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  • When the dog won't sleep

    When the dog won't sleep

    Mikenna is, and always has been, a very opinionated dog. There have been many nights that she has decided it is time for bed. Rather than going to bed, she'll sit at my feet and stare, followed by soft whine, and then pacing and letting out short, demanding barks. This dog looooooves her sleep.

    Except, in the past few months, she's had more than enough rough nights for me to be, well, annoyed.

    There are, of course, sleepless nights where I certainly can't blame her. If she eats the wrong food or drinks way too much water and winds up with an upset stomach, well, all you can do is wait that out. She had a couple rough nights this summer because she'd caught an upper respiratory infection. And if I forget to fill her water bowl before bed, well, that's just my fault.

    I still can't decide how much of her night behavior has been my fault, and how much is on her. At eleven years old, it's certainly not unheard of for dogs to get their days/nights mixed up, or to have aches keep them awake.

    However, it seems like the overall trend started when I switched her dog treats to something she really liked. I usually give her a treat before bed, because with her stomach issues, it helps if she isn't completely empty. Well, one whiny night, I got up, gave her a second cookie, and then stumbled back to bed. That seemed to catch on, and in a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, I'm not sure whether she was restless, or she started waking herself up and thinking, "COOKIE TIME!'

    Usually, I can figure out what Mikenna wants. But when getting me out of bed once for a cookie started becoming two or three times for unknown reasons*, I began to panic. I'm not a person who does well on consistently bad sleep! (*She would sit in her 'cookie' spot, so I tend to think that's what she wanted, but she's never been an incessant cookie beggar before. I refused to believe she was trying to get me up 2-3x a night for cookies.)

    I ended up deciding to give her melatonin. I did research before doing this, and I STRONGLY recommend you do yours, as well. Mikenna is in good health, but don't do this to your dog without verifying that your dog is, too.

    She's cleared for a dose of up to 1.5mg, but right now, I've got her on 1 mg per night, and that is working well enough, so I don't see any reason to up it. I can't tell you what happens from her perspective, but it seems to help her settle down, without noticible grogginess.

    If her feline sister decides to misbehave at 3 am, Mikenna will react. If Mikenna can't find her ball and thinks she needs it, she has no problem hopping out of bed to go grab it. But, giving it to her 30-45 minutes before I go to bed has her hopping into bed and zonking out pretty fast.

    I don't like 'drugging' her, and I'm not sure whether I'm going to continue this for an extended period of time, or take her off of it in a few weeks and see how she does. But I appreciate the uninterrupted sleep, and she loves getting her piece of cheese at night. (And she hasn't seemed to notice that I stopped giving her a cookie right before bed)

  • Out of Hiding

    Out of Hiding

    Okay, so I didn't intentionally go into hiding. An absence is particularly bad when you have to look at your own website to remember the last few things you said.

    The last several weeks can be distilled into this: My scheduled move date got pushed out to the end of October at something resembling the last minute, which meant that I had spent a lot of time packing already. It's nothing terrible or traumatic, just a mutual agreement that things might go for smoothly for two and four legged beings alike if things were more settled for living arrangements.

    Having bathroom walls is a great place to start. A floor is a nice bonus.

    So that was a bit of a productivity whiplash. Last week, Matt had time off, and we had a lot of things planned, so I really didn't do much resembling work.

    Now, I am finally climbing back on the horse, just in time to go spend a week with my Mom, then come back and resume frantic packing and cleaning.

    Life is chaotic, what can you do?

    One of the primary things that has been taking my attention has been this fantastic, intense photography marketing course. Changing states gives me a great chance to start over, and I want to do things well. I have learned so much over the last seven weeks, and there is so much that I can't even begin to implement yet.

    But I have decided that I am going to give a go at pet photography. It's no secret how much I adore my animals, and the more I've had time to think about it, the more passionate I am about the idea.

    I'm going to get back to noveling, hopefully sooner than later, but I'll be honest - big, time consuming life transitions are a bit rough. As far as projects go, I feel like I have a lot on my plate, so I might need to clear a few things off before I can do that justice again.

  • About ALS

    About ALS

    Unless you've been under a rock for the last few weeks, you've heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

    One of the main criticisms I've heard about the challenge is that people are participating in the challenge - perhaps even donating - but not learning anything about the cause. So I'm here to fix that. Here is what you need to know about ALS:

    ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gherig's Disease. It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the motor neurons. In human speak, it is a disease that weakens the muscles in the body, and it does not get better.

    There is no cure for ALS. People generally live between two and five years after onset of the disease - though rarely, people may live longer, like Stephen Hawking.

    ALS is not contageous, and it typically does not run in families. (ALS that runs in families makes up 2% of all cases)

    One of the most common symptoms of ALS is a progressive weakness in one or more limbs. About 25% of cases are "bulbar onset" ALS, where symptoms include difficulty speaking (including slurred speech), or swallowing.

    While there is no 'easy' way to die, having watched my grandma go through this, I believe that ALS is one of the absolute worst diseases. In almost all cases, your mind remains in tact while your body slowly stops working. One day you can't swallow your food as well. Then your speech is too slurred to be understood. Since you can no longer chew, you have to receive nutrition other ways. Things start to slip from your hands, and your sluggish feet trip over the edges of carpet.

    Eventually, you'll be bedridden because your muscles can no longer support you to stand. As your hand dexterity goes, you won't be able to communicate by paper or keyboard, either. Then, the muscles in your respiratory system will be weakened, and you'll need to be hooked up to a ventilator.

    You are stuck as a prisoner in your body as it deteriorates, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

    As difficult as it is to watch, I cannot imagine what it's like to live it. I would not wish ALS on the worst person in the world.

    I think everyone has their own 'pet causes' at different points in life. Some of us deeply care about diabetes research, clean water, human trafficking, or animal welfare. The hope of people not having to die from ALS is one the causes closest to my heart.

    If you can, and would like to make a donation to the ALS Association, here is a handy link to do so, here.

    Now, whether you feel compelled to dump a bucket of ice water on your head or not, you know what the cause behind the ice bucket challenge is all about. Please spread the information on to anyone you might think needs it.

  • One Foot in Front of the Other

    One Foot in Front of the Other

    I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've taken up running as my new hobby. My great athletic achievements to this point in life have included jumping out of a car because a large mosquito was on my leg, never actually getting over the pommel horse in high school gym class, and tripping up the stairs enough to tear a skirt.

    So for me, running isn't easy. And by this point in the Zombies 5K program, running takes every ounce of my willpower to keep going, every time.

    As much as I want there to be a cheat code that will make this easier, there is none. In order for running to feel easier, I need to carry less weight and to build more muscle.

    So, I need to run more. Oh boy.

    That sounds appealing, doesn't it? In order for something to hurt less and feel better, you have to be okay with pushing through the pain and discomfort in the meantime.

    Why do this? I ask myself. Why put myself through this?

    I admit, sometimes, the only thing that keeps me going is that the thought of not finishing the Zombies 5k program is worse than the muscle aches in my legs. I started this, and I am going to finish it because I made that commitment to myself.

    I want to run a 5k with my husband someday. Apparently, I want it badly enough to huff and puff along.

    But there's something else, too. There's the little milestones that pop up at just the right time to refill my energy.

    I am walk/running over two miles at a time now. That's easily over half a mile more than when I started! My walking speed is up .2 mph from where I started. Is that a lot? No. But I'll take it!Also, my 'slow' running speed is up a whopping .7 mph from where I started, and my fastest is .9 mph faster than that starting number. It's still pretty embarrassingly slow when you're talking about running, but I am so pleased I can't even express with that progress!

    Finally, in the last week, I've discovered actual, bonafide muscles in my calves and thighs. Muscles that feel surprisingly solid and tough. I didn't know I could have muscles like that, but now I want more.

    Running, for me, is hard. While it's not good form, all I could do to get through one free form run was look down at my feet and think, "One foot in front of the other" and refused to quit.

     

  • On a serious note

    On a serious note

    I wanted to write something eloquent and compelling. But for once, I can't figure out how.

    If you suspect that you are depressed, please talk to someone. If that person does not take you seriously, that is their problem, and not yours. Find the courage to talk to someone else. Find a doctor, a counselor, who will listen to you and treat you with respect.

    I know how very hard that sounds. Taking that first step is incredibly intimidating. But you are worth it.

    That's right. YOU are worth it.

    The above advice goes for anyone who suspects they may be suffering from depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or any other mental illness. Get help. It's not all in your head, and you don't need to handle it alone. It's not "your problem" or your burden to carry. Really.

    If you are suicidal, please, talk to someone who can help you.

    Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    Suicide.org

    The suicide.org site has a list of hotlines by state and internationally. You are not a burden. Someone can and will listen to you.

    Mental illness is real. You are not broken, you are not defective, and you are not the problem. Lots of people struggle with it on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we just don't talk about it much. You do not have to be ashamed of whatever thoughts you're having.

    Just find someone to talk to. You're worth it.

  • The Writer in her Natural Habitat

    The Writer in her Natural Habitat

    I got new glasses last week. It only took me three years after losing my last pair (which I'd had for about ten years at that point) to get new ones. Oops. They're primarily for computer and reading. I think they look sassy.

    Also, ear buds are totally a necessity when your spouse is in bed and you want to listen to a music. Unless you're someone who likes to keep them up by blaring 80's music through your computer. I'm actually not against that, but I have a feeling I wouldn't like the payback.

  • Changes

    Changes

    So, I'm packing up and moving to Lynchburg, Virginia early next month.

    Phew. Got that out of the way. So how are things going with you?

    Oh...You want some explanation, don't you?

    Well, anyone who knows me too well shouldn't be too stunned about this decision. It's where my parents live, and I've spent the last eight years missing them incredibly. The area is gorgeous, and as a bonus, one of Matt's close friends lives there as well.

    Oh, and their winters resemble living on Hoth 90% less. Major selling point after last year. I'm still traumatized.

    The current plan is for me to move down there, fix us up a place to live, find a job, start a proper photography business, and work on novels. I'm going to have my work cut out for me, which is why Matt is staying put in Michigan until next spring.

    It's intimidating. It feels crazy. It's terrifying.

    But it also feels like the best decision we've ever made.