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Still alive. Been really sick on and off multiple times with flairups, including falls and passing out. Started as soon as the temperatures began to get warmer outside. Been borderline heat stroke every day since. Can't get anything done because I overheat too easy, even inside with the AC running full blast. The little energy I have has been totally devoted to preparing for my Disability Hearing at the end of August. I haven't really been online on FB or anywhere else at all since April or May, so if I missed anything major, I apologize. Thank you all for the birthday wishes back in May, they helped cheer me up while I was sick. Hoping it cools off outside soon. I hope all is well for all of you. If I missed anything you want me to know about, please share. I will catch up as I am able to, but probably won't be real active till after my Disability Hearing on August 31st. Positive thoughts and prayers for a positive outcome are appreciated. Wish me luck!
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In Boxes So busy. Driving back and forth to Texas, trying to find the energies and lack of pain to sort and pack up more things. Helped Mike get settled in to the new place. Things didn't go the way we originally planned; when do they ever? Lack of Uhaul Northeast side meant all of our belongings and furniture that was at his grandmother's ended up having to stay there. Which meant he only came with what he could cram and Tetris into his car, most of that room being taken up by his work computers and chair and work necessities, and a handful of other stuff he could jam in. So once again we started with nothing and had to get new furniture and things, with the hope his family will go and take pictures of the stuff we left and sell it so we can get some money back for it, but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is slim. Lots of stress, the move almost not happening because Mike's pay drops so drastically from the supposed "cost of living" difference. Which is horrible that companies can do it and base it however the hell they base it off local rent costs or whatever, because when you base it off a city that has reduced prices because of the nearby military base then of course that might be cheaper - only if you live on the base and have access to the reduced base prices. But the rent isn't. And milk and other things still cost as much when you are on civilian side. It's disgusting that by relocating to get closer to work, it basically set him back to his beginning pay rate, removing 3yrs or so worth of raises and a promotion to a higher position. But job opportunities and affordability long term is better, so it was worth doing. It just means things are going to be insanely tight for a while. Crafty Things I have all sorts of things going on and in the process of being completed art and creativity wise and with related efforts. The ceramic rattles are completed, but they were one of the first things I moved via car to ensure they wouldn't be damaged. I will get pictures of them next trip and get them posted online for sale, though I might ask Mike to take a few teaser shots of them I will share via Patreon for anyone interested in catching them before they are released to the general public. Most of my art supplies are going to be packed away until they can be relocated, but I will try to keep out some basic things like a sketchbook, my Wacom for digital, and maybe a few other odds or ends. All of my corals are doing well. I have finally grown some out enough to where I can frag them, and plan to have those frags up for sale when I do. Moving the tank and its inhabitants is going to be all sorts of insanity, but I already have it planned out and hope to document the process and share it later. I have been prepping plants for bonsai and doing my annual collection of flowers for drying. The Sweet Olive and Gardenia smell so wonderful. I have a few ceramics items that are glazed but not yet fired, so I really need to run the kiln and fire them before they get packed for travel. Making of new items is on hold for the moment. Dogs Ember stayed with Mike so I could focus more on working with Tesla individually, similar to how I did back with Journey. Training has been a little slow going with all of the other crazyness going around, and my body having an absolute fit. My ankle has been messed up over a month now, making it painful and hard to walk. Poor Ember was getting to a point where I was having to give her more medicine when she was more active going places with me, and it was clearly effecting her behavior and her ability to alert accurately, to where I decided it was in her best interest not to work her anymore. As a DDR line descendant GSD, Tesla is a very high drive dog, and far more challenging to work with. I'm still not completely certain he has the correct behavior for assistance dog work. He'd be excellent for Schutzhund and IPO activities without a doubt. In fact, I have been in contact with a local Schutzhund club and we went out this weekend to meet some of them and see them work their dogs. Tesla even got to become acquainted with some nosework for tracking. Tesla is insanely strong for his size, and he has a beautiful bite and grip when engaged in play. It's just honing in the focus and building the self control over those instincts, and helping build his "on/off" switch that might prove to be an issue. He is a puppy though, so I am hoping I can shape it and use that drive to our advantage, in a controlled fashion that will make him the best working dog he can be. Going back to the topic of size, that is really the only other concern I have with Tesla. I am not sure if he will be big enough. His growing rate is more closely resembling Chakotay's, which was on the smaller side for a male Shepherd. Journey was huge by this age, but he also had obvious physical issues as a result despite my best efforts to do everything right to ensure physical soundness. You just can't beat genetics. Still, at 4 months old ( going on 5 ), I feel like even Chakotay was larger by this point. But it could just be that I am so worried about if Tesla will work out or not after Journey and Chakotay washing out, that my mind is playing tricks on me. We went in for Tesla's last round of puppy shots/ rabies vaccine. I discussed it with the vet. With his current rate of growth, unless he hits a huge growth spurt, she isn't sure he will be more than 60lbs. He is a very strong little dog, even now. But I need the size. He needs to be tall enough for full mobility assist and have a sound structure for the weight bearing support work and counter balancing. Once again I am not sure how this will play out. If he ends up being too small, I might not be able to use him, even if he is physically sound otherwise. Ideally a person my size should have a dog no less than 80lbs, preferably 100lbs+ for the mobility assist I require. With Ember, I fudged a lot and always used an additional surface/wall/furniture/whatever so I didn't hurt her. Now I am to the point where I can't do that anymore, even if Ember was still young and workable, my body just can't tolerate as much as it used to. I need a larger dog. I am really hoping Tesla will be that dog.

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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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TLDR: Chakotay's service training had more setbacks. Questioning how much longer to keep trying to make him something he simply might not be. ---------- I met mom in Slidell yesterday to go shopping for some new clothing, since all mine are about to fall apart. Decided to try taking both Ember and Chakotay with us. Chakotay was...... ehh. He was still way too weary even with Ember around and he was leery of different people, especially if they got too close. Some store clerks were moving a clothing rack and he saw it from some 300ft away and suddenly put on the breaks, causing me and Ember to whiplash into him. When I realized what had him concerned, I walked him to it and asked the guys if they would roll it toward us and I went over and pet it to show him it was okay. He tolerated it ( he didn't have a choice since he was on leash ) but he was not comfortable with it. Ember on the other hand was all happy wiggly and wanted to nudge the rack when I pet it, as a target behavior. She did that because she was hoping I would let her say hello to the two clerks as a reward. Chakotay's body language for the few hours we were out just said he was not enjoying any of it. We stopped for food and Chakotay didn't want to stay settled under the table, even though there was plenty of room for both him and Ember. He would lay down and then sit back up a few moments later, much like the restlessness during store training exercises at Petsmart and Petco. The longer we are out, I have noticed he will get more restless and nudge me to let me know he is uncomfortable and wants to leave. He did this in the department store even with Ember present. Any time we moved back in the direction of the store entrance he wanted to pull to hurry us on our way faster, same as he does in the pet friendly stores when he has had enough. Mom saw some of it, but I don't think she understood what she was seeing ( she knows some stuff she learned from me, but doesn't know how to read a dog as well ) or really realized how bad it was till we were close to getting ready to leave the restaurant. Mom had to get up and leave the table a few times, and her and I both had to keep repositioning our legs to stay comfortable. Any time Chakotay remotely thought either of us was getting up to leave, he was getting up to try and move from under the table. This is something I worked on a lot with Ember and Journey, and now with Chakotay. Holding a stay position, waiting patiently and quietly. He is great with it at home, and he was great with it as a puppy up until the fear period started. We even practiced under tables and other objects similar to how I trained him to wait for a release command from his kennel when I open it. He understands the cue and what I want him to do and in the past didn't have problems with it. Anyway, we were getting ready to leave and I gave a clear verbal stay command with the hand signal and indicated to mom to go ahead and get up ( Chakotay could not see me tell her ) while at the same time I again gave the stay commands to the dogs as she was moving to stand and I was swinging my legs out so I could get myself into position to let the dogs come out and get on my feet. Ember didn't flinch, waiting for me to release her. Chakotay on the other hand suddenly acted like he was on fire and came barreling out from under the table, trampling Ember who was at the open end of the table ( I sat him by the wall on purpose to control his movement )......and slammed right into my legs and through them. I don't know what hurt more. Chakotay hitting them or the impact causing them to slam against the pole and underside of the table. It was very unpleasant. I was biting back pain, embarrassed because of his behavior startling people across from us ( who I apologized to ), with Ember and mom both checking with me to make sure I was okay because they knew I had been hurt by it. I was holding Chakotay by the collar at that point to make him stay in place while I let Ember out and tried to get up. The whole time he was yancy and clearly ready to GTFO. Mind you nothing at all bad had happened all day. He didn't have to go relieve himself because I made sure to let them both do so before we went into the place to be safe. He simply had enough for the day and wanted to go back to the car because he knows eventually we will go "home" in it and he doesn't have to be out in public anymore. Mom couldn't believe he'd done that. She's never seen any of my dogs behave that way, mostly because they all know better. Sure sometimes they jump the gun if they get excited, but a quick reminder would set them right again. Even as big of a clumsy dork as Journey could be, he never behaved that way, even when closer to the end of his short career he was clearly not wanting to work because he was in pain. He was grumbly and somewhat impatient but he never plowed through me in his desire to leave a place. I was hoping having Ember around would help Chakotay more than it did, especially in the non-pet places we go for public access training. The more I evaluate him and watch his behavior in public with our short training sessions, and go back and look at video I take, I'm just not so sure he will grow out of this; it has been going on since August without improvement. Him finally interacting with the handful of people that one day in Petsmart was only because I let Ember spazz and say hello to people to try and make it a happy fun thing and missing out on the excitement was enough to overcome any concern he had about the situation. I can't do that every single place we go with every single person or thing we come across that he might be uncomfortable with. I also can't take both him and Ember together every single time. It takes a lot of energy to safely handle and direct one, let alone two large dogs in coordinated movement. Especially when one is a strong puppy who clearly doesn't want to be out in the first place. I just don't always have the physical ability to do it. While Ember's presence seems like it might be enough of a distraction to boost his confidence some, I can't say if it will change enough for him to grow out of this phase completely. I also have some concern about him somehow becoming dependent on her presence as being the only way he feels confident enough in public. I can't help but somehow feel like a failure all over again. I haven't done anything vastly different with Chakotay than I did with raising Journey, that may have inadvertently caused the behavior shift. After this most recent outing, I'm not sure what to do anymore. We are so far behind on training skills, mostly because the primary training and reward systems we use at home won't work in public ( he currently won't take food rewards or toy rewards in public ). I have tried relaxation protocol and methods to get him to relax and focus on me, with no luck. I am in essence forcing him into situations he is not comfortable with simply by the action of taking him out in public anywhere. Even places he has gone to since he was a tiny puppy and previously been happy to visit. But if I don't take him, he won't get the exposure or continued socializing he needs. Which even if he washes out as a service dog, he should still have these skills and experiences to be a balanced pet dog. How long do I keep trying? If he was a program trained dog, he probably would have already been washed and career changed because it would be a risk to the handler and dog both. He already has a problem with being exposed to common every day stressful situations that a service dog is required to face, and it is pretty unlikely to change. So rather than invest time and money into trying to overcome that and train past it and hope it works, they cut the dog loose and move on. I just hate the reality of having to look at it that way, because he is obviously more than just an object to me. I have become so much more attached to Chakotay in a shorter time than I was with Journey. My heart wants more than anything to make it work because I love him and I have bonded with him and invested so much into him already. But my gut instinct tells me it just isn't meant to be. If I was to evaluate him from a neutral standpoint like I would any client's dog, it is painfully obvious from that perspective he isn't a good fit as it currently stands. So then what do I do? Finding a good home for him is going to be so much more difficult. He'd need someone that was not only familiar with GSD, but someone who is familiar with working with a dog that might live the rest of their lives on the high strung side. Then what? Search for another puppy or a young adult dog and try again? Maybe a Rottweiler instead? They are larger, which is what I need. Or do I try and find a Labrador, Golden Retriever, or a mix of those breeds and hope it will be big enough? On average most only get around 75lbs on the larger side. A Rottie will easily top out at 120lbs or more. Going through any reputable breeder who actually OFA HD/ED checks their dogs and does temperament testing and goes by health standards, I am looking at $1k plus easily (unless I can find someone willing to work a price for me for the dog being a service dog, which is less likely for pedigree working dogs). I always encourage rescue over buying, but as I have discussed in the past, with needing something so specific for a working dog career, it is hard to find a dog that can live up to the standards health and behavior wise from the shelter ( especially with high rate of heartworm positive dogs here in Louisiana ) or hobby breeders. Maybe I could try fostering for local rescues to see if I could find a potential candidate. It could help save a life by simply being a temporary home if the dog wasn't the right fit, with no long term commitment to keep the dog if it didn't work out for whatever reason. Otherwise the only choice is just keep waiting and applying for a program dog, and hope nothing happens to Ember before I get accepted and paired with a successor dog. Then I have to hope either the dog is offered free of charge, or that I can somehow come up with the money to travel wherever I need to go and to cover the cost of the dog ( which is likely $5k to $7k easily with travel, hotel, food, aid to come with me, etc. ). The money from the service dog fund is completely gone now, used on expenses for Ember and Chakotay. The service dog fundraiser hasn't seen any activity despite me sharing and asking for help and even offering artwork commissions and things in exchange for it, because I hate having to ask for help and not being able to offer something in return. The whole situation has been very difficult and trying. Chakotay is a great dog. I'm just not sure he will ever be comfortable enough to work in public.

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)
Busy busy busy this month. Working on ceramics and other art. We recently had a surprise party to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday. The whole family and Grandma's friends got together to celebrate. It was nice seeing so many people I have known since childhood. Lots of laughs and smiles were had.

After that we had a roofer out doing repairs and rebuilding the back deck's roof. Needless to say with all the construction sounds starting early AM I got no sleep, on top of getting no sleep because I have been sick. So I ended up even sicker and ran out of Gaba before insurance would cover the refill. Never fails that I always get really sick during the hottest of the summer.

Despite that, I was able to finally get a glaze load fired. I was trying to wait for the weather to cool off a little before I did, but that's not going to happen around here anytime soon. Just going to keep running the loads I have and vent with fans, try to time the hottest part for evening and early AM when it is a little cooler out. A small piece I made for my aunt's birthday came out perfect. I'll be sharing it and others on Patreon and eventually on DA and LWD page.

Nothing much has changed with Chakotay. Taking things slow and staying home. He barked at the roof repair guy when we tried a casual introduction, but at least he was okay after he got used to the noise of the repair work and realized it was not a bad thing. He curiously sniffed at all the tools and supplies and willingly investigated things he was unsure of after I touched them and showed him they were safe. Will be so happy when he gets past this phase and I get my confident puppy back.

Am I back yet?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 10:10 pm
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
Just when I thought I'd be back and be able to catch up with online interactions, something else comes up. Dealing with things as best as I can. Most of it doesn't warrant expending the energy to mention. Some of it meh. Some of it sad. Most recent being the loss of one of my aunts to medical complications. It was sudden and unexpected, and still hard to accept. The circumstances around it have made me reflect on my own health issues. I have been in some bad mindspace, so I chose not to burden others with it. Not any different than any negativity I have shared in the past, so why sound like a broken record.

In better news, the Medicaid expansion finally hit. I got everything with it straightened out, I think. I went and saw my eye specialist and my rheumatologist. It was finally decided since we'd tried everything else with limited results, it was time to try adding immunosuppressants. I have been taking Plaquenil and Restasis since then. I wasn't able to until now without insurance, because the Restasis alone would have been over $500 per monthly supply out of pocket, similar to the problems I had with getting my Cymbalta before it went generic.

There is no generic for Restasis, so I am having to fight for a prior authorization for it. The insurance allowed the first month purchase to go through so I would have it, so kudos to them for thinking of the patient in these situations. Now I just hope they are reasonable to approve the prior auth since it is literally the only medication of its class and kind so there are no alternative treatments available to substitute. I also saw my new primary and she seems pretty awesome. A lot like my awesome Mayo doctor was the first time we met. Getting referrals for lab work and to see an orthopedic specialist, neurologist, and endocrinologist finally, after waiting an eternity. Here is to hoping I can get approvals for a bone density scan and MRI real soon.


Finished gathering, compiling, and submitting all the information for my Disability appeal. My rheumatologist and I sat down and compiled a whole slew of things to throw at them, based on their own listing criteria, and directly quoted those criteria and offered detailed information for a functionality report based on models they use, which should be more than enough medical evidence to support my claim and get approval. Now it is just a matter of waiting again. It could take a year or more before the case is even issued to a judge. Unless someone in the processing department reviews it and sees how blatantly it is that I meet listing level criteria and should have been approved the first time around. Jump. Through. Hoops. Makes my fur bristle the more I have to conform to their inadequate process.

The benefit of waiting is that it gives me that much more time to research and be thoroughly prepared for the hearing when the time comes. I did speak with a helpful woman in their support department who sent me some information for legal assistance for low/no income individuals. I plan to utilize it if I am able to. It's not the same as retaining a private attorney, but I'm sure I can learn something either way if I qualify to use it.

Back to catching up on things I missed.
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: (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.

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)
Quick update. Ankle is still tender but as long as I am not on it too long I can tolerate the pain enough to walk on it for short amounts of time and for short distances. Puppy is doing good, will write more about that in a puppy update I am working on.


Getting increasingly aggravated with the SSA and this disability determination process. They sent me ANOTHER letter requesting info I already gave them. This is the third time they have done so.

I filled out the application online and it specifically asked for this info and I filled in the blanks. Then I also submitted it with the info I gave them to copy in person. All of that info was carefully organized and selected because they had already asked for it, or I knew they would ask for it, so I included it thinking it would help them and make the process more efficient.

So how can you not have it and still be requesting it unless clearly you haven't bothered to actually look through my entire file?

Or you are just wasting time, resources and paper.

The fact that one of my conditions is actually listed on the SSA "auto determination list" should make this entire process totally irrelevant. But noooope.

Because, government.

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LeopardWolf - Lhunpaurwen - Lhunie

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