Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lessons From Bravo....Damn is this hurt ever going to stop

Is this hurt ever going to stop?  Am I ever going to get over this?

Almost a month and my heart is still aching.   Still missing him.  Get over it KC....He was a dog KC....You are stronger than this KC...  I am not sure.

Went into Texas Road House the other night and had Never with me.  Was greeted with "Bravo....BRAVO.....I have missed ya boy.....Glad you are back!"  My heart jammed in my throat as I had to explain.  Went to a local fast food drive through....." Here is a lil ice cream cone for Bravo!"  Dropped a deposit off at the bank.....the teller drops a bone and says "For Bravo".  At the grocery store checking out....." That isn't Bravo!"  Went to see my primary care doctor....she walked in and looked at Never and exclaimed "OH NO....WHAT HAPPENED TO BRAVO?" She then had tears in her eyes as I explained what happened.  They know me as the lady with the dog....named Bravo.

It gets worse...have had several low blood glucoses lately. Some rather severe like 26, 34, and 32.  During one of them I was told I kept repeating, "It is okay Bravo, I am fixing it as Never was nudging me".  If I trip over a dog I mutter "Bravo,...MOVE". None of the dogs at the house know their name as I call Bravo incessantly.

I think I am losing my mind! I am no stranger to grief.  I have lost grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, sister, best friends, other dogs to death......but I still can not shake this and move on.  Bravo at my side was a natural as getting dressed in the morning. I knew this day was coming at some point but I sure as hell was not prepared for it. Try googling...death of a service dog....losing a service dog to death. There is very little out there. There are millions of self help books on when you lose a spouse, a parent, a child, even a dog.....but there is NOTHING out there on losing a service animal.  So far I haven't found much help in words of any kind.  Exactly what is a service animal....the ADA says "Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."  Bravo met that description...he could smell my blood sugars and keep nasty highs and lows occurring my alerting me ahead of time.  He also could alert me to ketones preventing DKA.  That is cool, but in addition to that...he was with my every move, always and ever by my side.   Every place I went, he went.  Every job, every speaking engagement, every funeral, EVERY WHERE!  Like my wallet......I didn't leave home without him. 

How do you heal from this?  How do you get up each day, knowing your health and welfare is at stake because your ability to detect the highs and lows with such great reliability is gone.  I have 2 other dogs that are trained to do this....they are good...but they are not Bravo.  I do not have the same trust in them. They are trying their hearts out but it is not them IT IS ME. We all will keep trying....but right now IT JUST SUCKS! 

I hug them and cry into their fur.  They lick my face and try to crawl into my heart.  Both Never and Totem are trying their guts out to help, to bring joy, to bring laughter... I just can't see it right now.  

I don't know where to go, where to turn, what to do......so I do nothing except what I have to.  Running totally on instinct and patterned behavior of the last 11 and half years.  I will get through but I am sure I WILL NEVER EVER BE THE SAME!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lessons From Bravo.......More on Fear to Transformation

I wrote the other day about how fearful Bravo was and about how he would shut down and refuse to try as a young dog.  I told you how I used sit to regain his centeredness to try and place to gain mastery of his body, mind, and confidence.  He became a guru of both of those words. One day at the beach I ask him to try to place on a rope cable (about 3 in in diameter).  After many failures he succeeded in balancing himself on all 4 feet on that rope! I am not sure who was more astonished....him or me.  We had a party!  When we partied together we didn't care who was watching..because they and time didn't exist anymore.  It was just him and I!  He would leap over my head in one place and make this high pitched whine  or yodel.  I would grin! If it was in a location where he was off leash.  He would take off running, much like a baby puppy with the butt scooting boogie's.  Big ole grin of sheer joy and energy exuding with every leap and bound!  He would get about 10 to 15 yards from me and turn and run in a straight line right at me.  I would stand ready as he barreled at me at full speed.  At the last second I would step in towards him, stop my foot, and say "GOTCH!".  He in turn would athletically spin away and race off in other direction and the game would start over again.

The more we worked on the fear, the more he believed in me, the more he transformed to who truly was... A BIG ATHLETIC, GRACEFUL, WISE, AND JOYFUL SOUL.  As all that was happening were also turned on his alerting skills and I also was transforming.

With a diagnosis of T1 I truly thought my life was over. All of the things that I once found a lot of joy in I could no longer do because there was no predicatabilty of how that activity would affect my blood glucose.  Most of the time it was a adverse low blood glucose.  I am not talking a little low....I am talking under 40 and refuse to respond to glucagon kind of lows.  The kind of lows that got EMS called if people weren't worried about what I would do if I found out it was them that called.  AT that point drs weren't sure why my body was doing what it was doing and had no answers to help....but every one of them was sure "let's do this test, that test, let's hospitalize you.  In my humble opinion......I am okay with medicine.....but I am not okay with PRACTICING medicine.  You SURE as hell are not going to PRACTICE on me or my body.  Death does not frighten me, but practicing medicine sure as hell does!  Do no harm.....this won't hurt......I CALL BULL SHIT!  Let me do it to you first and let's see how bad it hurts.  How many times they would start to do something to me and would say "this won't hurt a bit" or "maybe a little sting"......probably best to not get me started.  Cause I always pissed someone off when I retorted, "and you know this how?" or "so you have had this done?"  The flip side of that was when I got a newbie that had to draw my blood......I am a awful stick.  My veins roll and are generally uncooperative! They would try one arm, then try the other arm, then always call for back up...at which point I would say to them.  " Oh no, you are going to keep trying till you get this down"  At which point they always replied "but I don't want to hurt you".  I would grin and say "YOU REMEMBER THAT....I don't want to hurt you.  Sometimes you have to hurt someone first, in order to help them....but don't you EVER lie to them".  The older wiser techs in the door way would smile and say, I sure wish everyone was like you.

No lie...my fear of what T1D was doing to my life was huge.  Things like hunting that I had always taken for granted became a huge chore.  I had a severe low out hunting (used all the low treatment stuff I had with me) and had no clue where I had parked my truck.  Thank God Bravo was barking his fool head off in truck!  I had another severe low out pheasant hunting with friends.  Bravo went from being a pheasant hunting machine to standing in front of me and not letting me move.  HE WOULD NOT LET ME MOVE...poor Robert had to walk back to truck for more treatment!  I am a stubborn old bird and I hate asking for help....even when I need it.  Bravo learned quickly that if he told me and I didn't listen...he had to do more extreme stuff...he amped up his alert.  Sometimes he had to face his own fears in order to help....sometimes it was the other way around.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lessons From Bravo.....A Bunch of Firsts

The last 10 days have been filled with a bunch of firsts.  First time's without Bravo. Walking into work not hearing his patter of feet down the hall behind me or seeing him waiting for me to open the door for him to go behind counter.  Not hearing him stir when a client comes in that he is concerned about.  Not seeing him get excited when his favorite customers and clients come in. Seeing their face when I reply to their question about "where is Bravo".

Going to the endo for the first time ever WITHOUT Bravo.....seeing her face after she ask "where is Bravo".  Hearing a A1C of 8.2...the highest I have ever been since diagnosis...but also let me know how bad he was feeling the last 3 months.

Going his favorite "french fry" places.  Coming out of the shower and him not laying at door waiting.  Heading to bed and not seeing him stretch as his comes off the couch and tip toe to his bed in my room.

Driving down the road and not feeling his head resting on mine.  Hollering Bravo and him not responding when one of the other dogs o something that reminds me of him.  Looking over at the dog's swimming pool and not seeing him laying in the middle of it..claiming the water as if a throne. His big old chessie smile governing the land!

My heart has ached beyond words, beyond tears.  I grit my teeth and put one foot in front of the other...weary to the bone.   Can't sleep because I don't feel him next to me or hear his snoring. One foot in front of the other.

I try to talk and there is a big old knot in my throat...so I say nothing.  All around me life goes on.  Time didn't stop for anyone else...people want their needs filled NOW.  Dogs want their food NOW. Dogs want my attention NOW.   New puppies that have needs to be met and training to be done.  Momma dog that needs care and attention. New hope for families on this path.  Stories to hear of what the Tattle families are doing with their dogs....how they saved the day.....or need help fixing some problem. Life goes on....and on.

The hardest first..was driving home with that box filled with his ashes and his collar laying on top.   This song came on the radio and I had to pull over because I couldn't drive through the tears.


The 2nd hardest first was introducing the box of ashes to my other 2 dogs...Never and Totem.  I didn't take them with me the day Bravo left.  Never has been the neediest/sadiest thing.  Following me everywhere, sad sacking, at times barking in my face as if to say "MOM MOM MOM I am here.  LOOK AT ME!   I am here!" Sadly I go through the motions of acknowledgment but he knows I am not yet present with him in the moment.  So he lays beside me, ready and waiting for the exact moment I am!  Totem on the other hand is a whole other ball of wax.  Totem was PICKED for me by Bravo.  She was the only pup in the litter that he tried to engage.  Totem bless her heart has never had a bad day in her life.  You can't insult her, you can't steal her joy and she can be TROUBLE in every mischievous way you can think of and she might even teach you some new tricks.  I love both of them but the are polar opposite from each other and together BLESS THEIR HEARTS they still don't match Bravo.  I am alternating them as I enter a new stage in life. Both have strengths and weaknesses that make me choose which one would do better in the particular situation  I am dealing with.  Both are down right PUSHY, IN YOUR FACE, NO MANNERS when it comes to my blood glucose being off.  Totem has been flighty, spastic, unsettled, and anxious.  Wanting to work but then not engaging. Distracted to a fault.  I sat the box of ashes on the table and brought Never out.   Never sniffed and then came over and laid down next to me with his head on my thigh.  We sat there for quite awhile. Him being RIGHT WITH ME...attached at the hip.  I then sent him outside and went and got Totem out of her kennel.  Releasing Totem out of her kennel is kinda like shaking a giggle ball.   She does EVERYTHING with passion, flare, and gusto.  All of the sudden she HIT THE BRAKES and dropped her nose to the box containing his ashes.  She sniffed and sniffed and sniffed and glanced at me quizzically.  She went back to sniffing,  she then proceeded to lick the box.  Licking the box like she licked his face EVERY DAY she has been in my home! She then pawed at it and licked it some more.  The she did something that brought a new rash of tears. She laid down and wrapped her body around that box and looked at me and then MOANED loudly.  That got tears and I sat down as my knees were wobbly.  As I sat down she leapt from the table to my lap and began licking my tears.  I hugged her and then sent her outside to play with Never.