Thursday, October 30, 2008

Things Molly and I are learning

Once before I had a dog go blind, but it was only a few weeks, and then she died from a brain tumor. She did rather well, but her blindness did not come on all at once like Molly's has. Together Molly and I have learned some ways to make life easier for us. She has taught me some, I have taught her some, and we still need to learn many more.

Some things are rather obvious. Never leave a door partway open. It must be open or closed, or Molly just might smash hard into it. Luckily I am pretty good about this one. I try to remember all doors are either open or they are closed, all the time. The hardest for me to remember is the closet door, but when she hears me open it, she generally gives it a wide berth, probably from memory.

Nothing on the floor should be moved. Nothing should be added to the floor. Nothing should be removed from the floor without making the change obvious to the pet. My carpet steamer was out when Molly went blind, and I still haven't put it away. I had to wait a while to even wind up the cord because she used the cord on the floor as a locator as to when to turn into the back foyer. My weakness is shoes - I have to remember to never leave shoes out on the floor. Seeing her trip over something that should not have been there is a good reminder. Guests must be reminded, also. I am grateful that I am not one to move furniture around on a regular basis. I tend to drop it down some place and it stays there forever.

I must wear a bell on my ankle in the house. Molly actually depends on this sound. She uses it to locate me, to follow me, and for peace of mind. When I take it off for a shower or to go to bed, she looks anxious until I put it back on. The drawback is I have become used to the sound and occasionally will wear it in public. I needed something quickly when I bought it, so I have a cat collar with an extra bell added to it. Not exactly the height of fashion, but Molly considers it a lifeline.

When Molly walks, I do my best to let her be her own guide. The poor girl went blind almost instantly, and her confidence took a nose dive. If I hold her tightly to me with a lead and don't let her bump into anything at all, what does she learn except dependence? So, walks are very slow, but she often leads us. She can take me across the street and down a bit to the mailbox, and lead me back, too. I just have to make sure she doesn't bump her nose hard on the mailbox post. I have always heard that blind dogs learn to walk on the edge of walls and furniture to learn their way around - Molly does not. She walks right down the center of the rooms. She goes slowly, and has a "blind walk" that involves lifting her front feet a little higher, and her eyes are widely open, just in case, and her head is down a little. It breaks my heart, but it's better than seeing her cower in a corner because she is afraid. Molly has been extremely brave.

Confidence cannot be reinforced enough. When we are outside, I talk to her constantly so she knows where I am, and recognizes my voice. Even at the end of a 4' lead, she can lose track of me if I am too quiet and she can't hear the bell. I stamp my feet when we reach the porch so she can hear the sound of my shoes on cement. I tell her "steps" when we get to them, and she finds them herself and climbs up the two stairs. On the way out, I count them out loud for her. When we go in, she sticks her nose just to the right of where the door opens, in the slight alcove made by the window next to the door. Smart dog; she figured that one out herself!

Meals can be hairy. Both dogs are chow hounds, and live for meals. I was already in the habit of feeding them several feet apart. Baby is not too proud to try to steal food from a blind dog. I once dropped a piece of food soon after Molly went blind - they fought over it - Molly won. When I set Molly's bowl down for a meal, I tap it until she finds it. Then I feed Baby.

For the first week, Molly still jumped on the bed by herself. After a while, she did lose confidence in that. I lift her on the bed now at night. She is very, very easily confused when tired, so it's a good thing that I wake up easily. If she stands up, I wake up - twice she has walked off the edge of the bed at night and fallen. Usually she feels for the edge, but when really tired, she just doesn't think. I have to, instead.

People tell me that other dogs will help a blind dog. Maybe other breeds will, but I haven't seen any assistance from Baby yet. The biggest issue is if Baby is already on the sofa and Molly jumps up and lands on Baby. They have fought about that a few times, but mostly now Baby just moves, or I try to encourage Molly to a vacant spot, or I tap Baby and say, "Baby," so she knows where Baby is.

A difficult thing is that Molly needs to know where she is at all times. This is a problem for a walk away from the house. She is leery of just trusting me to not whack her into a tree or a car. I understand this fear, but I sure hope by next summer when it warms up again that she can work up to our usual 2-mile a day walks. Baby is full of excess energy from lack of walking, and I sure do miss it, too. I cannot leave Molly home alone and walk Baby for a few miles - Molly would get depressed. She gets upset if I take Baby out alone to pee. Molly comes to the door and "watches" us through the storm door. It's awkward to walk a seeing dog and a blind dog at the same time, but I am sure we can get better at it with practice. Molly does best if another person and a dog come along with us, for some reason.

Molly has not become hostile or angry or aggressive. She loves seeing other people and dogs as much as ever. She still loves everyone in the world. When I was really sad one night because of the loss of her sight, it was Molly who comforted me.

I am more than willing to learn more tricks to help her. I haven't had much luck with scent, although I do believe she smells the carpet at times for "heavy traffic" areas to know where the middle of a room is. I know she uses throw rugs for location. We have a routine that I use for her to follow me through the kitchen and around the island to help her if she gets lost in the house, ending at the sofa in the living room.

I do not know how she does as well as she does. At first she would wake up in the morning, open her eyes, and put her head back down, depressed that she still could not see. She doesn't do that any more. She still gives me a look that says she sure wishes her vision could come back. I often wonder if she thinks everyone lost their vision at the same time. She probably wonders why she hears me turn lights on. She does not even see bright lights or anything at all, and it can never improve.

There was one night when Baby apparently had an allergic reaction and appeared to be blind for a couple of hours. It was hell here for that period of time, but eventually she was back to herself. She didn't even know who I was for a while. No blueberries or shrimp for Baby, I have learned that! She has had blueberries twice, and this reaction was only her second time to have it. I hate to think what a third time would do to her. She only had a couple each time. I cannot imagine TWO newly blind dogs at the same time!

Good news is that I did find a dog sitter for my weekend away in November. I also managed to migrate my journals from AOL to blogger myself, sort of. I had some expert advice from stephweiss, who was also a journaler at AOL. She pointed out to me that URLs with AOL are case sensitive. Also, I had been trying to use a dash between words - I thought blogger told me I had to do that, although it seemed pretty stupid. It finally worked. Both my former journal with this name and my private journal are now with blogger, but under different titles.

Now all I need to do is get my strength back before my weekend away. I think I can manage that. I do need to be evaluated for adrenal insufficiency. Molly has Addison's disease, which means her adrenals are entirely dead. This is the second time I will have my adrenal glands tested. I find this very odd. Adrenal glands are located just over the kidneys, if anyone wondered where they are. As far as I know, mine still put out adequate adrenaline, but that is not all they do. My electrolytes were highly umbalanced, and the adrenals control that. Overall, I feel pretty good, just tired.

I finally was able to read one journal and get up to date on it, please be patient with me while I try to catch up on the rest of you. I feel like I read a few dozen novels all at once, and I do not like getting behind on current chapters!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AOL is actually going to transfer my journals to blogger for me! I was shocked and amazed! The old entries for this journal will not be included here. I am setting up a separate blog for the archived entries. I figured for a fresh start here. If anyone wants to check back on anything I wrote before, just let me know and I will give you the title. (Assuming AOL does come through, of course!)

I did finally get my new kitchen range. It was much more complicated than I expected it to be, and all my own fault. The good news is that Whirlpool is giving me 15% off because the original builder-grade range was less useful than a hibachi, and the company I bought it from is giving me 20% off because it came with a small dent on the right side that does not show at all when the range is in place. To begin with, this company's price was about 15% less than any where else. It seems to work OK, and certainly is a much better quality than the original. I went with Kitchen Aid - I had good luck with them in the past. I went with black and stainless after all. I figure a range can be stainless and the rest doesn't have to be, but if I got bisque, then the rest would have to match when I replace them. The appliances are all builder grade, so none are going to last long. I figure the fridge or the dishwasher will be next. The trash compactor is likely to last a while. I sure love having that - the dogs cannot ever get into my trash! I never put anything that can rot in there anyway, so it's not extremely attractive to dogs, but even so, they would get into it if they could. Just because they could.

Besides calling all over regarding the new appliance, I also finally called Northwest Airlines regarding issues I have had with them in the past. I wanted to see what they would offer me before I booked for DC. I wanted to hear their reaction to the time I was in first class and was denied use of the first class bathroom just after a man from coach ran into the first class bathroom. I was in row 4 - that isn't coach. I was offered 8500 miles or $100. I hesitated, and the offer went to 9000 miles. I took the miles, but now I think I want to pay for the trip and save the miles for another time. Oh well, it is all about the same, in the long run. The miles were also supposed to cover the time coming home from Phoenix when we were on the red eye flight at 10:30 pm and didn't actually leave until after 1 am. We had been shuffled on two different planes, and off I think three times. It was highly annoying. I actually hadn't planned to complain about that, since delays happen. However, Late was offered 2500 miles for that, by letter, after we got home. I was not. Neither was her son, who was with us! I found that inconsistency to be worth a mention. The young lady I talked to at NWA was very patient and kind. I was also patient, since whenever I mentioned a flight she told me she was unable to find that I was on it, so I had to get online and find the dates and flight numbers myself. It was a call I have been putting off since May. My to-do list is not getting shorter.

My neurologist says I have to see an endocrinologist to find out more about my electrolyte imbalance (low potassium, high sodium) issues before I can resume my wonderful new sleeping medication. When is the first available appointment with the endo? The day before Thanksgiving. When is my potential trip to DC? I would return two days before the appointment. I really would like some sleep before I go, and I would rather not drag my behind around DC - I am sure I will be doing much walking there. I already put myself on their cancellation list, but I think a few calls might be in order, with some insightful whining.

[Side note: I wasn't sure on the spelling of "cancellation" so I looked it up. I see why I have been ambivalent about the spelling. Both "cancelation" and "cancellation" are correct. How does that happen? When I was in school, judgement was the correct spelling for that word. Now it's judgment. Who changes the rules?]

How many of you have left AOL entirely? I think of doing it, but I like their email better than anyone else's. It just seems so friendly, easy to use, and I like having one long list instead of separate pages. I find the spam filter is effective, usually. Maybe I am just used to it? I have had gmail for years, but I just don't like the look as well. If I gave up AOL, what home page would I use? I like the carosel on the toolbar with AOL. Maybe I just don't like change. If you have left AOL, where did you go?

As far as my impending trip, I cannot yet find a dog sitter. I only really had two places to call - the one lady I had before, Kathy, and my nieces. Kathy recently went back to work and isn't able to do any sitting. The nieces' mother was definitely going to call me back last night before midnight so I could reserve my tickets, since flights are filling fast for that weekend. *sigh* I see myself again sitting down with a phone book and a list of veterinary offices asking if they know anyone who does dog sitting and actually will stay at the house with the dogs. Molly cannot now even go to someone else's house to stay. She is totally blind and it would be cruel to her to expect her to learn her way around another home. Her poor little nose would be all smashed up. When she is tired here, she forgets easily where she is. She somtimes bounces off things like a pin ball. It's like watching my daughter working as a bartender when there are two co-workers with her who are large men. The area is small - she just bounces off them and the walls.

I just don't want to have to cancel this trip. Let's hope the nieces call me today with good news. One is now going to community college, the other is in middle school. They are great kids, and my dogs adore them. The girls adore the dogs - it's a happy mix. So they are a little messy - I would prefer a few unexplained stains on the carpet to unexplained damage to the dogs.

It's really pitiful that I still can't stay on a topic, isn't it? On occasion I can, and I intend to re-start my personal journal if anyone is interested in reading it again. It has to be migrated first. I was working on deleting some older entries in that journal yesterday while I was waiting for my car to be serviced. Having free wi-fi at the dealership makes the wait so much more pleasant.

I have to work on my to-do list and some other paperwork, then hopefully today I can start catching up on everyone. I get upset when I get behind - it's like reading a few dozen novels simultaneously, and I hate getting behind on the chapters involved! I know I have missed a lot, and I am sorry.

Happy Halloween this weekend! It has amazed me to watch adults turn this childhood minor holiday into the second most popular holiday of the year, second only to Christmas. I wonder how long it will be second?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My AOL journal will NOT transfer no matter what I do. Can anyone give me a hand? I am positive that I typed the URl correctly, I cleared my cookies (wish I had some to eat), and repeated attempts don't do anything but cause me anguish. I tried everything that made sense to me, and a few things that didn't. I tried three different journals - my usual one, my private one, and a practice one. The practice one was basically empty and went without a hitch. The private one I changed to public, and it wouldn't go. My regular one won't go either. I have been using the helpful page from blogger that says how easy it is - but when I click on the URL after it says it can't find my journal, it takes me back to AOL Journals page, and says my journal cannot be found, then it lists my journals - including the one I just tried to transfer. I am running out of time - I know most of you have already completed this project, so I am hoping for some helpful hints. I do NOT want to lose all the entries I have made over the last 5 years!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Finally I am here, sort of! I have had a real time of it lately. I spent time in the hospital, even. That was the first time in my entire life that I was admitted to a hospital for health reasons, other than surgery. It wasn't too bad, since I had my own room and was allowed to use the cell phone, but I sure was glad to get back home.

I was concerned about the dogs - Molly is recently blind, and since I have two beagles, getting dog sitters has always been an issue. I only had to call four people. Cindy drove me to the hospital, Doreen and Sandy watched the dogs for two days, and ST talked to me from 500 miles away where he now lives and kept me calm.

I ended up with two separate infections, and then realized I was severely dehydrated. I had no idea how that could happen when I was drinking water in large amounts, but it did. I know now that my potassium was very low. Once they plumped me up with liquids IV and added several bags of potassium, I was stable the next day to go home. I have to take potassium pills for now. I have no idea why this happened, but am working with my doctors to find out.

Starting out a new journal with a health problem isn't what I had in mind, but then I didn't plan to have to start a new journal away from AOL.

I promise to catch up on everyone's new blogs soon. I have just been a bit weak and tired lately, but I am feeling stronger. Strong enough to travel, even :-). I hope to be out of town next month for a long weekend. We will see.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me to find out if I am still alive or not. Had I not found dogsitters and decided to just wait it out a few more days, I might not have been alive much longer. Scary thought, isn't it?

Welcome to anyone new who stumbles over this new blog. I am hoping future entries will not be as boring as this one. It took me long enough to get this far!