Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Gotcha Day Dixie!

On May 29, 2007, my roommate and good friend Jennifer and I went to the shelter to scope out dogs, since I was planning on getting one after my month-long study abroad in Australia and I wanted her to approve my dog choice.  We weren't planning on adopting, but thought that we might take a few out of their kennels to give them some play time.  The first dog we decided to take out was a smiling, spotte
d puppy.  We got her into the playroom and she was bouncy and adorable, just like any other 5 month old puppy who had been stuck in a cage for 3-4 months (yes, months) would be.  We called her name and she responded immediately, which struck both of us.  As an experiment, we told her to sit.  Her butt hit the ground immediately and we knew this puppy was something special.  Suddenly, one of the volunteers comes in and asks if we were interested in Dixie.  We told her we weren't sure, that we hadn't come in to adopt since I was leaving for Australia in a week.  The volunteer then told us that Dixie was free since someone (we suspect it was her) had sponsored her en
tire fee.  Jenn and I both knew that we couldn't let this pup
py go.  I called my mom and begged her to watch this puppy for a month.  My mom, being the softy that she is, agreed, and I pretty much ran up front to get my name down to adopt her.  They told me her spay would be done Thursday and that I could take her home on Friday.
Later that evening, I got a call that Dixie's surgery had been moved up and I would be able to pick her up on Thursday!  I was ecstatic and went out to get everything I needed for my new angel.
On Thursday, May 31, 2007, I picked up the first love of my life, my canine soulmate.  She charmed all of my roommates and loved her Aunt Jennifer (as you can see in the picture on her first day home!

Dixie has been an absolute joy these past 2 years.  She has been with me through illness, a broken engagement, and now she is training to become my assistance dog and tremors alert dog.  She knows me so well and we work together like a dream.  Training her has been a breeze since we are so in tune.  She knows when I am about to have an episode of tremors and alerts so I can take my medicine early.  Everyone that meets Dixie falls in love with her.  She is probably the most special dog I have ever met.  I adore my Dixie and am so thankful we found each other.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Soul mates come in all shapes and sizes

Most people believe that your soul mate is a person that shares a deep bond with them or someone who completes them, their other half.  I think this definition is too narrow.  My soul mate has four legs, spots and a square head.  I know, for the non-dog people that read this, that probably sounds crazy.  Dixie is my heart dog and I have known that for a long time.  We have a connection that some dog owners never have.  We get each other, we know the other's body language.  She is my canine soulmate.
These days, she has become a rock in my life.  We are getting her a new backpack that is easier for me to get into so she can be my purse.  She is also going to become a people and item retriever for me.
What I discovered today is that she is also an alert dog.  I was extremely stressed out from everything and my pain medicine was wearing off.  I started feeling crappy and Dixie came over and started pawing at me and licking my face.  Then she went to the door and whined, then came back to me to sit by me and lick my face.  I took my Ativan and the episode only lasted 20 minutes. I hadn't even started thinking about this kind of assistance training but it seems Dixie is a natural at this. 
The paperwork comes this week.  I think Dixie will be certified in a month or two.  I am so thankful we work well together and that she learns so quickly.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm a walking fault line

So this weekend was going well.  I got my hair washed and styled at our favorite salon.  I got some cute new shirts, a great skirt and some fabulous heels.  I got to hang out with my mom, aunt and little cousin.  I was frustrated that my favorite pair of heels was MIA.  I was irritated that my arm stopped me from doing alot.  Moving around alot made my arm hurt and the pain meds wore off a bit quicker than they do when I'm resting at home.  I got in the car to come home and I started shaking.  The tremors were back but they weren't as bad and I took an ativan as soon as I got home.  This time I only shook for 2 hours.  Dixie was there for me along with the rest of my family that went shopping.  At one point she laid on my lap while I was shaking.
I'm better now.  I m going to worker harder to get Dixie certified so she can be with me all the time and hopefully alert before this happens.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My thoughts scatter with the breeze

I'm feeling a bit random and thoughtful right now, so this is going to be a bit scattered.
I don't know if I've said it as much as I think it, but my mom has been my angel through this illness.  She has become my best friend and my rock.  She doesn't get angry when the pain and frustration makes me snippy.  She holds me and comforts me when I'm overwhelmed by the pain or the situation.  She accommodates me with anything I need.  She helps me take care of my animals even when it inconveniences her.  She never, ever complains about anything.  She has been so proactive about this illness and researching what it could be and where I should go.  She gets me out of the house for little excursions so I don't go stir crazy.  I don't know that I would have made it this far in an ok frame of mind without her.  I am so proud of my mama.  I owe her a debt that can never be repaid for everything she is doing for me through this illness.
Dixie is my 35 lb angel.  She sleeps with me now and keeps an eye one me while I sleep.  Today we took a nap and she crawled up to lay against my back and keep me cozy.  Her obedience continues to improve leaps and bounds and I think her assistance dog certification will be achieved in no time.  She already has some behaviors that just need to be polished a bit more that will count for it.  Being able to take her everywhere with me will not only be great for her physical help (my 4-legged purse and helper) but for the mental aspect of it.  She calms me down and always lifts my mood.  We really do have an uncommon connection and it is amazing how in tune she is with me.
I got to see Kim and Mary for the first time in over a month on Friday.  That lunch was like therapy for me.  Being with them again lifted my spirits so much.  They are two of my best friends and when we get together it is hilarious and we are always laughing.  I miss going out with Kim, Tory and everyone else.  Parmalee is playing at Downtown Live next weekend and I want to go so badly.  Those concerts are some of the best times we have in Raleigh.
We are back to square one with the illness.  We thought we had a diagnosis but it doesn't look like it now.  I think we are going to head to UNC and see what they can figure out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This illness is always an adventure

So this week has been an adventure.  Tuesday was a marathon medical day.  It actually started with my whole family moving me out of the house, which didn't take very long at all.  Since we had time, mom and I went to my piercer (Progress Body Piercings on Hillsborough, who are fantastic) and got the plastic fillers for my piercings for the mri.
I went by my allergy doctor and got my xolair injections, which was uneventful, even with them only having one arm to work with.
Next was the nerve conduction study.  Oh, the ncs.  We are not friends.  It hurt.  I was shaking when I came out from it because the pain was so intense.  Unfortunately, that hasn't gone away yet, which is a little scary.  To combat the pain and trauma, mom and I went to Starbucks, which our family knows has mystical healing powers.  I managed to recover enough to go to my mri, which went well (with the help of some valium for my claustrophobia).  The pain was still there, but I held still for it.  My nurse for the mri was fabulous and very sweet.  The receptionist hit it off with my mom and I since she has a thing for tattoos and she has been pierced by my piercer.
On the way home, the pain and stress of the day must have started getting to me.  I know it was mentally, but physically I started having violent tremors and problems with my speech when we were driving through Burlington.  We got home and after talking to my doctors, rushed to the hospital.  I finally say an ER doctor around 11 and he gave me 2 IV injections of Ativan, which stopped the tremors.  I slept until 4 the next day and was still having some speech problems but no tremors.
Today my speech is much better, I just have to think a little harder to speak.  I'm still in immense amounts of pain, but it is amazing what your body will get used to.  My NCS and mri were normal.  My PCP thinks we may have figured out an idea in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  I see him and the pain clinic tomorrow, so hopefully we will have a plan.
In other news, I am going to start training Dixie as a true assistance dog.  I've been emailing my trainer about it and I think Dixie will be fantastic.  I truly adore my pup and she already knows me so well.  She is also super smart and very easy to train.
I've also decided I'm going to get a tattoo at the end of this to celebrate making it through everything.  I'm not sure what it will be yet.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ok, a happy post

Pictures of the herd!

Prissy and Thing Two in the middle of bug hunting

My vicious beast with her toy

Pippin being his strange self

Runt guarding the house

Karma about two seconds before she fell off the bed!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ah, irony

When I named this blog, it was a reference to an inside joke in my family.  When I was younger (preschool aged) I didn't like to color inside the lines.  My teachers told my mom that this needed to be corrected and she responded that I could color outside of the lines if I wanted to.  I've always been a "unique" individual, so I thought it fit.
 Now it seems that this concept has taken on a whole new meaning.  When I started this blog, I didn't expect it to be a blog about illness.  But that has become a central part of my life and oddly enough, fits with the title.  Ah, the irony.
I took a "turn for the worst" (I know, it sounds so dramatic, but it is true) on Thursday night.  I woke up at 1 am to throbbing, excruciating pain in my upper left arm.  None of my pain meds worked.  I saw my regular doctor, but he has no clue what I have.
So now I am the one-armed wonder in truth.  I am using a sling that totally immobilizes my arm.  It is quite an adventure, but it helps with the pain.  I hate feeling helpless, but there is so much I can't do now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My animals are the bright spot in this illness

So the mystery illness has started to take its toll on my body.  The past two days I have felt truly sick.  I have no energy and I just feel blah.  My left side keeps swelling and it just sucks.  My arm hurts a lot.  No one knows why anything is going on and I think that is starting to wear on me mentally.  I haven't seen anyone other than my family since I moved home.  I can't do much of anything.  Going out to the mall and walking around for an hour or two totally exhausts me.  It is very frustrating when I was so independent.
Karma and Dixie have been fabulous.  They both stay by my side around the house.  Dixie is so good around me and never jumps on my arm.  That dog has always been my rock and she continues to be that for me.  Karma stays by me too and is always ready to be my little lover.  She sleeps by me and sits with me and just purrs.  She is a bit of a brat to others (she has a foul mouth) but that cat adores me and I love her too.  I tell people that she treats me like her long lost kitten.  She even gives me kisses!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

If things had gone according to plan, I would have walked today

Today was supposed to have been my graduation day.  My farewell to NC State and the past four years.  My cousin, my best friend, a ton of my close friends all graduated today.  I am elated for them, I really am.  But it hurts, since my world is a giant question mark.  I can't move on because I have no diagnosis.  I feel as though I am stuck in limbo, like someone paused my life and forgot to hit play again.
I'm trying to stay upbeat about this, I promise.  If I say anything other than something hopeful, my family starts up with "encouraging" things like "this won't be going on forever" or "you'll be back in school this fall!" and "its not a big deal, you will still graduate."  I know these things.  Well, I don't really.  I just wish that they could acknowledge that we don't know where I will be in the coming months because we can't figure out what is wrong with me.
It is also draining to live in a house where you are mocked for not ascribing to a certain set of religious and thereby political beliefs.  I said I didn't care who our President prayed to as long as he was doing a good job running the country.  This shocked everyone and got the rebuttal of "yea, well, what about eternity?"  Not exactly an open environment for dissenting opinions and reason-based debate.
Ah well, anyways...

CONGRATULATIONS Deidre, Annette, Kristin and everyone else!  I am so proud of everyone! 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dear Mystery Illness, You SUCK!

As I'm sure the title alludes to, I am no better.  My arm and shoulder are swollen up to the base of my neck.  If you look at my shoulders in the mirror, I look decidedly lopsided.  Since there is still so much swelling, the pain has not gone away at all.  This means that I am on Vicoden 24/7.  So that makes driving impossible.  The pain makes alot impossible, actually.  I can't wash, dry or flat iron my hair.  Bandannas have become my best friend.  A shower has become a very long, arduous endeavor.  Cooking is far beyond me (which isn't a total loss, as we know how I used to feel about cooking).
The hematologist officially gave up this week.  Her nurse told me that she was only there to rule out cancer.  Nice, huh?  My doctor was under the impression that she was a super diagnostician who can figure out the mysteries.  Apparently that is only if you have cancer.  They recommended that I see a neurologist, so thats who sees me next.  I don't have my hopes up.
I think this illness is finally starting to get to me.  I'm in a lot of pain and right now there seems to be no end in sight.  I should be celebrating, worrying about finals and counting down the days until the end of my undergrad.  Instead I am trying to fill up endless hours with TV, books and my computer.  I can't go out because my arm hurts and being out on Vicoden is no bueno for me.  My dad doesn't seem to understand the extent of this and has frequently left me to fend for myself, which leads to me eating Baked Lays for my meals.  Its interesting that someone who recently went through a period of forced helplessness can be so callous.  He is upset that my mom is going to miss his graduation from the Duke summer program for a trip he has known about for months.  Seriously?  I kind of want to hit him and shout "At least you ARE graduating!"  I have no idea when I will be back at school and therefore no idea when I will graduate.  I took so many things for granted before and I will appreciate so much when I'm healthy again.
My animals have been a bright spot through all of this.  Karma will not leave my side if I am in the house.  Dixie is the same way and her obedience has been impecable.  She has never once jumped at my arm.  Indie is a goof and is always fun to watch.  They are keeping me sane right now.