Interlude: Gadget Wins Posthumous Recognition

Hey everyone.

Sorry for the lag between posts. I’ve been focused on the following:

1. Learning how to make After Gadget more accessible and then going back to revise all previous pages and posts to get them up to scratch. (Almost, but not quite done. I should be done when the next “real” blog goes up.)

By the way, if you blog, too, you can get great info on making your blog accessible at FWD/Forward — feminists with disabilities. It’s also a really excellent blog.

P.S. Even if you have not received a complaint about your blog’s inaccessibility, please do not assume it works for everyone. For example, I haven’t had any complaints about After Gadget, but I’ve learned some ways to improve it.

Personally, I flee many a website or blog because it’s not accessible to me, without ever telling the webmaster or blogger that there are problems. Aside from it being a pain in the butt to constantly fight for access, it’s not alway even possible if you can’t access the site to begin with. Stepping off my (fragrance-free) soap box now.

2. Sleeping. You know, it turns out that sleep really can be excellent. I don’t think I’ll make it into a lifestyle or anything, but now and again, it’s very refreshing. I recommend it.

3. Puppy preparations!

A. Which puppy?

The breeder has narrowed it down to two boys as the best candidates for what I’m seeking in a future SD. (The latest puppy photos are at legacybouviers.com, an inaccessible site. Click on “New Arrivals.”) They sound unbelievably adorable and sweet. They both love to be held, and you can pick them up and rub their bellies and paws, and they just go limp! Isn’t that the best? And, although they like to play, they are good at settling down and are super mellow, which I need, because when we are aren’t training or working or exercising, we will be resting a lot. They also are curious and bold, but not overly obnoxious. Of course, it’s still too soon to tell. The final decision won’t be made until formal temperament testing is done between weeks seven and eight.

B. How to get the puppy here?

I’ve been working on getting Monsieur le Petit Chien here. I’ve decided to book flights for Betsy to fly in, pick up the puppy, and fly back. I have not booked a flight in fifteen years, if that, and never before booked a pup as “carry on,” so I’m a bit nervous about making it work out. Anyone with experience in this, feel free to post suggestions or soothing remarks and encouragements.

C. When should I take leave of my senses, before or after the puppy gets here?

Most people probably think that getting a puppy in the first place requires taking leave of your senses to a certain degree. I’m not going to argue.

In my case, there are also predictable occasions (and some unpredictable ones) when I have what I affectionately call, “the crazies.” This usually happens when I start a new antiparasitic or antibiotic medication to attack one or more of the tick-borne diseases (TBDs) that have damaged my brain. It’s part of what’s known as a “herx” or a Herxheimer reaction. Herxes can last for days or months. When I was adding new treatments every few months, I essentially herxed for over two years. That was brutal, but I’ve learned a lot from it.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s better to be honest with myself and others about what’s going on. This helps me handle it better; it helps the people around me handle it better; and it allows my doctors and me to make better decisions about my health care. It also makes me less secretive and ashamed of it, which contributes to all of the above, as well as, in my opinion, making the world a better place (and delusions of grandeur are not even one of my symptoms; I come by them naturally). That’s why I’m taking you on this tangent: one of my roles in life, and in this blog, is to destigmatize and demystify stuff about disability so that disabled folks will have to put up with less oppression. For example, I am certain I’m not the only one taking steps to address psych issues before I get a puppy.

Case in point: I don’t want to be in the middle of a new, big, flaming psych herx when I welcome my puppy into the first home he will ever know after leaving the nest!

So when I talked to my doctor yesterday about which protocol we’re switching to, I had the pup in mind. My doc and I agreed that it’s time to attack my Bartonella infection because it’s been undertreated, and it’s caused me loads of problems. She suggested adding a new IV medication. While all my TBDs can cause psych symptoms, the worst are probably related to Bartonella.

“Would this be likely to kick up a psych herx?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah,” she replied with gusto.

“Let’s start that now,” I said.

I told her that I’m getting a puppy in a month, so I want to get “the crazies” out of the way before the puppy arrives. She seemed delighted that I was getting a puppy and asked if it would be the same breed as Gadget. Apparently, I now have medical approval for puppy-lovin’! (Not that disapproval would have deterred me, at all.)

4. I wanted to post some more celebratory blogs occasionally, to keep you all from burning out on my grief, but my computer has been refusing to cooperate.

A long time ago I wrote an essay for my Sick Humor column called, “The Hindrance Dog.” It details an incident wherein a rambunctious new rescue, who is young but strong, teaches his naive handler the dangers of attaching his lead to her mobility device.

I thought this would make for a quick-and-easy post while I worked on items 1, 2, and 3 above, but my computer is refusing to allow me to translate it from its old format. I’ll get there soon, though. Humor is in store, I promise ye.

Instead, here is a different bit of celebration.

I received the email below last night from the Service Dog list on Dogster. I was very honored. Everyone there was very supportive of what Gadget and I went through. (I joined less than two months before he died, though I didn’t yet know that he was dying.) So, it really means a lot to get this posthumous recognition of Gadget — and of our partnership. Thank you, Dogster SD list moderators.

[Accessibility note on the link below: I know guide-dog partners who use Dogster, so I assume it's text-reader accessible. However, it's graphically intense, with lots of colors, flashing and moving things, and very small print.]

Congratulations to Gadget’s mom for Gadget being service dog of the month in memory for February!

Gadget was a male Bouvier des Flandres whose page can be seen here:

http://www.dogster.com/dogs/1051350

Gadget passed away in November, but his mom made a wonderful blog about his life and work, and how to cope with the loss of one’s service dog. He was a truly special dog, and continues to impact people today. He knew over 100 commands, and helped his mom not only with her disabilities, but also with greyhound rescue.

So congratulations to Gadget’s mom, and Gadget, we miss you!

Thanks for bearing with me. Another blog will be out soonish.

Peace.

-Sharon and the muse of Gadget

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3 Responses to “Interlude: Gadget Wins Posthumous Recognition”


  1. 1 Ashley van Tol February 5, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Those puppies are so cute! That’s a lot of work to train a new puppy to be a service dog! Did you train Gadget yourself too?

    I am going to check out the accessibility site, thanks. Oh by the way I did end up putting a few of my posts from my evil black backgound site onto my other site http://peasprouts.wordpress.com

  2. 2 Lolly February 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Hi sharon,

    The Feb. 5, post is password protected. Maybe you intended that, or maybe it happened in translation. I’ve tried putting in a password, but it isn’t permitting me access.

    Please email me at my email address above with instructions.

    Id like to continue reading your blog.

    Thanks,
    Lolly

    • 3 Sharon Wachsler February 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      Lolly,
      And everyone else, I’m very sorry about that! I’m having technical issues. I’m using a new operating system (Linux), and I wanted to make sure that if I cut and pasted something from word processing documents (I’m testing two types of programs) into the blog, it would still be visible to screen readers as text, and not have been transformed into some weird nothingness or graphic or who knows what.
      Unfortunately, I can’t get the text reader program on my computer (Orca) to work, to test it. So, a friend offered to run them through a few text readers to see if they’re accessible to her. I thought that if I made it password protected, it would be private, and nobody but her would know about the posts, because they are not ready for public consumption!
      I had no idea that notices would go out to all subscribers saying there are new blogs up, and then you would arrive here and find nonsense titles and an inpenetrable blog! I am so sorry!
      Meanwhile, my friend is having one of her disabilities acting up that’s preventing her from checking them for me. So, I apologize, and hopefully you won’t get another notice till there is actually a new blog up!
      If anyone who has working text readers wants to help out a technologically-challenged damsel in distress, please email me at swachsler at aol, and I’ll give you the password. It would be a big help. Otherwise, I’ll get there eventually.
      Again, I apologize.
      -Sharon


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