Saturday, August 27, 2011

I want to be like Durga!

Durga is a Hindu Goddess frequently pictured with eighteen arms. As a Deafblind person, I frequently feel like I should be given more arms than a sighted/hearing person. I'll give you a prime example.

Last week I needed to re-certify for CPR and first aid at work. It was a six hour class for which I had two tactile ASL interpreters. Yes, my arms were really, really stiff after it was all over. The CPR instructor played a video which described the CPR procedures and the members of the class were supposed to "practice" along with the video. We were given a dummy to practice with and the video began. Only how do I "watch" my interpreters interpreting the video and perform CPR on the dummy at the same time. Also the entire thing became so ridiculous that both of my interpreters, and myself could not stop laughing.

I "watched" the video, and then began my work on the dummy. One interpreter tapped me on the arm to mark chest compression, and the other breathed on me to indicate when it was time to give rescue breaths, otherwise known as mouth-to-mouth.

I really could have used some extra arms then, that's for sure. So if anyone has connections with Durga, please kindly ask her to lend me some of her arms!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dogpark Picspam!

Because I still don't know how to put them in here directly you have to go to
<"My FlickR page">

Edit: We may have figured out how to insert photos directly into the posts..see below.

Bayou Barkers; Laveau rolling in the grass, covered in mud; Baylee chilling in the grass.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


When folks think about someone who is deaf and blind, most people's immediate response would be to think about how much that individual is missing. They can't see, they can't hear, so what else is there?

There are hands. I have never realized how widely people's hands differ from one another until I became deafblind. One of my interpreters has large hands. He has a chunky ring on his left ring finger. It has engravings on it and I think it is beautiful. His hands move confidently, sketching the words in the air. I would know him anywhere by those hands.

My friend has small hands. They are the hands of an older woman-- hands which have seen many years. They are graceful and gentle. They flutter softly against my own, but will then suddenly become emphatic. She tells funny stories with her hands-- has given me so much encouragement with her beautiful old hands.

I talked to a man who had more hair on his hands than most men have on their faces. I felt like I was having a conversation with Bilbo Baggins because of all the hair. For years I couldn't remember his name. I continued to think of him as "Bilbo."

Her hands are long and slender. She usually does musical interpretation for me. She is the song made flesh. She brings the music to me once again through her hands.

I never knew I could learn so much about a person by their hands. Their mood, their body type, their taste in jewelry,or fancy nail polish. I met a lady once who had a ring on every finger. Talking to her was very distracting. I imagine it's the same for a hearing person with food in their mouth, only less gross!

Hands guide, they communicate and teach. They read and answer questions. When I became deafblind, it never occurred to me how hands would open my world.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Three Things

I've been thinking back over my life, and how I have become the person I am today. What things have influenced my life the most? What were the choices I've made which improved my life and overall well-being? And I came up with three things that I think have made me who I am today and which have changed the way I see myself, and the way others see, and interact with me, and how I look at the world. I can't put them in order of importance because to me, it is my independence and my life rests on these three things equally. So in no particular order...
1. Partnering with an assistance dog.
When my only disability was blindness, having a guide dog was nice, and it made traveling easier and much more pleasant, but it wasn't a necessity. Now that I'm deaf and blind, and have a balance and vestibular disorder, my dog is literally my independence. She guides me around obstacles, retrieves items I drop, leads me out of buildings when the fire alarm is activated, gets my medications when I literally can't move from vertigo. She stands between me and moving vehicles. She helps me up when I fall, and lets me know when to wake up in the morning. She is my eyes, ears, hands and vestibular system. It would be extremely difficult to be without her.

2. Learning Braille.
It may surprise you to learn how few blind people learn or use braille. I didn't until I was an older adult and started having trouble with my hearing. Today I use braille for everything. To interact with my computer, and my cell phone. I can read books, keep informed about the news, look up phone numbers, make relay calls, use a GPS, read and respond to emails, and label the poisons herbs in my herb cupboard. I am able to interact with the written word in a hands-on way. Because of the marvels of modern technology, I am able to do use a computer and a phone because I can read braille. Computers and smart phones open up so many doors to people, and level the information playing-field.

3. Learning American Sign Language.
When A blind person loses their hearing, it is so catastrophic. For so long I was isolated. I lived in uncertainty and outright fear. It wasn't even the social aspects which had me so upset, but how could I go to doctors, manage my own shopping, or go to meetings at work if I couldn't hear or see? I qualify for a cochlear implant, but for many reasons it is not an option I'll take. I didn't want to be "fixed." I wanted to be independent. And yes, I wanted to have a social life. I will be forever grateful to the strong Deaf and Deafblind role-models in my life. I am thankful for their patience, for taking me to Deaf and Deafblind events, for helping me, for encouraging me. I am thankful for a fantastic teacher who manages to challenge me while making me laugh. I am thankful to all of the SSPs I've ever had, both in New Orleans and at Deafblind conferences and camps around the country. I am thankful for the gift of language which allows me to make independent medical decisions, to have informed choice when I shop, and which allows me to participate in company meetings and training sessions on an equal footing with my hearing coworkers.
I can honestly say, without those three things I'd be a totally different person than I am today. And with all of that navel gazing out of the way, I think I'll go read a book with my dog!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sausage Wrangler extraordinaire

Yesterday was Mister Pawpower's turn to make groceries. He was bringing in the bags when one of them burst. Naturally it was individually wrapped chubs of sausage which landed, and because my floor is old, and slanted, they rolled everywhere.
All of the dogs were out in the yard, and I decided to put the rest of the groceries away and then let Mill'E-Max in for her to deal with the sausages. And that is what I did.

I let the dogs in and immediately Mill'E-Max went to work, bringing back little chubs of sausage which had rolled behind my table and some chairs. She didn't even break the package with her teeth! I am super proud of her! It also makes me realize how much I depend upon her every day, and how thankful I am that I can have such a fantastic helper.

Today I'm going shopping with my SSP because my old faithful backpack is about to die,. Backpack shopping is a huge deal for me. I keep my life on my back! It has to be waterproof (because I live in the swamp, after-all), and comfortable, and hopefully purple! Because everything I own (almost) is purple, or it has zebra stripes.

As you can see, that's a tall order. Which means a lot of browsing through various stores (which I hate), in search of the perfect waterproof, comfortable, multi-pocketed, and hopefully purple with zebra stripes, backpack of my dreams! My SSP may just kill me before it's over.

Actually, for that matter, I hope Laveau doesn't kill me. She hates waiting patiently for me to look at item after item. But then again, she's enough of a show-off that working in crowded stores and malls is her favorite. And there will be so much to watch! She may not kill me after all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Post-Prandial pondering

We had dinner, it was yummy, but so, so hot!
And while eating, I thought I wondered if I could teach myself to put pictures in blog posts themselves, so this is my attempt. Obviously, I won't be able to tell if this works or not, thus your input is appreciated!

Thos should be two different pictures of a much younger Bristol at her first Barkus (dog Mardi Gras Parade), in 2004. She's dressed as a sun flower with beads around her neck. In one of the pics she is holding a can of Coke in her mouth.

The Tail of the Funny Onion, and other randomness!

I stayed home quite a bit this week because of vestibular shenanigans. This made lots of time for book-reading (Yay George R. R. Martin for writing such long juicy books) and cooking (chicken salad to die for) and dog wrangling.
Yesterday morning all of Laveau's tennis balls had gone missing. Laveau's very favorite toy is the tennis ball and this was a crisis of mammoth proportions! Laveau searched and searched, but nothing-doing. Eventually she decided that if the tennis balls weren't to be found that she needed a substitute. She did not pick any of the numerous other toys we have, oh no. Instead, she picked ....


I'll grant you, it was a tennis-ball sized onion, but that's where the resemblance stopped. Onions, unlike tennis balls, do not bounce, and I'd imagine the flavor was markedly different! She didn't eat it, just tried to play with it. However the puppy did think to sample the gustatory delight of the onion, and that is where it stopped.

The tennis ball was found in the back yard, and the onion was tossed into the trash.

It has been very, very hot so we haven't walked much at all. Instead we've been playing games of ball and tug inside. I am really ready for October!

Mister Pawpower moved Baylee's blog due to some accessibility issues. You can now read it
There will be new content up soon!

As for the other dogs, they are all good. Laveau is now officially in charge of tiring the puppy out enough so that we can get other activities/training done. Laveau is really good at this new job, like she is good at everything else! Bristol is still pretending Baylee doesn't exist, but has been pretty full of piss and vinegar these last few days, wanting to play tug and in the middle of everything. It's good to see. Mill'E-Max is my big helper, as usual. Today I dropped a glucosamine pill of hers, and I asked her to pick it up and hand it to me so I could put cream cheese on it, because she won't swallow it any other way. So she did that, and was very pleased with herself.
Whoop, the puppy is awake! My blogging time is over for today! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Puppy Prattle

We've been ultra busy here in Pawpower land.  If we're not playing with the puppy, training with the puppy, or taking the puppy out to do her business, we are usually dead asleep! Having Baylee in my life really shows me how much maturing Laveau has done. I adopted her as this young, eager, slightly nervous dog. I sometimes forget that she's really a grown-up now.

On Saturday we took the pack to the dog park. Well OK, Mill'E-Max stayed behind because there wasn't enough room! Bristol and Laveau were off-leash and Baylee was on a long line. We didn't actually see any dogs while we were there, surprisingly. Laveau thought it was funny to run with Baylee and keep on for about five feet passed where Baylee's leash ended. Then Laveau would stop, turn around and taunt Baylee. It was like doggie keep-away. Bristol is still ignoring Baylee so she spent her dog park time checking her Pee-Mail and sending numerous replies.

Mister Pawpower has made Baylee's first "in training" cape. I'm getting it embroidered this week. Only a dog nerd like me would find this super exciting! And OMG her cape is so cute! and tiny! And I imagine that one day, when Baylee is all grown up that we will look at this tiny cape and marvel that Baylee was ever that small.

My dogs are all very vocal when they play. They sound like they are tearing each other's head off, but really it's just fun. Today, Baylee has discovered that she can also make noise-- a lot of noise! I can hear it!
I have a raging ear infection from wearing my hearing aid too much. These infections also produce an increase in vertigo symptoms. This results in a lack of balance, and the inability to distinguish direction. Today, while on the way to meet my ASL teacher, I crossed a small road a block from the coffee shop. It felt to me, like Mill'E-Max had crossed the road on a right diagonal. When we got to the curb, I told her to go left. What I didn't know was that Mill'E-Max had actually crossed straight, and by asking her to turn left, I was asking her to take me directly into on-coming traffic. Because I can't hear, I didn't register this fact. Thankfully, she body-blocked me and pushed me back. Thereby telling me that I needed to think again, and take a closer look at my environment. I finally figured out where I was and she carried on. It's experiences like this which make me so grateful for my dogs and their willingness to have such a crazy partner who is deaf, blind, and with a really crappy vestibular system. I can say for a certainty that I would not be anywhere as independent without a dog.
So Mill'E-Max gets extra praise, treats and love today for being an awesome dog!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fun with Puppy

I finally have Baylee pics! But I am a super blog moron and do not know how to put them in my post itself, so go
to see 'em!
Baylee also has a
<"Blog of her own!">

Things have been interesting around here. And by "interesting" I mean exhausting, fun, and educational all at once!
On Tuesday, Baylee went to the eyevet so he could examine her eyes to make sure she doesn't have impaired vision. We can't have the blind leading the blind after all!
Thankfully Baylee did great at the eyevets, and so did Bristol!
Today we went for a walk and poor Laveau was the one left at home. Mister Pawpower took Baylee, while I took Bristol and Mill'E-Max guided. We went into the pet-friendly little mini-mart and then walked up to the doughnut shop. I stayed outside with the girls while Mister Pawpower went in with his cane to get doughnuts. Now we are home and the dogs have had a crazy play session, so it's nap time for them! I'm jealous!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bayou Baylee

Today we met Baylee, a Boxer Lab cross. She is five months old, black and gold (because she cheers for the Saints!) and is seriously adorable. She loves to explore new things, isn't afraid of much, and loves everyone; dogs and people alike.
She is Mr. Pawpower's new guide dog in training! I'm trying to get her in with Bristol at the Eyevet tomorrow for a prelim exam and then she'll see our regular vet on Thursday once her records are shipped over.

The other dogs like her pretty well, although Laveau is not happy about her crate getting taken over by the striped upstart!
I need to get her a small service vest or have Mr. Pawpower make her one. The serious guide part of her training won't start for many months but we look forward to obedience training and fun socializing with her.
I am going to try to get pictures tomorrow when I'm with sighted people who know where to point the camera!