President Harry Truman said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties”. http://hearingelmo.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/timeless-reminders/
Rarely do I not find a gem of truth in Denise’s blog there, and this is one of them! We may naturally be a pessimist or an optimist but we can choose to stay that way or we can change our outlook. Perspective is a choice.
If I’ve learned anything from my own difficulties, is there’s no doubt it can be an opportunity if I have the will and courage to face it as such. The biggest hindrances to “normal” life I face are the physical exhaustion, which I can only do so much about, and anxiety.
Back when I was training Kenai the pup to be a service dog, before he got so sick with Ehrlichiosis, there were times he would just be persistantly difficult.
He would get jumpy, overly alert, and scatterbrained. After some “huh?”, we realized he was reacting to increases in my anxiety levels.
This is a very common dog response to a stressed handler. Kenai was more aware of what I was feeling than I was.
See the funky ears and low tail there? Like some canary in a mine, big Brown was first to notice a not good state, and was telling me I needed to relax. He became my early warning system to anxiety, and very often was able to stop cold its onward march just by his presence and leaning on my body when I taught him to.
But I couldn’t expect Kenai to totally fix the problem for me–he was to let me know I was too anxious, and remain present while I calmed myself down. He’d do his part, but I had to do mine; no more passive avoidance or just living with it.
The difficulty of a squirrly adolescent SDit became an opportunity to improve my own health.
Of all the “alternative” treatments for the fibromyalgia, anxiety, and fatigue disorders I have, biofeedback has been singularly effective for me. It’s been shown by studies to be as effective in reducing anxiety, pain, and negative feelings as the milder pharmacueticals, in fact. It certainly works, and well.
Like many people, I had in my head visions of new age guru kinda stuff when learning biofeedback was floated to me by a friend. But I quick found out that it’s actually science, neuroscience. It is the deliberate retraining of the body and brain to control what is usually unconscious functions like breathing or heart rate.
Call it weightlifting for the brain! http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/biofeedback-000349.htm. Many formal techniques involve being hooked up to sensors that detect electrical activity in the brain, but really you don’t have to go quite that far.
The sensors are for one purpose: awareness of the body’s stress, and the state of mental intensity as revealed by the type of electrical activity in the brain. But I don’t know anybody who has their own EEG machine at home or would want one.
There are much simpler ways to become aware of your body and then alter its state, which allows for a couple practice times a day to really become proficient. As simple a thing as checking your body for muscle tension and consciously relaxing those muscles is easily done at home or anywhere else.
Or just realizing your blood pressure is up a bit and slowing your breathing on purpose to lower it as you relax. Like I said, it’s all about awareness, not machinery. I had a furry alert system, and if you have a dog, you do too as they will behave different when you are stressed.
The Alpha and Beta brainwaves are our “alert” states, like when reading or working. They are the highest focus and stress states, in terms of brain activity. Theta waves are alert but relaxed, and have been shown to be the best brainwaves for reducing pain, confusion, blood pressure, and the like.
Music is remarkably effective at altering what brainwaves we are in. I use a theta wave inducing music CD to slow my brain down so I can relax, and combine it with recognizing tension in a muscle and consciously relaxing that muscle. This dramatically affects the level of pain I feel. www.brainwave-sync.com
For specific anxiety triggers, I have learned from a psychologist to first reach a relaxed but alert theta state, then introduce those triggers via thinking about them, visual stimulus like pictures, and taped sounds.
One of my big triggers is loud and crowded places, so I’ll think about, say shopping at Sam’s Club on a Saturday, viewing pictures or videos of it at peak capacity, and hearing the recorded sounds when it’s very busy.
I will immediately tense up, and as soon as that change is recognized, I then have to consciously relax the muscles while hearing and viewing the crowded place. The point is to return myself to that original theta brainwave as the trigger remains.
Usually I need to continue playing the music so low I can barely hear it, and sometimes I’ve needed a sunglasses like device that uses flashing light to re-induce theta waves.
After a few sessions like that, my body has learned to unconsciously lower my body’s state of stress when those triggers are present. It literally trains the unconscious parts of the brain to relax rather than get anxious.
Kansas State has a very good overview of biofeedback http://www.k-state.edu/counseling/student/biofeedback.htm. If you have access to a psychologist or someone trained in biofeedback and can afford the cost of professional help, it truely is remarkably effective and you might consider learning the techniques.
If not, it can be done at home on your own. A couple 15 min practices a day to get good at relaxing yourself, then the determination to work on your triggers is all it really requires.
Managing arousal can also be an issue for dogs, and Patricia McConnell has a very good post on that at her website: http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com/ Kenai has become much better on the generalized excitement now that he’s older. He’ll still get wound up at play time with other dogs though.
I’ve been thinking about taking him and BB to their trainer’s for a it’s too hot outside play time indoors. No furniture to upend! They don’t do that but mostly because I keep their wild child levels down indoors. It’s been so boring with all the heat, poor guys.
Heat’s only going to get worse next week, too. Ugh.
Today has dusting and running the sweeper on tap, maybe tonight scrubbing the living room carpet. Nothin exciting, to me at least. The boys will go elsewheres on their own when the sweeper comes out, so I clean alone. Make messes together, but clean alone’s how that goes.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 29, 2011
There’s my boy, guarding the garden from…something. Kenai 3 yrs
AH! It’s been too long since I’ve posted!
The heat continues, so we’re looking to indoor activities for boy entertainment. I’m not up to much, still in the grips of anxiety-driven insomnia. The brain has blue screened, but the body won’t relax enough to sleep or stay asleep for more than 3-4 hours.
I’d rather waterboarded, personally. After a month I’m at that point where my thoughts feel like shattered glass; each peice reflects a thought but they don’t fit together any more. I’m actually irritable with the dogs–very strange for me.
Oh I’m no galloping lunatic, not yet anyway, but still…ugh.
So to counter the brain dead but tense, me and boys had ourselves a rambunctious rumpus indoors, which I rarely allow. Their crazy boys are reserved for outside usually. We ran and chased and swatted and carried on for a solid 15 minutes. They loved it!
Then it was nap time.
There was much snoozing. By Thursday they were pretty bored, so I gave them some garden time.
It was only about 10 minutes each, and by the time I came in…oh boy, 102F on my thermometer and I as way too hot.
Took a cold shower, drank a bunch of tea and went to bed to wait for the headache to pass.
This is the part of the summer I don’t care for: the humidity, the squash bugs, the sticky need a shower every hour feeling. The boys get serious bored, and start getting into trouble for irritable pup stuff. I’m usually so cold I don’t realize how hot I really am getting sometimes too.
But…Kenai has himself a nifty new thing: a 5″ thick puffy mattress pad, and he enjoys it, too. We have our sleepy times now in plush comfort! That’s about the height of the new news at our house.
Weatherman says it’s the hottest July since 1954. If we do the triple digits forcast this week, it’ll be the hottest in 110 years (1901). Gosh, what’s August gonna be like?! I know, I know, complaining doesn’t help. But heavens, what can ya possibly do for fun in temperatures like that?
Being the prissy poops they are, the guys do NOT like water, so horsing around in the sprinkler or going to the river is not an option. Water games of any kind is not an option, the princesses. And car rides have to be so durn limited. What’s to do that’s fun besides water and cars?
Here’s one thing:
HUGGING! Yes, such smoochiness offends his man dignity when he’s trying to be outside guard puppy at 6 am. But it’s so much yummy-good! (Insert boy snort). “Phoo” sayeth him, but he tolerates it so I get his breakfast ready. The things a man’s gotta put up with…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 26, 2011
if only THIS could scare off the squash bugs….Kenai 3 yrs
Boy…this heat is remarkable. It’s been the hottest, driest July on record in 80 years. No change of weather patterns in sight, either. The boys are mostly stuck in the house, with little change in that pattern too.
But Friday I did take Kenai to the local Ace Hardware, and he got out to wander the parking lot. Until a truck pulled in, then his curious was over. Still, he got a car ride, and a walk about for the first time really in a month. He was excited too–’Car, Car, me in the Car!’
I’m gonna have to come up with some kind of cooling off games for my water princessess. One of my past loves, Brazos, enjoyed running through the sprinkler; for the most part it was how fast could he go by. Brown ain’t gonna go for that, no way.
Friday evening, the AC finally blew itself out. It’s not been very effective of late, but we were 85F and climbing by sundown. I only gave BB half a meal, given his propensity to barf of late, with plans to feed him the remainder before bed or if the AC was fixed, whichever came first.
While taking a cool shower (oh to feel clean…) once the AC was running again, I decided to make a raspberry iced tea from some jam. ‘Course chronic complainer Mom didn’t want that, (grrr) so it was just sugared iced tea. But it was cold and sweet and that’s good enough.
We have a functioning sink, dishwasher, microwave, wall oven, and fridge now, and I started putting stuff in the cabinets early Saturday morning. I was up at 2:30 am durn it. The range won’t work until the gas guy gets the line right Tuesday, though.
I don’t know when this remodel will be all done. The guys are talking about coming back to finish in 2 weeks? After almost 4 months of waiting, I’m sick of the dragging it out. But at least we have a sink now!
Sometime over the weekend, Kenai should have his early morning garden time–I’m gettin the itch to start building and filling the raised beds again. There’s boxes of kitchen and bath stuff everywhere, some of which, maybe most of it, the boys can “help” us put away.
BB’s a follower: he’ll walk right along with you, getting in the way when he can, and sniff what you’re putting away. Tell him what the object is, and he’ll remember it too.
Kenai’ more of a watcher, then sniff it when it’s done kinda guy. He’s the “supervisor”, you see, and lets little bro be the worker bee. Funny how entirely different these two littermates of mine are.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 16, 2011
The hammering, the air gun, the screwdrivers, the AC guy up in the attic…
The once upon a time unflappable Kenai, the great protector of all things little brother is in his hidey hole and won’t come out, even for BB. BB is so underfoot I had to use the baby gate to keep him in the living room, wanting to go and watch and stick his nose in everything.
Meanwhile, Kenai’s in his hidey hole.
BB helped me get his lunch together, and go outside for “relief”, and discover how to go out to the garage between 2 base cabinets by the door. BB helped carry in his Bravo raw, and wash his bowls in the bathroom sink.
Meanwhile, Kenai’s in his hidey hole.
BB helped the AC guy decide where to put a second air return, making sure the hole he cut was square. Beebs also helped him find his screwdriver once he learned what it was. Dumbo ear BB boy used those ears to follow the AC guy’s progress up in the attic.
Meanwhile, Kenai’s in his hidey hole.
Beebs had a great big fun wiggle when he learned he could nose push the lazy susan in the new corner base cabinet. He also found that the whole house would get in a noisy uproar if he tried to sniff the wiring, and the commotion convinced him to think better of persistance.
Meanwhile, Kenai’s in his hidey hole.
The only time we see a black nose peeking out from the hallway is when all the noise stops for the guys’ lunch, or if they have to measure something. Soon as the work starts, Kenai goes back to the hidey hole.
As for their health. Yeah. Kenai’s doing okay, with normal toots and a decent coat condition. He will have a spot or two of skin staph trying to take hold but I wash him down everyday and it dies off in 24 hours. Overall he’s in okay shape.
BB still has die in the rears and throwing up in the mornings. Nothing is stopping his messy backend, nor the yeast infections in the ears and toes, nor the shedding. Tuesday afternoon he was restarted on the Bravo raw.
I just totally switched, cold turkey to the turkey. Normally I slowly switch, but I want him off what he’s eating now. He has die in the rears anyhow, what diff do it make?
Don’t know what’s next for BB. The metronidazole didn’t have any effect, nor did the Kandida plex which usually does a good job. A couple days on low dose prednisone did not help; perhaps made it worse.
There’s not been exercise to help the guys with their kitchen redo stress either, having triple digit heat. Our thermometers are melting…dangerous hot for a bloat prone breed like Great Danes.
Even early its pushing the limits that I allow the guys out in: 85F is it. And considering it’s 75F at 6 am, they get maybe, maybe, an hour outside. Between the kitchen redo and the heat, I’m in a major insomniac streak so I have zero gardening ambition anyway.
The interesting thing about FMS/CFS/ME, its not that my mind is running or I’m just laying awake thinking ’bout stuff. The fibro insomnia is entirely driven my the autonomic (sympathetic) nervous system, which controls breathing, sleep, heart rate etc.
The only thing to do when the autonomic nervous system won’t shut down? Tranquilizers and heavy duty anti-anxiety meds. The temazapam isn’t cutting it, so Wednesday I have to talk to my doc about something heavier.
I haven’t gotten more than 4 hours of sleep in over 2 weeks. I’m considering a trip to the zoo for the elephant tranqs.
My poor doctor…he’s so smart and so careful he’s done gone and made me trust him. That was his biggest mistake! He’s so careful though I expect to have to fight him about getting a strong enough tranquilizer, even a two week trial.
But, Dr Dexter, I can’t sleep. 3-4 hours is all I’m getting. I am getting migraines again, as many in the past three months as I had all last year. Having that in abundance.
And the chemical sensitivities are much worse. The bowels are a mess. The joints hurt. The muscles are worse. Everything is much worse, because I can’t sleep.
That’s my spiel. HELP!! Think it’ll work? I’ll find out Wednesday morning.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 12, 2011
Here’s a Beebers…no not the one in need of a hair cut; that’s Beiber, J for Justin. This is Beebers, BB for bananna butt, booger buddy, billygoat boy, bent bottoms, etc.
Wednesday was a strange day, right from the start. Kenai didn’t show any enthusiasm about going gardening. Huh? He sorta shuffled out, then hung around on the deck until I came in to feed him. Then he sorta shuffled out again, not showing much interest.
BB never has an unenthusiastic moment, so when I fed him, he was happy as usual. He was outside for a few minutes, then came back in and I went off to the garden once more. Kenai came along but just seemed blah, so back in with him and he didn’t protest.
Lunch time rolled around, got them fed and went to lay down. Not even asleep yet and BB’s throwing up his entire lunch. WHAT? They’ve been feeling perky and even snarky, lots of fun and games for several days. Then Wednesday.
Still don’t know.
Thursday was a big day, guys coming to fix the sheetrock and paint in the kitchen so it’s ready when the new cabinets come next Monday. Delicious melon and jonquil, btw–warm colors are my thing.
With Mom gone, the pups handled it pretty well–they’re usually more relaxed when it’s just the three of us, even when “company” comes. I had to run BB out of the kitchen 3 times, so the gate went up despite his protests. K of course was in a hidey hole.
But surprise of surprises, by the time I went for a nap at 2pm, Kenai had found the courage to lay behind my chair and watch some of the quieter goings on. Then we had a 3 hour nap in the bedroom.
Friday morning he had to stay inside while I sprayed insecticide on the garden. All our hard work was being eaten up by cucumber beetles and squash bugs. The Sevin powder had killed them off temporarily, and ruined me for several days (twice), so this time I tried a liquid in a hose end sprayer.
Knock on wood and not to jinx it, but Kenai is eating well and having good normal achem, leavings. He’s eating 2 1/2 pounds of Bravo raw elk with 1 cup of Taste of the Wild kibble and 1 Totalzymes pill. A little thin and not as muscular as I’d like, but I’m just glad he’s doing okay.
BB just isn’t doing as well–he can’t tolerate the kibble/enzymes, so I’ve stopped that and we’re back to “pickin chicken” (deboning cooked chicken) for him 3 times a day. The coat has improved some, but not the scrap piles yet. I’ve got some Bravo raw on order for him.
Here’s Kenai checking out the day’s work in the garden Friday:
First look this way…Then look that way.
Friday was the last day we’ve had any time outside other than a quicky bathroom run. We hit 102F in the shade, and that’s just plain dangerous hot.
Mornings aren’t even cool enough to spend much time out in, so until the heat breaks, Kenai and BB are the indoor version of the outside brothers. They seem okay with it, after having to walk across our west facing back deck. The golden coated ones won’t even go grill with me after the sun goes down!
One of the new paint colors for our kitchen. You can just see the edge of the dark dark DARK red paint that was there under that blue electrical box. The yellow looks deeper in person, and it’s just cheerful. The new cabinets and appliances will be put in beginning Monday.
Our house will likely be a zoo Monday, with all kinds of people coming and going. I’m taking Kenai to go get the Bravo raw order, and a couple other things, hopefully giving him and me both a break from the barky-butt madness! Needless to say, the AC will not be turned off the whole trip.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 10, 2011
it’s raining it’s pouring by great dane puppy’s snoring…okay they’re not puppies, but it made the cadence of my “poem” work!
Sunday night brought us REAL rain, hours of it off and on all night. The boys slept through it. They get a little jumpy before a storm, but once it starts and we do the “it’s just ol thunderbumpers”, they relax. We needed that rain in the worst way–June was the 4th driest in 150 yrs of records.
Not to mention record heat.
The fourth of July has been pretty quiet in our new neighborhood, though Monday there was more fireworks. The guys get barky and all with the noise, but they do better than I would’ve thought.
Our neighbors were all getting together on the 4th, and we made a whole big bunch of potato salad. We’ve always has a potato salad unlike any I’ve ever found before–I call it Pennsylvania Dutch potato salad. It’s made with boiled potatoes, onions, sweet relish, mayo, vinegar, boiled eggs, and sugar.
Sweet. Yeah, I like sweet.
Kenai had begun barfing every morning, and some of it looked like bark from the compost. How, when? Not like I ain’t outside with him…So I watched much more closely (the garden work got sloppy but hey.)
He and his brother both seemed intensely interested where I’d fertilized with blood meal, and I scold them everytime I see it. The heaving at 5 am has stopped now. What the heck? Blood meal is supposed to REPEL critters, and bone meal to attract them. Ding dongs.
I wish my dogs weren’t so insensible.
Anyway, to help with the ongoing icky coats and general weight loss I’ve restarted a half kibble/half raw diet. They’ve been acting like they did when they were on enzymes last time: hungry, fussy, bad smellies. The works.
The seem okay with the half n half diet right now, Kenai’s coat’s improving, and hopefully over time I can get BB’s yeastie problems back under control. It’s already better taking the Kandidaplex. That raw just does them good. My checkbook is crying…
We left them Monday night, to go over to the neighbors’, for some bbq and fireworks. I had to duck out early (migraine), and I was shushing the boys alot more since it was just across the road.
But they were better when I was home, at least. I could hear them barking from the neighbors’ house!
So when the shushing just lowered the volume but not the frequency of barks n growls, we all three stood at the windows and “see the pretty lights” together. It was now a game, and with BB it’s always game on.
Kenai quieted right down leaning just slightly on my hip, being the momma’s boy that he is. BB’s head was on a swivel to “see the pretty lights” here, then there, and always come back for a pat on the head and a good boy. That stopped the barking. My migraine was immensely grateful.
Eventually Beebs figured out that the door gave him a better view than the window so he parked there, just looking back for his good boy. Things quieted down in the living room, and soon naps were all there was. I was drugged outta my mind, and the boys were exhausted!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 5, 2011
My early morning gardening buddy in barely any light yet…Kenai 3 yrs
The weekend was dull for little boys–I stayed inside out of the heat, and tried to sleep to no avail. Suddenly I cannot stay asleep for more than a couple hours, waking up each time more tired than the last time. Uhg. Fibromyalgia. That or the Chronic Fatigue/ME. Boy…
But Monday morning big K here went out to unload the compost from my truck with me. He has started walking in the raised beds, stomping down my seedlings, so he’s in the doggie house with me right now. I’m really not ready to fence in the garden area; it’s no where near finished yet.
If he doesn’t stay outta the beds I told him I’d mail his peices back to him one at a time. If I didn’t lose any. He didn’t seem impressed with the threat, so I leave the hose on and set to jet. Water he ‘gets’, and it’s probably a more unspeakable punishment anyway than having to wait for the UPS man to bring his pointy ears back to him.
Not that I don’t agree with him the turned soil is softer than our burnt up grass. I actually have a few grass cuts on my feet, since I just love to ditch the shoes in the summer. But the beans and ‘maters don’t survive sasquatch paws, so it’s OUT OF MY GARDEN.
The kitchen was put off one more day, to Tuesday, and come Tuesday we discovered this whole affair will go on for at least 2 weeks. I’m getting frustrated. I want it DONE. Sick of boxes, and don’t want Mom’s stuff stuffing my sewing room to the rafters. I don’t care if she doesn’t want to pack her extra clothes and keep them under the bed.
I’ve got dining room chairs, ottomans, and other things I told her we didn’t have room to bring to the new house in my sewing room. She’s taken over the hall way closet, the coat closet and every shelf in the garage with her stuff and I’ll be buggered if she’s gonna take over the sewing room too.
She’s not entitled to take every inch for herself. The sewing room closet’s going to have shelves and lights to start my seedlings. I have 8,000 sq ft of veggie garden alone, so a flat next to the window won’t begin to be enough! That doesn’t even count the annual flowers and easy to start perennials.
Tuesday morning did have a bright spot, or actually a cloudy spot: we finally got some rain. A 1/2″ of real real, and the rain cooled air to go with it. Oh it felt nice. So Bean Stomper and I got the 3rd raised bed garden box tilled with my little Mantis tiller. And Wednesday early we finished topping it off with compost.
But the heat is making me find and copy pictures like this, since I no longer have a pool to cool off in.
Doesn’t that mist look refreshing?We’re expected to be almost 100F for the next several days, with heat indexes around 110F.
That means pups and me head out to the garden at 5:30 am and will be calling it a day by 9-10am. He will miss the longer outside times but heat isn’t a good thing to play games with.
This is what he does when he’s not outside: he watches outside. Is it me or is that a Mr. Outdoorsman there?
You might guess from the disheveled room that Thursday was laundry day. I threw a sheet over the bed after stripping it so he could look out the window.
Poor baby bottoms didn’t even have a pillow…they were in the dryer on high heat for freshening. He likes when I push my body pillow and stuff up to the head of the bed, and he can nap while leaning on them. Comfort and still a window with a view.
The excessive heat has kept us inside, and sapped my limited energy, so it’s been a boring week. We’ll muddle along until I’ve adjusted and feel better though. I’ve not worked in the garden for several days now, other than checking if I need to water or pick squash, which will help.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 1, 2011