The Wash

•January 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

One of the hardest things to do as an owner trainer is washing a service candidate that just is not suitable for the work.  Unfortunately, sometimes it must be done regardless of one’s attachment and high hopes for the dog.

Mahler is one of those dogs.

He did start out with a lot of promise.  Happy, eager to work, social, all that good stuff you love to see in a puppy.  However, as he’s grown and his drives have grown, many issues have surfaced that just make him unsuitable for this sort of occupation.

I need a handler hard dog.  Mahler is extremely handler sensitive.  He takes physical corrections (collar pops) personally, and emotionally speaking, if I get anxious, he gets anxious as well and starts screaming.  A service dog cannot scream if their handler is having an anxiety attack.  Not only is it disruptive, but it makes the situation worse for the handler in terms of stress level, and can make medical personnel extremely hesitant or even render them unable to help the person in need.  If I have a meltdown, I must have a dog beside me that can remain calm and collected while I am attended to.

I need a dog that can think on his feet.  Mahler is unable AND unwilling to think independently.  Puzzles frustrate Mahler, and when he gets frustrated, he shrieks.  Yet again, not ok.  The work I am asking him to do does involve him needing to do a decent amount of independent thinking.  Finding pathways, understanding when it is appropriate to disobey my commands, and just “thinking on his feet” are all things he is unable to do.  He needs to be told what to do every step of the way, and if I’m having a day where I’m feeling particularly dizzy and am stumbling, I don’t always have the presence of mind to direct my dog where I really need him to go.

I need a dog that is ok being left when I take out another dog to work.  Yet again, Mahler screams.  And while we are working on correcting this to begin with (because it is absolutely OBNOXIOUS in general), he is very slow to understand that this behavior is unacceptable.  He goes from 0 to over threshold so quickly that he basically doesn’t even know he is screaming.

The aforementioned issues are the big three that have caused him to wash out as a possible candidate for me.  And those things do not mean that he is a bad dog.  He is a GREAT dog!  But he is a bad, bad dog for the kind of work I need.  Excellent for sport, but not service work.

If he had been slated to be a guide, he would have washed out far sooner than he has.  I gave him more time because the work I was going to be asking of him was different, but it was just not meant to be.

I took a (foolish) gamble and lost.  That happens sometimes.  But now there is nothing to do but hug my Butter Bean and see what lies ahead for us.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

My space is mine

•January 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As a person with an anxiety disorder, I greatly value my personal space.  Meeting new people is hard for me.  Often times dealing with people I already know is hard for me.  I have learned to fake my way through uncomfortable situations for the most part, but sometimes I fail miserably, and I upset someone unintentionally.  It happens.

Here’s the bottom line for me.

I hate hugging.  I hate it.  Absolutely, unequivocally DO NOT LIKE IT.  There is a VERY small group of people I will hug and enjoy hugging, but for the most part, I would like to stab the person in the eye that thought hugging was a good idea.

Here’s what a hug says to me: 
“HI!  I HAVE NO REGARD FOR YOUR PERSONAL SPACE AND DON’T CARE TO ASK IF YOU CARE TO BE INVADED BY ME!!!!”

I think it’s actually a pretty rude gesture.  It makes me better understand why dogs consider such things rude behavior.  Nobody ASKED the dog if they wanted their “bubble” to be burst and a new bubble created with another entity inside it.

A hug is part of the social code in many groups, and so I may go along with it, but I’ll never feel comfortable with it.  I feel assaulted.

It’s not a personal affront to you if I don’t want to hug you.  You don’t smell, I don’t dislike you, and to reiterate it’s not personal.  If you’re a huggy person, that is TOTALLY cool, hug other huggy people.  I am not one of those people.

My space is MY space.  It is not a free for all for people to shove their way into.  End of story.

Flail on,
 – Classical Spazz

 

A Sensitive Subject

•January 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The following post features “adult themes” that may make some of my readers uncomfortable.  I’m posting this warning now so that you may have the option to read, or not.  While I normally give no shits about anybody’s comfort level and write whatever the fuck I want, I do deem the subject matter of this post sensitive enough to warrant the warning.

Probably because I’m a hypocrite :p

——————————————————————————————————————-

Tourette’s affects every aspect of my life.  It affects how I walk, where I am able to go and when, it affects my social life, how I am able to care for myself, and it affects my sex life.

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten to be intimate with my husband in the last 8 months.  That is fucking pathetic.  Seriously.  And it pisses me the fuck off.  It is bad enough that I don’t walk right, that I can’t get where I want to go, and that I sometimes go for a month or two without being able to shave my legs.  Now I’ve lost intimacy with my husband.

Sex is, in general, a very private thing [in Western culture].  However, it stops being private when you discover that sex is so incredibly painful, you’re pretty sure that your insides are damaged and are going to fall out of you at any minute.  It stops being private when you have to go to a physical therapist twice a week so she can manipulate your innards and try to get you flying straight again.

What I have is actually called vaginismus (Google it ladies, seriously, could do you a world of good).  While it is actually not an uncommon issue, the cause for it is completely unknown.  It can be caused by any number of things.

Mine seems to be caused my my Tourette’s.

Remember a couple blogs back when I mentioned that my pelvis was rotated and unlevel?  It’s because I flail even in my sleep.  i now sleep in a special belt to keep my pelvis in place, and while I am frequently level at my appointments, I do still rotate.  When my entire pelvic assembly is out of alignment, it affects the muscles and tendons that hold my pelvis in place (shock of shocks) as well as the vaginal walls.  YAY!  So if I can have sex at all, it’s excruciating!  YAY (not yay)!!!

Fun fact #1: When I have an orgasm, my TS goes into overdrive, and I twitch so violently that I could punch my husband in the face inadvertently.

Fun fact #2: I really miss being able to be annoyed by fun fact #1!  Can’t do it now!

And the fact that my TS affects my sex life means it also affects my chances of ever having a kid (if we wanted one).  I cannot imagine trying to carry a kid to term when one of my tics is to hit myself over the fucking heart.  I can just see myself somehow punching myself in the gut while I’m pregnant.  That would be GREAT!

The most maddening thing about all my extra ailments is that they stem from one BIG ailment.  My Tourette’s.  It is not a matter of me traveling across the country to find better doctors.  It is not a matter of lack of quality care in my current location.  What it is, is a complete lack of interest in the medical community in regards to this disorder.

My disorder is not significant enough for people to REALLY study.  It “won’t kill me”, so it is not worthy of further investigation.  I am apparently not worthy of the time of the medical community.

And that, my friends, is some motherfucking bullshit.

I am not ashamed of my TS.  My self esteem is not affected by my TS.  My weight, my glasses, my weird variety of laughs?  Yeah, those can really fuck me up sometimes.  But my TS is pretty inconsequential to how I feel as a person.  The lack of treatment I am able to get because nobody knows a damn thing about my disorder?  That is a big deal to me.

I would like to know why twitchies are so unimportant.  Why are we not considered more interesting?  Why are we not worthy of more studies and write ups in medical journals?  Why are we ignored?

No, I’m not terminal.  My TS may not kill me unless I twitch at just the right moment.  But I am a person.  I am a person who IS sick, even though I do not always look sick, or feel sick.  I am worthy of aid.  At least I think I am.

I am tired of losing things that are important to me.  My legs, my freedom, and, to some degree, my husband.  Sex isn’t a whole relationship, but it is an important part of many.  It’s an important part of mine that I do not get to partake in, and it is in large part because nobody gives a damn that is big enough to offer me any long term solutions.

It’s a travesty.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

Happy New Year

•January 4, 2013 • 1 Comment

Hello loyal readers.

I am sure you noticed that I largely took the month of December off, and didn’t even post on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.  This is not because I have been terribly busy, but rather because I was stuck in a pit of misery, and had nothing positive to say at all.  My last few blog posts have been heavily negative, and I worked very hard over the last year to be a bit more positive.

I do not want Twitch and Shout to become another cesspool of my anger and hurt.  That is not to say that there will never be negative posts here.  There will be.  But I want to try and keep things as positive as possible.

I am going through a very stressful time right now, as it is really very likely that Mahler will be washing out of service work.  While he will not leave my home, and will become a happy sport dog for my husband and I, it puts me in an extremely tight bind, as I do need a successor for Mousedog.

I will say that I had a major breakdown over the revelation that Mahler is not right for service work.  It happened for many reasons.  I felt like a failure.  I felt worthless.  I felt…empty.  I struggle every single day with my self esteem and self worth.  I feel that I have disappointed my mother, as my life has not turned out as either of us planned.  I struggle with feeling that my in-laws may feel I have ruined their son’s life, though we love each other very much.  I get very upset because I often feel I let my husband down with my limitations.

My case for disability is currently in review.  I am hoping that this means I will have a hearing no later than summer, and I will receive back pay.  It would take a huge weight off my shoulders in terms of finances.

I have applied to be in a clinical study for those diagnosed with Tourette’s.  I am waiting to hear back, and am hopeful I will be accepted.

I would like to end this post with a few thoughts.

There is no such thing as having a good day every day of your life.  Especially when you have a disability.  Sometimes every day is not a gift.  Sometimes it is a painful, disgusting, sickening struggle.  Try and cherish the good days.  The days when you have minimal pain, or your limp isn’t noticeable.  The days that you can turn your head and wave at somebody, or complete a task that is hard for you.

On the days you feel worthless, hug your dog, your cat, a friend, a family member.  If you don’t have any of those things, remember that your life is not empty.  Stand in front of the mirror, put a hand on the glass, and you tell yourself that you are worth something.  That your eyes, your laugh, your smile, are all things that belong to you.  That your self worth is based on exactly that.  YOURSELF.  Not the things you own or the people you know.

On days you feel ugly, look at your old wounds, inside and out, and remind yourself that it is only an ugly day, not an ugly life.  Acknowledge that the next day could be ugly too, but that it could also be beautiful, and that beautiful day will be worth more than all the ugly ones.

On days you feel like giving up, go ahead and give up for a couple of hours.  Realize that even though you fight, sometimes you lose a battle.  A battle is not the whole war.  Sit down, scream, cry, throw things, write profanity all over your damn walls in permanent marker if you want to.  And then, when you feel better, grab a can of paint and a paintbrush, and put a fresh coat on your walls.  Remember that those feelings are not buried, but rather that you’ve put up a fresh canvas for new feelings, and you may paint on that canvas again, whether those feelings are positive or negative.

Know that even if you feel you have no one else in the world to love you, that YOU have you to love.  It will often times feel an empty gesture, but go ahead and give yourself a hug, and then find somebody else to hug or help.  There is always somebody that needs help or a hug.

These are hard things to do.  They are new rules I have, and even I frequently find them asinine.  It’s ok to feel that way.  Try them after you’ve moved past feeling they’re stupid.

Have a happy new year.

Flail on,
 – Classical Spazz

A note for my mama

•December 17, 2012 • 1 Comment

The last three years or so, there have been a lot of changes in my life.  Some good, some bad, all resulting in a learning experience.  One thing I have learned, is that I unequivocally, irrevocably, undeniably love my mother.

When I was little, I was unable to realize how much I loved her, because I was little, and young children are not cognizant of such things.  When I was a teenager, I was unable to appreciate her and all that she had sacrificed and done for me, both because I was selfish, and because I had the dark, ominous cloud of depression looming over my head.

As an adult, I am able to look back on the photos, home movies, and the memories that reside within me, and feel regret and remorse.  But more importantly, I am able to look back and realize that I am lucky to be able to feel regret and remorse, because I can acknowledge that my mother loved me throughout it all anyway.

My mother has raised five very special, very different children.  Many of us are/were special needs.  It takes an extremely special person to adopt five children, raise them on her own, and come out ultimately successful.

I am often told what wonderful manners I have, and how helpful I am to people.  I didn’t get that way on my own.  My mama taught me.  I am told I am a good person, and have strong morals and a good moral center.  I didn’t get that way on my own.  My mama taught me.

I wish there were enough words to denote how strong and courageous I believe my mother to be.  I wish I could understand some of her struggles better than I do.  I hope that I am as good a person as she raised me to be, and that she is proud of me, even if my life didn’t turn out as planned.

I wish I could spend the holidays with my family, as I miss them very much. For all the strife and broken hearts and shattered dreams that have been experienced the last couple of years, I have definitely come to learn that one is never too old to love, miss, and need their mama.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

How the mighty keep falling

•December 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

WordPress ate my post, so here’s the low down

– Poor
– Incredibly depressed
– Scheduling more health tests
– Finding more doctors
– Feel like crap because I need to be “taken care of”
– Feel like crap because I fall every fucking day and getting up is getting harder
– Feel like crap because I’m deteriorating, and this is more than Tourette’s, but we don’t know what
– Feel like crap because I will soon have to give up showing my dogs
– Have medical bills that will be piling up again soon that we can’t afford
– Emotionally exhausted and feeling quite defeated
– It will take over a year just to get a hearing about being able to receive SSDI
– Hate my husband feeling like he is responsible for the way things are going
– In constant physical pain
– Have to sleep in a special belt to keep my pelvis in line so I don’t cripple myself
– Worried about what would happen to me if I didn’t have my animals (who are still receiving the best care)

Wanting to give up.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

“Can’t” and “Won’t” are two different things

•November 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

My posts as of late have been pretty negative.  My instinct is to apologize for it.  I apologize way too much for shit, so I’m not going to.  The past few weeks I’ve been angry, so I guess that’s just how I’m supposed to feel right now.

I have touched on this before, but it would seem it’s time for this post to be made again.  “Can’t” and “won’t” are not the same thing.  When I tell you that I physically cannot do something, that is not me making an excuse.  That is me attempting to tell you, politely, that doing what you are suggesting or asking could cause me serious injury.

The body is made of of sinew, tissue, muscle, bone.  Every single bit of it is connected.  If one part of me hurts, it affects another part of me.  When I have had such a bad day of facial tics that I cannot turn my head, it means that I cannot throw a ball.  The muscles are extremely strained.  Lifting my arm is painful.  There is no way throwing a ball for the dogs is going to happen, because the muscles of the arm are connected to the muscles in the neck, and it is not possible  to hold your head still when you’re chucking an object.

And then there is the matter of picking the ball up.  Being unable to turn my head also means vertical range of motion is severely compromised.  Driving is obviously not an option.  I could kill somebody.  No free running in the field.

When I was younger, I was an avid soccer player.  No more.  My ankles are fucked up from several sprains and tears.  It often locks up just when I’m walking, and rectifying that problem sometimes takes almost a day.  It is exceedingly painful and further limits my mobility because I cannot put pressure on my foot.  In other words, I really do not kick balls anymore.  I can’t afford the injury.

My husband and I are not rich people.  We have the money to care for our animals properly.  We currently do not have disposable income for automatic ball throwers.  I am scouring craigslist for a treadmill (which would make me feel much better about exercising the dogs).  It sucks, but that’s how it is.

And though I mentioned it in a previous post, I need to bring up my pelvis again, to really try and get you out there to understand what I experienced last week.

Every time I go to sleep, I am doing SOMETHING that throws my hips and pelvis out of alignment.  I am unaware of what I am doing.  I don’t wake up when I do it (though I do wake up frequently in the night in general).  I only know it has occurred because I wake up in pain.

My pelvis ends up not only tipped up higher on one side, but it rotates so severely that tendons basically get caught on the bone.  I end up standing completely lopsided, I hobble along with a limp, sitting down results in yelping like a wounded dog, and I am unable to even toe off my own shoes.

I wish I had a humorous quip for what I just wrote above, but all I can tell you is that it is a horrendously painful experience I wouldn’t wish on anybody.  There is no “playing through the pain”.  And I get it, lots of other people have pain, too.  But they are not me and I am not them.  Their pain thresholds may be entirely different.  And sometimes…sometimes playing through the pain is fucking STUPID and you’re going to severely injure yourself.

I won’t do it.

People with physical limitations like mine find a way to make do how they can.  I make do how I can.  I also know my limitations, and will sure as hell not put my health at risk to appear a better dog owner to people.  Sometimes dogs just do shit that is annoying as fuck, and it gets complained about, even though the owner is aware that is not the fault of the dog.  Hello humanity.

Overall I have had a pretty good week pain wise, and so my Pup Pup has been out and about with me, doing some public access work, cleaning up some of the commands we were having issues with, and getting more exercise.

He has been amazing.

If I had tried to handle that puppy on Thursday, I could have been severely injured, just from him being a normal, exuberant puppy.  The puppy got entertained by Kongs and Jolly Balls that day.

This is the Catch 22 of needing a service dog and raising your own service dog.  Sacrifices have to be made because the health of the handler is not 100%

If you have a problem with me telling you I cannot do something, then we have an issue, because I am no longer doing the back bending I used to do for the sake of keeping up appearances.

Can’t means “The likelihood of serious injury is high, this is absolutely not feasible”.

Accept it.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

Parents of Disabled Children

•November 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The majority of people in the world seem to understand what a hard job parents have.  Now imagine that you are the parent of a mentally and/or physically handicapped child.  The job just got a hell of a lot harder.

I grew up in a family with children that have/had psychological and psychiatric handicaps.  I am now a grown adult and have physical handicaps of my own.  My mother had to deal with my disabled brother growing up, which was its own challenge, and now she worries about me, because I have become so (unexpectedly) limited.

People with “normal” children can never understand the struggle that parents with disabled children face.  Not only do they have to meet the special needs of their child, but they also have to explain to their children that they are different.  They have to work, in many ways, harder to bolster the self esteem of children that are aware they are different, and always explain that being different isn’t bad, it is just different.  They have to teach their child to recognize their own limitations while simultaneously avoiding crushing that child’s dreams.  Many times, the parents of children with disabilities work hard to keep the secret of the disability, to protect the child, rather than themselves.

I mean, really, how do you tell your child’s friends that they have been sent to a psychiatric facility indefinitely?  Would you say anything at all, and risk your child’s loss of their friends when they returned? Parents of children with disabilities often lose their adult friends, because people are not understanding enough or even because they are just plain fucking selfish.  These parents give up a lot.  More than many parents of “normal” children could ever fathom.

The sacrifices that are made are not to be taken lightly, and I have to say that now that I am an adult, I am much more cognizant of everything my mother gave up in order to protect her children and give us what we needed.  It takes its toll, even on the strongest people.

To you parents of handicapped children, know that you are appreciated by your adult children.  Know that one day, hopefully, your young child will understand why you do the things you do.  Know that even though other adults can be foolish and even as cruel as school children, this particular adult admires and has great respect for what you do.

I cannot fathom what it is like on your side of the equation, but know I understand your struggles from the other side.

Flail on,
 – Classical Spazz

To the friends that I’ve been missing

•November 2, 2012 • 8 Comments

I am sorry that I have been gone.  Things have not been going well.  I am not sleeping, my eating has gone back to being erratic, and not terribly healthy, and I am in a lot of pain, physically and emotionally.  I do not have the energy to do much.

I have spent the last year trying to improve my life by being more positive, and for awhile, it worked.  However, the last few months have been unforgiving, and I am tired of being so tired all the time, telling myself things will get better.  They have only gotten worse.

Today I got to take an emergency trip to my physical therapist, because I could barely walk.  I was unable to stand up straight, and had a very noticeable limp on my right side.  I went in to see the therapist, and when she went to measure my pelvis, it hurt so badly, I cried.

You have no idea how much I hate crying in front of doctors.  You have no idea how incredibly stoic I am about a lot of my pain.

There was no avoiding crying today.

My pelvis was severely rotated, and my hips were out of position due to one side being higher than the other.  It took an hour and twenty minutes to get me back to somewhat normal.  I am VERY grateful that my PT was able to see me on such short notice, and that she was able to help.  I WAS able to walk out of the clinic standing straight up, and with minimal pain (for me).

That said, while I am still walking around the house, and my pain has decreased overall since the appointment, it has increased since coming home.  I am tired, frustrated, crabby, and depressed.  I am worried about even being able to continue to show my dogs.

I am also being faced with the decision of whether or not to place my Butter Bean, and I feel like I’m dying inside.  I LOVE my Mahler.  Y’all don’t even know.  But it is becoming painfully evident that he is probably not suited for service work.

At 9 months old, we still do not have “Go kennel!” down.  He needs more exercise than I am physically able to provide.  My limitations, coupled with the bad weather, have really hindered our progress.  He wants to be busy all the time….he can’t be busy all the time.  As a service dog, he’ll have to do a lot of lying down and just waiting.  Something he does not enjoy doing.

And, while I know this pisses people off to hear, he is not a smart dog.  Sorry, but he’s not.  Not every dog can be a genius, and just because he is a working line dog does not automatically mean he is the best thing since sliced bread and is suited for absolutely any job put before him.

The kennel he came from is a kennel I respected for a long time.  I waited literally years for this puppy.  The thought of placing him sickens me.  That said, things change, priorities change, and people change.

There is more I want to say, and more I should say, and one of those things is that I am tired of being lectured and lied to.  I am really sick and tired of people making excuses for the kennel, and even MORE sick and tired of people telling me “Well, I wouldn’t have gotten a dog from there!”

Really?  GOOD FOR YOU!  I made a choice I felt was the right choice at the time.  Mahler is my first foray into working lines, and I will readily admit that I am NOT the convert that people told me I would be.  I am not pleased that he dug up my yard (even after being rigorously exercised), or has eaten my deck, my porch, and some of my blinds.

I am not a fan of the intensity displayed, which is the OPPOSITE of what I needed.  But hey, that’s ok, because it’s a working line, and they are TOTALLY awesome for ANYTHING you want to do!  I am NOT a fan of being so intensely focused on finding ANY morsel of food on the floor, the dog is deaf to being told to just go to his effing kennel to eat and take a damn break.

And most of all, I am not a fan of being taken advantage of and used, which has happened on more than one occasion this year.  And it’s my fault, because I am too fucking NICE!  I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, and treat everybody kindly.  You know why?  Because I was treated like CRAP as a little girl, and I know what it feels like to be down on your luck, and excluded, and hurting.

The result of my being nice was basically being told that I’m a loser, that I’M the one with the problem, and losing a litter of puppies I loved and had been looking forward to raising for MONTHS….because of money.  And it doesn’t matter that I didn’t OWN the puppies.  The point is not ownership.  The point is the amount of time, love, and care I put into each one of those puppies.

I sat with them for HOURS every day.  I weighed them, watched them, HELD them, started learning personalities.  I know their birth order, I know who was the heaviest boy and heaviest girl.  I know who opened their eyes first, and who was the first to lick my nose.  I know that there is one very special puppy that I adored and lost my heart to, the moment I saw her, and I don’t know why.

I know that I’ve been told I need to just get over it and move on, but there has been no moving on, because I can’t.  Because I lost something precious and incredibly important to me, and I know they are looked at as dollar signs and not precious individuals.

I miss my friends.  I miss having a social life.  I miss not being in pain.  I don’t even remember what it’s like anymore to not have pain.

I am in a very angry place, and I am trying to crawl out of it, but it is going to take a lot of time.  I do not have time for the lectures, or the shit, or the “it will get better!” junk.  I do not have the will to hear it anymore.  I do not have the heart left in me to hear the bullshit about how I’m the one in the wrong with my feelings.

I’m not doing it.

I am sorry I have not been around.  I am just.  Too. Tired.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

To the man with the kids in the Walmart

•October 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Since the four children you were with were addressing you by your first name, I am unsure if you were their father or not.  Regardless, thank you for kindly, calmly, politely explaining to your charges why they could not bother my dog.  Thank you for not only explaining why they couldn’t bother him, but enforcing what you told them.

Also, man in Walmart, thank you for reminding the children that they were to be behind the cart, away from my dog, and doing so without yelling.  The children were inquisitive, but quiet, and they were obedient, if not a bit squirrelly (they were very young…5-7 years of age).  They were very enjoyable to stand in line with.

There are not enough adults out there that take charge of the children in their care, and that can create a dangerous situation for me, my dog, and the children involved.  It is very important to me that adults take responsibility for those in their care, and I do try to thank those people whenever possible.

Flail on,
 – Classical Spazz

 
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