Back and Better

We are back! We are great! We are loving life!
It has been far too long since I have been on here sharing our adventures. As always, things have been busy and exciting, hard and exhausting, fun and surprising. We worked on a horse farm and it was glorious.

I am not always excited to get up in the morning and head to work but when it is for a building full of furry, snorting, poo factories I am SO there. It was a great job, laid back, low pressure with someone who knows and LOVES Judah. Judah loves being a farm dog, truly, madly, deeply loves it.


This is Judah 'helping' with sawdust.

So that’s what we did, we were barn brats… And it was glorious!
     We did that until February when the farm changed hands. It was the perfect thing for us to do, the perfect place for us to get back to ourselves again. I was able to bring my nephews to the farm to ride (and help do farm chores, duh).


The boys of course loved it. Marshall even started riding! I was able to get back to riding as well and you want to talk about healing… THE BEST.
     While I was disappointed when it wrapped up I took more than just a happier husky away from that job. I was back to my bliss, I remembered how happy felt. It gave me motivation to get the rest of my life back to that place. The bright shiny place.
     And really what matters is that Judah and I are back!


Get ready for more stories, adventures, lessons, friends and finally PICTURES! (That’s right, I finally have the ability to regularly take photographs, yay! Now everyone can bask in the cuteness that are my creatures).


The Graduation, The Diabetes and The Dog.

As I mentioned before we just spent a week in Pennsylvania, we were there for my little brother’s (known from here on out as ‘Midge’) graduation from college. It was very exciting to see his campus for the first time and get to see him in cap and gown, what a day. I don’t mean to take away from the joy of Midge’s accomplishments, but I admit there was a part of that day that rivaled my brother’s success.

We were onto week 2 of Judah being restricted to his leash because of a leg full of stitches, so needless to say this husky had some cabin fever but he was handling himself very well. We stood outside of the building graduation was happening in and waited for what seemed like forever. There were a limited number of seats and we wanted to make sure we were in the building where graduation was actually happening and didn’t want to end up watching it on a projection screen. My mother was the second person in line (of course) so we were guaranteed good seats. When they finally opened the doors we made our way to the middle of the room near the aisle. My parents and Marshall and I settled into our seats with Judah and I on the aisle for more space and an easy exit if necessary. Judah was more alert than he usually was by this point but I figured it was a new place and a strange place at that, plus he had just alerted to a low (very LOW by the time I actually tested) and I was sure I was now rising fast from over correcting. He alerted high and I checked (188 mg/dl), small correction and back to waiting. As the room filled up Judah became more and more distracted.

I expected a certain amount of unusual behavior from Judah in this strange setting, with not enough exercise, so far from home- but he was taking that to an extreme. He wouldn’t sit still, at all. He kept trying to touch the man sitting in front of me, with his snout, with his foot, with his body he didn’t care he just had to touch the guy. I am nearly certain that this man (and the other people around us) didn’t think there was anything going on, but knowing Judah and how he usually handles himself I was embarrassed. Then after ten minutes or so of trying to molest the man in front of me he began to pant, and SHED like crazy!

I am a stickler for a clean, not excessively shedding service dog. It is spring and Judah is a husky mix so… there is a lot of hair going on. I brush him every day for a long time to ensure that I don’t run into this embarrassing shedding issue. I mean, you could see the hair all around him on the floor! It was awful. My mom and I thought it was the acoustics of the room (it was a big gym) perhaps freaking him out, I thought I was going to have to take him outside. During all the restlessness Marshall had pointed out that there was no way for us to know if there were other diabetics in the room, good point, but really what am I supposed to do?! I can’t exactly stand up and say, “Excuse me could all the diabetics in this room please check their glucose? My dog thinks someone is having a problem.”

Eventually the man sitting in front of me turned around and struck up conversation to pass the time. Turns out he was a dog person and was very interested in what I was training Judah for. Oh geez… here we go. I explained that he is in fact my service dog and that he is a medical alert dog who alerts to my blood sugars etc. Then man replied, “I have that problem too. I am a type 2 diabetic.” I couldn’t help it, I laughed and looked at Marshall who just shook his head and grinned.

“Well, Judah has been trying to alert you since you sat down here” (it had been nearly 45 minutes).
The man looked stunned. His wife leaned over to become part of the conversation and he filled her in, she replied, “Well maybe you should check your sugar.”
have been.” He stated.
“It is high!” He pointed up and I couldn’t help but notice what looked like excitement on his face. “You are so smart, what a good dog!”

With that Judah curled up and with a big sigh went to sleep. With the exception of a few position shifts during the 3+ hour graduation, he didn’t move again. Well he did once, to alert to my low blood sugar (guess I shouldn’t have corrected the earlier high!). After the ceremony was over and the hundreds of people made a mass exodus Judah glued himself to my side and we were able to weave through the crowd with most people not even noticing he was there. What a good boy…

"Stupid human, see once I told him I could sleep.."

“Stupid human, see once I told him I could sleep..”

OH! Did I mention that one of my brother’s classmates graduated alongside her seizure alert service dog?! It was awesome to see! They even announced his name with her’s and he wore a cap, it was GREAT! 🙂

A Lesson in Spanish…

We recently took a ‘vacation’ to Pennsylvania to attend my little brother’s (I call him Midge, developed from midget when we were kids, this is no longer true- he is nearly a foot taller than I am) graduation from college! We hired a friend to come and stay with all our critters and Marshall, Judah and I packed our things and ourselves into the VW Rabbit and hit the road. In all the hussle of getting ready I never slowed down long enough to realize that Judah had never been on a trip overnight where we were staying in a rented room. We always stay with friends or family and he is almost never without any of the other animals. This would certainly be a test! OH! And did I mention that he had been ‘on leash restricted’ for a week with one more to go from his foot/leg full of stiches? A husky required to ‘keep calm’ and restricted to a leash does not a relaxed dog make, but well, I trust him- he’s a good boy and takes his job seriously.

It was a long drive (plus we never like to go the most direct route, you miss too much that way!) and nearly 9 hours after 2 false starts from the house we arrived in Drums, PA. We were staying in a timeshare my mom rented through her work, a two bedroom place for the two (well three) of us. It was literally about 10 feet from the water- poor Judah, he loves to swim… oh stiches.

It was a nice view :)

It was a nice view 🙂

We had a good time, there were TONS of birds around where we were staying! Orioles, all kinds of sparrows and swallows, geese, ducks, king fishers, hawks, black birds, cow birds, and even a SWAN that hung out each morning right off our patio- it was amazing. Judah was GREAT about all the activity of the critters, he watched but didn’t try to chase and even tried making friends with the swan and a couple geese, they weren’t into it.
We made 2 trips to the local walmart while in Drums. After we left the first time I told Marshall I enjoyed NOT being stared at the whole time I was there. At home we get watched constantly, I understand and I try to be friendly and a good ambassador but I do use a service dog to live a more normal life. While we were in this particular walmart not one person stopped me, not one person pointed and whispered, and not one person touched him- I admit it was refreshing. I enjoyed it I think, it really was vacation! Our second trip to the local walmart was possibly the most humiliating experience I have ever had.

We were trying to make a quick trip to grab some snacks, pizzas and some other odds and ends and we came around the end of an aisle to an entire family (2 parents 3 kids I believe) in the aisle. The youngest child (in the cart) began to point and shout in spanish. I assumed he was yelling something about the dog and I just smiled and we continued past. From then on, ANY TIME that child saw me in the store one of his family members would point us out and he would begin to sound off. It didn’t take long and every spanish speaking person, couple or family would begin to repeat several phrases in spanish, loudly. They didn’t seem upset or offended by his presence there, more excited and curious- but my goodness they we LOUD. I wish they had just asked to pet him instead, or at least turned down the volume. I was so humiliated I actually thought I might cry. Even worse, I couldn’t get away from it. Every where I went someone was pointing and yelling in spanish. Marshall could see my distress and kicked into hyper drive, he scooped up the last few things and we headed to the register. As we made our way through the parking lot and the yelling continued. I admit I DID cry a little when we got back to the car. (I am not going to color this as a race thing at all and I hope no one takes it that way, this would have humiliated me in any language- though NOT knowing what was being said DID make it a little more embarrassing.)

I have so much more to write about from this trip, keep checking back! It was SUCH an adventure!


Feel the Love

Yesterday Judah and I had another adventure! We went to one of the local middle schools and met with their 8th grade health classes. It was a wonderful experience for both Judah and me, we met a bunch of great kids, got to share our story (from beginning to now) and got to meet several children who know exactly what it’s like to be touched by the big D. I spoke to each class telling them about how I find Judah, how I was diagnosed, how Judah began working, how much diabetes sucks, how having a service dog is great AND complicated, and how to pick up and keep moving forward.

What amazed me the most was that each and every student listened intently to my story. I remember 8th grade, I remember how hard it was to sit and listen when the sun was beating down and spring had so clearly sprung. I was pretty thorough in my story telling and my description of my new life so there weren’t a whole lot of questions but the ones that were asked were great. I met several kids whose mothers were diabetic and using the pump! I guess there are far more local type 1 diabetics than I ever thought, it was kind of exciting to find out- it seems rather obvious now… I mean there is a diabetes center in town, they must have business right?

I can honestly say that the highlight of our middle school adventure was the third and final class that I spoke to. When I returned to the classroom (after lunch) the health teacher (and close friend) informed me that there was a special guest in the class. She introduced me to a young student (an 8th grader that was not in any of the classes we visited), he had been excused from his class so he could come in and meet us. He is a type 1 using a pump too! He has been type 1 for a lot longer than I have and even shared some of his scariest hypo stories with us. He was a fantastic, kind, and respectful young man who seemed just as excited to meet us as we were to meet him. At the end of our talk the students filed out to go play capture the flag and I stole an extra couple of minutes with him. He told me about a D camp that he goes to in the summer pretty close to where we live. We chatted for a few minutes and I gave him my e-mail as well as my blog address and asked him to keep in touch with me. I would like to put together a D camp at the local resort I work at seasonally and figured I may have found a great resource in this well spoken young man.

He took the post-it note I gave him with my information and made his way into the hall. He turned back and smiled and said, “I really want to get a dog like that someday” then went to head back down the hall. Ugh, way to tug on my heart strings kid!

“Hey”, I said and he turned back to me, “You stay in touch with me.” He nodded and smiled again.
“Really though, I am hoping that in about a year I will be ready to start training dogs again. You stay in touch with me and I can help you.” All I can say is I REALLY hope he does. He deserves the independence and confidence that Judah has given me and it seemed to me like he would be a fantastic handler as well as a great advocate for service dogs and diabetes.

It really was a great day, it left me feeling good. Truly, good. All I want to know is that I am making a difference, even if it is small and only matters to a few people. I had big dreams and big plans for my life when I was young, as time has passed and things have changed I haven’t always been sure that it was possible- yesterday reminded me that things can change and we can still put one foot in front of the other and that’s all it takes. Just steps. Steps towards what you want, with those steps you make progress. Progress is all we can really ask for, I mean it’s about the journey right?

Poor Judah

Poor Judah, we have had a bit of a stressful past couple of days. Saturday afternoon we went to a friend’s house and our three dogs were running around having glorious fun dog times rolling in the dirt, chewing on each other’s legs and seeing who was the fastest (or most evasive). After the black flies got too overwhelming we piled them all inside and had a pretty subdued evening. The next morning (Sunday) I got up farely early, let each dog out for his morning bathroom break. Then, per my usual morning dog routine we had some play time. A few minutes of one on one for each boy and then a little bit of dog on dog time. I played fetch with Judah, as always struck by how fast he is. Then I let he and Goose tackle each other and race around, next it was Jordan and Goose. Eventually, it was time for the tick check (I check everyone at least once a day during this time of year).

We all agreed that the front deck was the place to be yesterday morning so 4 people and 4 dogs all hung out drinking coffee and soaking up the sun. As I made another trip across the deck I noticed that there were a few dark stains on the deck boards. When I bent down to check them out I saw that they were blood. Not a whole lot, just little prints that I can honestly say I recognized as dog foot curves. I told my mom to check her dog while she brushed him and we checked each of our dogs while we did the tick check. I wasn’t too concerned, no one was limping or moving slowly- everyone seemed totally fine.

Well Judah was the last dog that was checked. Marshall was sitting next to him and I was standing in front of him so he was up at eye level. From that vantage point I don’t know how I had missed it. Just below his ankle there was a flap of skin hanging. Well we sprung into action, hot water rinse and flush and a better look at the skin. It was maybe an inch and a half long and not terribly big but upon closer inspection it was the least of the problem. The flap was concealing a clean, long, deep laceration. It started above his ankle and wrapped around his leg ending at the heel of the pad on his right hind foot.

Goose had found and demolished the last of the vet wrap we had left over from his foot injury so we piled into the car and headed to the local tractor supply co. (the feed and grain was closed). We picked up some vet wrap, some horse ‘pack’ gauze (thick, absorbent, doesn’t stick, and the backing is plastic) as well as a topical treatment. When we got back to the house and cleaned it out some more Marshall called me over as I gathered the dressings, “Hey, this is really bad.”
“How bad? Like, ‘do what I do and keep a close eye on it’ or like, beyond me bad?”*
“Come look at it, but it’s pretty bad.”
Honestly I still wasn’t all that worried, Marshall is pretty squeamish and he was right into it so it couldn’t be that bad right? Wrong. I climbed onto the dog bed with him and took his foot from Marshall, I am not squeamish so I pulled that sucker right open. Well let me just say, I could see how his toe works!

I admit, I had a little melt down. I don’t think I would have had Marshall not been there, I am alright at keeping it together under pressure- but Marshall always makes me feel safe enough to melt down, weird right? But, come on, this is my dog, my best buddy, my LIFE LINE, and I’ll say it, a little bit my baby. “This is REALLY bad. Has it been too long to stitch it?”

We talked back and forth and decided that we would wrap it properly (keeping it closed, clean and dry) and call the vet in the morning. We are supposed to be going to Pennsylvania next week for my little brother’s college graduation. We are playing it pretty close as far as money for the trip and knew that this vet visit would probably mean no trip. This didn’t help me keep it together much, I love my brother and he deserves an audience when he graduates. Once again, my parents to the rescue!

Not only did mom pay for the condo we will be staying in while in Pennsylvania but she also said that she would cover Judah’s bill at the vet (to be paid back when I go back to work). So of course mom is the hero of the day, thanks mom!

This morning, like any good (obsessive) mom, I began to call the vet’s office an hour before they opened. At the stroke of 8am they answered.

“Good morning. This is Emilie and I have a little bit of an emergency. I was hoping you could squeeze my husky Judah in today…?”

“Let me check the computer. What sort of emergency?”

So I described the nature of the injury and the timeline so far.

“How far away are you?”

“I am right down the street in Effingham, maybe 20 minutes away.”

“I have an appointment available at 8:30, that’s in 25 minutes.”

“I will go drag my boyfriend out of the shower, thank you!”

I burst into the bathroom (poor Marshall) and told Marshall we had to leave NOW. Like the good sport he is, he rushed to get dressed (as did I) and we piled everyone into the car. I sat with Judah on my lap because after I unwrapped his foot he (and the other dogs) couldn’t resist the urge to try to remove (chew off) the flap of skin that was there.

We got to the vet’s office and he walked around like everything was fine. Once in the office the first thing the vet and the tech said was how cute and kind he was even with his leg bleeding all over the place. It took one quick look and she informed me that he would indeed need stitches, I did the right thing by not rushing him to the emergency vet because he didn’t need it, and that they would keep him for at least the first part of the day.

“Is that alright. I know he is your service dog, are you alright leaving him here.”

“Honestly, I am fine with that, I trust you guys.”


But, I think you need to know- he doesn’t kennel well. At all…” They gave me that questioning look…

“When you say that what do you mean?”

“Well, he eats crates. All kinds.”

“So we have to make sure we don’t give him a blanket or anything?”

“Well yeah, I wouldn’t give him anything. honestly, I would suggest you drug him first. I know that sounds, well bad, but he just doesn’t kennel. I have been working on it for 3 years, he’ll do it for me but not to be left.”

“Hold on.”

After waiting with Marshall and the tech for a couple of minutes she came back into the exam room, “He said he could just take him first thing. So if you want to go get a cup of coffee and come back in about 45 minutes he should be all set.”

Well it was a long 45 minutes and we were back at the office. Well, Judah is all stitched up, vaccinated, and on the mend. He did test positive for Lyme and is going to be on antibiotics for about a month just in case (no symptoms or anything, not really a concern), but he is doing well and other than being a little groggy seems to be fine. He was able to perk up and beg for a dog cookie at the coffee wagon on the way home, so it can’t be all bad.

As I finish up typing this post this afternoon he is sleeping across the room on a sun spotted couch with his camo print vet wrapped foot running just fine along with the other three in some dream pursuit. I think it is important to note that not only did Judah alert as we were getting ready to head out to the vets office (a high, he was of course right) but he also alerted after we returned home, still under the influence of some drugs- he alerted to a low and hit it exactly on 80 mg/dl (which is his target alert for low glucose). You just can’t stop this boy and I am thankful for that everyday!

Show and Tell

I recently recieved a phone call from a little 6 year old voice.  It was excited but nervous and I could hear each little breath catch as it was drawn in, “Hi, Auntie Em- this is D-man*.  Could Judah and um, and you come to my school… uh on Friday?  For my show and tell?  Mommy will pick me up…”  Now I can hear my sister in the bakground, “No, tell her, ‘My mommy will pick you up’ “

“My mommy will pick me up…”

“No D-man, ‘pick you up’.”

“That’s what I said, ‘pick me up’.”  Then my sister laughed and picked up the phone, “Hi Em.  Did you get that?”

“Yes, that’s fine.  I’m in, see you Friday.”

So Friday came and we headed to the school.  Now, this was a little bit of an unfair situation for Judah.  I have a terrible back problem and it’s been flaring up pretty severly lately (The result of a nasty ski crash when I was 13, additionally I’ve gained weight recently and added too much stress on it I’m  sure…).  Needless to say Judah hasn’t had enough exercise lately.  That coupled with the fact that I have been learning about the pump (definite learning curve…) and testing A LOT trying to see the exact patterns (I begin to get more and more interested in a CGM, I want to see the graph!) I haven’t been doing much training with him either.  Now, I am going to take him to a kindergarden class.  Oh, boy…

He was actually pretty good.  Excited, certainly but he did alright considering he was sitting in the circle on the floor with the kids.  (As a matter of fact we were sitting between D-man and a little girl whose parents I am good friends with, so he knew her too.)  He was fidgety and wanted to go see the guinea pig on the other side of the room (the last time we were there, he really didn’t care that the guinea pig was there) but he wasn’t crazy.  He did his tricks, he let the kids pet him and was a doll even as they stepped on his tail and fought over who could touch the soft part of his ears.

Well it turns out that we were in for a little more of an adventure, we ended up in two more classrooms and Judah got loves from A LOT of kids that day.  He was a pretty happy husky, even when an entire third grade class engulfed him at once for petting.  He sat there with his head back, eyes closed and a big husky smile of his face.  He wasn’t perfect- at least not by my standards but he was GREAT and it was a great tool to teach.  I gave a brief and simple explaination of diabetes, showed them my insulin pump, explained why I took insulin, how I could get sick if I had too much or not enough sugar in my blood, what Judah does for me.  I explained how to behave when you see service dogs in public, why you behave that way.  Covered a lot of stuff briefly but managed to not lose anyone’s interest before I answered questions.

It was a very fun day.  After the third classroom Judah was a bit over stimulated but held himself together until I released him from ‘work’ at the car and he bathed my nephews in kisses.  It was a good day for all involved I think-  I hope to do more of it in the near future. 🙂

Be Honest, Be Aware and Spread the Word

Had my 1 week follow up yesterday at the diabetes center to check how I was doing with my new pump.  The verdict is GREAT!  Truth be told I was a little ashamed of my numbers and my carb intake over the past week…  I am pretty hard on myself anyway but the amount of food I consumed this week was ridiculous, seriously.  Of course, most of it was late at night and I went straight to be after stuffing my face with crackers and/or granola (stupid I know) so, as expected, I was high over night and in the morning.  Judah spent most of the nights sitting, leaned up against the wall watching me in his ever vigilant way, occasionally rousting me for a bolus and then returning to his sentry position.  He is such a good boy, does his job even when I don’t do mine.

I expressed my dismay about my numbers and the quality of carbs that I had eaten and New Doc. just smiled and said, trust me, this is a great first week on the pump, you know what you need to do.  I am not worried about you.”  Hmm, does she know how totally obsessive and what a control freak I am already?  Does she know me so well enough already that she knows I won’t allow this ridiculous pattern continue?  I never realized the degree to which so many people ignore or down play diabetes, but apparently A LOT of people don’t work very hard, aren’t willing to make sacrifices, won’t follow doctor’s recommendations, and have virtually no fear of the long term complications that are a result of not being obsessed with diabetes.  Now I know that a lot of times upon diagnosis they tell people not to worry, and that if they do these things (insert things here) then they will live a normal life.  I have said it before and I will say it again, that is not true!  I know it’s scary to think about and I know it isn’t what people want to here, but if you have diabetes, it requires you immediate and constant attention.  I will try to avoid long winded descriptions of the different types of diabetes and state that for the purposes of this post I am addressing type 1 diabetes.  Telling someone who has to inject themselves 4+ times a day with a hormone they will DIE without (and DIE with too much of) is not normal, sorry.  I am not saying that a diabetic can’t live a fantastic, full life, on the contrary my point is that they way they will be able to live this wonderful full life is to recognize and respect their disease and conquer that shit!

It is important that people truly understand the FULL SCOPE of what diabetes means.  It means that food, stress, sleep, exercise, weather, excitement, and your body (along with a bagillion other things, yeah I made that word up… what of it?) are all your enemy, and you must conquer them.  It means that before and after everything you must test your blood sugar and when you think you finally have a handle on it, everything changes and you start over again.  The trick is not letting it get the better of you, have more good days then bad days, and don’t forget to love.  Love yourself,  your supporters, your tools, and of course, your dog 🙂 .  Know you limits and work to stretch them, but be prepared- always be prepared.  Don’t get lazy either, don’t ever say “close enough”, it isn’t close enough unless it’s right on.  I am not saying beat yourself up about it, but recognize when something needs to change or didn’t work the way it should have.  Remember those things and use them to your advantage.

I was shocked to learn that many adults allow high blood sugars to get dangerously high before taking action, I’ll be honest, if it’s above 140 mg/dl I treat it, plain and simple.  Obviously if I have just eaten or have IOB (insulin on board) I use my common sense but if it’s above 140 it causes damage in the long term, so get that out of here!  Some people I have talked to (through a group on facebook) feel that the long term complications aren’t of a concern and while I respect everyone’s right to live and treat their disease however they choose I find it frightening that they don’t consider those possibilities.  I just want to say to them, “But don’t you plan to live a long time?!  How can you not worry about how this changes your future?!”  I bite my tongue though, it isn’t my treatment so it isn’t my say.  I know that it may seem that I have a doom and gloom approach to how I feel about my diabetes, but I feel that it is important to be aware and never forget.  When you forget, you get lazy and you avoid.

I am not saying that I am not every naughty (obviously I am, I am no skinny girl), but I find it so important to remind myself that it all has consequences that will affect the people I love someday.  That’s how I keep my motivation, I remember that Marshall loves me and has earned the right to a life with the best me I can offer.  I remember that we have dreams and goals and that it isn’t fair to not consider him in the way I live because he so willingly considers me.  I decided from the beginning that the way I would manage this was to learn as much as I could and never stop asking questions.  It has led me to be a lot more outgoing about my disease than I thought I would be, but I try to remind myself that I am helping anyone who comes after me to be better understood.

After having a great chat with my New Doc and her sidekick, I was asked if I would be willing to accompany the staff of the diabetes center to the local high school to do a wellness fair!  I was both flattered and excited.  They wanted someone who was a little younger (thank ladies! 😉 ) who could relate to the kids well and lets be honest, Judah makes kids more interested and more at ease.  Here’s one way that having an “attractive nuisance” attached to me will work for my benefit.  I am very excited about the wellness fair and I hope that it is the first of many opportunities to reach out in the D community as well as spread awareness and education.  Will definitely keep you all posted.  Also hope to put out some product review posts about all the D paraphernalia I have used/ am using, I have tried so much stuff thought it would be nice to share.