repost: I’m a Braille Reader

I’ve been totally blind since birth. My mother is also totally blind, so she knew the importance of literacy.
Ever since I was a baby, she read me stories; she says The Little Red Hen and Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti were two of my favorites. When I was a little older, I would put my hands on the braille, and since I had the story memorized, I would run my hands from left to right across the page, mimicking how I saw her reading.
When I was three, I entered preschool, where I immediately started braille instruction a few times per week, and by the time I entered kindergarten, I knew uncontracted and contracted braille.
After that, I was immersed in braille in school and at home. My textbooks, including math, were braille. The braille teacher made me stories for library time, or I brought books that I had gotten from my state library. All appliances were labeled; I remember standing in our kitchen reading the key for the microwave and asking my mom, “What does m I x spell, or why do you defrost in the microwave if it is supposed to cook things?” Cans of food had dymo tape, as did the spices, jars of jelly, and sometimes packages of frozen food. We had braille playing cards, board games with labels, and instructions for how to play them.
Because of this early instruction, I was a voracious reader. There were whole Saturdays where my mom and I would sit in the same room
Reading our individual books. When I went to relatives’ houses, they often said, “don’t you want to do something else besides read?”
I always took the opportunity to read anything I could get my hands on, and if I could keep the books, that was even better. For example, I was 10 when the National Federation of the blind had its annual convention in Atlanta. It was my first time there, and my mom took me to the free children’s books section. We had UPS mail me 32 books; they were Goosebumps, Anamorphs, and Babysitter’s Club and each one had two or three parts. My bookcase with three shelves was already crammed full, so two boxes were put in my room so I could make space for my new collection.
Being literate helped me participate fully in academics and in extra-curricular activities. That was so useful for all subjects, especially Algebra, geometry, and trig, where equations had several steps as well as biology, chemistry, and physics with tactile diagrams of gene problems, the periodic table, or graphs with acceleration and force per second.
Back then, writing and languages were my passions. I wrote stories for our high school newspaper, magazine, and year book, and I eventually became the copy editor where I edited for spelling, punctuation, AP style, and paragraph structure. I would not have been able to do that through listening to it on the computer. I also took one year of German, two years of French, and four years, including advanced placement, of Spanish. Learning languages has four distinct parts: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. If I hadn’t had braille, I would have missed a critical component of this experience. Listening is *NOT* literacy, and I would have missed accent marks and had extreme difficulty learning new words.
I went to college and have degrees in print journalism and sociology. I had many braille textbooks because I scanned them and put them into my notetaker, so I could read them on a braille display. Now, I am studying for my masters degree for teaching blind students.
Helping children enjoy reading leads to success in school and in life. Sadly, many blind children are denied the opportunity for literacy. Since I’m totally blind, there was never a question about my reading medium. However, children who have residual vision are made to struggle with print, reading 10 words per minute and experiencing eye strain headaches. These blind children don’t learn reading is fun and don’t realize true literacy can take them to any real or imaginary world; instead they learn reading is a struggle, and they fall behind academically, which will affect them for the rest of their lives. Too many times, teachers of blind students teach print because they either did not have adequate Braille instruction in their preparation programs, or they believe Braille is too hard, too slow, and old-fashioned. Not true. I was tested a few months ago and can read 180 words per minute out loud and more than 300 per minute silently; that is because I was taught early and encouraged to read.
Today is Read Across America where every child is encouraged to read a book in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. I read The Lorax on my Braille display. Creating life-long readers is a goal of this event, and blind children can be part of this group of people who never stop learning because they have access, through Braille, to the written word.

A very good down

This is my post for The 10th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival where the theme is Perfect 10.
Jory is my fourth guide dog, and we have been a team for almost 10 weeks. When I come home with a dog, there has always been a new skill to teach or an old skill that needs to be polished. Valerie had to learn to come on command, Zorro needed to heal, and Dee needed not to bark every time people came close to us or opened our stairway door leading to our floor in the apartment building.
Jory is an excellent guide dog, and she is 20 months old. She is fast-paced, confident in crowds, and loves to learn new skills. She can find railings for stairs, find rooms after going to them once or twice, and loves traveling. She heals, comes when called even if someone is petting or playing with a toy with her,and can hold a sit-stay for more than 20 minutes. However, the skill we are striving to perfect is the down. I cannot figure out why she doesn’t like to do it half the time. It doesn’t matter if she is in or out of harness, on carpet or tile, or in familiar or unfamiliar places. She especially doesn’t like to do it in small spaces, like on the floor in the front seat of a car or between my feat and the legs of a table. I could physically force her into a down, but I don’t like to train like that.
Clicker is my first method. She can put her nose on my hand and move to follow my fist. I moved my hand first with a treat to get her into position, and that helped some at first. After that, I took away the treat, moved my fist, and c/ted when she started going into the down position. I moved on to moving my fist and c/ted after she was completely down and settled. That works sometimes but not always. I am obviously miscommunicating somehow, or there is some reason why she doesn’t like to down, and I cannot figure out what it is.

It is especially frustrating in public or when I’m working. I go to the houses or schools of blind children and adults to teach braille and technology. I was sitting in someone’s kitchen and asked Jory to go under the table and down/stay. She went under and sat but didn’t lie down. She did the same thing in a restaurant with carpeted floors. If she does eventually lie down, she doesn’t stay. During a lions club meeting, she got up seven times and I couldn’t get her to get back into position.
I always carry a clicker and treat pouch with and c/t every time she immediately lies down on her own or with one command. It’s a high-value meat treat that I don’t give her for any thing else. I also pet/praise along with the treat in hopes that will make her think this is a fun game that she wants to win more often.
I asked her puppy raiser if she had any suggestions, and she said to try a blanket on the floor. Jory likes the blanket, but it doesn’t add to more downs. I asked my trainer and school for suggestions. They looked in her file and it says she had this problem when she was a puppy too. They said try a leash correction or more leash cues. I tried it a couple of times, and it doesn’t help at all. In fact, it makes Jory dig in and refuse even harder.
With each dog, I learn something new. This time, I think it is if one method doesn’t work, try something else till she understands. I don’t expect her to be perfect, but I’ll be happy when she is very good and happily lying on the carpet or tile in and out of harness.

GDB: days 10-graduation

Today was nice and easy. It was the traffic route this morning when Kelly drove the hybrid car to show us our dog’s reactions to moving vehicles. Since there was only one car, all six of us sat in the lounge and had to go out one at a time. That reminded me a little of the four-week classes of sit around and wait, but it was nice talking more to everyone. Jory did well. We missed Kelly the first time because we were walking too fast for him to pull out in time. He got us on the next block. Our first one was where he drove straight at us from the front, and Jory had to push me and back straight up. I had to remind myself that it was ok and take a deep breath because it reminded me of when Dee saved me from getting killed by a bus. Kelly did the backup check one more time, and Jory did her job. Then, at various points on the route, he drove in front of us and she completely stopped moving as well as behind us where Jory had to speed up. Finally, we had total barricades. That was easy, just have her show me, go to the street, and forward,/left back to the sidewalk. We have construction in Ruston right now, so Jory will have more times to use this skill.
Th afternoon was easy. We went to campus where we got the fun facts about your puppy Jory was raised by a woman and her daughter in Newport Beach, Calif. She loved to play with their pet German shepherd and was raised around horses and livestock. Jory loved going everywhere, but her favorite place was the beach. We also had the vet lecture about keeping our dogs trim and in good working condition. Jory had no health problems. She just had diarrhea once because she ate something she shouldn’t have.
Finally, we had the night route. I am totally blind, so that didn’t matter at all to me. Jory was a little more cautious on a couple blocks, but there was not really any difference for her either.
Wednesday, we went to Berkley to work on taking the train and get a crowded downtown experience. I had some lemon tea at Lock, Stock and Bagel while my classmate worked her route. It was nice to be sitting somewhere other than the lounge. I forgot her booties, so Emily found an entrance with stairs since the dogs are not supposed to do escalators without paw protection. Jory is getting better at the stairs. I worked with her on targeting the handrail, and she had fun doing that. We did platform refusal. I had Jory closest to the edge of the platform and told her left left, and she sped up. We turned around, and I told her right right, and again, she sped up and refused. She targeted the turnstile, and we got on the train. The first time, she almost slid her one front paw off the edge of the platform because she was quickly getting on the train before the doors closed. It was funny; when we got off, we moved just as quickly, but Emily said she looked at her paws and the ground when we moved.
Shatuck Avenue was crowded. There were several people with strollers, dogs, college students. There were also several obstacles: tables, chairs, winding paths, ETC. I love working Jory in the city. She wagged her tail the hardest on this route. She was totally excited when she took me around large groups of people and picked up her line to the curb. I travel a couple times per year to Minneapolis, D.C., Philly, ETC., so I’m excited to take Jory with me on all of those adventures.
In the afternoon, we went to the Dominican college campus. I’m a grad student in Louisiana, so this will be important. We back chained a route to the library. I kept for getting to slow my body and gestures while making a moving turn, so Jory missed it three times. Once I got my body in the correct position, she understood what I wanted. I clicked and treated at all the important points: the entrance to the bridge, the turn at the top of the hill, and the stairs that led to the library. We walked back and to the library again twice before going back to the van. On the way back, Jory wanted to take me over the grass, so I told her to be careful. She tried to take me over the grass again a second time, but the third time, she took the deep left turn on to the sidewalk.
Thursday morning, we went back to the college campus. Jory was soooo incredibly slow. Emily says physical correction and leash gestures make Jory dig in her heels and slow even more. I thought if we keep going like this, it’s going to take an hour to go three blocks. Emily asked if Jory needed to relieve, and I said she shouldn’t since she peed and pooped at 7 am. A few minutes later, I said I’m going to relieve Jory since that was such odd behavior for her. As soon as I took of the harness, she went to the grass and pooped again. That teaches me to listen to my dog’s signals. As soon as she was finished and reharnessed, she picked up her normal trotting pace with tail wags.
This time, we were backchaining the path that led to the hill. There were four Jory could choose. I love clicker training, and so does Jory. Once we got her consistently taking initiative and showing me the bottom of the hill, we worked to the library where she happily targeted the door inside and empty chairs for us to sit for a couple minutes. We walked back to the parking lot and did the route one final time. Emily said she wasn’t even thinking about any other paths; she was completely focused on getting me over the bridge to the bottom of the hill and right to the library. Lots of kibble and physical/verbal praise at the end.
In the afternoon, we did sidewalkless with cars parked in the road. I was better this time about remembering to check left along the edge. I clicked and treated Jory for pointing her nose at parked cars instead of using her iniative to take me around them.
Yesterday morning was our final trip. We went to Muir woods. Jory was excited because there were so many good smells in the air. Emily changed her harness from a 46 to a 44 because Jory has been escaping the harness when she is lying down. We all set out at a quick pace. My hip and shin splints were hurting some on this hike, but it was worth it. We stopped and took some nice pictures on a bridge near a creek. We also took photos inside a tree. It was weird. It was totally hollowed out and was open in the front with three on three sides. I stood inside and Jory sat. On the trail back, she showed nice caution going around other hikers. Emily said she looked like a car on a busy road. She sped up and stopped quickly, sped up and stopped quickly until she saw a wide enough opening for us to pass between people. Emily said she looked as if she were smiling with her ears forward and tail out. We also stopped in the gift shop where I bought dangling redwood bead earrings and a tree keychain that says Muir Woods National Monument.
In the afternoon, admissions brought us the binders with all the vet info, puppy info, guide dog resources, ID, access cards, and food coupons. I also got a box of cookies from Linda. They are yummy! All of my classmates happily took several cookies, and we had a before-dinner snack.
Today was graduation!!! I was happy to find out Jory’s raisers came. They flew in this morning from Newport Beach. They are nice. Jory was soooooooo excited to see them. She ran from one person to the other and kept spinning in circles and wiggling her butt. They were happy to hear my roommate has a dog because they said one of her favorite activities is playing with other dogs. They also said she was considered for the breeding program, but she was rejected because she has a pink nose and pink in her eyes. Jory also likes to tug on a rope. We got pictures together with the professional photographer. Poor Jory was confused. I clicker trained her to sit in front of the chair then scoot her butt back and under, so the end result is Jory lying down with her body beneath the chair and her head sticking out. The photographer wanted her to sit beside me, and she kept scooting and going under. It took a couple minutes of letting her know I wanted a sit this time before we got good photos.
Graduation was nice and short! We finished in fewer than 35 minutes. I was sitting there and one of the puppy raisers started to cry. I almost did too. Jory sat nicely while the puppy raisers and I spoke to thank the instructors, classmates, ETC. They had to get a plain at 4, so they said goodbye right away and left. We have each other’s phone numbers and email addresses, so we will keep in touch. We have already imessaged each other photos.
I am sooo excited to go home tomorrow. Jory is an amazing guide, and I hope to work with her for many years!

GDB days 5-9

Thursday was another rainy day. In the morning, Jory and I extended our route by a block to go into the courthouse to work on stairs. Stairs are something we still need to practice some more. Emily thinks she wasn’t sure I found the stairs with my foot, and she stopped at the top of every one. It took a while to get down all three flights, but she was faster on the last one.
Thursday afternoon was a little dryer, and we did our route again. Go south to forth street, turn east and cross E, turn north and go to fifth, turn east and cross D, C, B, turn south back to forth st, and turn west back across C and D to go to café du cirque. We did this route for the final time Friday morning, and I celebrated by having hot green tea at the café.
Friday afternoon, Emily took us to a path/hiking trail. Jory was excited and air scenting a little. It was bumpy and a little rocky. Jory was unsure at first because Emily said she had never been on such a steep hill before. We took it slowly and she did a good job.
Saturday morning, we went to the mall. I hung out in front of a store while Emily worked with my classmate. We did escalator work. I put Jory’s back booties on, and we got the usual comments of “why does the doggy have shoes?” There is a train that goes through Northgate mall, so Jory was a good girl and traffic checked it both times.
We got to the escalator in Macy’s, and I worked with Jory on targeting the handrail instead of the middle of the metal plate. Jory is a fast learner. I’ve been using hand targeting to teach her new things: find the sink, elevator button, door handle, back up, lie down long ways, and sit between my knees and down. She is always excited to see my right hand, so she had fun enthusiastically learning the railing. She was a little slow exiting escalators at first. I put more enthusiasm into my voice, and she happily worked off the last escalator.
We also stopped at See’s candies. I’ve never had their chocolate before. I had a sample of a cream truffle, and it was delicious. I bought a chocolate bar and some sour stars, and Jory did well sitting at the counter while I paid.
In the afternoon, we went to Sausalito. It wasn’t raining there!!! It is a nice area. On Jory’s side of the path was the bay, and on my side of the path was a street. She liked looking at the waves for a few seconds and got distracted by someone reeling in a live fish. There were also several dogs on this walk both on and off leash. Jory was distracted at first, but after a few times, she walked right passed them and got a halt and kibble for being such a good girl. I waited for my classmate at a coffee shop and had an éclair and water.
Yesterday was nice; finally a day off!!! It was of course windy and raining again. On the way to breakfast, we were coming from carpet on to the tile before the hotel restaurant, and I fell. My hip was sore from that. I was sitting on the floor for a minute, and Jory kept nudging me with her nose. After that, she has been very cautious in approaching the tile even though the fall wasn’t her fault. The rest of the day, I groomed Jory, played kong with her, and mostly slept. Our internet has been down since Saturday, so I didn’t really have anything else to do yesterday.
Today was awesome! We went into San Francisco! I’ve never been to California before, so I was excited to see a new city. We hung out at a coffee shop again, and I had some more green tea and chatted with a classmate while waiting for my turn. We had many four-way stop signs and lighted intersections. I have mild hearing loss and auditory processing disorder, so I was glad to be in this environment. Noise is hard for me sometimes because I have trouble telling from which direction sounds were coming. It gave me many chances to practice keeping my line while listening to traffic and trusting Jory to go straight even when I’m not too sure. I feel again too, not Jory’s fault this time either. I was walking and my shoestring got caught on some metal pipe sticking out of the sidewalk. Now, my hip is definitely sore, and I think I will be moving a little slower tomorrow.
Jory did an excellent job targeting all up curbs. She also showed caution around outside tables, strollers, and running children. We crossed several lighted intersections before taking a bus and walking back to the coffee shop.
We came back to San Rafael this afternoon. We first went to Petco where I picked up a tuffy ring and a collapsible silicon bowl to keep in my backpack. Jory got distracted by a little dog and wanted to sniff some dog food, but I was pleasantly surprised she didn’t try to jump at toys or pull too hard.
After that, she got to have some off-leash time in the grass paddock at GDB. She did lab scoots and ran some circles. She had more fun with the clicker because we practiced off-leash recalls. She also enjoyed playing on the agility teeter-totter, ramps, and running the tunnel.
Finally, we did country work this afternoon. It was a quiet road. Sometimes we wandered out too far to the right because I forgot to keep telling her to halt and check for left. We have sidewalkless where I live, but all the traffic is coming from a lighted intersection towards us. Since it is so busy, I have no problem staying left and keeping my dog left. Jory got much better by the end in anticipating staying left, and I got better at checking.
Tomorrow, we are doing the traffic route, more sidewalkless, going to campus to meet with admissions, and having the night route. Jory is doing an amazing job for me. I love having her and working her, and she is an excellent successor after Dee!

GDB days 1-4

Yesterday, I left Minneapolis for GDB!!! I had a nice nonstop flight to San Francisco. I got to the airport where I chatted with classmates for three hours till all of us were here. We got on the bus and rode for about an hour to the hotel. Dinner was good. I have several food allergies, and the staff has been very accommodating. I had a BLT without the bread or dressing. Afterwards, we had info from the nurse. We can do yoga on Tuesdays, and there is someone who charges $1 per minute for a massage. When that was over, I unpacked and went to bed since I was exhausted.
My alarm went off too early today; I could have happily slept for a couple more hours. We met in the restaurant for breakfast before going downtown to the lounge. Laurie and Amy from admissions had us sign our guide dog user contracts and contact info/public release. My instructor is Emily Courage. We worked on the handling techniques. Something that is new to me is the time-out. When the dog is really distracted by something, like seeing another dog, we move our left hand down the leash, bring the dog in closer to the hip, and have him/her sit for 10 seconds. After that, we tell him/her forward, and when it is back on task, we halt and treat.
I got my dog! She is a 1.5-year-old female yellow lab named Jury. Her pace and pull are exactly what I’m looking for. She’s efficient and quick. She showed me all the down and up curbs, and we made it through a dog distraction with a time out.
She is very playful and cuddly. She wags her tail a lot, and she sat in my lap for a few minutes before curling up in a doggy donut and falling asleep.
She relieved at our final time. I’m so excited to have her, and I can’t wait to work her more tomorrow morning!

Yesterday morning, Jory was energetic and excited to see me as soon as she woke up. She pooped at the 8:15 relieving, and we got in the van to go to the downtown lounge. We had a nice long walk for 10 blocks or so, and our destination is café du cirque or something like that. She kept a fast pace the whole way there.
In the afternoon, we worked the same route with Kelly, the class supervisor, serving as a distraction. I had Jory sit, waited a few seconds, and gave her a treat when she got past him and refocused. That wasn’t the proper way to do a time out; I was confused, so we did Juno work for a few blocks after we got back. Its pull out the leash with the right hand, slide the left hand near the bottom bolt snap, and pull her over to my side and wait for 10 seconds. She can be sitting or standing and looking at the distraction or not. I look away from her and don’t talk to her. Then, I pick up the handle, ask her to go forward, and if she ignores the distraction, halt and treat. I also had to work on my left turns because I was trying to do moving ones and not the ones where I stop then turn.
We got toys yesterday. I haven’t tried her with the kong, but she was excited for the nylabone. She chewed it on her rug for at least a half hour before curling up in a ball to sleep before dinner. We also got the grooming kits with a double-sided pin and soft bristle brush, a zoom groom, two toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a washcloth. I haven’t groomed her yet but plan to soon.
Today was disgusting and rainy. We all looked like ducks with our bright yellow raincoat and rain pants. Jory seems to enjoy the rain. She walked me through all the puddles, and I wish I had my second pair of shoes with me. I didn’t know I was going to GDB before I left for Minneapolis 1.5 months ago, otherwise I would have packed them and brought a different bag. She figured out which surfaces would be slippery and where she could walk at our normal pace. She slowed down for both leaves and the metal grates in the sidewalk. I’m hoping this skill will carry over to icy sidewalks and hills in the winter. I don’t want her to injure herself like Dee did because that eventually led to her retirement.
In the afternoon, it was only sprinkling a little. She worked well passed the distracting Kelly. She blew a couple curbs this time, so we reworked them, and she got them on the second try.
Finally, we went to the grocery store because I needed to get more food for the refrigerator in my room. Safeway was extremely crowded. This was good practice for Jory because she needs to learn that it is sometimes appropriate to steady down to an in-door pace. She bumped my right side into the handle of a cart, so we asked the person to stay there for a few seconds for a rework. She did well going around all the displays and maneuvering me out of the way of people with shopping carts who cut us off randomly. Now, I have more fruit, vegetables, chips, and a little bit of chocolate.
Jory did not want to sit in the store. Emily and I decided she probably really needed to poop. She did. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I took her outside, and she went in about 20 seconds.
She is the typical lab who inhales her food in under 30 seconds. She gets two cups in the morning and one at night. Now, I am lying on my bed with the handle of the long leash around my leg. Jory is lying on the floor beside my bed curled up in a ball fast asleep. I’m going to wake her up for the final relieving, and then I’m going to read for awhile and go to bed.

health recovery center update

Craziness, I haven’t blogged for awhile.
Last week, fluconazole, the anti-candida drug, really made me feel awful for a few days. That was the sign it was working. I had muscle aches, headache, dizziness, nausea, feeling as if my body were weighted down, and exhausted. There were a few times where I had to keep telling myself to walk straight when crossing streets, and I spent awhile figuring which street I was on and where the building was.
One evening, I skipped lectures and groups. I had to walk around the apartment twice before I could find the room where I am sleeping. I sat on the floor choking down cucumbers and cashews, so I could take my with meal supplements. I don’t want to think how I would feel if I weren’t taking 12 probiotic capsules per day!
I finished the last dose of fluconazole Tuesday, and I feel much better. I’ve been able to concentrate much better when listening to lectures, watching videos, and reading.
I am slightly hypothyroid. I am taking one ioderol tablet before breakfast as well as two tyrosine before breakfast and two before lunch. They said the tyrosine should also help with my apathy and lack of motivation, so I’m hopeful.
My heavy metal urine test came back normal!!! Only my copper is 0.25 points higher than it should be, so my biochemical counselor told me to find a multi vit/mineral that doesn’t have any copper. She added one querella tablet at bedtime. Finally, they added two tablets of a different form of b6 since I am so pyroluric.
Wednesday was awesome! Molly, my biochemical counselor, brought in lunch for everyone from the wedge coop. We had two kinds of hummus, pesto, almond butter, and cashew butter. There was chicken curry salad, some other kind of chicken salad, and tuna and sardines, which I didn’t eat. We had carrots, celery, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. The meat was my favorite part! I ate lots of ham, sausage, beef, turkey, and salami.
I wasn’t supposed to test beef till next week, but I thought it was another kind of sausage. I filled out the five minutes after eating and the 30 minutes after eating chart, and I had no symptoms. I can now add beef back into my diet every four days!
Right now, I am on the second day of my four-day fast. Fasting will clear the body of the rest of the toxins and give me more mental clarity. They said the first day is the hardest, and they were right! I was soooooo hungry all day yesterday. Oh, my adrenal glands are totally shot. Since I’m extremely hypoglycemic, I should have been shaky, sweating, dizzy, headaches, ETC since my before my blood sugar stabilized. I didn’t have any of those symptoms. I kept smelling food yesterday and wanting it. I also spent awhile looking up recipes and brands of food. The cravings were back for a few hours too. I really wanted cheese!
During the fast, I am taking only 35 supplements all day. That was a nice motivator for me to do the fast; with the new pills, I’m at 105 supplements per day. It’s also nice not to think about what am I going to eat! I’m taking one scoop of vitamin c powder in the morning and bedtime, five plant enzyme capsules four times per day,, three digestive capsules in the morning and afternoon, two liver support capsules in the morning and afternoon, two magnesium capsules, and two melatonin capsules at bedtime. I’m slightly hungry, but food isn’t consuming my thoughts like it was yesterday.
After the fast, I am going to test food next week to see how it affects me. I test one food per day at breakfast and fill out the five minutes after and 30 minutes after to look for reactions. At first, I will take my pulse, right down my mood, how my stomach feels before eating. Five and thirty minutes later, I take the pulse again. If it is 20 beats per minute faster than it was before eating, I’m allergic. If there is any nausea, diarrhea, itching, mood swings, sleepiness or exhaustion, ETC, I’m allergic. The delayed reaction can happen any where from 2-72 hours later, so it will be something to watch too. I’m testing eggs, rice, peanut butter, corn, and cheese.
I got my flight info for going to GDB. I leave at 10 am Dec. 25, and I have a nonstop flight to San Francisco! There are just 11 more days till I get my new dog!!!

The ninth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival

Here is the ninth edition of the assistance dog blog carnival!!! Thanks to everyone who participated. 🙂 This time, the theme was moments.

Katie from Bipolar Spirit wrote how her psychiatric puppy in training helps calm and ground her in her post Intuitive Service Dog
Patti from Plays with Puppies wrote about watching the birth of leader dog puppies in her post A Moment When Anything is Possible
Karyn from Through a Guide’s Eyes wrote about service dogs who kept her alive in her post Saving a Life or Two
Flo from A Mutt and His Pack wrote about moments with an older service dog and the puppy in training in the post In Transition
L-squared wrote about quiet memorable moments with her guide dogs in her post Moments of Greatness
Sharon from After Gadget wrote about the ways her service dog makes her life easier in her post With a New Service Dog the Moments Are Many, Stark, and Blended
In Freda Writes, there are moments from birth to now 1.5 years later in the post Moments of Epiphany: My First Eighteen Months with a Service Dog
Cyndy from Gentle Wit wrote about moments when her guide dog is working but stationary in her post Quiet Moments
Kathie from Kathie Comments wrote about moments of teamwork in her post Happy   White Cane Safety  Day Celebrated with Yellow Guide Dog
Brooke from Ruled by Paws wrote about saying goodbye to her second dog guide in her post He Said it Was Time

days 11-14

Saturday was sad. Someone brought bean salad, so that was breakfast I didn’t have to make. We watched a video where a mom had her kid taken away because she refused to put him on anti-depressants. It also showed parents of children who had committed suicide because of Prozac.

Sunday, my friend made stew with beans, beef, tomatoes, celery, and spices. That is also the day I started to increase my hydrochloric acid tablets. The goal was to increase them till I felt some burning, pain, or other discomfort. When it reaches that point, that means I have enough hcl and can decrease the dose. So, I took three with lunch and four with dinner. Monday morning, I had more stew and took five. OMG, I definitely knew I had too much HCL at five capsules. I had burning, paining, nausea, and stomach issues. I was planning on going to the health food store that morning, but that was not happening. I went into the lecture in the afternoon and the nutrition counselor asked me how I was. I told her I felt fine when I woke up, but then I had too much HCL. She said there was some tablet or baking soda that could neutralize it if I was suffering then, but I said it had stopped a couple hours ago. She also said she forgot to tell me about the stomach issues, and that she had the same problem when she was doing the hcl increase. The good news is that I produce enough hcl naturally, so now, I can take two or three capsules depending on the size of my meal.

Tuesday, I saw a different doctor who prescribed me fluconazole. It’s the only drug I take during this program. It is one of the strongest anti-fungals that will kill a candida infection in 15 days. He says people usually feel die off symptoms (aches, extreme cravings, stomach issues, nausea, increased depression, ETC) for 2-4 days. However, everyone I’ve seen here experiences them for at least a week. Oh the joy. So far, I’m tired, but it’s hard to tell why. My muscles also hurt, and I have random nausea. One moment I’m fine, and the next 10 5 minutes or so, I’m not.

Yesterday, I did the test for heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, cadmium, lead, ETC in the blood. I had to fast and stop taking all supplements after midnight. I had eggs at 10 pm and last supplements at 11. That was not fun since I am extremely hypoglycemic. I woke up hungry and thirsty, but I could only have 32 ounces of water during the six hours. The nurse gave me five pills to get the toxic metals moving through my body. It was a urine test, so I had to collect it every time I went to the bathroom. By the time the test was done, it was 3:30. I saw the nutritional counselor for a couple minutes and again, I said I was tired. She said since all the heavy metals were moving through my system, I’m having candida die-off, and I’m hypoglycemic and hadn’t eaten for more than 12 hours, that was no surprise. I went to chipotle and got a bowl with beef, beans, salsa, and lettuce. I really wanted tacos with cheese and sour cream, but no corn or dairy till I see my food allergy test results.

I am really having food cravings. I really want cheese! I also really really want cookies. My friend baked dozens of them for Halloween, and they smelled amazing. One of my friends is having her large meal at blind Inc. Friday, and I’ll go and eat some salad. She’s also having chicken alfredo, garlic bread, and sherbet, sad.

Today, I meet with the nutritional counselor for my official appointment of the week. We’re waiting on thyroid results, histamine, elementals, and some other thing. She said the results might not be there yet. They were supposed to come back last week, so who knows.

Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed by pills. I have a pill tray with seven little boxes. Each box is one day and has four sections. I put pills with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after food. I also have one box with seven sections that I fill daily with supplements before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, an hour before bedtime, and a half hour before bedtime. Sunday night, when I was filling for the week, I was like omg I can’t do this. I am ok again now, but it took a couple days. I have 19 days left in this program, so I am almost halfway through!

I honestly don’t remember anything we did Tuesday.

Wednesday was the glucose tolerance test. I had to fast and take all supplements at midnight. In the morning, I had to drink this lemon lime drink that reminded me of freezer pops or hugs, the drink in little jugs that I had when I was a kid. They also took blood for cholesterol, candida, histamine, and the food allergy test. The first two hours were horrible. I’ve been reading braille since I was three, and I had a hard time. I couldn’t tell if metal was metal or mental and many more like that. It took me a half hour to fill out a thyroid symptom sheet that should have taken me five minutes at most. I also couldn’t cut, copy, paste, save ETC on my notetaker. I was shaky too. The last three hours were bad too. I was sooo extremely hungry. After that, I ate three hard-boiled eggs, cashews, and spinach with broccoli. I went to some lecture for an hour. Then there was a group lecture a couple hours later, but I don’t remember that either.

Later that night, I moved myself and all my stuff to another friend’s apartment for a couple weeks.

Thursday, I was still exhausted. I had my third iv with vitamin c, b-complex, and other vitamins and minerals. I had a two-hour long session with Molly, my biochemical counselor who adjusts my supplements and diet. The director of the center said “I haven’t seen results like yours in my 30 years here.” I am extremely hypoglycemic. My blood sugar was in the normal range for the first hour. The second and third hour, it was 20 points higher than it should have been. The fourth hour was normal. However, in the fifth hour, my blood sugar dropped from 83 down to 37. That is not safe at all and explains why I can get so confused and disoriented if I haven’t eaten for a few hours. I wasn’t surprised with that result. They said by that point, my adrenal glands should have kicked in, but they never did. There is a problem with my adrenaline function.

I am also extremely pyroluric. People with normal kryptopyrroles score 0-15, but my score was 77. Pyroluria is a genetic blood disorder. According to the primal body primal mind website, “During the synthesis of hemoglobin in the body there are waste products generated called kryptopyrroles. Kryptopyrroles don’t really serve any useful biological purpose and are normally excreted by most of us uneventfully. In someone with pyroluria, however, these kryptopyrroles don’t get excreted and will tend to build up–even more so under stress of any kind. It turns out that kryptopyrroles have a tendency to bind very strongly with things like zinc and vitamin B6, making them largely unavailable to the body…which is a very big problem. Zinc and B6, of course, are nutrients critical for the functioning of your entire body and mind–including your digestion, immune system, cognitive functioning and emotions.”

I have several symptoms of this:

  1. Little or no dream recall
  2. White spots on finger nails
  3. Poor morning appetite +/- tendency to skip breakfast
  4. Traveling is particularly stressful
  5. Much higher capability and alertness in the evening, compared to mornings
  6. Difficulty digesting
  7. Tendency toward being a loner and/or avoiding larger groups of people
  8. Frequently experience fatigue
  9. A tendency toward anemia
  10. Prone to acne, eczema or psoriasis
  11. Difficulty recalling past events or people
  12. Bouts of depression
  13. Prone to frequent colds or infections

I will be supplementing with:


  • B6 three capsules before breakfast and three before lunch
  • b-complex three before breakfast and three before lunch
  • zinc: two before lunch and three before dinner
  • pantothenic acid: 4 before dinner

I also have candida, no surprise there either. I have probiotics and a multi-flora. Next week, I will be taking fluconazole to get rid of the infection. I’m not looking forward to it because it makes all depression symptoms, sugar cravings, and gluten cravings worse.

My stomach issues have been caused by too much vitamin c and magnesium. Right now, we have reduced it to a quarter teaspoon before breakfast and bedtime and two capsules of magnesium before breakfast and bedtime. I hope that helps.

This afternoon, we had check in. I said my biggest improvement was that I felt really well today. I slept for seven hours last night. Also, for the first time in several years, I could focus during the two-hour check ins, food discussion, and video. This video talked about sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It is found in everything from pizza sauce to the more obvious ones like soda. Pilots are not allowed to drink diet sodas because the aspartame can cause vision problems and issues concentrating. MSG can make people fat.

This evening, we play jeopardy again and have another lecture. I absolutely need to go grocery shopping because I am out of meat and almost out of vegetables.

audiologist and day 6

Yesterday, a friend helped me find the audiologist at the University of Minnesota. I could have figured it out if I had to by myself, but it was nice to be with someone who knew the neighborhood.

My audiologist in Louisiana gave me the standard hearing test which indicated borderline/mild hearing loss. He gave me amplifiers; they helped a little, but they didn’t explain why I was still having difficulty with traffic, sound localization, noisy places and crowds, and not hearing some sounds correctly. Sometimes I have trouble with endings of words like mouse/mouth, beef/beans, first/fourth, second/seventh, etc. I was at the audiologist yesterday. First, they did the standard stuff.: checked my ears for wax or fluid, tested eardrum mobility, and did the test with the 8 high to low frequency tones. It confirmed the borderline/mild hearing loss on my last audiogram, but they suggested doing the test for audio processing disorder. I’ve heard of it in some of my reading for teaching and research, but I wasn’t very familiar with it. First, they had me listen to speech with no background noise at conversational volume, and I only missed shall and said shell. People with standard auditory processing ability score 7 to 13 on all of these tests. Next, there was the man speaking in a muffled voice, and I got a 5. After that, I had to repeat words. They played one word in my left ear and one in my right ear at the same time. I had to first repeat the one in the right then the one in the left. I scored a one. Next, I had to just repeat the one in the right ear, and then just the one in the left ear and scored a 1 on both of those.

There was a test to repeat words with restaurant noise, and I scored a one. Finally, they played two different sentences in each ear at the same time, and I had to ignore the one in my right ear. Sometimes, I could repeat only the beginning, the sentence with some words left out, or only the end. I scored a 1 on these tests too.

The audiologist said there were sound therapies or more tests I could take if I wanted. However, she said the diagnosis was clear, and the sound therapy research showed that it didn’t improve people’s ability to distinguish sounds more easily, so I’m not going to do it. She recommended a personal amplifier, which I already have, and an FM system. I wear receivers on my ears, and someone else has the wireless microphone. If my vocational rehab can pay for it, that would help me, especially when I’m around many children or need to hear people who are further away from me.

After that, I went to the health center. The lecture was about probiotics and how they help build back the good flora and bacteria in the gut after a candida infection. Then, I had a meeting with the mental health counselor. I just filled out basic information and told her how I ended up at the center. Finally, there was a video May I be Frank? It was about a man who was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and it showed his recovery from start to finish. It was realistic and one of the best videos I’ve seen here so far. It also makes me thankful I’m not detoxing from alcohol and drugs like many in my group at the HRC.