Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend with my new man

Hello All,
Once again school is keeping me busy. I realized it has been a while since I have written. The most recent update is that Bourke came and stayed for the weekend. We had a great time. I have learned the he is a bed hog. I found myself at the edge of the bed several times. Apparently Bourke was wondering why I kept needing to move. I guess he felt like his beauty sleep was violated. Despite our bed war I had the best night of sleep I have had in months. We also went to the dog park and met some new friends. I didn't realize that dog owners are their own sub-culture. I truly felt like a new mom when I began to describe the behaviors of our new family member. Bourke loved getting out and meeting new friends. He had a blast chasing sticks, rolling in dirt, and pointing out interesting smells. However, he does not enjoy baths. I let him know that if you play hard enough to get dirty then you have to pay the consequences. I'm not sure if he understands the logic. Apparently if you look sad enough then there shouldn't need to be consequences. I may take this logic into my life. I just don't know if I can look as pitiful as Bourke. It may be worth a shot. I can't wait to see him again and to continue the training process.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bourke Update

Hi All,

Sorry it has taken so long to blog. School has been crazy and I have started my training with Bourke. He has been great and I have had a great time working with him. We went to the mall a couple of days ago. It was great to have him with me and be able to remember a conversation. One of my goals is to go to a restaurant with my husband and be able to hold a conversation. I am also learning Bourke is a huge clown. He was definetly making me laugh a couple of times. He is absolutely fascinated by escalators and spent a few minutes staring at them. We have also practiced commands, such as bringing me his leash, that will help with my balance problems. However, I have learned that he is definetly a boy. He is food motivated and will try to perform random behaviors to get food. One of the great things about working with Bourke is that my anxiety levels do decrease. I was able to go to the mall and not want to run immediately. I am not sure if my wallet will appreciate this fact. I am hoping in the next couple of weeks we can began helping me with my fear of uniformed male personnel. This is a huge safety concern, especially if I get pulled over, and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. However, I have hope for my future canine friend to help me in this area.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Training with Bourke Soon

Hi All,

I wanted to give everyone a quick update. I went to a conference this past week for OIF/OEF women veterans. It was in California and the weather was wonderful. It was also great to meet other veterans and talk about our issues. It was both saddening and happy at the same time. I was in a room full of veterans, some with PTSD, and I realized how bad my symptoms were. I was unable to sit in the circle with the other women. I was also unable to stay in the room when there was flash photography. I was one of the few individuals who had this problem. However, at one point another vet gave me encouragement and hope. She reminded me that it doesn't always have to be this way. They have some great therapies and medications out there. There is also a faith based promise that I hold onto. I have been promised a hope, future, and healing. It was great to talk to and connect with someone who has been there. Another up note is that I was able to make the flight out and home. I missed several flights, due to PTSD and brain issues, that made getting home difficult. I did experience some flashbacks and high anxiety on the flight. However, I made the flight and I am proud of that. I think I will by buying Bourke some extra special treats as a reward for my flight. The other good news is that I get to start training with Bourke in March. I can't wait to see him and start our training. I will blog as I begin my training.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Almost Spring

Hi All,

I wanted to get my February blog in before I forgot. However, you may need to be patient with me due to my exhaustion. It has been a rough week with the insomnia. I have had one good night of sleep in the past week. This always makes higher order thinking and emotional processing difficult. I struggle with higher levels of anxiety and increased headaches. According to the infomercials I can take a pill and it will all go away. I am looking forward to the best medicine ever, our soon to be house addition, Bourke. I have even picked out a bed for him so that he can be a source of comfort on these nights. The whole situation can get frustrating and make it difficult to keep commitments. I also wanted to let everyone know I am training for a half marathon,which is a walk/run, for April. I will attempt to collect donations for the organization and raise awareness. However, I am approaching this cautiously due to my current issues. I do plan on doing as much as I can. I look forward to updating everyone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

School Visit

Hi All,

Sorry it has been a while. Things have been a little busy and I have been working hard trying to get into a sleep schedule. The latest update is that I was able to go to a school, with the help of some very special dogs, and be around kids and high school students. I am also getting used to being in restaurants. This works well because I hate cooking.

During the school visit I was able to see how the dogs are helping kids learn to read. There were some very cute elementary school students that read to the dog. It seems that the dog became absolutely fascinated by the story at times. The facial expressions and nose movements were hilarious. Being around the kids was stressful and did raise some memories of Iraq. However, the dog helped ground me and keep me focused on my location. It was a great experience. I also was given a doggie kiss. If that does not ground you nothing else will.

After this experience I went to a high school and met their club. The students there were great and very welcoming. However, there were times that my stress level went extremely high in the process. Fortunately, another service dog was at the high school. At one moment I began to forget where I was and began to return to Iraq. However, the dog came and was a source of comfort. It was also a great reminder of where I was located. I appreciated the help and I was able to leave the experience fairly hopeful. I know the anxiety switch in my head can be decreased or turned off. I equate PTSD to having to think clearly with a mac truck coming at you at 100mph. The dog helps turn the truck into a toy and decrease the speed. I am looking forward to future school visits.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to the world

Hi All,

It has been a little while since I have written. School has been rough this semester and I have been sick. However, I am back on the road to recovery. The immune system has been shot due to the PTSD. It has been hard to get sleep on a regular basis, which destroys the immune system, and things have become more difficult.This semester has had several bright spots. One of them was being able to see the new puppies. They were adorable. Each one had a very distinct personality. It was great to see them running around and exhausting themselves. At one point someone told one of the puppies that it "would grow up to do great things". I think it is a great message that many of us could use. The puppy trip was a reward I gave myself for going to a school. It was a stressful experience but very rewarding. It also showed me that I can still be around children. The kids were adorable and were learning valuable skills. They were learning delayed gratification. It was very impressive. They were also learning coping strategies. The great thing was that the dog was just hanging out and having fun. It has been a crazy month with lots of adjustments. I am looking forward to break and spoiling future puppies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Seeing the Postive

Hi All,

I wanted to get one last blog in before the paper and last month of the semester saps my soul. Sadly my grades are not great and will require some serious work. I am hoping the headaches, balance issues, and sleep problems will decrease. I was having a particularly rough week this week. The headaches have been through the roof and I have missed several appointments. I think missing appointments are the hardest thing for me. I feel unreliable and it further isolate me. The social interaction, or lack of, makes it difficult to keep my spirits up. However, I have decided to focus things that will help me keep going when all I want to do is stay in bed.
Writing and sharing them helps. So you get to be a part of the therapeutic process. Here you go:

Aprils' Top Ten list of reasons to not to give in when I want to give up

1) Blue ridge half marathon walk/run (more like walk but I will finally get to wear my cool Paws4Vets T-Shirt)
2) Petco visits where I can look at toys for my future family member (I have heard you can put peanut butter in them, things to ask)
3) Natural Bridge (where I can watch leaves change and it is incredibly calm)
4) Coconut Ice Cream (The best thing ever when you are wheat free/gluten free)
5) My cat who is sitting next to me now. He is mad that I am paying more attention to the computer than him
6) The goal of getting my Masters in Counseling (I have been working on this for over five years and will get it)
7) The look of the faces on the women in the prison who train service dogs (if they have hope I certainly can)
8) My moms coke chili and laugh (I am seeing a pattern that food is important, hmmh)
9) My little sisters teasing voice on the other end of the phone
10) Biking with the husband (great cheap date night)

Thanks for reading.