Been busy.

My aunts’ funeral is today. I tried to figure out how to get there but with two dogs it wasn’t going to be reasonable.

My last oncology appointment was yesterday. It’s been 10 years since my breast cancer and since the tumor in my head is benign I’m all done!

I loaded up all the boxes that were scattered around my apartment and took them out to the truck to take them to the trash bin across the parking lot. My house looks a lot neater now. 🙂

I’m taking 3 classes on coursera.org so I’ve been studying a lot and keeping busy that way as well. Two courses are pretty simple introductory courses but the third is called Introduction by Mathematical Thinking and its taught by Keith Devlin! It’s a tough one. I’ve spent 99% of my time on that one course.

Kalev and I have spent a lot of time bonding. We play together, instead of just working together. I can tell the difference in our bond in just the past week.

Our trainer was honoured by the town where we do all of our training last Tuesday. Kalev and I were there. Kalev got several photos taken of him. He’s so photogenic! It was hard for me, standing up in front of all those people. Kalev knows when I’m upset but he acts out then, I guess because he doesn’t know what else to do for me. We are still learning how to interact during those times, he needs to learn to be calm but supportive and I need to learn to pay attention to him instead of getting more frustrated and upset.

My truck is needing some repair so I hope to get to the repair shop on Monday and see what it will take to get it repaired.

I’ve been doing some exercising and today I can feel it. But I hope it will help me lose some weight.

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Why?

I’ve been thinking of what that person said to me last week. That my life is full of trouble, even if it’s not my fault.
Why is my life so? He was right, partially any way. I’ve had some rough times in my life. Seemingly more than many many people. Why?

I know I’m not the only one. 
People like me are so common that they’ve been in stories for centuries. 

Am I unlucky? Is there a reason? Is it part of the duality of balance in our universe? For those who have been so fortunate is there another that must shoulder their burden of woe?

Should I be ashamed to be one of those thus chosen?

Is it possible to be something other than what balance requires of me?

 

 

Kalev trying on his Mutt Muffs

Kalev trying on his Mutt Muffs

Here’s Kalev wearing his ear muffs and thinking “why mom? why?”
He found out yesterday when we went to the firing range.

Kalev is such a good boy!

Yesterday I went a took a pistol class at Cabela’s, a sporting goods store.  

Kalev went with me. It was at Cabela’s and it was a large class, 12
people.  I was very glad he was with me! (the store itself was a
madhouse every time we left the classroom to go to the bathroom or to
the cafe for lunch, etc).
Kalev did awesome, as always, during the classroom section.
Then we went to the range. I told the instructor that Kalev had never
been to a shooting range before so this would be a trial. That if he
was too upset I was perfectly fine with retaking the class at a later
date and arranging for care for him as needed.
The instructor was incredibly accepting of Kalev’s presence and said
something to the effect of “well, we’ll just wait and see, I’m sure we
can figure something out if he can’t handle it”. So off we went.
I have ear muffs for Kalev. They’re called “Mutt Muffs”.
There were two groups of shooters, 6 in each group.  I went in the 2nd
group so I could see how Kalev would react.
At first he was not a happy camper. After I fiddled with his ear muffs
a bit he started calming down. I think I didn’t have them sealed
correctly at first. We did a bit of walking and healing and sits and
downs while the first group was firing, I did use some treats
intermittingly.
He was still excited because the range was at the instructors ranch
and there were a LOT of livestock and wild animals around, including
an armadillo living under the shooting range supplies building!
By the time my turn came he had settled and laid down with a couple
people who had shot in the first group.
I checked on him between sets of rounds, every 5 shots maximum. Every
time I checked he was just laying there watching me, accepting all the
love everyone was giving him and in general being the beautiful dog
that he is.
I asked the people holding his leash if he had been shaking or showing
any fear or discomfort and they all said that he’d just laid there and
watched me. This matched what I’d seen when I’d checked on him (pretty
frequently)

So I’m thinking that Kalev is not afraid of the firing range unless he
doesn’t have his ear muffs on correctly.

I will take him on a visit to an indoor range, where it’s much louder
I’m told, where we can walk in and walk out again if he shows
discomfort.
If he does as well there as he did at the outdoor range then I will be
able to shoot at indoor ranges, otherwise I’ll do my target shooting
at outdoor ranges as he’s shown that he’s okay with that.

He did amazingly well today.

Progress

Today I bathed and dressed for the first time in a week.

That’s a major accomplishment.

And I got in the truck to take Kalev to training. This feels like the most I can do but it is quite a bit.

I’m numb

After the past couple weeks there’s been so much emotional content that my regulator went “sproing!”. 
I’m not sad, not depressed. I think the psychs would call it “dis-attached” or something like that. 

It’s a strange place to be. Watching the world go by. Not really connected to the world. Shock might be a way of describing it, prolonged shock. 

But it’s better than being where I was. Maybe it’s my brains way of giving my mind time to heal.

Bad few days

I am very thankful to the support system I have. 

Two days ago, someone I thought was a friend (and maybe still is, though I’m not sure of that anymore) said something very hurtful. 

Let me try to explain, though I’m pretty sure its a reoccurring theme in my blog if I were to go back and look. Still…  I showed up at a business to get something done. The owner of the business is/was my friend. He scolded me (my words, he said it was just a straight conversation, no scolding inherent in such) for not keeping in communication per the business. I agreed that I had been flaky and said that I’d been having a couple of hard months.  He looked at me and said “As long as I’ve known you, you’ve never NOT been having hard months.”

This hurt. A lot. Because I have good days, good weeks. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a full month of what I would call “good” but multiple weeks, yeah, I’d say I’ve had several good weeks at a time.

Part of what allows me to have good days and weeks is rationing my resources. So if my week is full of things I MUST do, things I SHOULD do don’t happen. 

I was in tears when I left. Feeling like my heart had been broken. My trust in this person was demolished. Perhaps it should take more than that to break down my trust, but I admit it, I’m just fragile that way. Perhaps it was because I’d just spent a couple hours getting MRI’s of my brain done to check out the tumor in my brain. And my aunt is dying of brain cancer; I was already scared and fragile. So maybe this friend of mine just caught me at a bad time, but I don’t think that’s the entirety of the situation.

I found myself looking at a bridge abutment on the way home and thinking “Do I have enough speed to do anything permanent?”  Due to traffic I didn’t have the opportunity to think that thought through to any conclusion. It was just a spur of the moment thought because of the immediate cycle of past pain and past thought processes that had been triggered.

I got home and stared at the suicide hotline number.  But I’m afraid of what will happen to me if I ever DO call the suicide hotline. Will they come with an ambulance, strap me onto a gurney, and commit me to a “facility”? What would happen to Keegan and Kalev? What would happen to the rest of my life?  So I didn’t call.

But fortunately for me, someone who knew that I had MRIs scheduled that morning IM’d me to see how it went. And I broke down. Completely.  

Having someone who cared on the other end and could listen to me sob, and figuratively pat me on the back, was enough to talk me down to “just depressed and scared”. 

Having that person call me back the next day, “just to see how I was doing”, was enough to bring me back to focus. 

Having someone who posted back to me on FB, after I’d posted that I had just been reminded how worthless I was, and telling me how much I’d helped THEM in their lives, how much I meant to THEM, and asking me how would I feel if this was said to someone else was also helpful. It showed me that there are people who care enough to take the time out of their busy lives to write to me, to put some perspective on the world.

Having someone who just randomly emails me funny and/or cute and/or updates on his kids activities email me the day after reminds me that there’s more in the world than just my pain.

I have to admit that once the thought of suicide jumps back into your conscious brain it takes quite a bit to get it back out again. It sits in there and whispers to you. “Take me, I’m easy!” it says. “No one would miss you” it says. “They’d forget you in a few weeks” it says. “You wouldn’t have to worry about being a loser or a drain on society anymore” it says.  “You wouldn’t have to fight this unending fight anymore” it says.

 

But I have a support system now, varied, all over the country. And I know that they must like me or they wouldn’t have put such consistent effort into me. At least I think they must like me. I can’t be sure, not for certain.

Kalev’s blanky.

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When Kalev graduated from his training he received a small blanket to take with him to places to use as a “settle” spot.

We brought it with us on our trip.

Made it to Little Rock, AR

Kalev was shaking the last leg of the flight, worse than the first leg. There was more turbulence on the 2nd leg so I’m hoping that’s the reason.

First thing off the plane was a visit to the pet relief area. Then off to the Petco to get a small bag of dog food and a few more treats to go into his treat toy.

Then he went and ripped his treat toy in half!
Fortunately I’d also picked up a medium chewer nylabone. He’ll tear thru it in a couple weeks but he gets more satisfaction from the softer chew toys. I just have to replace them more often.

So we played with his chew toys for a manic 40 or so minutes. Then we both laid down on the floor and took a nap.

If I can find a replacement for his treat toy i’ll replace it, otherwise he’ll just have to make do with the nylabone.

For now we’re listening to a Harry Potter audio book on my iPad and relaxing.

At the airport

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Watching the people go by.

First leg went well.

We had the row to ourselves so Kalev got to stretch out a bit. 

Dont tell the stewardesses but he spent the entire middle of the flight in the seat next to me.

he gave some weird yawns/coughs on take off so I assume he was dealing with the pressure change. 

Landing gave him a bit of a surprise too but it didn’t seem to bother him.

then we got a ride in a cart to the other end of the Dallas airport. He wasn’t fond of that and was happy to get off the cart.

 

now we’re waiting to board our second leg.

Airline tickets bought.

This will be Kalev’s first flight.

I called the American Airlines and told them that I would be bringing a service dog. They said they would have someone in their customer care center call me back to go over details.

I am quite impressed. They worked with me to get Kalev a good seat (by the bulkhead so he’ll have more room) and told me what requirements are needed. Because Kalev does some mobility tasks for me they listed him as a mobility dog rather than a psychiatric dog.

She said that would bypass some of the paperwork required because she was aware how difficult it was to get into the VA to get the required paperwork on short notice.

But after this flight is over I’ll go to their website and find out what the requirements for their official letter is and take it in to my psych and get it written.

Cross your fingers for Kalev to have a successful first flight.

With the good news comes the bad news to balance

I just found out today that my aunt, who has been battling brain cancer for some time, has been sent home with Hospice. 

I still have two regrets in my life, both were friends that were dying of cancer and I waited too long to say goodbye. Fear of what to say, what not to say.

This time I will not make that mistake. I will go, and talk, maybe cry, smile, maybe laugh. I will say goodbye.

Kalev and I will be flying to Little Rock to catch a ride with my little sis and drive to southeast KS together. 

It will be Kalev’s first flight. It will be my first flight since an elder relatives funeral, also in southeast KS almost 7 years ago.

I am fragmented now, uneasy, unsure, but determined. 

Keegan’s book is at the Printers!!!

It’s a non-commercial first draft to see if the printer does a good job with children’s books. Mostly with regard to color pictures.

I should get my copy around valentine’s day. It’s like waiting for christmas, birthday, and summer holidays all rolled into one!

If the printer does a good job then the commercial version of the book will go into production.
Well, if I’m done with the rewrite and if the editing is done.

It’ll probably be another 2-3 months before the commercial version is in the stores (Amazon to start).

I think it will go up on Amazon as an ebook as well.

After that, I’m hoping for the readings; libraries, schools, bookstores.

I feel like I might really be making a difference in the world. Like maybe I’ve done something “right”. Like maybe being all “bent” like I am doesn’t mean that I’m useless.

Keegan’s Book.

The book I wrote about Keegan is on it’s way to the publisher. 

This is just a self-published book to see if the publisher does a decent job with picture books. 
If the printing is up to snuff and the cost is what it’s been priced out to be then I’ll redo the book to include Kalev (cut some stuff out, put some new stuff in) and we’ll publish it commercially.

I’m hoping (hoping hoping!) that it will work out and I’ll actually be able to publish a book that makes a difference.

If I did publish it I’d love to be able to do some “readings” at bookstores and libraries to kids (and their parents I suppose <grin>) and share with them what a service dog does.

I think there’s a real need for something like this. So many of our soldiers come home with PTSD and TBI, and an ever increasing number are turning to service dogs for help, that I think it would greatly help not just the children of those veterans, but also help other children who see these dogs out and about in society.

 

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