I’m A Canary Who Wants to Fly

19 07 2010

From the 18th into the 20th century, coal miners took caged canaries into the coal mine.  If the canary became distressed or died, it was a warning signal for the men to evacuate due to the air being contaminated by toxic gases or fumes.  I’m not supportive of any animal being put in harm’s way, but I realize this was their survival technique to save lives.

Dr. Abell has referred to me as “The Canary in the Coal Mine,” but in today’s world I’m “The Canary in the Electronic Age.”  Scientific research shows that electronic devices, wired and wireless, are affecting everyone’s body.  Some people “feel” it via headaches, nausea, lack of concentration or disoriented thoughts.  Others don’t feel a thing, but their cells are being affected by the Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and Frequencies (EMF) whether they realize it or not.  Some cell phones show problems by getting hot.  I’m one of the “feelers” in a drastic fashion.  I can stop breathing, fall down, pass out, be immobilized and unable to move any part of my body, be in great pain, be disoriented, and more.  “I’m the canary!”  The federal government sets radiation safety limits, but due to my extreme sensitivities from my traumatic brain injury (TBI), I still suffer.  

A few years ago we operated more like “Little House on the Prairie” in the house here.  No lights, telephone, computer, televison, washer/dryer, stove, oven, microwave, etc. were used due to my brain/body struggles with electricity.  Only the kitchen and garage refrigerator and one bathroom night light were in use.  Most electrical devices were unplugged due to phantom electricity emitting even though the device was turned off.   

As I began to heal via the Brain Protocol, slowly my brain could handle all of the electronic devices in the home beginning to operate more.  (Although no cordless or cell phones are allowed.)  On most electronic devices mentioned above are BIOPRO Universal Chips which help to block the EMFs.  The BIOPRO Universal Chip, validated by Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, is one of the reasons I can operate on the computer.    

I do go out into public some, so obviously I’ve healed enough to encounter cell phones, etc. around me some.  However, by the time I return home, my brain is tired and does not cope with them.  At the end of May, I had a setback due to a cell phone accidentally being in the house and receiving an incoming call.  It left me weakened, susceptible to more “hits,” as I call them, from other electronic devices.  With 10 hits, I’ve struggled to think clearly, my pain increased, my legs struggle to be under me.  I’ve needed people to make my meals, do my laundry, etc. – all tasks I have taken great pride in handling myself now for over a year. It has required some living the “Little House on the Prairie” life again.  This past week I have been doing better, am active on the computer more, and I successfully ventured out into the “electronic world” in public. 

When in public, I keep a watchful eye.  I often veer away from electronic devices that cause me physical stress.  This includes people texting or talking on their cell, using cameras, employees scanning inventory on shelves, checkers using a hand-held laser device to scan prices at the check-out counters.  Even though “creative solutions” must be used to be out in public, it’s a great pleasure for me and great evidence of my healing on the Brain Protocol thus far to be out in public around people, to see many colors, to listen to sounds, to relearn how to operate in the world, and to feel a part of this world.

I’m not functioning at the level I was at before the end of May, but I will be as I wait patiently and follow the medical directives from my doctor.  Experience on the Brain Protocol, plus the use of other brain supplements from my regimen, have taught me that I will return to my previous functions prior to the setback when my brain/body is ready. We are continuing to find other solutions to help with my EMF difficulties, so there is hope.

Here are some facts that may interest you…

Spanish Scientists discovered that a cell phone call lasting two minutes can alter the natural electrical activity of a child’s brain for up to one hour afterwards.  (Source:  Spanish Neuro Diagnostic Research Institute) 

EMF is classified as a Group 2B carcinogen under standards established by the World Health Organization’s Agency for Cancer Research.  The chemicals DDT and lead are also Group 2B carcinogens.  (Source:  National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences) 

People can suffer nausea, headaches, and muscle pain when exposed to EMF waves from mobile phones, electricity pylons, and computer screens.  (Source:  Health Protection Agency, Britain)

Wondering about your cell phone’s radiation and simple ways you can protect yourself?  Check your Cell Phone’s Radiation Limit by visiting Environmental Working Group at http://www.ewg.org/cellphone-radiation

To learn more about BIOPRO Technology visit http://www.bioprotechnology.com/Company.aspx.

 

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The Miracle of My Special Buddy

4 05 2010
  

Windsor B. & Me (Click to enlarge.)

Sir Windsor B. Derby, A.K.A. “Windsor B.” for “Windsor Buddy,” has been with me for six weeks.  I’m frequently asked, “How’s Windsor doing?”  I’m not sure if he’s my sidekick or I’m his, but he’s pretty special!  I’d like to share some of our special moments, the miracles I see with him being in my life!   

Windsor, Heather, and I met and started to train together on a Friday.  Windsor cried on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when the trainer, Heather, left the home.  None of us were surprised knowing he’d experience mourning.  His whole life was changing and we were prepared to love him through it.  However, on Monday, the day Heather had to return to Kansas, we were NOT prepared for Windsor’s reaction.  (Yes, the training was fast.  However, I have past experience with dogs, my horse therapy provided recall/learning experience, Heather trained me – via phone, pictures, & videos, I watched videos/researched via the wonderful asset of the internet for over a year, and I will continue to train with a SD trainer here.)

On Monday, prior to Heather leaving, we trained at a local store.  With Windsor at my side, we all walked outside to hug and say our “goodbyes.”  Windsor watched Heather walk away and get into her vehicle.  Once she was out of view, he turned around with an “I’m ready” attitude.  It was a shocking moment!  His turn towards me held so much communication.  He picked up his “mantle” – “I’m Sir Windsor B. Derby!  I’m yours now.  I understand this is what I’ve been training to do.  I’m your service dog and I’m here to help you.”  There was no more mourning, no crying.  From that moment, he has been glued to me, alert to helping, working to understand my language, giving love, providing laughter, and wanting to help in any way possible.

Sir Windsor Provides Mobility & Medical Alert Assistance

Medical Alert Assistance:  Our third week together, I realized “The Windsor Look.”  “The Windsor Look” is a medical alert.  It’s a very serious, deep, and mature look on his face just prior to an episode starting.  “The Windsor Look” allows me to prepare and be aware.  I do not have seizures.  I have episodes.  My body shakes hard like a seizure.  I’m alert to my surroundings, but am unresponsive, uncommunicative.  There is no physical evidence to having a seizure.  Some episodes are long and strong, causing me to feel dazed and lethargic.  Others are mild and short, and once completed I’m able to carry on with my activity.  Episodes occur intermittently everyday.  Many service dogs receive specialized training to provide medical alert assistance.  Windsor, amazingly, is doing many of the skills due to his inner instincts.  Although he has not begun this specialized training, he already alerts me.  Without directive, he even stops playing with his toys – and he LOVES those!  He waits quietly, calmly at my feet or lies next to me on the bed for hours and hours, refusing to leave me, and refusing to eat.  He also provides pressure, a “grounding technique” many medical alert dogs are trained to do – again a specialty not yet trained to do.  It’s a miracle…

Mobility and Medical Alert Assistance:  In our fourth week together, we went to Trader Joe’s, a specialty food store which is a  love of mine, but is highly brain-stimulating.  Due to my brain issues, I’ve only been four times since 2005.  While pushing the cart, Windsor is to walk along the side of me.  He suddenly cut across the front of me, making his body parallel to the cart’s handle, blocking me from moving forward.  Obviously, I was forced to stop with a 75 lb. pup blocking me – “The Windsor Block.”  Within a brief moment, I fell.  Falling is a typical occurence for me due to my brain injury.  Windsor then proceeded to follow his mobility training by going “Down,” waiting for me to “Brace” on him, and “Stand(ing)” as I regained my balance.  I thought, “Hmmm…did he know I was going to fall?  Was he trying to alert me?”  It didn’t take long to know that the answer was, “YES!”  as I fell four more times in the store.  Prior to each fall he body-blocked me.  Again this is a technique service dogs are specially trained to do.  Windsor has not yet received this training, but was being planned in the future.  It is amazing that he’s already doing this…now if only his handler (that’s ME!) would LISTEN to him and stop trying to make him go back to my left or right.  Within the service dog world, it’s called “Intelligent Disobedience.”  (Ex:  A guide dog is given the command to go “Left,” but ignores it and goes “Right” because he sees danger.  The handler must respect the dog’s “Intelligent Disobedience.”)  I must respect his “Intelligent Disobedience,” his communicating to me, his ignoring my command.  He can decipher a chemical that is alerting him to my falling.  He’s doing what is right by blocking me, so that I’m aware and don’t get hurt. 

The bowling picture above and the video below was taken on our first Monday, about 20 minutes after Heather left.  You can witness Windsor B.’s attentive nature to me.  Windsor does quickly assist me when I fall, even without a spoken command, but at bowling I didn’t want his help.  Bowling is a favorite pastime and a physical/brain therapy for me – coordinating eye/hand/arm movements, working with noise distractions – from music, bowling balls, pins, people.  It’s shows some of my ongoing progress with noises, my eyes, physical movements, and at interacting with people while focusing on an activity.  By the way, I’ve only gotten a few SPARES in 9 months!…and Windsor had just turned 9 months when we met.  So, I think a SPARE is a great way to celebrate!!!  (I got a STRIKE that day too – my 2nd in 9 months!) 





Let’s Go to the Horses!

13 03 2010

My dear friends – known and unknown, I’d like to introduce you to my special friends.  My “Big Buddies” are Angie’s horses with whom I have the wonderful priviledge of working with at horse therapy.  They mean the world to me and have been an amazing stimulant for my brain healing (TBI).  My “Little Buddy,” my service dog, Windsor, arrives in less than 2 weeks!  YIPPEE!!!   We are still raising funds to cover Windsor’s costs.  (Go to “Donations” for more info.)   

If you like to dance or just like to watch, all are welcome to a Benefit/Charity Dance to raise funds for Windsor and me on Saturday, March 20.  More info is on the “Put on Your Dancing Shoes!” post.  It’s just after this one.





Put On Your Dancing Shoes!

20 02 2010

All are invited…

Saturday, March 20

to a Benefit/Charity Dance to raise funds to bring Windsor and me together as a Service Dog Team.  

 

 

 

 

 

When:  Saturday, March 20, 7:00pm to 11:00pm
Location:  Avant Garde Dance Studio #2
                      4220 Scott Drive
                      Newport Beach, CA 92660
Directions:  View map at http://www.avantgardeballroom.com/directions.htm
Phone:  949-651-0630
Hosts:  Kathy Mardaresco & Mare Stephens

Advance Registration $25.00 by March 15th or $30.00 at the door includes:

Open Dancing – availabe to anyone regardless of dance experience
Buffet dinner/soft drinks
(2) Entries for Jack and Jill Contest
Opportunity to show off your routine (limted time/space)
Ribbons/certificates for performances
Present and past dance instructors will be judging!

Silent Auction to include such items as:

dance lessons
gift certificates
basket of wine
jewelry
day spa
and many more items

For advance registration, please notify marerecycler@gmail.comAlso, please be sure to register for your routine by emailing marerecycler@gmail.com.  

If you cannot make the event, but would like to make a donation, please send all proceeds to PayPal (Click on “Donations” above.) or send a check made payable to Christy Miller at:
Hope for Christy
PO Box 1358
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Invite your friends and have some fun!  Before my TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, I used to dance and I still love it in my heart.  I will be there in spirit!

Donation Update:  Windsor’s total cost is $7,000 for his purchase, training, service dog equipment, and medical.  As of February 14, about $5,000 has been donated.  Windsor is a mobility assistance dog who will help me open doors, retrieve dropped items, provide balance assistance, alert people in public that I’m a slower, disabled person, and much more.  Windsor arrives at the end of March.  Yippee!





Hearts Bursting with Pride

25 01 2010

Donation Update:  As of January 25, $4,100 has been donated towards Windsor’s total cost of $7,000 which includes his purchase, training, service dog equipment, and medical.  He arrives here in March 2010.  Thank you everyone for your help!

 


Today Windsor took his first “Public Access Test” for proper public behaviors and the performance of certain skills/tasks required for his service dog certification.  The proctor and the other trainers testing were completely amazed and impressed by this little guy who just turned 7 months yesterday.  They had never seen a 7 month old greatly exceed the expectations of the test.  One of the goals is to see how the dog responds to stressful situations in public.  Because Windsor was scoring the highest possible scores across the board, the proctor “upped the ante” of stress on him.

Below, are 3 EXAMPLES from the test.  I hope you enjoyed the  MOVIE of Windsor I was able to create from past photos and videos.  It is my first ever!  The movie is a GREAT piece of evidence that my brain continues to heal while on the Brain Protocol, even while experiencing some “bumps in the road” with my photosensitivity from PTVS (Post Trauma Vision Syndrome) this week.  Music is still a struggle for me to listen to, especially all instrumental, but I was able to concentrate and enjoy finding orchestration that matched, fit the mood.

  1. Normally, while in a restaurant full of good smells, the dog is tested with SMALL bits of food (i.e. a few pieces of hot dog, popcorn, chicken, etc.) thrown around him for a few minutes (5 minutes).  They are to “Leave it” without any sniffing, licking, or showing curiosity about the food.  With Windsor, the proctor pulled out BOWLS, mounds of food and placed these items, including a WHOLE hot dog, chicken nuggets, etc. around him for 20-25 minutes.  She also placed some on his PAW which he refrained from investigating.  It was a “Piece of Cake” for Windsor!
  2. Service animals must not be startled by or fearful of loud, sudden noises.  The proctor, who typically walks behind the trainer and testing dog, drops items or makes sudden, surprising noises.  With Windsor, the proctor made it harder by SLAMMING together skillets, baking sheets, etc.  No problem!
  3. Windsor passed 99%, scoring the highest scores possible on all requirements but the “stranger approach.”  Strangers – men, women, and children – are asked to do a variety of things, such as, step on their tail, reach out and pet, etc.  Heather was asked to drop the leash and walk 20 feet away.  Six feet is the norm.  Windsor was calm with the strangers and remained in the down position, but his bottom wiggled.  Unfortunately, no wiggly bottom is allowed.  Windsor’s exception to the “norm” was when a child was asked to SKIP over his back.  Although Windsor LOVES children, he didn’t get up to play and he didn’t flinch with the distraction.
  4. There are many who love Windsor and who are INCREDIBLY PROUD of him today!  It was a 2 HOUR TEST, again, longer than usual.  There are tears from our hearts bursting with pride!  He passed 99% of the test.  That is even more remarkable given his young age.  He has to work on the behaviors during the “stranger approach.”  There is no doubt Windsor will soon pass the “Public Access Test.”  Therefore, because he does qualify, Windsor’s service dog ID tags are on the way and he is officially part of the US Service Dog Registry.  This allows Windsor to be protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), along with me.  Thank you Heather and thank you Windsor for working so hard to help me!





Waiting for the Butler…Update 01/10/10

10 01 2010

Donation Update:  As of January 10, $2,975 has been donated towards Windsor’s total cost of $7,000 which includes his purchase, training, service dog equipment, and medical.  His expected arrival is in March 2010.  Thank you everyone for your help!

I miss Windsor every week while waiting for him, but this week was an even greater week of anticipation.  My paralysis issues have been stronger this week which makes me rely on asking others for more help than usual.  My preference is to be as independent as possible, but this week independence was less possible.  When Windsor, whom I refer to as my “butler” in jest, arrives, I will ask him to assist me rather than a person. 

The "Butler" Pose...How may I help you?

Here are some examples:
  1. I was unable to reach my arms up to get a glass from the cabinet.  I was also unable to reach out to push the button on the water dispenser.  Windsor could have opened the door to the garage, retrieved a water bottle, and returned to place it in my lap or hands.
  2. I was unable to open the refrigerator door.  I was unable to reach my bagel which was in a sealed plastic bag.  Windsor, using a tug, could have opened the refrigerator door and been directed to retrieve my breakfast, my bagel.
  3. I could turn door handles, but I could not pull the door open, nor could I close the door with a foot, a hip push, nor an arm/hand push.  Windsor, using a tug, can pull the door open and push the door closed.
  4. Out in public, my balance was a struggle and I needed to hold onto a person to climb up/down the curb/stairs.  Eventually, when Windsor is older and finished with the majority of his growing, he will be trained to wear a mobility harness which I can hold onto for stability to climb up/down the curb/stairs.  (Windsor will be 9 months old when I receive him.  The trainer will return in August to add to his skills.)

A fabulous success from my week is that I rode an elevator for the first time in a few years!  As expected, I was a bit off balance and dizzy after completing the ride, but overall it was a great and wonderful accomplishment.  However, I needed Windsor to push the buttons for me.  I had to ask a person to push the button.

Here are two videos of Windsor.  The first video demonstrates his learning process to retrieve items I may need.  The second video shows his advancement in this task.  A service dog learns to “Look!” at the item, “Get it!”, and then “Give!” to place it in my lap or hands, depending on my mobility at the moment.

 





Big Bunches of Thanks…Update 11/29/09

29 11 2009
 
It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving and in the past week, I’m definitely headed back in the direction of healing. Although my speech and people interaction is very limited, I still have much, much, much for which to rejoice! My ability to venture out into the community began to kick in again. Yeah! On Monday, with a caregiver, I walked to the grocery store and bought one head of lettuce and figured out how to pay in cash – a slow processing, but successful moment! Tuesday, Mom and I studied and played with a few dog toys, figured out what my hand coordination could do, and I selected two “Windsor” toys. Making selections is a difficult, tiring, and often painful task for me, but with the success it gives me the “Happy Brain Dance!” On Wednesday, after being virtually unable to since September, I made it back “to work” for my horse rehabilitation therapy. It felt so good! – no speaking abilities, but I walked, played, and groomed them quietly! They can hear me! I have definitely enjoyed the weekend working quietly on new tasks – hand writing three notes, making Windsor’s door tugs, and “TALKING” through typing. It’s like my brain is a “fireball” finding words and holding them long enough to type! This is often what happens when new abilities kick in. It’s full speed ahead for awhile and then it may stop for a time to focus on a different task to relearn or learn.
  

Angie (my horse trainer), MooMoo, Christy

 
 Some of you have written questions about my horse rehabilitation therapy and I’ll be happy to share the joy and details in the future.  Here is one recent happy moment including some background information.  Angie, my horse trainer, has a background as a workout jockey at Santa Anita Racetrack and she worked with the William Shatner Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles.  Imperor Too, “Imp,” is an Arabian horse, white in color (Angie, I know the proper term for his coloring is “flea speckled gray,” but that’s kind of icky!), and is almost 27 years old.  After having been a parade horse and a long distance runner, Imp is now retired.  Back “in the day,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, the present governor of California, tried to buy him from Angie after a parade.  No way!  Imp is hers since he was a yearling, a baby.  When I began therapy, I did not work with Imp.  In about my second month of therapy, I overheard Angie discussing her horse with a brain disease that causes seizures.  I digest new information slowly, and was unable to communicate my desire to meet this horse.  At this point in my healing, I was barely, barely speaking.  I would lay awake for hours, frequently all night, practicing a few words, or one sentence.  All week I mentally practiced, “Could I please meet your horse with a brain disease?”  I felt so drawn to him.  I just had to meet him.
 
The next week I got my sentence out. I spoke! Angie was happy to introduce me to Imp, but she cautioned me about his lethargy and unresponsiveness to people. To the lethargy – I’ve been there, still get it and to the unresponsiveness – I get it, still have it! Not wanting to over stimulate him, I was allowed into the stall and just went to touch him. My voice couldn’t speak to him, but as I’ve learned over the years, my mind still has silent, mental conversations. I hugged him. I loved him. I spoke to him without words. He understood. Over the past year, Imp and I have an unexplainable relationship. I love all of the horses, but there is something special that he and I give each other. 
 
 
 
 
 

Horse Costumes Fashioned by Christy (From left to right: Tank, Christy, Imp, Eagle, Angie, and MooMoo)

 

Due to my September setback, I missed weeks and weeks of my horse rehab therapy. I just made it back! The first day I just went to give and get lovin’. When I got out of the car, my feet, in my “funny coordinated run,” took off to the stalls. I bypassed the other 21 horses I greet on the way and made a beeline for Imp’s stall. I didn’t have speech and couldn’t call out to him, but Imp saw me and let out the longest, loudest, most boisterous screaming neigh I’ve ever heard from him. My words exactly buddy! I just hung on him and hugged him! True to himself, he gave me lots of nose nuzzles and head rubs up my back and tummy, signs of affection. I so missed him and I’m happy to say he missed me too! People don’t always greet each other in such a loud and effervescent manner, but love expressed through people’s words or actions, or love freely given by animals, is a heart warming moment in my book!

Speaking of hearts, Heather, Windsor’s trainer said, “He melts the hearts of all who meet him.” And, boy, is his heart getting big! Just prior to five months old, he weighed 50 lbs.! That’s large for his age, but as a mobility service dog, he needs to be big and strong for the times I “Brace” on him when I lose my balance or am getting up from having fallen to the ground. Keep growing little guy! Notice in the pics, he’s not all work and no play. Have you ever seen the “Easter Bunny Dog” before? In the pics where he is in a restaurant, notice his calm public etiquette, a service dog requirement – seen but not heard (no barking, no frolicking, no sniffing or eating food from the floor/ground). Also in the pics are Windsor’s doors for training. “Up!” “Push!” He and I, as a team, will open doors that are difficult for me in public. Right now, he is too young, so Heather is “the muscle” and Windsor goes through the motions.

Special thanks too…
 
  •  Heather, Jeremy, and the kids – Ben (a new teenager!), Allie, Amy and Willie for raising, training, and loving Windsor.
  • Windsor’s “neighbors” for being his distractions and to the people/city of Spring Hill, Kansas for being his training ground.
  • The gentleman who offered to pay Heather’s flight from Kansas to California (and back!) with Windsor.
Update: As of December 7, 2009, $1,300 has been donated towards Windsor’s total cost of $7,000.  (Windsor arrives in March.)  I am so grateful for every precious donation.  All of the encouraging notes and acts of kindness keep sending me to my knees, to the ground – literally. These surprises of joy give me a little brain blip and I fall to the ground. There have been so many happy surprises this week, I’m thinking of staying on the ground! Thank you everyone!

Enjoy the latest pictures of Windsor. (Click on picture to enlarge it.)

Heather and I are training at the mall.

Run, Windsor, run! It's time to play, not work.

I'm "Sir Windsor" practicing good table manners - no sniffing, barking, frolicking or eating.

Chase a bunny? I am a bunny!

Table for two, please. I must be calm and focused on my work in public.

Advanced off-leash training