We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Today, a previous coworker of mine announced a heartbreaking tragedy. Her dog of 9 years passed away. They had been working with a vet to treat her for back pain, but turned out that she had cancer. Tears streamed down my face and into my coffee as I wept over the loss of a dog I hadn’t even met before.

My own dog jumped into my lap and licked my nose.

Alas, I should probably write an ode to Hannah, but I didn’t know her. I did, however, know her love. Because the love of a dog is like no other.

We don’t deserve dogs.

There are no words for how much I love my dog, Jack. He’s somewhere around 5 years old right now, and with any luck, I’ll won’t have to say goodbye for a decade. You see, this dog has literally saved my life.

“Do you want a dog?” I really didn’t at the time. I was close to graduating from college, life was a bit wishy-washy, and I felt like garbage all the time. But, out of pity, I asked if I could do a trial run to see if he would have been a good fit for my lifestyle. The moment Jack entered my arms, I knew I wasn’t going to let him go.

He smelled. Bad. His bath water was black by the time I was done washing him. He was barely 6 pounds and at over a year old, he still had baby teeth that had to be surgically removed. To say he was skittish was an understatement.

Jack and I took some puppy training classes together in order to get him to trust me. I got him into a vet to fix his teeth, remove a deformed dewclaw, and put some meat on his bones. Within a few weeks, I became this dog’s person.

Little did I know that his nose knows. I had a diabetic episode in the middle of the night. Jack did everything he could to alert me, despite being terrified of EVERYTHING. And thus a service dog was born. We expanded our obedience training into scent training as well. I applied what I knew from cadaver dog training and EMS into Jack. He became my new glucometer!

As years passed, Jack became my best friend and became my travel companion too. My husband was the first person he felt comfortable around aside from me, which in a way, helped seal our fates. Jack even moved to Canada with me. ❤️ And he extended his love to my husband’s kids too, becoming the greatest early morning babysitter in the world, spinning in circle chasing his tail endlessly, to make our youngest giggle.

So Hannah, rear easy dear girl. Though I didn’t know you, I’m glad to know that you’re no longer suffering. I’ll miss seeing your sweet face on social media. Thanks for reminder to show my dog a little extra love.

Tis the Season!

And I don’t mean the jolly kind.

Once upon a time, I used to pick on a friend of mine a little bit, encouraging her to try to lighten up. She’s a germophobe. With a household of four kids, I could understand some of her concerns. I used to think she was a little over the top, though. Now? Pass the can of Lysol, I’m on board!

My three stepkids have been sick. They’ve had snotty noses, been sneezing, and have crud in their chests. In addition to this, they’re been getting over a stomach virus. Before they came back to our house, we thought the stomach virus was over at least. Noooooope. I dodged the snots, but that stomach bug… It hit me, and it hit me hard. And of course, as soon as I start feeling a little less like death warmed over, the youngest starts shrieking from his bed. It’s round 2 for him. Odd though, he screamed through a bath, had a cup of Pedialyte, and a little bit of snuggles and he was smiling and giggling again. I wish I could have been the same.

And my poor husband to be. We are a week away from our wedding. He’s certainly proven the whole”in sickness and in health” thing, that’s for sure. He tackled household management like a champ, AND took care of me in the process without a single complaint. Bless his heart. I’d be lost without him.

Stay safe out there guys! Lots of vitamin c and hand washing!!

Molded Misery

My apartment tried to kill me.

I don’t mean that in a funny sort of lighthearted manner. Sometime back in the spring, the maintenance manager showed up at my apartment while I was at work. He told my fiance that there was a leak downstairs and that it was coming from my shower. He simply put new sealant around everything. Good as new. Sorta.

Fast forward to early summer. Mr. Maintenance Man comes back again. Leaking again. Re-seal. Good as new. Sorta.

Fast forward to late summer. Email from Mr. Property Manager. Leak is really bad. They’ll have to tear out part of my bathroom to fix it. When can it be done? Oh, next week the apartment will be empty for nearly two weeks? Perfect.

I arrived to my humble abode after my summer trip to Canada to find that my bathroom’s repairs were not completed while I was gone. My bathroom wasn’t even touched. Needless to say, I was angry. After bantering back and forth with the property manager for almost 2 weeks, someone was hired to make the repairs. Years ago apparently a pipe in my wall had a leak. Instead of repairing the pipe, a clamp was put around it and a nail into the hole. Eventually the clamp failed. So it’s been slowly leaking for YEARS. A few more weeks pass. Come to find out, the apartment below me was the same apartment that a friend of mine rented years upon years ago before she moved out of state. They had to move her out of her apartment. For what reason, you may ask? Because the apartment above hers had a leak, flooding her apartment and causing her ceiling to cave in. Years. They finally start on the repair work needed in the apartment below mine. The years of leaks reared their ugly heads. A ton of mold spores were released with great fury.

Most of this year, I’d been getting unexplained migraines that were getting progressively worse. I double checked ailments, diabetes was still under control, there wasn’t any explanation that jumped out to anyone. Cutting out the caffeine perhaps? But I didn’t consume enough caffeine to warrant withdrawal migraines….. and the migraines took ages to get rid of. Then came the allergy symptoms. That got worse. And worse. And worse. Everyone in Kentucky gets the crud. It’s inevitable. Mine usually went away within a few days. But a few weeks passed. Weeks turned into a few months. It wasn’t going away. Then the ick really hit me. One Sunday morning I woke up and I couldn’t breathe.

As an EMT, it takes a lot for me to consider going to an Emergency Department. Like. I have to be almost dying for me to step foot in there unless it’s someone else that’s close to dying. I compromised with myself and opted for the fancy new walk-in clinic associated with my regular doctor’s office. “Honey…. you look pretty bad…. we may need to call an ambulance….” NOPE. Nope. Nope. I had an EKG, chest x-ray, breathing treatments, and a slew of other just-in-case tests. Due to the results of the EKG, they were concerned with a pulmonary embolism. Why? Because there’s a type of black mold that can cause blood clots, and my EKG reading + symptoms = a dead ringer for it. After everything was said and done and I improved with a breathing treatment, they at least released me instead of sending me to the hospital, so long as I followed up with my regular physician in the morning. I was sent home with a handful of prescriptions to deal with the mold-induced asthma and fungal pneumonia. Steroids! Inhalers! Antibiotics! Oh boy!

I was cleared from the pulmonary embolism fear. Thank goodness. I was, however, told to get out of my apartment asap. Mr. Property Manager didn’t have another unit available to move me in to. According to Mr. Maintenance Man there were open units…..just none that didn’t also have complaints of mold. My temporary residences weren’t working out one by one. Trying to find a short-term rental was nearly impossible. My renter’s insurance was only going to cover so much. So I arranged to go back to Canada as a visitor for an undetermined amount of time until everything got sorted out. It was a damn long drive, and a terrifying craps shoot on if the Canadian Border Patrol would be satisfied that I’d leave at the end of my unplanned stay, especially since it was so close to when I was originally supposed to move to Canada anyways. Whelp. Here I am.

Now that I’ve been out of my apartment for almost a month, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my health. Within days, I could breathe again and was able to clear out the infection in my lungs. I’ve had two headaches since I left my apartment, But there are other weird things that I’ve noticed as well. My hair isn’t falling out anymore. I thought that perhaps I was just shedding quite a bit at the apartment, but over the past month, I’ve been experiencing significantly less hair loss. My fingernails haven’t been splitting and have actually been growing. They’re stronger and less bendy. I’m sleeping better (which can also be attributed to being with the fiance instead of being 1500 miles away.) I systematically feel better. And I can breathe again!!!

Moral of the story: If you’re feeling like crap and can’t figure out why, you might be in a mold induced misery as well.

For the Noms

I never had a solid idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Sure, with the way that my mind thinks and operates, how I’m able to consider different opinions and see different sides of things, I really wanted to be a lawyer.  I was compassionate and cared about others, wanting to help them, so I also wanted to be a doctor of some sort or work in the medical field.  Law and Medical school both require far more financial backing than what I was ever privy to.  So in addition to working in event management, I pursued a career in emergency medical services.  I learned that doing something to help others was definitely what I wanted to do in life, but EMS was not the answer.  (I don’t have the patience for people who abuse the system.  Or abuse others.  Or themselves.)  So what’s the solution?

In my early 20’s, I faced some pretty heavy medical issues.  Due to being a carrier for a host of genetic issues, doctors were hellbent on thinking that I had a degree of Marfan’s Syndrome and that my symptoms were caused by a heart defect.  After spending time with a Holter monitor, tilt table tests, and various other stress tests, they simply couldn’t figure it out.  As an EMT student, I was learning about anatomy and was tracking my glucose (and other vitals) for practice.  When I felt one of my syncope episodes coming on, I checked my sugar again just before passing out.  Low and behold, my sugar was plummeting at a rapid pace.  A tech student figuring out what a panel of physicians couldn’t.  /flex  Because I was so young, thin, and otherwise healthy, the possibility of being a diabetic didn’t cross anyone’s mind, but some additional lab work confirmed it.  I was a type 2 diabetic with postprandial hypoglycemia.  A diagnosis only meant prescriptions and a host of misinformation.  They wanted to treat the symptoms, but did nothing for the actual problem.  All varieties of Metformin made me exhaustively sick and I wasn’t about to start shooting insulin.  So what’s the solution?

The solution to both problems was learning about nutrition.  I felt that prescriptions were nothing more than putting a band-aid across a bullet hole.  I knew that I wasn’t the only person facing odd health issues that wanted a more permanent fix than having to take medicine for the rest of my life.  Decades ago these issues weren’t fixed with a pill or an injection.  So I hit the books.  I took my training in anatomy a step further and learned about what we put into our bodies did to us.  If sugar was the problem, why take a pill to better handle the sugar.  Why not just cut out the source of the problem?  I learned about low carb diets, low fat diets, plant based, meat based, paleo, intermittent fasting, and everything in between.  Obviously since I wasn’t a lawyer or a doctor, I couldn’t afford free ranged organic everything, so I learned how to buy the best quality of foods for the budget that I had.  I figured out what was worth splurging on and what I could get away with at a lower quality.  In a matter of months, not years, but months, I cut my A1c in half.  I had to change my body’s homeostasis.  As years passed, my pancreas did enough healing that I’ve been in normal glucose ranges without medications for a few years in a row now.  Along the way, I’ve been able to educate my physicians on my methods, and in turn, have hopefully helped others through them.

For the first time in my life, I’m excited to go back to college.  I’ve put quite a bit of time and effort looking into different programs and credentials.  The goal is to become certified in holistic nutrition – and perhaps even become a registered dietitian – so that I can open my own clinic.  Since the US isn’t as receptive to alternative solutions yet, I’ll start this venture in Canada where the views on healthcare are vastly different.  I want to be able to help people that have a diagnosis for their ailments to find another way to deal with it.  I want to help people change their relationships with food and to become the best versions of themselves.  I already have an opportunity to speak to a small group about the value and basics of nutrition and help them manage healthier choices within their means!  I’m ridiculously excited to turn over a new leaf in life and actually do what I feel that I’m called to do.

Here’s to new adventures! /cheer