Meet Tesla

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 08:00 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
This is Tesla. His registered name is Tesla Leuchtet Den Weg vom LhunThyla ( Tesla Lights The Way - from LhunThyla ; my owner/kennel tag ). Tesla is an AKC registered German Shepherd ( Alsatian ). He is 13 weeks old. I have had him for about a week, but didn't want to post anything publicly till I knew for sure I was keeping him. He is a Galliard, born Waxing Gibbous ( a day shy of Ahroun! ) . Very vocal and likes to tell you about all the things. He has a great personality and is already more like Journey was in his confidence levels, which is a good thing. Certain personality traits about Tesla remind me of Journey and Chakotay both. Tesla's namesake is in honor of Nikola Tesla, famous Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity system, wireless communications, experiments in wireless power transmission, and much more. Tesla coils, anyone? :D The symbology behind "lighting the way" is both toward that namesake, and the hope he will light the way for me as my new service dog. So far he is doing well with basic training and everything he is exposed to in public. His hips and body structure look great; he does the "Superman sprawl" which is an early sign hips should be okay. When I went to meet him and was doing the initial evaluation, he was quite the character. While talking to the breeder, I set my treat pouch down off to the side. Next thing we knew, puppy had picked the whole thing up and was happily trotting back toward the garage carrying it! A metal trash lid dropping right behind him when he wasn't expecting it and umbrella/object testing did not phase him, he had quick recovery. He happily greets strangers and other dogs. As long as the OFA xrays come back good, he will be clear medically. As long as he can overcome any adolescent fear periods he might have, he should be okay behaviorally. Fingers crossed he will be the one. Third GSD is a charm? Lets hope so. I will be setting up a fundraiser to help cover his medical and xray expenses, and so we can get into some training classes for socialization as soon as possible. Anyone interested in donating can send donations to leopardwolf@gmail.com via PayPal. I am offering artwork or creative things in return, based on donation amounts for anyone interested. Thank you for your help and support! Follow along here: http://www.facebook.com/JourneyWithServiceDogs

Femur Funny

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 08:36 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Ember and I went to an appointment with a new doctor the other day. When we walked into the room, we found this anatomy model, who looked like it had seen better days. The femur bone there was broken in half, taped together with duct tape to make it whole again. After the doctor comes in and we introduce ourselves, I gesture to the model and say "I hope you don't plan on fixing me like you fixed him". The doctor grins and replies "Duct tape really *can* fix anything!" He's a keeper.
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
Waiting to hear back on a referral to see a Neurologist and Pain Specialist, probably also ENT doctor. Hoping that I can finally get the MRI I have been waiting years for. Depending on what they find, there might be some treatment options to help with the Trigeminal Neuralgia as far as injecting the nerve or other procedures. Getting the injection in my wrist tendon is painful enough. I can't even imagine how much an injection to a facial nerve is going to hurt. They seriously better gas me to do it, because I know for a fact I will feel this through any local or topical they use on me, and it will trigger my neurocardio stuff in a bad way. Feeling like a skewered piece of meat as a giant needle is jabbed into your jaw socket. Awesome! http://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/70/9b/8e/709b8e8d182f1a67b93791021d65a6d0.gif
leopardwolf: (Default)
Stress Flair Having an autoimmune attack relapse thanks to some unnecessary stress regarding being out of $500 from my service dog/medical fund, but we'll talk about that in detail later if the money doesn't magically appear by this Friday. My body is having an absolute fit. Face is swollen again from angry glands and blocked draining. Reef Scare Woke up from pain early AM to discover to my horror that my reef tank temperature had dropped to 73F. It's supposed to be 80F. I just replaced the old heater with a brand new one with a gift card from Petsmart, because it was showing signs it would go soon. So here I go deliriously flailing through pain and medicated stupor, thanking the gods I hadn't thrown the old one out yet, digging out the other old one I use for water change heatups to try and bump the temperature back up before anything died off. Unfortunately it looks like one of my SPS propagates is toast. Half it already slothed off and bleached out, the other half tissue necrosis and slothing starting. I fought with this species since I first got the frag from father in law's tank as a rescue. If the tissue bed isn't thick enough it self destructs at slightest change. That's how I realized the old heater was starting to go, the temp wasn't holding stable and it showed signs of distress from it. Thankfully I still have a thick patch growing nearby and it looks okay. Sometimes the colony will recede into the structure and might come back with time, and a lot of luck. Otherwise I will try and transplant some onto the coral bone and hope it takes hold. Because, science! Art Share I have gotten used to the new medication enough to where I think I can get back to detailed art work without making a total foobar of it. I have a few long overdue pieces I will be sharing for winners of contest ages ago, and I will be working on the happy dog painting, streaming more of the progress with it, probably starting some tonight if I can get this swelling to go down a tad more so I can see out both eyes clearly. I will post the stream link once it is set up and live when I do work on it, though may just randomly work since I can't predict how angry my body will get. Hoping everyone else is having a better kickoff into 2017.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Still alive. Trying medication adjustments per doc. Still very out of it at points when meds kick in, so may be a bit scarce at times since I make little sense or write weird things when totally medicated. By time I finish, it will have taken me hours just to write and proof read this, like anything I write these days. I think I am just destined to have bad luck with my service dogs in training and any service dog prospects. I was feeding animals this evening. Put my hand in puppy bowl ( as I gave to her ) to encourage her to eat from hand and hands are okay by bowl, something I have always done and normally met with wiggly waggy tails because they get extra good treats in the process. Well tonight she got a wild hair up her ass and decided to growl at me....a freeze/tense, growl warning, go to eat food again sort of way. This is after demand bark/yowl/howling for almost an hour because I was in the other room ( eating my own dinner and getting meds ) and she was in here in her kennel ( Ember was laying to her side quietly). So presumably she was hungry, but still. Not like she was starving for food or ever missed a meal or had to compete with anyone or anything here for her food. She has been doing the demand bark/yowl/shriek since I got her. She has gotten somewhat better ( worse - before extinction? ). I think she learned it from watching the misbehaving pit bull belonging to the ladies I got her from. Then all she had to do was throw a tantrum of her own and I am pretty sure they must have somehow reinforced it, even if unintentional. That was at 5wks/going on 6 wks old I got her She is 7wks now. Not a good sign as far as the growly resource guarding behavior is concerned. For a normal pet dog, I could work around and through it. But it is a very undesirable trait for a potential service dog prospect to have - one older dogs would immediately be washed from training for, because it is too much of a risk and liability. So is she treated same as they would be? Do I just cut the loss and let her go too? There are other concerns, and again while I think I could train past them given time, time is against me and I lack resources, so I find myself falling back to what my gut instinct says, since it was right before. But then I second guess myself and everything about everything. I didn't want to say anything before I was more certain, but Ember has been having weird quirks and also not always alerting the older she has gotten, too. Since I was put on this new medication, it has totally screwed up her alerting. I almost faceplanted the other day getting out of bed because she didn't alert ( she has jumped into bed and woken me for similar situation alerts in the past for reference ). She is more and more unsure on her own legs/feet. I tried trimming nails and foot fur down as much as I can. Maybe will try boots with good grip and just have her always wear those when working from now on. But otherwise it becomes dangerous because she loses her balance and drags me down with her. I am out of time and have no options to turn to. The idea that years of freedom she has brought me will end and I will be alone is... well, frightening. Laugh if you want, but not being able to know if your body is going to decide to have a random heart rate/blood pressure spazz out that causes you to randomly get very sick and pass out, and the only sure thing that has kept that from happening by warning you in advance being your dog....yeah. That's not even counting the multitude of other issues like random joint dislocations and tissue injury I can get just by walking or standing. That's why I need a service dog. Otherwise it is tote around a cane, blood pressure cuff meter, and heart rate monitor, extra meds and smelling salt and the like, and hope that I won't actually need them. But if I do, I will have little if any warning at all, before symptoms hit. Few realize how humiliating it is to stagger suddenly and run into random objects or people ( and the glares you get ) , or how helpless you feel sinking down to the floor in a pre-syncope attack where you basically white out/black out ( no vision or hearing), lose consciousness and sense of anything going on around you, how vulnerable that leaves you if you are all by yourself. That is my life. Ember ( even Journey and Chakotay ) has made it a million times better over the years she has helped me, kept me safe. But now what? I will go back to barely leaving the house, especially since Mike isn't even here. He'd go out with me places and get me out at least. I can't ask or expect my aunt or anyone else to do that. Even when Mike and I are living together again. It is such a huge pressure and burden on our loved ones, that is why a service dog is not just a relief to us as handlers, but to our loved ones who worry so much about us and otherwise have to do so much for us without them to help us. Losing that freedom and security is crushing... especially when you tried so hard to have your backup plan all ready, and you knew just what to do and did it; only life had other ideas. It always does. Never works out the way we hoped it would.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and concern over me having to go to the ER yesterday. ER finally confirmed what I have suspected for a while - I have Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). And it is probably directly caused by my Sjögren's Syndrome. They gave me a new medication that tries to target TN nerve pain, and it was finally able to break through the agony late last night/early this morning. I went to bed with the lower left side of my face swelling ( inflammation related ), and when I woke up today the entire left side of my face was swollen and eye watering from the puffy around it, making it hard to see out that side. Using an ice pack on it, so will see if that helps reduce the swelling. Otherwise I am stable, still in pain but new med is helping. Follow up with primary doc and Neurology Monday. I am a zombie, will be while getting used to this new med. Recap on what led to this point: I was in so much pain, I hadn't been able to sleep for days ( worse than normal ) because the pain always gets insanely worse at night. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain these days, and my Gaba med normally takes enough edge off that I can "ignore" it ( just suffer through it ). On the second day it was getting to where I couldn't tolerate it anymore. Aunt tried to help by getting me all sorts of ice/heat packs and OTC stuff to dull pain. It got so bad that night/early morning that I almost called an ambulance ( my aunt was asleep and she can't drive at night so only way I could have got to ER is that way or call cab and I was worried Medicaid would not cover ambulance ride and had no way to verify at 2am ). It was weekend, no way to speak with Medicaid people to see what was covered, I just decided to suffer through it. On the third day of insane pain I went through my entire daily dose of Gaba in 3.5hrs and it did nothing. I knew it would only get worse again come evening and I didn't think I could deal with it again without wanting to destroy something from how much it hurt. For pain to hurt me bad enough to make me give in and go to the hospital or ER on a weekend, you know it is seriously bad. So neighbor took me that evening since aunt can't drive at night ( thanks again so much! ) and dropped me off. The EJGH staff was AMAZING. First person we were met with was security, and he stopped me when he saw Ember.... I was seriously ready to destroy someone/something at that point from the severe pain and I was having worried flashbacks of the horrible experience I had several years ago with the security douchebag at LSU hospital ER trying to deny me access if I didn't show him "proof" Ember was a real service dog ( this is against the law ). Thank the gods, this lovely gentleman was far better trained and considerate. He noticed her vest and the patches clearly defining what she was, smiled and said nevermind and told me to go ahead. I heard other hospital staff whispering as we wandered past, all saying "its a service dog" to each other, sounding as relieved she was the real deal as I felt that they recognized what Ember was. They were tons more professional and knowledgeable. That's why I chose to use EJGH general practice doctors for my care, and their conduct in the ER only reaffirms I made the right choice. Compared to the LSU ER horror, getting in to the EJGH ER was quick and rather painless. I was worried it would be crowded on a Saturday evening, and while there were enough other people, the staff had a nice system set up for intake and directing patients. They brought me to an exam room in a wheelchair to avoid me going full syncope due to the pain I was in, worried to make me walk that far down the hallways. I was thankful for that. Ember got to show off what a well trained dog she was and that made her happy. She's been so worried over me the past few days. The nurse helped me into the hospital bed and Ember took her place beside it to wait. I got to watch some HGTV while waiting for the doctor. We don't have live cable anymore so it was a treat to watch. The wait for the doctor was brief. She went over my history and current symptoms, I explained I had experienced this problem numerous times before but this was about the worst it had ever been. After a quick examination she agreed based on my history that Trigeminal Neuralgia was most likely responsible, probably directly caused by my Sjögren's causing irritation/swelling/pressure against the nerve bundles somehow. She wrote me a new prescription to try Carbamazepine, got an additional referral to Neurology for me, told me to follow up with my primary Monday, and that was that. They discharged me with paperwork and took me to wait for a cab in the lobby, and were kind enough to make the call for me and inform them I had my service dog with me. It was while waiting I noticed some tightness in my face on the left side, the effected side. I was still in a ton of pain and rather out of it, but realized after poking at it gently that it felt like swelling, and not realizing it was there before I got a nurse to ask the doctor. Unfortunately since they had already discharged me, it meant I would have had to have gone through the whole intake process again, and my cab driver showed up at that time. Not wanting the poor gentleman to wait or have come out to get me for nothing, I decided it was probably from my Sjögren's attacking the glands or something. I have had milder swelling where the salivary glands are before, figured that was it and decided it wasn't worth the trouble to wait around for them to likely not do anything else for me anyway. Couldn't be medication related because I hadn't started the new medicine yet, so clearly it was inflammation. I figured if it got worse, I could go back. The cab driver was very nice and considerate, thought Ember was just amazing. He called her a Rougarou ( Louisiana folklore / French for Werewolf ) when we first got in and told his dispatch he had "Miss Brittney and her Rougarou". That made me all sorts of happy and geeky, and when I responded showing I knew what the term meant, he was just as delighted. It was a pleasant drive home with good conversation, as much as I was limited to talk at the time. Much thanks to Metry Cab and Mr. Jim! My aunt was able to drive me to the 24-hour pharmacy just down the block, since it wasn't too far and well lit with street lights. Had to wait forever for the new med to be filled. Finally got home. Took meds. Became a zombie. Finally got some rest. Took me way too long to write this so it makes sense. The end.
leopardwolf: (Default)
The Rottie Unfortunately Diva ( an affectionate nickname we gave her ) the Rottweiler puppy didn't work out. After further evaluation and working with her, it was obvious that she just didn't have the right characteristics for assistance dog work. She's still a great little puppy full of potential. but she'd make a better family dog, which is exactly what she will be. With the help of the woman I got her from, we contacted someone else who had responded with interest in the puppy after I had taken her. They are a family of Rottie enthusiasts who have had them all their lives, and it was clearly a perfect match. Some things are just meant to be. New Puppy Afterwards I did come across another puppy. This one was admittedly younger than I am normally comfortable with taking a pup for evaluation, but the mother dog had stopped nursing the litter and they had been taken by the owner's daughter to care for and find homes for. The daughter has experience with animal rescue and rehab, so the pups were in good hands and well adjusted for such a young age. The new puppy is a Labrador ( Chocolate ) / Great Pyrenees mix, who is currently six weeks old. She passed the temperament test and startle recovery test far better than I expected. She has a beautiful personality and is very willing to stay engaged. She is a confident little puppy sponge. She is playful and curious, and has potential. The only thing I am uncertain of is if she will be large enough as an adult. Hoping there is a mega growth spurt coming soon. We are playing the name game to see what fits her best. Some names up for consideration: Keala ( Pathfinder, the path ) Raksha ( protection, nurture, pathfinder symbology ) Jakara River Aina ( Joy, Forever, Celtic/Finnish ) Jera Seeker Rain / Rainy Amaya ( Night rain, Japanese ) Zephyr Another Dog So Soon? Something I feel I should say for those who don't know me well enough. Some might look at this as me playing "musical puppies" and think it callous of me. I want it to be understood I don't make any of these decisions lightly. My animals are my family. In the case of these dogs I am evaluating and "trying out" for lack of better phrasing, I get just as attached to them as I am to my animals that have been lifelong companions. The difference in the end however is that I can't let those emotions rule my judgement, if I know that animal is not a good fit for the work I need it to be able to do. I love and respect the animals. I can't force them to be something they are not. I need a very special type of dog, with a very special personality and abilities to adapt to things that most dogs would want to avoid. I need a special dog that will ignore all those pressures and just enjoy working with me and going places with me as my partner. Assistance dogs are considered medical equipment, not pets. Realistically I need to look at it that way and remind myself I can't keep them all, as attached as I get to them through this process of attempting to owner train my new service dog partner. It makes letting them go that much harder. Even if it doesn't work out, I always make sure the dog is going to a good, responsible home, and I keep in touch with and follow up to be sure everything works out. The same as I have always done for any animals I have rescued and fostered over the years. I have seen too many people who owner train use dogs that really should not be working any form of public access, for one reason or another. It is not fair to the dog to try and force it to be something it is not. Doing so would set a bad example on me as a trainer, and be a poor representation of the assistance dog communities as a whole. That is why I am being as selective as I am. Because it is the right thing to do, and it is necessary to ensure my dog is not a liability in public.
leopardwolf: (Default)
I have been pretty sick since last time I updated. I started physical therapy again the week before it hit really bad. It's a flairup caused from over exerting myself, and amplified by the weird changes in the weather here. Haven't been sleeping well to begin with, so getting up to tend to puppy stuff wasn't as much an issue. It got bad enough that I almost had a full syncope attack during my physical therapy, and probably fully would have if Ember hadn't alerted me in time so I could stop what I was doing and get to a safe position and warn the staff just in case. To make matters worse I ended up falling during some hardcore pre-syncope roller coaster rides at home. Bruised myself up pretty good and was sore as hell. Only to have to go right to the radiology appointments and be asked to contort myself in weird ways and get poked and prodded so they could do the scans, which further pushed my pain threshold. Poor Ember has been hyper vigilant like she always gets when I get a flairup this bad. Unfortunately she has gotten to a point where it is increasingly difficult for her to do anything for me anymore. There have been several times where she lost her footing while counter balancing me and I almost fell down or into something. I haven't been using her for the balance and bracing assist as much because I don't want to hurt her or myself, and that has only made the flairup that much worse because of the added strain on my body. I am getting to where I can use my hands again, now that the random painful skin splitting,bleeding, and other pleasantries that come with these flairs is calming some. One tiny scratch I got on my pinky morphed into a huge gash and kept refusing to stay closed and heal even with bandaids, ointments, and finally going as far as using liquid bandage to hold it together. It was very painful. A similar split formed on the corner of my thumb and has been almost as challenging to convince to stop splitting open and start healing. Even still, I have managed to get 15 ceramic bowl dishes formed and drying as greenware, to be bisqued, glazed and fired to finish, a commission intended for office holiday gifts. I also have full intentions to work on that dog portrait painting, even if I have to fully bandage my hands to do so. I will stream while working on it, aiming for this Friday 16th around 8pm CST for anyone interested.

Moar Flares

Friday, September 30th, 2016 08:35 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Well, seems like I got my wish for cooler weather. But along with the sudden change came a flareup of astronomical proportions. Everything is ANGRY. Migraine triggers with aura and halos, ocular distortion and blurred vision. I moved wrong and my lower back and hips aggroed and went out aaaand the icing on it all, my De Quervain's Tenosynovitis has flared up so bad I will probably need to get another corticosteroid injection. But at least it's a little cooler out. It's nice. But it would be nicer if my body didn't behave like it was the end of the world every time the weather changes. Trying to be extra careful about how I move, but I refuse to let it slow me down again after I was just starting to recover from the last flare. Lots of Gaba and pain creams all over. I shall smell of menthol! Excuse me while I go electrocute myself with my TENS.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Dog training friends, I am in need of some help. Chakotay is going through one of the "dreaded teenage phases" ( I try to say that jokingly ) of puppydom. Better known as a fear impact period. He's at the 7 month mark, so I understand this is normal and I was expecting it might happen ( even though ironically it never really did with Journey ). Poor Chakotay has gone from being a confident (but sensitive) sassy pup to having weird reactions to situations, people, objects, and sounds he has always been exposed to or has experienced before and been okay with.

His body language is reserved, he won't take treats/toy rewards like normal, and has avoidance or distancing behavior, so I know he is uncomfortable. People he has known since I got him, he acts suspicious of them and reserved to approach for pets where in the past he'd go right to them for love. With strangers the behavior is obviously worse with over vigilance and general weariness and wanting to avoid contact.

Same thing with certain environmental stimuli; places we have frequented, smells or sounds he is familiar with, he acts overly surprised, worried, or wants nothing to do with it. It has been hard for me to keep his attention and keep him under his threshold of tolerance because it has varied so much from one point to the next.

I know this is normal behavior during fear periods in adolescent dogs. My concern is if I cannot help him overcome this, it will disqualify him for being a service dog.

Service dogs need to be friendly toward and accepting of all people and animals they meet, for obvious reasons. If Chakotay continues to show lack of confidence in public and around strangers, it means he isn't a good fit for the job, and it would be wrong of me to force him to do something he cannot, same as it was with Journey having to be washed for medical reasons.

So for all my canine behavior savvy friends out there, any recommended reading materials or feedback you can offer? I know the general rules just as it is for the initial puppy fear stages in the 6-12 week or so fear periods and any others. Counter conditioning and desensitizing, make everything as happy and fun and AMAZINGLY positive as possible, do my best to show him it's all normal and nothing to be afraid of, so on and so forth. I plan to continue to socialize him to get the exposure but trying to do so without overwhelming him. But if he won't take offered rewards/treats for reacting correctly or as part of the OMG AMAZING situation pairing approach, is there anything else I can do to help get the message through to him besides letting him approach as he is comfortable doing so? Depending on circumstance, he may not want to at all on his own, so I don't want to inadvertently reinforce fear with my own reactions or lack of reactions.

I'm not sure how long I should give him to overcome it. I know normally you'd just let the dog get comfortable with something at their own pace and work on anything that can boost confidence with that object or situation and confidence in general, which I have already been doing. But I am concerned that as a service dog in training he needs more exposure time than a pet dog would to keep him on track and avoid any huge training setbacks. It is also a matter of how much time till it passes. I know on average it can be several weeks worth. But if it lasts past that point, does it mean it may simply just be part of his behavior ( genetically influenced or otherwise ) and accept that he probably isn't cut out for service dog work and go ahead and wash him?

That's not even touching on the other possible problem I may be facing with him; I'm not sure if Chakotay is actually going to be nearly as big as Journey was. He hasn't grown as much as Journey had by this point and his paws are smaller. I am hoping the fear period is directly related to a developmental growth spurt or something and he is about to supersize himself.

Journey for all intents and purposes was pretty bulletproof from day one, and not much ever really phased him - which was amazing considering how bad some GSD can get. That's why I am more concerned about Chakotay. From the first day I got him, I already knew he was a lot more sensitive to certain things in ways Journey never was. Journey just didn't care. But Chakotay does, and the fear period is amplifying it. I just want to make sure I do what is best for him. Even if it means facing a similar situation like I did with Journey.

Updates, Nirding

Friday, July 1st, 2016 07:15 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
I return. Sort of. I have had a horrible go at it with reoccurring flair ups of my autoimmune issues. No thanks to the stress of having to jump through more hoops to get a little help.

It is better explained here, with neat pictures of my crazy flesh!

http://www.patreon.com/posts/handy-hands-5871180


It is finally letting up enough where I can think somewhat clearly and function enough to venture on here and see what everyone is up to.

I have a ton of little updates to make here or there, mostly passing comments about random things that have happened.

That includes a very random and rapid visit from my friend, the good doctor Jenn.

She brought along her friend and fellow doctor Abby ( who was moving to Louisiana, yay! ) and Abby had with her an awesome gyr-burd.

The nirds taught me great wisdom of avian ways. Shenanigans were had, great photos were captured ( envy of Jen and her snazzy super lens ), tasty gator was partaken and good company shared by all. It was an awesome day and evening full of laughs and animal geekery that I have been dying for.

They got to meet Ember and Chakotay and experience the silly that is service dogs given a "relax and say hi" command. Chakotay did very good for his first lengthy outing working alongside Ember with all sorts of crazy distractions ( like birds! ). It was also his first experience doing a long and boring down/stay under a restaurant table.

It was totally worth the recovery time from all the activity afterwards. They went to the French Quarter the following day before leaving town, and while I wish I could have too, there is no way I could have gone along and managed to keep up. Especially not in the scorching heat and humidity.

Other stuff happened. I found a baby possum skeleton, I saved a fledgling Blue Jay in epic fashion, I have been training with my dorky dogs when my body allows, and I continue to battle medical conditions and fight for the aid I need. With the Medicaid expansion I am finally getting access to immunological medications and other treatment options, which we hope will better control symptoms.

I think I covered all the main highlights.
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
I have been dragging through the past two months or so with a Sjögren's flair up. I get them regularly and stress and weather conditions, alongside complications from my Ehlers-Danlos and other conditions, can make them worse.

Been having a horrible time with my tooth and jaw issues. The nerve pain has gotten so bad I have had to increase the amount of Gabapentin I am taking and taking it to near maximum daily allowances just to get relief. It's gotten so bad I have had to blender things I eat and stick to eating soft stuff. It's insanely frustrating because the pain is so bad at points between it and the Gaba I can't think straight or get anything done. I have a whole mess of updates and things to share for Chakotay that are back logged, among other things.

This is one of the first days the Gaba has been able to control the pain enough for me to sit and type some. I also have some medical updates but that will come in a different post and may wait till Monday since I have an appointment with my Rheumatologist. Hope everyone else is fairing better and doing well.
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
The Social Security Administration denied my Disability claim.

Despite the overwhelming evidence I submitted. Probably because they didn't bother reading any of it. Not surprising. Their job is to deny everyone.

Time to appeal and fight back. It'll go to hearing before a judge. I knew it would happen this way, I was expecting it. My current plan is to represent myself. I have already been formulating a best method of approach. I will probably be contacting people to request testimonies and witness statements as evidence for the court case.

I will need help and support through this difficult process. My life depends on this having a positive outcome. That may sound dramatic, but it is the truth. Without aid, I have nothing. I am out of options.
leopardwolf: (Default)
My birthday is this week, May 21st. This is the new service dog fundraiser. If you have a few bucks to spare, please consider helping. Pass it along too. Thank you.

http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-570453
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
This week has been utterly insane in the amount of flail worthy happenings.

One thing after another, little things adding up at first, and then some big things that left me cursing Murphey's Law.


Hard Drive Crash

The icing on that cake was one of my main hard drives just suddenly... dying. It was from my old system, along with another drive that I thought actually had problems and was cautious not to put anything important on, even naming it "iffy drive". But nooope, it is still working for the moment.

Instead the drive I had all my Steam games, saves, mods, etc on and a plethora of other stuff I hadn't fully copied ( I was running out of room on my portable drive -- which also might be going bad )....all poof! No warning. It was fine when I went to bed, woke up the next day and tried to access something from it and got an error that the content didn't exist at that location. Which made me click on something else, getting the same error... my heart sinking as I opened my system info and the hard drive was no longer listed.

It sucks, but it's not as bad as some hard drive crashes I have had. I didn't lose every single thing. That only happened once when I was younger and first getting into computers, and after that, I religiously backed up everything multiple times if I could. Because, with my luck, this sort of thing always happens. Mike was kind enough to order a new hard drive to replace it, as part of my birthday present. I need it for art stuff and Skyrim and Fallout offer me some happy when I am not able to do anything else.

Anyway, the drive came yesterday and I went to install it. Rebooted. Nothing. No new drive showing. Which led to a hours of troubleshooting to conclude that thanks to Murphey's Law, I received a brand new hard drive that was DOA.

Seriously, what are the chances? I am sending it back for a replacement. We're hoping it is only that the new drive was also dead. Otherwise the only other possibility is a motherboard problem. With this brand new motherboard in this new system. Which is going to make me flail to epic proportions because going through the warranty replacement process for that, having to take the whole computer apart and basically rebuild it and reinstall Windows... nope. Not looking forward to that at all.


Osteopenia Confirmed, Dental Blarghs

In medical news I am still waiting to hear from SSA. Saw my Rheumatologist yesterday, and he did mention he'd just gotten something from SSA and hadn't had a chance to see what it was yet. So we'll see what happens with that. I told him about my fall and ankle/shin injury and how I was still having pain from it. He wrote me a prescription for some sort of topical that is different from the one for my wrist.

He also changed my Gabapentin prescription due to some issues I have had with the low income charity pharmacy giving me a hard time refilling it this week (because I blew through a 3 month supply in a month due to increasing problems with my teeth and jaws) and I had actually run out. It's not a medication you can just stop taking cold turkey. I had to argue with them and beg to have their staff ask my doctor there to give me enough to cover until I could see my Rheuma this week, since I wouldn't be able to get an appointment soon enough with her. My teeth/jaw have gotten so bad I actually had to finally resort to putting stuff in the food processor to make it more manageable since I can't really chew much of anything with my damaged teeth, without feeling excruciating pain. Nerve pain is horrid and unforgiving.

I showed my Rheumatologist that Mayo Clinic radiology report that the fill-in doc ( who took over when my awesome doc left for his fellowship) totally fucked up on. He confirmed it does show Osteopenia in my lumbar spine. Though at first he didn't see it, and did the same thing I think the Mayo doctor did. The hip values were okay and the info runs together. He glanced right over it until I pointed right at it and he went back and more carefully read the values and went "Ahh, yep. Osteopenia." So he wants me to get a bone density scan done as soon as I can, which will be when the Medicaid expansion hits hopefully in July. It could be what's partly causing my lower back problems. Plan is to get lab work done to see if my blood calcium levels are abnormal/high without the supplement. See if there is any change in the spine scan, and go from there. Just hope another two months or more doesn't make a huge difference on top of the 3 years I didn't know. Everyone makes mistakes. It just sucks when a doctor does it and it could risk such a damaging and life changing condition becoming worse from not knowing soon enough. Same reason I need to get that MRI done to rule out MS and some other neurological concerns based on certain symptoms I have had.


More later.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Apologies for the recent radio silence. Been having a real rough go at it the past week or so. My teeth/jaws have gotten worse and the changing weather makes them flair real bad. The nerve pain I get from it is overwhelming. My Gaba meds just manage to take the edge off. But then breakthrough pain hits and I take more Gaba to beat it back. Once enough is in my system, sedating effects kick in and I am lucky if I can manage to remain awake and coherent to get anything done.

On top of that, Wasabi has been sick recently and unexpected vet bills popped up. He is stable for the moment and on a new special diet, but may need surgery for teeth and other stuff. Really uneasy about putting him under with his age of around 12 years old ( he was an adult farm rescue estimated at a year or so old when I found him ).

I had Chakotay in two training classes, but had to drop one to get the refund because his next round of vaccinations are due and I didn't get money I was supposed to for that because of other drama. The only reason we can remain in the other is because a friend/fellow trainer is kind enough to let us sit in on a puppy class she has as an assistant trainer so Chakotay still gets the exposure and socialization. Really need to generate more money for service dog purposes.

Still waiting to hear back from SSA. Have a doctor's appointment on the 12th with my Rheumatologist. Trying to find out about getting in for oral surgery somewhere so I can FINALLY get these horrible teeth taken care of. They need to come out and I need implants, which is going to cost a small fortune ( insurance does not cover implants normally, even if I had insurance, which I do not). Because of my EDS and other medical quirks, I can't do dentures. The longer I wait, the worse it gets and I am risking more serious bone loss and complications in my jaw and facial structure. I am already in constant pain and having major difficulties chewing/eating and talking for extended amounts of time. It is miserable, but there isn't much I can do without the money.

I tried going through LSU dental school but haven't heard back on the new referral in months and last I asked they claimed they didn't do them anyway ( which I find odd since you know, where else is a dental surgeon going to learn to do the procedure? ). They told me I'd have to find somewhere else to go. So now I am searching for an oral surgeon locally who might empathize with my situation and be willing to somehow work with me before this becomes more serious than it already is and requires more extensive corrective surgery of not just dental structure, but entire jaw bone structure.

Happier updates with puppy pictures and art stuff later.
leopardwolf: (Default)
To clarify something with the service dog fundraiser I have been doing, because a friend pointed out some confusion. We were having a discussion about me needing to come up with $120ish for a training class and I was saying I'd have to raise the money. Trying to be helpful she made the comment "At least you have the $700 from the service dog fund if you need to use that".

I actually do NOT have that much. That is just the total that was raised from the time that I first got Journey until the time I had to rehome him (almost 2yrs worth). This was before I made the choice to apply to CPL and everything. That money at the time was specifically raised to go toward his training and care, or toward service dog related expenses, and it did. Some of it went to help cover some expenses during the two trips I took to visit CPL.

In reality I only have around $380 remaining currently. $250 of that is tied up in a revolving line of credit (LOC) with the bank. This was done to hold the money for the service dog fund purposes but to also help improve my credit, since I had medical debt and have been unemployed. It works sort of like a credit card. I can spend up to that amount, but I have to "pay it back" at the end of the month. Until I close the LOC anuyway. When I do, I get that $250 back. But I don't plan on doing that anytime soon because it really has helped improve my credit so far.

The remaining $130ish is the actual "spending money" I have right now specifically for service dog or CPL related things. The rest of it is gone. It was spent back when I had Journey for his care and supplies, and some of it was just spent recently for the new things I needed for Chakotay.

This is why I keep sharing the link to the fundraiser. I am in limbo waiting to hear back from SSA on Disability, so unless I sell art or creative things, a commission, or something from my Etsy store, I don't have any other source of money coming in unless someone is kind enough to donate.

Did the "amount raised" display on the fundraiser confuse anyone else ( make you think that was how much I still had)?

Should I start a brand new fundraiser at $0 amount so people realize I really don't have $700 already toward the cause?

I hate that I even have to ask for help, I'd much rather people buy my art, crafts, jewelry, or commission me so they get something in return.

But aside from dog training and animal psychology related training and sharing my knowledge, that's the only other thing I can do, and all of it is limited by my health problems at any given time.
leopardwolf: (Default)



Good Sits, Downs, Leave Its, Waits

Working on Stay, Focus and Duration

Multiple Outings To Pet Friendly Stores ( in short time I have had him )

Met 100 New People Before 10 Weeks Old ( yaaay puppy socialization! )

Got Nails Trimmed Without Batting An Eye

Visited Local Starbucks And Did AMAZING down-stay!!! (First "no pets allowed" store exposure.)

AKC STAR Puppy Material! ( Need class and testing eval, but he already does behaviors)



Chakotay will be 10 weeks old this coming Sunday, April 17th.

Disability Update

Thursday, April 14th, 2016 06:48 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Stage one of Disability determinations completed. I called SSA today and apparently I have a new worker, which explains part of the run around. She confirmed everything with me and told me she'd be submitting my case to their doctors for review tomorrow.

Now waiting to hear back on the medical determination stage. This is the big one, where the longest wait normally is. Cross your fingers, and send tons of positive thoughts and prayers for a positive outcome. Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
leopardwolf: (Default)





Finally have a chance to sit and write a puppy update for those who have been waiting.

Chakotay is the pup's name.

After a week of narrowing it down and seeing which sounds he responded best to, it was between that and Tesla. He chose. He responded far better to "Chakotay" and "Kotay".

Been busy with puppy stuff. Socializing and training. We have gone to local Petco and Petsmart for exposure to new things and meeting awesome people and even a few different animals.

He had an appointment with the vet today, and both the vet and one of the vet techs recognized his name. They kept wanting to call him "Commander" ( the character's eventual rank in the show ). I think they decided they needed to go rewatch the series on Netflix after our visit.

Chakotay weighs 13.6lbs and is 9 weeks old currently. He has big feet and big ears and is a fluffball of an adorable Alsatian. Healthy as a horse and it is obvious he's going to be a big dog as he gets older. Which is just what I need.

Chakotay is a lot more sensitive than Journey was, but he also seems to be learning much quicker and has a better body structure.

Some things ( mostly sounds ) startle him at first, but when we come across such a thing he recovers quickly. I normally recreate the situation if I can, so he can see what causes it. Once he does, he's totally okay with it after I make it into a big happy thing and give praise and treats.

I have pictures and video to upload and share and some funny things I have been taking note of to share.

I have to raise money for upcoming vet expenses and PennHIP Xrays, and puppy and obedience classes. Anyone interested in helping, who can spare a few dollars, please consider purchasing artwork or creative things from me, supporting me on Patreon, or donating to the service dog fund raiser to help us stay on track. Feel free to share, repost, reblog, re-whatever! Thank you for taking the time to read and for your support.

Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeopardWolf

Support: http://www.patreon.com/leopardwolf

Donate: http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-428674

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LeopardWolf - Lhunpaurwen - Lhunie

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