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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Drown Proofing

Definition of Drown Proofing :a survival technique, for swimmers or nonswimmers, in which the body is allowed to float vertically in the water, with the head submerged, the lungs filled with air, and the arms and legs relaxed, the head being raised to breathe every ten seconds or so. Origin of drownproofing Expand

Drown Proofing with God

I slowly sink

He lifts me up

I slowly sink

He lifts me up

I slowly sink

He lifts me up

Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child,

 So I will comfort you

Just keep swimming but let God be your Life Saver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Devotion

I have had the biopsy procedure done last Friday and it will be three weeks untill I get the results. Pressure that comes with my job has taken a lot of my energy away as I worry about the future. Something we are not supposed to do because our heavenly father always looks out for us and knows what we need. Still sometimes I can’t help myself and I pray he will forgive me for my lack of trust.  I will continue with my training of Riley, she has gotten so big and I will post more pictures soon.

 

Morning Prayer

Lord you know my challenges that comes with every passing day

So as I  lift my hands to worship You, give me the courage to obey

Help me to remember Your promises and open my heart to You

Let others see You, through me today ,in everything I do

 

Take away the pain and bitterness that life sometimes brings

Help me to thank You always and help my heart to sing

As my voice shouts out Your praises, fill my soul with Your love

And help me avoid the pitfalls while You guide me from above

 

If I had just one thing to leave behind when You come to take me home

I want to leave the love of Christ, that lives on in every place I roamed

Because you sent me as Your messenger so all the world could see

Your love for all the people no matter where they are or where they flee

 

They will always be Your children whether near or far

Even if they are good or bad or they don’t know who they are

And as a loving Father he does not require that we fix

The brokeness inside us from the wounds that life inflicts

 

Instead He offers mercy and a second chance to live your life renewed

As he wipes away every tear and fills your heart with love so true

With tenderness and longing He calls us all to come and be his sheep

As the great Shepherd He invites us to discover his love is all we seek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not over the Mountain yet.

Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post but my health is once again not co-operating with my get well soon plan. My menstrual cycle seemed to stop almost two years ago and I thought I had finished with that time of my life but last month I began to bleed for about three weeks straight. After a few visits to the hospital to try to determine if the blood was from the bladder or kidneys they have decided that it is coming from my cervix. After stopping menstruation it is unusual to start to bleed again  so they took an ultrasound which revealed nothing and now they want to do a biopsy on my uterus wall. Cancer is a very scary word and I know they have to rule it out but it does leave oneself with a nervous feeling in the pit of one’s stomach.My blood tests are normal for a woman who is not premenaposal which leaves the doctor’s puzzled. I am trying to remain calm and optimistic but I have begun bleeding more heavily than I ever have  before and I am unsure as to what is the next step is in this procedure. My doctor has informed me that my B levels in my blood are low and I think that it is that symptom that makes me feel so tired out. I have been slacking on Riley’s training as menstrual cramps are making me feel quite horrible and I feel exhausted all the time. Still I know the Lord will help and give me the strength to keep going . Hopefully I will have more pictures and stories to tell you but right now I am just tired and hoping that things get easier later on. Mean while my service dog in training turned a year on July 14th. Where do the days go? Anyway here is  a picture of her around ten weeks.

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Thanks to the Lord My God For I can do all things through him who strengthens me Amen.

 

 

Setback

I have not written for a while because I have found going back to work quite challenging while trying to balance training a service dog and cope with reoccurring illness. I had been back to work about a  month  and pain-killer free when I started having trouble with pain in my teeth. Because I have had reoccuring nerve pain throughout my whole body I just ignored it and tried to concentrate on catching up with all the system changes that have been made since I took a leave of absence from my job.

I have begun to bleed again and have been bleeding in small amounts everyday for the last three weeks. This is such a blow after having that big operation in my kidneys in Feb. tomorrow morning I have a pelvic ultrasound to rule out nasty things like cancer. Now it could also mean I have more kidney stones and either one is not appealing to me.

I really wanted to stick my head in the sand and ignore it but it was that commercial that’s on tv for cervical and bladder cancer that says have the lady balls to go do something about it. So Riley and I went to the doctors and got the x-ray booked. If it is negative than I will need another ultrasound to look for more stones. I have already passed 6 or 7 I have lossed count over the last year and a half. lol.

But for now i am trying to be optimistic and concentrate on Riley’s training and work.

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Onward Christian Soldier -With Service Dogs It’s Not All Easy Sailing

So far I have covered the fun parts of Service Dog ownership but it isn’t always easy-going. All through Riley’s training I have been enduring kidney stones that had torn up my tubes so scar tissue has started to block tubes in my kidney which cause the kidney to swell and become blocked. In February of this year I underwent surgery to correct this. They had to cut my tubes our and create new tubes by stretching up pieces of my bladder and re attach them to my kidney and bladder. I came home and was unable to work with Riley for a time.

While I was healing Riley had to be crated when I wandered down from my room for some exercise and my husband Jim was in charge of taking her for walks and caring for her until I had healed enough to start training again. ..

Now I can’t stress this enough if you have a service dog you should teach it crate training.

The reason I stress this is because if something happens and you are too sick to look after your dog or you have an operation you have already taught the dog that if it is not with you the crate is a safe spot so your dog can relax quietly while your on the mend. Service dogs that have not been crate trained can be destructive when their owners disappear to get medical procedures done because of the stress of being without its owner. This can happen even if you have someone else living and looking after the dog while you are sick.

The other reason crate training is important because we teach our dogs to open doors and open cupboards and the fridge in an effort to help us. While you are training and the pup/dog is learning these traits they don’t always know what the training is for. All the dog knows is this is a great game to play and the dog still wants to play it long after you want to stop. So take Riley for instance  her favorite game is fetch if she is on the lead she will happily pick up what ever you want and she will bring it back as long as she is on the leash. When she is loose and picks something up she will bring it to me and dash away in attempt to play her most favorite game fetch up and then chase. Untill Riley really understands the command fetch up means to give it to me and the game is over she will spend the whole day stealing things and getting into way more mischief than an ordinary dog trying  to get me to chase her.  In order to avoid this when I can’t be around to watch what she is doing I crate her so I know that she is not going to take something that might hurt her if I was not around to stop her.

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Riley managed to pull in the blanket Indy laid on. When Jim crated her before he went to work he did not think she could reach the blanket and pull it in with her. I was upstairs sleeping on pain killers and did not hear a thing. she also ripped up the plastic tray that she pushed out side of the crate. This was done out of boredom. She was used to going out with me everyday before the surgery as well as regular training exercises. After this Jim made sure he took her out for an hour of play before he left to tire her out. Imagine what my house would have looked like if she was not crated. Riley had also learned to open the door by pulling on a strap and she soon learned to let herself outside the door and into the cold porch to eat the cats food. As soon as we seen this her training on opening the door was phased out for a while.

Now if I was just training the family dog you would scold or discipline them in a way they understood that they should not pick up things up or not to open that door but this is where service dog training gets hard. I want Riley to pick up things up and in order for her to be effective in training she not only has to understand the game she has to love to want to play that game so if I started scolding her I could turn her off the game and she might refuse to pick up things. I could give her a harsh command and that would stop from going out the door but it would also stop her wanting to open the door when I commanded her to. So I use the crate as a control untill Riley really understands all the commands and teach what her boundaries are.

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Riley also has a gift for looking really guilty and sorrowful at the same time but I can assure you this all goes away the second I open the door and let her out.

Another part of training a service dog is always being in the public eye. somedays when Riley is being good and doing what she is told it feels great to have a service dogs. On days when you don’t feel so good and your service dog is not listening it can be very stressful.

When in a very crowed mall where children are running wild and left unattended and the aisles are full of people not watching were they are walking it sometimes feels like your navigating your dog through a mine field. You have to constantly watch your dog to make sure they are healing and unstressed, you somehow have to keep looking ahead to see what is coming and be aware of the cart you have behind you in case they are not watching where they are going .Sometimes it can be a great day and others you just can’t wait to be out of the store as fast as possible.

I know people for the most part are fascinating with Service dogs and they don’t mean to cause you trouble when they croon her puppy puppy. Or when they barge up and start petting your dog even though you have please don’t pet all over her harness. I am always polite and I always make the effort to explain that just talking to a medic alert dog could distract him from his owner long enough to miss a signal that a epileptic seizure is going to occur and that person could be hurt. I don’t believe the majority of the people do it on purpose they just don’t realize the outcome of their actions can prove detrimental to a person with seizures.

The kind of people who drive me the most crazy are the ones that watch you and they have just seen you put the dog on a down stay and they wander over and stand right in front of the dog and try to make the dog break his stay. Suddenly their hands will become cold and they will feel the need to clap them . Or they  suddenly discover while standing in front of your dog that there leg has gone to sleep and they feel the need to stamp their foot alot lol.

But I think the actual worse person to run into is the kind of person who thinks they know it all and has a service dog of their own and they just decide that it becomes their job to police your service dog and you must prove to them that you are legit and not fake. They are usually very loud and overbearing people who will demand to see your id and scream the halls down because they just love a scene. After that they will follow you all over the store trying to make your dog break by letting their dog run up the back of you or dropping items to scare the dog.  Please know this is harassment it is not your job to convince the public that you have a legitimate service dog. If you have shown the management your paperwork than you do not have to produce it to anyone else that asks. If the person starts following you around the store I would go to management and ask management to ask them to leave because they are harassing you in a public place. These people actually post on the service board that they did these things and they feel proud of harassing an individual. I actually love it when they post it on-line and are kind enough to mention the store and where it is so people can avoid them in the future.

If you suffer from anxiety training a service dog can be a daunting task but not impossible, because you are dealing with the general public who forget to be kind sometimes. If you start to feel anxious stop with your dog and do deep pressure therapy if that doesn’t help I would just call it a day and go home and give it a try some other time. If your anxiety does often overwhelm you in pubic than a dog that is already trained as a service dog might be the way to go.017

Riley riding in the back of the truck on our way to Walmart.

You will find there are days when you think you just dont have enough energy to deal with shopping and taking the dog but I always push myself  past these days. Alot of times it is just anxiety talking and I go on to have a much better day because she was there001.JPG

Being a Christian on the day that I go out it doesn’t hurt to say a prayer before we go its a way of inviting the Lord into your day. Actually I had involved the Lord to help me pick Riley out of the litter. I figured there was no one more qualified than the Lord to help me pick a pup since he made her mother and all creation was his in the beginning. And even with all the up and downs in our journey I still think she is the best dog for me.

 

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Getting You Up To Speed On How Riley Is Progressing

 

When Riley came home I thought I would post her journey as a daily post but I came down with 7 kidney stones that caused me to have a lot of Surgeries so I just couldn’t keep up. It is my intent to bring you up to speed as to where we are today.

The first step in Riley’s training was socialization. We spent a lot of time taking her out and getting used to the environments she would train in. We also had everyone she met to pet her so she would not be timid and really used to people.

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This is our local grocery store we approached the owners and ask if they would give us permission to train in the store and they were only to happy to comply. When bringing a young pup into public areas we always asked before bringing Riley in. If they said no we would just leave but our local retailers were really supporitive and we were never refused.

When we first took her out we just concentrated on getting her to say hi in a calm way. We kept our visits short and we practiced letting Riley curl up under tables so it would feel natural when she had to do it for real. 12011375_141892122823206_5663323220804007774_n

Riley did not like shiny floors in the beginning so we would take her to this lounge area and just let her sit , and move around a bit till she got used to it before we asked her to walk down the aisle.You can see in the next few photo’s she eventually got use to the floors. The trick is not to force a pup to do something we would just take it slow and let Riley get used to each new situation before trying to give her any commands. That being said we did start Rileys training at home where she was more comfortable to be more structured. They first commands we taught her was sit, down, stay and come. Again her training sessions at home were short but we would practice several times throughout the day. And we always ended a training session on a positive note. So if there was something she had not quite mastered we would always end the session with something she found easy to do.

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While I was teaching Riley basic obedience I googled the service dog laws in my area. The laws vary from the States to Canada so you need to know the rules that pertain to your area. I was able to hook up with a really great group of service dog handlers and a lot of them were owner trained service dogs and they gave me great advice and have been my cheering section when I feel a bit low. Most of them post great service dog videos on utube that show you how to train your dog. The group I belong to on Facebook is Service dog handlers safe haven. The people on this site are so nice and helpful. In Canada Trillium Service dogs site help owner trained service dogs find training and they are putting together public access tests for owner trained service dogs in training to be tested.There is no official organization that registers Service dogs in Canada or the United States. The first step is a service dog has to be prescribed by your doctor. After that if you have enough money you can apply for service dogs that are already trained if you meet there financial criteria. The other option is to train the dog yourself than take the Service dog Public Access Test.

Most of the general public does not understand the difference between emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs

Emotional support dogs and therapy dog help people by letting the person pet,play or cuddle with them and they can give the handler or person working with them emotional support as well as physical affection. Emotional Support dogs and Therapy dogs do not have complete public access.

Service dogs are trained to do specific tasks that helps their handler have a better quality of life and  to be more  independent . Service dogs are trained to concentrate on their handler and to ignore the general public. Service dogs should not be touched as it distracts the dog from his/her job. A fully trained Service Dog does have public access.

When you are socializing your service dog in training make sure you get them around things with wheels like bikes, carts, skate boards, roller skates, wheel chairs etc so they won’t be nervous of them in public areas.

Enrolling your dog in obedience class really helps your pup get used to other dogs and enrolling your dog to compete for his Canine Good  Citizen test will help to let you know if dog is well-mannered enough to be in public.

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This is my friend Nikki who helps me get my dogs used to wheel chairs

In this picture I have to remind Nik not to touch the dog you will find that your even your friends and familly who know better will forget and reach out for the dog. You just have to gently remind them that even though we were having fun the dog is still working.