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Tails Of The Unknown

To say that I’ve been busy, seems quite an understatement, to me. I’ve had some fun and some challenges.

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Soon after my last blog post I received the all important and long awaited call from Dogs For The Disabled…I had been matched to a dog! Placing my mind in an orbit of the earth I tried to gather my composure and focus on what was happening. I was about to head to Wales, independently by train, to spend time with most of my family. This was a massive challenge for me and I was also planning to go without a wheelchair; instead with a rollator. I had a fantastic and very busy time. I managed some walks along the coast which I had been focussing on for months, so I knew that my muscles themselves were up to it…the rest of my body’s ability was, as always, unknown. I had many sociable occasions…which is something quite rare for me. I also gave a public talk on my health recovery and the Wahls Protocol. Needless to say when I got home I felt exhausted. I had three days at home and then was to head off to my training – staying at a hotel. So many challenges were lying ahead of me…to think on my own, study and learn, adjust to winter, dietary challenges in a hotel, a dog, being alone, meeting others etc. I was definitely tested and I was also rewarded.

Fast forward a few weeks and we are now all settling in at home. The training is settling and becoming useful. A little inflammation has occurred due to the high level of activity – mental and physical – in November, however I believe that I am now managing this with more ease. My physical state is being tested with the need for going out and straining my shoulders from wheeling around…so I am having to look into long-term sustainable options. In the meantime my partner is doing a fantastic job in walking Uma…that’s her name…and they both enjoy this. I’m slightly battling mental feelings with needing a wheelchair and having to relieve my shoulders yet keep on going out. Winter is playing it’s part on my views of going outdoors…however I am starting to realise my lack of need to go to places. A need for well-being yes, however a need for other requirements leaves me with a question mark. I really need to sort out my mobility requirements urgently though. My powerchair is now out of use as my cognition is too challenged in using the joystick…it was getting dangerous. So power assisted wheels/self propelling chair seems the best way forwards…costly and timely however that’s disability equipment.

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So, let me tell you about Uma. It’s her 2 year birthday today. She is a gorgeous Golden Retriever with a very placid and helpful nature. We’ve both bonded well and are gradually learning the essentials for daily living and supporting one another. I’ve discovered the enormity of things to learn; about dogs and assistance dogs. The cats and Uma are beginning to get closer which has been progressing since the early stages of Uma coming home. Uma has settled in to her home ever so well. We have had weekly training sessions with our instructor…going out to local amenities and learning the requirements. Soon we are to do our qualification test, of which I will be relieved to have completed. Uma is gathering a collection of toys and enjoying playing out in our garden…which I enjoy too.

I am starting to have time to think and unwind, with this week being the turning point – partly due to Uma getting walks from my partner and partly due to the training sessions becoming real life task work. This week has been far better for me especially in that I’ve felt I’ve been able to catch up with myself and start to do the things I enjoy and the things that I was doing pre-Uma. This helps me feel secure and to touch base. We both went to my voluntary place of work this week for a meeting and everyone was absolutely fantastic in ignoring Uma…so that Uma can do her job with ease and focus. I wish people out in the streets were this helpful in leaving Uma alone…however I am to become more assertive in telling people to leave her alone. The dangers of being pulled out of my chair; having Uma looking at that member of the public or being distracted in any which way. So please let people and assistance dogs get on with their day – admire from a distance and be helpful whilst respectful. Thank you.

Well, Uma has now got up to gaze out the window. She already has many great benefits to me and it is such an honour to have an assistance dog, finally. I’m very very glad that we are over the hardest and most challenging part of our initial training though. There will always be new situations for me to process ahead of time; lessons to learn; training to apply and enjoyment to receive.

We wish you all a happy festive season.

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Any Way The Wind Blows

This is just a bonus blog…

I just got gastric flu so I have been obviously finding things a little more iffy. However thankfully I think it is beginning to pass.

Moving onwards in subject matter…I think that I may have forgotten to mention that at the start of June I was accepted on the programme for an assistant dog. How awesome! Last Saturday we went to an invitation event held by Dogs For The Disabled which was a fab dog show and full of such amazing dogs. Due to my rare trips out I can say that I picked up the flu from there. Was it worth it? At this moment I feel it was…as long as my MS recovers okay. You may already be aware that MS symptoms can be exasperated by having a flu…the immune system seems to go haywire and the body temperature iffy. My wife has been so wonderful, as she always is, however nursing me that extra amount over the last couple of days has really helped me so much. I’m massively grateful for all of her support as a forced carer, and for her wonderful love and partner stuff. It must be challenging to see someone change bit by bit. I guess we all just have to adjust and keep on adjusting to accept the situation. Of course we need to make the best of the situations we have in life…a challenge for all of us at times.

The title of this blog was inspired by watching the birch trees and the eucalyptus tree blow in the wind. I love trees that blow in the wind and appear to look chilled out…like these two and the weeping willow. Trees have a lovely way about them.

Nature can be so relaxing…I was persuaded out of bed recently to go in the car to take a trip up onto a hill. The outlook was lovely…especially when you live in a flat landscape and your body just says “yes, breathe, thank you”. I adore the sight and sound of natural water flow too. If that is absent then there are ways to create an artificial ambience.

Yesterday I received some magazines from the MS Society (one of them being Research Matters)…some great articles in there, from my perspective. One of the articles was about the Risk Factors for getting MS. Although of course I already have this disease I found it intriguing and interesting to read. If they can keep trying to find the causes (there will be a combo) then maybe a reduction in people with MS will occur. How wonderful! The article discusses the possible aspects of life that may increase the symptoms…one that seems to have raised my eyebrow is about stress. There is a view that it aggravates symptoms however in this article it states that this is not conclusive, as we all perceive stress levels in a different way. My feeling on this is that when we are feeling some stress on our body we automatically tense up our muscles…which has a big effect on our nerves. So when this continues for extensive periods stress plays a part in illness. However upon reading this article I felt a change…a change within me whereby I freed up some self blame and guilt. It dawned on me that, however much stress plays a part in my MS, I create a negative reaction after I have been stressed – one of self damage – as if to take the blame and this then stresses me out further thus creating negative feelings.

Our emotional well being is vitally important and when you have a chronic illness, of course you have good times and more challenging times, you need to go easy on yourself.

Blow in the wind…let yourself go with the gentle self. So when you see the leaves and branches blowing in the wind, remember to join in.

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