Saturday, May 25, 2013

Today's Cloud

Honestly, today I've got no complaints for once! How about that?

Yeah, not a bad day, right?

Today's Sunshine

We've spent a fair bit of time in the garden today, just hanging out (the weeds are mocking me, but honestly who cares if they get to live another day). Occasionally people would pass by outside our hedge, but by now the greenery has grown enough to obscure most of the view and Monster often didn't seem to even notice them, and when he did they were basically already past us and he had little to no time to react before they were gone again. However a man walked by leading a bike (it's a steep hill) and talking loudly on his cell phone, so naturally Monster noticed him in plenty of time and positioned himself in a gap in the hedge (a plant has died, I must remember to replace it) and sort of wound up to tell the man off. Tense body, hackles slightly raised, up on his toes, muttering a bit. But as the man ignored him completely nothing came of it, and Monster started to relax again.

That's right, mister! You don't want to mess with this...

Unfortunately as he was watching the man walk away he spotted someone else heading toward him instead (I was sitting where I couldn't see out on the street, but I had no difficulty reading Monster's body language). A couple walking a slightly upset dog was approaching. I let Monster watch them (bouncing slightly and making his protesting but-but-but noise, winding up but not yet ready to explode) until they were just on the other side of the hedge from him - since if I successfully called him away before they were at the most "dangerous" point he would just break when they got there (unless I'd catch and hold him, which would be counter productive) - and tried to catch his attention just as he was about to start a fence attack. I called his name and asked him "Where's the ball!?", as I've been trying to reward him with play whenever someone passes by the fence. I could see that he was conflicted, he wavered between me and the problem in the street several times (it's awesome to have a dog with a coat and build like Monster's, I can see every muscle shift and read what's going on) but after a second or two he raced over to the ball, tripping over it in his eagerness, and ran back with it to me (and slammed into me quite hard, the little darling) so we could play! That was him making a choice, and while he was seriously ramped up he took that energy and used it in play with me instead of in reaction to the triggers!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Today's Cloud

While our sunshine walk today may have turned out a quite positive experience, it was really one bad choice after another. I shouldn't have been so cocky that I chose to walk right through parts of the village I knew would be busy with people and animals. And I certainly shouldn't have pressed on past the chaos outside the church, especially considering I we'd have to pass by there again in order to get home. Monster may have handled all of it incredibly well (on the Monster scale), but it was one bad choice after another. I should be setting my dog up for success, not courting disaster...

What?! You wanna say something?

Great Monster. Bad Monstermom.

Today's Sunshine

Our walk this morning turned out quite interesting. My foot was bothering me and I wanted to keep the walk fairly short and on level ground, leaving two of our usual routes (one circling the outskirts of the village and another winding round the countryside) out of the question since they involve too much walking up and down hills. We have another regular walk (Monster's reactivity requires specific qualities from our routes, like predictability, no or at least few blind corners, regular escape routes in case we get cornered, and so on) but it's incredibly boring, not to mention we've walked it a lot these past couple of months while my leg's been complaining. So I made a somewhat reckless decision and headed off along the road cutting through the centre (such as it is) of the village instead...

Woohoo, I hardly ever get to walk here!

At first all was very quiet, but soon we came across the first potential problem. A woman with a baby carriage left her house across the street and headed out onto the sidewalk. Monster looked at her... and looked away! But then we came to the church, which is having a lot of work done to and around it right now. There were two young women riding around raking the gravel with a lawnmower across the road, and closer to us a man was using a lawnmower in the more conventional way in the graveyard. Up in the tower a couple of guys were shouting at each other over whatever noisy tools they were using. There was no side of the road with nothing happening, and honestly I should have just turned back but I didn't. Monster has a huge problem with lawnmowers, attacking our own with suicidal frenzy... But I let him watch, moving slowly forward at a pace he seemed able to handle, and while he had a couple of moments of fixation he was able to snap out of it and move on with very little prompting from me. Quicker than I could have expected, we'd passed the church! Then we came to a pasture where someone keeps miniature ponies (don't ask me what kind, "brown" is as good a description you'll get from me)...

Wait... Are you saying those weren't dogs!? They were smaller than me!

They proved to be quite a challenge for Monster, he needed to stop and study them repeatedly as we moved along the fence. One of the ponies became interested in us and came up to the fence to take a closer look, which fixated Monster. After a moment or two I became concerned he'd break and lunge, frightening the horse (at no point was he close enough to actually do anything) and I made the mistake of trying to pull him away. That was of course very much the wrong thing to do, and Monster started barking and protesting (the pony looking at us didn't change his curious body posture and the others continued grazing, so Monster's behaviour didn't appear to read as very threatening - presumably they're used to barking dogs since they're pastured in the village along the main road). I immediately relaxed the leash and praised him, and he relaxed right away. We moved on away from there, but Monster needed to stop and look back a couple of times at first (the strange dogs could be following us after all). Then our walk was uneventful for a while, until a man exited his house with a toddler and started walking toward us. I decided we'd had enough excitement, and I didn't want to risk Monster frightening the child so we turned back to avoid meeting them. Of course now we'd have to walk past the same triggers again, only this time with someone coming up behind us so we couldn't keep our own pace...

You didn't think this through, did you?

We passed by the pasture on the other side of the road. Monster wanted to stop and study the horses several times, but I encouraged him to walk along right away since I knew we'd probably need all the head start we had once we got to the church. You know, the church with no safe sides to the road... We got there, and it was worse than when we walked by the first time. Now one of the women was crouched down on the gravel (pulling up weeds?), the riding mower was much closer to the road, the other mower was right on the curb, a car was parked with two men unloading building equipment, and as I stood there looking another car drove up behind us and stopped right in the middle of the road to unhitch a trailer. Behind us the father and child were catching up. We walked forward, and I kept a close eye on Monster all the way. He was very interested in all of it, and I made sure to both keep him close and not tighten the leash, and I praised him constantly - and made sure to do it loudly and in a very silly voice, so people could notice I was coming up on them with a dog who maybe was uncomfortable in the situation. We walked right past!

Of course we did, what did you expect!?

Half a minute later we met two women walking toward us. I immediately changed to the other side of the road but kept walking. In retrospect I wonder if I should have stopped and let Monster study them - he often shows greater reactivity when he's standing still, he appears to feel more vulnerable when he isn't moving as well as it giving him more time to wind up, but on the other hand he can accept a lot more if he's given a chance to study a trigger and figure out if it's really a threat... Right choice or not, this time he broke. As the women drew parallel with us, he lunged and barked and bounced straight up into the air. Fortunately they were more surprised and amazed than frightened, and simply called out a greeting and moved on. As soon as they had their backs turned Monster let it go.

They looked suspicious if you ask me...

Almost home... But no, one last problem. As we were passing a house a dog ran out at us, barking and growling, bouncing back at the end of its line. And not only that, but it was a German Shepherd! Shepherds are Monster's nightmare, he's been attacked by enough of them to consider them all very dangerous... As the dog appeared (scaring even me with its sudden "attack") Monster started to square up against it, but then I saw him change his mind in the middle of the motion and instead turn back along the road and start running away! Now, you may think that's a bad thing but I completely disagree. I want Monster to take the cowardly choice, if there's an escape he should take it! The old Monster would choose confrontation every time, escaping is preferred by far. Unfortunately running isn't so easy for me, messed up ankle and all, but I really tried to reward his choice by letting him run. I didn't make it many steps but it seemed to be enough for Monster anyway, he relaxed even though the dog was still frantic behind us. After that it was smooth sailing all the way back home.

Wanna go again!?!

While he couldn't handle every situation flawlessly, I can't even imagine what would have happened in even one of these encounters just a few months ago. Monster may not be an easy dog to live with, and we may have a lot of restrictions on our daily activities, but for me an experience like this walk is priceless. He's doing so well!

Thank god there weren't any cats, or the whole thing would have been a disaster...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Today's Cloud

Sorry people, it's time for Monstermom's whiny hour again...

Oh, come on! Who's this blog supposed to be about again?

I've been back to the physical therapist again for a checkup on the progress of my broken ankle today. Great news: she was concerned with some of the pain I was describing and checked the records from my ER visit, turns out not only did I have a broken ankle but I'd also dislocated the joint. As it turns out this is most likely now a problem, the joint appears unstable and tissue slides into the gap and gets crushed. All I can tell you is that it hurts like a... lady dog. Right now I'm clinging to the hope that if I do my exercises the foot will stabilize and the joint will heal on its own, but I need to be prepared for the possibility that it will need to be corrected. Hooray.

Hang on... Are you saying you won't be able to walk again!?

In other news: PTs are all sadists, right? They must be, in order to be able to inflict that kind of pain on someone with so little effort... Not to mention how they sit around and think up horrific exercises they force people to do! I used to take The Kid to a PT for about six months, and he'd scream and complain (mostly exaggerated for a joke) the whole time - I thought his PT was unusually cruel, but it turns out they all are like that. Who knew?

You want me to have a little talk with her?

Today's Sunshine

Slow day today, not much to report... I've had to leave Monster home alone a lot, first for my appointment with the physical therapist and then to pick up The Kid from school and get him ready for tennis practice. Picking up The Kid was unplanned (his other people ran into a bit of disorganisation), I try to avoid leaving Monster alone twice in one day since the second time he starts off already at a higher stress level. Fortunately he seems to have dealt well with it which was a relief. While Monster isn't particularly destructive when he's left alone I know it upsets him and makes him stressed.

Well, yeah! I'm all alone - what if something happens?!

But as I said, in spite of me not having been able to plan ahead (and make sure he's in the best possible mood beforehand) he seems to have handled it well. So, it's not much but it's a little sunny, right?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


After a year - a year! how could it possibly have been that long? - we've finally met Teach again! Tonight I'm tired but content, despite the session not going as well as I'd (naively) expected. We were working against a staged dog and her owner, and I found myself surprised at how strongly Monster reacted to them. Driving home I realized my expectations had been unreasonable, because I expected Monster to barely react at all. I'd built up an ideal scenario where the progress I've been noticing lately would be many times magnified in the training session. I was making two mistakes: I was relying on an effect from being out of our territory, since dogs usually show more intense reactivity in familiar surroundings, and not considering that Monster is very familiar with the training location too and already has a history of reactivity in this setting; and I wasn't giving any consideration to trigger stacking, not expecting the situation to increase in difficulty the longer Monster was exposed to his triggers. That was ridiculous of me.

Hang on... Are you saying I was a bad dog...?

No! Not at all! Monster did very well! He really did. I simply had unrealistic expectations. The difference from last time (I still just can't believe it's been a whole year!?) is absolutely fantastic, it's truly obvious we've come a very long way indeed. And we would've been lost without Teach (to find him look up top to the left), I can't stress enough to all of you out there struggling with similar issues how incredibly valuable it is to find a good trainer - if Teach is too far away from you

Oh, you poor people...

there's bound to be someone else nearby you can turn to. Just be very careful with finding one you can trust (we've been burned by bad trainers). But as I was saying, the session really did go quite well. While Monster reacted earlier and stronger than I had expected, these reactions were generally short in duration and low in intensity and he calmed back down quickly. There was very little aggression visible at all - none that I could see directed toward the staged dog and her owner (in his reactions to them he was overly excited and certainly unpleasant - think obnoxious drunk guy who wants to impress you - but it didn't appear to me he actually wanted to be frightening), but some directed toward a couple of men passing by just outside the area who pinged Monster's "uh-oh"-radar. He was a bit more easily distracted by his surroundings than I had expected, but again this was still a vast improvement from how he used to be. While yes, I did arrive expecting more than he could actually give, I left feeling very happy and proud. Monster is wonderful, and he did show it - and I may be stupid, but not so stupid I couldn't see that.

That's more like it!

And it was great to see how happy Monster was to see Teach again! I've known trainers who wants and expects the dogs they meet to dislike them (they see it both as a kind of respect, and a tool for the owner to better bond with their dog), and I'm never going back to that again... I actually expected Monster to be excited from when we got out of the car, recognizing the location and knowing we were about to have some fun, but he didn't show much emotion at all until Teach's car pulled into the street. He recognized the car immediately (I wasn't sure even after Teach got out, I can't wear my glasses in reactivity training since they'd just fall off all the time) and started wagging his entire body before it had even stopped. He noticed nothing else happening in the surroundings until he'd finally gotten to meet Teach again (and yes, obnoxiously jump up at him and slobber all over - sorry about that!). Monster really loves Teach - he doesn't quite have the manners to be able to let him know this in an acceptable way, but we're working on that after all - and if I needed another reason to feel like we found a trainer to put our trust in, that would be it.

Yeah... Soon as I'm done with my nap I'm gonna go find him again and see if he wants to play some more!

It was also a lot of fun to see Monster's reaction to the staged dog, an adorably happy and enthusiastic little Staffy lady. He just loved her, and she had such a lovely personality. Monster was quite interested in her, and mostly he looked very happy (interspersed with some frustration attacks). Hopefully I'll be able to one day get him to drop the drunk frat guy persona and teach him to be the nice, confident guy instead...

I can't heeeear you...

Now I think my ramblings for the day are done - I know this post is a little confused and long winded, but I really wanted to tell you that finally, finally we managed to meet with Teach again and Monster and I are both quite happy about it. And I'm really hopeful we'll be able to make some significant progress with his help again, especially since I feel Monster is in a very good place mentally lately. Famous last words and all that, but I'm feeling good about things looking up...

Uh-oh... I'll just hide under here until Fate hits you with that lightning bolt you're asking for...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Today's Cloud

Of course the reason for that was mostly because he was saving his reaction for the kid's dad, who was jogging behind. A sort of calm before the storm. Clearly the jogging man was much more of a threat - and needed to be treated accordingly... Monster did do something interesting though! He lunged once toward the man as he drew parallel to us (we were on a side road, where we'd run to when I noticed the pair coming up behind us), but as soon as his front paws hit the ground again he immediately did a turn away! So he showed both the old pattern of reacting with aggression but also the new pattern of BAT avoidance. I just wish he'd skip the first step completely - after all, if the trigger responds (if it's perhaps another reactive dog, or a human who wants to tell us off) no doubt he'll get stuck in aggression mode completely.

Well, if they respond they're clearly dangerous - so my reaction was warranted!

Today's Sunshine

Today Monster watched a shouting kid race past us on a bike with what I can only describe as mild interest. A "hey, look at that huh..." type of look. No reaction, no fixation.

That's cause I'm awesome - go on, say it!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Monster Goes For Takeout

... Fortunately he comes back empty handed! This morning was another of my absolute nightmare scenarios: the line snapped. It didn't even have the decency to do it with a dramatic sound effect, at most I think there may have been a slight "fwip" as the tension in the line gave.

Yeah... My ears are better than yours, but I think my mind may have been on other things...

Just to demonstrate how Monster actually feels about hares, what happened was first one hare then another jumping up quite far ahead of us and running off. Monster fixated, started tugging on the line and trying to go after them. In typical hare brilliance the pair of idiots decided to double back and run across the path we were on - still pretty far away though - and Monster did another small lunge and the line just... gave up. Naturally, I took the most productive option of how to act: I panicked. At first he didn't race off, he just pulled further ahead of me in little starts and stops, and I couldn't decide what to do so I tried recalling him, telling him to sit, stop, and lie down. I may have thrown something else in there too... Naturally he lost whatever interest he may have had in me and raced off after the distant hares. I will say he got a lot closer than I thought he would.

That's cause I'm fast. A lean, mean, running machine...

Uh-huh, sure. That's why your tongue was by your knees when you finally came back, right?

Because he did come back, fortunately. He ran around for maybe a minute or so, within sight at all times (very open country), then he looked around for me who was "calmly" sitting down on the edge of an old well and came trotting back. As I saw him being interested in me again I got on my hands and knees (with a small scream - the panic had made me forget about my foot, which no longer bends the ways required to kneel down) and pretended to find something super interesting in the dirt, hoping he'd come investigate it with me. Which he did, but now I'm thinking he'd probably have returned anyway. But I really didn't want him to continue past me and onto the path behind us we'd just left. Ordinarily, I'd like to think I'd have the presence of mind to try the reaction I believe would be most likely to succeed, which is to turn around and say "let's go back!" while jogging (OK, hobbling) away from him. This is something which works - or should work - on two levels; for one it's a command we use in BAT, so he has a learned response to this cue in tense/exciting situations; for another he's fairly dependent on me and hates when I "abandon" him. But today this was not an option - going back was a direction I really wanted to avoid: behind us were a man with an infant and a dog. While Monster probably wouldn't have presented any danger for the man or the dog, based on past experience as well as knowing Monster isn't really driven by aggression, I can never feel safe with him around a small child. It takes so very little to severely injure a child that young, and Monster is so big and so clumsy and excitable... A lot of worst case scenarios went through my head in the short time Monster was running free, and while I know those were highly unlikely it was a risk I had no wish to take. But, happily, Monster just raced across the field after the hares and came running back to me again quite soon. He was happy - he'd had fun - and I was terrified. Sounds like a regular day now that I think about it...

Fun times! Let's do it again after I've had a nap...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Today's Cloud

I've said it before but I'll say it again: cats.

What!?! WHERE!?!

It's now official, cats really are more difficult than dogs by now. Today we were meeting a man and a dog so I hurried forward to reach a side street before they got too close, only to find a cat sitting in the middle of that street looking at us. Monster fixated completely on the cat, freezing up and staring, every muscle in his body tensing up. I couldn't get him away, I couldn't move him forward (why do nearly all cats just sit there calmly staring!?), and on the other side of the road was a passing, not very relaxed, dog. Monster knew they were there - he'd been staring at them before we came across the cat after all - but all he could spare was a quick look over his shoulder at the passing dog since there was a cat right there. Nothing beats a cat...


People think it sounds funny when I say I have a problem with Monster hating cats. I try to explain that it's actually quite serious, but nevertheless it seems all people hear is "silly"... But it's far from silly. Monster's fixation on cats is damaging to all other training - once he's spotted a cat his nerves are shot, he will react to any trigger simply to get an outlet for his tension. His stress levels make him unmanageable on leash, and he can't listen to a word say (unless that word is "cat" or "kitty"). And there are cats everywhere. I don't know what to do, I have no clue how to relax him around cats. I've tried BAT but haven't gotten it to work, I've tried classical conditioning but nothing works as a reward with cats at any distance, I've tried just standing out by the road for hours where I know cats pass by regularly (friendly ones, not the psycho cats who actually attack us), but nothing seems to make even a dent... I need to fix this but so far I'm lost. And blind. Possibly dizzy too. And the compass is broken.


Today's Sunshine

Time to pull myself together, no more ignoring the blog! Let's see... Today Monster had zero reaction to a woman working in her yard (wearing a rain poncho - that's a dedication to gardening I just can't find in myself) who called out a hello as we walked past. Later he ignored... No, that's not right, he was interested and even slightly tense, but he had a very small reaction to a man walking his dog who called out to us as we were walking away from them across a field - apparently we looked a bit like Lil-something whom he wanted to talk to - and even though the other dog also tensed up a bit Monster just let it go. Finally he stopped to watch a couple throwing a ball for their Rottweiler, looked at the rottie (who ignored the ball in favour of staring back at Monster) for a little while and then just moved along past them. None of these encounters were closer than about four meters, the dogs were at a greater distance. But this is still a really good day for us! Monster really is self-BATting, and it's amazing to see.

Well, you're not exactly good at it, so...

Today Monster has also sniffed a leveret across its back... It was hiding in that peculiar hare way - meaning it was keeping absolutely still without hiding at all - and we were out in the garden with Monster working an item search. Amazingly he was so focused on his task he had no interest whatsoever in the leveret. Clearly it wasn't the coaster he was looking for, so why care about it? Conveniently it (finally!) ran away once he stuck his nose in its fur, so he could check the ground where it had been sitting. No coaster there, so the search continued elsewhere... That was honestly absolutely amazing! I don't think he registered the fleeing animal at all, searching was far more important. If only I could tap into that in all situations...

Sshhhh! I'm on the trail...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Slow Progress, But Progress All The Same

So, still not a lot happening on the blog, right? Well, what can I say... While I didn't write much while I had the cast on, I still spent a lot of time sitting in front of the computer. Feeling trapped, more or less. Now the cast is off, and I feel free - or at least freer. So sitting down by the computer just has no appeal right now, and even trying to write something short and quick (hah, like that's a skill I have!) feels like doing a tax audit... But I should be stronger than that, so here goes an attempt at an update:

Can you believe this nonsense?! Like writing about me isn't the best part of her day!?

First of all, my leg (not because it's the most interesting, but just to get it out of the way). It's not going too well... Some days I can walk OK, especially uphill for some reason, but it's not exactly an even gait and it's slow. Other days - like today - I can barely hobble out to the mailbox. Pain is one thing, if it were just about pain I'm pretty sure I could force myself through it. But the leg - or rather the joints - won't work right. I'm going back to the PT tomorrow, hopefully I'll get some more effective exercises and also a timeline of what I can expect...

I'm boooooored! We barely do anything!

With that out of the way, let's take a look at Monster instead. He's doing... Surprisingly well lately! Just yesterday we were out on a "things couldn't be going more wrong"-walk, where everywhere we turned we were faced with others out walking their dogs despite it being our usual (carefully chosen) time and route. A one point we were squeezed in between two JRTs, a German Shepherd, and some mix breeds, all three groups moving toward us leaving no way out. I wound up limping and falling down a slope through some trees trying to get away, twisting my ankle in a rather unpleasant way, and later I found myself wondering if I'd even had to do that. Monster had seen all the dogs approaching us, and hadn't reacted at all - not even when I forced him to turn his back on them, which is normally not a simple thing for him. And my attempts to find a more peaceful way home were thwarted at every turn, other dog owners apparently conspiring to cover all exits. The biggest scare came when we turned a corner (and I swear he must have been waiting for us, I scanned that street across a hedge and a fence before we got to the corner and there was no one there, clearly he was hiding to jump out at us!) and came face to face with a man walking a bike and three dogs (no idea of breed, they were slightly smaller than Monster and black, that's all the impression I had time for) coming straight at us less than ten metres away. And as soon as his dogs spotted Monster they lunged for him! And you know what Monster did? He turned right around and walked back the way we came, not a second's hesitation and no prompting from me! As the dogs passed growling behind us, Monster didn't acknowledge them at all... So we waited a little while, and turned back again (that was our way home, and with my foot by then on fire I didn't have a lot of options for alternative, longer, routes), and when we got to the corner we met a man with a Schnauzer who started bouncing on his toes when he saw us. So Monster turned away again! Third time's the charm, right? Nope. Third time we tried to get around the corner, the German Shepherd from earlier turned up. This time Monster didn't turn around (German Shepherds are one of his big problems), but we were still on the side street even though we had nearly reached the corner so I decided to stay and let him watch rather than try to force him away. The Shepherd wasn't very pleased with his audience and focused Monster with a hard stare and tense body all the way past us, and Monster did give a small "woof" and a bounce (causing the man to give a disapproving "oh" comment in my direction, which is kind of funny when you think about how Monster would normally have behaved), but that was all.

Well... He was nasty looking! Plus he was ogling me.

And that's surprisingly often how our walks have been going lately - far better than I expect...

In other news, I went to a sniffer dog lecture and workshop this weekend. That was a lot of fun, and gave me some interesting ideas for some more organized training in that direction - Monster knows to search for my keys, wallet, phone and some other stuff already, but now I have better tools for developing whatever I want. I've started on sniffing for marjoram right now - just to try out the techniques, not because I have a dire need for a marjoram finding dog - and Monster seems to be appreciating the better organization too. He wasn't with me in class of course (it's not exactly fair to him or to other participants to have him threatening bloody murder on everyone present after all...), but I had him in the car in the parking lot and during breaks I took him out. At first just to let him pee and give him a break from the boredom in the car, making sure the other participants were nowhere near and no dogs in sight. But I quickly noticed Monster was amazingly relaxed, looking at humans and dogs with some interest but no agitation, and performing beautiful BAT turns if something became too much. So the breaks became wonderful training sessions, walking around in the parking lot, along the road, around the club house and alongside the training field. Monster only ever reacted once, when we turned a corner and another dog - also reactive - went nuts at the sight of us. Monster did tense up and bark, but then happily turned away and left and when we walked back the same way just a couple of minutes later he had no residual tension. The progress I think I've seen in our home village seem infinitely greater out of our territory... I don't want to talk this up too much, who knows how much is temporary and how much is simply imaginary, but I will say I'm cautiously hopeful.

Hopeful of what? Infinite carrots?

And so you won't think I've become ridiculously and uncharacteristicly optimistic, let's close on a downer: first my car won't run for ages, when it finally gets fixed I'm still too sick to do much, as I start to get a lot better I break my ankle, and three days after getting the cast taken off, someone or something cracks the windshield of my car... This has been a long, slow, frustrating and expensive winter and spring. The windshield isn't fixable, the damage is far too extensive, so now the question is whether or not I should get a new windshield put in or just scrap the car altogether (changing the windshield is expensive, and poor Tin Can is probably not long for this world anyway...), and I don't actually have the money for either option. To be continued...

We don't need no boring car - we can RUN!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Monster Says: Let's Go For A Run!

... And I say: I don't think so.

I'm very disappointed in you!

I know I haven't been posting much lately, sorry about that. But to be quite honest I did try - it just wound up being the same thing over and over; "woe is me, I have a broken leg, everything is so difficult, poor Monster, boohoo", and who wants to read that? (Well, all right, if there's one thing having a blog has taught me it's that there are people out there who get turned on by the strangest things, so no doubt there are people who actually would have liked to read that. But that's not what this blog is for, and I'm not that kind of "monstermom"... Did you know I can see what search words led you to my blog? Yeah, that's right, I know what you're doing. Now go away, there's nothing for you here. Freaks.) Whew, got that off my chest - now where was I? Right, didn't want to whine on about the same thing all the time, couldn't seem to focus on anything else. So I've kept a bit quiet. Until now! You see, now is my moment of triumph!

Uh-huh... I don't think you're using that word right.

Big news: I AM FREE! The cast is gone! Woohoo, time to celebrate! Let's go for a six hour hike! Except... Did you know your leg doesn't work very well after five-six weeks in a cast? I actually did know that, and thought I was prepared for it. Turns out I was nowhere near prepared... It hurts. But that's fine, I can deal with pain (not well, mind you, but I can do it). But the leg just doesn't work right, and the foot won't bend. And I'm so weak! When I was in the cast I thought it was difficult controlling Monster physically in case he went nuts, the cast was cumbersome and made me slow and awkward. But it was also something truly rigid to lever against the momentum, so once (if) I'd managed to get into position there was little chance Monster could actually move me. Now, I've got nothing. Sure, the leg moves more easily now than it did with the cast on, but it's basically useless. I couldn't hold a cat bracing against that leg. I can barely walk...

I've noticed.

The physical therapist told me to take it easy and do my exercises. I'll do my exercises, but the "take it easy" part is bugging me. Why, exactly? Surely the more I use the leg the faster it'll get back to normal? As I understood it I was actually doing a lot better out of the cast than expected (clearly we had different expectations!), due to the amount of walking I've been doing. Then more walking is better, right? And surely, using my leg and foot for their actual purpose - rather than doing some repetitive exercises in my living room - must be the ultimate training for atrophied muscles? But it's really difficult... The pain isn't really all that bad, it's like a bad sprain (except it's not just my ankle but all the way from my toes to my knee) plus exercise soreness (the walk from the hospital to my ride home, 3-4 ks across town, was probably not a good idea in hindsight), and I know how to walk through a sprain. Basically, you just grit your teeth and do it. But the lack of control and the strange weakness is a bigger issue - if I lose my balance even a little bit, I've got a very slim chance of correcting. I can fall flat on my face because Monster turned his head to look at something and the tiny tug on the leash caused an infinitesimal shift in balance - and I can't really shift my balance... You know what this is? It's annoying, that's what it is! I get so irritated that my leg just won't do its job. But still. Even though right now I'm actually even slower and less in control than I was with the cast on, getting the cast off is still a huge milestone! While the leg feels ridiculously stubborn right now, at least I can start working on getting back to normal. With the cast on, every day was just something to get through. Now, finally, I can start actively working on improving.

Hm. Maybe...

The PT also told me I mustn't limp, since that's just a leftover from walking with the cast and if I keep doing it it'll become my permanent walk. Lady, I'm not limping because it's comfortable - I'm limping because it hurts to put weight on my leg! But all right, I'm being very careful to not limp. Promise. Even though that means every single step I take is slow and thought through, and I basically wind up walking like a bride down the isle. It feels (and no doubt looks) ridiculous, but I'm not limping (much). I'm not using the damned crutches though, that part you can just forget.