Archive | January 2017

RILEY’S BIG DAY

I have been working hard trying to teach my service dog patience and just like me it’s something we have to keep working on. While going about my daily life Riley learns to be patient while she is standing in a line waiting for me to cash out.  Or when I am in grocery aisle trying to make that all important decision of what colour am I  going to dye my hair this month. Even such mundane things as walking involves Riley having to wait with me while I find the nearest bench and catch my breath .The one she hates the most is when I go clothes shopping trying to find something that doesn’t make me look a NFL linebacker. But little by little she did learn to be patient and we moved on to harder tasks like going to Tim Horton’s, to  dinners than restaurants.

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But one of the toughest places to take a service dog is to a show.  The first hurdle I have to overcome is the walk into the theatre  which is easy for Riley not so easy for me. I have exercise induced asthma and nerve pain so usually by the time I walk into a theatre and climb the stairs to my seat I am having difficulty breathing.

Once we enter the facilities Riley’s sensitive nose is tasting a smorgusborg of hotdogs and warm buttered popcorn and it is my job to keep her focused on me. The second temptation Riley has to overcome is not diving for every dropped piece of popcorn and candy that litters the floor. When I give the command leave it Riley is expected to ignore the food on the ground and concentrate on getting me to my seat and once the movie starts she is supposed to wait quietly untill I am ready to leave .

Now that might seem easy pretty easy to do but it takes a lot of training with a very calm dog to master a worry free day for me the dog and the rest of the audience. Now I am so grateful to other owner trained service dogs handlers who posted video’s that help with Riley’s training. Not to mention all the good advice they passed on to make her day at the movies a big success

When I went to sit down the first thing I did was put down a rubber mat that Riley could lay on which would keep any unwanted butter popcorn or candy that was on the floor out of her coat. Once she was down on the mat I gave her two big bones to give her something to do while we enjoyed the movies.

Now the next scary thing that could upset a dog once the movie is started is the sound and the flashing of light that comes off the movie itself. But I am very happy to report that Riley took it all in stride. The only time she got up was to stretch and change positions which is reasonable compared to the length of time she is expected to wait.

As we headed home after the movie I was filled with mixed emotions. I was proud that she did so well but I was also very grateful for all the good advice that I had received from other service dog handles that helped the day go so well.

Once we get home Riley’s vest and collar come off and she is officially off duty and she is free to go off and play with her favorite toy

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Finding a new beginning

I know it has been quite awhile since I have blogged partly from being busy and partly from being  really discouraged. I think only someone who has dealt with chronic illness can understand how I have been feeling over the last  four months.

I have taken a break from my family which is really a painful thing to do but it seems I upset them by just being me. My sister and my father have admitted to me that they resent the way my illness had interrupted their lives when I was younger and they  no longer want to be inconvenienced  by me any longer. As my father so aptly put it was the only relationship he wanted with me is a casual visit once or twice a year. Despite hearing this I did still tried to keep the relationships going untill I found out they were no longer inviting me to birthdays because my work schedule made it to inconvenient for them to include me

I was shocked to hear this confession but what can I do I can’t change the way I am .

My church family was upset with me because they were all into faith healing and they were angry with me because I could not be healed. They started telling me I was full of sin and that’s why I could not be healed not even the pastor would come to see me in the hospital even though he visited others when they were sick. When my doctor prescribed a service dog for me the pastor refused to let me bring her even though there was another person in the church with a service dog.

Since that experience It has been hard to find another church that I feel comfortable in. I still believed in Jesus Christ but I am not so sure about his church . It seems that I am losing faith in my fellow-man but at least I still had my husband who I love and my service dog. I was once an outgoing person who loved God and the church but I have been so ravaged by poor health and unkind people that I have little desire to go back to the outside world and interact with people again. I think what has hurt me the most is how angry people are that I can’t live up to their expectations no matter how hard I try . And to tell you the truth I am sick of trying.

We have finally found another church that is very accepting of my service dog so I will attend and see how it goes. One good thing about having Riley as my service dog is at least when people approach me they focus on the dog and not me which makes conversation a bit easier.

When I was sick the drugs I was on made me gain a ton of weight which really changed the way I looked and I could not believe how badly my fellow church family handled it. Even when I explained to them I was not gaining weight because of what I was eating some people still would not believe it. I even had one person come up to me and say I am praying for you to change your eating habits. I was so embarrassed. I felt so bad about the weight that I stopped looking in mirrors and when I approached people I knew I could actually see the shocked look on their faces so I stopped looking up and just kept my head down when people walked by.

Now when I go out Riley helps me to walk but she also is helping to heal another deeper wound. I had lost all confidence in myself and interacting with others had become hard. Now when I am with Riley people are happy to see her and they smile which makes life a little bit easier for me.

This is a picture of me after finishing off  a final round of steroids and it will give you a bit of an idea of how swollen my face  was although when this picture was taken a lot of the swelling had already gone down. The red little dots you see under me eyes at the top of my cheeks is blistering rosacea which I developed and still have from coming off the steroids. They are painful little sores that can itch and bleed though the cream they gave me does make it better.

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The next picture of me is with Riley near Christmas. Even though I am finished the drugs the weight is very slow in coming down and because walking is so painful and I am having trouble breathing exercise is very hard but with Riley I am trying ! Together we are starting over, a new beginning if you will. One in which I hope to learn to love myself and focus only on pleasing God and not worrying so much about what others think of me. And with God’s help this might lead to a new kind of peace for me and a new way of life.

 

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