2011 training goals

August 2011

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Unfortunately, I survived my first day back at the office just fine. Guess I'm stuck going in two days a week again. I drove the car too. The driving went well too. 

I even felt good enough when I got home to have my first real obedience practice with the doggies. They were thrilled! Of course they were, I had shrimp and steak for treats! Spirit saw the dumbbell for the first time in weeks. She actually ran out and got it and brought it to me!! Ok, so she threw it at my feet, but it's still a retrieve. That's something she didn't have last month. Xanadu did signals perfectly and practice some go-out, turn and sit. Sparkle did her drop in recall, a dumbbell retrieve and a three minute out of sight sit stay. Everything went well except the stay. It took her three tries to remember to stay and sit. Sprigs and Twinkle did basic Rally stuff. Both of them have the moving down going pretty well now. Sprigs has both finishes now too! Sprigs did have an issue knowing whether to sit or down when I stopped moving. Downing has been getting more treats the last weeks while I've been down. It was fun to watch Twinkle beg her turn and then try her best to do what I was asking. This is a big step for her. She's figuring out there is something in this obedient dog thing for her too. I actually took Kamikaze out in the front yard. She did her signals and go-outs. She did a very nice job. 

I got the beagle girls to be still long enough for a quick picture yesterday.


My brother made an impromptu trip up here today. He had some frustrating back pain, so he really came to see Rich. He stayed for several hours since it's a good 90 minute drive to get here. Rich and I had already made arrangements to take Twinkle to see her foster Mom at their adoption day today, so my brother tagged along. 

I took Sprigs with Twinkle since she's missing out on all the travel and social things I usually do with puppies. Plus, she's Twink's best friend. Twinkle seemed to recognize her savior and gave her appropriate kisses, but was more interested in snooping around the floor of PetsMart. We did get a snapshot of Twink with her foster mom!

Sprigs was not the least bit intimidated at Petsmart, even when big dogs woofed! She's a fearless little monster! She's even taken to standing in the doggie pool and bobbing for tadpoles. I have tadpoles living in the doggie pool that I am trying to keep alive long enough to be frogs. Frogs eat mosquitos!

I am scheduled to resume my normal work routine next week. That means driving in to work Tuesdays and Wednesdays again. I have actually been driving the car (stick shift) the short distance to the PT this week. It's not painful to clutch, but picking up the leg to move the foot to the clutch and off the clutch is a challenge.


I went back to see the surgeon today for my post-op appointment. His nurse pulled the rest of my stitches. She also had a stack of pictures that were taken of the insides of my knee during surgery. She told me what each picture was, but I'm not sure I knew what I was looking at in most of them. I now know what a disconnected ACL looks like and also was meniscus tissue looks like. I had a knick out of the side of one part of my meniscus. It looks like a jagged edge there instead of smooth. I am now crutch free in the house pretty much all the time, but still need them when I leave the house. I don't want to be walking on uneven ground without them! There's not a lot of weight on them anymore though. They are more like emergency supports.


Things are getting better every day. PT today was hard today because I did a 9am appointment. I was only up a couple of hours before the appointment and hadn't moved around much so everything was still stiff. Learned my lesson! I have another PT visit tomorrow at 11am and then the post-op appointment with the surgeon Wednesday morning. After PT today I ditched the crutches for walking around the house. I can walk with an almost normal gait, but I have to do it SOOOO slow. If I want to get where I am going in a timely fashion I limp pretty bad. The idea behind no crutching in the house was to get my leg started on the re-programming of the proper form for regular walking. Crutches tend to encourage me to walk with poor form. That's not helping my muscles get moving again.

I had a break through with Twinkle today while I was eating. For the most part while I've been down I've just crated her while I ate. It was just to hard to fight her off of me while eating AND being physically challenged. Recently I've started leaving her out with everyone that's had food manners ingrained in them . It's still a battle to keep her under control, but I saw some light today! I had the plate of food on my lap and after some initial lunging on Twink's part I got this! WOO HOO!

19th - things I learned from surgery

I've been working on this list for a week or so. Here's what I learned about what health care providers say and how to actually interpret it.

The first couple of days after surgery are grim You are going to wish you could cut off affected area with a hacksaw rather than continue to endure the pain, even on pain meds.
Have someone available to drive you home from surgery Have a good friend that is strong enough to bodily lift you in and out of  their vehicle. One that won't blackmail you for strange or stupid things you say while still recovering from being knocked out. Have one on call if none of your friends can do it alone and have them called as you wake up to come help.
We're going to give you a nerve block after surgery to control pain Whatever part of body they did surgery on will be COMPLETELY dead to your brain. You will be able to look and see it, but no amount of will power will make it move, not a little, not at all. It will hang like a rag doll part. If this is a leg, walking on crutches is impossible because you can't even lift the hip of the dead leg to keep your toes from dragging the ground. Even when the nerve block wears off and you can feel that appendage again you will still struggle for 24 hours to make the nerve impulses from the brain do organized tasks with that part of your body. I am of the opinion that nerve blocks actually do nerve damage and you spend days trying to reconnect/re-grow the nerves to those muscles. BTW: It's still worth it for pain control if you're getting ACL reconstruction done.
Have a responsible adult stay with you for 24 hours after surgery Double that time!! I was not able to do ANYTHING for myself for at least 36 hours. I wouldn't be able to take care of myself completely for 48. Hopefully one that can cook, or will bring you food from somewhere. With my leg being involved, I required help to stand from a seated position, even on crutches and help balancing to put on (or off) clothes. I needed help getting up and down off the toilet! Hope you have good friends.
Call this number if you experience any problems post-op... This is a JOKE. The people that answer the phone act like nothing abnormal is happening to you no matter what you say. "HI, I had surgery yesterday and my toes are turning blue. The post-op sheet said not to let that happen. What do I do?" Results in no concern and emphasis that the surgery wraps shouldn't be removed before three days post-op. I prefer keeping my toes to irritating someone's nurse by removing the wraps that are cutting off circulation to my toes. I hope you have some common sense to deal with things on your own to save yourself.
Some insurances companies don't pay for... but I think it really helps with recovery If your insurance won't pay for whatever that is try to make a way to get it. Ask if there is a cash discount. Ask friends that have had the same surgery if they have purchased said thing. Maybe you can borrow or rent it. People that have done a zillion of these surgeries have seen people with and without said thing and if they make a point to say they observe it helps, go with experience talking. There is always re-sale on said thing afterwards to re-coup some money.

As a side note: If friends have asked what they can do to help and you can think of something. TELL THEM. It's hard for some of us to ask for other people to do things for us because we feel like we're putting someone out. But look at it this way, if your friend were in your shoes would you feel put out by helping them in that way? That thought helped me not worry so much about asking for something. I knew I wouldn't feel used and abused by the request and I would have done it for them in a heartbeat.


PT the first time involved weeping and gnashing of teeth, but to be fair I felt much more mobile afterwards (the next day). I had PT session number two today and the weeping part was gone, but I was still gnashing teeth. I think I am doing well though. I am only 2 degrees from being able to lay it completely flat and I can bend it (gravity assisted) a little over 80 degrees. I am still struggling sleeping normally. The dogs have been real champs through this all. Even the young guys, Sprigs and Twinkle, have done well, though they have been the most trouble. They just aren't trained well enough to come, stop that or go lay down on command every time (or most of the time).  Sprigs is improving on coming when I call them to go potty so that she is maybe 90 percent there. Twinkle is only 50/50 on that. I have to go find her and MAKE her go out. Same for coming in when called, though Twinkle is improving a bunch on that one. The dogs have been checking on me more frequently. Here's Xanadu helping me ice the knee.


I cheated yesterday. I put the crutches up in the house and hobbled from room to room holding on to furniture. Crutches are just so annoying! You can't carry anything while you crutch. I paid for my cheat! My knee swelled up even bigger and caused me a good deal of extra discomfort. Today I tried the one crutch approach. That seemed like an OK compromise. 

I said goodbye to Mom this evening. Mike came by and got her around 5 and took her to the airport for us. It was a chipper farewell, but I dripped some tears once I got back inside. She's been my ever present companion, cook, and helper for the last 5 days. I am glad I am doing well enough to handle the house on my own now, but I was not glad to see her go. Even the dogs will miss her. She was a welcome addition for them as well since she spent time cooking. I think Xanadu's loyalties were starting to waiver. She IS a chow hound and the chow was with Mom most of the last days.

Tomorrow is my first physical therapy visit since surgery. I hear other people say it's a bit like torture at the beginning. 

13th- Surgery update

I picked Mom up at the airport Wednesday, the 10th a few hours before scheduled surgery check-in. Rich drove us to the outpatient place in time to check me in. I was very nervous about this since it was my first surgery experience. It doesn't help any that they have you check in a couple of hours before scheduled surgery time. I laid around on a gurney for like an hour in a small room with Rich and Mom. At least there was a TV, but mostly we made mindless chit chat. When the anesthesiologist came in and shot something in my drip they started wheeling me out, but I don't think I even remember they whole gurney clearing the doors.

The next thing I knew I was wagging in and out of consciousness and throwing up at a nurse named Holly. Apparently anesthesia and I are NOT very good friends. The way I hear it the surgeon went out to talk to Mom and Rich around 5:30 and said all went well and they could probably see me in an hour. After 90 minutes and no word, Rich went asking about me. They told him I just wasn't waking up as fast as they thought I should. After two hours they came and got Mom and Rich and asked them to come back and see if they could get through to me. I guess it was somewhere between 8 and 8:30 when I started to wag in and out. Every time I had a moment of clarity I threw up. Since I hadn't eaten since 7am there wasn't much to hurl, but my body wouldn't stop. It seems even after anti-nausea shots I was dry heaving. They somehow got clothes on me and got me in a wheelchair. I have no memory of that. I have a short memory of sitting in the wheelchair outside the truck wondering how this was gonna work. I think Rich bodily lifted me in a sitting position on the rear seat of the truck. Mom was sitting on the other side. I used my good leg, as the other one was completely dead from the after surgery nerve block, to push myself backwards and Mom pulled under my arm. I rode home lying across the back seat of the truck with my head in Mom's lap. She kept me from rolling off the seat. I have no real memories of the ride home, but I remember pulling up in the driveway. I was able to stand up on crutches, but it's hard to propel yourself with one completely dead leg. I mean you look down at it and see it, but there is no connection to your body. You can't even shift that hip to keep the toes from dragging. It seems I may have been still not completely awake and somewhat unstable as well.  That door to the house looked like it got farther and farther away. I made it one step and then looked helplessly at Rich. He piggy backed me into the house and to the potty. According to others, he also piggy backed me into the bed. But I don't remember that either.

Thursday morning I struggled to the couch so I could be in a more normal environment. My left leg (the surgery one) was still dead to me. I started my codeine pills though, since they said you didn't want the nerve block to wear off without pain meds in your system. I found I was unable to even get myself to a standing position off the couch even trying to use the crutches. I could not get to the toilet, pull down my own shorts or sit myself on the toilet much less get up off it. WOW! Then my life took a turn for worse. The nerve block started wearing off about 9-10 am. Most of the rest of Thursday was counting the minutes until I could pop another codeine. That was THE ABSOLUTE worst pain I ever had continue on for hours and hours. By 5pm or so I was really just ready to cut that leg off with a hacksaw it was in so much pain even with 8 codeine taken that day. I even told Mom I'd rather have the anesthesia and puking again than what I was experiencing. When Rich got home from work, I had him put me to bed. He hooked me up to some electrical muscle pulse to interrupt the pain signals and he says I was asleep before he got the machine set down next to me. I just needed a small break from the pain to sleep. Of course, the machine only stays on 30 minutes. So after a couple of hours I was awake and moaning again. I had to wake Rich up several times to restart the interferential machine.

I got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep Thursday night, but ventured out of the bed Friday with the pain down to a tolerable amount. Two Aleve got me through all day Friday. By lunch time or a bit after I was able to maneuver myself off the couch and to and from the bathroom without human assistance. Crutches are an absolute necessity though. Sleeping at night has become the hardest part now. I got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep again Friday night. My brain sends signals to that leg randomly to tighten muscles or bend the knee. Then I wake up from the shot of pain. It's hard to find a comfortable position at all, much less after a shot of pain. The first couple of hours of sleep is the longest continuous sleep of the night.

Today I was getting dang tired of laying around the house. I was able to stand at the kitchen sink and with Mom's help get my hair washed. I was able to get me and my crutches where I needed to go. I 'may' have been able to make it through today on my own. I had my first outing too. We all loaded up and met Cheryl and Mike for dinner at Longhorn. The 20 minute car ride was about 5 minutes longer than I wished it were. I had a bit of trouble finding a comfortable way to sit in a chair even with another chair to prop my leg on. I was glad to be out, but wore out on being 'up' quickly. I was glad to get home. OH.. almost forgot the big deal on Saturday was the removal of surgical gauze and wraps. Here's what we found underneath...


I was stoked that I made it up the Bass Pro staircase like a normal human Sunday. One foot per stair. The knee did well. I'm getting very nervous about surgery Wednesday. I've never been put under, nor had any major surgery. As a matter of fact the only procedures I've had done were laser eye surgery (completely awake) and getting my wisdom teeth cut out. I was sedated for that, but not under anesthesia. Rich and I ordered me a Don Joy Armor knee brace last week and it arrived today. The brace is not really for recovery, but for my bullheaded self that won't wait 6 months to run agility. NO WAY! The brace is to protect my still healing knee when I take off in three months to track over uneven ground and a month later to run agility. If I'm gonna be bullheaded I'm not going to be stupid.

I got Kamikaze out front yesterday and did some attention work. I left her in the signal stand and after 5 steps or so threw a treat at her and released her. I'm hoping this keeps her attention from wandering when my back is turned. We do have a problem with that. I did that several times before signals. I did similar stuff with the moving stand, but also added in verbal commands that were not 'come to heel'. That's the usual command after a moving stand. She was confused at first and then started listening. To be fair, I have done stuff just like this in the past, but have gotten in too much of a habit of doing the 'exercise'. I sent her for go-outs with no jumps set up and then tossed treats to either side releasing her to go to them. This is the first time I've tried this exercise. This is one from the seminar I audited on Saturday. It was a short training session since it's just plain HOT outside.

Today I got in one session of 2X2 weave training with Sprigs and Twinkle this afternoon. Sprigs may catch on here soon. Twinkle is still in the dark.


Cheryl and I audited an obedience seminar today. The lady mixes in as much positive training as she deems possible, but still has plenty of negative/punishment things too. She is basically doing what I do with my guys now. She had a couple of attention games I may play with Sprigs and Twinkle, but overall, I am already doing what she is advocating. I'd like to move to more positive and less negative.

5th- Happy Birthday Sparkle

Sparkle is 5 today! The years have gone by very quickly. 

I was able to brave the local grocery store by myself and came out without my knee screaming loudly. I was out buying ingredients on my Mom's list for meals she plans to make when she comes next Wednesday to help out after my surgery.


I did some obedience practice yesterday in the house. It's been too hot to even think about outdoor training after 8am or before 7pm. Sprigs worked on picking up, even for the split second, leather, metal and plastic. She also worked on heeling and some Rally Novice moves. Twinkle worked on heeling and Rally. Xanadu did articles and signals very well. Her enthusiasm is up after having a break from EVERYTHING. Spirit worked on her dumbbell. I actually got her to pick it up off the ground today for the first time! By the end of the hour or so I spent training me knee was on fire.  I'm guessing from bending down to treat the dogs as well as being up on it for over an hour. Hating this issue!

Rich is out of town with family to celebrate his parents 50th wedding anniversary.


Twinkle did have some issues overnight. She banged her crate at about 2 am, so I just let her go out. At 2:30 am she scratched the back door, so I figured she'd taken care of feeling bad and I put her back in her crate. At 3 am was the noise that will wake zombies, the sound of hurling. I shot up and went to her crate. Pulled her out and put her back out while I took care of crate mats. It looked a little like bloody puke, so I was a bit concerned. Once they were in the washing machine, I opened the door to see if Twinkle was waiting on the patio. She was, so I scooped her up and put her on the bed under my arm for the next couple of hours until the alarm went off this morning.

When I got home from work I fed everyone. Twinkle ate as slow as usual, but she ate. She looked a little green around the gills after her dinner. Since I was wiped out and she looked a tad 'off' I flopped on the couch with the cover on it and pulled Twinkle and Sprigs up with me for an afternoon nap. After our nap Twinkle seemed fine. She even snacked on a piece of hamburger (my dinner) and chip. I think whatever it is must be over now.

Just before bed I did my PT exercises and was thrilled when laying on my stomach and dropping my knees towards my butt the left one would almost drop as far down as the right. I still can't flex the left one as well strictly on muscle power, but the gravity assisted drop is going better and not hurting. It seems almost a shame after all this hard work I'm doing to get mobility back that next week they are just going to go in there and screw it all up again so I can start from scratch.


Things were uneventful today other than rain, rain, rain, a little more rain and some rain. So, the dogs spent most of the afternoon and evening in the house. That's why I was baffled when Twinkle started acting like she wanted to heave around 4. I can't see how she got anything odd since we were just hanging out in the house. The even stranger part was that she wasn't immediately better like most dogs are afterward. She was still queasy. I let her go out for a bit since she was obsessive licking things and trying to eat strings. After 30 minutes I went to check on her and she was involved with her grass munching still. So, I decided to help her empty her stomach with some hydrogen peroxide. It worked, but she wasn't happy with the help. She did calm down afterward though and settled down next to me. I rubbed her tummy for awhile and she dozed off. She still wasn't well though. I am sure there will be an incident in the wee hours tonight. I just hope it's a 24 hour thing and she'll be all better tomorrow afternoon when I get home from work.

Knee PT is going great. I haven't picked up the crutches all day and today was the first day I could lift me heel behind me high enough to touch it with my hand.