Is it just mine, or do people not use the doorbell anymore?

I actually have two door bells. One is traditional which rings chimes and the other is a wireless device that flashes a light in my bedroom and living room. However, I’ve noticed over the last few months that nobody seems to use either of them anymore. I’ve checked that they’re working and they are. So why would people choose to knock rather than use a door bell?

I can understand knocking after ringing the bell that doesn’t ring. However, it seems that people don’t try either door bells they just knock. The problem with this is that I often miss a knock.

I don’t hear it and Kai isn’t trained to alert to knocks as I’ve found that people knock on tables, walls, objects fairly commonly throughout the day and it would be intrusive to have him alerting me to those knocks.

Perhaps I just need a sign that says to please ring the doorbell!

Velvet boy is home….

Kai went to the groomers today. He usually goes about every 6 weeks. However, for a number of reasons it was closer to 2 months between clips this time. I dropped off a scruffy, dirty dog and got back a velvet boy very happy to be home.

I keep Kai in what’s called a ‘kennel’ or ‘puppy’ clip. It’s very short and as a result when he’s first clipped he feels like crushed velvet. When his coat is longer it’s more like the curly wool of a sheep as he has hair rather than fur. That’s why standard poodles are considered hypoallergenic by many.

He has his face and paws clipped even tighter which helps keep him clean and also helps me with his working gear. He wears a halti when he’s working and often has to wear boots either because of the hot sidewalks in summer, or the snow, ice and salt in winter.

While he was being groomed I took the opportunity to take Molly for a walk on her own. We met up with a friend and had a short walk in the drizzle along the boardwalk. Molly enjoyed the morning without Kai.

Right now she’s been pushed down the couch so that Kai can get back in next to me. She’s very tolerant of him as he’s very insistent on being next to me. She loved bedtime though when there’s space for both of them to be next to me! It’s a good job I’m single as I’m not quite sure where we’d fit another person in with the three of us and I have a king-size bed!!

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p style=”text-align: justify;”>Thankfully it was a quiet day for me. I try to plan Kai’s grooming days for such time as I find it very hard to manage without him. I forget how much I rely on him, until days like today when he’s just not there. I even had to pick my own cell phone up when I dropped it this morning!

Welcome home, Kai!

A freelance writer is born….

Just under a year ago, I started this Blog as my first endeavour as a non-academic author. Since then, I’ve had an article published in an online forum and a poem selected for inclusion in an anthology; both under my pseudonym. The first was unpaid and the second payment is on a royalty basis and as one author among many royalties will be minimal and a long way off.

However, today I can count another milestone: My first article published as a paid freelance author. Yesterday I attended the Sault Ste. Marie Annual Dog Show. I then wrote about it for SooToday. Today, that article was published as “Dispatch from a dog show“. At the end of the month I’ll submit my invoice and I’ll be paid for what I wrote. Not it’s not going to get me out of debt in a hurry but it’ll certainly buy me a soy white-hot chocolate at Starbucks now and then and help me complete my bucket list.

Unfortunately with summer on its way I may need to stop them soon as fruit smoothies will start ruling the day and exposure to citrus becomes more problematic. However, I have enjoyed the occasional ones that I have managed. So whatever you drink, raise a glass with me, to me – Nikki Shaw – freelance writer!

Photograph courtesy of Kirsten Wilson.

One more rabbit hole dealt with…..

On the Easter weekend I took the decision not to blog for a few weeks. My health had gone down another rabbit hole and I was finding it overwhelming to deal with. Now that I’m through the worse of the rabbit hole it’s time to start blogging again.

Yesterday I had surgery. The thought of this surgery terrified me. I am allergic to general anesthesia and have come very close to death several times in the past thanks to it. However, I have to give a huge shout out to my surgical team. My surgeon and anesthetist took my concerns seriously and agreed to operate using just local anesthesia and sedation. As long as I could tolerate it. If I couldn’t then they’d have to put me under but would use different drugs than usual in an effort to stop the adverse reactions I’ve had in the past.

Apparently, I’m a superstar! I not only tolerated it but I tolerated it under such mild sedation I was allowed to go home the same day, rather than stay overnight as we’d been expecting that I’d need to do.

Today, I’m sore and morphine is my friend. However, aside from the surgical site itself I feel pretty good.

I now have to wait three weeks for the pathology results of the mass that was removed. All along the belief has been that it’s probably benign, and in fact when biopsied last year it was found to be benign then. However, since then the mass grew and changed in ways that made it imperative that it was removed.

If it’s not benign and I need to deal with radiation therapy or chemotherapy then I’m ready for it. Nothing is as scary as the thought of the surgery itself. Now that I’ve survived that I can deal with anything.

It was a very strange few weeks recently as part of me was completely convinced that I wasn’t going to survive the surgery; that I’d have an allergic reaction and die. It was an odd position to be in.

Yet once I arrived for the surgery itself and it became clear how much work the day surgery team had done to be ready for me; setting up a completely latex free operating theater just for me; making sure everybody knew at every handover that I have multiple allergies, was absent my service dog, and that I’m deaf; I felt more optimistic.

So this is a HUGE shout out to the day surgery team at my local hospital. They made a terrifying experience as positive as it could possibly be and made me feel validated and understood throughout.

Now I just have to take it easy for a while and let everything heal. One more scar for my collection!

Healing is not linear

I’ve had a few more down days recently which reminded me of something I knew, but had forgotten: healing isn’t linear. It’s not like once you’ve turned a corner it’s a straight line to full recovery. In fact, in this case I’m not likely to ever attain the same level of health that I had before. Anaphylaxis is a life threatening condition that has always been a component of my life but is now a cornerstone of every thought and action.

Whereas before I was sometimes a little careless about my allergies I now know I can’t afford to be, even once. In the past I was able to be present if an orange was peeled as long as I got out fast and self-medicated with additional anti-histamines. I don’t have that luxury any more. Just being in the presence of a citrus scented body wash for less than a minute was enough to trigger a severe asthma attack.

My only solution is avoidance. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to totally avoid citrus as it’s prevalent everywhere. So I also take huge doses of antihistamines carefully timed throughout a day to give me as close to 24 hours cover as we can. This doesn’t stop the reaction but it allows me to get out of my own home occasionally, under careful precautions.

As for my environmental sensitivities, reactions to scents generally… I have a new best friend: a personal air purifier. The one I”m using is the FreshAir Personal Air Purifier by Aerus. I wear this round my neck for my lung rehab and either it’s a very expensive placebo or it’s effective. I’ve been able to be in the same elevator as another lady who I can tell is wearing a heavy scent as I can smell it as she moves past me but stood a few feet apart I’m not being triggered into asthma or reactions. I wouldn’t like to chance it for more than a minute or so but it allows me a little bit more of a normal life.

Though between Kai (my service dog), my Epi pens, inhalers and now this purifier as well as all the medication I’m taking daily it does seem a little insane at times.

Talking of Kai – his natural alerts to my inhaler use is continuing. This isn’t a trained task and I don’t know what he picks up on though he seems to be paying specific attention to my breath. However, I forgot to take my inhaler before rehab. on Tuesday. It’s one that I need to take before exercise. I didn’t make even half a lap before he did a full alert having tried to get my attention more subtly he escalated his alerts to full paws up. At which point I knew I needed to do something but wasn’t quite sure what so I headed back to the rehab. office as I’d been feeling dizzy that day already. As soon as we were there he alerted to my bag. As my other inhaler was in my pocket I now knew what I needed. Took my inhaler and Kai settled just fine.

He really enjoys my off-balance days because he gets to work counter-balance where he pulls a little against a harness in the opposite direction to that which I’m off-balance in. Like most dogs he loves to pull so it’s a fun task for him though apparently its fascinating for others to watch him constantly adjusting his pull to keep me balanced.

Kai is a real superstar! He’s saved my life now more times than I care to imagine.

Anyway, today was a good day on that non-linear progress. The thing to remember of course, that even though there will be bad days I am finally recovering from the depths of where I was and that is something to be thankful for.

Some days recovery is so much slower than I’d like…

So today I decided to start clearing up some of that dog poop. I got myself well prepared with rain boots, heavy-duty plastic waste bags and dozens on bags for picking it up.

It was gross!!

However, the weather was probably perfect for it as I could dig my fingers in the snow around the poop and pick it up often in one slushy piece.

I got all of the side area to the deck done and started on the garden itself.

However, what I didn’t take into account was how hard all that bending down would be physically. I managed about 10 minutes before I was too out of breath to ignore it any more. So I packed up for the day and came in.

Flashback to a repeat of what my life was like for months last year…. It took a good hour for me to recover my breath again. Even after that I couldn’t eat and breath at the same time for a few more hours.

I’m sure it was a combination of the type of exercise, the scents from being outside (though the poop itself hasn’t got to the point of smelling yet – it’s still too frozen) and just doing too much.

It was scary though!

So now,  I’m inside resting and working out how long it will take me to finish off the yard if I just do 5 minutes a day. At least my dogs don’t walk it in. Somehow they pick their way round it!

I’m also looking up different poop scoop devices to see if there’s something that might be easier for me to manage once I’m finished with what’s left in the snow and I’m dealing with the bog that is the majority of my yard currently. If anybody has any recommendations, please let me know!

My apologies for the gross subject matter but hey, this blog is about my life and this was my life today! Dog poop and extreme shortness of breath once more.

The good news is that I did recover and I can breathe again and eat, and talk (to my dogs anyway!). So I am improving but the space between how sick I was and how well I am is much closer than I thought 🙁

 

Such a pretty boy….

So we both survived our time apart, Kai came home looking very handsome. However, he’d caused some concerns while being groomed as he’d peed pretty much constantly not just when I arrived to pick him up.

So today we headed to the vets. The good news is that Kai doesn’t have a bladder infection, nor does he have diabetes. He does have a touch of staining between the pads of his feet and the tip of his penis from licking. Apparently there’s something in a dog’s saliva that can turn white hair red. Nothing serious though as the skin underneath wasn’t inflamed or infected so I just need to watch for excessive licking and most likely his hair will go back to being white in those places in the summer when he doesn’t have ice and salt to lick off.

Sorry Kai – looks like winter boots for you more often next year!

My thanks to the new groomers for their concern. However, unfortunately we think it was a reaction from the bad groom and being at a strange groomers. Hopefully, next time it won’t be so new to him and he’ll relax. However, as he hasn’t continued with the uncontrollable peeing since I picked him up and didn’t pee in the vets office we’re pretty sure it was more like a little kid peeing themselves when they’re scared.

That’s mixed news. I hate the fact that he had a bad groom that caused it. Especially as the groomer used had been grooming him since I got him and had always done a great job before. It must have just been an off day. However, I won’t risk him there again. So I’ll let his coat grow out a little longer this time before his next groom and hopefully all will be OK.

He certainly looks like a handsome boy today, even upside down!

Oh, as for me. I was right, one fall, a few bruises and a couple of mild asthma attacks. The lung rehab. program staff commented on how much more off-balance I was without him and how much more I needed to hold on without him providing counter balance for me. It’s amazing to think how much more restricted my life would be without him. I’m so grateful for his love and presence in my life. Good boy Kai!