Amazing Month of Busies (Part 1): “Walkin’ the Town”

22 01 2011

In the past month, Windsor and I have been walking farther into town INDEPENDENTLY, without a caregiver. They are our “Adventures” and represent more evidence to my brain healing progress on the Brain Protocol and to Windsor’s ability to care for me by himself.

We’ve walked to local businesses like a favorite cafe to get bagels (for me, not Windsor B.), Home Depot, and the bowling alley.  We know people along each route whom I can ask for help, the layout of each business, and some of the employees, who know my condition in case I need help.  Twice, we made a 4 mile round trip.  My walking can be very slow, so even though it took me three hours to walk that 4 mile round trip, it was a fantastic adventure and feeling of success for both Windsor and me.  He’s proud to take care of me and I’m so grateful for his ability to take his work seriously.

Twice in the past two weeks, Windsor and I have walked 1.5 miles to the bowling alley where I go for therapy.  (I’ll share more about the bowling therapy, it’s affect on my brain, and Windsor’s “bowling talents” in my “Amazing Month of Busies (Part 2).”)  Normally, we are driven to and from bowling, so walking there is a new “Adventure.”

Windsor and I are working on some basic guide dog tasks that are further assisting me even though Windsor is a mobility/medical alert dog.  Walking to the bowling alley challenged both of us and our abilities as we crossed 5 major intersections and at least 10 driveways into businesses where vehicles enter and exit constantly.  It takes great concentration for me to think through all the “safeties” of the moment while coping with the noise outside and the fast movements around me.

Just crossing the street at a light requires a deeper amount of concentration than I used pre-brain injury.  Now I have a learned sequence or “crosswalk procedure” to follow:  push the crosswalk button, cautiously turn back around while “finding” my balance, get set up physically to walk safely down the crosswalk ramp, wait for the green-blinking OK signal to cross (WATCH CAREFULLY!  Do NOT go on the non-blinking, red-hand signal.), check for cars and whether drivers see us before we begin walking, etc.  All of this alert thinking is major stimulation for my brain.

In addition, I must be prepared if Windsor alerts me to a seizure-like episode coming on.  I must stop the crosswalk procedure immediately, OBEY him, and wait until Windsor gives the “OK signal” that the episode has passed.  Then I go back and begin the crosswalk procedure again, starting with pushing the crosswalk button.  Sometimes, I’m mentally overwhelmed “checking for all the safety factors” amidst busy traffic, but I do relax about my seizure-like episodes because of Windsor’s medical alert/response expertise.

On our first “Adventure” walking to the bowling alley, we came to a major intersection, one we’d never crossed before.  While watching for the “Green OK To Cross Signal,” a man in a truck drove into the far right turning lane, the lane closest to us.  He did not stop behind the crosswalk line as is the proper and legal driving action.  He continued to drive into and thru the crosswalk, stopping partially in the intersection, completely blocking our safe way to cross the street. I noticed the man see Windsor and me, so I waited hoping he would reverse his truck since there were no other vehicles in the lanes around him, nor coming from behind.  Alas, my wish did not happen.

The “Green OK to Cross Signal” continued to blink, so even though the man did not reverse and make clear our way, I gave the “Let’s go” command and Windsor led me around the truck.  What then surprised me was that Windsor maneuvered me out of the intersection and back into the crosswalk boundaries.  I’ve been training Windsor to find crosswalk ramps for me, but I’ve never taught him to walk IN~BETWEEN the two solid crosswalk lines.  I was flabbergasted as I, once again, witnessed Windsor’s high level of intelligence to think safely for us.

I marvel at Windsor’s “giftedness” as a service dog and how he continues to mature and learn.  I was amazed at how Windsor found a way to solve the crosswalk problem.  I believe angels and a higher heavenly being, the Holy Spirit, watch over me, watch over Windsor, and help Windsor make wise and safe decisions for us.  Sir Windsor carried on getting me through the crosswalk, helped me to balance and stabilize getting up the ramp, and moved into our preparation sequence for the next crosswalk we needed to take to clear the intersection.  Windsor was SPOT ON leading me thru each challenge to get to the bowling alley which helped me relax and continued to build my faith, trust level in him.  That’s my boy!  We made it to bowling ~ by ourselves ~ INDEPENDENTLY!  Who cares that it took us an hour to walk the 1.5 miles?  It was an amazing adventure walkin’ the town!  Whee!!!  (Stay tuned for Amazing Month of Busies (Part 2):  “Bowling ~ Spare, Strike, and UH-OH!” coming in a few days!)