Random News

I’ve got a lot of random news to share with everyone.

First, last week I wrote about our trip to Guelph and the Toronto area. While there, I had a chance to see my family doctor and was given several different migraine medications to try out. She gave me a few different daily preventatives, a daily nerve blocker and one to take when I feel a migraine coming. A lot of these medications were suggested by a pain clinic doctor I saw back in March, but she also added a couple that she feels might help. Back in the early 2000’s I tried out a bunch of different preventative medications without much success, but I’m hoping that these new medications might have a better outcome.

On Monday night, I took my first Gavapentin (just a low dose right now) and woke up tuesday with barely any signs of a migraine that I’m sure I should have had (the weather is quite rainy and humid right now, which is a huge trigger for me). I took my first Atenolol (again a very low dose right now) Tuesday morning and my migraine really didn’t move much past a pain level of 1-3 out of 10, so a big win for me. It could just be a fluke, but I did the same last night and this morning, and so far my migraine isn’t getting any worse than the 1-3 out of 10 pain range. In a week, I will increase the Atenolol to a full tablet and leave the Gavapentin at just one 300mg capsule and reassess in a month’s time. If my migraine does begin increasing then I will try the medication my doctor gave me for break threw pain, but I’m not sure what it is called at the moment and I’m hoping that I won’t have to resort to it. In a month’s time, if we feel the Atenolol is not working well enough, then I will stop it and try one of the other two preventatives my family doctor and the pain clinic doctor suggested.

Next, Rogue and I have begun to use her “touch” cue to press a button. About a year ago, I bought a button that when pressed, plays various types of laughs. It is like the Staples Easy Button, but when I saw this one on sale for less than $10 at Halllmark, I snatched it up for training. rogue has an amazingly firm “touch”, and my visual impairment has made it tough to teach her to “touch” a stick or a spot on a wall or the floor, so I decided to put some navy blue electrical tape onto the laughing button and then start teaching Rogue to press it when I point and say “touch”.

I first had Rogue do some practice touches with the palm of my hand. then, I held the button, so it was facing her and waited. I wanted to see what she would do without giving her any hints as to what I wanted. She had an idea of what I wanted, so started moving towards the button, I clicked and gave her a treat for each movement towards the button. Then, I upped my requirements for a click and waited for her to even lightly touch the button with her nose. each time, I’d click and give her either one treat for just a light touch, or a jackpot of treats and a party for actually making the button laugh. She quickly caught on to how she could get more treats and began bumping the button as hard as she could – I then named the behaviour “touch”.

Once we had the pressing the button while I held it at her nose level perfect, I decided to start moving my hand around. I held it low, she pressed. I held it so she had to take a few steps, she pressed it again. Then I started holding it up so she had to jump up a bit to press and of course, she did it flawlessly.

I then put the button onto the floor and pointed and said “touch”. she bumped my hand with her nose. I waited, she bumped my hand with her nose several more times and then started to get frustrated. I couldn’t see where we were misunderstanding one another, so we stopped the lesson and both slept on it.

The following morning I figured it out, I had been lumping (or moving too fast). I got out the button and started practising what we had done the day before. Since we were doing it in a new place, I began by just holding the button and not saying a word. She knew exactly what we were doing and hit the button hard, making it laugh every single time, so we named it again – “touch”.

I then placed the button on the floor, but instead of just pointing I kept holding it and waited. It only took her a second before she was moving towards the button and I clicked and gave her a bunch of treats. After several perfect “touches”, I named the behaviour again “touch” and then started saying “Rogue, touch” and she came over and pressed the button.

Instead of completely removing my hand from the button at this point, I began holding the button with less and less of my hand. even when I was just touching the side of it with my index finger, rogue came over and pressed it when I said “touch”.

By the end, she was pressing the button when I pointed and said “Rogue, touch”. She is such a smart and forgiving puppy. Even when I make a mistake, she tells me what she needs and we start learning again together. I’m not sure what we’ll do next, but for now we’ll keep practicing our palm touches and button pressing. Rogue’s favourite behaviour is “touch”, so even though we are not further in the new levels books, I decided it was okay to move further with her “touch” cue because unlike other behaviours we’re learning, “touch” is fun to her and gets her brain moving.

Yesterday we got a call from the adoption worker. her case load is quite busy right now, so she has decided to move the adoption training to late fall. This is okay with us because right now it looks as though my step-dad will need to come stay for a bit, but it’s also frustrating because it seems as though each time we get somewhere with the adoption process, we’re left waiting again without any sight of the finish line. Hopefully in the fall things will begin moving full steam ahead.

Finally, today is our calico, Logan’s 10th birthday. Here on ruled by paws, the cats don’t tend to get much written about them, but I thought it was a milestone worth mentioning. We got Logan from the Guelph Humane Society when she was just 10 weeks old. She had been part of a family, but was surrendered to the shelter just hours before Huib and I went to see the cats. Huib lived in a bachelor apartment and for his birthday, I decided to buy him a cat, since I thought he needed a friend while he studied. We had planned to pick out an adult cat, but when we saw Logan, it was almost love at first sight. She was so cuddly and purred so loud that we thought for sure there was a little boat motor inside her. We told the shelter staff that she was the one, and after filling out some paperwork, we were told that we could come back in a week for our new kitten. She needed to be spayed and given her vaccines before we could bring her home. even though Huib likes to joke about giving Logan away to anyone who will take her, I know he loves her and that she’s going to continue providing us with years of entertainment.

Happy 10th Birthday Logie, you are one comical little calico!

The Questions

May 1st is Blogging Against Disablism Day. Please check out the submissions here.

About two years ago, Huib and I decided to embark upon the journey towards adopting a child through our local Child & Family Services. We called our local CAS office and an intake worker came to our home for a preliminary interview. She took down all of our basic information and told us that given our backgrounds in nursing (my husband is a registered nurse) and social work (I am a licensed social worker), she didn’t see any reason for the agency to refuse our application. She then told us that in the spring they would be holding a 10 week class for all potential fostering and adoption families to attend if we were interested. Huib and I attended the classes and then began our wait for the home study to begin.

Fast forward two years…

Huib and I had pretty much given up on our efforts to adopt a child. We had not heard anything from our local CAS since our initial worker had left the agency. I had called her supervisor a few months after we completed the 10 week course, but nothing happened.

Then we got a call.

The agency had assigned a worker to perform home studies and they were wondering if we were still interested. Both Huib and I weren’t sure what to say, but decided to start the process.

The worker came out and we discussed the home study process. She told us about the background checks that would be done and the interviews that would take place. She told us about the things that we would need to decide – whether we wanted to foster, foster to adopt or just adopt.

Then the questions about my disability began.

How are you going to handle having an infant or toddler around the house?
Are there organizations you can contact to help you?
How will you keep track of the child?
How will you feed them?
What if they get sick?
What if they get injured?
Do you have a specialist who might write a letter to say that your disability will not affect your ability to be a parent?

The questions went on and on.

All I could think of while our worker asked these questions was:

Do you ask sighted people these questions?
What would you do if your child was sick?
How do you feed your children?
How will my eye doctor know what kind of parent I will be?
Do you really think I am that stupid?

The expression on my face must have given my thoughts away because before I could open my mouth to answer, the worker explained that she needed to ask these questions because I was the first visually impaired person they had ever had experience with.

Before actually getting to the answers she wanted, I made my feelings clear. I was offended by the questions. I didn’t see how such questions could still be asked in this day and age. I told her there were blind people out there having children and raising them successfully every day. I told her that I’m sure there are blind people out there that should not be raising children, but that there were probably more fully sighted people out there who shouldn’t be raising children. I told her that if I could have a child of my own then going through this discriminatory process wouldn’t be worthwhile, but that since having a child of my own doesn’t seem possible, that I guess I will just have to suck it up and answer the offensive questions.

Our worker seemed sympathetic, but said she still needed me to research how I was going to do things, and even suggested talking to friends who are blind and raising children for advice.

It has now been about a month and a half since we started the home study and even though all of our background checks came through fine, the questions regarding my disability are still present. I’m hopeful that the agency will maintain an open mind and that the process will continue to go smoothly, but I still find the questions surrounding my capabilities as a visually impaired parent to be offensive.

How can a profession such as social work, whose mission is to help vulnerable populations, be so judgmental and discriminatory?

Whirlwind Travelers

Last week, as you all may have guessed, we packed up the dogs and headed to Southwestern Ontario.

Our first stop was Huntsville where we stayed Thursday night and spent some time with my step-dad. My sister had to work, so Huib and I took her a coffee and visited for a few minutes with her, but otherwise we didn’t really get a chance to see her much.

Friday morning we packed up the Expedition once more, and headed towards Windsor, making stops in Etobicoke to see Phoenix’s foster family and Guelph to drop off Aspen with Kelly and pick up Canyon’s new show leash. Phoenix’s foster family are doing well. Ray is still getting the occasional chemo treatment for the bladder cancer the doctors found over a year ago, but otherwise they are healthy and happy. In Guelph we did a little shopping at Ren’s because we had forgotten to get some smelly treats for Huib to use with Canyon in the ring and the dogs always need a new toy, right? The treats we chose this time were wild rabbit flavor ones by Zuke’s. Canyon absolutely loved them and we were able to get a larger bag, so have enough leftover for the Chatham show. After picking up the treats and a little stuffed bunny that squeaks, we drove to Kelly’s house and had some pizza and garlic bread.

Canyon’s show leash is beautiful! It has black, tan and reddish colour kangaroo leather braided together with beads in three different spots. Huib ordered it from a woman in Victoria British Columbia (Hitide Creations) who makes only show leashes.

After dinner, and once we knew Aspen was settled, we piled the other three dogs into the truck and headed to Windsor. It was a long day of driving, so we were relieved to finally reach our hotel room and crash.

Saturday morning we woke up around 5:30am and began our pre-show routine. First Huib took Canyon and Rogue for a walk. Then he put Canyon into the tub and began scrubbing and rinsing with lavender scented baby shampoo. On the first day, we usually always use baby shampoo since it’s cheap and does an awesome job at getting rid of all the dirt and odours from Canyon’s coat while still keeping it shiny and silky smooth. After the bath, Huib began to blow dry Canyon, which was totally not a happy time for the golden boy. First he tried jumping onto the bed beside me and hoped that I wouldn’t make him get off and return to Huib – but of course I did lol! Then he tried moving around, so that Huib would run out of cord length and stop, but that also did not work. We have to blow dry him so that we can comb his fur flat while it dries, or it tends to be a little wavy. Once his fur was three quarters of the way dry and his ears, tail and feet were trimmed, Huib gave him some banana bread the hotel had provided with their continental breakfast and took some time to get dressed himself. About an hour before the show began we piled everyone back into the Expedition and headed to St. Clair College’s gymnasium where the event took place.

Saturday afternoon we did some shopping at the Columbia outlet store and then met up with my friend Kris, his wife Tania and their daughter Olivia. I have not seen Kris in over six years so it was really nice to see him again. We used to go to the University of Guelph together and had regular movie dates until he moved to Windsor about ten years ago. We had left Cessna and Canyon at the hotel and just taken Rogue out shopping and for dinner, so it was a good opportunity for her to work around a young child. Olivia wasn’t totally sure about Rogue, but after a bit started to play with her and Rogue really enjoyed the attention.

Sunday morning we woke up a little later because Canyon’s ears, feet and tail had already been trimmed so he only needed the bath and blow dry. This time we bathed him with NuHemp’s moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, so that his coat didn’t get too dried out from the frequent bathing. We also decided to show up at the college half an hour before the start of the show since it was pretty busy and there really wasn’t a lot of room for us to move around. After his dismal showing, we began making our way back to Guelph – making stops in Cambridge to pick up some stuff at the Pet Smart and Kitchener to look for a black tie for Huib.

Kelly had dinner plans, so Huib and I got pizza and then treated ourselves to ice cream at Marble Slab Creamery. I had never been to this particular ice cream shop so had a tough time picking out which ice cream and topping I really wanted. Huib got white chocolate ice cream with bits of coffee crisp mixed into it, while I got cheesecake ice cream with Reese peanut butter pieces mixed in – it was delicious!

On Monday I had my appointment in London with the pain clinic. I was really hoping that they would be able to suggest something to resolve my constant migraine issues, but it ended up being a total waste of my time. First they had us fill out a 20 or more page questionnaire that asked questions about the types of headaches I was having, what sorts of symptoms each had, how long they lasted, how often they occurred, whether I lived my life around the ability to take pain medications, what medications I had or are taking, and a bunch of other questions I cannot remember. I’m thinking the questionnaire was meant to weed out people who are addicted to pain medications and that could be dealing with withdrawal symptoms. After the clinic nurse had taken my blood pressure and oxygen level, we were escorted into an examination room, where I was instructed to remove all of my clothing and put on a hospital gown. A medical student then came in to do a neurological exam.

He had me:
• Follow his finger with my eyes;
• Look straight ahead while he looked into the back of my eyes with a light;
• Touch his finger and then my nose;
• Raise my shoulders and not allow him to push them downwards;
• Tell him if I felt the same sensation on both sides of my feet, face and hands when he touched them with a semi-sharp object;
• Move my chin to my chest and then towards each shoulder; and
• Tell him if it hurt when he put pressure on various parts of my head.

I’m sure I missed some of the things he asked me to do, but I’m sure you get the point. After the neurological examination, he left the room to get the doctor while I got dressed. The doctor came in and pretty much just said he would send my family doctor a list of three different preventative medications he thinks I should try and that he doesn’t see any other reason for my headaches. He also eluded to the fact that some of my headaches could be withdrawal symptoms, so I decided to go a week without any medications at all and see where I got pain wise. I am now on day five and nothing really seems to have changed, except that I am tired and the pain is still the same as usual.

After the appointment, we left the building and walked over to the CNIB, which just happened to be across the road. I got my CNIB card renewed and then toured the gift shop, but found nothing that really interested me.

When we got back to Guelph we were so happy to see Rogue again. I had decided to give her to my friend Kelly for the day so that she could experience university life, and work a bit with someone else. Kelly said that her leash manners were horrible, which we already knew, and that she settled well in her classes, but that she seemed nervous of random people (no barking though) and of different spots in her classroom building. We weren’t completely surprised about her nervousness around random people, but we didn’t really understand her reactions to different spots in kelly’s classroom building. She said she had trouble walking through doorways and this shocked us because it was not something she had ever shown nervousness around before.

Since Kelly had to do some school work, Huib and I decided to take Rogue out to dinner with some friends at Eastside Marios. She was awesome. She fell asleep beside my chair without an issue, and when we first arrived she thought my friend’s boyfriend’s feet needed to be cleaned. After dinner we asked my friend’s boyfriend to greet Rogue and she showed absolutely no fear of him – good girl! We then all decided to walk over to the mall across the road to do a bit of shopping and grab a tea from a specialty tea shop. At the mall Huib got Rogue to approach a manikin and she showed no fear, but checked its hand to see if there might be a treat – silly girl! My friend also approached a couple of guys and asked if they would come and greet Rogue, which they did and Rogue thought this was great! Before leaving the mall we each picked out a tea and then drank them as we walked back to our vehicles – I got a chocolate mint one.

On Tuesday we packed up our Expedition and then left the goldens at Kelly’s house while Huib, Rogue, Cessna and I went to meet up with Carin, Steve and Trixie for lunch. It was great to see them because it had been such a long time. We talked about old times, we updated one another on people we both knew, and we laughed every time Rogue decided to lick Steve’s feet. After lunch Huib and I went back to Kelly’s house to pick up the goldens and then made the three hour drive back to Huntsville. We decided to stop in Huntsville again to stay overnight because it seemed to break up the long drive nicely. The only issue was that my sister was in a horrible mood so it was a bit tense and unpleasant, but my step-dad tried his best to be a good host.

On Wednesday morning we (with the addition of my step-dad) started our long journey back to the north and have been relaxing ever since.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought I’d share our journey with you all.

P.S. While we were driving to Huntsville the first day, I got a really unexpected call… An adoption worker from Child and Family Services called to set up a meeting to get to know us! I am really excited about this development and will keep you all posted.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

This past week Huib and I watched a movie on television called the Memory Keeper’s Daughter. It’s about a doctor and his wife who have fraternal twins, a “healthy” son and a daughter who has Downs Syndrome. The doctor had a sister with Downs Syndrome that only lived to be twelve years of age, so remembering the agony his mother went through after her death, he decides to tell his wife that their daughter did not survive. He asks one of the nurses in the delivery room to take the infant to a home for the mentally ill, but the nurse ends up keeping the child, and raising her.

I was so angry watching the movie. To think that such practices existed troubled me. I am not naive. I know this happened and still happens today. But, it really bothered me.

Huib and I are in the process of completing a home study to adopt through Child and Family Services. We began this process almost two years ago with the goal of first fostering and then adopting, but given the obstacles of my visual impairment, we’ve decided to just adopt.

The worker who is doing our home study is great. She asks a lot of questions about how I will do this or that with my visual limitations, but she’s honest about the reasons for her questions and is quite willing and eager to learn.

It’s exasperating to know that people still think individuals with disabilities cannot successfully raise children, but I also recognize that there are people out there who should not be doing so and understand why the questions are asked.

Huib and I are close to finishing our home study and should know by May whether or not we are accepted. We are hoping to adopt a young child around three years of age or younger, so know that it will take time for the right child to enter our lives. From what the worker has said, it is quite rare for children as young as we’d like, to come into care and go up for adoption in this area (which is a good thing), but she has said that other agencies will also have our information on hand.

Now that all of our background checks, reference checks and basic interviews are done, Huib and I need to start child-proofing our home so the worker can give the agency the all-clear. It’s kind of strange to know that we have to spend the time child-proofing before we even know whether or not we are officially accepted, but then I’m sure the worker would have told us by now whether or not it’s not going to happen.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter angered me so much because Huib and I would love to have a child of our own, but due to unforeseen circumstances this is not going to happen, so to see someone give up their child because of idiocy is just infuriating.

Huib and I would never consider such a heartless act, and would love to adopt a child with special needs.