Heading to Camp!

Camp NaNoWriMo, that is! November is the traditional National Novel Writing Month, but Camp NaNo is July (as in NOW) and everyone gets to set their own goals (words, lines, hours, whatever) and work on whatever they like! I’m finishing and editing my current WIP, so if you don’t hear much from me that’s why. I’m planning thirty total hours of writing for the month. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I can only sit upright for fifteen minutes or so without paying for it by lying in bed with ice packs covering my spine for a day or two afterwards. So my timer is my friend.

There are about a dozen fascinating people in my cabin and I’m looking forward to getting to know them! I built in a writing-free day for when my grandson arrives (due VERY soon) so I can read texts, talk on the phone, swoon over pictures, and hopefully see him on FaceTime!

DIY Comfort Vest For Your Dog

Yes, we’ve all seen ads for the pricey “dog shirts” that are sold to help dogs deal with anxiety caused by separation from their owners, thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. I love my dogs to pieces, but I’m not plunking down that sort of money when I can DIY it for much less.

Got an ACE bandage? Preferably an older one? Safety pin? You’re ready!

Here’s Boss, our rescue dog. He has lots of issues. He evidently flunked out of drug-and-bomb-dog training in Tennessee and hit hard times soon thereafter. We adopted him when he was between foster homes after seeing only a blurry pic of him sitting on command. He caught a ride with my eldest on his way home from college for Christmas Break his Freshman year, and we’ve spoiled him rotten ever since. I haven’t ironed a shirt for my husband in years, but I starch and iron Boss’s bandannas. #justsayin Here he is before a storm moves in:

This is the perfect time to wrap him. Or just before dusk around Independence Day. Here’s how he looks fully wrapped:

Doesn’t he model well? He’s so picky, though! I wanted a nice picture in the backyard, but he insisted on the loveseat in my office. He does look nice in that lighting, though. Pardon the sheet. He was shedding.

I used a full-length non-adhesive Ace bandage for Boss, and he’s about eighty pounds. Cut the wrap and use Fray-Check (available at all craft and fabric stores) if you have dogs that need shorter wraps. It needs to be snug, but not tight. Think “hug”, ’cause that’s what they need. This is essentially a full-body constant hug. Hmm, I may need one myself.

I can probably talk Boss into a video if necessary, but I’m gonna try to walk you through this. (If you need a video please comment and I’ll bribe him.)

Put the center of the bandage roll in the center of your dog’s chest.¬† Bring it up on both sides and cross at the withers (equivalent of between shoulder blades for humans). Wrap down again, crossing under belly and bringing up to attach ends above rump. *For male dogs, make sure NOT to cover penis with bandage.*

Why do you need this? Because many (OK, most) people don’t celebrate Independence Day. They celebrate Fourth of July with a drunken BBQ on their day off work and fireworks for a full two weeks, annoying the hell out of their neighbors who have to get up at 3 a.m., traumatizing all the dogs in the area (except my Saminda, who thinks it’s a tribute to her chocolate lab beauty), and probably doing horrific things to any PTSD sufferers in the neighborhood.

Last year I called my local police and claimed to have a PTSD sufferer in my household (truly, don’t know WHAT poor Boss has been through) and asked if they could at least enforce the 10 p.m. noise ordinance. Her answer? “We can’t do anything unless people are shooting fireworks AT each other.” My #StMatthews taxes are being SO well-spent.

Oh, and BTW, the whole “Fourth of July” thing is random. The Declaration of Independence was voted in on July 2nd, 1776, but there were riots in New York before it was finally approved on July 9th. By August 2nd most delegates had signed. Just fodder if you want to educate the rednecks on the next street over.

Neck and Back Pain 101

I felt guilty for years after my four-surgeries-within-two-years for having constant pain. I thought I was supposed to be “fixed”. Yes, I was a nurse, but I was clueless about neurosurgery. I was a cardiology nurse. If I’d had a heart attack I’d have been giving my cardiologist suggestions during my stent placement. Seriously, I would have.

But I was nearly as uneducated as a non-medical person since it had been more than twenty years since I’d studied neuro-anything. So I trusted my docs. #mistake¬† Always ask for a second opinion for any surgery unless it’s an emergency. Here’s why:

This is an example of a ball the weight of an adult head held in place with a normal cervical (neck) curvature. Reach back right now and feel how much your neck curves between your shoulders and skull when you are looking straight ahead. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

That’s quite a curve, isn’t it? Kinda like this:

Not a perfect example, but probably accurate if you’re looking up at a kiddo on a swing. With a normal cervical spine. Not hard to hold that ball, right? A bit lighter than the lightest kids’ bowling ball. Move your hand around a bit and you could hold it in your hand all day, right? Especially if it’s permanently attached to your palm.

But here’s what it looks like when you have three vertebrae fused together with enough hardware to make an X-ray tech say, “Oh, wow!” (C4-C6, for me)

Do you see how difficult it is for me to even sit upright? Want me to walk and hold my neck like this with increases in pressure each time I take a step?

Consider this the next time someone tells you they have back or neck pain. I now have moderate scoliosis because the rest of my spine is trying to compensate for the rigidity of my neck.

What are the other co-morbidities of constant, chronic pain? Depression. Opiate use/addiction (I’ll address this in a later post), Isolation, Increased risk of suicide, Obesity (who can exercise?), and many other illnesses.

*HUGE thank-you to my chiropractor for the visual a couple of years ago, and for his staff member for posing for the pics last week! A picture truly IS worth a thousand words in this situation.*

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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!