Friday, December 31, 2010

The Service Puppy Is Here

Well, it's been a while and lots has happened. A few nasty hits, some lovely company and we went to Montana to pick up my puppy.

Our target date was mid January, but another toxically injured woman was getting a pup from the same litter and her husband had Christmas week off. So did mine, so we moved up the date. I had been looking forward to meeting her, but I didn't get the chance. I did meet her son, Joe, who was a very nice young man.

The trip itself was an expedition. First there was the recomissioning of my husbands truck. He uses it at work and it is routinely contaminated by clients and co-workers. It had to be thoroughly cleaned. It took an entire day, with a purifier running all night. While it wasn't 100%, it was close enough. We always travel with a car purifier, so figured it would work.

I had to prepare food to take. 99% of restaurant food is toxic, so I make sure I have my own. I also have to take along my detox Meds and porphyria cures, clean water, as most city systems are treated with chlorine or worse, and a bucket to pee in, as most public restrooms are fragrant. This trip I took meat, cheese and cookies. I also took 2 gals of fresh water, with baking soda, large dog towels and fragrance free detergent, just in case the puppy wasn't fragrance free. I also took fragrance free wipes. Then, of course a change of clothes, in case I got a bad hit and needed to change out of the contaminated ones, since we'd be traveling for 13 hours. We chose the truck because the cab and canopy are separate compartments. That way toxic items can be in the canopy. If the puppy was really smelly, she could travel back there. We brought along two kennels. A smaller one for the cab, a larger one for the canopy.

With this condition you have to plan for everything. I had maps and routes printed out, as well as contact numbers for the other couple and for the breeder. We had agreed to meet in front of a restaurant, or as close as I could safely get.

Our trip began at 6:00 a.m. It was right about 30 degrees and expected to stay around 35 during the day for most of the trip. Hardly anyone was out on the roads the day after Christmas, so the drive up was very pleasant. It wasn't until we hit Spokane that the weather started to get messy. As you leave Spokane you cross into Idaho and climb into the mountains. We entcountered ice, slush and packed snow. There were only a few flurries and Ron is a very experienced winter driver; he grew up in the Elk Horns.

We met the breeder in Superior MT. My new puppy was everything I'd been led to believe. It was well below freezing there, so we didn't linger over the exchange. In fifteen minutes we were back on the road, it was 12:30, mountain time.

We started with the puppy in a kennel, but this was her first experience being separated from her mom and siblings. Her mom was even there at the exchange. The pup showed us just how loud a voice she had and the finer points of it's ear splitting qualities in the confines of the cab... I tried to keep her quiet as best I could, until we got through the icey parts. I didn't know how wiggly she'd be and didn't want her distracting Ron. It was a good thing, too. Just ahead of us another extended cab pickup spun out of control and rolled across the highway. When we arrived, the family members were crawling out of the dented place above the driver's side door. That pick up was laying on the drivers side. It was odd to think that "it was a good thing it got the dent there, or they wouldn't have been able to get out."

Once we got back to Spokane and the temperature was safely above freezing I held her, so she wouldn't bark. Normally I wouldn't do this, but we still had 3 + hrs left to drive. We stopped often so she could pee and to break up the trip.

The last few days have mostly been about housebreaking and crate training. It will be awhile till my next post, as I've got my hands full. So far, she has met 45 dogs and 19 people. She's met cows, sheep, llamas, ATVs, and been to the vet. She has learned: sit, out, down, leave it and quiet. She hasn't got "come" down yet, but she's making excellent progress. I'll keep you informed.

Hope the new year brings you blessings, healing and health!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


While we crave company, exhaust ourselves in preparing for them, over extend ourselves while they are here and crash back into loneliness and despair when they leave. It's still worth it. It is, for a short time, a small taste of normalcy, a precious glimpse of getting our lives back, a fantasy. The harsh reality is that we are not normal. We have to accept the terms of life that we've been dealt. In order to do that, we have to pick ourselves back up and refocus our lives on something that is valuable.

Many people successfully deal with the loneliness of the holiday season by immersing themselves in traditions, shopping, caroling or volunteering and participating. We can't. I'm sure you are thinking that we can do the 'traditions" part, but think about it.... traditions revolve around other people, or they are meaningless. You can festoon your environment with whatever you want. If there is no one to enjoy it with you, it ceases to have value. People who have lost loved ones at this time, understand that. Real value in life revolves around relationships. Real joy, comes from sharing with others.

Refocusing is a struggle. I try all kinds of things. Reading doesn't do it. I'm distracted by the clock ticking. Researching seems flat. I phone a friend, they have lives, carrying them along like a tumbling creek. I feel like I'm stuck in this stagnant back water... I try different hobbies, boring. All boring. I try singing, and listening to the radio... nope, not that either. I look at the pictures of the puppy I'm getting... too far off. I try to plan stuff to do, too tired. Tasty food? Don't care. Am I depressed? Well, duh!

Of course I'm depressed. I'd be mentally unbalanced if I wasn't. Its sad, being excluded and imprisoned in isolation. Will I get over it? Yeh. I'll work through it. It will get better. I'll just have to grieve the loss,... again.

I guess I wrote this today to share with other TIs that, for us, its normal. Its O.K. to be depressed. We all feel that way from time to time. Good grief, our lives are horrendous! We should be unhappy with it. We grieve because we don't want to be like this... I've heard from way to many people who've been charged with faking it, to get attention. What attention? None of us wants to be excluded and injured at every turn. We don't want to have to problem solve constantly just to achieve the most simple task in a way that minimizes our exposures, pain and suffering.

Am I having a pity party? Perhaps. I'm grieving. I miss who I used to be and what I used to be able to do. I used to do this...

Now, I don't have the co-ordination. Even if I could find non toxic supplies. 

 I used to go skiing, sailing, and white water rafting. Can't. Doesn't matter that I still want to, the chemicals used in those environments make the price too high...

I used to work on my garden... My evil neighbor makes sure that's impossible.

During the holiday season, I used to be part of the living nativity, attend parties and carol shut ins. I used to lead youth groups to shovel walks and clean up yards for the elderly or sponsor fun activities. Can't anymore. Most youth are hugely smelly.

So follow me through the process, I have to force my self to refocus. I have to look at what  I can do... I can do a little weaving, some embroidery, and some knitting. I made this hat for the young man down the road, who mows my right of way and the drive, in the summer....

Doing something for some one else, helps. It gives me a sense that I still matter to someone, in a small way. I've thought about making things for vets, like hats and gloves, but, one, I can't afford the supplies, and two, I can't be around supplies that come from fragranced environments. Most donated supplies reek...  

It isn't easy to refocus, or reset ones life. It takes effort, and it takes tears. We have to cry, for just a little while... I guess we do have to throw that pity party. 

I always say, "If you have to have a pity party, serve cookies..." So I guess, I'd best go make some. What do you think, sugar cookies or gingersnaps? O' yeah, gluten free and organic. Ya' comin'? 

You come, I'll make both and eggnog! Gee, I'm feeling better already....

Monday, December 13, 2010

The National Conversation...

The CDC is sponsoring a National Conversation on Chemical Exposures and Public Health.

I urge all of you to check into their web sight and check it out! Too many people have been, and are being, harmed by consumer product and environmental toxins, for anybody to remain ignorant on this subject. I took the time to read all the comments that have been submitted for the most recent round. There are some tremendous people from all walks of life, submitting a wide range of well informed comments.

You can read personal stories, facts and figures and research papers. There are comments submitted from hospitals, universities, groups, coalitions and individuals. Everyone of them telling their piece of the story. All of us crying out for change. But, we can't do by our selves. We need everyone to get involved. We need every voice! The bottom line is that the government will be moved by sheer weight of numbers...they've been in possession of substantive facts for more than 60 years. Only when the majority of the population is crying out, will they input the changes we need to protect ourselves and our children.

This too, is part of the adventure of living with Toxic Injury. The fight for recognition and equal rights. It has to be DONE. It won't get done by itself. So each of us fights on, one letter, one comment, one paragraph, one word, what ever it takes, whatever we can accomplish, be it great or small, we do it. It all matters. It all helps. Join us. Fight for your future.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Service Dog Update

I'm very excited about my upcoming service dog! She's just a puppy yet and I won't be getting her for several weeks. I go to the breeders site and look at pictures of all her beautiful poodles. It's very exciting.

I and "my trainer" had a divergence of opinion. She is an excellent dog trainer, I just didn't want a typical "service dog." She is passionate about her methods, I respect that. However, I being 50, have raised and trained enough critters to know what I do and do not want. Since we were both steadfast in our opinions, I decided I didn't need to pursuade her, I just let her go, and wished her well.

The big issue for me is in regards to AKC Canine Good Citizens. Both my son's and daughters childhood dogs were registered. RD was taken from us due to being poisoned by a pedophile that lived around the corner from my son, in his college town. The same pedophile who had poisoned 8 other dogs in the immediate neighborhood, over a course of 2 years. The pedophile would start harassing the dogs, then when they were wound up, he'd call animal control and report that the dogs were a nuisance and barking all the time. When the control officer came to investigate, the dogs would think it was the creep. The animal control officer would then harass the owners and write them up... Then the perp would threaten the dog owner and say that one day the dog would disappear and they'd never find it.

RD was so well trained, it was easy for the perp to take him. It's a myth that dogs know who's good and bad. Any duplicitous person can fool them. The creep took RD right out of the yard and shut the gate behind him. He took him downtown and fed him anti-freeze. Ryan had only been gone for a couple of minutes. He went searching and checked the pound. Someone turned him in. He was sick and foaming at the mouth. The pound keeper said they got a lot of dogs this way... Ryan found out the same thing had happened to the neighbors dogs. RD didn't live much longer after that. We complained to the animal control officer that the guy was a registered pedophile and was taking his cute small dog out for walks, exactly when the JR high let out and on the main collector route. It took them a year to believe us; they finally caught him in the act...poor girl! Why did they have to wait until that poor child was traumatized?!

So, That is why I don't want my dog to be trained to be "friendly" to everyone. I do want my dog to be well behaved, polite and reserved with strangers. That was were my trainer and I diverged.

So, I'm researching skills a service dog needs to have, as well as their recommendations for socializing. I'm practicing on my son's new "puppy." He's 12 months. This is another area where the trainer and I diverged. She thinks if you don't begin the training immediately that they are 8 weeks, the dog is ruined. I have obedience trained so many stray dogs that showed up here on our farm, so they could be re-homed, that I know that is just untrue! The trainer also insisted that a dog can only be trained to do one job. I think that is silly.

Which brings us to Jesse, a dog my son adopted from a shelter last winter, that I've been babysitting while my son was away for work. So far, Jesse has all the obedience skills but the long down and long sit. Don't misunderstand me, Ryan did most of that. Jesse and I have been working on retrieval, Scent & Recovery, (mostly because it's fun for both of us) and now herding. We're having a blast! He has proven very adept at cattle, including the bull, sheep, including the rams, and llamas. I'm almost tempted to try him on poultry. I think we need a little more work, first. He's a German Shepard, husky cross and his prey instinct is a factor that we will need to work on. But, he's been out 5 times and been very successful all 5 times. Oh, he wasn't perfect. Sometimes he's paying more attention to the poo he wants to sample, rather than what the livestock are doing.... But, still he's exceeded my expectations.

Some of the commands that Jesse has learned are, "wait" "slow" "hold 'em" "come back". He already had heel, but now he heels from clear across the pasture. He's also figuring out left and right. And, this is all "just plain fun" to him. He can't wait to go play with the critters again... While he doesn't have all of this down, 100%, yet... He's only been out 5 times! He'll get it. By the way, I don't do clicker training, and didn't do any of that with bait work. We just "play games." As a teacher with 20 years experience, I've found this works best for man and beast. Learning should be fun.

Ryan I are training him to "cast" when we come back in from taking the stock out to the back fields. Won't it be a hoot when we get him perfected on retrieve and S&R to take him bird hunting! I have no doubt that he'll make an excellent gun dog as well! LOL

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just because I Have Brain Damage, It Doesn't Mean I'm Stupid

I am continually amazed by people who treat disabled people like they are mentally incompetent!

What in the world does missing a limb have to do with I.Q. anyway? Or being blind? Nothin'.

Now, I have a diagnosis of "brain damage," but that doesn't mean that makes me stupid either... Not anymore than an individual that receives a concussion. A concussion is physical damage caused by a blow, or shaking, that damages brain cells. Toxic Injuries cause damage by chemical actions that harm brain cells. Just as with physical trauma to the brain, chemical trauma can cause functional abnormalities, too. You'll see the same types of symptoms: swelling in the brain tissue, confusion, disoriented, slurred speech, dizziness, sometimes blindness, and loss of cognitive function, etc.

Have I been mentally impaired? Yes. Severely. Did I feel "stupid?" Yes. Because I could no longer do the things I used to. And I knew it. During that time period I suffered extensive cognitive impairment, couldn't track time, lost most of my vocabulary, couldn't type or write, lost both fine and gross motor skills, my speech was slurred and I experienced visual disturbances, including blindness. My ability to communicate with others was grossly diminished.

BUT, I wasn't stupid! Inside me, in my brain, where it couldn't get out, I still knew. I knew what I felt. I knew who people were, even if I couldn't name them. I knew what they were saying, even if it took me longer to comprehend what they meant. It wasn't that I lost my intelligence; it was just slower, like someone with a broken leg, learning to walk again. The second part of it was that I had lost my ability to communicate and relate to the outside world. It is the same thing that stroke victims experience. We're trapped in our bodies, with no way to make contact.

Before I became disabled by pesticides (and plug-in air fresheners) I worked a lot in the Special Needs rooms in the schools. That's the classroom for students with mental and developmental disabilities. I always believed that their brains were still functioning in there. They just couldn't bridge the communication gap. Since experiencing these types of injuries, myself, I now know it's true.

Research has proven that all neurological impairments are due to environmental and consumer product toxins. Therefore, the "special needs kids" are toxically injured. As are all other persons with neurodegenerative diseases.

Do I get treated like I'm stupid? Oh, yeah. The most ironic thing is that it's usually by some one that's not even as competent as I am in my injured condition. That one always stuns me. There seems to be a direct correlation between real stupidity and bigotry. The more bigoted one is, the more stupidly they behave. They exhibit a complete absence of logic, once bigotry is applied. For instance: I called The Oregon Advocacy for the Disabled, one time when I was desperately trying to get some help. They told me, "They Don't serve (my) kind."

Are you kidding me?! That statement, right there, defies all logic! They're supposed to help all disabled and guarantee equal rights... But they refused to serve me, because I'm disabled with chemical sensitivities. I tell them that I have brain damage. The woman says they don't help people with my kind of brain damage! Are we splitting hairs now? How logical is that! I become upset and she says she will send me some complaint forms to fill out. All forms are toxic due to the chemicals they use to fix the ink to the page!! I tell her this and she says she can send me some forms to complain about it... They then give me numbers of other people I'm supposed to call who should help me. People who I've already called and they refused to help me because they had never heard of my disability, as well. Most of these very bigoted people will even make comments about how very burdensome my life is and then state emphatcally (and erroneously) that my disability is not recognized by the ADA! That is the very definition of disability under the ADA! I can only deduce that they are being deliberatly obtuse.

Deliberatly stupid.