A Memorial To Trixie

I have to say the people at my work are amazing. When they heard about Trix’s passing, one of them decided to make me a little something to remember her by. Not only that, but she managed to get a ton of people to send me messages of condolence. This all came together super quickly. I now have a file full of beautiful messages from people, and this amazing little statue. Apologies if the picture is sideways. I really need someone to help me learn how to fix that!

Statue of a black lab sitting on a little round base with "Trixie-Always in our hearts" written in Braille around the outside.
The Braille says “Trixie-Always in our hearts”

Isn’t that just heart-meltingly awesome?

Side note: I always knew 3D printers were cool. Now I have actual evidence of how cool they are. Not only did it make a pretty awesome statue of a dog, but around the base is readable Braille! I know this is a testament to the detail of the specs that were used, but still! Mind blown! My coworker who made it was so happy when I was able to effortlessly read the message that was written there, since if the spacing of the dots is off at all, it can be incomprehensible.

I have had the little Trix statue on my desk since Tuesday and every now and then, I pick it up and hold it for a second. I laughed one day because I set my lunchbox next to it, and the placement was perfect, since it kind of looked like the Trix nose was headed right for it, which it would have been if actual Trix was that close to my lunch.

I will treasure this statue forever. I am truly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life who get it, and go the extra mile to show they care.

Last Day At Work

I just wanted to put this song up quickly. I would have put it up a couple of weeks ago, but the place where it lives suffered a massive server death so I had to wait for them to come back.

A coworker at my awesome job who has been there much longer than me decided to go work for another company. So, on her last day, I kept hearing people saying “This is her last day at work…” or “This will be her last day here.” Because I’ve been ruined, all I could hear in my head was this song.

And now, so will you!

The Tanser Bear Birthday Bash!

It’s almost Tansy’s birthday. The beast turns 5 on Tuesday. Can you believe it? I can’t, and I know it to be a fact. Since I have missed all the other anniversaries this year, it’s time to have a giant Shmans chatter fest. Goddamnit, her life needs to be documented too, even if it has to come in giant inundations.

Poor Shmans has been dealing with my go-rounds with the captain, and I think they have left their mark. For one thing, for a while, she was not a fan of scooching into bathroom stalls. It was almost like she was afraid of the door. I can only theorize that in my haste to get the hell in there, get her in there, lock the door and get to business, I must have unintentionally had a few close calls where I almost got her stuck in the door. She’s good stuff, and still goes in there, but I had to be a little more conscious of where all our limbs and parts are when closing the door. The funny part about this is she doesn’t make nearly as much of a fuss about getting into cars, and she has good reason to fight that one. Strange beasty.

We have two more songs to add to the Tans goes nuts soundtrack. When she retires, I may have to make a CD of her favourite songs. We might have enough by then. Now it’s S.O.B.

and Unchained Melody.

I’m less sure about Unchained Melody, but I know S.O.B. does it consistently. I can’t figure out what makes a song good to her. I heard this song,

which to me sounds similar to S.O.B., but Shmans couldn’t care less.

This year has been quite the year of odd veterinary issues for the bear. You’d never know it, but she’s been making us scratch our heads for quite some time. For example, suddenly, in the winter, she lost a patch of hair on one of her back paws. My coworkers blamed it on the boots I put on those feet, but I would think she would have lost it on both paws if that was the case. The vets didn’t think so, but as a precaution, I used only Pawz on her for the rest of the winter. We have no idea why it disappeared, but it appears to be back.

Then, one day, I noticed her cyst that felt hard suddenly felt soft and fleshy. It reminded me of a zit that was ready to pop. I guess I was right, because the next day, while I was at work, it burst, and random ooze was coming out of it. Um, sorry for the graphic description.

Without thinking, I called the vet and told them what was up. Of course, their first question was “what colour is it?” A fine, sensible question…that I couldn’t answer. The first words out of my mouth were “I don’t think it’s blood…I sniffed the ooze and it didn’t smell like blood.” Wow, disgusting much?

There’s nothing like walking into a casual meeting and selecting a colleague that might be ok with answering a question as nasty as “Excuse me, what colour is this ooze coming out of my dog?” But that’s exactly what I did. Thankfully the answer was a good one, “yellowish whitish.” Ah, pus! I had it checked out in a couple days, but all was good.

But the weirdest issue we had was one that appeared a smidge before her cyst burst. One day, without provocation, she took off across the office like an out of control freight train. Shocked, I got her leashed up and I sat down to work. Not 5 minutes later, “Yee yee yee!” Realizing she might have to go fertilize the snowy lawn, we made for the exit…and when I say we made for the exit, I mean I think we nearly mowed down 8 people to get there. Sorry, folks. When we got out there, good lord the…output was no good, and not easy to pick up.

This didn’t stop, so I took her to the vet. They first gave her some antibiotics and treated it as a one-off, but as soon as the antibiotics wore off, we were back to the nasty poops again. We eventually figured out, after trying all sorts of antibiotics and probiotics, and running a whole, heh heh, butt-load of tests, that she had become allergic to lamb. Now that she’s switched to salmon, after a little delay while everything wore off, things are back to normal. I’m glad we didn’t have to resort to a prescription food.

It is here that I’d like to call myself a dumbass. Remember when I mentioned those treats that didn’t agree with her? Remember when I said I would scan bags of treats before putting them in the pouch in case they didn’t agree? Well I didn’t follow my own advice, and guess what? Treats from the latest bag I gave her set off anger within her. But because I was stupid and didn’t scan them, I’ll never know what was in them so I can figure it out. But I gave her those treats at the worst time…2 weeks after the last antibiotics were given. So I thought we were headed for another round of detective work in doggie doodoo land. But thankfully, after not feeding her any treats, miraculously, everything went back to normal.

To her credit, she had not a single accident. That could not have been easy for her. Tans, you rock.

Another small oddity I noticed since about April is her face is itchier. Before April, if she has to wear her gentle leader, when I take it off, she rubs her face. Now, she doesn’t even have to wear it for her to start grinding her face on things.

I’m happy that through all of this, she still has no grey hair. Trix had some grey at 3 years old. I haven’t heard one comment about Tans having any grey. I hope that means that the beast will stay young-looking even when she’s old. I’ll never know if Trix’s early greys had to do with stress, but it makes me wonder sometimes.

She’s had enough changes to make some hair turn grey. Between the constantly-changing bus stops due to construction, needing to change entrances because of rennovations around the building, and my desk changing locations, her little brain keeps getting work. The desk location change made some of my hair turn grey, that’s for sure. But before I mastered it, she had it figured out. This became clear one night when I went to get her food. In my old spot, I didn’t have to go far to the water cooler to put water on her food and then come back, so I’d just leave her on her mat. But I couldn’t do that here. Well, once we got the food all ready, Tans took a shortcut I didn’t understand…and, hey! We were back at my desk! That’s when I knew that she had it figured out. From time to time, colleagues said she looked frustrated when I didn’t know where to go and she did. Somebody described the look on her face as, “What in god’s name does this woman want?”

Why does this always happen to me? When we lived in Guelph, they replaced our telephone shower head, you know, convenient for bathing dogs, with a straight shower head. That made me have to find a groomer. I was lucky enough to find a place where I could bathe her myself for a reduced rate. When we moved here, we noticed we had a telephone shower, yea! Then, when our tub broke and they replaced the shower head, what did they do? Stuck a standard shower head in. We’re going to have to see if we can change it back, but in the event that we can’t, I am looking for options.

I never want to have to leave her at the groomers for hours, for so, so many reasons. There’s the obvious, my schedule isn’t full of flexibility…and I don’t relish walking around with my cane for hours just so the groomer can go “la-dee-da, taking my time grooming your dog.” But there are other less obvious ones. I’m pretty protective of her, since she’s more than just a pet…so leaving her in some rando’s care doesn’t really thrill me.

Tans got to do something Trix never did. We went to a Blue Jays game. Here’s a tip: If you’re going to take your guide dog to a Blue Jays game, make sure you request an accessible seat. Things are much more roomy, the chairs are movable, and the food folks actually ask you what you want, so you have a shot of getting some food during the game. Tans seemed to be relaxed, although I noticed her head swivelling around a lot.

I feel bad. Ever since the captain, I’ve been less good about taking Tans to the park. I’m going to try to do better this year. She deserves all the sniffy time we can give her.

Here’s another small brag I feel like documenting. One day when I thought our one relieving spot had melted enough to use, I discovered too late that I was wrong. There I was, teetering on a steep slope of ice. If I fell, I would land in the parking lot, and it was dark and I might not be seen. Tans let me edge forward, and dig my heels into the slushier bits of ice to give myself a bit of security. Then, and only then, did she jump off the curb and bring me with her. How she knew to do that, I’ll never know, but man was I proud of her.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned Lucky by name, but he was one of the dogs in this building. He would always walk next to Tans, never bug her, but definitely express that he was a fan of hers. I learned that he was 17, and wondered how long he would have. Well, before he made it to 18, he passed away. I never thought I’d miss some random fellow dog in the building, but I was sad to hear that he was gone.

I do have to say that most of the dog-owners in this building keep good control of their dogs. Man, does that make life better for us. I’ve had a few dogs growl and snarl at us, but no incidents like those in the Mylo days.

Before I wrap up this monster of a post, I have to mention a couple of Tans’s quirks. I have no idea why, but the act of doing laundry seems to stress Tans out. As soon as the cart comes out and gets filled with clothes, she starts chasing us around, being super excitable, and occasionally, leaping on one of us. I wonder, does it resemble packing in her little canine brain? Is it just that I’m zipping around more than usual, so she feels like she has to be vigilant? Whatever it is, it’s definitely a thing.

While we’re talking about her jumpiness, in the sense of being super alert, I’ve noticed that since we have a few loud neighbours and neighbours that just come by and knock on our door randomly, if one of us is not home, she’s a lot more keyed into noises outside the apartment door, and will run to the door at the slightest noise. It’s kind of cute…I just hope she’s not stressing out.

That’s about it for *this* post. I really hope you’re not bored. That was quite the Shmans deluge.

Massive Tansy update comin’ in.

I looked at the Tansy category, realizing that I haven’t written about her in a while, and my! Last time I mentioned her was Canada Day. Then again, I haven’t been much for posting these last few months. I’ve had lots of ideas, but never enough time to get them all down. So I figured I’d get some things taken care of, since I like having things written down to look back at.

One of the things we discovered last year was Bailey’s Local Foods. They need their own post just to sing their praises, but that will come at a later time. We haven’t been there in a long while, mostly because construction in that part of town sucks major balls. The point is they are an online farmer’s market like the 100-mile market, only they seem to have had more stable success. But when we would bring food home from there, we noticed something. Tansy would go nuts! More often than not, we would find her staring longingly into the kitchen drooling if we were doing anything with any of the food from there. Tansy has good taste. Trixie had good taste too when we would shop at the hundred-mile market. They used to deliver it to us. Once, she jumped into one of the boxes! Woops! I just think it’s crazy how both dogs could tell that that food was a special brand of awesome. They’re right.

Even though Tansy is almost 4 and a half, she’s still crazy hyper. Steve joked once that the next time someone asked me what kind of lab she is, I should answer with, “meth.” That would raise some eyebrows.

I still laugh at the things she gets excited about. If Steve asks, “Want a beer?” She starts bouncing as if to say, “Yes please! That would be a great idea!” I have no idea why this phrase gets her going so nuts, but reliably, it does.

She also starts getting really excited if I say “Woo!” in this certain way.

I always said that I was so happy that she’s not a humper dog, which I like since she seems like she could be quite dominant. Well…I found out in June of this year that she will hump another dog…and that dog is my brother’s wee tiny dog Zoe, the perpetual motion machine I wrote about a while back. I was shocked when I let them out in my brother’s backyard, and when they weren’t running, Zoe would try to climb on Tansy, and Tansy would hump her! Tans outweighs Zoe I think by 5 times. That’s evil!

At Thanksgiving, Tansy got more Zoe time. Tansy and I went home with my brother, his wife and the wee little guy who is 8 months old now, woe! Of course, Zoe came too. We all went home to my mom’s place and I think fun was had by all. Thankfully Tansy didn’t hump Zoe at all.

But we figured out the way to keep both dogs from just endlessly running around the house in circles and causing chaos. If you give them each a bone and their own bed, after a little bit of playing, they’ll each chew on a bone and veg out on their own spots. I wish I’d got a picture of them napping side by side. All I got was this one.

If I got the right picture, it's Tansy, a big black lab, next to a much smaller dog. I think this picture might look like an action shot, neither of them would hold still.
Is this a picture of Tansy and Zoe? If I remember correctly, neither of them kept still.

I’ve also learned that Tansy didn’t like being put away in the bedroom like she asked to do last year. I put her to bed there and shut the door and went out to hang out with the rest of the family, and heard this weird sound that sounded like a combination bird shriek and dog bark! I heard it all the way out in another part of the house, and my folks’ house isn’t exactly small. Whenever I would go listen, she wouldn’t make a sound….but I’m pretty sure that sound was her.

Since Tansy is so rambunctious, I haven’t exactly let her and the little baby be loose together much. But I did put her on leash and try to show him how to pet her. She seemed to enjoy that, and rolled around on the ground letting him rub her belly and stuff.

Somehow, during that trip, Tansy’s GDB dog tag fell off. I’ve seen instances where all the dog tags fell off, but I’ve never heard of losing just one. I think I know where it happened. I was getting out of the car so we could take the dogs for a pee and get a coffee, and I heard this little “tingalingaling.” I checked my pockets and saw everything was there, and then just assumed it was something someone else dropped and went on with stuff. No one else saw it either. I think that was when it fell. So, I don’t think I’ll ever get it again. At least that tag is easily-enough replaced, easier than the Rabies one or the Avid one. I’m waiting for a replacement tag from the school, but that’s a new one on me.

Tans has had to go to the vet for her first ear infection back in September. Her ears are so awesome that I often don’t have to worry about them. But I noticed one ear getting kind of crusty, so took her to the vet and they had a look. Sure enough, it was barely the beginning of an infection. Thankfully, after we treated it, things seem to have gone back to normal on that front.

But I have found a couple little bumpy things on Tansy, so of course, given my history of lumps, I had them investigated. They both appear to be benign cysts. I’m supposed to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not growing. So far, so good. She also developed some dermatitis. I think it’s getting better, but I can still feel some of it. Keeping an eye on that too. Thankfully this year when she got vaccinated, she didn’t develop a big ol’ lump at the site like last year. Why is it that all my dogs develop lumps? I’m not even counting the old dog lumps that Trix got, but Babs had some kind of massed cell tumour, and Trix developed 2 sebaceous cysts. Now Tans has bumps. Doggies, you’re giving me a complex!

Here’s another weird thing I’ve noticed lately while grooming her. I’ll be grooming her and everything will be fine…and then she’ll start whining. I thought maybe the furminator had hurt her, but she even did it today when I was just using the Zoom Groom. Sometimes I’ll completely stop grooming her and she’ll still keep whining. Did something hurt once and she’s afraid it will again? Does she have a sore spot? What is this? Grooming is supposed to be fun!

Another thing I’ve noticed with Tans is once she loses hair on a spot, it’s hard as heck to get the hair to grow back. That bare spot I caused by not loosening the belly strap in time is still there. She has some other spots on her belly that have been bare since I got her. I don’t know what’s up with that.

And the last medical-related thing, at least once a year, Tans will have an incident where she will barf, seemingly without obvious provocation. The first one was in July of 2013 when she was pretty new. The next one was last September when I was starting to get really sick with the captain, and this year it was in August. I think I can blame this one on a toy getting a rip and she might have eaten a bit of stuffing, but I think it’s weird that every year, just once, around the same time, she has a major meltdown. Well…at least it’s not more often.

She continues to show that she’s super good at picking up patterns. Steve changed the ringtone on his phone, and now when she hears this new ringtone, she thinks it’s the buzzer and heads for the crate. It’s adorable and makes me chuckle.

She also knows what I mean by “turn around.” Funnily enough, she responds when I’m grooming her, but it doesn’t work where I wish it would, on the bus when I’m getting seated.

A bunch of other people around me moved desks, and instead of sitting beside Janna who Tansy loved, I now have a guy next to me. Tansy has discovered that he too loves dogs, and has fallen in love with him. I think it also helps that he babysat her when Steve and I went to a Blue Jays game back in September. But at any rate, when she sees him, she goes a little crazy, and she runs to him after she eats her dinner. I’m so glad he likes her back.

Oh my goodness, I failed at documenting something pretty important back when it happened. Oh well, I will write about it now. Tansy’s first Halloween was…eventful. Our area got very decked out in decorations, and I think we had to avoid some spider webs and other hanging obstacles. Then, a guy who Tansy tended to like wore a mask with horns and other scary things, and she decided he was evil and not to be trusted. Then some girls from HR dressed up as Sesame Street aliens. In case you’ve never seen these things, here’s a refresher on what they look like. Anyway, they happened by our area….and Tansy couldn’t take it anymore. She bolted from my cube area and chased them! Thank goodness for quick-moving office mates. I was calling, and she was looking at me, and decided not to come. Those human sock puppets were way too interesting. Let’s just say she spent the rest of the day on a leash.

Then last Halloween I was sick and at home thanks to the captain. So when this halloween came around, I didn’t know what to expect.

I decided to let her be loose until I heard people coming around, and I definitely had her on a leash when the floor filled with kids of my colleagues. Thankfully this prevented any disasters, but it wasn’t like Sesame Street aliens or horned masked things were in our area.

But I did feel her actually trying to hold herself together. Janna came around with her kids, and I could feel her trembling. At first I thought it was because she was afraid, which I had a hard time believing, but I soon figured out she was trying soooooo hard to control her impulse of “Jump on them! Jumpjumpjump!”

And I think that is the sum of all my Tansy updates. It’s hard to believe we’re headed for another winter, another Christmas, another set of anniversaries. Time really does fly faster and faster.

My Gall Darn Gallbladder!

You know how the song goes? “What day is it, and in what month? This clock never seemed so alive.” That’s kind of how I feel about May. I would really like some of it back if I could so I could not spend it in hospital.

Yes, hospital. Steve mentioned he was running to the hospital and taking care of Tansy. That’s because I was in there for 8 days. Buh. What a ride. I don’t ever feel like repeating it. Long story short, my gallbladder flipped its lid, was inflamed, and had to come out. I guess it also had a stone. After that, the rest of me went nuts. I don’t understand the details of what exactly was wrong with my gallbladder, they were explained to me while I was under the influence of some pretty heavy drugs…heavy for me at least. You know how easy it is for me to get drunk. Maybe the same applies to pain medication. Poor Steve, tired as he was, had to act as my second, hell, my first memory since during that time, I didn’t have a memory. You know how completely crazy that is for me, the memory queen.

It all started a day after Steve’s sister’s wedding. We came home, we were super tired, so we went out for breakfast, and in hindsight, I ate the worst thing I could have. I had one of those skillets, the big pan full of sausages, cheese, veggies and eggs all tossed together and cooked. They’re delicious, but probably horrible for you, especially horrible for an angry gallbladder!

But I still had no clue. We came home, and I ate dinner, and was sort of relaxing before the weekend was over and it was time to go back to the grind. It was then that I noticed this persistent gas pain.

And then it developed into something I’ve never experienced before. When you’re laying on the floor and your legs are kicking seemingly without control and you have to speak in spurts because you’re breathing like they tell women to breathe when they’re having a baby, or at least that’s how it looks on TV, you’re not just having gas pain.

But because I’m dumb as a rock, I took some pills for gas, and pills for pain, and tried to sleep.

Haahahahaha Sleep, Carin, that’s a funny one. I woke up pretty much an hour later as if I’d never taken anything.

Since I’ve had pain before, like years ago, and had gone to the ER, and they hadn’t found anything wrong, I figured it was nothing and I’d just wait until 8 a.m. and go to the urgent care place.

Hahahahahahahaah! Also a good one. I did wait and go to the urgent care place, but that’s when things started to get cute. The doctor found the spot that hurt, smacked me there a couple of times, and I think he learned some new words. I also learned that gees I don’t seem to have much control over my sailor mouth when I’m in pain. Then he did something I’ve never had happen before. He told me that he thought what I had was serious but I wasn’t gonna keel over right here, but I needed test results faster than he could get them, and he thought I should go to the ER…and I should go there by ambulance.

A-a-a-a-a-ambulance? O-o-o-ok.

So next thing I knew, Steve was being brought back so he could be with me in the ambulance…and the ambulance was being called.

And here I thought it was nothing, and had been panting “I…must…be…a wuss…must…be…a wuss!”

The next little bit was a complete blurr for me. There was an ambulance, Steve had to hold Tansy’s leash because they had raised the stretcher up high and I could no longer reach her leash. There were the moments where Tansy tried to leap on my stretcher when ever it came to a stop. There were a lot of high blood pressure readings. There was me being dumb, and when they asked me to put my knees up so they could lift me, not putting them back down because I didn’t know why they wanted them there…even though my feet were going numb. There was a general sense of disbelief and, well, fear…at least I was scared.

But the ambulance attendants were cool and tried to keep me calm as much as they could. The funniest moment was when they asked me if there was any blood when I’d go to the bathroom. I just said I don’t know, at which point they apologized profusely. They were very cool people.

They took me to St. Mary’s hospital, and in a bit, figured out I had a very angry angry gallbladder. It was so angry that discussing my options…was not an option. It was coming out, and soon. A surgeon showed up and said something like “We’re going to take your gallbladder out, likely not tonight, but probably tomorrow.” To-m-m-m-morrow?

And, they only do that surgery over at Grand River Hospital. This meant they were going to transfer me, but they couldn’t do that until Grand River got a bed open. That happened at 2 a.m.

So there I was, in a wack load of pain, also on a wack load of drugs. Has anyone else had Gravol in an IV? Have you ever had your eyelids involuntarily slam shut even though you’re kind of awake? Everything slows down, and for me at least, I say ridiculous things very…slowly.

So imagine poor Steve through all of this. He hadn’t had much sleep the night before because of a thrashing complaining Carin. He had gone with me to Urgent Care in case I needed some help getting there and back, now he’s in an ambulance, holding Tansy, having to relieve her, and eventually, having to leave me so he could take Tansy home and get her fed and taken care of. Oh…and having to go into my work and home email and let necessary people know that I was kinda out of commission. Poor Steve. All of this started with some crazy pain…and now there was a hospital admission and looming surgery.

To the people who have had their guide dogs with them in the hospital: I salute you. There is no way I could have done that. Before and immediately after the surgery, I was totally hosed. I couldn’t have fed and relieved her, and the nurses were totally run off their feet doing nursing-related things. They wouldn’t have had time to help me with dog things.

Plus, there were 4 people in a room sometimes. Where do you keep a dog safe when there are 4 IV poles, 4 beds, wheeling dinner cart things, and nurses and other people moving around with vital and blood-taking equipment. Even though it was hard to be without her, it would have been harder to have her there, and probably incredibly stressful on her.

I’ve had my first surgery, and the actual surgery wasn’t as scary as the visions I’d had. The scariest part was what they asked me just before I went under. They said “Tell me your name, date of birth, and what you’re in for.” I’m sure this was just to keep me talking long enough for the sleepy sleepy out ya go drugs to take effect, but I had this moment of terror. “They don’t know? Oh my god and I’m about to go out. Say it fast so they know what I’m in for.” The calmer part of me told myself that this was only procedure, there was nothing to be afraid of. But holy crap was I scared for a second. Yes, I am willing to admit I’m neurotic.

And when I woke up, I was talking a blue streak. My parents had come down because they’re adorable, and they were there before and after the surgery. I think I made fun of my dad, tried to sing songs, made wrestling references, and…whatever entered my head, out it came, sometimes in triplicate. Thank god Steve was there to explain things to anyone else so they didn’t think I was completely out of my mind. At one point, I heard the nurses talking about another patient. But all I heard was “She’s had a spinal block,…” I immediately thought they were talking about me, and started wildly moving and kicking my legs to make sure my spine was fine. Yup, I was totally loopy.

And somehow, I sent text messages and emails, some of which I don’t remember sending. I even offered sympathy to someone whose dog died. Wow. I’m glad I didn’t say anything absolutely crazy.

I was told that after the surgery, I’d probably be in the hospital a couple of days. Thursday morning came, I had people arranged to come get me, I was in the wheelchair, all my stuff was packed up, …

and some blood test results came back that said I still had problems. My white blood cell count was too high.

Gaaaaaa! Waaaa waaaa waaaa sniff!

I will admit here and now that while I was in the hospital, I was a total drama queen. Part of that I blame on the lack of sleep (I didn’t sleep for about 4 days), part of it I blame on some other things I take kind of going completely wacktastic, but part of it I was just totally scared. It took a while, but some other patients brought me down to earth and made me realize that really, in the grand scheme of things, what I was in there for wasn’t that life-destroying. One morning, one of them calmly rang his bell and said to the nurse, “Excuse me, but I can’t breathe. When you get a minute, could you help me?” I was kind of blown away by his calm, and began feverishly telling myself to tone it down a notch.

Anyway, so began what would become the stay that felt like it would never end. I jokingly referred to Grand River Hospital as Hotel California. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

Friday morning they ultrasounded the jeebers out of me, looking for other infection. They didn’t find anything. It was a terrible feeling, wondering where this infection was, wondering when it would pop out and say boo. They also told me that when I was in surgery, my blood pressure was mad high. They were monitoring that, and except for after the surgery, when I’m sure they had me pumped full of something to keep the blood pressure under control, my blood pressure readings were no goddamn good. When you wake up from a doze-fest and the bottom reading is in the high 90’s, Hughston, we have a problem.

At this point, I need to stop and say that I think the nurses were friggin amazing. I wouldn’t last a week doing their job, and I think every single one of them deserves a medal. I had thought about arranging for the nurses to get some kind of cake or something…but I was moved 3 times, and it’s too friggin complicated for me to thank them all. And I don’t want to leave any of them out…that would be way worse. I was probably a pretty demanding, and bitchy, patient. I didn’t want to be that way, but I was friggin scared, and I was being kept in the hospital for what felt like no reason…until they explained it to me. Also, like I said, all the levels of those wonderful endocrine hormones we all need were absolutely loopy for me, which turned me into a whining, complaining, crying, fast-talking, question-asking, non-sleeping loophead. To all my fellow patients, and the nurses, I would just like to say I’m really really really sorry. That wasn’t normal me, or at least I would like to believe it’s not.

The nurses were also cool about the blindness factor, and answered my questions with good answers that didn’t involve “well when you get home, won’t someone sighted be there to take care of you?” They also took my questions about my weird medical issues seriously, and put my mind at ease. On top of that, they were pretty cool at understanding accessibility issues, and did their best to get me my discharge instructions in an accessible format and stuff. This was good since when they read them to me, it was during that phase where I couldn’t remember anything. And man did they keep good notes. They moved me 3 times, and every single time, all the info they needed moved with me. Finally, they tried to hook me up with hospital volunteers so I could fill out my menu choices for meals. It never worked out, but it wasn’t their fault.

And about the food. I was expecting the food to be total blech, but this stuff was pretty good. Steve joked he was jealous of what I was eating.

Man, enough tangents. Friday they couldn’t find the infection, and the numbers weren’t good enough to let me go until Tuesday. Yug. Boy oh boy was I glad to be getting out of there. Everybody was nice, but it’s hard to get good sleep when your neighbours’ IV poles are beeping, and you’re randomly awakened so they can hook you up to this med or that, or check this or that vital sign. You never truly sleep soundly because you never know what’s coming. It’s not a complaint, just the nature of the beast. Plus you feel like you’ve lost control. Again, it’s just the nature of the beast. At the beginning when you’re all in pain and looped out on drugs, you don’t care, but at the end, you’d really like to take control of your life again, and it’s not gonna happen while you’re in there.

By the end, I didn’t have any surgical pain…just generally felt like you do when you’ve been laying around for too long. The pain from the surgery went away amazingly quickly. I was pretty shocked. I think my initial gallbladder pain was worse than the after surgery pain.

So now I’ve come home. Boy did it feel good to have a shower again, sleep in my own bed, wash my hair! There are things you take for granted…they feel awesome to get back. You also take for granted your stamina, but it doesn’t take long for it to be reduced to zippo. When you walk through Fairview Mall and you’re sweating like crazy, it’s a wake-up call. But thankfully, that has come back pretty quickly, and I’m walking like I always do. I also found myself getting tired super early. I felt like I was a small child, going to bed at 8 o’clock. Fortunately that has gone away too.

I’d say I feel 99% like myself, although I’m still trying to figure out what foods are on the bad guy list. They didn’t give me a restricted diet, just told me “when you find a food that’s bad, you’ll know.” But I’ve been told by everyone that I have to be super careful what I eat…so I’m trying to be careful. It’s a new experience standing in a mall food court going “Hmmm, that would be probably bad, so would that, so would that, hmmm what would be safe in here?”

So yeah. That’s where I’ve been. This experience has taught me I have a lot of friends. Thanks bunches for all the emails, tweets and phone calls, the offers of help from other local guide dog handlers, the huuuuge basket of awesome from work, and the beautiful and yummy eddible arrangement we got from good buddy J. Due to the astronomical size of this post, I might do a separate post with blind guy pictures of said basket and said eddible arrangement. You guys all rock. And work, thanks for being uber awesome about this whole thing. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. I call it “my awesome job” for a reason.

And allow me to get mushy for a sec, but Steve has been amazing through this whole thing. Without him, I think I would have gone completely nuts beyond repair. I would look forward to his visits every day, and even though I think they tired him out like crazy, he came almost every day and stayed for hours, helping me with my food, which is hard to eat when your dominant hand is tied to an IV pole, and generally making me laugh and helping me fend off the fits of tears and hormone-induced mania…not an easy task. On top of that, he kept the people who needed to know up to speed, and took care of the Tanseroo, and for that, I will be forever grateful! The guy who could not stand the idea of picking up dog crap picked up dog crap for days! Steve, you’re my hero. I mean it.

Ok, everyone can stop booing me out of the building. I’m done turning into a sap-filled mushball. I have an endless pile of posts to get through…some day, maybe I’ll be able to see the bottom of the list. Until then, everybody, stay healthy. You never know when your body might just commit mutiny. Stay healthy, have a doctor who you trust, and for Pete’s sake, if you’re laying on the floor and finding it hard to breathe, realize that your problem just might be a little bigger than urgent care. Don’t be a numbnut like me. Hopefully, future me will learn from this lesson too, but due to my moronic stubbornness, there are no guarantees.

Gaaa. Really hope everybody’s not bored out of their skulls. Honestly, I’ll come up with something shorter, and cooler, really soon.

Interesting Premise: The User Is Drunk

A colleague found this at work and sent it to a bunch of us. After laughing, I thought it was great. Not all of it applies to accessibility, i.e. Facebook chat is awesome? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s that rockin’ for people who don’t use the computer in the conventional way. But I think he makes a lot of really cool points. The premise is design your UI so it could be operated if the user is drunk.

Have a chuckle, and think about it.

Oh, apparently at the end, when he says “don’t do it, it’s totally unconstructive,” a sign on his screen was flashing “yes.” Figured that should go in there.

Those Paint Fumes Will Get You Every Time

Wow. According to this police report, Travis Mark Layton had himself quite the day at work for some reason.

According to an incident report from Lilburn police, Layton was at the Sherwin-Williams store with a male coworker Thursday when he “attempted to give (the coworker) a hug.” He was rebuffed several times before attempting to deliver a kiss.

“When (the coworker) pushed him away, Mr. Layton then reached in attempts to grab a hold of (the alleged victim’s) genitals,” the report said.

As Layton persisted, the coworker reportedly got him in a headlock and, with the help of a customer, was able to get Layton outside the store before locking all the doors, police said.

Several customers — and two children, ages 7 and 14, in a truck parked outside — witnessed Layton’s next alleged act in front of the store’s glass facade.

“Mr. Layton went to the front glass and striped (sic) himself of all his clothing,” the responding officer wrote. “Mr. Layton then began to press his nude buttocks against the glass. Mr. Layton then turned around and placed his nude genitals against the glass.”

Layton allegedly “performed this act several more times” before attempting to jump on the hood of the truck occupied by the aforementioned children and their mother, then pulling its door handles and making a pelvic thrust toward the car.

Authorities arrived on scene shortly thereafter.

“As I was walking towards the male he punched me in the chest, he then pulled his pants down exposing his genitals and then fell to the ground,” the officer wrote.

He continued to struggle and had to be Tasered several times before finally being taken into custody.

He was charged with pretty much everything under the sun, as you can imagine. This includes battery, sexual battery, public indecency, obstruction of a police officer and child molestation. Notably absent from the list is anything to do with drugs. You’d think there would have to be some, but authorities say there was no evidence that they were a factor in the incident. Layton is being held without bond at the Gwinnett County jail.

New Guide Dog Journals: The Journey Home

Well here I am, although who knows where here is since I’m sitting in a chair in the sky. Woke up early and ran around grabbing all the odds and ends I couldn’t pack up until absolutely necessary. The resident advisor came in, had a boo around and confirmed I hadn’t forgotten anything. Then the 3 of us with early flights loaded up and headed to the airport. She took me first and after some troubles finding Air Canada, we arrived. Tansy walked through the airport like a little trooper. The only thing I noticed was what felt like a left pull. That never showed itself in training at all. We’ll see if that was a one-off.

We got to security, and I did the long leash call the dog through thing. Only problem was the first time, Tansy broke her stay and started inching through. No worries, second time was the charm and only Tansy got the rubberoo.

I’m on the plane and it’s a full flight. I’m sitting next to a nice couple headed for Italy. Tansy was only slightly disturbed by takeoff, but it only consisted of her sitting up and not wanting to lie back down. It worked itself out and she’s lying at my feet.

I really do feel like I’m picking up where Trixie left off. It’s amazing. I know I have challenges ahead and so much to learn about my labby buddy, but she really feels like a pretty awesome dog.

I love it when I get asked how long I’ve had her and I say we graduated yesterday and they’re all amazed. Yup I think my entrance onto the plane with Trix was much more difficult…then again, I was in a knee brace. That probably didn’t help.

Tansy is sleeping at my feet. She didn’t know what to do this morning when I packed her bed. She sniffed the heck out of the bag, then ran in and out of her crate over and over again. It was like what she knew to be a firm assumption was gone. Then she nearly climbed in my lap and sniffed and kissed me all over. Poor poochers.

Another funny thing Tansy did as we walked through the airport was as we walked past a place where people got food, she looked at it pretty seriously as if to say “You sure you don’t want breakfast?”

She wasn’t even too upset with me when I didn’t feed her this morning. Last night she expressed her disapproval at not being fed on time. It must have been because the raisers were there too.

Oh god am I ready for this? I’m sure it will go fine. It’s just so much harder when you know this next week is busy busy busy. Tansy, ready to rock and roll?

Went through some turbulence and Tansy didn’t move. Good girl.

Almost half way through the flight. They sent us with some food. I’m thinking about chomping some. But I can’t reach it. Oh, more turbulence. Guess I won’t ask yet.

I wonder how our one classmate is doing. He has a bit of a layover. Yug I wouldn’t want to deal with that with my first dog and a new dog. Will have to check on him when I get a chance.

It’s the next Saturday and I’m finishing this.

Rest of the flight was uneventful except for poor Tansy having to watch her paws because I was in an aisle seat.

We got off the plane and were taken to baggage claim where, miraculously, my bag was there. Only weird thing was poor Tansy slipped on the super slick airport floors.

Mom and dad were there too, so we set off for home.

I can’t count the number of times mom called Tansy Trixie. She jumped on my mom and my dad was not pleased. Oh well, we’ll work it out. We got Tansy to the vet and got her city tags and a poofy bed, and a big bag of grub, the most important of all.

Tanseroo had a real trial by fire style week, and came through like a champ. She even experienced gross freezing rain and, although she didn’t approve of wearing 4 booties, she got it together. She snoozes on her bed at work and is an angel. Spookily, she found my office before I could prompt her to find it. I expected more bumps in the road, but really, there have been none, at least not in the working sense.

My coworkers, although they all want to pet her, are resisting temptation. Did I mention how much I love my coworkers?

She’s done lab loops around the apartment, and one night, she let loose with about 5 good barks for no reason out in the yard. I think she was unleashing some pent up energy. Aww, you adorable dog you.

I got an email from our instructor team. They got our little thank you gift that one of our classmates arranged. This dude was super nice, and not only did that, but bought cupcakes for us all.

And so begins our life together. I think it’s going to be a good one.

New Dog, Here We Come!

Well…tomorrow I get on a plane. Yup, that long awaited March 24 is tomorrow. I’m getting a ride to the airport (thank you Steve’s mom) so that means 3 a.m. I’ll be leaving. Yee ha! Guess who’s not sleeping tonight?

We’re definitely seeing signs that this pooch is going to come. I have hooks in the wall to hold tie-downs. The food bins are in the storage room ready for food. I have an appointment with a vet when I get home. A coworker commented that it looked like I was preparing for a baby’s arrival. You know what? It probably does.

It’s funny. When I got Babs, I had all these basic first time worries. Where am I going to put all her gear? Is this really what I want for the next 8 or 10 years? What will I do if I get a honker of a vet bill? When I got Trix, I had some of the same worries, since Babs didn’t have a long time with me, plus I had hangups about what I may have done wrong with Babs and how I could do better next time. But at that time I was sure that when I went back for another dog, I wouldn’t have any worries at all. I would be an old pro at this.

Hahahahahaha! I wish! Now I just have a different set of worries. The last training I went through was a month. This one is 2 weeks. Will I be able to make it? Will I accomplish all the goals I want to? How is this whole new format even possible? I keep telling myself they’ve been doing it for a while now and everything’s turning out fine, plus this is a good school that does things properly. But that doesn’t stop the worrying side of me.

Plus I’m not exactly racing around Kitchener with lots of awareness of where everything is. I’m still learning, and my learning is slowed by the fact that I’m working full time, so I don’t have lots of time to be exploring.

And another thing. I’ve never brought a brand new dog home and straight into an office. When I got Trix, I was doing some volunteering and some other stuff, but nothing like 8 hours a day in an office. My coworkers are awesome, so I’m not really worried about their reaction. I’m more worried about me doing all the right things to make sure nothing goes wrong with our very new team. I’m sure all of this will work out, but it circles my mind as I pack.

But this new pup’s arrival will be easier, since I have done bunches of preparation. I’ve scoped out a place close by where I can let the dog romp on a long leash, I know where the relieving spot will be, I have a bunch of gear, the house is pretty much dog-proofed, my body is still programmed to wake up early so the no sleeping in won’t be a shock to my system.

But I did notice that when I went to get my room and phone number, I had a moment of sadness. I went to dial, and suddenly I had to stop and acknowledge how I was feeling and wonder where this was coming from. The only thing I can figure is now I officially have moved on from Trix and have “replaced”, that’s in quotes, her with another dog, and I guess there’s still some guilt there. Plus, this was around our dog day anniversary, and I just saw her the day before since Brad was over at our place. But I was still caught off guard by the emotions that came over me.

So wish me luck…anybody wanna place bets on how many times I call this new dog Trixie? Oh crap, I already have a couple of times when talking about him/her. As I said, I’ll try to write journal entries and put them up…if I can manage to breathe. See you…when I see you!

Life, The Universe, CSUN, Trixie, Guide Dog Class, And Everything

Here I am again…much sooner than last time but still taking a long time between posts.

CSUN was amazing. Damn I wish I could go every year. And I really didn’t get to see much of the exhibit hall since I was in so many sessions.

It was weird basically having to make your own lunch break. There were always sessions going on, so you just had to decide which ones you were going to have to skip…which was really hard. I thought my brain might explode with all the information I got…now I just have to find a way to apply it and not lose any of it. Holy crap. Just…so cool.

Something funny happened at CSUN that I feel I have to write down and try to explain. I was walking with some coworkers and other folk from the conference to a restaurant. We had to cross this gynormo street that was, for lack of a better description, scary as hell. As we crossed, a few other attendees from CSUN were coming the other way. Well I think they were from CSUN, they all had white canes and were heading back towards the hotel. One of them veered off course, which you don’t want to do in this insane street. My one colleague saw what was going on, and tried to direct her back to safety. The woman probably couldn’t make her out and wondered what all the fuss was about…after all, she was back on the curb, so what was the problem? The problem: That ain’t a curb, that’s a median! In desperation, my colleague, not knowing the name of our disoriented blind buddy, yelled “Woman! Turn around!” Which made us laugh our heads off. She eventually ran back, and got her back on track. But every time we ran into a particular fellow conference goer, he would say “Woman! Turn around!”

This was tweeted, and apparently everybody took it totally wrong and got all pissy about it. You know what? My colleague was saving that lady’s freaking life. That road was huge, with lots of lanes of traffic, the light was about to change, and the lady was headed for a median. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She was hoping to get her back on track as fast as she possibly could.

And another thing. That whole don’t grab rule? In that case, especially if I’m seconds away from getting smucked by an oncoming vehicle, goes right out the window. Go ahead and grab me and explain it later. I might be a bit confused and freaked out for the moment, but I’ll be confused, freaked out and alive.

Oh, one more thing. If you’ve ever rescued a blind person from something like that, you might think we don’t appreciate it. Oh we do, very much. But we’re so embarrassed that it might not appear that way. Let me explain it like this. We deal with a lot of people who think we’re incompetent. Now we’ve just screwed up, and at least I personally feel like I’ve just cemented in my rescuer’s mind that in fact I am incompetent. We work so hard, all the time, to show that we’re just like everybody else and very capable. When something goes wrong, I just want the earth to swallow me up. So sometimes I’m so embarrassed that social graces go out the window. So, don’t think you’ve done the wrong thing, and don’t stop doing it. Just understand that my pride is a little hurt because of my own screwup. I hope that makes sense.

Back to CSUN, my body was a jerk though. It kept waking me up at around 6 Eastern. so…at 3 a.m. there I was writing notes for myself. Of course that didn’t end well. By the time I got home I was exhausted. But I’d do it all again.

I had to chuckle. There were lots of dogs at CSUN, and I got sniffed quite a bit. The funniest was I was wearing this fanny pack. Keep in mind it has never held dog treats. But it didn’t matter. Dogs would gun for it, then notice it didn’t smell like the good stuff, and back off. It was pretty funny. I’m always the one trying to keep my dog from sniffing folk, it was kind of funny to be on the receiving end of a few sniffs.

You’re probably wondering how Trix is doing. She seems to be enjoying herself. Man has she ever got her energy back. It’s amazing, and kind of scary, how much all that stress was totally knocking her out. Now, she goes on huge hikes, and Brad says he’ll tire out before she does! Trix will turn 8 in about a month, and she seems like she has the energy of a pup again. I see her regularly, since Brad stays with us once a week for the next little while so he can go to his placement in Waterloo, and it’s pretty cool to watch her so full of life again. It also feels good to see her quite bonded to Brad. Sure she’ll hang out with me, but she watches him like a hawk. Brad is her man. I’m just somebody fun to play with.

And, ready or not, I’m headed for dog class. March 24 is only 2 weeks away. I have my plane tickets. That’ll be one hell of an early morning.

I’m a whole mix of feelings. I’m excited to be walking with a dog again. I’m scared of the exhaustion that inevitably follows class, combined with the fact that I’ll be headed pretty much immediately back to work. I’m also scared of what this new dog will be like in our house. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to give this pup the variety of routes that Trix had. I’m curious if I’ll know this pup’s raisers since I know a lot more people now. It’s just one great big emotional stew.

This experience will be totally different from my training with Trixie. First off, it’s only 2 weeks! My time with Trixie was a month, and retrain classes were 3 weeks. Second, the dorm’s still not built, so we’re living in a hotel. Very very odd. This also means no ready access to laundry. *boo* apparently someone else does our laundry for us. Bleh. Not looking forward to having to coordinate with classmates on when I get things washed.

On the upside, we will all have our own rooms, so I won’t be bothering my room-mate with calls home etc. Also, I know a lot more people, so maybe I’ll actually have a few friends at graduation. Trix’s graduation was a kind of solitary experience. Being so far away, no one could attend to cheer me on. I had Trix’s raisers of course, and her other puppy club members, but they were there to cheer Trix on, not me if that makes any sense.

I’m going to try to journal my experiences and put them up. I even got myself a cute little mini bluetooth keyboard for my phone so I won’t have to do everything via the screen. Fleksy is great, but if you have a long something to say, and you change your mind from time to time, it’s a bit of a pain. And this time, I can put this up myself! Yea WordPress app!

But no guarantees how well I’ll do. I imagine myself being a lot more exhausted this time. We’ll see.

So yeah. Life’s a blurr. I think at the end of 2013, all I’ll have to say about the year is that it was a blurr. Everything kept happening super fast. Hopefully I’ll post again before I leave for guide dog training…but we all know the chances of that.