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Posts Tagged ‘san antonio’

Sooooooo, it’s that time of year again. The time when I ask for money. “Wha?!?!?” You say. “That’s not all year round….?”

Shuddap

Anywho. The South Central Texas chapter of JDRF is holding their annual Walk & 5K Run to Cure Diabetes on October 19th, 2014 at the UT Health Science Center. However, that’s not actually why I’m blogging for the first time in a year and a half. Not entirely, anyway.

I’m starting up again because it has occurred to me that in all my efforts to look like I’m living successfully with type 1 diabetes (T1D), in the process I am actually KEEPING many of you from learning about it. A few of my close friends are probably sick of hearing about it, true, but I can think of only one or two who have, on more than one occasion, asked me several really good questions about it.

I just thought that since I don’t really delve into the nitty-gritty of it without being pressed, I might make it a point to write several little vignettes (blogettes?) over the course of the next couple of months to see if I can’t teach someone something new.

And if it makes you maybe want to donate to a really fantastic cause that means a lot to me, then WIN!

I’ve already thought of a number of topics but I thought I’d ask you if there’s anything you’ve wanted to ask but were too cautious or afraid of offending me. Here’s your chance. Comment below. I’ll answer anything – yes, even the question about what I do with my pump during “extra-curricular” activities (it comes off – like everything else). Anything.

And if you do feel like donating to my Walk team during this process, you can do so here.

Thanks as always for reading and stay tuned for an honest look at living with T1D.

 

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Best Doctor’s Visit or Hospital Stay. What made it the best? The news you got? The nurse/doctor/surgeon you saw? The results?

When you’re told you’re going to move from one city in one state to another city in another, what do you think the first dreaded action is? Packing? Looking at houses? Figuring out in what neighborhood to live? Not me. Those are concerns, sure, but the first thing I think is, “oh crap – now I have to find another endocrinologist.”

This was the case when I moved to Phoenix, then again when I relocated to Kansas City. Now that I’m older, the search gets harder and my temper gets shorter. So when we found out we were moving to San Antonio, I assure you the expletive was quite a bit stronger than “crap”.

Upon our arrival in Texas we quickly decided upon the neighborhood and chose a realtor who was quite familiar with it. Ironically, she also had type 1 diabetes and had for longer than I. So of course I asked her for a recommendation for an endocrinologist and she provided me with hers.

The doctor was horrendous. The first thing she said when she entered the exam room was, “Diabetes AND Rheumatoid Arthritis?? Man, you’re in sad shape!”

Forgive me for not laughing.

Then she asked me if I was on insulin. “I have type 1 diabetes.” I responded through clenched teeth. She then finally looked at my file and said, “Oh, so you do!”

The visit got worse from there but I won’t bore you with the details. This is supposed to be about the best doctor’s visit, not the worst!

After that experience I got together with another woman who had type 1 who I happened to know from Kansas City. She recommended her endo and I made another appointment.

What a WORLD of difference.

The new endocrinologist walked in, asked all the relevant questions, checked my feet, checked my eyes, and then did something absolutely remarkable.

She sat down to chat with me.

Chat! Yes! Talk to me like I was a real person and not a nuisance! It was amazing! We talked about my diabetes ideology, how I felt about my health, what I did for exercise, how old my daughter was, it was incredible!

And then she said something that left me speechless and almost made me cry.

She said, “Well, you’re obviously doing a great job.”

I’m tearing up just writing it again.

At the time I had had type 1 diabetes for 29 years and no one, NO ONE, had ever told me I was doing a good job before. NO ONE.

When you have a chronic disease like diabetes where there is so much room for error, so much to keep track of, so much fear and worry, you constantly feel like you’re not doing enough. That there’s always something more you should be doing. But here, HERE was this disease principal, rule maker, dictator, and she just told me that I was doing a great job.

I’ve seen her several times since, and I actually enjoy these appointments. But none, none will ever match that first-ever diabetic moment of validation and affirmation. So Doctor, if you’re reading this, thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

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So I’ve talked about my reticence, worries, and Zzulu’s adorableness. But I get a lot of questions and thought I’d answer some of them here.

How did you get her and how does the program work?

Well, I became Zzulu’s foster mom by attending an information session and then filling out a form. Yes, it was that easy. You too can start the process to puppy bliss by taking a look at their brochure. With this program you promise to foster a puppy from nine weeks old until seven months. You promise to follow the programs guidelines and provide the puppy with love, attention, and socialization. You promise to bring the puppy back to Lackland Air Force Base at least once a month for vaccinations, vet appointments and training. That’s it. In return, the program provides you with a crate (the dog is to be crated when unsupervised, fed, and during the night), food, several toys, collar, leash, and a food/water bowl. Oh, and let’s not forget the absolutely beautiful Belgian Malinois puppy. At the end of the program, you promise to return the puppy to the program to be trained to be a vital part of our national defense.

Won’t it be hard to give her up?

I’m sure it will. But Belgian Malinois are used for this purpose for a reason. They are dogs with a high prey drive. They thrive when they have a job to do and what an important job this is! And there’s always the chance she won’t meet the requirements of the program, many dogs don’t. When that happens and they can’t be used for breeding or the TSA, the foster family has first refusal rights. While I know we wouldn’t say no to Zzulu as a permanent member of our family, that would pose a new set of issues – how to keep her stimulated!

What’s with the name “Zzulu” and why two Zs?

The dog litters are named in order by alphabet. In case you haven’t figured it out, Zzulu is a member of the Z litter. The dogs are usually named after fallen soldiers, but I’m sure with the Z litter there weren’t a whole lot of options. So she ended up with the name, Zulu. Because she’s a member of the Z litter, her name is technically Zzulu with two Zs.

So Belgian Malinois like to chew a lot. How destroyed is your house??

Yes, Zzulu likes to chew and she likes to be busy. We counterract this by taking two to three walks a day and playing with her whenever possible. She has a lot of toys, Petsmart and Petco are much frequented. But she hasn’t really damaged anything. There’s a wicker basket that she’s particularly fond of that I have to shoo her from regularly and the occasional game of shoe keep away, but nothing big – not like I feared at all. I think I mostly credit this to the fact that we REALLY try to stay active with her and wear her out a lot. Have I mentioned that I’ve lost three pounds since she entered our home? WIN! Plus, she really is trainable and receptive to praise. We can’t really tell her no, but we do say good girl for good behavior or surrendering the shoe.

Okay, but what about the potty training?

The potty training is exhausting. I’ll admit that. I take her out CONSTANTLY and she’s never left unsupervised outside her crate. Never. Ever. Even with this constant vigilance, there have still been accidents. But again, nothing permanently damaged, she’s only gotten the oriental rugs twice and seems to prefer the tile (such a lovely puppy, she is!). We’ve had several days with no accidents and at 12 weeks old I think that’s pretty good. PLUS, today I think she signaled at the door for the very first time. I grabbed the leash, grabbed the dog, and was reward with tinkle and poop outside. Since dogs don’t general have bladder control until four months, I consider her a potty prodigy…

How is it REALLY going with Bella?

For those of you who are new to my blog, Bella is my 13-year-old pit bull/vizsla (we think) mix. She doesn’t really get along well with other dogs (she thinks she’s human after all) and things get especially ruff if that other dog is female. Having said that though, things with Zzulu are going better than I thought they would. While Bella doesn’t really want to play (she’s 91 in human years!) she puts up with Zzulu nipping her tush to try and get her up and at ’em. Several times now Zzulu has played tug with the furry white tip of Bella’s wagging tail (which is just freaking adorable) and Bella grins and bears it quite nicely. Just yesterday the two of them shared the doggie bed that Zzulu kicked Bella out of and I’m going to consider that progress. But in the meantime, I love my senior dog for being such a good, patient, well-behaved girl.

That’s all for now – more details later including information on Zzulu’s shaved head….

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When we last left our intrepid heroine…. oh wait, this is a true story, no extra drama needed. Sorry, where was I… Oh, right. A puppy. For five months. A Belgian Malinoise puppy on loan from the Department of Defense. Right. No reason to be worried, right? RIGHT?!?!? But I was, horribly.

See, I’ve never actually HAD a puppy before. I’ve always rescued dogs and they arrived in my home at nine months or older, very grateful, needing a refresher course in potty training and maybe some assistance with some emotional baggage, but overall pretty easy. But this was a PUPPY puppy and a Belgian Malinois – known for its high prey drive and strong powerful bite. However, when we left puppy training, as I mentioned in my introductory post on this topic, we agreed to foster a puppy from the Z litter and pick her up on the following Friday at 10 weeks old. GULP.

I imagined what it was going to be like and I thought I had a pretty good idea. But, you know, before I became a mom, I imagined what it was going to be like and thought I had a pretty good idea – AND I FOUND OUT I WAS A COMPLETE IDIOT. Oy. But my daughter and I headed back to Lackland Air Force Base on July 22nd to pick up Zzulu our foster puppy and bring her home.

Zzulu

We were met outside the gates by Jimmy who released a wriggling mass of puppy flesh from the crate in the back of the vehicle. Zzulu collapsed at my feet and cried as she bared her tummy for all to rub. Jimmy looked down at this wriggling mess, shook his head, and smiled. “HARDLY behavior fitting an officer of the military!” he said. He may have been right, but I was already planning to bury my face in that tummy and zerbert it so I wasn’t really too concerned.

My daughter and I walked around a bit to try and get Zzulu to potty before getting in the car, but no luck. So we carefully placed her in the military-provided crate in the back of the car and headed toward home. Not a minute had passed before the crying had started. Crying doesn’t seem quite the right word though. The below video is the only way I can explain it:

That was taken from the first time we crated her at home.

A few minutes into the drive, the crying stopped. The silence was brief. Then, “Mom, Zzulu’s throwing up.” Well, not a whole lot you can do with that one, is there. So the rest of the drive was spent mentally planning, “Operation: Clean Puppy.” And the plan worked, too. As soon as we got home, I put Zzulu in our fenced-in area, hosed her off, grabbed the crate, hosed it out, and discovered that the puppy had this wonderfully short coat that dries in SECONDS. Score! My senior dog takes at least two days to dry fully, so this was a nice discovery.

Ah, yes. The senior dog. Age: 13 years old. Name: Bella. Breed: mixed. Size: large. Disposition with people: sweet as pie. Disposition with dogs: ALPHA TERROR. It was time for Zzulu and Bella to meet. I had also spent some time planning this one. I had my daughter wait outside with the puppy while I went inside to leash Bella. I had also cut up some ham and put it in a little baggie just for the occasion. My plan was to introduce the dogs outside the house and then immediately take them both for a walk while I offered up the bits of ham to Bella to distract her and give her a happy feeling about the puppy. I’ve obviously been watching WAY too much Animal Planet…

But you know what? It kinda worked. Bella ran out, sniffed the puppy aggressively, I pulled out the ham, we went for a walk and life was good. Even better than I expected. Then we got back home and into the house. Zzulu tried out all her puppy charms on Bella. And failed. Miserably. To Bella’s credit, she didn’t try to eat Zzulu, but she did kinda turn away everytime Zzulu came near her. And Zzulu got PISSED. So she started attacking Bella and has since kicked her off her doggie bed, stolen her treats, and played tug with the white tip of her fluffy tail. Bella has handled herself beautifully – Zzulu takes “alpha female” to a new level.

Okay, enough rambling for now. Stay tuned for the next issue where I answer such common questions such as:

  • What’s up with the name Zzulu?
  • How destroyed is your house?
  • How’s the potty training going?
  • How does the whole rent-a-puppy thing work?
Until then, I leave you with this:
Belly Up!

Asleep in the corner.

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So today I ran to our local H-E-B grocery store to pick up a few things. As I’m walking in I step aside to make room for a couple with a grocery cart and notice that the wife has a Trader Joe’s bag over her shoulder.

“Excuse me,” I say, “but is there a Trader Joe’s here in San Antonio?”

She shook her head and said, “No, but is that an insulin pump?”

When I said it was, she showed me her own insulin pump. Of course I invited her to join our adults with type 1 support group, but what a great chance encounter it was! If I hadn’t asked about Trader Joe’s, she never would have looked at me and seen my pump and we wouldn’t have met.

Who knows where or when my next diabetes encounter might be…

And it really sucks that there’s no Trader Joe’s…

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So, a few weeks ago my husband, daughter and I happened to deviate from our normal weekend activities and go to a different library. Hey, everybody needs a change of scenery, right? So we went to the Landa Library in San Antonio to get out our books for the week. My husband (who is CONSTANTLY looking for things to do in a hyperactive manic obsessive way) noticed several flyers on the door leading into the library and stopped to peruse them with intensity. Excitedly (think 12-year-old boy discovering a secret decoder ring in his cereal), he pointed out one about learning how to foster a puppy for the Military Working Dog Breeding Program at Lackland Air Force Base. THIS. This simple act of going to the library. THIS was the end of life as we knew it…

Dutifully, I attended the informational session a few days later, met some dogs, listened to some passionate people, and was hooked.

The 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base operates a breeding program for military working dogs in support of the Department of Defense Military Working Dog program. They breed Belgian Malinois mostly, a breed I’ve always been fascinated with but rarely experienced in person. The Puppy Program needs homes for the puppies from age 9 weeks to 7 months. The idea is to socialize these puppies and get them used to a lot of different experiences and environments before they go back to Lackland for formal training to be detection dogs and serve in the Army, Navy , Air Force and Marine Corps units around the globe.

Belgian WHAT you may ask. You can learn more about Belgian Malinois here.
To learn more about the Puppy Program, click here.

I filled out the form I received at the information session and e-mailed it to the address they provided. Within a few days I got a response that they wanted to come and do a home visit to determine if we had a suitable home for the puppy. It was clear that they two guys who run the program, Jimmy and Dave, were THRILLED to have a prospective foster parent. They were eager to get started. I, however, felt like things were moving really fast. I set up the appointment though and tried to keep my 7-year-old and husband from careening off the walls with excitement.

Dave arrived for the home visit and asked us a lot of questions. He walked through our home and examined our fenced-in area. When we told him that we were about to embark in a huge renovation project and would lose that fenced-in area temporarily, he said, “No problem.” and seemed excited that the puppy would be exposed to the hustle and bustle of construction and subsequent noise. Mostly it seemed that there was very little to keep someone from fostering a puppy – a fenced-in yard isn’t even a requirement, you can foster if you’re in an apartment. What really came out during the interview was how much this man loved his job and cared for these puppies. The word dedication doesn’t even seem to do it justice.

We met Dave’s own German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois and asked him a ton of questions. We learned that puppies are constantly available and always need foster families. We learned that the puppies are named by their alphabet litter and usually after fallen soldiers. We learned that the Z litter was just about ready to leave the whelping center and that we’d likely get one of these with a Z name. I learned that this was all about to happen way sooner than I expected.

The following Saturday we attended Puppy Training at Lackland Air Force Base. This is where the puppies are brought on a monthly basis so that the trainers can work to expose them to different tasks. We got to see puppies at various stages which gave us great insight into the rapid growth rate of the Belgian Malinois. It was tremendous fun and I think all three of us had perma-grins on our faces the entire time. Upon leaving we got to meet the members of the Z litter and the people who cared for them. Again, it was clear how much these people cared about the puppies and their responsibility. It also became clear that we had fallen completely and head-over-heels in love (with the puppies, not the people – though they were pretty great). This was a done deal, baby. No turning back now.

Stay tuned to see what happens next….. (SPOILER ALERT: Don’t scroll down if you want to wait for the next installment.)


I had to type this article SUPER FAST during nap time and various grunts are telling me it’s almost over….

Sleeping puppy

Snore....

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Well, today was supposed to have been the day. The day we’ve been waiting for since November 2010 when we signed the paperwork for the house we wanted. But it’s not going to be closing day after all. My father has this joke he tells, “All those who think they’re going to (insert action here), stand up! Ooops, not so fast, (insert name of person who’s not going to get to do inserted action here)!” So all those who think they’re going to get the keys to their house today, stand up! Oooops, not so fast, ME! Eh, it’s much funnier when my father does it … and when it’s not about me.

Let’s see, what HAS happened since I last wrote? Well, as I mentioned, Bank of America did not get back to us by our noon deadline to allow us to sell some stock to get cash for the additional funds they needed after lowering our qualifying loan amount. If you recall, they lowered the amount because while they refused to consider either of my two sources of income, they still were very much interested in my credit card charges.  They (Bryon Dillon and @BofA_help on Twitter) both stated that the reason it took so long is because with the attention I’ve generated they now need to answer to a number of individuals on decisions they make about our loan before they get back to us.

So let me get this straight. You’re now being held accountable for your actions and this is causing you more work? Poor. Baby. Honey.

I still find it …. coincidental … they they waited until 20 minutes after the markets closed, but oh well. We had to tell them that we now wouldn’t be able to have the funds available until Monday the 24th.

Additionally, we found out that the seller wants $425 per day past closing. Frankly, I don’t really blame them.  They weren’t happy with the extended close to begin with and then we ask for MORE time? So we went back to Bank of America and asked for two things:

1) Take my name off the loan – just have the loan be in my husband’s name – and approve the original loan amount they pre-qualified us for before they found one month’s inflated credit card charge on my account.

2) Help us with the seller’s daily fees since it’s their fault they didn’t let us know in time that we would definitely be approved if we came up with the additional funds.

To #1 they responded that it would delay the close at least an additional two weeks. To #2 they said, “Maybe.”

So not a whole bunch has changed from the Bank of America side of things and we’re looking at a Monday or Tuesday close. In the meantime I’ve rearranged the first mover, cancelled the pest control guy (it’s winter, I’ll wait until we’ve unpacked a bit), rescheduled the handy man, and am trying not to think about how even after this battle is all over, I’m still going to have to deal with unpacking (I’m worn out already).

You won’t hear from me again until Monday or Tuesday and I can guarantee it will be worth the wait. I now need to figure out how to stay busy this weekend so I’m not tempted to drive by our almost house every few minutes and cry.

Until next week…

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