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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow will be my first birthday without Bob.....   wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Graduation Girl

Today Kona completed her last "basic obedience" class and got her graduation certificate!
She passed with (almost) flying colors.  Still tugs occasionally on "heel" but otherwise did very well.
Next week we start "therapy/service" training which includes public access training. We are meeting the
trainer at a Target store!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bob As Motivator -- From The Other Side

So, the other afternoon, on Bob's stroke anniversary, I got a telephone call from my dear friend in Oklahoma. She immediately tells me that she's busy, can't talk long, but she has a message for me from Bob.

And I'm thinking, Huh?

Then she proceeds to tell me that she was trying to work and Bob kept interrupting her thoughts. He told her that Diane was miserable and she needed to call me because I had to do some things for him, and this would help me feel better.

And I'm thinking, oh-kay....

So, she tells me that Bob says I need to "start making our house a home" and there are some boxes (which I'd forgot about) with things we'd collected that "need to be displayed" and I need to open these boxes and put these things on display.

And also, he tells her, there are things that need hung on the walls. Like pictures, artwork, etc.

And it's time to make this house "our house" and fill it with "our things" and make it a sort of "Bob and Diane museum"...

And then my friend says she has to go, because she's got a ton of work to finish, but she had to call me and get this message to me so that Bob would leave her alone!

I hung up the phone rather perplexed. And I know there are some boxes in the closets, and in the back bedroom, and some in the garage that I had not gotten around to unpacking, but I really didn't think anything was that important... and that night, I called my friend back and asked her if she was serious about this message from Bob.

And she said it was really weird, but she kept having "Bob thoughts" while she was trying to do her inventory and the "Bob thoughts" kept interrupting her calculations, etc., and it was like she kept trying to push these "Bob thoughts" away but he kept at her, saying "excuse me, I need your help".

How weird is that?

So today, I went through the closets and found two boxes of collectibles that I had not put out "on display". One being Bob's antique thermometers (how did I forget about them? They are really cool!) and the other being his antique (mostly art deco) lighter collection.  Then I found a box of stuff for our porch that I had forgotten about.

I unpacked the boxes and found places to display everything (some of the thermometers I had to hang on walls), then I went into the garage and decided it was time to put up our big floral painting that used to hang on the front porch of our old house, and I hung it on the back porch. Then I put our whirligig together and got that in the back yard. And I can't remember when I last felt so motivated to do things around here....

And it does feel a little more like home. And I do feel a bit better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stroke Anniversary

Five years ago, tonight, Bob was in ICU for post-op recovery when he had a massive stroke. And the nurse, that night, was a new nurse, on employee probation and was supposed to be monitored by a supervisor, and she wasn't. And through the course of the night, she documented Bob's deterioration (arm paralyzed, then leg paralyzed, then confused/unable to talk/"glascow coma stage", etc.) without contacting a doctor. And when Bob tried to get her attention, to tell her something was very wrong, she told him to "settle down!" and pumped him full of morphine, so that he would pass out and thereby -- settle down and shut up.

That RN is still practicing today. Taking care of patients. Maybe taking care of someone you know and love.

The next morning, when the shift changed, another nurse came in and, still, that morning nurse did not contact a doctor.  She's the one who said to me, "Isn't he always like this?" (meaning paralyzed, unable to talk)

That RN is also still practicing today. Maybe taking care of someone you know and love.

And that night and morning after, those two nurses, truth be told, murdered Bob.  Even if it took over four years to kill him off. They finally succeeded.

And I think something is very wrong with a system that allows those nurses to continue working in the health care community and never have to pay any price for what they did to him. And to me.

If you ask me, they both should be in prison. For negligent homicide.

Just my thoughts...

And yes, this is a very hard anniversary for me.  No wonder I'm cracking up.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Round of Grief Support

I started another grief support group, this one specifically for "loss of spouse", as the other "general bereavement" group ended last week.  Yes, I guess I'm becoming a bit of a grief group groupie, although I think this group might be a bit more helpful, being that everyone in it is dealing with the same type of loss... But I'm very disappointed that the groups only run for six weeks -- because, what are we supposed to do afterwards? Suddenly be OK?? I know I'm not suddenly okay after six weeks...

Each of the groups passed out the same flyers at the beginning and one in particular that talks about "Common Cognitive and Emotional Experiences" of grief, along with 23 bullet points and I hate to say that I am still suffering from about 17 of them...


"Cocooning", i.e. desire to isolate one's self. And here I am, still, window shades drawn, hiding in the darkened house...  I swear, if not for Kona's daily walks and training, or a grief group, I would never leave this house....

And also:

Loss of Self Esteem
Over-sensitivity to words or actions of others (my parents can attest to this one, sorry mom and dad!)
Loss of zest for living
Suicidal thoughts
Dependency on alcohol (will 5 p.m. ever come?)
Feeling overwhelmed
Inability to make decisions
Misplacing things
Unable to concentrate
Unable to complete or do tasks
Exhaustion (both emotionally and physically)
Fear of rejection

I feel I'm stuck in a rut and can't crawl out. It's a chore just to get through each day. I do wonder if I'm ever going get through this -- ever feel "normal" again.  I tell you, this grief thing is exhausting. And I miss Bob so very very much. And I feel I just cannot live without him. I don't want to go on, alone.

But I weirdly find myself talking out loud to Bob, feeling that he is (not always, but sometimes) still here, sitting with me and even hearing his answers to my remarks. And I love these moments when we are having a conversation. However, when I feel he's "not here", not answering me, I find myself yelling at the walls, Bob, where are you??? I do wonder if I'm going completely out of my mind.

I have been reading a lot of George Anderson's books (i.e.: We Don't Die, Lessons from the Light, etc.), heck, I've read all of them except the one which I am working my way through now (We Are Not Forgotten: Messages of Love and Hope from The Other Side).  Anderson is a medium who communicates with souls on "the other side" and it brings me great comfort to hear his version of the afterlife and know that Bob is still alive, happy, and watching over me. Anderson swears that we all can have direct communication with the souls of our loved ones, and they do answer us, telepathically. So, maybe I'm not so nuts, after all...

Though I still wonder, am I going mad? Will I ever recover? And does it even matter if I do?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Heeling and Healing

So, Kona and I are two sessions into our training and we have both been working hard together. The first lesson was all about "heeling" -- which as you know is walking on the leash without pulling me to heck and back --

I still remember when I was handed Kona's leash at the rescue and was told, by the former owner, "I hope you don't intend to walk her, as she is a beast on a leash."

And I thought, oh boy....

And she was, truthfully, "a beast on a leash". Yanking me from hell to high water and back. And at 91 lbs., this was not very fun for me. And that was the big reason to hire a trainer, as you know, I love my daily dog walks and have been doing them for years with Boomer and it's really the BIG reason to have a dog, at least for me.

Both of us, Kona and me, have plenty of learning to do.  I must admit that I am a bit rusty on my training techniques -- I mean, it has been a long time since I trained a dog and I am a bit spoiled by 14 years of Boomer's good behavior.

So I had to relearn old things and am learning some new things in the process.  I also had to get some new equipment, including a "martingale" collar (which I never heard of before) and I am now a true believer of.

And I really had to learn to watch the tone of my voice and be consistent with both the tone and the words I use with her.  For example:

Normal tone of voice, used for commands, such as "heel", "sit", "stay".

Harsh tone for correction, only and ONLY with the word "No!"  (This is hard, I admit, for me.) One is not supposed to say, "NO! SIT!" but "NO! Sit."  The "sit" part being said calmly.  And this trainer believes only the word "No" should be used for correction.

Then of course, the happy bubbles tone for a job well done, i.e. "good girl!!!"

Well, I am very happy report Kona is really getting the hang of "heel" with our training (home work), at least twice a day, sometimes three or four times, weather permitting. We still have troubles when there is a distraction, such as another dog, but there's still more training sessions and work to do...

Kona -- sit, stay, good girl!
Last week's session was adding a "sit" and "stay" to our "heel".  This involves heeling to a stop, then a sit command, then me (looking like an idiot) walking in circles around Kona giving her the "stay" command.  We've been practicing this around the neighborhood and, if anyone had any doubts that there was a crazy lady living in that pink house, they certainly have none now!

This exercise was actually very hard for us at first.  Although, Kona would do it perfectly with the trainer, she would not cooperate with me.

The trainer explained that she was "testing me" to see how much she could get away with, and I had to learn to be stricter with her, show her some "tough love" as it were.  

She is now, as the photo shows, getting the hang of it. And so am I.

I must say, I am so very glad to have Kona in my life. This dog absolutely adores me, and I absolutely adore her. She gives me a reason to get up in the morning. And though I may have "rescued" her, she really has rescued me at the time of my deepest grief.  I may be teaching her to "heel", but all through it-- she is teaching me to "heal" as well...

Tomorrow will be our third training session with the trainer, and we are taking Kona to the dog park, where there should be many distractions to work on -- should be interesting. Wish us luck.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

In the Pink!

Finally! My painter finished up today and my, if I don't say so myself, the house has turned out beautifully:

You may remember the "before" photo:

Here's before and after photos of the back porch/deck/ramp area:

And some more photos:

I only wish Bob was here to see it and say "Cool!"
But I imagine him watching from the "other side" saying just that.....