Sunday, September 16, 2018

Education

I have been putting more effort into continuing to expand my training related knowledge.  It's an area that I really enjoy reading and hearing more about.  The problem I come up against, as with everything else, is not enough time.  Making time in my schedule to go to a regularly occurring class is definitely outside of the realm of feasible at the moment.  So I gave an online class a try through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  I've done online classes before and I definitely loved them, but my current schedule and time commitments have changed a lot, so I opted to start with a gentler class.  And then my project load and schedule at work kind of blew up.  No mental space for a continually progressing class.  I lasted a couple weeks before it became abundantly clear that I just didn't have the mental space or energy for it.  Okay, so even online classes right now aren't working for me.  It was a little disappointing, but I have found some things that DO work with my often fluctuating schedule.

I don't know how other people are, but I have a really hard time with every day tasks that don't feel productive.  Tasks like driving.  Depending on how traffic is, it can really put a dent in my productivity level.  And when I feel like I already don't have enough time in the day to fit in everything I'd like to, that gets a little frustrating.  So I started listening to podcasts.  I know, I'm late to the party, but podcasts are GREAT!  I feel like I'm using this "down" time to actually learn something and stay up on the latest in whatever realm I so choose at that moment.  No more feeling stagnant and like I'm not continuing to grow.  Plus it has the added benefit of engaging the more logical part of my brain while I'm driving to tamp down that road ragey part a little. ;) I thought that maybe as a recurring part of this blog I'd share one of the podcasts that I currently listen to.  For this month, not surprisingly, one of the podcasts I listen to is the Fenzi Dog Sports podcast.  It's a weekly podcast that interviews one of the trainers teaching a class or webinar through FDSA.  It's a good way to hear a little more about a topic that you may be interested in, but aren't quite sure if the class is for you.  One thing I will say, while I was not successful at taking the class the bronze level makes the "commitment" less scary.  It's inexpensive enough that I didn't mind doing that little experiment and gives me plenty of access to the discussion forums and being able to see the gold level students' videos.  It was a good experience.

Continuing in the FDSA theme, I also decided to test the waters with a webinar this month.  There are weekly webinars that cover a wide variety of topics.  And at $20, it's hard to beat.  I now know that a class, whether online or in a physical location, won't currently work for me, I was hoping that a webinar would.  There are some really great webinars coming up from a few different groups and it just sounds so ideal.  It's a one time experience that you can either join in for the live presentation, or view the recorded session at your convenience.  PERFECT!!  And it worked out great!!  This week I watched Michele Pouliot's Platform Training-Beyond the Basics.  The webinar occurred on Thursday and I watched it on Saturday.  Tanner was working on work for a class that he's taking (not dog related) and I was watching my webinar.  It was a perfectly kick back and nerdy night at home. :)

That's what's currently working for me and keeping me happy.  I feel like I'm continuing to learn more AND I feel like I'm maximizing the less useful chunks of time in my day.  Win-win! 

I did want to add that not all of the podcasts that I listen to are specifically training related.  The more I think to search, the more interesting shows I come across.  I thought it would be fun to also include a non-dog or training specific podcast in these posts.  This month I picked The Dirtbag Diaries.  This show has been around since 2007, so I'm REALLY late the game with this one, but I'm a fan of the outdoor adventure stories and the storytelling skills of the various authors.  The most recent episode, Hootin' & Hollerin', really hit home with me.  It was the recovery story of a climber who had an accident while climbing that shattered his pelvis and broke his back.  His recounting of his time in the hospital and the recovery process hit home so hard with me.  So many of the thoughts that he verbalized were thoughts that had gone through my head.  And I totally agree with him that sometimes to get through tough spots like that, you need a healthy dose of denial to push through and get to where you CAN do things.  Listening to that story, I definitely wanted to include that in this post.  If you enjoy the outdoors and hearing about other people's adventures, you'll enjoy this podcast.

And with that, I'm off to start preparing myself for an involved week at work.  Cheers everyone!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Doodle Work


I don't remember exactly how it came about, but somehow Dominic gained the nickname Doodle.  It's not his only nickname, but probably the most frequently used.  He is also frequently referred to as The Doodle.  It's cute and it tends to work with his personality, but in no way has any reference to the doodle fad.  Anyhow, Dom has been getting some obviously focused work since he is now an only child.

With Miley's passing, it has either become noticeable or he has developed some mild discomfort for certain objects and situations.  He's never been a super confident dog and I think that no longer having his big sister to lean on has dealt more of a blow to that confidence level.  There are things around the house that Miley wasn't super thrilled about and I thought it was just her.  Either Dom also had a low level of discomfort with them or he now finds the scarier without Miley around.  Regardless of which it is, we've been tackling them.  I've sort of taken it as my first order of business to get myself back on my feet and back into a more regular training schedule.  Baby steps.

We started with the spray bottle.  I'm not sure how this developed, but Dom has HATED the spray bottle.  Which is incredibly inconvenient at dog shows when I'm wanting to cool him down a little and keep him hydrated.  Miley LOVED the spray bottle, so I'm really not sure where his fear of it came from.  I definitely don't use it as a punishment, especially since I want them to have positive associations with it.  So we've been working on desensitizing and reconditioning it as a positive thing.  I'm happy to report that it's working and was really simple.  I started by just treating him for nose touching the bottle itself.  After that I started spritzing a little bit out, which got him interested.  And gradually we worked up to full sprays that he was happily lapping straight from the sprayer.  I knew this wouldn't be all that challenging.  He likes drinking and he really likes drinking from moving water sources, so the spray bottle was producing the reward.  I just had to encourage him to get past his initial fear of approaching the bottle and things moved quickly from there.

After the spray bottle came the baby gates that I have in a couple locations in my house.  He has no problem with x-pens, but is uncomfortable passing by the baby gates in close quarters like the hallway leading to my bedroom.  I never noticed that he was uncomfortable with these, most likely because Miley's level of discomfort was pretty obvious.  I was not great at being consistent working with her, and she never really got past an alright level.  I always thought that Dom was fine.  But as it turns out, he is also a bit uncomfortable.  I can't think of a time where he's knocked the gates over or had a negative experience, but maybe Miley's dislike of them was enough to condition him to dislike them without knowing why.  So we've been working on that.  I do want to grab some video of him working on it and I wish that I had taken video from the get go to visually record his progress, but so it goes.  It's a work in progress and I'm happy with how it's going.

The other thing we're working on is his comfort level in tight spaces.  This gets a little challenging because of his ever exuberant tail.  The more happy or the more uncomfortable and unsure he gets, the more forcefully his tail swings.  This can be problematic in certain tight spaces where he potentially knocks things over.  Places like that, I will just generally avoid working on as he doesn't really need to be in those locations in my house.  Tanner and I did do some cleaning up and rearranging of the office so that there is now more space for Dom to comfortably move around in there.  Dom is slowly building up his comfort level and getting better about entering that room.  We're getting there.

And other areas that we've been working on are building up hind end strength and the dumbbell hold.  I will have a separate post about Dom's dumbbell work, because unsurprisingly, I am needing to do things a little differently with him than any of the other three.  Naturally. ;) But it's been fun trying different routes with him.

This post hasn't been exactly the most stimulating, but I am TRYING to get myself into a schedule of posting.  Which means getting myself back into a mind set of specific content for posts.  I hesitate to say that I think I am starting to find a more manageable balance of everything in my life and will be able to not only carve out the time for regular training, but also allotting time for the blog and making some videos, which I really enjoy.  So here's to finding balance and trying not to berate yourself too much when it's bloody well elusive.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Miley


I lost Miley to osteosarcoma on Monday August 6th.  I've been through this before.  Unfortunately, this exact same thing.  It just progressed differently with Miley.  I've been meaning to write this post for a bit, figuring that it would help in the grieving process.  I've gone through that process twice before, but that doesn't make it less raw or at all the same.

Here's a twist to the knife.  Miley developed the tell tale tumor on the same exact leg, in the same exact location as Bess.  Only her tumor appeared basically in front of my eyes, while we were at the vet's office.  I fucking hate cancer.

I took Miley in to see her vet due to a slight limp that just wasn't going away.  After a week of me being out of town and her brother staying with other people, she should have been able to rest up enough to signify that this slight limp meant something else was going on.  I thought it was something to do with her shoulder.  So we went to the vet.  She did flex tests on her, she had me gait her, she poked and prodded her to see if she could get a pain response in a specific location or feel heat in a particular area.  Nothing.  Her recommendation was that she was going to send me home with antiinflamatories, rest her for a week and see what happens.  I felt like something was up and I still felt like it was the shoulder, so I asked her if she'd x-ray her shoulders.  She was more than fine taking the x-rays at my request.  Shoulder x-rays came back clear.  We'd already had a conversation about her first guess given Miley's breed was osteosarcoma, and since she wasn't the same vet that Bess had, I explained the process with Bess.  As she was showing me Miley's clear shoulder x-rays, she said that she didn't do any scans of the rest of her legs since nothing warranted it.  Well....

After she brought Miley back to the waiting room she gave me the option of hanging out in the room until the receptionist was ready to ring me up, or I could wait out in the waiting room.  Thankfully I opted to wait in the waiting room.  As I was sitting there, I was looking at Miley's front legs and I could SWEAR that her left front was now swollen in that tell tale region.  Which seemed impossible.  The vet and I had been all over that area.  How could either of us have possibly missed that.  Clearly i was something that had already been seen.  But I couldn't stop staring at it.  Finally I just decided that if I didn't get it x-rayed right then, it was going to drive me crazy and I'd just be bringing her back in the next day.  So I grabbed a vet tech, who grabbed the vet.  She came in and was shocked that she hadn't seen it.  Then said that as we were talking she could almost swear that it was increasing in size.  Back off for x-rays Miley went.  The vet came back and told me that she was about to be my least favorite person.  They could get a biopsy to confirm, but Miley's x-ray looked just like Bess'.

From there, Miley's progression was very different than Bess'.  Bess was only on meloxicam until the end.  Miley was on meloxicam, tramadol at an increasing dose and gabapentin at the end.  By the evening of the 5th she was no longer weight bearing on the leg.  Despite all the meds that she was on, she was still herself at times.  She just couldn't play as much.  Then finally she stopped putting weight on the leg.  It took both Tanner and I to gently lift her out of the house so that she could potty. 

A friend of mine who's a vet came on the morning of the 6th to put her down.  Even then Miley was excited to see her and was bouncing around to the best of her ability so that she could say hi.  Which had me glad that she had asked if I preferred a light sedative prior to the injection. 

This is just hard.  I keep thinking about great Miley was during my recovery process.  How incredibly happy she was to see me when I finally came home from the hospital.  She never wanted to leave my side.  Those two months while I was wheelchair bound and basically stuck inside my house, she only wanted to be next me.  She moderated her play around me throughout the entire process.  This is beyond unfair.  She was only four.  And she was significant to me.  Part of the loss is knowing how amazing she was.  How much time we should have still had together and all the things we should have still been able to do.  I will never hear her fake grumble at night when I glom on to her.  I will never see her punching the garage door handle because I'm clearly too dense to understand that she wants outside.  I will never get another chance to tell her she's got too much sass in that ass.  It's just not okay. 

I am glad that I have so many pictures and so many videos of her.  Looking back at those does reaffirm for me that I did give her a good life.  She did know that she was loved.  And I have so many amazing memories with her.  I put together a video of some of the snippets.  Nothing will feel like enough, but this helps.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Work In Progress


I read a recent post by Patricia McConnell titled "Are We Doing Enough For Our Dogs?"  As I was reading it, all I could think was AH-FREAKING-MEN!!  This is an area that I feel like I have constantly struggled with.  I never feel like I'm doing enough or measuring up to what is expected.  Add to that taking a year "off," and I am rife with guilt over not doing enough for my dogs.

Side bar on the word guilt.  I have assigned the feeling of guilt to many situations, but when the actual definition of the word was pointed out to me, it has helped me dissect the feeling and tackle the situation in a more constructive manner.  Guilt is "the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime."  In a nutshell, guilt is when you have done something wrong.  I feel guilty for not fitting in training time last Wednesday with either dog.  Did I actually do something wrong or commit a crime?  No.  Assigning that feeling the name guilt is incorrect.  I feel bad that I didn't fit in training time with either dog.  But just breaking it down and making the situation relatively black and white with that one question, has helped me handle those uncomfortable feelings.  The bad feeling doesn't linger.  And instead of wallowing unproductively in it, I make a promise or a plan to remedy this instance.  For me, it makes the situation more manageable and alleviates the mental anguish.  Sometimes words have too much power.  This is one way that I'm trying to tackle that in a more constructive way.

McConnell goes on to discuss where this question comes from.  If you are in a position where you are able to ask this question, then you are in a position of privilege.  If you can ask this question, then you are able to meet all the basic needs of your survival.  You are not focused on where your next meal is going to come from.  You're not concerned about having a roof over your head.  If you are able to ask this question with regards to a non-human being under your care, you're doing pretty well compared to a lot of areas in the world.  As she points out, this is a first world problem.

For good or for ill, realizing that makes me feel less bad.  I have a job, I have a house, regardless of the past year, I have good health.  My basic needs are not in danger of not being met.  This gives me the luxury of caring about my dogs. 

Life moves ahead at what seems like an ever increasing rate.  The expectations are higher.  There are things that you need and have to do, things that you should do and then there are things that you want to do.  We have the varied expectations and duties of work, which enable us to put food in our bellies, a roof over our heads and enjoy the dogs in our lives.  Through work life and dog life, we meet other people.  We form bonds with those people.  Interactions with those people can take place just in the professional or dog related setting, or we find (sometimes struggle to) time to connect with people outside of either of those venues.  The more people you know, the more pulls on your time you have.  The more expectations you may feel the pressure to meet.  I don't mean this in a negative way, but it is a pull on our physical time as well as a potential pull on your psyche.  If you're an introvert, then you REALLY get this.  We are a social species.  No matter how introverted you are, you need that contact with at least one other person and this can create turmoil within. 

On the home front, you can get inundated with information.  Information on what you should feed your dog and how you should feed it.  How often, what types, durrations and in what contexts you should exercise your dog.  How often and what types of mental stimulation your dog needs.  What activities you should and should not participate in.  The list goes on and on and surely if you do not follow the golden rule your dog will be ruined forever! 

All of that and so much more is what I'm struggling with.  It boils down to struggling with the idea that I am not doing enough for my dogs.  The past year of their lives has been the most sedate and boring year of their for them.  My schedule has been constantly evolving.  My ability, both physically and mentally, to work with my dogs has been gradually coming back.  But for some reason, this feeling of dread that I am not doing enough for my dogs freezes me in my tracks and has been a road block for getting back after it.  Acknowledging it doesn't always help me either.  I've had to make the effort to work at it.  I've had to start doing things that I know will succeed to get my rear in gear.  I'm having to put a lot more effort into my training plan than I'm used to.  I have to really think about what I want to work on with both dogs and where each dog is at.  Whereas before I could work on the same things multiple days in a row, that kind of a schedule demotivates me for training and I'm more likely to prioritize one of the many other things on my list of things that need looking at.  So my training plan has had to evolve.

I now have to schedule a chunk of time each week to work out my training plan for the week ahead, day by day.  I need to take into account project load at work that might have me staying there longer or might have me mentally or physically worn out or both.  I need to take into account any week day evening plans that I have and I've also had to start limiting the number of week day plans that I make.  It got way too easy to let that get out of control if I didn't set limitations and that was doing nothing but causing me to feel more frazzled.  I also needed to freshen up my training.  I've been working on some of the same things with my past dogs as well as the current.  While each dog has something different to bring to the table and I know that it all builds to the individual goals that I have for them, I'm at a point right now where I need to freshen things up a little to get ME more interested and to positively reinforce ME to keep going. 

I've also had to think about my time management.  There are a million papers, books, blog posts and articles that I want to read.  But again, making time for that reading is challenging.  So I've managed to find a happy medium that makes me feel like I'm maximizing my time.  I listen to a lot of podcasts.  Yeah, I'm late to the game, but I'm finally there.  I have a wide variety of interests and listening to various podcasts lets me continue to learn and stay up on a variety of topics so that I feel like I'm continuing to increase my knowledge without that time being taken away from other things. I listen to podcasts while I'm doing tasks that need doing, but don't require my rapt attention.  I listen to them while I'm driving, which has had the added bonus of decreasing my road rage by engaging my frontal cortex and keeping my head in a more logical space.  I listen while I'm cleaning and cooking at home.  These are all tasks that I HAVE to do, so I might as well maximize the time and get something more out of it.  It has made for a happier and more informed me.

And as I mentioned in my last post, I decided to sign up for an online dog training course to spice up my training regimen.  I'm just getting back into the swing of things and I don't want to go so balls to the wall that I burn myself out immediately and defeat the purpose.  So I chose the Relationship Walks class at the bronze level.  As I mentioned, it meets the criteria I had set forth for myself.  So far so good.  This past week had a lot going on and I fell behind, in a manner of speaking.   But I was able to "catch up" today.  So I think I have found what will currently work for me. 

Everything is a work in progress.  I'm getting there.  I'm trying to do enough for my dogs, whatever that feels like at the moment.  But I'm also keeping in mind that I need to take care of myself first.  My dogs depend on me.  If I'm not taking care of myself, then I surely won't be able to take care of them to the level that I think they should be.  That reminder helps.  As McConnell said in her post, "put the oxygen mask on yourself first."

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Week In Review


Despite how that picture looks, Dominic hates bath. :) It took some cookies and some patience, but he got into the bathtub all on his own.  And in case you're wondering, yes those are whiskers on his face and yes those whiskers stayed put.  As I was attempting to shave him the night before the specialty, I realized this was not the time and this was a "battle" that he should win.  What I should have done was what I do when I'm getting the dogs used to the dremmel.  One toe nail at a time with lots of treats and lots of consistency over the course of several weeks.  I just plum forgot and fell back on what I usually do, which is shave the dog the night before the dog show.  Only Dom has never had his whiskers shaved (as a puppy who needed ring experience, whiskers were the least of my concerns).  So really, I shouldn't have even tried doing it.  In the end, I tried a little.  He made it clear that he was not having it.  So we moved along to the bath, which by comparison was much less terrible.


Last Friday was the Willamette Valley Great Dane Club's annual double specialty.  This was my first time back in the conformation ring in a year.  This was a big deal.  I wasn't aiming to be competitive for the points.  I just wanted to prove to myself that I could handle it and that this part of my life was back under my control.  Dominic was the only one in his class, so we got all the wonderful swag that the club offers for winning the class.  It was pretty sweet!  But best of all was how freaking supportive and amazing the group of dane people are who were at this show!  I had the very awesome pleasure to be cheered on around the ring by the other exhibitors.  They were genuinely happy to see me back in the ring and wanted me to know it.  I can't adequately explain what that means to me.  These people are amazing. :)

Dominic did well enough considering that he's had a year off with not a lot of work.  We have things to work on and I have a plan for how to go about that.  But we had a pretty good time in the ring and I was happy to be there.  This was also my boyfriend Tanner's very first dog show.  I kind of broke him in a little hard. ;) But he was a great sport and even won a couple of collars for the dogs in the most excellent raffle that the club had!

Saturday was Miley's 4th birthday and seeing as how her brother had us to himself the day before, I felt it only fitting that she get a special outing for her birthday.  We went to a local park that is relatively new that I hadn't been to before.  Part of the park is a protected natural area and dogs aren't allowed on those trails, but there were enough interesting things to see and certainly the novelty of the location.  The focal point were these giant vine heads.  Miley wasn't terribly impressed.

I tried getting her to take a picture with me inside the heads, but it's her party and she won't cooperate if she doesn't want to.  Naturally, it wasn't like I was going to let that stop me from getting other pictures.


Sunday was Easter.  And April Fool's day.  The dogs thought it'd be cool to play a fun little April Fool's day prank on me where they found their prey drive.  I have mentioned to other people previously about how great both dogs are out on hikes when they see deer or elk.  They might look at or be somewhat interested in them, but they don't chase.  Wellllllllll, I can say that no longer.  Sunday morning, as we're sauntering along, a lone cow elk crosses our path and trots off into the forest.  The dogs had their backs turned at the moment so were late to the chase.  Given the thicker underbrush, they didn't really go far into the forest, but did very excitedly go check out the cow's path.  Huh, I thought.  That was way more interest than they've shown previously.  And we moved on.  Until a small herd of about 12 elk crossed our path.  And the dogs both took off after them.  I was both shocked that this herd popped out of "no where" and that the dogs were acting pretty reminiscent of Heffner and Bess.  Thankfully both dogs only chased after the herd a short distance into the forest and then came running back.  Clearly elated at the excitement of being "wild dogs."  Tanner was initially very concerned as this was the first time he has been around dogs chasing after elk.  After calling the dogs' names once and them not responding, I knew it wasn't worth continuing to do so until they were ready to break off on their own.  Which they did and quite happily came running back to us.  All is well now.  I just have some recall work to do on hikes under what are now very high level distractions.


The rest of this week has been trying to keep up on house chores, dog chores, a Sherwood Dog Training Club meeting and baking gluten free, vegan peanut butter blondies for the bake off at work tomorrow.  And bucking with the usual tradition of buying the dogs a physical item for their birthdays, this year for Miley I decided I would get her a gift that would also kick my butt into training gear (that is a post by itself).  But hopefully in a way that wouldn't have me overly stressed out trying to fit yet one more thing into a schedule that occasionally has me hyperventilating.  I decided to enroll in a class through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy!  We're taking the Relationship Walks class.  It meets the criteria for what I can handle right now.  It's online, so I don't have to actually schedule it as well as factor in travel time.  I'm enrolled at the bronze level, so the price works for me.  And I get to go through the course at my pace without having the self appointed or otherwise, pressure of having to submit videos by a certain time.  I also have less guilt if I have a day where training is just not going to happen.  At the bronze level, I feel like I will be able to capitalize on what I've paid for.  Trying to get a handle on juggling everything has proven to be quite the challenge for me and I'm hoping this will help to ease me back into the swing of things. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Getting Back To Normal


Slowly but surely, things are getting back to normal.  It's taken longer than I would have thought.  But I'm also an impatient person who enjoyed living in a world where I thought that it would be no big deal to start walking again after breaking both legs and spending two months in a wheelchair.  Ahhhh, denial.  Sometimes it's a beautiful thing!

Next month marks the one year post accident time point and I'm trying (at least some of the time) to be kind to myself on my progress.  I'm trying to keep in mind that everything will come as it will and it's certainly not like the dogs are judging me.  Well, Miley is a little, but whatever. 


Throughout this process of relearning how to walk, I have refused to do really any sort of heeling with the dogs.  Even on a good day, my gait was uneven and walking a straight line for very long was beyond me.  I LOVE heeling.  Having this hiccup make a mockery of that was incredibly unappealing.  Not to mention, it just felt counterproductive for the dogs to have me periodically bumping into them through no fault of their own.  So heeling was on hold.  Fine, we'll start smaller-ish.

The physical therapy team that I have had throughout this process has been phenomenal!  They've kept my at home and at the gym routines constantly evolving.  And they were always trying new things during my sessions.  They basically didn't allow me to get board.  Which, in the lengthy process that I had ahead of me, that was pretty key to keeping me plugging away.


Earlier this year, my primary PT asked me what kind of physical goals I had for the year.  I touched on a few different areas of interest where I felt I could set tangible goals that would give me something to look forward to.  One of those areas was getting back into the conformation ring with Dominic.  My PT didn't show dogs, so she wasn't entirely sure what would be entailed in this.  I gave her a general run down and she started thinking out loud.  It might be beneficial to have me bring Dom in to the clinic so that she could see me work with him and get an idea of 1) how I move when I've got him on the other end of the lead and 2) what I need to be able to work up to.  She ended up getting approval from the director of the clinic and they verified that the patients who would be over lapping with me weren't allergic to dogs, and we were off! 

It was one of the BEST sessions I had had!  Hitting specific measurement milestones were huge, but knowing that I was REALLY working towards getting back ALL aspects of my life was beyond words!  Part of me was a little worried that she was going to recommend against me taking Dom into the ring, but after our session with him, I got the green light!!

Fast forward to now. :) After many weeks of plugging away, being persistent and consistent regardless of how awkward I felt, tomorrow Dom and I will be getting back into the conformation ring!  We're only entered tomorrow for the double specialty, but I'm really excited to get back into the ring with him.  It's going to be awkward and I know that I'm going to be self conscious about it, but it's working those bits of normalcy back into my life that I need.  And it's also about damn time.

So here's to getting back into the conformation ring and here's to making an effort to blog semi-regularly again!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

And Things

Yeah, wagon, falling off....but hey, at least I didn't end up in the hospital again. ;) Recovering from this accident has been a thing.  Many things actually.  I wrote my last post last August with the intent of the blog posts helping me to work through everything and using the blog as the outlet that it frequently has been.  It still is, but jeez, the accident and subsequent recovery have been such an involved and lengthy process, that getting "caught up" on everything has happened would be quite the task.  And life got busy and involved with me getting back to work and life slowly picking up speed.  Oh yeah, and appointments.  Dear god there were so many appointments!  I'll attempt to summarize, so that this aspect of my life can get more back to "normal."

After the hospital, I spent two months in a wheelchair and was completely non weight bearing on either leg.  As in absolutely, no-go, not happening, even if I had wanted to try cheating, that shit was NOT gonna happen.  While you're in a wheelchair, you realize just how un-differently abled the world is.  And quite frankly, just how inconsiderate the general population is.  By all means, even though I'm the one in the wheelchair that really can't go onto the grass, yes, let ME get out of YOUR way on the sidewalk so as to not inconvenience your day.  Until you're in a situation where you experience these things first hand, you don't realize how crappy situations can be or just how crappy those situations and people's responses can make a person feel.  

But I digress, two months in a wheelchair basically hanging out at home.  Basically all of my muscles had atrophied, so even if I had wanted to attempt going out of my house, I have a slanted drive way and was not strong enough (I know, I tried, under supervision) to halt my wheelchair from skidding down the drive way into the street, let alone wheeling my way back up that previously insignificant seeming incline.  Not being able to leave the house unsupervised wasn't the worst thing.  I had a LOT of healing to do.  And because I'd had a couple bouts of my appetite and ability to eat going out the window while I was in the hospital (head trauma is a serious bitch), I hadn't been really fueling my body as much as it needed for the crazy amount of all over trauma it experienced.  So small activities, even just having conversations, wore me completely out.  I could interact with people for a MAX of two hours before I was basically falling asleep where ever I was.  My endurance for focusing my eyes and my brain on reading or typing anything was also shot.  The physical therapist in the hospital actually had me doing eye exercises.  In a nut shell, I was easily exhausted and spent a lot of time sleeping and generally recovering.  

During this time, Miley was my constant companion.  We started nicknaming her Nurse Miley.  Because I wasn't very strong and my legs were so sensitive and not mobile, we had to be really careful about how close she got to me.  Any of her previous rough housing or even some of the snuggling that she would do with me were out of the question.  She had a hard time initially, but she adjusted and she was content to be as close to me as she could.  She was also a HUGE fan of the fact that my bathroom door had to be taken completely off in order for my wheel chair to fit in there.  Miley LOVES to creep on me while I'm in the bathroom.  She'll nose punch the door handle multiple times.  And if that doesn't work, she very loudly inhales along the edges of the door.  With the door no longer in her way, she was able to see everything that happened in the bathroom and basically keep a constant eye on me.  She would even lay down in front of the bathroom door while I showered.  It was all very sweet and through the whole process she was very careful to modify any of her physical interactions with me.  She was incredibly gentle and calm.  Now, of course, she's completely back to her normal crazy self. :)

Throughout the wheelchair period, I understandably couldn't wait to be weight bearing and walking again.  I had a this INCREDIBLY unrealistic thought process that once I was weight bearing, I would just start walking and within a month everything would be back to normal.  Yeah.  That was cute.  Though I will admit that this wonderful ignorance is likely what kept me in a much more forward thinking mindset than I would have otherwise been in.  I basically had to learn to use everything from the waist down all over again.  In some cases I had to form new neuro-muscular pathways for the different ways that my legs were now moving.  Plus there was a whole lot of muscle imbalances.  And atrophy.  And hardware in both legs.  And my favorite, limited range of motion in my right knee (almost a year later and there is still 20 degrees that I don't have).  Relearning to walk is hard and painfully slow.  You know how long it takes kids to go from crawling to walking and walking fluidly?  I know very much understand that struggle.

As I mentioned, we're creeping up on the one year anniversary of my accident and I'm at a point where I can look back and be pretty proud of what I've accomplished and everything that I've had to push through and deal with.  It has been a crap load of work and there have definitely been chunks of time where I was having a hard time dealing with everything.  But I'm proud of the progress that I've made, I have a plan for continuing to move forward, and now I can say that I wrassled a car and it didn't beat me. ;) This life event will definitely continue to color things moving forward, but life is getting back to normal and I'm looking forward to getting back to everything with my dogs.

I hope anyone still reading these posts is doing well!