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Friday, 30 May 2014

Pets 'n' Stuff | A Chorkie Takeover

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." 
Roger Caras

Over the last two weeks we have been minding my cousin's dogs while she's been on her honeymoon. They are nine month old Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkie mix) sisters called Minnie and Betty. At first glance you'd never imagine they were sisters. Minnie just looks like a Chihuahua. You wouldn't think she was a mix at all. She's considerably smaller than Betty, who looks very much like a Yorkie. Though she doesn't look full bred. They are both gorgeous though, and I was so happy we had the chance to mind them. I mean, they're not exactly the perfect house guests. They're still not really house trained, and even if they were, our garden wasn't exactly safe for them because of their small size. Even when my mum did let them out they never went to the toilet. Another slight downside was the fact they weren't used to cats, and took every opportunity they could to bark and chase our two cats Findlay and Effy. It didn't help that Findlay loves annoying dogs by calmly walking into whatever room they're in and sitting somewhere, usually just out of reach. I think this gave the impression they were living up to the yappy stereotype little dogs have. However I think any dogs that were unfamiliar with cats would be much the same.

All the small downsides aside, I think having them here really did a lot for me. It took my mind off a lot of stuff. They kept me busy. Because of their size they couldn't get on to the couch or my bed themselves, and I was a little bummed out because it meant I couldn't reach them either. But I had the idea of using an upside down shopping crate for them to use as a step. The day after they arrived I started teaching them to use the crate to get on to my bed and then from the bed on to my lap. It meant I could get cuddles any time I wanted! Well, provided they wanted to give me cuddles. The two of them are completely inseparable. My cousin had said Minnie loved to be held all the time, but Betty didn't like it so much. True to her word, Minnie did love to be held a lot. She'd fall asleep in your arms like a baby. However it turned out that Betty liked it just as much. I think people are just less inclined to hold her because she's bigger, kinda long, and a little awkward. It wasn't long until they'd found the space behind me in my wheelchair, and I was carting them both around with me. I'm surprised I never ended up on the floor! Especially since they'd both curl up in the space behind me (a space usually occupied by my cat Effy) and then scramble to get out if someone they liked more came home or they seen a cat. Yeah, I was by no means their favourite. For some reason they were obsessed with my mum, Minnie more so than Betty, but Betty always wanted to be with Minnie. It irked me a little they loved my mum so much when she couldn't be bothered with them a lot of the time. Childish, I know. For that reason Thursdays and Fridays were my favourite. I had them all to myself for most of the day since everyone was out. The first Thursday there was a man doing work next door and Betty was terrified. They were both scared a lot, but Betty particularly scared easily. I ended up having to hold them both, but they wanted to also see the man out the window so they could keep an eye on them. He must have wondered why that strange disabled girl holding two small dogs was watching him out her window.

My biggest fear having them stay was that they'd get hurt by our chocolate Labrador, Baby. She's a very submissive and good hearted dog, but even at the age of seven she is like a big pup. She doesn't realise her own size or strength and I was worried she'd hurt them when playing. We needn't have worried as they didn't like her all too much and were afraid. After the first night Baby largely ignored them. Gracie our 15 year old Shih Tzu also largely ignored them, though more so because she's mostly blind and deaf. She did however have a bit of a go at Betty when Betty tried to share food from Gracie's bowl. there's life in the old dog yet. Gracie also took a fancy to their cage and tried to sleep in it a few times. Another thing they were scared off was my BiPap mask. It took a while to coax them on to the bed with me. Surprisingly it was Betty that first decided it wasn't so scary after all, and came up to give me face licks. Minnie stayed at a safe distance, but was eventually coaxed up to lie beside me.

For a long time now my sister Eva and I have wanted to get a Chihuahua each. My parents always said after Gracie 'went' that we could get them. I hadn't actually ever met any Chihuahuas in real life, so I wondered would I still want one after minding Betty and Minnie. The answer is yes. As silly as it sounds, I loved being able to lift them and hold them, teach them how to come to me etc. I enjoyed looking after them when they got scared and them relying on me. It was different to my other pets. I guess they're just size appropriate. I can't even hold my cats they way I held them, and even my rats were too fast and got away too easily. I know it's not the same, but it almost felt like the closest I would get to the feeling you get looking after a baby. That's not to say if I do get a Chihuahua that I won't train it and treat it like a dog needs, but I would hope I'd still get that feeling.

So now they're leaving tomorrow and it's going to be very emotional. They've kind of become like a little part of the family, it's going to seem so dull without them. Eva wants us to get ours now and my dad seemed open to the idea during the first half of Betty and Minnie's stay. However I think the novelty kind of wore off for them. Now that I'm supposed to be moving out, I figured I'd wait until I was in my new place since I'm not taking my Labrador with me as she's too attached to my dad and Gracie's health isn't so good, so she'd be staying at home too. Then my aunt and dad started saying there was no way I could take care of a puppy by myself and that I should get them while I'm at home so I can have them trained before I move. However like I said, the novelty wore off and my parents changed their mind. Mostly they used the fact I'm getting carers as an excuse. In case the carers don't like animals. So basically they don't think I'll be able to have a puppy on my own, but I'm not allowed to get them while I'm at home. Though the other side to it is if I do get one before I move, there is the chance I won't be allowed pets in my new place. Or at least as many pets as I have. I'm already taking my two cats. Overall that is one of my biggest fears for the future, because my happiness is built a lot on my pets. They are my fuzzy children to make up for the children I'll never have. It's really thanks to them that I accepted I couldn't have children. I'm hoping it won't be an issue. We live in a Housing Association bungalow now, and they've never had a problem with our pets. But still, it's a bit of a conundrum trying to figure out the best way to go. But since my parents aren't allowing us to get them now anyway, I guess it's something to figure out at a later date! But for now here is some photos of Betty and Minnie during their stay. Hopefully it won't be too long before we see them again.

Miss them already. :')

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Control Or Lack Thereof

"I don't get upset over things I can control, because if I can control them there's no sense in getting upset. And I don't get upset over things I can't control, because if I can't control them there's no sense in getting upset."
Mickey Rivers

This entry is just a little bit of an update on how I've been since my last post. The day after my last blog (Wednesday 21st May) I had a visit from my Occupational Therapist and a Physiotherapist. They were coming out to put together a report for my Care Manager. Basically their recommendations for my care. Things like the fact I'll have to be hoisted as I can't take my own weight or straighten my knees or hips. We also talked a bit about how many visits a day and how many carers I'd have, deciding 4 visits and 2 carers at a time was about right. I'm going to start off with two half hour visits, one in the morning and one at night, and two fifteen minute visits in between for the bathroom. Since we're starting this off in the house I live in with my parents so I can get used to it before moving, my family are going to continue with food prep. They also told me that in the house I live in right now that the carers won't be able to shower me as they wouldn't be allowed to use the method of showering I currently use, so my family will have to continue with that too. Basically at the moment I have a bath board that goes across the bath and I sit on that. I guess that isn't in line with health and safety, even if I can balance perfectly well on it and find it comfortable. I suppose that's the kind of thing I will have to get used to. There is going to be a bunch of rules I'm going to have to play by, and a lot that isn't in my control.

I think after their visit a lot of it became very real and started to sink in. Not just for me, but for my parents too. Even though they knew I was having carers in our home, I don't think they realised it would be 4 visits a day, 7 days a week. My mum started saying she'd have to get locks on her bedroom door and that we'd have to be careful what we left around the house, in case they steal from us. Admittedly that didn't help with my own anxiety. I know this is difficult for my parents as they're not used to having people in the house, but them emphasising the fact these are strangers and stressing how vulnerable it makes them feel even having them in the house makes me feel so much more anxious about the fact these people will be seeing me at my most vulnerable. And that some day I'll be completely alone and relying on them. I feel guilty I'm putting my parents through this, but at the end of the day it's only temporary for them. This is the rest of my life, and I have no control over it. I think on some level my parents think that this is my choice, and therefore I can't really complain. I don't see it as a choice. This is the reality of living as a disabled adult. I could have coasted by in my parent's care, but as I've said many times before... they're not going to be here forever.

As it's started to sink in I've felt a lot more anxious about it all. You could even say I've been second guessing whether this is the right thing. But deep down I know it is. I know it has to be done, and the only reason I'm second guessing myself is the fear of change. I'm afraid that I'm swapping one life with a lack of control and independence for another. One with more restrictions, living by someone else's schedule and another's code of health and safety. Already it's been decided I have to swap bedrooms with my parents as carers need to be able to get on both sides of the bed for hoisting. I don't even have control over something so simple as the lay out of my room.  Luckily at least my parents didn't take that recommendation so bad. And the one plus side is that their room has an en-suite and the alternative would be they'd hoist me on to my toilet chair in my room and push me across the hall to my bathroom. So there is a bright side to moving rooms.

I know I've rambled on quite a lot in this entry and it seems like it's all silly complaints. I should be happy and excited that things are moving forward, and I do know that this is the best for not just my future but my parent's too. Change is just always difficult, especially when you aren't capable of being in control of a lot of things. I wouldn't be human if I didn't have fears and doubts, especially about such an unknown. My parents and family have always done my care, even when I was in hospital a nurse never so much as showered me.

So now the wait continues. Last I heard from my Care Manager was that he was requesting funding. It could be a while before the next part happens, where we discuss what times the carers will come etc. I think my biggest worry is what time of night they will come to put me to bed. I'm assuming it's going to be earlier than I'm used to. It's going to be quite an adjustment period when it all finally does get put in place, but hopefully it's nothing I can't handle.

Other things that happened during the course of the week since my last entry, my mum, dad and I all went for a walk around the coast and got ice cream. I really enjoyed it. I think I needed out. I've been having to actively keep panic attacks at bay still, especially over the last week and so I think the nice walk helped me relax some. I think I need to do that more often. It was really lovely weather and I got some really nice photos. They're especially nice thanks to Instagram. What did we do before Instagram filters? I've included some of the photos below.

Then on Friday night Eva and I headed to the cinema to see Bad Neighbours (or Neighbors), the new Seth Rogen movie. Again, I think the comedy really helped me get my mind off stuff. I mean if anything is going to distract you and put a smile on your face it's Seth Rogen, not to mention Dave Franco, Zac Efron and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Over all, it was just a really good cast and a really funny movie. I would recommend it. 

I know my entries have become a little less frequent, I'm trying to do at least one a week. However I have a couple of ideas for the next two! So hopefully the next one will be up tomorrow. Prepare for cute doggies!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Making A Difference

"Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room."
Christine Todd Whitman

Things have been pretty uneventful since the wedding. There was a bit of a come down. Well, at least until the puppies arrived. I mean I say it's been uneventful, but I mean in the sense I've not really had much to write about. I've been super busy dog sitting my cousin's dogs while she's on her honeymoon. I plan to write an entry dedicated to them and their stay (which will mostly be an abundance of cute photos), so all I'll say for now is they're like two small children that want attention from at least one person most of the time, but also require that attention so they don't get up to mischief. I have to say they've really helped get my mind off stuff this week, and I think my parents have noticed. But more on that later. 

The reason I'm not doing the puppy entry now is because there is something I actually wanted to write about for the last few days. However aside from the puppies keeping me busy, I also just didn't know how to put the feelings into words. I'm no better equipped to do it now, but if I don't try, well then this entry will just never happen.

Unless you've been living under a rock, then you're probably familiar with the name Stephen Sutton. If not, I guess I can fill you in. Stephen was a 19 year old who fought cancer from the age of 15. When he found out his cancer was incurable, he made a Facebook page called Stephen's Story. On the page he made a bucket list of 46 things he wanted achieve in the time he had left. When he made the page it consisted of casual updates as he made his way through the bucket list. Eventually he gathered a huge following and the page and Stephen grew into a source of inspiration and positivity. He'd had to change his life goals dramatically, but still in the short time he had left he did more than most do in a lifetime. His dream was to be a doctor and help people and make a difference in the world. And although he was never able to become a doctor, he was still able to help and inspire so many. Stephen made a big difference.

Admittedly I didn't know much about Stephen's story until I seen the rest in peace statuses. I'd seen little bits here and there, but it wasn't until he passed away that I visited his Facebook page (link) and his website (link) and read all about him. About the goals he'd had before he found out his disease was incurable, and what he'd achieved after.

I think I have quite an unhealthy gut reaction to hearing about the death of an inspiring or talented person. My initial thought is always 'why am I still here and not them' I almost feel like I'm a waste of a life sometimes. Why would someone so smart, so brave and so able to make a difference in this world be just... gone. And yet I'm still here. I don't do anything to deserve to be here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being down on myself. It's not a self esteem issue. I guess I just feel guilty for wasting time on doing nothing with my life. I'm always starting things, or dreaming up things to do and I procrastinate and never follow through.

These are things I wanted to change. I want to make a difference, I want to have goals. I don't want to look back and think I never did anything positive in the world. Stephen made such a big difference in such a short amount of time. Instead of wondering why his time was cut short when he had so much to offer and why I'm still here when I'm not offering anything, I'm going to try and live by his example. I'm going to stop telling myself I'm too small to make a difference and using it as an excuse to never try.

Ever since my panic attacks and anxiety really became a problem, I've been so afraid of dying. I kind of forgot that what I should really be afraid of is never truly living.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I'm afraid of not cramming as much into my life as I should have done." 
RIP Stephen Sutton
16/12/1994 – 14/05/2014

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Happily Ever After

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
Mignon McLaughlin

Apparently my last post was only four days ago, well technically five as I post it not long after midnight on Wednesday (technically Thursday). Even so, it feels like forever ago. The end of last week and the weekend was a little hectic. On Thursday morning I got up super early because I thought I had a respiratory check up in the city at 9:45am. We got there just on time, but my dad told me to go on in by myself as he needed to find a parking space. Now, not too long ago I would have freaked out and insisted I needed my dad with me because of doors and whatnot! But my new confident self said okay and went on in by myself... only to find out I was actually almost two and a half hours early for my appointment. I'd mixed up my respiratory check up with my muscle clinic check up in June, and it was actually at noon. They said my respiratory nurse Claire was still up doing her rounds, but she'd be down at 10:30am. My dad and I went and got some tea and luckily they were able to fit us in early. I talked to her about the shortness of breath I've been having, but how I thought it was caused by my anxiety rather than my breathing causing the anxiety. She offered to refer me to a psychologist or something, but I said I was trying to get through it myself. She was happy enough, but is having me back in six months rather than a year like it usually is. 

Anyway, after that we had to do a little bit of shopping for my cousin's wedding. I needed to get some hair stuff etc. Again I made myself proud by doing as much as I could for myself. Went in and bought myself hair spray with no help and everything and ordered my own Subway again. It was a really confidence boosting day. 

On Friday my dad and I took Gracie, our fifteen year old Shih Tzu, to the vet for a check up. She's having some ongoing skin issues. Later we, along with my mum, picked my sister up from work and went to do more last minute shopping for the wedding. This time it was alcohol and food shopping to bring to the hotel because hotel drink prices are scandalous and we also wanted some food as we were staying over. On Friday night we tried to get as much as possible ready for the morning as the wedding was at 1pm on Saturday. 

My family aren't the most organised, so naturally Saturday morning ended up being a mad rush. It's weird, for a couple of years now there's been so much talk about my cousin Tasha's wedding. Tasha is probably my closest cousin, or one of them at least. We used to mind her sons, and she's the only hairdresser I trust to do my hair. Ever since I was a kid I just always remember her being so lovely and warm. If she ever seen me out and about she'd come over and ask how I was and give me a big hug. She has been through so much and many people would use it as an excuse not to succeed or hold it against the world, but she really is the nucleus of her family. She holds it together and she's so generous and loyal, and has done so well for herself. She is there for everyone, runs her own business, has two beautiful kids and is now married to the man she's been with for 13 years after she fell in love with him at 16. We always say she think she's a princess, but in a way her life has turned out like a fairy tale. And the wedding really lived up to that. 

We left the house late and on the way there Eva and I started to remember all the things we'd forgotten. We had tried to be so organised, but I guess it's just not us for everything to go as planned. First we realised we'd both forgotten our make up, then I realised I'd forgotten the umbrella I'd bought especially and then the real dinger... I forgot my BiPap. Yes, I was saying over night at the hotel and managed to forget the machine that allows me to sleep. At least with my make up I had thought 'I better remind someone to put that in the car' but with my BiPap it hadn't even occurred to me at all. My dad was already contemplating going back to check on the dogs later that night rather than have my aunt stay with them, but forgetting my machine pretty much made up his mind. Luckily that meant he also could get our make up. 

We finally arrived and my mum was super stressed because we were late. Tasha is never early for anything, and I'd joked this would be the one day she would be and we'd miss it. Luckily I was wrong and Tasha hadn't even got her dress on by the time we arrived. Tasha is my mum's sister's daughter, but there wasn't too many from my mums side there as a lot of them live in England. Still there were some we hadn't seen in a long time. Some had grown up so much. The ceremony was lovely. Much how I would imagine my own. Short and sweet, but still really beautiful. Tasha looked like a beautiful princess, her dress was really stunning. Alan looked lovely too, and the bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys were gorgeous. The bridemaid's dresses were different pastel colours and the flower girls had little white dresses and fairy wings. Tasha and Alan's two boys stood with them and at one point they were trying to blow the candles out on the table in front of them during the ceremony. And then Tasha was holding their youngest Maxi for part of it and thought he was marrying Tasha when the woman pronounced her and Alan, man and wife. Maxi was devastated to find out he wasn't the groom. The wedding was all in the same place, a lovely hotel called the La Mon. So after the ceremony we all went into a foyer part and there was a champagne fountain, a table of canapes and then a vintage looking sweetie cart for the kids. Everyone kind of just mingled with each other and the couple did the rounds before going and getting their photos taken etc. It was around 2pm when the ceremony ended and the dinner wasn't until 5pm so we had a lot of time to kill. Eva and I got our room during this time. We went to reception and seeing the wheelchair, they asked would we prefer a room on the ground floor because they had one free. We got to the room and it was much better than I could have asked for. It was a proper wheelchair accessible room, really big and had an accessible shower and everything. Not that we were going to be there long enough for me to need to shower, sadly. It also had a double and a single bed. My cousin Brogan said it was considerably nicer than her room, and turned out to be £35 cheaper! I dunno if it was usually that price or if we were charged that because that was the price of the room we were supposed to get and they couldn't increase it just because it was an accessible room. Either way it was pretty amazing.

At 5pm we all went into the dinner room. It was actually beautiful. The whole room was dressed in white. They'd even had it re-carpeted for the day! I decided to use my manual chair for dinner as it's more comfortable for eating, and Eva and I were the first into the room. All I could think was 'I hope my tires are clean and I'm not leaving big dirty tire marks on this lovely white carpet.' Luckily it was fine. Still, you should have seen the carpet by the end of the night. The dinner was slightly untraditional as there wasn't the usual speeches from the best man or the father of the bride etc. Tasha decided to have no speeches, rather than force anyone into anything that might make them uncomfortable and make them more nervous for the day than they needed to be. Even the groom wasn't going to make a speech at first, but a few weeks ago Alan decided to so he was the only one to give a speech. It was the only time I got choked up. I dunno why. I think it was how shy he is and obviously nervous but being really brave and pushing through it that got to me, more than what he was actually saying. The wedding favours were really sweet. The girls got a little wooden heart with a quote on it, and a little thing of bubbles. And the men got bubbles and a scratch card. There was also one disposable camera per table. The food was beautiful, there was a trio of starters, a roast chicken dinner and then a trio of desserts. I felt I choked a bit on the chicken, which put me off a little. But I ate as much as I could. It was definitely the nicest wedding dinner I've had. During dinner it was announced the chef was coming out to speak to us about the food, and he announced it was his last day at the La Mon. He then went on to say that they'd got him a present, but he had to sing a song before they'd give it to him. It turned out he was actually a singing chef that the bridesmaids had organised. I usually hate anything like that because it makes me anxious, but luckily he didn't come up to me. And he was actually very good. It was a great atmosphere.

After dinner my sister and I went back to the room and changed into different clothes. We'd brought other outfits in case we were uncomfortable in our dresses. I couldn't wait to change. As nice as it was feeling pretty and dressed up, it was super annoying that every time I got pulled back in my wheelchair, I had to have my dress all pulled down again. Also my hair bun was super heavy so I had taken that out just before dinner and had a pony tail. After dinner I took my hair down and my sister straightened it with straighteners my cousin Brogan had brought. I felt so much more comfortable in my leggings and t-shirt, with my hair down. Even if I did feel slightly under dressed compared to others. Eva changed too, and I think others were a little jealous we got to be comfy.

The evening do was really fun. I had planned to get considerably drunk, but I had a headache a lot of the day and I also felt quite anxious even though I was really enjoying myself. So I decided it was best not to drink too much because some of the anxiety was coming from worrying about feeling sick if I drank. Turned out I didn't need to get drunk anyway. I guess my new found confidence meant Dutch courage wasn't required and I was up dancing on the dance floor and all without being self conscious or worrying some other drunk person was going to hurt me. It was amazing and really fun. The whole day really lived up to the planning and the waiting. Often there can be an anticlimax, but there really wasn't at all for me. I didn't want the night to end. We were some of the last to go back to our rooms. My dad ended up staying in mine and Eva's room because Eva was pretty drunk and I was worried about her helping me to bed. In the morning we got up and went down for breakfast. Mum slept in her hotel room by herself and decided to have an extra hours sleep instead. I don't usually bother getting a fry up when I stay at hotels, opting for a croissant or toast instead as they're a bit easier on my stomach. It doesn't enjoy the early start required to be up on time for breakfast at a hotel. However I was glad I went with a fry up. Definitely the nicest hotel breakfast I've ever had. Bacon, soda bread, potato bread, tomato and a fried egg. Yum. We didn't expect to see Tasha and Alan down at breakfast, but the happy couple was there. It was nice seeing them, but odd seeing Tasha out of her princess wedding dress as she'd worn it all day the day before. I dunno how she managed! After breakfast we hung around for a while before we packed up and met up with my mum to check out. We actually ended up sitting around in the hotel for a couple of hours as my dad seen a police car outside and he was too worried about driving since he'd been drinking the night before. We had to wait for my aunt Karen to come pick us up after church instead. Leaving the hotel was bittersweet. In a weird way with all the build up there had been to the wedding, it felt like the end of an era. I had that end of holiday feeling, a definite come down. That's how much of Sunday night felt. I still can't believe it's over. Still, it was nice getting home to my pets. Anyway here's some photos of the wonderful occasion!

Last but by no means least, the brides beautiful shoes.
I can imagine having shoes much like this for my wedding.
These were her 'something blue'

So yeah, it was a really awesome and beautiful day. I don't even think this super long blog entry can even do it justice. I just really hope it lived up to everything Tasha wanted. Obviously Alan too, but Tasha planned it all so she probably had more in mind for how she wanted it to go. I actually started writing this blog post a couple of days ago, but writing it and editing the photos took longer than expected. I almost had it ready to post last night, but we agreed to mind Tasha's dogs while she's on her honeymoon and we got them last night as she was leaving at 4am this morning. So yeah, playing with cute tiny chihuahua/yorkie crosses is much more important than posting on my blog! No offence. We have them for two weeks all being well, so I'm sure I'll be making a post about them... mostly as an excuse to take a bunch of pictures and show them off. Tasha and Alan are spending their honeymoon in Florida, and they've taken their two boys with them too and Tasha's granny Jean to look after them. I think it's really lovely that the family are going together and going to Disney, but the couple also have the option to spend time by themselves since Jean is going. 

But anyway, sorry for the infrequency of my posts. I've been super busy, and sometimes it takes me a couple of days to write these super long entries. Hopefully I'll pick up moment again now that things are getting less busy. The irony is, the busy times are when you have the most to write about but don't have the time to write. Blogger problems, am I right? 

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