Changes Are A’Comin’

I had my 2nd seating clinic appt today. The first was for deciding what was wrong or right about current chair (don’t get me started on this lemon). Also discussed what has changed (better head support needed) and what hasn’t.

Today Blane from National Seating and Mobility (formerly Mobility Concepts) attended. He brought with him a chair that would possibly meet my needs. And I loved it. A Quickie Q700. This will be my fourth powerchair and my sixth or seventh chair overall.

One of the main problems with my current chair (there are so many…) is due to how I push down on the arm rests to get in and out. My current chair couldn’t handle that and I am constantly having to re-adjust them or give up and use a rolled up towel. The new one (IF approved) will have a support bar. The armrest (and the bar) will swing back out of the way, too.

My current cushion is toast and has been for years. We tried out another that would last longer but still be firm enough and cool enough. I put out a LOT of heat. Sweat can cause skin breakdown, something I strive to prevent. Same brand I have now, just more dense.

A joyous part of EDS is the ever changing places needing padding, support, relief, etc. So we had to work around that. Longer thigh support, better headrest, better armrests.

One reason we are switching chair brands is the back on the new one will fold down. Permobil has none that do that. Which makes it a PITA to get in/out of the van.

After Blane and Barbara (from CarePartner’s seating clinic) went through options, they had gone through an 18 page form. It was 24 pages but they removed the ones that was just pictures. We now wait for approval for it all and that can take 3-9mos.

It will be basic matte black with blue highlights. It will have power tilt, power legrests, thigh pads (to keep hips in line), gel armrests with cloth-ish cover (heat and comfort), flip-away armrests with support post, headrest that makes me feel great (cuddles my darlin’ occipitals), way cool suspension to assist with jostling, and some other stuff. I got to test drive the demo and, once I learned to trust it, I was climbing the curb and hills easily.

Regrets are Heavy

I have always said I will have one big regret when I go under the roses: never having kids. But lately I am seeing more and more regrets, wish I had dones, and wish I hadn’t done thats.

Because of back issues, I can’t sit at the computer for very long. I have to tilt too far back and can’t see the monitor. So I’ve had to use my phone and borrow L’s tablet. I started watching YouTube far too much and got hooked on people who minimized to the extreme in order to make a dream a reality. They bought live-aboard boats. Wood boats, fiberglass, you name it. They knew they wanted to do this so…they did it. Some lasted a while. Others are still going. Nearly all of them speak about following that dream (but be smart about it) so one can later look back with satisfaction.

This has opened up my past to me and made me remember things I said or did or didn’t say or do. It was made worse by Mom dying last year. There’s a lot of dreams I wish I could reach for.

Wanted to be a potter. Went to school for it. Was good at it (not great, but hey, playin’ in mud!). Then body failed and I could no longer do it. The reason we left our families up Nawth and moved here. And I couldn’t do it. So I chased that dream and failed.

Wanted to be a social worker or counselor. Wanted to help those like I had been helped. Or wished I had been helped. Got sidetracked as a “manager” and/or “program coordinator” instead. Nasty politics, wow. Another dream failed.

Wanted to be a writer. Been doing it for along time and decided I wanted to write a book and get it published by a real publisher (vs vanity-slash-self publish). I did that. Then I faltered and essentially gave up. Six years later, came out with another book. Two years after that, a sequel to it. And they’ve failed. Horribly. Now the third book is in the works but I’ll have to self-publish if it is going to see the light of day. Have I failed yet again? Maybe. Perhaps.

Fights with my mom play in my head. My childhood. My college years. The adult years. Things I should have done and didn’t. Regrets.

So what is my point to all this doom and gloom?

Chase your dreams. Even if you fail, chase them. Do what your heart says. Be an artist. Be a welder. Be a ditch digger. Whatever it is you want to be, do it. Want to sail around the world in a 35′ wooden boat you built yourself? Do it. Along the way you will find yourself. And years later, you can look back on it and either be happy and content or see the failures. Either way, you did it.

So what are you waiting for?

Pass this to everyone you know!!1!!

Seriously, do.

Here is something you need to do at least every few months or so. Go to this website:
https://haveibeenpwned.com/

Enter in your email address and click the PWND button. The search result will let you know if your email address was involved in any of the hacks, breaches, breaks, whatever from any of the online sites that report it.

If you get results, then go to the site(s) listed and change your password.

I now view all my email on my phone and online. I no longer download it. I was checking the spam folder of one of my accounts and saw I had sent myself an email. Usually this is a spoof or whatever but this one had the subject line that included an old password. And three of my websites have been hit with big login attacks. Added together, I took the safe road and with my webhost who confirmed it is a spam.

In addition to telling me to check out the pwnd site, they directed me to this article:
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/07/sextortion-scam-uses-recipients-hacked-passwords/

It is likely that this improved sextortion attempt is at least semi-automated: My guess is that the perpetrator has created some kind of script that draws directly from the usernames and passwords from a given data breach at a popular Web site that happened more than a decade ago, and that every victim who had their password compromised as part of that breach is getting this same email at the address used to sign up at that hacked Web site.

I suspect that as this scam gets refined even more, perpetrators will begin using more recent and relevant passwords — and perhaps other personal data that can be found online — to convince people that the hacking threat is real. That’s because there are a number of shady password lookup services online that index billions of usernames (i.e. email addresses) and passwords stolen in some of the biggest data breaches to date.

For the record, I don’t visit porn sites, I don’t have a webcam (that works), and lawd help them if they record me sitting here (if they could, that is). What I do have is a cool program called 1Password. It not only keeps track of them for me, it creates new passwords, lets me know if there are any too similar, and some other cool stuff. LastPass and Dashlane are two others. I found Dashlane to be rather intrusive in what it wanted to install on my computer, though. Do a Google search for ‘password manager’ and check them out. PCMag has a good review article as does CNET.

So, go to the Have I Been Pwned site, check your passwords, and put a piece of tape over your webcam.

*For those who don’t know, pwned is gamer shorthand for “pawned” and means to be really beaten (paper airplane meets flame kind of beaten).

Life Goes On After Lessons Learned

Sometimes, life bites us in the arse and we turn around, surprised and, perhaps, more than just a little knocked off our not-so-proverbial feet.

I prepared. I tried to do everything right. And yet, so many things went wrong.

While driving up Nawth to attend my nephew’s high school graduation, I had an accident. Traffic was heavy but going at a fast speed. There had been the usual “Why are we suddenly going 50mph??” places so, like a good driver, I kept distance between me and the car in front of me. Near Woodstock, VA at mile marker 285.5 on I-81 at about 6pm, the car in front of me slammed on their brakes. I knew they did because the back of their car was hopping and fish-tailing. I put on my brakes and went to the right, into the right hand lane, so that if I didn’t stop in time, I would go beyond them. I didn’t want to go to the left, into the median, because of gravel and grass not helping me to stop. But my rear-wheel drive truck went into a slide. The back of the truck, an ’03 Chevy S10 Crew cab, slid to the left into the grassy median. When it did, I could not correct the slide. I knew, in that brief moment, that I was going to crash. I knew.

According to witnesses, the truck slid a few feet on the two driver’s side wheels, lay on that side, continued to skid, then rolled onto its top. I do not know if it rolled again or just landed on its top. I hit no one else. No debris hit anyone else.

During the slide, my left elbow hit the highway and I felt it get road rash. Then the next thing I know, the visor is in my face. It takes a few seconds for me to gather my thoughts. I didn’t realize I was upside down until they (the bystanders who stopped) reached in to unbuckle my seat belt.

Before I would let them do that, though, I was saying over and over, “Where’s Quinn? Where’s my dog?” Someone removed Quinn (who never made a sound) and then someone unbuckled me. I assumed my left arm was hamburger or at least broken so I tucked it under me and rolled out of what was left of my truck. Someone comes back and says they need the leash. I say backseat. They reach in and I see someone take the Flexi leash. Someone else is saying don’t move her further (meaning me). My neck is resting on some guy’s foot. He is shaking. Just as the paramedics get there, someone comes up and says “Don’t panic, but your puppy ran off”. Yeah, don’t panic. I try to get up but so many hands held me down. And, really, I don’t think I could have gotten up. I am told later that only my shoulders and head were out of the truck and I was twisted because of the way I rolled out of it.

The paramedics had to get creative. They needed to brace my neck and back yet because of my position, they couldn’t get a collar on me. So, bless their hearts, they used towels. And, really, I couldn’t move once it was all on. Once they got that on, they then concentrated on getting me on a back board and getting me out of the truck. (meanwhile, one of the tires was leaking and screaming that high pitched sound) All the time they are doing this, I am saying “I can’t go, I need to get my dog.” The paramedics assured me that I couldn’t do anything, that the trooper would look, that others were already looking. Against my wishes (but for my own good), I was extracted and taken to the hospital.

My time at the hospital is kind of blurry and not very pleasant. But what I remember is this: my painstakingly accurate spreadsheet of my medications on my phone was worthless. They needed something fast. And trying to resize the spreadsheet constantly wasn’t working. They wanted me to tell them my allergies. I couldn’t remember them all. A print out in my wallet case (which the trooper brought later) did not include my allergies.

I had the ICE app on my phone that listed medications and allergies. Did I think of it? No. Did they ask if I had one? No. I have a MedicAlert bracelet (several actually) and a necklace. Where were they? In my bag. By the time I thought of it, they no longer thought it necessary to know all of my history.

My arm is not broken and was barely bleeding. I was offered no ice pack. At one point, I was on the back board still, waiting for results of something, and I am bawling. My phone is across the room. I have no button to call a nurse. I called out about 4 times before someone heard me. It was not a busy night. She gave me my phone and left. I feel so fucking alone. My Quinn is missing. Lorna is 6 hrs away. Kevin (my brother) and his wife are still several hours away. I punish myself by refusing all medications but ibuprofen. So they don’t take me seriously, thinking I am not in that much pain. I am discharged at midnight with a prescription of ibuprofen. No diagnosis, not warnings or things to look out for. One of the papers talks about nightmares. Another talks about how to care for a bone contusion. At least I knew then was was up with my arm.

Meanwhile, Lorna had figured out Facebook and had posted about what had happened and that Quinn was missing. And Quinn pert near went viral by morning. I started getting calls from people asking where should they start looking. And I’m like, “Mile marker 285.5 but who are you?” Two women met us at one of the “cross overs” (those roads that connect the two sides of the highway) and we discussed options. We gave them Quinn’s blanket, food bowl, and some food. They would set up a place for her to return to. The DOT Driver Assist guy stopped at one point to ask what we were looking for. He took notes. The county Animal Control guy met with us and sent us to a road under the highway that had a creek running nearby, thinking she wanted to get out of the heat and went to water. The Shenandoah County dispatch person was patient through all of my calls to her. My GP Nicole Ogg was friends with a GP in Woodstock. That friend happened to have another friend and patient who was the head of the County Shelter. People who knew people who knew other people.

We all kept looking but Kevin (my brother) and his wife Colleen had to get home. And I was really messed up. My arm was huge, my back was screaming, my head was pounding, so many parts of me hurt. We made the decision to head to NJ (it was only 4hrs away). We stopped at the accident site and called for Quinn over and over, just like we had been all morning. All of us frustrated we had to leave. It started pouring rain. Absolutely pouring. We saw the two ladies setting up the tarp over Quinn’s blanket and food at 285.4. We saw a DOT truck stopped just up the road but they were doing shoulder work and we thought nothing of it.

Just up the highway from Woodstock is Winchester. As we neared the exit, Kevin was trying to figure out how we could stay longer and keep looking yet still get Colleen and him their medications (they left home with nothing). Just as we passed it, my phone rang. It was the DOT Driver Assist guy. He had Quinn. He was at mile marker 285.8. He had seen us across the road but lost us in the heavy rain. He didn’t want to leave to go get us, afraid we’d lose her again. He thought she was a bear cub until he got closer.

We turned around and raced back but the heavy rain kept us from driving too crazy. I got another call. The State Trooper was there and they were trying to at least keep her in place until I got there. She was scared and fear biting. I got another call. She was in the Trooper’s car. I cannot tell you how I felt. I just can’t. I mean, I didn’t think we would find her that day. No one did. She was a puppy. Frightened, lost on a four lane highway when she had grown up on a one-lane road. She was lost in the median but at some point that morning, had crossed to the northbound side. We stopped to get her blanket, hoping it would calm her. It was soaked. Kevin wrung it out, grabbed her bowl, and we hurried.

And there she was. On a leash held by the state trooper. My girl. She was soaking wet, covered in green balls and other seed heads. I pulled off five ticks on our way to NJ. Kevin thanked both men many times since all I was seeing was my girl.

So what could I have done differently?

The wreck itself. Rear-wheel drive trucks are stupid. All that power on an empty box when it should be up front. Once the rear wheels hit the grass median, it was over. So not much I could have done there. I had too many loose things in the truck. My laptop bag was open. The case of water bottles was on the front seat, open. Quinn’s toys. Her bag. All of that loose in a sliding, rolling vehicle equals a mess. Where was my wallet? The one with the information they needed? Not in my pocket. Not in my bag. But in the toss bin thing in the console of the truck. Next time I travel, more things will be tied down and better contained.

Losing Quinn. I had them take her out first. She had on a collar and a harness and was attached to a tether hooking her to the seat belt. She slammed into the back of my seat, I do remember that. The harness is not for seat belt use, but more for walking and anti-driver distraction. Meaning keeping the dog out of the driver’s way. Quinn was kept within the vehicle. All she had (besides ticks) was an eye injury that our vet believes happened during the accident and not later. A seat belt harness would have kept her from hitting my seat and perhaps kept her from injuring her eye. Although there were a lot of things being tossed around and any of them could have hit her. As for her getting lost, that was beyond my control. We thought she was dragging the flexi leash but we found it in the truck later. When she was found, she was not wearing her harness but my guess is she chewed it off. I don’t hold any grudge toward the person who had hold of her. She’s stronger than she looks.

My medical information. Oy, I cannot believe all my planning and it doesn’t work. For now I will be wearing the MedicAlert necklace or bracelet at all times. And I will ensure their information is up-to-date. And I will remember I have the ICE app. Duh.

Lessons learned. Life goes on. Bumps and bruises heal. The truck can be replaced. Quinn and I cannot. Life goes on.

Canine Comparisons

It is amazing how much bigger they are in your head.

Quinn is now the age Joella was when we got her. And in my mind, Quinn is much smaller than Jo. Jo was bigger, taller, goofier in her long-legged adolescence. So I went digging through my plethora of saved images and found a handful or so of Joella from that age. None are very good. They’re poorly scanned copies of prints since, back then, digital photos were not a thing. And I know I have hundreds (thousands?) photos of Jo, just not digital.

Jo’s long legs were a sign of the future. She was growing too fast and developed panosteitis, a painful “growing pains” condition some dogs can get. We changed her diet several times in an effort to curb it but the damage was already done.

Jo also was different in personality. She was withdrawn, quiet, and not very trusting for several months until she figured out we were it. Her previous family thought she was stupid and must have told her that on a regular basis. They gave her away to an acquaintance of mine who trained dogs (and was their trainer). She had her for about 2 weeks then gave Jo to us. Her training methods were brutal. I found this out when she came over to show me how to get Jo to walk loose leash. I was horrified. Very much the “I am the alpha dog, you will do what I say” crap. I’m surprised Joella didn’t have a broken neck by the time we called it quits. We never had her over again. I don’t even think we’ve spoken since then.

We had to work with Joella for a long time to get her confidence up, to instill in her that she was a wonderful dog and we would never hurt her or treat her bad like she had been in the past. She was a dream to train because she would do anything for praise. She wasn’t food motivated (pain.in.the.ass) but tell her she was a good girl? She’d do anything. Jo grew up to know over 30 service dog specific cues (requests) in addition to the basics (although her recall was on her terms).

And I miss her every day.

Then there’s Quinn. She does not have Jo’s baggage. We have closely watched Quinn’s food intake to prevent the growing pain thing. And we have called her a good girl, loved on her, treated her with kindness since the day we brought her home. And the breeder is reputable, has good lines, and loved Quinn and her siblings. Quinn is food motivated and is just now desiring pets and praise as we train. And while they are both the same breed with similar markings, they don’t really look alike.

I like that they are so different. I like that when I look at Quinn I see her, not a ghost of Joella. I like that I am forced to rethink how to train a service dog. In some ways, they are very alike. They can’t help but be. They share some Rottie quirks and hard-headedness. And I like that, too.

I love both my girls. Quinn has wiggled her way into a place in my heart next to Jo. She’ll never be Joella. She’ll never have that same bond I have/had with Joella. And that’s okay. Because she’s formed her own unique place and links.

these first 2 are pre-digital images


digital

Wixing Mords

(this post was supposed to appear a few days ago but there were…issues.)

I don’t know the trigger for it when I can’t speak worth beans. Words come out in a jumble, out of order, misspelled, and, most often, the wrong words altogether. Sometimes the wrong word and the right word are close sounding. Like today, L and I were talking about the dog lot. She was mowing it and we were discussing when to scoop the poop, before or after she mowed. I wanted to say she could “scoop the poop after, easier to see”. But I kept saying “spook goose easier”. Sometimes I just laugh and move on but there are times when I get really mad and it just makes it worse. I could see the words spelled in my head but when I tried to read the words, it didn’t come out right. Luckily, L is a decent interpreter of Paulaisms.

Had another later. I wanted to ask where in a book she had stopped. I’m trying to remember how badly I mangled it. Something about “way the where” with some other words that were several words smerged together. L could not figure out what I was saying and we finally gave up. None of the words made any sense in any way. It wasn’t a rhyming error this time. About a half hour later, I turned to her and asked again, and it came out right.

Sometimes they come out that bad because I’m tired. Or have a headache. But most times its just…because.

The scariest is when I substitute words and have no clue I am doing it. My most famous is saying bathtub instead of picnic table. I said it four or five times before L could convince me there was no way we were ever putting a bathtub outside on a concrete pad. Every once in a while, I’ll still say bathtub. Another is I kept calling the riding mower a vacuum cleaner. I can almost see the connection there at least!

This is a problem I have had for, like, ever. A few years ago after Mom’s brain tumor thing, I had my brain checked out. Something we had always laughed at suddenly became not so funny. And because of the stress I was under during that time, my speech was really twisted. My neuro and I decided that my already existing problem was being made worse by a medication I am taking for migraines. And since I was enjoying not having as many migraines, we decided to not mess with it. Now that the neck surgery has happened and a lot of my headaches have stopped, I hope to see him again soon and maybe we can start decreasing that med.

I’m thinking about giving this gift to one of the characters from BGCFA. When I get around to writing it, I’ll have plenty of experience to create her word spaghetti!

Riding the Waves

Because my muscles are always tense, when I hurt myself, it is always a bucket of fun. The spasms and pain wash over me like waves. Sometimes they go fast like small ripples. Other times they hit like white capped breakers, eroding me away as they slowly pound their way over me.

Today my guardian angel earned its wings.

Today I had picked up Whisper from the vet and we were on our way home. We were coming down Monticello, a curvy road connecting Weaverville to the river. Another road, New Stock, intersects it not too far down. It was a busy time of day and there were several cars lined up to make a right from New Stock onto Monticello (which would put them coming toward me). And there was one car that wanted to make a left. I saw him. He should have waited until he could see around the other cars but I knew he would not. I knew, I knew! I knew he was going to pull out so I slowed down. I thought he was going to prove me wrong but, alas, he did pull out in front of me but he waited until the last second to do so.

I slammed on my brakes, my tires screaming, and stopped with the hood of my truck right at his passenger door. Did he stop? Nope. Did he wave an “oops, sorry” wave? Nope. Did I shit my pants? Nope, but I think Whisper did! I was furious. Absolutely furious. Had I not been able to stop, I would have hit him hard. I was doing the speed limit, but that doesn’t matter, not at that angle. I checked on Whisper (she had flown forward to hit me in the shoulder) and we continued on. Just a short bit down the road (as in almost within sight of the intersection) he makes a left and I laid into the horn again, just for spite. Yeah, I’m a meanie.

That’s when I realized I had trouble raising my arm to hit the horn. The arm that Whisper had hit. When I saw him coming out, I had both hands on the wheel and was turning to the right to avoid him if I could. But when I heard Whisper skidding forward, I had put my arm out to catch her. Her body had impacted my shoulder and upper arm fairly hard. And now that arm was not happy. Neither was my neck.

I felt the waves start now that the initial anger and shock were over.

Luckily my phone was within sight on the floor. I couldn’t reach it but I could see it was face up. I was able to get Dragon (a voice activation app) to text Lorna and tell her I was in trouble. She was already on her way home. I heart Dragon!

By the time I was home, my right arm was useless. My right foot, the one that had slammed on the brake, was feeling sprained. My back was burning, my hip was in spasm. And Whisper was happy to be home! Lorna let her run around a bit, watching to make sure she was fine (she is, other than a cold belly from being shaved).

It’s been almost 6hrs now and the spasms have stopped. Just my neck and the right side of my upper back are still pissy. Vicodin and Baclofen are my friends.