stones, insense, jewelry, candles, and lots of books. I didn't realize 28 and lyndale and lagoon and lyndale are one huge block, so i spent awhile exploring and asking questions.
We went to wild mountain waterpark. Zach convinced me to ride the alpine slide. You sit on a tabagon with wheels and go down this 2,000 foot slide and lean forward to go faster. in the morning, it was wet, so we couldn't go fast. michelle and I raced in the afternoon, and we had fun the first time. the second time, I was going way too fast and hit a turn. I flipped off my sled, ended up with my ankle under me while going down the slide on my side. I managed to catch it before it slid away. I scraped mhy arm a lot and my ankle really hurt. when i got back to our pavilion, i got antibacterial stuff and ice for my ankle. It is still sore and puffy two weeks later, so I need to go get it checked by a doctor, sigh.
I've made progress in industrial arts. I decided to make a computer desk. I sawed, planed, joined, glued, and sanded the four boards for my desktop, so they are all connected now. I sawed, planed, joined, chisziled, and made tapered edges and grooves for the legs. I also made two boards to connect the legs and the desk. I need to assemble all of those parts and make the five boards and that whole process for the drawer.
Lots more has happened, but i'll write it all later. this is sooo long already!

Jul. 31st, 2010

convention

Wow, I don't even remember what all I've done in the past month. The closest thing to the last time I posted was the NFB convention. I got in the cab at 4:30 with Al Spooner and Kinsey and went to the smaller terminal in Minneapolis. I got separated from the group but I eventually found them again going to security. Dee set it off as usual, so they had to check her. On the first flight from here to Wisconsin, the one flight attendent kept insisting that I needed to sit in row 10 because "that is where people with service dogs sit," and "she doesn't look very comfortable all stuffed under that like that." I told her four times we were fine, and she even mentioned it again as we were deplaning. After we got to Dallas, we had shuttles arranged to go to the hotel. Some airport guy kept trying to grab us and put us into shuttles, but we had to stay as a group. It was pouring by the time we got out. Check in was fast, and Michelle, Ginny, and I were roommates. It took me awhile to find the room, because the hotel has an atrium in the middle, so the hall is broken into three branches, and we were in 388. After dropping off stuff and finding the relieving area, which was outside the first floor door, thank god, I put Dee in my room and went exploring with my cane and sleep shades. The hotel is huge with an atrium on one side and the tower on the other with a series of carpeted ramps connecting the two. One of the assignments was to find the presidential suite under shades, so I did that. I met Melissa Riccabono and Dr. Maur. Then, Michelle, Greg, Jen, Charleen, Nick, and I went to the media Grill. I wasn't very hungry, so I just ate some wonderful cream cheese icecream with a brownie and fudge suace. After that, I sold some karaoke tickets and went to bed after 1 am.
Saturday, Michelle and I slept till after 10. Someone from BLIND, Inc. called me and wanted to know if I had been grocery shopping. I said no and wandered over to the tower. I was sooo glad to buy peanut butter and jelly along with grapes and soda. This saved me from having to spend a lot of money on hotel breakfast or snack food. Before we shopped, we went to El Phoenix, a Mexican restaurant. I ate tacos and flan; I love flan, and I haven't had it for a long time. We went back to the hotel, and Michelle and I went to the craft show. It was kind of sad; there were only like five tables. I bought a lab pin for Jen's graduation present, and Michelle bought a card.
I don't remember what I did for the rest of the afternoon, but after 6:30, I was marshalling and selling karaoke tickets near the elivators. I was the first talking sign, since I was near the atrium elivators, and I had to direct people towards the tower. I accidentally forgot to give Dave Galscol a ticket after I gave him change, and he forgot too, since he walked away. By 9:00, they called us all in to turn in our ticket money and go mingle. I just happened to get there a couple minutes after David. Charleen said his story sounded believable, but she just wasn't sure. I started telling her I forgot to give a ticket to someone, and he was right there.
We sang the karaoke song. It went ok, except we started singing four too soon and had to wait for the next line.

You found our training center and decide you want to go
You ask your rehab counselor but she just says no.
She makes excuses and policy noise
You check the regulations and find informed choice.
You gotta fight for your right to BLIND, Inc.
You want independence and confidence too
Training at our center is right for you
Excuses you're given they sound like trash
Your counselor says they got no cash.
Ridiculous!
You gotta fight for your right to BLIND, Inc.
The rehab law says you can choose
Training at our center is right for you
Your rehab counselor can't remember what you said
You want to get your training at BLIND, Incorporated!
You gotta fight for your right to BLIND, Inc.

Such corny lyrics, but peo[ple seemed to think it was funny. Al asked me to speak, so I said how I was resisting training but now that I am close to the end of college, I need to be able to travel well for inturnships and grad school in a new city. I was also the ticket person at the door, and the cane can help me tell when people were trying to come in without one.
That was a long night. Afterwards, David and I went to the media grill, since I had not eaaten dinner before karaoke. I had a steak burger and fries, which were good.
Sunday morning, I went to the exhibit hall when it opened. After 20 minutes, I decided it was insanely crowded and confusing, so I took Dee back to the room and used my cane. Everyone was so close together and pushing and shoving. I went back and did a tour of everything, not buying, just seeing what was there and getting the layout. I worked the NFB Minnesota table. We sold nut goodies and nut rolls, local candy. I never had one before, and they are good! We also sold word scrambles and tickets for the Olympus recorder. It was not organized well for a totally lind person to sell. The t-shirts were not sorted by size and iit was ridiculous
I went back to the room to get Dee, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and grab grapes and soda for the NABS meeting. While waiting for it to start, I met a scholarship winner from Puerto Rico. He told me it was his first time off the Island, and he was fighting with his rehab system who didn't want him to go to Louisiana Center for the bLIND for NFB training. His goal is to open a similar center in Puerto Rico. The meeting was pretty good. Someone spoke about new accessability improvements for black board. We heard from Conchita Hernandez and her story about becoming blind and finding the nfb. People from bookshare and rfb&d spoke about recent changes. Dr. Maur addressed the students.
We voted for the NABS officers by passing poker chips to the end of the rows and someone counted to see who had the most votes. The meeting ended at almost 11, so some people and I went to the media grill to eat.
Monday morning, I went to the board meeting. It wasn't very interesting to me, but we had to go to that or resolutions. I went to lunch with someone then went back to the exhibit hall to actually buy things this time. I bought a manicure set, where I found Marie Cobb. She knew me wehn I was a baby, and she taught me to make homemade bread and chocolate chip cookies while I was at BISM when I was 17. She was like, I made your baby shower cake. It had pink teddy bears. We chatted for awhile, and it was great seeing her again. I also bought a Braille tokin that says Imagine and a Braille Keychain that says Life is a Journey. I caught up with a GDB instructor since I wanted to see how Dee was doing in traffic because of her issues after we almost got hit by the bus. He watched us for six blocks or so, and he said she is just fine now!! He likes her behavior and her work initiative! It took about a month to completely fix it, but I'm glad I stuck with it. She was a little dog distracted at convention, so we walked around a bit in the hotel. She sniffed, but she would move on when I noticed and told her to.
I went to the Pennsylvania Board meeting, where I saw Jim Antonacci, Lynn Heitz, Cary Supalo, and Miichelle. I haven't seen them in such a long time. Later, I went to the NAGDU meeting, and it was the 25th aniversary of the organization. Four of the five presidents spoke. This one professor guy was soooo long-winded, self-centered, and borring! I liked Suzanne Wailand, a blind lady in a wheelchair whose dog was trained both at Seeing Eye and South Eastern.
The meeting finally ended at 11, and I got to meet solstice_singer and talk for a few minutes. That was fun. I think I went to bed after that because I was exhausted.
Tuesday started general session, and that got old after awhile. My suggestion is to only have *one* role call of states and mention the fundraising amount then instead of having it again Thursday afternoon. I loved the speakers about education of yound blind students. I work with many kids, and I can relate to the problems and frustrations, even though I am not a teacher. I think I will write more about that later. Tim someone, a bllind doctor, spoke, and that was one of my favorite speeches. Michael Hinkson, the man who survived the Sept. 11 with his guide dog, also spoke. The resolutions took awhile, and people wanted to speak to them which made it even longer.
Other awesome things of the week included having dinner with Dominique and Briley and other people. We went to a burger place. Briley and I went to the exhibit hall, where we looked at the Braillenote Apex connectivity with the Iphone, and we got a free USB hub at the RFB&D table. I also got to meet Deanna with Pascal and we had lunch. I hung out with lots of other people I met before after sessions.
The banquet was ok, but I was freezing since I was wearing a dress. We had dry beef stew, but the chocolate cake was great. Someone from Pennsylvania got a $5,000 scholarship.
Dee did an awesome job for me all week!!! The first day, she was a little nervous and had an accident, but the rest of the time she was fine. She remembered the Media Grill, the corridor to the tower, the doors outside, the general session meeting room, and a few other things. Sunday was the only time I didn't take her to the exhibit hall. The other days weren't as crazy, so she could navigate easily. Her tail wagged almost the whole time at convention, and I only bumped into a few people. Dee and I sometimes got pushed by people who would stick their canes into Dee's harness handle. I'm glad I had her with me, and I will take her to another convention if I can.
Friday was the flight home. It was insane. Shawn scheduled the shuttles for 5:20, but it was 5:30 by the time we left. We got to the airport and it was craziness going through security. Strangely enough, Dee did not set off the metal detector. We got on the plane, and some flight attendant guy tried to take my cane and harness handle and put them above my head. I firmly refused and sat down against the window. He insisted that regulations state blah blah blah, and I told him that a person with a disability does not have to be separated from his or her service dog or mobility equipment. He kept trying it withother blind people. Someone else tried to read us the regulations and safety rules and tell us to wait till everyone else is off of the plane, but Shawn and Al stopped that pretty fast.
We got back about 1:30. I took Dee to relieve on leash outside of my apartments without my cane or harness. I somehow turned us and wandered around for a half hour. Dee leash guided me, and she finally saw our building across a huge driveway and took me there. I'm glad she could see it because I had no idea where I was. Lack of sleep, jet lag, dehydration from medicine, and not eating are a bad combination for me. I haven't disoritnted myself that badly for a long time. I also did it later going to mcdonalds later. I left my exhausted Dee at home and took my cane. On the way back, I got all confused and couldn't remember which street was 28th and where I ended up. I somehow got stuck in Old Chicago's parking lot.

Jun. 26th, 2010

Must update more

I can't believe I haven't updated in two weeks because so much has happened.
Travel is going well!!! We got a different instructor for the summer, since Rob is working with the life 101 teens. I like Zach. He comes up with nicknames for everyone. Mine is pogo because I walk fast and kind of have a bounce to my step. My confidence is starting to come back. A couple of weeks ago, I crossed lagoon and Hennepin for the first time by myself. It is a wide, lighted intersection, and I did it coming back from McDonalds and the bank. I also now know how to walk to rainbow on my own. There is this bridge and on street that I have to go over without going wrong and ending up near the dumpsters instead of the sidewalk.
One day, I had to go over the pedestrian bridge and the overpass. The pedestrian bridge is above the interstate. It's so noisy! I have to go over it to get from fourth to fifth street, and there are steps and turns going down to get off of it. There is also another part where I had to go on the overpass. This is where I walk on one side while cars are driving right next to me on the left, so I have to make sure not to veer. I veered a few times on the bridge but not on the overpass.
I was sent to take a bus and go to Isles bakery. I gog there with no problems, and I bought a puppy dog tail, an awesome cinnamon roll. Zach did my first walkoff this week, where he walks somewhere with me and has me reverse the route on my way back. I crossed 22, 24, 25, and 26. Then, I crossed, first, nicollet, and pilsbury, and it was good. Another time, I walked for a mile from 22nd and first to Lyndale and Franklin, a crazy busy intersection. Yesterday, Zach had me practicing corners. I had to go from the South West corner of the park to the northeast corner. I should have listened to myself. I figured I could get to the northwest and turn right to go to the northeast, but I couldn't. I thought I found a path in the middle of the park that I should have taken, but I found only grass. Later, Zach said if I had taken two more steps on that right, cneter path, I would have ended up in the right spot. Today was good, another independent rout. I had to go to first, turn south and cross, 22nd. After that, I had to go east and cross Stevens, second, Third, Clinton, and fourth. Turn north and cross 22nd, and turn west and walk back to the center. I walked the fastest I've done so far with my cane, almost as fast as I walk with Dee. I kept my straight line of travel for probably 90% of the time, and I was so excited to move like that. I didn't veer a single time today. Zach said I will be ready for my first drop off some time in July, and if we had another two weeks before convention, he would have me do it then. It is where one of the instructors drives us somewhere, and we have to figure out how to get back with asking only one question. We are allowed to take a bus for this one. My plan is to walk for awhile to see if I am walking along a street or an avenue. I will eventually find a bus stop, and I'll listen for bus route numbers that sound familiar. I'll get on and will be able to tell fairly quickly if I am going the right direction. If that is the wrong way, I'll get off at the next stop, cross the street and look for another bus stop that will be going the opposite direction. I'll be nervous, but I'm excited too.
Industrial arts is great!!! I finished my box in stages. I used the hand drill to make tiny holes in the box, so I could attach the lid to the top. That was hard because I had to redrill a hole since I had it a 1/16 off and not deep enough. After that, I used a metal file to get rid of the screw heads because two of them were too thick. I sanded the sides and edges again, applied two coats of finish, used steel wool, and put a coating of bee's wax on it. I finished Wednesday, and I got to ring the freedom bell for the first time to show i made one of the major marks towards graduation.
Home management is fine too. I made enchalada caserole, canned strawberry rhubarb jam, chicken noodle soup, and chocolate chip cookies. I'm making mashed potatoes and something else next week. We had inspection last week, and I did fine on the bathroom. I forgot to clean under the toaster in the kitchen and I forgot some of the counter and grooves in the refrigerator door. Michelle had her large meal, and I liked everything except the gazpacho. She had nan, a sweet bread from India; steemed vegetables taboli, a wheat salad; gazpacho, a cold spepper soup from Spain, hummis, strawberry sherbert, and orange tea.
Communications is the usual. I work on the mac, slate, and read books.
I've also been having fun outside of class. Jen and I go to Old Chicago every Tuesday evening and listen to people Karoke. Two women did well with "Don't Stop Believing" and "Let's Hear it for the Boy," but the man who sang "New York State of Mind" two weeks in a row needed to keep his day job. Joanne, a perspective student at BLIND Inc, was here for a week with her dog Ditra. We went to the skyway, where people can walk between buildings without going outside. We went to Godiva, and I bought an almond bar and chocolate pearls. Another day, Jen and I went to Victoria's Secret during their semi-annual sale. I got three new bras and underwear, since I haven't done that since 2007.
We started learning the song for convention. Every year, BlIND, Inc. hosts karoke, and the staff and students sing. We're doing You gotta fight for your right to blind, like you've gotta fight for your right to party. The teens love the song, and they bring much energy to it. Dee is doing better. She had a chiropractic adjustment, and she later had some 24-hour virus. She is doing fine again after a couple days of chicken and rice. She is now eating her lamb and rice with digestive supplement again.
I am going to be trying new anti-depressants soon again. The Welbutrin was stabalizing my mood, but the ensomnia, inability to concentrate, and lack of motivation remain. I noticed I started wanting to snap at everyone and be alone more often last week. I took some evenings for myself, but I made myself go with the group other times. I hate this. I'll take the blindness any day over the depression. I want to be able to enjoy stuff again, and I want to be able to study and love reading and be able to do it for more than 20 minutes at a time before I can't focus anymore.
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Jun. 11th, 2010

massive update

I keep forgetting to post, and before I know it, I haven't posted for 1.5 weeks. Sad that I have to look back at twitter to remember what happened since everything kind of blurs together sometimes.
Classes are going well. I learned to use a router to make edges for my box. I have to make sure to move it an inch or so away from the whole piece of wood since it will get stuck and not work properly if I don't. I had to sand some more and put in screws for the bottom. When I drilled one of the holes for the screw, I put the screw 1/8 inch too far in and it made a cfrack in my wood. That was fun trying to get a little bit of glue into a tiny space without getting it in the bottom of my box. I had to buy hinges for the lid and tiny screws. I forgot them Monday, so I had to use a hand planer to fix the edges on someone's bench because they used the router on it. Planing is harder for me. My hands hurt when I was done because you run back and forth and slide thinsthing along the wood, and it eventually gets smooth. It takes of 1/32 or 1/16 of an inch at a time, and I had to fix both sides. Today I used a tiny drill and drill bit to put on my hinges. Six of the eight screws are in my box. The only thing left is staining and waxing.
Communications continues to be easy. I've mainly been working on the mac. It's being weird and not letting me read by character when I want to spell a word but it says the voice over cursor follows the arrows. I also scanned and proofed the menu for the Leaning Tower of Pizza because BLIND, Inc. is going to Braille it. I am almost finished with When Lightning Strikes, and I started reading Heidi and a book about an Amish family. Oh, and I am working on more of the graduation requirements. I now have a grocery list and two of the four pages for my long project in my folder. I got a new stylus. It's a safety stylus where the point goes into the cap and when it is on, it's about three inches long. It looks like a pen; Amber and I are looking for tiny pen grips because it would be easier to write that way. I also bought a one-line slate and Braille playing cards since mine are almost not functional anymore.
I have made progress in travel. One day, Rob had me go to CBS. I bought a bottle of coke, sour patch kids, and huge hershey bars. Rob absolutely hates bugs, and he found a catterpillar on his shirt and worms on his desk. When we went to CVS, I told him I was going to buy a huge bag of sour gummy worms and throw them at him when I was annoyed or frustrated. He's like shut up!!! and you wouldn't do that, so later, I threw a sour patch kid at him just to say I could. Another day, I went to Ace Hardware. It's on this block that goes from Grovlin, which would be 20th street, all the way to 15 without crossing any streets. It's weird, so you have to estimate how far you've gone. I got all confused crosing Grovlin because there were buses and a playground with noisy, screaming children. Right after crossing that street is a parking lot, and I got stuck there for about five minutes trying to figure out how to get out. Getting back was easy, and I only veered one of my crossings that day.
IAve. and come back. I did fine going, but I majorly veered coming back. I somehow ended up at Nickolet and Franklin, which is further west than BLIND, Inc. I think I accidentally crossed Clinton and veered left and crossed 22nd at the same time. Nickolet and Franklin has busstops on all four corners, so it is soooooo noisy and there are weird drunk, high people on those corners. I stood there for like 10 minutes trying to decide when to cross. I eventually went, and that's when I realized I had no idea where I was. I guess this guy saw me walking back and forth a couple of times because he said, "where are you trying to go. you know you're on nickolet and franklin, right?" I actually didn't, but I said I knew and that I was fine. Franklin is like 21 street, and the center is on 22nd st. and first ave. I thought I knew where I was, so I crossed 22nd street and turned right to go up the block to go first. Bu that time, I was late for the next class by five minutes, so Rob called me. He had called me earlier, but I didn't realize it because my phone was on silent. I told him I was sure I was on 22nd, but I wasn't sure where. I completely forgot to use cardinal directions and listening to the traffic pattern. Blaysdale has the right of way and goes South, while first has the right of way but can go both ways. That block was quiet for awhile, but then I saw a lady who told me I was at Blaysdale. So I turned around and crossed Nickolet and First to get back to the center. Rob says I did a good job and problem solved to get back, even though I came back a different way than I was supposed to. He asked me if I overanalyzed things, and I said I'm a journalism and sociology major; that's what we do. He says I need to stop focusing on what I did wrong and instead, focus on everything I did right. I'm trying, and I'm practicing for a few hours every weekend with my cane.
This week, we all have Zach, the other travel instructor, for the next ten weeks because Rob will be teaching the buddies and life 101 people, the kids from 8-18 who come for the summer. I told Zach my issues right now are that I have a left veer, that I have trouble walking straight, and that I second guess myself and wait awhile at corners. I also told him about the almost getting hit by the bus thing. He says I have a good pace and that I am fast with my cane. However, I am used to my dog pace, so that is my goal iith the cane. Zach also says my cane open-palm technique is good, but I need to hold it down a little lower at my belly button in the center of my body because I had it up about two inches higher more to the right, so that could throw off my straight line. He had me do two miles around the park where I go to relieve Dee while I'm at BLIND, Inc. We didn't do anything in travel today because it was pouring rain.
Cooking is going well too. I've made bacon, pancakes, and eggs. Today, I cooked and canned 12 jars of Strawvberry rhubarb jam. Becky says they auction it off at the Minnesota state convention, so I hope it is good. Well, I cooked all of it, but I only got to can three jars since I had to go to seminar. It is hard filling the jars without getting boiling jam on my fingers, but I did it. It is also hard to use the canning jar tongs to put them in the right sections in the canning pot that seals and gets rid of the air under the lids and rings.
I've also been busy out of school. Jen and I went to urbanimal, a natural pet store on 21 and Lyndale. Lyndale is one of the busiest streets here, and I am still nervous to cross it. Jen got a new brand of food for Geri, and I bought a bowl, paws gourmet peanutbutter treats, and poop bags. While I was exploring the shop when Jen was discussing what to feed, I put my hand on this carpeted shelf and realized I stuck it directly on top of a cat. I was like Omg!! It's alive. I wasn't expecting a real cat to be on the shelf with all the dog and cat toys. The store has four cats, and they also have a few baskets of cats that need homes. I wish I could have a cat, because I would definitely adopt one if I could. They are soooo adorable.
I went shopping at Southdale Shopping Center with Jen. I was looking for dress cloths and shoes for the NFB convention. We also went exploring in there since neither of us knows the layout. We go in every store and ask what is. We went to Apple, and gthey were awesome. Some people can be so patronizing and explain every little detail or use a condescending tone, but it wasn't like that there. We also went to Godiva chocolates where I bought the dark chocolate and milk chocolate pearls and an almond bar. Pennies was where I found what I wanted. I have a black and white dress with a belt for banquet. I have a red skirt and some other color skirt. I also bought two pairs of flats. One is shiny and brown while the other has good grip on the bottom and are black.
Hannah and I went to Sanctuary Covanent church. We both loved it and are going back again this week. It is my kind of church. It has a nice mix of white, African Amemrican, Latino, and Asian people, and the worship reflects that. We talked to one of the ladies who works there, and she took our email address and got the lyrics to this Sunday's songs sent to us. It's great!!! I can put them in my Braillenote and take it with me to church. Oh, on the way back, I lost Dee's harness sign. It had her ID, national and state access laws, Taxi information, and some other dog-related card, and $20. I called GDB, and they are replacing the cards. I am also buying a sign from Kacey, a grad from GDF who makes them.
My God, I've done so many things. I went to Uptown Diner where I had a cookies and cream with chocolate syrup malt. Malts are a mid-western thing, because I've never heard of them on the east coast. I laughed at Greg because he was eating breakfast food at 1 am. I got my hair cut, and now it's layered to my shoulders instead of one length passed the middle of my back. I felt awful Tuesday. I usually carry and constantly refill a reusable water bottle, but I forgot to do it.. I'd been in industrial and went straight to cooking and from there seminar. By the time it was over, I was soo overheated and dizzy. I had to make Dee be sooo slow for once when she wanted to go faster. I just keep thinking please don't let me pass out at the bus stop or on the bus. I just kept taking deep breaths in and out. After I got off the bus, I had to cross Hennipin. I had Dee guiding and I put out my cane as well because I couldn't tell if we were going straight or not. We did and I walked the 1.5 blocks home where I ate some fruit, drank a huge glass of water, and slept for three hours.
I'm going to take a Spanish class here. I got emailed an exam and stuff to fill out so they can place me. I'm learning how to print numbers and handwrite the alphabet. Cursive Rs and Hs confuse me. I now know how to walk independently to McDonalds, the bank, and the grocery store, where I bought a lot of food and forgot my rolling bag so had to backpack and put the bags on my shoulder.
Finally, Dee is slowly getting better. She has been ignoring most things on the ground like before, but she is still majorly dog distracted. She is no longer backing away from the curb when perpendicular traffic goes, and if I keep talking to her in the street, she will pick up her pace. Sometimes she veers, so that is the next thing we are going to fix, but we are slowly but surely making progress to where I can fully trust her again. The GDB instructors are going to work with us while I am at convention, and Lauren is also going to come here.
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Jun. 6th, 2010

meme

Everyone has things they blog about. Everyone has things they don't blog about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll write a post about it. Ask about anything: latest movie watched, last book read, political leanings, if there's anything you've ever wondered or been curious about or meant to ask me, etc.
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Jun. 2nd, 2010

what i've been doing

I do so much that I forget what I've already said.
Saturday Amber, Hannah, and I went exploring. She got GPS for her Iphone and was trying it out. She asked if I wanted to go, so we did it. We were going to subway. At first, it was working well after we walked for a block or so. She couldn't figure out how to get it to repeat in case we missed the direction, so we walked some more. We got to subway like 20 minutes later. It was on Nickelet Ave. I think. When we went in, it was crowded. The workers spoke Spanish. It took awhile to order because Hannah was having trouble understanding and communicating what she wanted to know. I didn't think till it was my turn that I could ask in Spanish. That made it go a lot faster. However, they somehow put hannah's sandwich and drink on my credit card. Craziness, but the food was good. I got salami, peperoni, and cheese onon a toasted roll with dressing and coke. I have drank more coke in the past two weeks than I have in the past year!!!
Afterwards, we took a bus back to uptown and walked home.
Friday, I noticed Dee was jumpy with traffic. She was backing away from perpendicular, sitting, or turning away. I brought out the treat pouch and clicker. I don't usually carry it unless I am teaching something new, but I have been carrying it for the past five days or so. She is doing a little better now. I talked to GDB, and they said if she isn't better in the next 1.5 weeks or so, they will send Lauren to come look at us. I think she will be ok, and it will help once I am sure of myself on the different crossings.
Friday, we got out of school two hours early!!!!! BLIND, Inc bought everyone icecream at Sabastians. We were supposed to have travel, industrial, and seminar after lunch but got to go for that outing instead. Sean, the director, told us to take all belongings home with us since we wouldn't be back till Tuesday. I had to take Dee with me in harness while using my straight cane. I think that confused her a little, but she was semi-guiding even though I wasn't holding the harness. She pushed me over if I was getting too close to grass, trees, ETC. I was nervous crossing the streets with my cane because I don't trust my lining up correctly skills, so she probably felt that.
Sunday, Hannah and I went to church. It was similar to a Christian Missionary Alliance church. There weren't many people there, maybe 20 or 30. There were three worship porsions and a lesson for an hour. The worship was traditional, repeating the same verse three times, with a piano and trumpet. It's not really my prefered worship style. I suggested going church exploring, and she agrees. We will take turns picking a church, and this week it's my turn. I am choosing Sanctuary Covanent church. We take the number six bus to 10 and Henipin and take some other bus to Laurel and Upton and walk a block and a half to get there, and it's only a half hour ride!!! This church is contemporary worship; it's r&b music, lots of instruaments and a worship team. It has all kinds of people, European, African American, Latibno, and Asian. I love multi-cultural worship!!! The next time it is my turn, I have chosen Redeemer Luthern church, which is mostly latino with songs in English and Spanish.
we also had a barbecue. Everyone brought something to grill, and I did a burger. I had to grill a second one because I screwed up my first one by dropping it too high and not turning it soon enough. My second one was fine though. George held Dee while I grilled. We also brought food for everyone to share. We brought salsa and chips, those tortilla kind that look like scoops. There was also potato salad, fresh fruit salad, brats, banana pudding, some kind of cookies, special k bars, and brownies. Later that day, I also went to Tea Warehouse with Hannah. I had bubble tea for the first time. It is a drink with little round balls at the bottom. Mine were tapioka, while hannah's were jellies. It was great. I also had a strawberry mango tart that was delicious.
Monday we were off for the day. We walked the mile to Lake of the Isles. Jen and I worked our dogs around the 3-mile path there while Dao went fishing. Dee did well with most dog distractions. We stopped frequently to water the dogs, since it was a sunny day. After the walk around the lake, we rested for like 20 minutes. Dee was hilarious. I took her out of harness, and she rolled around in the grass, waving her paws, wagging her tail, and snorting. Afterwards, we walked for awhile to Sabastians. This time, I had a peanut butter chunk milkshake. It was huge, and I loved it. I want another one!!!! We took a bus home. A few minutes after that, I went with Hannah. We were going to go get a puppy dog tail at Isles; it's a long twisty cinnamon roll that is only $1, but they were closed. We finally went to uncommon ground that is around the corner from the apartment. I had a tripple berry smoothy while Hannah had an Arnold Palmer and a blueberry scone. Afterwards, we all went home and crashed for the rest of the day.
I don't know what was wrong with me yesterday, but I was so out of it. I got lost going to the bus stop and got the last posssible bus that would get me there in time for school. I was disoriented in the building for most of the day, and I had a headache and cramps. Zach, one of the travel instructors, hurt his back, so we had extra people in travel. Rob sent me to explore the fourth floor and see if I could figure out how many rooms were up there. BLIND, Inc. is a converted mansion from the 18th centgury, so there are servants rooms and paths everywhere. I counted 26 rooms, but he said there were more. In industrial, I think I sanded all of my pieces again. However, I forgot it was tuesday and went to industrial first and communications second instead of the other way around. In communications, I started working on my graduation requirements. I finished a list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses. I also finished writing out my lasagna recipe and have one of four pages for the long assignment. There are other slate requirements, but I have 2.25 done so far. This will be my easiest class to finish, so I should be done in the next month or two. In cooking, I learned to make bacon on the stove and George forman Grill.
I went to a bank yesterday, because we got our checks for the first half of the month. I didn't remember what bank Al took me to the first day I was here, so I went to one. They couldn't cash the check since it wasn't written from an account from that bank. However, while I was in line, three children from three to maybe 7 came up to me and stood with me for at least five minutes. The little one kept patting dee on the head and giggling dog dog dog. The older one asked questions like why my eyes looked funny, what was my puppy doing in the bank, and whad did Dee do all day. I was wondering where their adults were, and I still hadn't seen any even after I went to the bank window and was leaving.
Today was much better. I didn't get lost going to the bus stop, and I got the 7:03 bus to school. I had time to chat with classmates and make a cup of hot chocolate. My first class was industrial. I had to finish sanding because I had saw marks from when I was trying to fix a piece yesterday. I also measured and drilled all holes and started the nail gun. Drilling makes me a little nervous because it gets hot from the friction. I am careful with the drill press since I burned myself on it next week, but my holes were with a 64 of an inch of being accurate.
Communications was easy. I am almost done reading When Lightning Strikes and am going to read the second book in the series. Travel was good today!!! I only veered once out of the 12 streets. I'm still learning the difference between two way and four way and how to tell which is which, but I got all my cardinal directions right. Cooking was great!!! We got to grill again. This time I made hotdogs, and they were good. I also had chips and coke.
Now, I am hanging out. I did dishes and cleaned the counters and stove for inspection tomorrow. I need to clean the floor, the table, and put the trash down the disposal. Jen is vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. We switch duties every two weeks, so I will have those things next week. I can't remember how to clean the beater bar in the vacuum because dog hair gets stuck in there.
Tomorrow we get out at 3:50. After inspection, I am going to the bank with Al and Ginny.
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May. 28th, 2010

today

Today was great!!! I finished assembling my lasagna and read some more of when lightning strikes in communications. We got out early today!!!! We all walked to get icecream and BLIND, Inc paid. We got to go home at 2 instead of 4:30.
Does anyone know where I can get a nebraska cane? They have leather handles and are straight. I am using one that the center has, but I would like my own.
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May. 26th, 2010

craziness

This weekend, I started learning how to get to Rainbow, the grocery store. We got a nice shopping assistant, and she was helpful. I bought granola, noodles, and strawberries. Sunday, Jen and I went to Dao's and Eric's to hang out and watch Up. It was a cute movie; the talking dogs were hillarious, squirrel!!!
Monday, I finished making the pieces for my box in shop. Yesterday, I started sanding it. That thing scared me; I was afraid of sanding off my fingernail or skin. I'd rather saw than sand. Until today anyway. The one I was using yesterday was a long rectangular sander, but the one I used today was a circular, smaller one, so it was easier to hold and move. It took me the whole 1.5 hours to sand three pieces yesterday because I was so nervous using it. George was like it isn't going to bite you, I promise. I like him; he is funny. He calls Dee and Geri wolves. We walked together from the bus stop, and he was like, look, here comes the wolef connvention! Anyway, today I sanded three pieces, and fixed my other three that I didn't completely finish yesterday. After that, I used a drill press and made 8 holes. I started putting pegs in with Georges help. I burned myself on the press; I didn't realize it would be hot. Oh well, at least now I know where not to put my hand when adjusting the width and drill bit. We went to seminar, where we introduced ourselves to maria_and_able, who is visiting for a few days. Greg talked about making t-shirts to sell at convention or something.
Yesterday, after training, Greg, Hannah, and I went to the Mall of America. We took the 21 bus from uptown, went all the way down Lake, and took the lightrail the rest of the way. I wanted to get a screen protector and case for my iphone. Greg knows the whole layout of the mall, which is awesome. I have trouble with cardinal directions and stuff, and I want to be able to navigate like that eventually. The Apple store was amazing. The lady who helped us wasn't patronizing or anything. She emailed me my receipt. That has never happened before.
Afterwards, we went to Johnny rocket, a '50s style restaurant where we had burgers and fries. We also went to a verizon place since Hannah needed a new clip and case for her phone. We came out and it was thundering and raining, ewww. Dee did an excellent job in the mall and was all misserable in the rain.
I started making lasagna in home management. I chopped peppers, onions, and garlic. After two days, my hands finally do not smell like onions. Today, I cooked the hamburger in a frying pan. I also added tomatoes, sauce, and Italian seasoning. I started boiling water and oil for the lasagna noodles, but the class ended before I could finish.
In communications, I am learning to use voice over on the mac. It's great, and I'm slowly getting used to it. I'm still trying to autopilot commands like I do on windows and often end up somewhere weird. I now know how to go to desktop, dock, between applications, read by line, word or character, fill out forms, make a new file/save it, and started research on the internet. I'm also reading When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot. I'm reading it on the Braillenote. It's about this high school girl who gets psychic powers during a lightning storm and can now find missing people. I read the last book on audible, so now I'm reading the beginning of the series in Braille.
Travel is my hardest class. I have gotten better since last monday. I can now do the proper cane technique almost automatically; once in awhile, Rob reminds me technique when I start to slide my cane or don't have a wide enough arch. I'm still working on lining up correctly. I did a little better today. Six of my eight crossings were straight. I really went left on 22nd street and couldn't figure out how to get out of the road. Rob said he could see me trying to figure it out since I was going left and right. It would have helped if there were traffic on either 22nd or Stevens, but there was none when I was going across. He said if I had just gone a foot to the right, I would have been at the curb. Today, I was also learning the route to take Dee to relieve. It's across Stevens than 22nd St. Dee could probably sense my uncertainty since she was all slow and wanting to pull left.
This afternoon was the crazy part. I was crossing nickelett to go on the bus from the center. It is a four way stop. Nothing was going either direction on the parallel and nothing was directly in front of me. I didn't notice there was something waiting on the other perperpendicllar side of the street, so I said Dee forward and since it wasn't moving, she went. When I was probably half or three fourths across, a bus pulled out. I didn't realize Dee was slowing down and trying to back up. I thought she was being pokey in the road; teaches me to listen to my dog. when i realized the bus was right in front of me, like an inch away, she backed up hard and turned me around in the direction from which we came. The bus bumped my shoulder, and there is a small bruise. If we hadn't turned around, I probably would haven fallen and horrible things. Thank you Jesus and Goddess that I am alive. I have no idea how we made it to the curb. I think I told her to turn around and we did it. Then we got on the bus to go to Chipotle, where I had tacos and chips. Later, we went to old Chicago where I had Pepsi and pizza. Now, I'm just hanging out here. I think that freaked me out a little, the bus thing, and I will for sure be careful and wait when crossing Nickelett when going home tomorrow. Dee doesn't seem to be affected. She wagged her tail at the curb and I think I was in too much shock to treat but I petted her and said good girl. She was all happy walking to old chicago and seemed fine around the traffic then too. I hope tomorrow will be better.
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May. 21st, 2010

TGIF

It's been a long week, and I'm exhausted. Yesterday, I started learning to use the mac. I did the voiceover tutorial and was playing around with interacting with text and vo d for doc icons. I also set up gmail on my iphone. In travel, I worked on lining up correctly for street crossings. I use the parallel or perpendicular traffic. I veered left on my first crossing, and he said the traffic needed to go from my front to my back shoulder without hearing it in the other. I said I tend to have a left veer, and he said we will work on it. The whole group of students left the center at 3:50 or 4, since Thursday is inspection, and we have no seminars. We waited for like 40 minutes for the 17 bus to come. We saw four 18 busses by that time; the 17 is usually within 10 minutes, especially during rush hour.
I learned how to disassemble our vacuum and what the different parts are. I cleaned the toilet and shower, but I was too exhausted to do anything else. I went to Amber's apartment, and five of us or maybe more hung out and talked while Michelle was baking a birthday cake for Mark.
Today was good, even though I got up at 6:30. I quickly fed and relieved Dee, packed my lunch, shoved everything in my backpack, and went to the bus stop independently for the first time. Ginny was there, and we rode to the center together. She did her first walk under sleep shades to the center. We had to turn left, cross two streets, and turn right. Dee was sniffy and distracted this morning probably because it was raining. She did an excellent job during lunch. When I got there, I worked Dee some more, and I went to make hot chocolate. Someone brings snacks Fridays, and Jen, my roommate, brought doughnuts. We had announcements and went to class.
In communications, I started reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was too tired to concentrate, so I did a page with the slate and stylus instead for my Braille portfolio. We got to look at different slates and styli. I liked the playing card slate, and we also saw a slate from Poland. The Poland size paper is smaller than American. There was also a message pad slate which did micro Braille. I got to see a pen stylus. It is about three inches long and looks like a regular wallet pen. I liked that one better than the traditional wooden stylus with the round top because my hand didn't hurt as much after writing. Amber and I might do a Braille bookstore order together since she wants to get the pen stylus and other stuff too. We have to have packages shipped to the center instead of the apartments because the residents are the only ones who can get in with our keys, so the mail carriers can't enter.
I almost fell asleep during cooking; I dozed for at least five minutes. I could hear Becky talking, but I had no idea what she said. We went over grilling, what tools to use, ETC. I told what foods I like, hate, and want to learn to prepare and cook.
Travel was pretty good. I walked four blocks myself and came back to the center without problems. After that we worked on more street crossings. I am 60 percent accurate, so I will be working on that more. I tend to be a perfectionist, and the hardest part for me is taking that first step. I think I'm right and can go but I second guess myself and freeze. Rob, the travel instructor, says what's the worst that can happen, and no one is perfect. I know that, but it is hard to just go. With training comes confidence; I see it in everyone here, and I can get there too.
Finally, I went to Industrial Arts. I like George; he is a blind carpenter who used to build houses and other things. He calls me Martha Stuart. I started making my box. I used the click rule to measure four feet of wood. We went to the chop saw to cut it, and he put the extra wood away. Next, I slid it through the planer, a machine that gives the wood smoothe instead of splintery edges. Next we went to some other machine to make the board 0.5 inches thick. I had to run it through five times, since the machine removes 1/16 at a time. Next was the machine to make it the proper width. I moved the fence and the blade after using the click rule to get what I wanted. Finally, I measured the length that my wood would be for the top and bottom of the box, and I made a smaller board with the chop saw. Hannah finished her Industrial Arts Project, so she got to ring the Freedom Bell. It is a small bell that people ring when they accomplish a big project or something that was hard for them. James rang it yesterday since he prepared and served his six-person meal. When we hear the bell, everyone comes down from wherever and goes to congratulate/hug the person on the accomplishment.
Later, Jen, Dao, and I walked to the Green Mile. I think I remember the route and will try it again some time soon. Dee and Jen's dog Geri did a good job on the way to and inside the restaurant. I had a burger and fries; I am still full even three hours later.
I am going to do a final relieving and go to bed. I'm sleeping in for the first time in like three weeks, and I'm so excited!! I think we are going to Petco and some bakery tomorrow morning. Amber also said she would help me go to the grocery store since I don't know that route yet.
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May. 19th, 2010

today

I know the bus route to the center, but I don't know the route back. Dee was great today; she didn't whine at all in the crate.. I worked her during lunch, and we went to dinner later. Tomorrow, I am walking the 22 blocks to the center for the first time. I am nervous, and I'm hoing it goes ok.
Communications is my easy class. I told Emily I want to learn the mac and powerpoint, so we are doing that. Today, I showed her I could use the slate and stylus, and we are going to work on writing speed. I also did a research exercise with JAWS.
My second class was cooking. I just explored the kitchen, and I looked at a few of the cookbooks. Travel was next. I have hand pain, especially my thumb and index fingers, even when I'm not using the cane. The open-palm method is based on using the thumbb and index for moving the cane. It's not the muscle that hurts; it's the bone. The cane goes back and forth and hits my first knuckle. I hope it stops hurting soon. I am not looking forward to the faster pace and the cane.
The fourth class was industrial arts. I relearned to use an all to draw a line for cutting, and I used the hand saw to cut blocks of wood. Two of mine were straight, but the third one I accidentally did 2.25 instead of 2 inches. George aWertsel also gave me a tour of the wood shop. I don't remember most of them. We finally had seminar where Joyce Scanlin talked about her early years being employed after college.
My dishes came, so I carried them back from the center. I almost dropped my box a couple times, but we made it. Afterwards, Amber, another student came over, and a group of us went to old chicago again. I had the soft pretzels and dip. I hung out with Amber for two hours. I like her, and I hope I get to know her more while we are here. She is graduating in August. We played smack me on the iphone, and I kept losing.
Now, I'm back here, and I have to clean the shower and bathroom and do the dishes. We have apartment instruction (we call it inspection) tomorrow after class. My room isn't too bad, but we haven't vacuumed or cleaned the floor or a nything.
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May. 18th, 2010

First day at blind inc

My bus ride was soooo long, but it was uneventful. My lluggage actually showed up, which w as amazing. I felt bad for one guy who was traveling for four days to get to washington state.
Al Spooner met me at the bus station, and we took a cab to the apartments. His credit card was declined, so we spent awhile waiting for it to go through. I got here, fed and relieved Dee, and we walked to Old Chicago, a restaurant with sandwiches, pizzas, and stuff around the corner from the apartments. My roommate is Jennifer, and she is cool. Her dog is a black lab Geri, and she is five. She and Dee love each other.
I slept really well last night, because I only slept 1.5 hours on the bus.
I wandered around for awhile at midnight because I didn't look to see the numbers on the elivator went in a row, so I pushed the button for the top floor instead of the second. We took the bus to BLIND Inc. this morning, and I met my instructors. Al Spooner oriented me to the building; I know where the cafeteria, conference room, industrial room, and Rob's, the O&M instructor, office, but that's it. I definitely don't remember the route to the bus, the store, or anything Al mentioned along the numerous blocks we walked. Dee was fine in the crate, but she was really whining for five minutes towareds the end before lunch when I took her to relieve. She did an awesome job in the city and with the traffic. She blew a curb, and I am trying to teach her to walk beside people. She keeps bumping me into whoever is on my right because she is trying to follow or cut in front but she ends up cutting him off. If we are passing people, she does fine work, but in a group is where she is having trouble. I think she'll get better.
I'm exhausted and overwhelmed with information. We went grocery shopping and I bought sandwich stuff, apples, grapes, carrots, juice, chips, and cookies. I'll probably buy more stuff next week.
Tomorrow, I start classes. I have communications, which is Braille and technology, home and personal management which is cooking anc cleaning and stuff, travel, and industrial, woodshop.
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May. 16th, 2010

Here I go

I *am* going to write more now. I want to be able to look back and see progress, I hope.
The semester ended ok; I got two b+s and two cs. Not good, but considering I didn't study, I'm just glad I made it and don't have to retake anything. I was barely making it this semester, and I'd be taking it off even if I weren't going to blindness training. I just can't study anymore. I think I will be able to do this because even though it is school, there is no studying and reading endless journal articles and textbooks and writing deadlines. Also, I've noticed, during the depression, that I show up and get stuff done if someone is expecting me to. I did well in statistics because my friend Autumn was reading for me and was being payed; also I didn't want to take that class more than once. I was being tutored for oceanography, and I went because Kathleen and Dr. Venn expected me to be there. This time, the training will definitely be benefitial, and rehab is paying. They expect progress, and I don't want them to regret sending me and make it harder for everyone else. This is the first time they have sent someone to an NFB training center from my region.
I leave in six hours, and I'm a little nervous. I cannot eat anything before I travel; I just end up hanging out in the bathroom and feeling motion sick. Once I am on the road for an hour or two, I'm fine and can eat normally. My mom keeps trying to convince me to eat eggs and stuff for breakfast, but I've told her there is no point. I also left some moving and last-minute packing for this morning. If I am in motion, it will make the time go faster, and I won't have to think of being nervous.
Even though I'm nervous, I'm really excited too. People who were sighted and become blind go there and come out with awesome skills; I want to improve to that level. I want the confidence to travel in cities again; I used to have a lot more of it, but I lost it when I went to rural bloomsburg for college. I want to be able to travel in unfamiliar areas well, without being dependent on others to help me. For example, I had no idea how to figure out traveling in the urbana conference center. I will be attending more conferences and conventions in the future, and I want to have the choice to go by myself or stay with a group. I want to be able to cook. Right now, I can only do pasta, soup, grilled cheese, pizza, brownies, and pudding. I know how to chop and stuff, but I'm not good at judging skillet things. I want to make pancakes and try different cookie recepies. I want to be able to have people over for dinner eventually. I want to improve my reading speed. I used to be able to read 400 wored per minute, but that has slowed down since high school.
I can't wait to be in a city with public transportation. I want to go exploring and play tourist. I want to visit different churches and see how they worship. I want to go hiking. I want to do so many things. My bus ride is 28 hours. I shipped a box of dishes to BLIND Inc. I got everything else in one suitcase, a backpack, and a purse. I have enough dog food for a week or so, and I'll get some when I get there. I hope Dee handles this adjustment well. She has been excellent with going from Oregon to college to my mom's to Urbana back to college, and here. She is at her best doing city work, and I can't wait to see us grow as a team on this new adventure.
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Apr. 11th, 2010

update

Creative subject I know. Friday, I took Dee to the animal chiropractor, and it only cost $45!!! He could see she was walking funny when she guided. We went back inside, and he did an adjustment. Dee liked him a lot; she was wagging her tail and snorting and trying to roll over after he adjusted her. We went back outside again, and he said she was walking straight again. I said I was going hiking with friends, and would he suggest I take her or leave her home. He said let her relax for the rest of Friday and have her guide yesterday to see how she was doing.
Holly, Megan, and I went to Rickets Glen, a place about 45 minutes from Bloomsburg. It has camping, hiking trails, waterfalls, ETC. Dee was soooo excited, and she was great. I haven't felt her pull like that for at least a month. My roommates were like wait for us!!! At one point, I gave Dee to Holly while I held on to Megan. We had to go down these narrow rock stairs, and the rocks were not stationary. Dee is still learning that going down rocks does not happen on the same speed as stairs. I'm still trying to figure out how to show her but haven't come up with anything yet. Holly said Dee kept trying to pull her towards me, and when she decided to go ahead, she kept looking back to see where I was. I worked Dee the three miles back to where they parked. It is so much easier to climb uphill and up the trail with Dee than it was to go down. Dee really hates water. We were surrounded by waterfalls, and in some parts of the trail, there were puddles half way up my leg. I stepped in one going down, but Dee showed me and jumped to the appropriate rocks so we could avoid it. She did that at GDB too, avoided puddles at all costs. A couple of times, I had to tell her to wait because she was a couple of steps ahead of me. Some of those rocks/steps were passed my knee. We got lost for at least 20 minutes, but Holly figured out we made a wrong turn and we left. We did about six miles altogether. Even when we came back, Dee ran around with her kong for five minutes, and then she slept for three hours before wanting to play again. My left shoulder hurts from the pull, but I'm so glad she can lean into the chest strap and guide again so it's kind of okay.
I got 89/100 on my Marx social theory test, and I've been getting 9/10 on all of my observations for my stratification class. Dr. Armstrong wants me to do an independent study with him when I come back from BLIND Inc. in January, and I said I would think about it. Even though I disagree with his politics, (he is extremely conservative) he is a good professor and would make a good NFB member. In class, we reading On the Making of Blind Men, about rehabilitation agencies say they want independence but their clients are still dependent on them. It deals with having too low expectations and being forced into the blind role. He asked me about the center I was going to, and I explained about all of the training. He said independence is being able to do what everyone else does how you want and when you want without having to constantly depend on sighted counselors and other people. This is basically the NFB definition, you are able to do what you want, when you want, with little inconvenience to tothers. Obviously there is a balance in being independent and accepting help with some things, and being rebelliously independent or never doing anything on your own. I don't know what I am trying to say, so I'm going to go read Limbo, a book about trying to move from working class to middle class and the problems people face.
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Apr. 4th, 2010

(no subject)

I haven't updated thiss thing for almost a month. One of my goals is to write more. I used to love doing that, and maybe it will help.
My hips have been bothering mee lately. It hurts to lie on them for more than 10 minutes or so, so I sleep on my back or stomach. I think these anti-depressants might be helping some. I'm not as blah as I used to be. I'm not enjoying school, but I am studying more and starting projects before they are due, not the day before.
Dee is back to 50 pounds!!!! She only needs to gain three more. She's now eating wellness superfive mix with lamb, salmon, rice, and barley. She also has digestive enzymes and ginger on her food to help with indigestion. The vets can't agree about her back. Mine thinks it is a disk or nerve problem while the ortho thinks it is a muscle or tendon problem. Dee is resting for the next three weeks. She can come with me as long as she isn't working, or as long as I'm not going long distances. Stephanie from GDB is coming tomorrow. Her harness is driving me crazy. The right side of the chest strap is bent and streched out more than the left. I can fit both of my hands through it when she is standing. I also want to work on the quad. I can do the route with my cane, but I keep messing it up with Dee. We did clicker, but I'm not cueing at the right times. There is this left right left zigzag turn we need to make. She knows the building; she gets so excited when she sees it. She leans into the harness more and her tail goes faster. Getting to where she sees the building is the hard part.
I am going to BLIND Inc. May 17!!! I'm so excited to go. I really need the training, mainly the discovery method and and cooking. I need to have the confidence and ability to travel in new places or unfamiliar routes, and right now, I have none of that. It also can't hurt to learn more about woodshop and repairing things, ETC. I get to go to Dallas for the NFB convention. I haven't been there since 2007. I can't wait to see how I do with a couple months of blindness training and Dee as opposed to the last time in Dallas when I had my cane and not good travel skills. I'm going to try to journal a lot while I am at BLIND Inc. Dee will be crated 7.5 hours per day while we are there. I will keep one straight cane in the apartment and one at the center so I don't have to manage the cane and the dog while walking to and from. The apartments are 22 blocks from the center, and I am going to walk there and back as often as I can. I will also work her in the evenings and on weekends. I want to find a dog chiropractor or physical therapist while I am in Minneapolis. I found a couple who look promising.

Mar. 7th, 2010

I'm so tired

Sometimes it seems as if it is one thing after another. I know I have no right to complain; so many people are in worse pain and have retired/no dogs and no homes and running water.But I wish I could get a break.
I have a bacterial infection again. I'm on flagyl; it's pathetic that my dog and I are taking the same medicine. I ordered probiotics for myself, because this stuff is awful. I'm on my fourth anti-depressant; I hope this one helps.
I'm so tired most of the time. I can't concentrate, and I'm so apathetic about most things. Sometimes it's hard to go to class, and doing homework just overwhelms me. I want to like doing stuff again; I used to love politics, reading, languages, and now nothing interests me. I can't do grad school like this; I would fail my first semester. I need to get into a grad school, but my GPA is horrible, a 3.1. I need to get out of Pennsylvania because being near my mother or having to live with her would literall make me crazy. People tell me to just get over it and make yourself do it, but I've been trying that for the past two years, and it doesn't work.
Dee is somewhat better, but she is not herself. I've been feeding her wellness core, but she has soft stool and it isn't getting firmer. She's been eating it for two weeks. After two weeks of being home with her, I switched to wellness lamb and rice. That wasn't working, so I switched to evo. That was a disaster, so now she is on wellness core. I faxed GDB all of Dee's vet stuff and lab work. Dr. Patty from the Oregon campus says they agree with what was prescribed, and she thinks it is a food issue. She suggested that the wellness core has too much protein for Dee's system, 34% as opposed to the 22% found in science diet.She suggests wellness complete, but it has barley and stuff. I would like to feed a grain-free food if possible, but I don't think that is going to happen.
Dee's vet prescribed her probiotics and digestive enzymes to see if it would help. I think I might try the wellness salmon and rice; it has grain, but the protein is right. Sigh, I wish I could figure it out. Dee had firm, compact stools on the Science Diet Lamb and Rice, but I don't want to go back to that.
I also think Dee did something to her back. She puts her one right side paw down a second or two after the other three, and she jumps when I brush at a certain spot in her back. If her back is out of allignment or she is having muscle spasms, that would explain her exhaustion, stomach issues, and not wanting to put pressure on her front paws and lean into the chest strap because it would strain her spine. I need to go to the vet again, but I have GDB authorization this time, so I can get my money back, Thank God!
Does anyone have an issue with the sswiss harness from GDB? I think Dee's chest strap has widened since I got it three months ago. It also comes up against her throat sometimes while she is guiding. When I check, it is a half inch from her chest bone. I'm going to call them tomorrow to see if they will let me get a martingale put on it. My last two harnesses had this strap that went between the legs, and I think it would solve that problem. I have Zorro's pawpower creations harness, but I need to get a shorter handle and probably a new harness too since this one is too short from shoulder to chest.

Feb. 21st, 2010

life stuff

I haven't updated in forever. The physical therapy is helping my hand and back; I am buying a heating pad for home and a cushion for my chair. It is uncomfortable, and I spend a lot of time sitting here. They say my grip needs to be stronger; I squeeze this thing and it says it is at 50, whatever that means. My hands hurt from the cold, from carrying things, fromtyping.
I am trying new anti-depressants *again* The last ones made my ensomnia worse. Usually, I would stay up for a long time and fall asleep/stay asleep. On the efexor, I would stay up for a long time and wake up every 1.5 hours or so. It drove me crazy!!!
Dee is not ok. She had coxidiosis, but that cleared up with flagel and prymor. Last Friday, she tested negative for tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, heartworm, coxidia, and all other intestinal parasites. She was back to 52.3 pounds, up from the 46.4 she was before. Saturday evening, she started having explosive diarrhea. We ran outside every hour or so, and I think I slept 2.5 hours that morning. She continued this through Sunday, so I called her vet. She called back to say to give her boiled chicken and rice along with a pepto. I also added canned pumpkin. The diarrhea slowed down to four times in 12 hours, but it was still not good. She ate the food, but after Monday afternoon, she was barely drinking. I added water to all of her meals, so she got some that way. I called the vet Wednesday to see she was barely drinking or going to the bathroom. She peed a couple of times, but she only pooped once in two days. She scheduled us for an appointment Friday, so we went.
I felt so bad. Dee was exhausted and feeling miserable. I didn't work her for four days; I just healed her and used my cane. She lost 5 pounds in one week!!!I gave them the stool sample, and they did bloodwork. She has been at the vet hospital since Friday. They are still trying to figure out what is wrong. They say she is eating normally, drinking, and peeing regularly, though she hasn't pooped for them. Dr. Kitchen is going to call me tomorrow to say whether she can come home and what I can do for her.
On my way out the door, the vet tech stopped me and said I had medicine at the desk. I said I didn't because they were keeping Dee for observations ETC. Dr. Kitchen came out and said the medicine was labeled the 15 and had two bottles of flagel and powder for Dee's food. She asked why I never came to get it. I said I didn't know she had medicine. I had given Dee all of the flagel and prymor I had, but we finished that two weeks ago. She checked with the vet techs, and they forgot to give me a call saying I needed to get the meds Dr. Kitchen prescribed. Sigh, if Dee is sick again after this, I will ask them whether she prescribed anything.
I'm hoping GDB can pay this bill. I am not looking forward to seeing what four days in the hospital, medicine, and bloodwork costs. I'll pay whatever I need to, and I am so worried about my girl.

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