Posts Tagged 'chronic illness'

It’s Carnival Time! #ADBC and PFAM

Martha at Believe in Who You Are is the host of the October edition of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. Even though she is between dogs right now, she has taken up the challenge and come up with a great theme: Moments. Please visit her Call for Entries for topic ideas, guidelines, the deadline, etc. Thank you, Martha!

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival graphic. A square graphic, with a lavender background. A leggy purple dog of unidentifiable breed, with floppy ears and a curly tail, in silhouette, is in the center. Words are in dark blue, a font that looks like it's dancing a bit.

Is this the Moment for you to get involved?

Lately it has struck me how many people follow assistance dog blogs (mine or others) who are not assistance dog partners. I know a lot of wonderful dog trainers and lovers of dogs who follow After Gadget here or on Facebook. When I learned of the topic for the next ADBC, I thought, “Anyone can write on this!” I mean, I know some of you who train assistance dogs or who train pet dogs but read about service dogs on lists or blogs or Facebook must have moments you want to share — don’t you? Moments where you read something about assistance dogs or training that made you stop and think? Moments where you read an idea relating to a service dog issue and you realized it could apply to your pet dog or you? Moments that moved, inspired, or irked you?

Why not join the carnival? Come on over, the moment’s right!

And speaking of getting more people involved in the ADBC, I’ve decided to introduce the hashtag #ADBC on Twitter so that people who are tweeting about the Carnival can more easily spread the word. So please, if you write a post for the ADBC or you read a post about it you like, retweet and add the hashtag #ADBC. I am very fond of everyone who participates regularly (or sporadically) and always look forward to their take on the new topic. At the same time, I think it would be fun to expand our family and get new people reading and posting every quarter. Thank you for your help! (By the way, my handle is @aftergadget.)

Green and white rectangular badge. On top, "Patients" is written in all capital letters, in Times New Roman font in white on a kelly-green background. Below, on a white background, "for a moment" is written in green, slanted up from lower left to upper right, in a more casual, slightly scrawled font.

Meanwhile, another blog carnival is taking place now. The monthly Patients for a Moment (PFAM) blog carnival is being hosted today by Selena of Oh My Aches & Pains! She has done an amazing job of putting together a really big and fantastic(ally frightening!) carnival of The Fright Files: Stories of Medical Mistakes. Don’t miss it!

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Mr. Barnum, SD/SDiT

Signal Boost: Telephone Support Group for People with Disabilities

I posted about this group once before. Apparently that garnered some interest, and the group proceeded. Now they are opening the group to more people again. Please share with anyone you think might be interested.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT

Join a support group by telephone

from anywhere in the country (or the world)!

Connect with others dealing with concerns similar to your own.

Boston Self Help Center, a small nonprofit run by and for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, is offering a peer-counseling support group that is being held by telephone. The support group, which is made up of people with a range of disabilities and illnesses, has been meeting for several months and is now looking to add two or three new members.

Boston Self Help Center has been providing peer-counseling support groups in a cross-disability setting for over 30 Years. We charge on a sliding fee scale; you pay only what you can afford. Your fees help make possible the continuation of our support-group program.

If you are interested in learning more about the group, please leave a message for Linda or Cindy on Boston Self Help Center’s message line: (617) 277-0080 (voice/TTY).

Signal Boost: Phone Support Group for PWDs

This is a signal boost for a support group, held by phone, for people with disabilities or chronic illness. I know both facilitators, and they are warm, caring, experienced counselors. Please cross-post, forward, etc. Thanks!

– Sharon and Barnum, panting-hot-SDiT

Join a support group by telephone from anywhere in the world*!

Connect with others dealing with concerns similar to your own.

Boston Self Help Center is offering a peer-counseling support group for people with a disability or chronic illness that is being held by telephone.  The support group, which has been running since February, is now looking to add two or three new members.

Boston Self Help Center has been providing peer-counseling support groups in a cross-disability setting for over 30 Years. We charge on a sliding fee scale; you pay only what you can afford. Your fees help make possible the continuation of our support-group program.

If you’re interested in learning more about the group, please leave a message for Linda or Cindy on Boston Self Help Center’s message line: (617) 277-0080.

*While the conference call is free, group members are responsible for paying their long-distance phone charges. Since most group members are in the US, if you are outside the US, you might need to be flexible about time of day.

Sick Humor Retro: The Hindrance Dog

Grief takes many forms. There is sorrow, longing, anger, and numbness. Yet, there is also reminiscing. Reflecting on the good, bad, and funny times.

With Gadget, most of my favorite memories are the times that are hilarious now, but were far from funny at the time.

When Gadget was most challenging, I often thought, “Yes, someday, I’ll look back on this and laugh. But for now, I’ll just whimper. Or cry.”

I admit, though, even in the midst of pain or exhaustion, frustration or exasperation, my inner voice whispered, “Heidi is going to love to hear this one!” Or, “I bet I can use this for a humor column.” Or, “Boy, did I make a fool of myself today!”

It was really impossible to stay angry at my boy when he ran as if he might take off and fly from joy, his wildly flopping ears adding to that impression. He loved me with the same abandon as he ran: he once rolled onto his back in my lap, threw back his head to lick my face, and broke my nose with the top of his hard skull. He might paw me in deference and enthusiasm and leave deep, bloody scratches on my legs.

Gadget kisses Sharon

Some kisses were safer than others

Of course, this was when he was young and untutored, before he became the magnificent helper who I came to rely on so much. Before I took much of his help for granted.

Sick Humor Rides — and Crashes — Again

Since I have referred to Gadget as my muse at the end of each After Gadget post, I feel it’s time to give him his due as the muse he used to be when I wrote a monthly column called “Sick Humor.” Gadget starred in a few of my stories about the funny side of life with chronic illness.

Gadget is gone. I haven’t written a column in years. But my new puppy will be here in three weeks — wildness and unpredictability arriving with him. I think it’s a good time to remember that from distractable, unmannerly buffoons grow calm professionals.

In other words, Gadget, my perfect dog was not necessarily the “best” dog. In fact, in 1991, I called him . . .

“The Hindrance Dog”

This morning I got up at 6:30, which is generally as much adventure as I can handle in one day. I had to get the dogs to the vet. Jersey, my aging service dog, needed a growth on her lip removed. Gadget, the 70-pound puppy I recently adopted, was scheduled for neutering.

Jersey provides me greater mobility and independence. Three years ago, when I adopted and trained her, she was the perfect assistance dog. A mellow, acquiescent “floor potato” who was easy to train, she retrieves what I drop, steadies me when I walk, brings me my slippers, and is a quiet companion when I’m too sick to stir. However, as one friend put it, “Jersey acts like it’s her job but not her career.” Like most people, Jersey works but she’d rather be sleeping. Or eating. Especially eating.

When Jersey developed arthritis I knew it was time to find a trainee to succeed her. I wanted my new dog to master complicated skills that were beyond the phlegmatic Jersey. I sought a younger, more energetic pupil — the canine equivalent of a workaholic. A dog who would bound off to find help in a crisis, pull my wheelchair with gusto, and carry groceries like they were Faberge eggs. Enter Gadget — a urine-spritzing, slobber-spraying, fur-covered ball of muscle — who was about to kiss (or rather, lick) his manhood goodbye.

The dogs needed a brief walk because we didn’t have much time to get to the vet. I climbed aboard my mobility scooter and clipped Gadget’s lead to my handle bar. As usual, Gadget ran joyously ahead, Jersey and I following sedately behind. I planned to head back before we got too near my neighbors’ house, to prevent rousing their dogs and disturbing them with sunrise racket.

As we reached my neighbors’ barn, I opened my mouth to call my duo home, but before I could speak, my neighbors’ dogs started barking. Gadget spotted his best friend, a Lab mix named Shadow, and lunged to the end of his leash.

“Come on!” I hissed, still trying for stealth. “We’re not playing. We’re leaving.” I could hear Lilin calling from her house. I wasn’t sure if she was calling me, Sharon, or her dog, Shadow.

“Its Sharon,” I yelled, so she wouldn’t think I was an intruder, sneaking in at dawn’s early light. “Sorry!” I bellowed, as an afterthought, preparing to head home.

The Anti-Lassie

“In dog training,” the books say, “timing is everything.” This is true. Today Gadget gave me a lesson in timing as swift and sure as if I’d been wearing a choke chain.

As my scooter reached the halfway point in its arc toward home — perpendicular to my gasping service-dog-in-training — Gadget bolted, pulling my scooter over on top of me. Relying on the quick thinking and steady nerves that have made me the skilled dog-handler I am today, I immediately took charge of the situation.

“Aieeeee!” I screamed, as I slammed into the hard-packed earth.

“Ow!” I clarified, as 200 pounds of metal and plastic landed on me.

Then I tried to get up. Unfortunately, my right foot was pinned under the scooter, which was now an immobility vehicle. I looked at the dogs to see how they were coping with this sudden, troubling turn of events.

 

Sharon, Jersey, and Gadget

An outing after Gadget had learned his stuff, Jersey was retired, and the chair and I were upright

 

Jersey lay contentedly in the grass about 30 feet away. Gadget continued to hurl himself to the end of his lead, oblivious that parts of the leash — as well as of me — were trapped under the scooter.

I assessed the situation and decided on a plan.

“Help!” I yelled, flailing in the dust. “Lilin?” I hoped my neighbor was making her way behind the barn to find the source of the ruckus. “Help! It’s Sharon!”

Then, both dogs, hearing my distress, continued as they were.

“Oh my God! Sharon!” Lilin rounded the corner, gasping, her hand covering her mouth.

“I’m taking the dogs to the vet,” I said inanely as I lay in the dirt. “That’s why I’m up so early.”

Seeing another human with me, Gadget trotted over, waggled at the two of us, then went back to desperately trying to get to Shadow.

Lilin is not a big woman, but bless her, she is strong. She lifted the scooter off my foot and helped me tip it back onto its wheels. Scratched and grimy, the right side of my overalls hanging broken, I had to keep reassuring her I was okay.

I really was, too. No injuries, just scrapes and bruises — especially to my ego. After all, the reasons I’d acquired a scooter and a service dog were to become less needy of other people’s help. This was not how I’d envisioned it coming together.

Nonetheless, Lilin and I untangled the dogs and made our ways home, Gadget straining the whole time.

I have faith that Gadget will make an excellent assistance dog, once he is trained to get help in a crisis as opposed to causing the crisis in the first place. For the time being, however, I have changed his rank from “assistance-dog-in-training” to “hindrance dog.”

-Sharon and the muse of Gadget (who truly earned the title of Service Dog with every passing year)

We welcome your comments as always.

 


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