Friday, October 29, 2010

tis the Season?

I guess a lot is going around - and tis the season for colds and in my case bronchitis.

Nurse Emma is taking good care of me.
I am on antibiotics since I get pneumonia so easily
Sleeping a lot....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A busy Day for Emma and I

A counseling appt, voting absentte, one hour of physical therapy and a three hour MRI filled out day. Greg was off and took care of Emma for the MRI. I am very claustraphobic so I was giving drugs to help me relax. Came home and napped another three hours. Am headed back to bed. Think I am getting a cold.

Emma is enjoying time with me and some extra time with Greg too. I don't know what we will do tomorrow - likely be at home.
I'll write then about our trip to the zoo on Tuesday...............interesting stories about Emma's reaction to some animals...

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Emma had some time with Greg on a cloudy, cool day with some rain. I was able to go to a concert with a friend. We saw Celtic Thunder and it was marvelous. It is a group from ireland.

I need to go rest my neck but am hanging in there. Sat I had to rest all day but we visited for a few hours with dear friends in the evening.

I will write more tomorrow. Emma is very good at getting me a blanket when i sit around on chilly nights. OH OH it is only Oct this is not chilly compared to how it will be in Dec and Jan...though we don't have the furnace on tonight.

Hope to get some pictures posted this week....Mary

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We educate One person at a time.

Emma is a snoozing and I will soon join her.
I had physical therapy this morning and then a friend picked us up. We had a YUMMY lunch and a place called "YUM". Very tasty food and great company. We had a loong lunch and great conversation and laughs. She is a great friend and often will pick me up from Dr. appts. I also got some meds and a flu shot. That's it for the day. Now a long rest. Greg will be home for a bit later dinner.

Still trouble with my neck and arm. Physical therapy seems to be helpful and gentle. Massage, heat, and teaching me very gentle exercises. A MRI next week on the head and neck.

Sunny and cooler but great out. I even walked just a little with Emma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I mean i walked also!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This has been a nice fall.

This years graduates just took there dogs home for the first time from Helping Paws.
I remember that day - I was so nervous about if I would be able to give Emma a good life.
She had a full and active life with her foster family.
Well we are doing pretty well I think.
I appreciate her presence in my life so much.

Today we educated peole at the Mpls Clinic of Neurology and at the restaurant about Helping Paws. We had to wait awhile for a ride from the clinic = everytime we go out it seems we find ways to educate others. That is a good thing.

Hope you are having a good week. i need some sleep now - move over Emma...she loves to snuggle close to me and the feeling is mutual.

Have a great day - Mary and Emma

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From my first month training with Emma -2005

Our First Public outing

We had a good experience working together today. I am getting so use to having Emma at my side I almost forgot it would be unusual for them to see a dog in Target or a grocery store. A small group even gathered to watch as Emma had to pull open a door for me at a Barnes and Noble store. She did wonderfully. I have not had a lot of experience using my own scooter in some of those stores with those doors so we had the added adjustment of me practicing getting through each door without being too slow or fast to do it comfortably. I heard parents comment to children that is a helper dog so don't touch. I let Emma help decide what toy to buy and got her a nylac bone. I was so impressed with how she handled being in public. It is amazing they know not to sniff or bother food at a grocery store or where we gathered for a snack. If it does gain her attention - all I have to say is "leave it" and she keeps on going. At the training center they even put treats on the floor where we walked so we practiced this with her. The employees and public seemed so respectful. Many shared their good wishes. We finished earlier so I even got a nap in and that was well needed. Tomorrow more training at helping paws and then she comes home for a quiet evening.
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Monday October 17, 2005

Monday the second week.

Emma was eager to see me today. She showed me how she can open a door, turn off and on lights and we reviewed other skills. One very cute story to share....They were showing us appropriate toys for the dog that were safe and suitable. I had heard a Kork was one of Emma's favorites. When they passed it around (we were siitting at a table) I dropped it right in front of Emma who was laying on the floor. My first thought was her favorite toy and I am suppose to get it from her. The instructors encouraged me to have her bring it to me as she has to know to bring me things not just those she chooses. Well she moved quick. When she heard me ask her to get it - she put it quickly under her rug and then layed her whole body over it. It was like she was saying "Get what I don't have anything". Her expression on her face and her moves made me laugh so hard I had to look away and calm down To her credit when I again said get it - my dear Emma got it and stood up and brought it to me. That's my working dog. She did earn a treat for giving up a toy. I was glad the instructors pointed out that i should followr up with my command to give it to me so she knows that is what she has to do.
Be assured when we are home and she is not working she will be able to play with that and other commands. I am exhausted. Tommorow is our first field trip to a shopping center.

Wed Fun

Today we are going to a movie and seeing how my neck/arm handles that outing. IT will be fun to be with my friend Karen and see how this goes. We went to water exercise Tuesday but I could not do much, we went to an MS educational event with my daughter in the evening. I was sore but not as much as I thought I would be. Today, I can rest after out outing.

Emma is so super. She is bringing me a blanket these cool nights when I need a bit of extra warmth.
She is just a wonderful companion.

I am going to try to look up an old blog from my first year to post.

Mary and Emma wish you a good day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween is not far away and my family will celebrate birthdays. Greg was born on Halloween. This is a picture of Emma a few years ago. We are excited to have the entire family together if all goes as planned.

My daughter and her boyfriend came to see us today (Sat) and my other daughter is coming tomorrow with her husband for awhile. Greg hopes to be home a few hours on Sunday too (his busiest day of the week often).

We posted two times today - check out my good news...and hello from Emma who is still my little pumpkin.

Great News!!!

I am on the new drug Ampyra to help with MS. It helps the messages from the brain get to the limbs. Helping with walking mostly.

Guess what????????
I can tell a difference. I am showing off to family how I can lift my legs higher. If this continues I can climb steps much easier and walking will be easier. It is suppose to help you generally feel better too....time will tell what the results are but I am thrilled and that is an understatement.

Anna and Brian stopped in and i showed off to them. Anna couldn't believe it - it has been more than a decade that I could move my legs like that. Now it is isn't a miracle drug I am told but any help in managing MS is wonderful in our eyes.

A friend of mine has had great results on this drug. She can use a cane more often and walker less. She also says she feels better. She has been on it about two months. It doesn't help all patients with MS they say about 1/3. Gosh I am excited if this keeps up.

The CANE - Emma is working on getting the cane for me (i have a different one). At home yesterday, she somehow got it but had it hooked under one of her legs. On three legs she still got it to me. What a girl.

Well When I can I am almost marching around the house I am so thrilled. Will keep you informed as to how this goes for me in the long term. Neck/arm still sore and weak but we will focus on the good news...

Have a great day....Mary

Friday, October 15, 2010

from Oct 10 2005 my first days with Emma

thinking of Emma -from my blog in October 2005 when I first trainned with Emma.

Emma look at the time. I should be in bed dog gone it. I am instead up thinking about you. I can't sleep. I am thinking how amazing it is that you are coming into my life. First of all I can't believe how much love, patience, persistence, and intelligence it took for Judy to train you over the past two plus years. As anxious as I am to get you to come home with me. I know she will miss you. She has a new dog she is training but I can see you are a unique dog and her first service dog so will always be special in her heart. another women, who is also a foster mom and giving up her puppy to another graduate (as they call us) said it is a process and even though they plan for it difficult. It is so fun to tell Judy at the end of each training day how you did Emma. She sure did an excellent job workign with you. I am just getting a glimpse of all the time and expertise it took to bring you this far - so I am thinking of that tonight.
Emma you are going to open new worlds for me. Multiple Sclerosis has changed my life. I have shyed away from going to stores, malls, and some events due to the changes. I particularily have not ventured out in a scooter alone. I have tried those available at the supermarkets but you just can't reach everythign. I drop things easily and then you have to get off the darn scooter to pick it up. Or bend over and get get the picture. I think I will try more things with you along as my helper. Even on good days when I can use a walker for a quick trip - I run into problems. Now as I actually work with you it really is hitting me how practical and wonderful this will be for me.

At one time in training today I blinked back tears. I was thinking of the reality of all this. I have seen people with service dogs at MS camp or once in awhile at educational events. I always hoped that I might qualify for a dog - now here I am really training with a dog. I was listening to a speaker and there you were Emma, sleeping under the table at my feet - and I just thought this is so unbelieveable.

It is hard to loose your physical abilities. I wish I had not taken for granted being able to run, take long walks, stand for a length of time and so many things that are not possible for me now. People sometimes ask me how I cope but i say a day at a time. How else? I have a good attitude and sense of humor I think. I credit that to my supportive children, husband, Dr. Schapiro and his nurses, and support from the MS Society. The people I meet with MS are wonderful peers and we really keep one another going. Yet even with all that, sometimes it is lonely, scarey, frustrating, and tough to deal with an uncertain future.

I am crying as I reflect on this fact. Now I will have Emma to help me deal with some of the challenges. It will help me be more independent. My philosophy with my family is I won't ask for help if I can do it myself. Like if I need physical assistance at home. I recognize some days I need more help than others due to the nature of MS. Now Emma will help me pick up things, open doors, help at stores...they say she will help in more ways then I can imagine. It will be good for me. It will be good for my family. It will be helpful when I am home alone. You have to chuckle that sometimes they come home to a trail of things that I dropped and could not pick up. Emma loves to retrieve so she should like being with me.

My dog boomer was put down in November. I cried and cried and never wanted to give a dog my heart again. He was not a service dog though became an important companion to me. Here I am venturing into another relationship with a dog. Emma will be different than a pet due to the fact she is a service dog. I can already get a glimpse of how strong that bond will be. This relationship is going to take work, committment, priority, and time. Emma are you ready to do this with me? I hope I can offer you what you need to make this work.

Look at the strong feelings I have after only two days of training!! I pray that I can learn what I need to these weeks of training. I am grateful for the follow up that helping paws offers. Emma it is a new chapter in my life. I guess this is like your first love letter from me...
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Tuesday October 11, 2005

Training Mary to work with Emma

Training was very involved today. There seems to be so much to learn and practice with the dog. My enthusiasm for working with the dog is only growing. Emma is so skilled, lovable and a beautiful dog. We worked hard today on various cues and behavior. The training staff is so patient and helpful. We have a mixture of lectures, demonstrations and lots of time working with the dogs. I am learning the importance of my timing of my cue to Emma and my reinforcement. I am also trying hard to not give her the command/cue twice. she needs to react on my first request and by telling her more than once I am reinforcing her taking her time. They also tell me sometimes I tell her things like it is a question rather than like I am in charge. I have to work on being more firm but of course I don't want to be crabby.

We went outside for a little bit with the dogs and with the distractions of outdoors, she still worked well with me. This was the first time I brought my scooter and it makes a difference. It positions me different with the dog and Emma had a tendancy to go ahead rather than beside me. She also has to get use to the noise it makes. She came out smelling like a rose and was so helpful. I can't wait to take her for a walk in my neighborhood when we get home. I also had my first trip on Metro Mobility a transportation service for the handicaped. That will expand my world to use that service when I can't drive. It is very evident that Emma is going to make it much easier for me to do things outside the home and at home. She is so cute. I think the cutest dog in training of course.

Emma gave me her first show down. She refused to do what I requested on a specific thing. I am not sure if it was because I did not sound like I meant it. Or because I started to repeat the request rather than expect her to do it the first time.. With the help of an instructor I held my ground and was patient. She didn't get her treat till she complied. She has such cute eyes and expression I had to not look at her and give her facial contact till she did as told. I was worried I did it wrong, and then thought of like a toddler testing the limits when you ask them to do something. Like a friend of mine who is a parent said about his daughter "sometimes you have to be calm and firm so they know this is not let's make a deal". I have to work on sticking to what I request so we are a good working team.

It is interesting to get to know the others who are getting a dog and the trainers. They are all such nice people. The dogs are amazing.
We are so boring right now. I am rest rest and resting now. Changing position though to keep the pain tolerable in my arm and neck. Greg is giving Emma extra outdoor time with him and I am managing to get her outside too when alone. I have physical therapy again Monday and an easy weekend planned.

It is a pretty sunny but a bit cooler fall day. Emma is loving the leaves and just playing in the yard. I can't toss things to her now to fetch outside but she manages to have fun smelling and scampering around.

Last night she just on her own brought me a blanket (hers) and a remote control while I relaxed in the recliner. Isn't she funny and precious. She is eager to help.

It is a bit hard to even type so will keep this short. We are coping one day at a time and will know more next week.

Emma and Mary hope you have a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Emma's Skills

Our day included the demo at the MS Group Mtg. Two other Helping Paws dogs were there. John and his 5 mo old puppy in training Jed, and Rosie with her 4 year old LOTI did just great. I added a bit of verbal information but Emma and I watched.

I feel defensive after one audience member thought at age 7 1/2 Emma maybe wouldn't or couldn't do the skills. For clarity Emma is excellent at her skills. She did not attempt any demo because she can get distracted when there are so many dogs in small space there...but MOSTLY because I felt so crappy. I could not have stood and presented for 90 min including questions.
Emma is still a great service dog - more than willing to help me out. I am still amazed at what she can do and does do for me.

I am also so emotional today. I think because of pain and anxiety. When I am at a demo or talk with people I often share emotionally what she means to me. I have a poem I sometimes use. Well today I blinked tears as I watched the other dogs perform and realized how much Emma has improved my life.

I also am in awe of John and Rosie and all the volunteers of Helping Paws, especially those foster families who take in a dog to train for 2.5 years. It is amazing to see even what a 5 month old has learned and realize the patience and persistance the foster families have to take on this challenge. Time did not allow me to thank Rosie and John enough for taking time out to present to my peers what a service dog can do.

If things get worse for me I may not write for a few days. The pain in my neck is a pain in the neck in many ways. Now with the MS challenges they have looked at a past MRI and at my symptoms now and think I perhaps have three problem discs in the neck area. Possibly a pinched nerve? The pain that once crept up as the day wore on is now all day and so much worse with each passing day. Sorry to complain but any of you who have had back or neck problems can relate. It is miserable. Very wearing to have such pain. Emma thankfully is rising to the occasion and helping me with everything - including moral support.

One of the issues is weakness and pain in my right arm and leg. The arm/hand could be from the discs? Not sure if they think the leg is still MS. So anyway I sat today. Emma and I watched. Emma was a good demo dog and probably if I drove and felt better we could do demos regularily. But for today, she is focused on helping me.

In what ways is she helping me?

Moral support, including kisses and snuggling next to me.

Get the cane, the keys, my brush, my bag, her blanket, the newspaper, and anything I drop due to the problems I have with tremor and now the weakness.

She got me a blanket when we got home. She is doing just super. Where would I be without her support and care? She is awesome.

Helping Dogs enhance lives for their partners.
We are a team.
She s like an angel in my sometimes very challenging life.
She is a treasure, priceless.
She is my best friend.
I could not deal with life without her....she means so much to me.

Thanks so much to those who read this and also support Helping Paws.
Staff, volunteers, and contributors all help make their mission possible.
Emma is just one example.

IT is about five years since I started trainning with Emma.
I will never forget the excitement of those days.
I worried though if Emma would have a good life with ME.
I wondered if we would bond and do okay.

We are doing great.
I hope to say the same in another 5 years and more.

Thanks to all of you for supporting Helping Paws. Look at if you want to learn more about this organization.
It is wonderful and outstanding.

Lots of love to Judy her foster mom, and belated Happy Birthday from Emma and I.
I won't list all the individuals I know helped with Emma but you know who you are
and I hope you know how deep my gratitude is.

Yeah pain medication allowed me to do this much. OFF to rest the remainder of the evening and tomorrow. etc. My MS Dr doesn't come back till Monday but I hope he will order a new MRI and then we will see what help that is in determining our next steps.

Sorry if I am being a "pain in the neck" by complaining. Those with chronic back/neck problems have my support - yuk.

Emma is my nurse and support...and gosh we are using those skills.

Mary and Emma

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Going to be at the Helping Paws Demo at Regency Hospital in Golden Valley tomorrow. THank you to those of you who talked to Brenda and will be helping. It is a mtg for people with MS in there mtg room. All are welcome if you want to see it. Start Time is 1:00 p.m. Located on Hidden Valley Parkway near courage center. Wed. We will have 4 dogs.

I had both a Dr visit and PT today. Tonight dinner with my daughter, my sister and Greg and Emma...a big nap too. They are getting another opinion but think I may have a pinched nerve in my neck and disk problems. One day at a time as we try to figure all my issues out. Emma was super all day long. I am so proud of her!!!

I must go to bed I am so tired. Greg is fast asleep in his chair with Emma asleep on the floor by me. It is pretty cute. We all are tired and it is only 8:30...we got up early though.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We have had warm sunny fall days. Emma and I have already been outside twice today. We are home today. I think all day. I needed to sleep late so missed going to church. The Church Dog and I stayed home.

I am trying to get some things done like sorting items (Greg cleaned out our office yesterday) and folding some laundry. My intentions are good but my fatigue only allows me to do a bit and then rest. I am trying to be accepting of that fact.

We went to a MS support group yesterday and it was very pleasant. I have not been there regularily for awhile so good to meet with some old and make new friends. Nice to be with people who understand the ups and downs of MS. Then it was over 83 and I napped so long. We turned on the AC for last night and I think I will keep it on today as I just can't function when it is over 80. Funny to run ac in October in MN.

Emma loves the leaves of fall. You should see her try to dive in and cover herself with leaves. She seems a bit more tired when the house is too hot also. We get a lot of sun which warms it up. If Greg were not working, I would want to go for a drive to look at fall leaves. Emma and I will be fine here.

I know several people battling cancer or other serious illnesses. My heart is heavy as someone we love from church is now in hospice. She is so wonderful and this was hard news to hear. My thoughts and prayers are with all those dealing with serious illness themselves, or in their family.

Today I am going to say appreciate your health. Even for me, I need to appreciate my "abilities" and not focus on what is tough to do. Also thanks for family and friends who support us when illness strikes.

Wishing you a good weekend.

Mary and Emma

Friday, October 8, 2010

Counting My Blessings

No jackets needed today - it is 86 degrees. Emma and I got up early with Greg. Power outage at 5am. We use sleep apnea machines so couldn't sleep. We eventually left to get breakfast and were at Target before 8. I didn't know they were open so darn early. Emma got exercise and we killed time while we waited for my physical therapy appt after 9. Got home by 11:30 and needed a nap.

We have been outside it is just so nice. The weather breaks records. Pretty fall trees in the warm sunshine. Truth is it is a bit too warm for MS people but we did fine. I used fans in the house. I enjoyed outside in the shade with a friend. Greg is going to a football game tonight - how warm those athletes will be. Still having such trouble with my neck, back, and arms that I am staying home to relax. Need to have my neck supported in a way that I can't on bleachers.

I want to work more on counting my blessings. At the MPLS Clinic of Neurology in Golden Valley I nearly always see people I know with MS. Today I had the chance to chat briefly with two wonderful women I know. I also had the physical therapist that I prefer and she is very wise about MS.

I also had a metro mobility ride that was on time, (hurray) and a ride that didn't take real long. The driver said Emma was one of the best service dogs he has ever had on his bus. Now isn't that a compliment?!!!! Emma is so good for me. I am thankful for my family and for a good friend who had time to chat and relax with me for awhile. So even with the challenges I have a good good life.

I have good doctors I trust and a medical team. IF I get discouraged (and I do) I want to remind myself of these blessings in my life.

I need to go put an ice pack on my nect and be by the fan to cool off. Thanks so much for reading this note. Hope you can think of blessings to count today especially.

Not sure what is in store for us, b ut you have a great weekend.

Mary and Emma

Having trouble downloading pictures. Hope to have more soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday was mostly a day of rest for me. Greg was off (shock shock) and Emma had time outside on a beautiful fall day with both him (an extra walk too) and time with me. I did get a haircut that was badly needed and we got some groceries. That was enough for me to be tired out big time. Taking a quick break from the Twins game but still listening. Go Twins.

Tomorrow physical therapy again and that is good but tires me. I think we will have a visit with my friend too after school? Depends on how I feel.

Emma was so good. We didn't time things well and she ate supper two hours late. Sometimes this is hard on her - her stomach seems to have an alarm clock. Yeah she handled it just fine and for that I am pleased. We are practicing with the cane now as I have a different one for my comfort but she does not seem to like to pick it up for me consistently. Life with her means some reinforcement of course and practice. Sometimes , many times, I have it in a position she does not have to pick it up for me. Tonight we did go out to eat though and I wanted her to pick it up. A well meaning patron dashed over to pick it up before I could say the dog can get it. So when others do it for her - she doesn't mind at all. Silly dog? or smart dog?

Emma loves the leaves. In the front they are not racked up so she can still lay in them and enjoy them. Beautiful fall weather this week also.

Take good care. Enjoy fall colors and take care where ever you live.

Mary and Emma

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Wednesday

today I am writing mid-day.

Emma and I have already been on metromobility bus for those with handicaps - once today. Coming home from a counseling appt. Greg dropped us off there. We have a break here at home and then the metro mobility bus will pick us up for physical therapy and take us home after we are done. We both prefer car rides - but this service is wonderful for us.

It is a sunny beautiful fall day. Emma is loving being outside with me and going in the leaves. Such pretty leaves it is beautiful to see them when out in the car or bus. Not all of mine have fallen so there are still pretty trees in my yard and my neighborhood.

We are able to have the windows open during the day it is so nice out. We like that too. My house can get so warm from the sun ==too bad it isn't a solar home.

Last night we had dinner with my daughter Anna, the oldest. It was great fun to see her. Her first thing was to take Emma out - she is so good to Emma. I have the greatest children in the world I think. On the way home from burnsville we saw fireworks being shot off looked like in Minnetonka. I would love to know where and what the occasion was to have them on a Tuesday night in October. Sure was pretty.

I still am having lots of problems with my body weakness and MS. That is why physical therapy today and through the month of Oct a couple of days each week, home exercises, and a revision of what they want me to do in the pool. Emma is so helpful and I need her both physically and emotionally during this time. I hope this will gradually get better but some days are tough.
Greg, my children, grandchildren and friends help me cope. Thank God for a good therapist also ha ha.

Well Emma time to rest before the bus picks us up again. Mary and Emma wish you a good day

Monday, October 4, 2010

MONDAY - Here's hoping you have a very good week.

Today Greg was home in the morning because he works late tonight. We enjoyed his company. We have been home all day. It was a beautiful spring day - Emma and I loved the sunshine. IT is suppose to be in the 70's all week. Sunny. So sunny I am forgetting to ask Greg to water flowers for me. Can't manage it on my own right now.

When my granddaughter Rosa was here, she was playing with a toy micraphone and interviewing us all. Her question - what is your favorite season? Why?

I said fall (probably because it is so beautiful now) and that I loved the colored leaves. Grandpa said fall too. Rosa thought all of them were good.

Fall - you jump in leaves!
Winter - you jump in snow
Spring - you see flowers
Summer - you jump in the pool

Her remarks reminded me that I do like MN seasons. I have only lived here so of course am biased. But I can't imagine the world without the seasons. Winter at Christmas...frosty faces, warm hot chocolate, and so on. And yes snow snow snow. I don't have to shovel anymore but enjoy it's beauty. Love seeing Rosa and Sophia playing in the snow...and yes Emma is so enthusiastic about snow.

She/Emma loves the leaves. Some have droppped and others are waiting but soon enough will fall so she can dive into them.
I like how crunchy they are as you walk and how they smell. Fall crisp cool mornings and warmer afternoons...

Thank you to Rosa for getting me to think about the seasons. I will write about the others another day. Today every time I ventured out with Emma I thought of how fortunate we are to have such a lovely season. Sat despite my walking limitations I even went outside with Rosa and Emma too. She wanted to swing and so she did. It was cool but enjoyable.

THANK YOU GOD FOR FALL. THANKS FOR ROSA MY GRANDDAUGHTER AND FOR EMMA WHO GET ME OUTSIDE. Good medicine to think of the beauty of nature. Makes me think of happy things.

Have a happy day.

Emma and Mary

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday had fun with Rosa and Friday night with both Rosa and Sophia!!

Sunday plan to be home = rest up and pick up a bit. Hope yoiu have a great day. hope to write more later.

Emma and Mary