I caught Tom red tongued, gently picking pea pods off the vines. And here I was blaming the chipmunks!
This is this approach to thinking of life with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue or other chronic illness that impacts energy of working to live within your own personal energy envelope.
It’s hard living in the energy envelope. Or at least what is hard is getting into the envelope and then staying in the envelope. When I’m actually in the envelope, the beauty of it is things get way easier. Once in the envelope things become deceptively much improved. In the envelope I feel really pretty damn good. Especially compared to life outside the envelope.
So why is it so hard to stay in there for me?
Because when I’m in the envelope it’s easy to pretend I have energy to spare. I really don’t. The reason life is going so well when I’m in the envelope is I’M IN THE FRIGGING ENVELOPE! It doesn’t mean I have any more energy. It doesn’t mean I’m magically cured of fibromyalgia (I wish!). There is no cumulative effect to living in the envelope. But there is so much more I want to do, so when I’m feeling good it’s so damn easy to delude myself that “Oh yea absolutely! I can do x,y,z, why not? I feel pretty good!”
Reminder to my dear self: teaching a 3hr workshop will absolutely put you so far out of the envelope.
Any yet the feeling good me of a few months ago when I organized these things, put another 2 workshops to teach in July and 1 in August. The living in the envelope me is a saboteur! I need to remember to not listen to her! Unless it’s her saying “No, bad idea” to something. Then of course I can listen to her.
In the envelope is good. Out of the envelope is painful. Be in the envelope.
Zora is perturbed. She’s more than perturbed quite frankly. See, I put a bell on her.
The bell is on her CoyoteVest that she wears on our woods walks. And it means she can no longer chase chipmunks. I’ve spoiled all her fun.
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling. The chipmunks all know she’s coming.
More importantly it’s now much easier for me to keep track of her when she’s off leash. The foiling of her chipmunk chasing is just a nice (for the chipmunks) side benefit. Hopefully it keeps the coyotes away too!
The program that trained and matched Tom and I, the Guide Dog Foundation, recently posted an Amazon Wishlist for the puppies and guide dogs in training in their kennel. If you’re looking to make a future guide dog’s day, take a look!
Tom and I will be sending those hard working pups some nylabones, Tom’s favorite (well second to his squeaky plush KONG Wubba but those aren’t a kennel approved toy, so we will stick to the nylabones on the wishlist)
This little yellow lab x golden cross future guide dog puppy is named Thomy. Doesn’t he make you’re heart melt? Sooooo cute!!
A lovely morning for a walk. Tom guiding on my left, Dulce spaniel and Zora walking nicely on my right.
Nearing the end of the walk, final stretch of sidewalk towards home. I live on the main road through town, so there is always traffic, it’s busy. It’s trash day. It’s the time of year for road work so various bits of construction. You get the picture.
Dulce, who is walking with her gentle leader head collar on flicks her head and does a little woof, the way she does when there is something ahead she’s unsure about. So we stop, do a couple of hand touches for some treats, she settles. I glance ahead and see the orange and silver stripes of a traffic barrel at the edge of the sidewalk. Ok, makes sense Dulce is unnerved, she can be worried about stuff like that.
Dulce is willing to trust me, and Tom and Zora are unphased, so we keep going. As we are passing, the traffic barrel says, “Hi!”
Not a traffic barrel.
I can only imagine what the construction worker thought as I’m approaching, telling the dogs, “Don’t worry, it’s just a barrel.” LOL
Each May for the past number of years ACVO sponsors free veterinary ophthamologist exams for working dogs. It’s a wonderful program and one I am grateful for.
Yesterday Tom and I headed in to the Angell Memorial Veterinary Hospital in Boston for Tom’s annual eye exam. I felt like I had a transportation fairy on my shoulder, the various transit we had to navigate to get there and back went smoothly in a way I usually only dream about. A friend offered us a ride to the train station, she was wonderfully on time, train arrived on schedule, the conductor actually clearly announced the stops, we caught a subway within minutes of arriving in the station, there were people around who quickly and easily answered my “which side of the platform” question, the .7m walk from the subway station to the hospital was a breeze so we arrived for the appointment with 5minutes to spare. Going home the travel fairy was also magically there, even to where as we were walking home from the train station just as I noticed Tom was starting to get hot about a mile from home a friend who happened to be driving by and saw us, called to offer us a ride. Magic I tell you, magic!
Anyway, back to the exam. It was good we went. Tom now has some mild age related changes to his eyes. The vet described them as very typical for a dog Tom’s age and nothing to be concerned about at this time. The vet anticipated likely in 2-3 years those changes will adversely affect his vision, but now they don’t and Tom is good to safely guide me. We will go back again next year as the vet recommended, see if there has been any further progression and go from there. So good, not great, news and more importantly good data to have so we can make the best decisions for Tom and for our safety as a team as time goes on.
Last week on May 1st, I mentioned an event Tom and I were going to later that day. One I knew he was going to be excited about and enjoy. What I didn’t realize was how much I was going to enjoy it.
Last Tuesday we headed in to Boston to meet up with an incredibly nice group of ladies who also have guide dogs from the Guide Dog Foundation. There is a GDF Graduates group on Facebook where we realized there are an awful lot of us in the Boston area. We arranged a time to meet up and 5 of us were able to make it last Tuesday evening. A couple of the folks had met each other before through other avenues in their lives, but a few of us, myself included, didn’t know anyone in person. We ranged in ages, life styles and types of vision loss. 4 of us had guide dogs, 1 was between dogs.
It was really nice not to feel like an outsider.
What do I mean by that?
Well, for example we, as a group, changed tables 3 times. Why? Because we were all suffering from the angle of the sunlight and glare that continued to move depending on the time. No one thought twice about it. No one had to explain themselves. Or justify it. Or argue about it. It was simply, “Hey let’s move” and we all said “Great!” We all knew why, we all knew what would be criteria for a suitable next location, we all simply got up and moved.
That might sound like a little simple thing, and it was, that’s what I mean. Never before have I been in a social group where I wouldn’t have had to internally wrestle with myself before saying “hey can we change tables?” because I’d know someone would want to know why, or make a big deal about it, or make an apology for choosing a spot with bright light, or say something rather personal about me to the wait staff, or ask me ‘how about here? is this good? why not? what about this spot?’ Where changing tables would be a reminder that I was different, asking everyone in the group to disrupt and move because of me. Last Tuesday, none of that happened. We all just got it.
It was really nice to be around people who just plain ‘get it’ but who do so without making a big deal about it. Blindness and vision loss was just a part of life for each of us. It was really nice to be around a group of educated, intelligent, very interesting people who also get fully life with disability.
As a bonus, their guide dogs were lovely too.
Upon reading “It’s in the Bag” over on LA’s blog, I laughed. It was a great post! As I go around with my backpack as standard attire, people are often asking me, “What’s in that bag?” As in “Isn’t that heavy?”
For me, the backpack is part hands free convenience and part occupational therapy. The added balanced weight of it helps with proprioception when I’m walking. Without it I often feel like I’m falling through space. That said, for the first time in my life I am currently researching a smaller purse type option for when hubby and I are out together. I’ve never purchased a purse in my life, and my fashion friend S. is already excited to help. When you are not a fashion person (my mother refers to my preferred style as ‘frumpy’. I prefer the terms ‘utilitarian’ and ‘comfortable’ but ‘frumpy’ works too), I have learned it is always good to have at least one friend who’s eyes light up at the idea of shopping for you.
My current backpack I was surprised how much I like it and how well it has held up over the past nearly 2 years of daily use in all weather. The one prior was falling apart and this one was a reasonable price, good Amazon reviews, seemed to fit my criteria and had free returns. Sold! I would buy another in a heartbeat.
So what’s in it?
As my back pack is what I grab to go whether I’m walking, taking a Lyft, getting a ride, going on the train, it carries the things I use nearly daily and other more emergency but still often used things.
In 1 side pouch are 2 tennis balls, in the other side pouch is a small dog treat bag, in the front strap is a lightweight set of ear bud head phones.
In the main section:
In the smaller zippered section
The things in my bag have over the years earned their place in their degree and frequency of use. Stuff for me, stuff for the dogs, stuff to help ensure I can get myself safely to and from.
So, what’s in your bag?
7 years ago today, May 1st, I met Tom and he met me! I arrived at the Smithtown, NY campus of the Guide Dog Foundation just a few short hours prior, had my juno walk with our trainer and then got to meet Tom for the very first time! I remember being awed at his size, he was much larger than I had anticipated for a lab x golden retriever cross, and so glad his fur was comfortable for me to touch (texture stuff, many lab coats I can’t stand they are too spiky feeling). He’s still a big moose and still lovely to pet.
Today we went on a great walk with friends at the state park. And this afternoon we have an exciting event planned. Stay tuned for that adventure, I plan to write about it later this week. Tom’s going to be so excited when he realizes what’s in store today!
Here’s hoping for many more years with this guy leading the way.
As it’s International Guide Dog Day, I thought I’d balance out the walk in the park video I did the other week with a walk through town video. I was feeling a bit talkative, as this video was shot the day after my voice returned from the 4 days I was sick with a cold. So there are a number of my pet permanent pedestrian vs privileged people with a driver’s license rules of the road rambles. All sorts of gems, like “How it actually works when you press the walk signal button at a lighted crossing,” “How to not be a moron driver when you notice a pedestrian waiting to cross the road,” “When stopping for pedestrians actually ends (it isn’t once the pedestrian has passed only your car), “Why I hate middle turn lanes on suburban roads,” “Zora’s puppyhood feelings on creepy children statues” and more! I also had fun with the video editing software…lol
And this is what Tom and Zora did once we were home that day. Neither felt our 4 mile walk through town and back was sufficient. “please sir, I want some more,” channeling Oliver Twist and all.