Wednesday, 27 July 2011


July 27, 2011

Blog 8 Changes

Things are never as easy as we think; we plan one thing and something else happens.  I found myself writing a blog last week in the worst possible way, out of anger. As everyone knows; doing things out of anger leads to nothing but more anger and frustration.  I had applied for a successor dog from the same school that I have been with for over 5 years. I received a call telling me that my application was declined for some reason that is still not clear to me and the letter or information that was sent about the rejection of my application had nothing to do with what was said on the phone.  I was informed that I could challenge the decision.  All I would need to do is have my doctor explain more in detail, which is okay, as long as I knew what the doctor was supposed to write.   
Out of that anger I managed to injure my foot by pushing myself to train, not smart, but out of anger.  I was lucky that my doctor was still in the office at 7pm; go figure what are the chances of that!  I went to see her the next day; she told me that I was lucky that no real damage was done. 14 days no heavy walking and a couple of treatments of laser I will be okay.  So 14 days of no walking versus 1year going back and forth to the hospital every week.   

So I come to the hard part, after 2 months, I am almost right back to where I was.  The hardest thing to deal with; is on Thursday 28th 2011, 2 months since my nephew passed away and Jagger passed away on the 1st.  For most people, one death is hard to deal with, two is even harder, then with the rejection for a new dog and a foot injury seems to be a continuous track of hardship and hurt and you would be right.  I can’t help but think of when I talk of one event, the emotions of the other come into play.  The loss of two family members so close together is hard to deal with.  
I need to point out a few things during these last couple of months that were good.  I have a wonderful loving and caring wife and family.  Through things in our past that I finally dealt with I grew closer to my brothers and sisters.  I strengthened my bonds with my close friends and made some new ones.

I placed myself in a time of deep reflection about getting another dog.  I have decided to look at other schools closer to home and at a different breed, so as not to compare the new dog to Jagger.  I have started looking but will wait for a few months; there are a few things that I need to take care of.  1) Heal my foot, my spirit; I have to make sure that I am in a good place emotionally, physically, and spiritually. 2) I want to look through the different schools and read all the applications and make sure that they are done right and I am not rushed or stressed to get them done.  3) I need to heal up for the upcoming semester at University and be ready for that, so the application will probably not be done until the end of November.
4) I feel like I am forgetting something really important oh “yah!” I have to be healed for mine and Arlene’s wedding Oct 1 2011.  If there is one person in this world that deserves to have something just for her on a special day it’s my Arlene and in comparison to giving her one day to have something special for her and I, is nothing to what she has done for me in my life.
5) I have changed my profile page to a happier time with Jagger and I in Rhode Island on the beach.  If you want to make changes in your life, the first thing you need to change is where you are in yourself.  The first thing you learn in survival school is when you are too tired to go on, it is time to set up camp were you are and once you have the strength, you push on.  The first thing I need to do is change my focus.  Once that happens there is no doubt that your next “Adventure around the corner” is coming soon.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Blog 7 A New Fitness Program,

On most early mornings on TV you can find paid programs advertising items such as; cookware, Knife sets, cleaning products, revolutionary new tools, and my personal favorite, fitness equipment; something for your abs, kettle bells, 10min workout.  It seems to me that all these people who are demonstrating these products are the ones who don’t need to be demonstrating them. The women in tight outfits and men without shirts having 6&8 pack abs and biceps bigger than most people’s legs.  All claiming the same thing; this product will get the results in 90 days, act now and we will send you this nutrition guide.  You are probably wondering what does this have to do with training.
I was at the endocrinologist (Diabetic doctor) last week.  Doc said to me that you have put on some weight since the last time you were here.  Now, I kind of took exception to this as I am not what you would want to put on a poster for a gym and I don’t have a six pack, you could say it is more like a one pack, but my fitness and diet are very good.  
I jokingly said to the doc, “It couldn’t be from all the medication you guys have me pumping into my body could it?”  The Doc’s response was: “It could!”  First, let’s look at what you are eating.  As we went over my diet, doc said, well it is pretty good but we should watch for extra calories. Doc then asked “Are you exercising?” I said I have been getting started; I said not to forget that I have been recovering from a foot injury for the last 16months, and then I said that I am not going back to working out three hours a day.  I would wake up; do 10km on my stationary bike for 30min, weight train for an hour twice a day.  This did not include all the walking and climbing stairs and up hills all the while carrying a 20lb backpack all day including to and from University. I told Doc my fitness is fine, let’s look at the medication and find a better way to distribute it.
So this leads me to want to market my new fitness program, you don’t need to send money although I might charge a licensing fee but I will give it to my friends for free. Lol
First get a light weight broom handle or a light weight stick about 36-40inches long.  Get one back pack, weight 20lbs, put on a pair of running shoes (leave your car at home).  Take the long stick  point it in front of you one end pointed to the ground, tuck your elbow to your waist move the stick in a sweeping motion side 12-16inches don’t use your wrist use your entire arm to do the sweeping motion.
Here is the big part of the work out walk for a mile; I don’t mean a stroll, walk as if you have a purpose.  Walk doing that swinging motion with the stick, first in your right hand pumping the opposite arm, find some stairs and hills and once you have finished turn around and go back but this time put your stick in the left hand.  If you think it’s easier with a guide dog, think again.  I promise you, if you think after an hour or so lifting weights or running on a treadmill is hard, you will definitely find this hard.  I challenge some of these fitness people to this workout.
Every once in a while you get to test your fitness level and yesterday was no exception. Our good friend asked us if we could follow him to the garage with our car because the car he had to get to the garage kept stalling out.  As we followed him, the car kept stalling; he would get it started and drive on.  This kept going on until we were one block from the garage and the car stopped.  He tried starting it; of course it would not start this time.  So I told him, I would push it with him, I put my cane folded-up on the trunk of the car, he took the driver’s side with door open and we started to push.  Well we were on a small down grade (hill) and the car picked up momentum, my friend had to jump into the car to turn it to avoid colliding with a parked car.  I kept pushing, as the car picked up speed, I had no choice but to start jogging and pushing the car at the same time.  Well, my wife was (in stitches) laughing so hard, and my friend in the car was laughing, he said there is nothing so funny than looking out the rearview mirror seeing a white cane folded on the truck of the car, a pair of sunglasses, and a blind guy jogging behind the car pushing, all done in the dark. It’s a scene that would be in a comedy and no one would believe it.  He was not sure what to do because we had to turn a corner and he could not stop, so he figured that I would follow since I am use to being guided anyway. So you have heard of a guide dog, and using cane to guide, and of course people guide other people, and now you have heard of a guide car.  At the successful end we all laughed out loud together. ROFL
I am thinking about adding this to my workout routine! What do you think?         



Sunday, 10 July 2011

Cane vs Guide dog

Cane vs. Guide Dog  

I start refreshing my mobility this week but before I got started I had to convince myself that it was not going to be that bad going out with a cane.  I started with a cane and how bad could it be, people have been using canes for a very long time and I can get back to doing this again for as long as I need to.  Let’s look at the good points.  1) I don’t need to get up and feed it.  2) It doesn’t need bathroom breaks.  3) When I walk on the sidewalk the cane would get caught in the cracks and I would jab myself with the end of the cane or my wrist would snap back (I remember when the cane got stuck in the crack of the sidewalk on Saint Catherine Street on a hot day at 1pm the sidewalk was packed and the cane fell out of my hand.  The shock of everyone around me not knowing what to do, and I was bent down trying to find the cane. I finally realized that the elastic on the end of cane is to go around your wrist).  4) Being at the mercy of the people in front of you who are totally oblivious of everyone else around them while they stroll along.  5) Coming to a construction site and not knowing it until you are on top of it.  6) The constant people bumping into you or tripping on the cane either they don’t see you or they ignore you or they are trying to get ahead of you.  7) Being in buildings is a real event getting turned around or taking wrong directions is a real treat and of course nobody asks if you need help.
Don’t get me wrong a guide dog is not for everyone.  It takes a lot of effort on both parts for a successful team.  1) You need to wake up for the dog to eat and remember whatever schedule  you put your dog on, it will be that for 7days a week, no holidays.  2) Obedience has to be done at least 5mins a day.  3) Discipline when you are out on the street, you need to be strict and keep your dog tight and the people around you in check.  4) You need to make sure that you have what you need for your dog for the day.  5) You need to think of your dog not as a dog but your partner, remember they need a break; bathroom, coffee, lunch, etc… just like you do.  I remember when I was working in an office, the manager would say; okay we have a working lunch.  I would work for my hour and then I would get up from my desk and tell him I need to take the dog out.  The dog does not know what working lunch means.
The benefits are 1) you have a greater mobility, I know some people take adapted transport with their dogs but for me it is a greater freedom to travel.  2) I don’t have to worry about getting stuck in any cracks or holes in the street.  3) There is no more being stuck behind anyone, once the dog finds a safe way to go, you move around people just as you would when you are sighted.  4) Nobody bumps into you, the dog makes sure to clear a path.  5) There is no getting stuck in a crowd if you tell your dog to find the way they should get you out.  6) NO need to worry about construction sites.  7) If you have traveled enough in a building your dog should know the way even if you don’t.  I never worried with Jagger, more often than not; he always knew where we were going better than I did.  8) No worries about someone trying to pass you or come behind you, the dog will tell you.  The best part of a guide for me is the companion I have during the day when I am out and the fun we have at home when they are not working, and the fact I can take them anywhere is great.
I will be training more and more over the summer with the cane in hopes of getting another guide dog and somehow I got a feeling that it is going to be a long hard training period until another guide dog comes, and then it will be even harder but at least it will be fun and exciting. The prospect of having a new dog is getting easier to grasp and knowing what is coming around the corner is getting better.  The excitement of possibly putting that cane back in the closet is thrilling.   

Sunday, 3 July 2011

July 3, 2011 Blog 5

Kids, Music and, Good Friends   

It’s funny how kids, music and good friends can change your outlook from negative to a positive. On Friday July 1st it was one month since Jagger had passed away.  I was still feeling out of sorts, I was still looking in the garden when I went to the kitchen sink window to see if I could see him or when I heard something jingle I would look for him.  However these feelings were slowly starting to change from sadness to remembering a better time.  Last summer Jagger and I helped to build a ship out of cardboard and other materials at our local church for the week long summer day camp that our good friends put on.  The enjoyment we felt as Jagger guided me around the tight spaces while checking to make sure nothing was coming at me or I was not hurting myself (with tools) was always reassuring.  Of course when the kids had seen him on the last day of camp they thought that he was great.  Of course you could see the pup coming out in Jagger just to be with the kids.  Being back doing another project at the same church but a different theme; being with our good friends, and having their dog run around brought back these wonderful memories of Jag’s and I last year.

On Saturday July 2 I accompanied my best friend Steve to the music store to buy a new keyboard for him and the camp. Steve and I love to pull pranks and banter back and forth in public and we have such a great time and laugh at the different things that happen while we are out in public.  Steve and Karen have supported us with Jag’s and me while my feet were healing and Arlene with her back injury, they have been fantastic friends and for us a part of our family. As Steve went to pay for his keyboard I bought a Keyboard stand for Arlene. The sales person brought me to the cash, I asked the guy to find my friend you can’t miss him he is the tall guy (Steve is 6’5”).  I finished paying and Steve grabs his keyboard and turns to me “okay blind man you got your keyboard stand”, the sale guy was so shocked he said to Steve in a stumbling voice “don’t make fun of the guy’s disability and he turns to me and said you should hit him” I said “I can’t he will hide my shoes” the guy was more puzzled and Steve and I laughed more. During the car ride we were talking about walking a mile in someone shoes and all it gets you is shoeless! LoL
That evening we shared a wonderful BBQ and laughed and joked and it started a time of healing and sharing of funny times that we shared with Jagger and all of us out in different functions and of happier times.    

John & Steve and Jagger in front of the ship we built after summer camp July 10 2010

Friday, 1 July 2011

Hair cut

Wow! I can’t believe it has been a month since Jagger passed away.  I started to make more headway in getting out and practicing my mobility.  It is hard because we traveled so much, everyone knew us and I keep getting the same questions.  Yesterday was different!  My son and I went to the barber shop, it was haircut time.  The first time the new owner of the shop had seen Jagger come in, she was a little scared of Jag’s because of his size but that quickly ended when she had seen how gentle and funny he was.  He would sit beside my chair while she cut my hair, she would move around him at first and then she just started to step over him.  It was easier than to walk around him (He had won her over).  His picture hangs in her shop.  On one of our visits she asked if her and her aunt could take a picture of Jag’s together with them, he had won their hearts.  After a couple of visits Jagger became a part of the furniture.  I think Jagger enjoyed the end of the haircut the best.  The barber would take the little broom to clean the back of my shirt from hair and of course she would brush Jagger too!  For Jags it was a free scratch and he always enjoyed a free scratch.  My son and I took the opportunity to walk home and practice my mobility it was not too bad it was only a mile from my house. I also remembered why I hate using the cane. When you walk with a cane you must move it side to side to detect objects in front of you which would be good except that your cane gets caught in every crack in the sidewalk and you end up stabbing yourself.  This gave me a chance to speak with my son; he said it was like the old days where we walked together everywhere. He also told me that he is looking forward to a new dog because he missed Jagger.  He is looking forward to helping me train the new dog just like he helped train Jagger.