Friday, December 28, 2012

We're Still Here and All Is Well

Hello again, everyone! We're still kicking, and Dog is still with us, and training is going well.

Rachel has been working hard at both school and training, so was very ready for her two week Winter Break, which we are now halfway through. She was hugely surprised when her boyfriend presented her with a promise ring for Christmas, as he will be going into the Army in the Spring, and they are committed to weathering the separation.

Dog's training is going well in most respects, and he's learning more all the time. We have begun alarm training, and though he's motivated and wanting to work, he's having a hard time with the lanyard he's supposed to pull. We've surmised that because the cord is black, and flat, he can't see it well, and has a hard time getting his mouth around it.

We have a plan to replace the black cord, with a bright yellow nylon cord, and put a big blue bead on the end for him to grab. I did a ton of internet research, hoping to get clues to which colors dogs see best, and it looks like yellows and blues are the best. We're hoping to get that sorted this weekend, so that training can really move forward, and he won't get so frustrated and confused.

So, for those of you who are still checking in from time to time, I apologize again for the amount of time between entries, but I can't promise I'll get any better anytime soon. Rachel still has another semester of high school, and then right at the end of the year she'll be working on certification with Dog, her boyfriend will be leaving for the Army, and she'll be preparing for graduation. Things are about to get real around here.

Rachel experienced an increase in seizure and panic activity for the first couple of weeks that Dog was here, but then had a lovely 4 week break, which was such a gift. Dog is sweet, and bouncy, and playful, and we love him, so we very much hope the team continues to do well, and will be certified soon.

I'll leave you with a photo of Rachel and Dog taking a walk in the park, on a gorgeous Winter day...


-Kelly

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Know, I Know...

I am a truly horrible blogger. Dog has been with us since Oct. 19th, and you're just now hearing about it. If you are on Facebook, you've seen some of what's going on around here, but we can't openly share his identity for some time yet, so I'm afraid you'll have to patient awhile longer.

I do have a few photos that don't give away too much, but I'm even nervous about sharing those. I simply don't want to do anything that will mar Rachel's chances of keeping this fantastic resource.

Training has been going well. The first week was sort of rough, while we all got used to Dog, and he got used to us and our schedules. We had to make a change to his sleeping routine, but it's working out well now.

Rachel has been working hard, and learning how to bond with Dog, which is something that is work for her. She's not terribly demonstrative, though we love on her all the time, but she's working on changing that. She's learning to use an authoritative tone, which we call "mom voice", and that does make a difference.

Just today, we took Dog out in public, on a short trip to the county dog licensing office, where he was licensed for 3 years, and they waived the fees because he's a service dog. I wasn't expecting that, so we used part of the money saved to buy Dog a new toy. He was a star when we took him out. He loves his working vest, and is better behaved when wearing it. His heel work is fantastic, he stayed in a down/stay beautifully while we waited, and he made us proud.

Rachel and Dog are napping now, after their big adventure into the world this morning, but I'll leave you with a couple of pics...sorry we can't share his face yet, but we hope it won't be long before the team is certified, and we can show you how gorgeous he is.



Dog loves the view out the front window


Dog looks spiffy in his work vest, and loves to wear it.

-Kelly



Friday, October 12, 2012

I Wonder What The Hamster Will Think

We've been running around, cleaning out Rachel's room, shopping, doing research on vets, etc., and totally forgot to update the blog with the news that Rachel's dog should be here sometime next week! We got the call over a week ago, and my head has been spinning ever since.

The dog has finished his training, and once all of the arrangements are in order, we'll get a call from our local field rep to set up a time for his delivery to Rachel. 

This is me, freaking out just a little. O_0

We've now got food, food bowls, a brush, poop bags, seat cover for the back seat of the car, and just need his bed and a few simple toys, like a Kong and a Nylabone. No treats besides his regular food, at least during the bulk of his training time, from what I understand.

We'll have a lot to learn, but we trust our rep/trainer to walk us through it all. In the meantime, we clean and organize, and try to remember what it's like to toddler-proof a house. It's been a long time, and we are accumulaters of 'stuff'. Rachel is really digging in to the piles in her room, making some hard choices, and cleaning out to make room for his crate, and pick up stuff that he might find tasty. We're a bit concerned that the hamster (or her droppings) might fall into this category. :/

So, that's all for now, and I promise to try harder to remember to update when the dog actually arrives, but things may be a bit crazy around here for awhile. At least it'll be in a good way.:)

-Kelly


Monday, October 1, 2012

Ants In The Pants

Here we are, on October 1st, and with any luck Rachel will have her dog by the end of the month. We haven't yet received a phone call confirming how things are going with training, or when the dog will actually arrive, and I'm going to be an antsy mess until we do. 

Rachel had 4 seizures over the weekend, and though they weren't really big ones, we still couldn't help but hope that having her dog would somehow help make the process easier for her. We are very much looking forward to Rachel having her furry buddy to cuddle up with when she feels lousy.

Once we get the confirmation phone call, and know that everything is a go, we can begin to plan, and shop, and prepare. We are really looking forward to that, because then it will seem real. Right now, it's still a probability, and not a given.

Thanks for your patience with my lackadaisical blogging style, but there really hasn't been much to share the last few weeks. We're just waiting for word. I will certainly update when I know more.

-Kelly

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A...

Seizure Response Dog, and it's coming straight at us.:)

I've been agonizing over this post since Rachel got a phone call a few days ago, letting her know that a dog had become available, and would likely be here by the end of October.

O_o

There have been few times in my life that have actually rendered me speechless. This time, I was speechless, and sobbing at the same time. Poor Rachel thought something was really wrong when I handed her the phone, so she could hear for herself. 

We are beyond thrilled, and grateful, and nervous, and, and, and...

Still, it's not a done deal yet. The dog needs to finish its training, and then pass a final physical before it comes to live with us. After that comes several months of team training, with our local trainer, and then a certification test. Once the test is passed, Rachel and the dog will officially be a team.

So, we can't share specific details about the dog, like its name, but I think it's safe to share that it's a golden retriever, which many Seizure Response Dogs are, and male. Believe me, as soon as we can, this blog will be inundated with photos and updates.

We can't thank our 'village' enough for everything you've done for Rachel. This dog is going to make her life better, and bring down her parents' stress levels, in a huge way. There is a lot of work ahead, but it will all be worth it.

-Kelly

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dork Lord Returneth

She doesn't update her blog very often, but when she does, it's usually entertaining...

Ninjas Are Random


-Kelly

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Little Heart To Heart

This is going to be just a short follow-up to the last post. I didn't want too much time to pass before recording the conversation Rachel and I had regarding all of the stuff I mentioned in the last post about school, SSDI, and the medical power of attorney.

I sat down with her today to briefly discuss the basics of those things, and lay out the pros and cons of the SSDI filing, as I know them. There are simply too many things that I myself don't understand yet, but I wanted her to know just what was on the table, and how much she's going to be responsible for, in just a short 5 months.

Rachel is not in any way mentally impaired on a normal day. She passes all the school benchmarks, though she has to work harder to get there. Her impairment comes from the seizures themselves, and side effects of medications. She is slightly socially impaired, and rather naive in some ways. In others, she regularly surprises me with her insights. 

What this comes down to is that I've been putting off having this conversation with Rachel, because I was worried about what her reaction would be to the SSDI possibility, and what that would mean for her. I was worried that she would see that as marking her as permanently broken. We do not see our daughter as broken. We see SSDI as a way to help Rachel be independent, in the event that she's not able to hold a steady job. 

Our goals for Rachel's life haven't changed from what they were when she was born: We want her to have every opportunity possible, no matter her level of ability. We hope she'll be able to go on to college, have a fulfilling job, and a loving, stable relationship. Our hangup over asking for help, or trying to be completely self-sufficient, has to be set aside in the quest to do what's best for her. 

So, my little update became a full-fledged post. I guess I had more to get off my chest than I thought.

-Kelly

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Which She Rambles

This may be a rather stream of consciousness post, I'm not sure yet. Mainly, I just don't know where to start today.

Summer break has been good, but will be over with the first day of school, on Sept. 4th. In a way, I'm ready to get on with it, get it over with, and get this kid graduated. In another way, there is so much about to happen with her that it's sometimes overwhelming, and I just don't know what should be done first.

Rachel will be 18 in January, which means she'll be the one in charge of decisions having to do with school, and her education plans, etc. It also means that we'll have to prepare a medical power of attorney, just in case she's unable to make decisions for herself at some point, and we need to really consider the possibility of SSDI, though that can wait until she's out of school, and we get a better idea of whether she'll be able to maintain a job with her seizures and anxiety issues.

One of the problems we have is that Rachel's seizures seem to always be changing; frequency, type, manifestation, time of day, and so on. Always unpredictable. Just when things seem to be settling into a somewhat predictable rhythm, everything changes, and we're set off balance again.

Just this week, she's developed a new aura, where she feels like she's twisting to the side, and feels dizzy. Her right hand has also started to shake at the beginning of some seizures, which is completely new. Rachel has a left temporal focus, so right-sided movement is to be considered within the norm, but anything new makes me nervous.

Rach and I are in the habit of taking walks in the downtown park on a regular basis, and feeding the squirrels. The other day we decided to walk up the Derby track there, and we were making good time, and were almost at the top, when Rach stopped, saying it was hard to breathe. Usually I'm winded first, so I was surprised, and then I noticed she was blank in the eyes, so I got her steered over to the curb, and sat her down just before she began to cry, and the seizure was full-on. This was the first time I hadn't brought my entire purse (with meds, magnet, and at least tissues), so had nothing to wipe up drool with, and we both ended up looking as though we'd spilled water all over ourselves. Fortunately, she was able to walk again after about 10 minutes, so we came right home, and Rach had a long nap.

So far this month there have been 6 seizures, whereas last month there was 1. This in itself has become something of a pattern, but not one we can ever count on, of course. About the time we do, everything could change.

On the upside, we've received another $150 in donations! Every bit brings us that much closer to Rachel's dog, and I can't tell you how much having that help will mean to Rachel as she moves forward to adulthood, and independence. :)

-Kelly

Friday, August 10, 2012

Big Things

After my last update I got very busy picking berries, making jam, managing our household, and then we had visitors from out of the country. Brett's father and stepmother came down from Canada, and we had a few days where we spent every hour we could with them. It was lovely, and then they moved on to the coast, and the cottage they'd rented there.

The morning they left, we got them packed up, and then we drove down to my Mom's for her annual family BBQ. The next day, Monday, was quiet and lovely, but I had a bunch of chores to catch up on, and then Tuesday we all joined Brett's folks at the coast for the night. That brings us to Thursday, when a friend of Rachel's showed up on our porch unexpectedly, and hung out with her for a couple of hours, so we dragged him out with us to do our shopping, lunch, etc.

And now it's Friday again. Now I can see why my fatigue levels are what they are. If this kid complains on the first day of school about having done nothing this summer, I don't know what I'll do.




In the middle of all this activity, I had occasion to help out a long-distance friend with a problem she was having. I got it taken care of, and then moved on to the next thing, but a few days later she thanked me by reaching out to her extended friends, and imploring them to help out with Rachel's dog fund.

As a result of her effort, and a sale of more garlands, in a span of 3 days, we received $730 in new donations! Check out the thermometer. ---->>>> :) The first donation was from the friend I'd helped out, and I cried. Then more started rolling in, and by the time the 4th donation had reached the mailbox, I was a mess. I am so glad to have the people in my life that I do, whether they live near or far, or I have met them in person or not. These aren't just pixels on a screen to me; every one of my friends is real, and I love them.

Jam-making came to an abrupt halt when our visitors arrived, and I'm having a hard time finding motivation to begin again, but I have a bunch of berries to use before they get freezer burn, so I'd best get a move on. Still, this will be a much smaller effort than last year, when I canned almost 200 jars. It's just too much for one gimpy person.

So, as is often the case, I close this entry with gratitude. There is so much good in our life, and even on the bad days, we know we have friends; people who genuinely care, and want us to do well.

Thank you all so much-Kelly

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mid-Summer Update

Hello again, everyone!


I hope you've been enjoying your summer so far. The first few weeks of break were quite busy here, with lots of visits to family, the county fair, and picking berries for jam, among other things.


We've seen a couple of donations come in this week, and we'd like to thank you all for continuing to check in with us, and share our story, and our blog, with your friends. This truly is one of those 'it takes a village' things.


A week ago we happened to be hitting up some garage sales, and met a lovely young woman named Heather, who kindly offered to help spread our brochures around to her group of friends and acquaintances. It's always so touching when we meet someone new, and they feel called to help out in this way. Thank you, (((Heather))).:)


If anyone else would like to share our story by placing brochures in their community, please just drop us a line at raisethewoof4rachel@gmail.com. We will get those shipped out to you in a jiffy.


It seems like school was just out, and already we're seeing ads for back to school sales, and Rachel's online school has shipped her supplies for this year.  As anxious as we all are for her to finish high school, we'll have a lot of planning to do this year, as Rachel turns 18, and that brings up certain legal issues and paperwork that will need to be taken care of, in order to ensure that we can continue to make decisions for care, in the event that Rachel isn't able to.


These are the kinds of decisions, and concerns, we never thought we'd have to consider when Rachel was a little girl. It's amazing how one's life can change in the blink of an eye. Now every plan for her future is filled with what-ifs, and we can't predict from one day to the next what might be happening with her. So, for now we simply work on getting through the day, week, or month, and then take it from there.


Our next adventure this summer is the annual family BBQ, and we're all looking forward to seeing our extended family, and spending a fun day, just being all together, eating, and playing in the sun. We hope that you are making the most of these good days, too.


-Kelly

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ahhh, Summer!

I hope you've all been enjoying your summer as much as we have. We recognize that a lot of folks have been suffering under massive heat waves, and high temperatures, and hope that they're getting a break soon.


Summer in Western Oregon really begins in July, and we're having a lovely streak of days in the 80s. Brett has been bitten with the fishing bug, so we've been doing a bit of scouting for likely fishing holes, and he's been trying out a few different lures, baits, and techniques, hoping to hit on the 'the thing'. So far no fish, but hope springs eternal.


This weekend is the Marion County Fair, and my cousin will be having a booth promoting her rescue; Goodfellas Pet Rescue. Rachel and I will be volunteering a few hours each day, so come by the Americraft Building at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, learn about how to adopt a wonderful dog, and say hello.


I decided that I wasn't completely thrilled with my custom window paint, so changed it today, and now my back window looks like this:




If you see us out and about on the streets of Salem, be sure and give us a honk and a wave.:)


Rachel's been having a good break so far, though there was a week in June that had more seizures than we've been seeing for awhile. Still, the panic attacks haven't been as impactful, so that's something to be grateful for. School will be starting again before we know it, and this is her last year of high school, so it will be busy. We're trying to cram as much fun into summer as we can, and hope you are, too.


-Kelly



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th Everyone!

Happy US Independence Day, everybody! I hope you all have a fantastic day, no matter how you choose to celebrate.


I was thinking today that it's been just over a year now that we learned Rachel was officially a client of Paws With A Cause. What a year it's been. We've had so much support, and met some wonderful people. Even so, we're really hoping to get funding wrapped up by the end of the year, so that Rachel will have her dog next year.


We've had a long, wet spring in Oregon, but this week the weather really turned to summer, and I was finally able to wash the car, and do a little enhancement to her appearance:



With luck, we'll continue to have dry weather, and the paint won't come off for some time. We plan to stick brochures under the wiper when we park the car in public, and really hope to get some good feedback that way.

Thanks so much for your continued support and encouragement, and please continue to share this blog with your friends.

-Kelly 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

School's Out For Summer!

Happy Summer Solstice, everybody!


I'm always torn about this day; on the one hand I love it because it's the official first day of summer, but on the other I'm a bit sad because it means that the days start getting shorter again. Why can't I just enjoy the first part, and not worry about the rest? ;)


School is finally out, and Rachel did quite well this semester! An 'A' and 4 'Bs'! We are very pleased with her performance. Rachel's anxiety levels are so much lower than they were last year, and that makes it easier for her to concentrate and focus.


Today we'll be packing up her school books, and getting them shipped back to Connections, so they can send out her materials for next year. Just one more year of High School. As hard as some of the last several years has been, it still seems to have just flown by. Our little chick will be ready to fly the coop sooner than we're ready for, I think. Really hoping she gets her dog by the time she graduates, so she can do some training, and be able to safely move on with her life.


I know I haven't written much lately, and for that I apologize (again!). The end of the school year was hectic, and we were enjoying a long seizure-free spell, which I really didn't want to jinx by saying anything about it. Sadly, that came to an end on Sunday, when Rach had a seizure. The rest of the day was fine, but at just after 5 a.m. on Monday, she had another, and then about 30 minutes after having her morning meds, she felt sick and needed to vomit, which caused yet another seizure. Vomiting and seizures really do not go well together, and can be very dangerous. Fortunately, she didn't aspirate, but quite a bit did come out her nose. We had hope that would be it for the day, but at about 5 p.m. there was yet another seizure. Epilepsy really sucks.


Tuesday was much better, but we stayed close to home, just in case, and there were no more problems. We finally determined that the problem might be with an antibiotic that she's been taking for an infection in her eyelids (I know, if it isn't one thing, it's another), so we've spaced out the time between her regular meds and that one, and made sure she has food on her stomach when she takes it. It seems to be working, but we'll be watching for any problems.


So, I think we're all up to date now. Oh! I almost forgot to share that we received a lovely donation from a couple of very special ladies. Shout out to Jen and Carol! We had the distinct pleasure of becoming acquainted with Carol just a few months ago, during a time when she was facing a serious struggle of her own. Sadly, she lost her battle a couple of weeks ago, but she reached out to us in a tangible way, giving her love and support, and never lamenting her own fate. She was brave, loving, funny, talented and optimistic. Her daughter Jen is a lovely reflection of her mother, and we are blessed to call her friend.


-Kelly

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Almost Summer

Hello again, Friends! I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. We kept things pretty quiet around here. 


Just two weeks of classes left before Rachel is free for the summer, and we are all ready for that break. Rachel has done a great job of staying caught up in her classes, and her grades reflect her efforts. She'll be a Senior next year, and there will be more challenges, but we feel like she's more up to them now than she has been in years. Online education is definitely a good thing for her, and we don't regret making that change for her.


I am so happy to share that the donation thermometer took a big jump today, with donations received in the last few days which total over $600! The largest portion of that was an incredibly generous gift from my brother's girlfriend. We are so grateful to all of our donors for their support and friendship.


I apologize again for not keeping up to date with this blog the way I should, but there is so much going on here with our life, school, and family issues that it's been difficult. I'm hoping that once school is out I'll be able to devote much more time to both fundraising and updating. 


Rachel and I have made a commitment to my cousin's dog rescue, to help her out with some events this summer, so that will be another thing to keep up with, but definitely something we feel called to do. 


Thanks again for being here for us, just following along with our story, sharing our story, and giving support. You really are integral to our success, and we appreciate you all so much.


-Kelly

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hoof In Mouth

Oy. It's been brought to my attention that in my last post, I made an unfortunate juxtaposition of statements, regarding donations received, immediately followed by us taking a short trip.


To be clear: Monies donated for Rachel's dog, either directly to Paws, or to our Paypal account, are never, ever used by our family, for anything other than Rachel's dog. We can't access money sent to her Paws account, and any checks or cash given to us directly is almost immediately donated to Paws by us.


Many of you don't know us personally, so don't know what we're really like, but there is no way in the world we would ever do anything to risk Rachel's chances of getting her Seizure Response Dog in a timely manner, and it would just be skeevy to use money donated for the purpose to take a trip to the coast.


I am embarrassed now, and sort of feel guilty for taking that little trip, but it was a special occasion, and we really don't ever spend money on ourselves. I hope this hasn't turned you off completely to our cause. We've been so fortunate to have so many people who support us, and would never intentionally do anything to destroy your faith in our mission.


-Kelly

Oregon Short Break

I'd like to thank everyone who chimed in on the topic of how much is appropriate to share regarding Rachel's panic attacks. We've discussed the topic with Rachel, and she assures us that she's very comfortable sharing her experience, as long we don't share 'gory details'. She's a wonderful advocate, and feels it's important to let others know what she lives with, as a way of letting those who live with anxiety know that they are not alone.


Since our last update, we've received a couple of donations, and took a little 3 day trip to the Southern Oregon coast. We don't really take vacations anymore (who can afford it?), but we love experiencing what Oregon has to offer, and can usually cover quite a bit of ground in just a few days.


We made our way to Bandon, making stops at a few places I've always wanted to see, including Shore Acres State Park. This is a photo of Rachel next to the pond...



We also visited West Coast Game Park, and the beautiful beaches at Bandon, investigating the tide pools at low tide, and finding lots of wonderful sea stars...


We came home with lots of pictures, cool rocks, and wonderful memories of a great family weekend. It was technically the celebration of Brett and Kelly's 25th anniversary, and Rachel had volunteered to stay home with her Aunt and Grandmother, but we really enjoy her company, and if she didn't travel with us we would just worry about her the whole time, and that's no fun.

So, there's not really much that's new, and that's just fine. No news is good news sometimes. -Kelly






Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How Much Is Too Much To Share?

With this post, I'm requesting input from our readers. I generally try and keep things fairly light, and mainly talk about things like the fundraising, and the more serious seizure activity, but Rachel also lives with what was once a very debilitating panic disorder and it still rears its ugly head on occasion.


For example, yesterday she was having some trouble with one of the metal bands she has on a molar, used to anchor her braces and future appliances. We made a quick trip to the orthodontist to have it checked out, and he found that there was some bit of food stuck up in the gum, which couldn't get out on its own because of the band. He had to use a tool to dig up in there just a bit, which was painful, and caused Rachel to have a panic attack.


Now, there are some pretty specific and detailed things that go along with one of these attacks, and they're not terribly glamorous. Fortunately, this one wasn't as bad as some she's had in the past, and was over in about 5 minutes with the help of some meds I carry with me at all times. We both felt bad for the orthodontist, who kept offering water, juice and treats. Rachel bounced right back, but he may be scarred for awhile.


There was a time, just a year or so ago, that she couldn't go into a large store without having a panic attack, and needing to leave immediately, or have a full meltdown right in the store. I can't tell you how many times I had to leave a cart full of groceries, or only pick up the most needed things, just so we could get out of the store quickly.


I guess my question is how much detail do you want about these things that Rachel lives with? Are you at all interested in what it's really like for her when she has a seizure and/or panic attack, as they do often go hand in hand? We very much appreciate your interest in our blog, and your continued support for our efforts, but wonder just how much you really want to know about our life, and Rachel's conditions.


We know that the dog she'll be getting will be trained to respond to the seizures, and we hope that it will also be a comfort to her, and her anxiety will be reduced, but there's no guarantee of that, of course.


All comments are moderated, and I won't post yours if you request that I not, but I would very much appreciate your input on these matters. As always, thanks so much for your caring and support.:)


-Kelly

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gone Too Long

I can't believe it's been so long since my last post, and I apologize to all of our loyal followers!


Not much new has been happening at Raise The Woof lately, and donations have definitely slowed to a trickle. We continue to check in on our brochures, and folks are picking them up, so we continue to hope that something will come of them.


We did recently get some very good news, though. Rachel received a call from PAWS, letting her know that she is now at the top of the recipient list for Oregon! This means that if the remainder of the funding comes in before the end of the year, Rachel will have her dog sometime next year! If we don't get the funding this year, it could be two years before Rachel has her dog. So, obviously, we are very much hoping that funding comes through, from all sources.


In other news, Rachel has been quite busy with school, and state testing. We know she's passed her Math testing, and we are hopeful that she passes the Writing. She had to write an essay, which was sent off for grading, and we won't have that result for awhile.


The weather here in Western Oregon is finally improving, and we've had some really lovely days recently. I've been making a huge effort to get Rachel outside for walks, and a little bit of outdoor education. We make trips to the local park, which has greenhouses of heritage plants, and we feed squirrels, watch bees, and just soak up some much needed sun. Then it's back home to do more school.


A few weeks ago Brett picked up a couple of small electric scooters that needed repair. He got them working, and listed for resale on Craigslist, but had Rachel go with him for a short test ride. She had the best time...



Thanks again for hanging in there with us, and don't forget to share us with your friends. We have a ways to go on fundraising, and would really love to see Rachel get her dog next year.

-Kelly

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yay! I Was Wrong!

I generally don't like to admit when I've made a mistake, but today I'm very happy to announce that because of an accounting error on my part, our donation thermometer took a big jump today.


It seems that I missed a significant donation right at the beginning of all this, which amounted to over $300! I requested a total from Paws' ledger, and got the info today, so our new improved total is now over $10,600!


In addition, we made a stop at Elmer's Restaurant, where they allowed us to place one of our brochure stands. Thank you, Elmer's on Market in Salem. Your support is truly appreciated.


-Kelly

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Purple Day, Hammies & Brochures...Oh My!

I had so intended to make a Purple Day post, but just didn't make it yesterday. Rachel and I wore our purple (shirts, nails, bracelets, and the bands on Rachel's braces), and tried to spread the word in our limited fashion. I was not very organized this year, but I hope to do better next year. 


Here we are...

We also have a new family member. Her name is Akane, pronounced either ah-KANE, or ah-KAHN-ay. Rachel says either is fine. She's very different from Namine, who we lost a few weeks ago. She was very special, and we miss her still, but having Akane does help some.

Akane....


In addition to all this excitement, we now have 3 more brochure stands going: Brett's Aunt Cuyla took one to put up at work, we placed one at Elsinore Framing and Fine Art Gallery, and another at Affordable Framing. We thank them all for their support of our efforts.

I had the pleasure of adding $195 to our thermometer total today, and we're now at almost $10,300! We have a ways to go, but we hope that having the brochures out will really start to pay off soon. Still, we've been very blessed by the amount of giving that folks have done already, and it may take more time, but Rachel will eventually get her dog.

-Kelly


Thursday, March 15, 2012

More Brochure & Donation Goodness

Please excuse me if I ramble today. I'm really wanting to get everything that I need to written down before I forget, but I know I'm going to miss something. The weather and busy-ness have me a little whacked right now.


Since the last update, we have been contacted by a lovely person who found one of our brochures at Coldstone Creamery, made a donation, and then encouraged her friends and business contacts to host a brochure stand. We're hoping to start getting lots of emails about that. In the meantime, she gave us the name of a friend who owns Dawn's Pet Grooming, who did agree to let us leave a stand.:)


My Mom was able to place another stand at 6th Street Wine and Deli in Junction City, so we now have a total of 7 stands in place. In addition, we've handed out several brochures to folks here and there, so we hope that donations will really pick up now.


In addition, donations have continued to come in fairly regularly, and today I received email notifications for donations that put us over the $10,000 mark on the thermometer! Every time I make an increase on the thermometer, I stop and think about what great friends we have, even though we don't even know all of their names, and it humbles me. Thank you all.:)


Rachel had a neurology visit in Portland today, so we slogged there and back, but she is doing well, and we don't have to change anything right now. There is always room for improvement, but making med changes can be tricky, and it's a huge balancing act. We take things very, very slowly. We have excellent care and support at Doernbecher, and it'll be hard to move on to adult neurology when the time comes.


So, please keep sharing our story, and sending us good luck vibes. We can feel them.


-Kelly



Friday, March 9, 2012

Raise The Woof Is A Busy Place

Hello again, everyone! My goodness, the gaps in my writing are getting wider, aren't they? Need to get a handle on that.


Here's what's new at Raise The Woof:


1. Rachel's VNS incision continues to heal well, and the stitches are finally working their way out now.
2. School continues apace, and takes up most of our time, but is still so much less stressful than attending regular public school.
3. The beautiful, professionally printed brochures arrived, so we have begun getting them out into the community a bit. So far we have stands out at our dentist, Dr. Albert Maziarz of Sunnyslope Dental, in South Salem; Spud Brothers Pizza in the Evergreen Plaza; Cold Stone Creamery on Center St NE; and at Big Town Hero on Center St NE. In addition, my mother placed a stand at Blachly-Lane Electric Co-op in Eugene. Thank you all for your support! It means so much.


Here's a photo to show you how they look in the stands:


4. We lost our little Namine the Hamster yesterday. She passed away suddenly while we were out for the day. This is a big loss for Rachel, and we'll be having a little garden funeral later this afternoon.
5. The lighted garlands have been selling like gangbusters, and we are pleased to be able to increase the thermometer by another $180!:)


The sun has just begun to shine every few days here in the mid-valley, so I've been working on getting Rachel out to the park whenever I can, between studies, rest, fundraising, etc. We need to do more walking, so we'll be ready for the Epilepsy Walk on June 15th in Portland. Not much time left.


I'm really hoping that the brochures will help us boost our funding even more quickly, and I'll be able to come in here, with big numbers to add to the total. Thanks so much for hanging in there with us.


-Kelly

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Body Worlds And The Brain

We don't really take vacations anymore. Like many people since the economic collapse, we will occasionally take an overnight, or a couple of days, close to home. Because of this, and because Rachel is now doing school from home, I like to try and get her out to do interesting and educational things when I can.

Yesterday she had her post-surgical checkup in Portland, so I decided that we'd take the opportunity to see the Body Worlds exhibit at OMSI. The exhibit is ending soon, and I knew there wouldn't really be another chance to see it before it leaves town.

By the way, the incision is healing nicely, and the stitches will begin coming out on their own soon. :)

The surgeon's office is on the 8th floor of OHSU's Center For Health & Healing. From their huge windows, we could see across the river to OMSI, just two bridges away, and about 1/4 mile as the crow flies. Should take about 5 minutes to get there, right? Hah! You know nothing about Portland. It took about 15 minutes, and I had to use my GPS or we'd have been lost forever.

The exhibit was amazing, and we both had a great time. They don't allow photos to be taken in the exhibit, but I do have one of Rachel from outside...


And another of the shirt she picked out for her souvenir...


Rach thought the lightning bolt really represented her epilepsy well, and the Brain Power cracked her up. Oh, how I love this kid!

We are hoping the brochures arrive this week, so we can get them circulating in town. In the meantime, it's business as usual, with school, appts., family, and life. We are so looking forward to the weather improving, so we can get out and move around more comfortably, and start having some fun.

-Kelly


Friday, February 24, 2012

Our New Brochures

There's been quite a bit going on behind the scenes at Raise The Woof lately. What I can share with you for now is that we have been contacted by a couple of different folks, offering support, encouragement, and assistance with fund raising ideas.


I'd like to thank Brian Reno, and his son Alan, who is also a Paws Assistance Dog recipient. Brian was kind enough to offer his templates for fund raising brochures, which the amazing Cindy used to create this...


This is the outside of the tri-fold brochure

This is the inside

The one shown is just from me printing off the proof, on my home printer, on basic paper, and they still look pretty darn good. We can't wait to get out in the community and start spreading them around.

We'd also like to thanks Bruce Chapnick, of Josh Provides, who encouraged us to contact their organization, and apply for a grant. Whether we're approved or not, we really appreciate these folks reaching out to us. 

I am also thrilled to be able to share that the thermometer increased by another $220 today, thanks in large part to the sales of the lighted garlands. Thanks so much to all who bought them, and to the folks who made donations of cash simply because they felt called to do so. We love you all.:)

-Kelly

Monday, February 20, 2012

Post-Surgery Progress

Rachel is now 6 days post-surgery, and in the itching-like-crazy stage of recovery. The incision looks good, and seems to be healing well. Next week she has the post-surgery follow up with the surgeon, so he can get a look at his handiwork.


Thanks to the efforts of Cindy and Toni, and the beautiful lighted garlands, we were able to increase the thermometer by another $80 today, putting us just over $9100! Thanks so much for your interest in these beautiful works of lighted art.


If you'd like another look at the garlands, and need info on how to order one for yourself, please follow this link to the page here on our blog that will lead you to Cindy's Facebook page.


We've recently been contacted by the parent of another Paws recipient who offered some fantastic advice and assistance with fund raising, so we hope to see our numbers increase more dramatically soon. Watch for more details, and thanks for sticking with us through this process.


-Kelly

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rachel Surgery Update

Today is the day that the surgical dressing was scheduled to come off, and Rachel was more than ready to have it done. The adhesive cover they use is super thin, but it was about 5"x5", and it pulled and felt really uncomfortable when she tried to move her left arm. I think it bothered her far more than the incision did, at least after the second day.


So, she got up, and we went right to work. I was lucky to have a small vial of medical adhesive remover leftover from a few years ago, so I used that to start the edges of the dressing. If you've ever had your skin peel after a sunburn, then you know what the thickness of this stuff was. Incredibly thin, but with a glue that pulled at the skin and left it red.


We finally got it off, and got a good look at the incision site. Not bad, considering the fact that they'd been working with scar tissue. The incision is a bit lumpy because of that thin skin, but I know it will smooth out over time. It's not looking irritated or hot, and must have dissolving stitches, because there are no knots, and the thread almost can't be seen in most places.


Rachel was very happy to be able to have a real shower, and get completely clean all at once. It's amazing how good that feels, when you haven't been able to do it for a few days. She still can't submerge the scar for several weeks, but she can shower carefully, at least.


I may take a photo once it's healed a bit more, but not yet. It's still pretty fresh, and that just icks some people out. I just keep thinking that there's an awesome little device under that scar, which helps keep Rach feeling good, and she likes to joke about being a cyborg, so it's not so bad.


Thanks for hanging in there. I apologize for not updating sooner, but there wasn't much to share until the bandage could come off.


-Kelly

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VNS Surgery Day

Hello, friends and family!


What a day it's been. We woke at 4:30 this morning, and were out of the house by 5, in order to make it to Portland by our 6 a.m. check-in time. Rachel was the first surgery of the day, so we were hopeful that we might actually get to go home before evening.


There was a question about whether Rachel would have to stay overnight after her surgery, because of the leads. As it turned out, the leads didn't have to be replaced, she came out of anesthesia quickly, without feeling ill, and we got to leave the hospital before noon! Amazing. We were so happy.:)


Here is the only photo that Rach would allow me to take at the hospital. Note the fashionable sleepwear...

So now we're home, and I need to go pick up meds from the pharmacy soon, but there's more news! We have a new donation site at YouCaring.com. All donations made there for Rachel go directly to her account at Paypal, and it's easy to make anonymous donations that way. Please feel free to spread the link around.

As a result of our new site, and some really fantastic friends and family, I was able to increase the thermometer by over $600 today! We are incredibly close to being 30% of the way to our goal! Thank you all again for your amazing support and love. It means the world to us.<3

-Kelly

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

VNS & Valentines

Rachel and I just returned from Portland, where we spent a not-so-lovely 3 hours at the nuerosurgery clinic. She was measured, weighed, x-rayed, and had a blood draw.


We spoke with a nurse, and the surgeon, got special soap to wash her with the night before surgery, and a page of instructions, so we'd know where to go, and when, and what to (not) eat the night before. The big day is the 14th, Valentine's Day. I'll need to get her a special treat to enjoy for after we get home.


In case you're not familiar with VNS therapy for seizures, here's a link to the Cyberonics page for patients. There are a couple of good videos there to check out, and a list of FAQs. Rachel is having her second unit implanted, as the battery of the first one is just about drained. It's lasted about 6 years, which is good.


We may have to stay overnight, which I can't get excited about, but Rachel is looking forward to it. I don't know how she can like hospitals so much after everything she's been through, but she does. They just make me anxious.


I will try and get a couple of photos to share, but promise there will be no bloody ones.;)


-Kelly

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fardies Are Awesome

Many of you probably don't know this, but I am part of an ebay sellers group called Lilo's Fardville. It's a long story, but we have contests and sales each month, chat daily on one of the ebay community boards, and support each other through lots of challenges.


My dear Fardies decided that they would donate a portion of their January sales to Rachel's dog fund. I hadn't listed in a long time, but had to join in for this one, and actually did quite well.


Today I added up all of my sales, and the donations made to Rachel's dog account at Paypal, and we had made enough to make a donation to Paws of $190.00!:)


Every time I begin to get frustrated with how slowly this process seems to be moving, somebody comes along with a great new idea for raising funds, and I get excited all over again.


Thanks to everyone for helping us keep our chins up. We are so anxious for Rachel to have her dog, and I keep hoping for a magical letter from Paws, telling us that they've found funding, but I'm afraid it's going to be some time yet. 


(((Fardies))) I can't tell you how grateful I am to have you in our corner.


-Kelly

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thermometer Update

Just a quick update today, to acknowledge, and give thanks for, a few more donations we've received over the last several days.


We have a doggy cosmetic bag going to Australia, we've received another donation from Canada, and Brett sold the last jar of jam he had in his locker at work.


As a result of all these wonderful folks, we have increased the thermometer by another $165.00 today!


Thank you all so much. We really couldn't do this without your support and generosity.


-Kelly

Monday, January 23, 2012

17 Years

Yesterday was Rachel's birthday. She's now 17 years old! This is a scary place for us, as her parents. We know that it's a scary place for all parents, but for the parents of a child with a condition like epilepsy, it's particularly frightening.


Next year she'll be 18 (see how that 3rd grade math is helping me out?), and will graduate from high school. We have all sorts of legal issues to consider, and will have to depend on her to allow us to do certain things, like getting a power of attorney, so that we can continue to manage things for her, and make legal and health decisions, in the event that she's not able to.


We are hoping desperately that Rachel will get her dog this year, so that she can really begin bonding with it before she's out of high school, and wanting to be much more independent than she is now. 


Rach was allowed to go out to the movies with a couple of friends yesterday, without us along. There are a few reasons: 1. She was with people who knew what to do if she had a seizure, 2. The seizure risk was fairly low, as she had already had a couple of seizures on Friday and Saturday, and 3. The theater is about 3 blocks from our home.


This is how she looked when she left the house for the mall...

Oh, how I wish I had had the guts to go out in public like that at 17.lol

After the movie, we took all the girls out for sushi. Rachel had never had anything but California roll, so was very excited to try something new. As we were finishing our meal, she said how this was the best birthday ever. Success!


Since the seizures began, there have been several birthdays marred by either seizures or panic attacks. To have this one go so well, when she was allowed out with just girlfriends, and got to experience something completely new, was truly a wonderful gift, for all of us.:)

-Kelly


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Light Up Your Life, And Rachel's

This is the text of the note my dear friend Cindy posted on Facebook today. Please read it through, click the link to the photos, and contact her via Facebook, if you're interested in ordering the garlands:

Fabulous LIGHTED Garland
$30 each plus $10 for priority shipping by USPS
 100% of proceeds benefit "Raise the WOOF 4 Rachel" 
  • Multiple fabric strips hand-tied on a strand of 100 mini lights.  Extra bulbs included.
  •  Approx. length 20 ft. (contact me if you need to have a precise measurement).  
  • Can be strung end to end if you get multiple items.  
  •  Limited Quantity of Garland and Fabric Colors available at this price.  
  • Contact me if you are interested in a quote for a custom garland.
Link to Lighted Garland photo album & view fabric options currently ready to ship in limited qty.



Ideas for use are only limited by your imagination-
  • Lights are for indoor/outdoor use.  However, we don't suggest leaving outdoors in damp/wet weather. 
  • Looks fabulous if the lights are plugged in and on or left off.
  • Drape or swag it anywhere--across a patio beam, along a fence or stairway,  across the top of the wall, from your ceiling, over your fireplace, in the entryway, in a classroom, at your office, in your home, at a party, at wedding, in your back yard, at a BBQ, or ...
  • You can "install" it using suction cups to hang in large window, or 3m makes a removable hook you can use on the wall (neither are included).  Of course, "however you choose" is an option too!  :)  

♪♪ "You light up my life * You give me hope * 
To carry on * You light up my days * and fill my nights with song" ♫

That's what YOU can do for Rachel.  100% of the proceeds will be donated to "Raise the WOOF 4 Rachel"  A Seizure Response Dog can light up her life and give her hope to carry on--please consider purchasing an item or making a donation to help expedite the process of getting a custom-trained Seizure Response Dog for Rachel.

♫ "It can't be wrong * When it feels so right" ♪♪

LIGHT up your life and Rachel's!  Proceeds benefit "Raise the WOOF 4 Rachel"
Contact me through Facebook (not the Cobb family blog) if you have questions about the Lighted Garland or if you want to order one.  Thanks!  

I'm PAWSitive we can make a difference and help move Rachel towards her $30,000 goal and getting a Seizure Response Dog sooner rather than later!

Friday, January 20, 2012

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Once again, it's been too long since my last update, though I do feel like I have something of an excuse. It's a bad one, but still...


Things were going well.


Yup, that's it. December 16th was the last seizure Rachel had, until this morning. That's exactly 5 weeks. It's a wonderful break for her, and incredibly nerve-wracking for us. It's also the longest break she's had in a couple of years.


David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, has called epilepsy "terrorism of the brain". You never know when it's going to strike next, and you really can't plan for it. Planning for future events is optimism at its finest. You go ahead and make plans, and then hope that you don't have to cancel at the last minute, or leave early because a seizure takes place at an inconvenient time.


I've found there to be an interesting dynamic among the group of E-parents I'm a part of: We tend to share everything about our bad days, down to the most painful details, but when things are quiet, and going well, we hesitate. It's as if sharing about it out loud will somehow cause the fragile bubble to burst, and holding our breath will let it float along just a little bit longer. Meanwhile, we wait for that shoe to drop, and all hell to break loose again.


Rachel has experienced at least two partial seizures so far today, and there may be more later. On the upside, the odds are very good that the current seizure activity will not impact her 17th birthday celebration on Sunday. Now we'll be able to relax a little more, and maybe even allow her to go see a movie with friends, and not feel that we have to go along. 


I sure wish I knew what exactly it was that came together in perfect proportions to give Rach such a break. I'd bottle it up, and dole it out daily.


**ETA: After hitting 'post' on this entry, I checked the email, and found a lovely $100 donation from Canada! Thanks so much. The thermometer has been updated, and we're now over $8000! It's amazing to think how far we've come since we began at the end of July.:)


-Kelly

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, New Adventures

Time does fly, doesn't it? I can't believe it's been 9 days since I updated last. The New Year is a time of adjustment for us, as there are usually changes with insurance or pharmacies to manage, and that takes up my time for awhile.


This year, it's a change in pharmacy, and we had to leave the one we've been using for 20 years, which was hard for me, especially because of all the meds Rachel takes, and the relationship we've built up with the staff at the old one. In addition, I was at the end of a series of three cervical spine injections, which wipe me out for a couple of days.


We haven't had any Paws donations in the last week, but there is some good news: I have a great group of friends who sell on ebay, and they have come together to support us by committing to donate a percentage of sales from this month to Rachel's Paws account. This has also inspired me to clean out my own ebay space, and get some things listed.


In addition to all this, Rachel's 17th birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, so we have that to plan for, and then she has an appt. on Feb 8th with the surgeon who implanted her VNS unit almost 6 years ago. The battery is wearing down, and we'll determine whether it's feasible to replace the entire unit, as the newer one has better functionality, and is easier to determine when it needs replacement.


So, as you can see, even when I'm not updating a lot, there is always something going on behind the scenes with us. If you ever wonder where we've been, or what's going on, just drop a comment on any entry, and I'll be sure and respond right away.


-Kelly