Monday, May 21, 2007

A Slow Night...sort of

Well, it was a close one, but we managed to make it to the hospital tonight. Instead of eating a bee this week, she overdid it at Barkpark in the pond on Saturday and had a sore tail. When I got home on Sunday from the ball game, she was running around with her tail between her legs and could not sit down. All signs of a sore tail. She managed to recover yesterday and today, and I decided she was OK to go. She has to be able to sit to go to the hospital - "Sit" is the command I use to regain control of her if necessary.

Tonight was sort of a slow night at the hospital, but it did manage to take us an hour to get up and down the halls of the 4th floor. We did see our friend Bob again, he was not feeling so great tonight. He did not get to see Buddy this weekend, apparently his daughters had a soccer tourney and they kept winning, and were not able to bring him up. He does have a D-date though, which is June 5th and he is very excited about that. Apparently he saw 2 other therapy dogs after Chelsie last week, so it was a decent dog week for him. He was looking a little sad until we walked in, and perked up when Chelsie sat in the chair next to his bed. He was one of our last visits of the night, so we spent a little more time with him.

We did not get to see our lady that lost her hearing, she had gone off to have an MRI shortly before we got there. This was incredibly disappointing - she really likes Chelsie, all the nurses walking around her room tell me that when they see us. Sort of a bummer, but on a good note, I think she has been given a D-Date too of 5/31. She is probably one of those people I will never forget. Everyone has a story, and I just wonder how her story will go on. I can hardly stand being away from Chelsie, can you all imagine what it will be like when I have to leave my kid somewhere??

The west wing of Dodd is where our old man whose grandsons drew pictures for him is. I don't think he was having a particularly good night tonight either. I was not sure he was still here because the pictures were off the door. Apparently, he had some sort of relapse - he was supposed to go home, but was unable to. I know Chelsie lifted his spirits, and I think I might have too. I was teasing him about causing trouble and raising a ruckus in the halls, and he told Chelsie not to talk to me. His grandsons were up yesterday and one of them dug through this stuff to find the pictures they drew and put them back up - this time they are on the bathroom door so he can see them at all times. He is quite and old character. I will miss him when he is gone - hopefully tonight was the last night we saw him.

Our last patient of the night was yet another old man. This guy was 81, and his wife and daughter were there with him. He wanted to know if Chelsie brought him any chewing tobacco and whether or not she had a bottle of brandy around her neck. I said no to both, and laughed. They were a very nice family - he asked me if she was a bird dog and told me he could undo 5 years of training in 2 days. Funny thing, there is no doubt in my mind he could, and would enjoy every minute of it. I told him he and his buddy across the hall were quite the pair, that if that side of the hall went up in flames, I would know who did it. If all goes well, we will not see him again either, he is scheduled to go home on Thursday.

I hope this entry finds everyone well, we are doing quite well. After a hard day's work of kong chasing, supervising some yard work , working at the hospital and going on her walk with Truth the guide dog (who was NOT a good dog tonight because she ate the cat food) Chelsie is relaxed and ready for bed. How do I know she is relaxed, you ask? Well, when she is relaxed she is very....flatulent. And it is killing me right now. On that note, take care and we hope to see and hear from everyone soon!


Nicole and the Chelsie Belle

Monday, May 14, 2007

What about Bob?

Tonight was quite the night. The weather outside was absolutely gorgeous, and Chelsie was very excited to get her jacket on and get in the car. Mom put all the windows down for her, and she was in pure dog heaven - sitting in the middle of the back seat with the breeze blowing on her. Sometime over the past three days she ate a bee - or at least tried to. I have seen her trying to snag a bee out of the air, and told her she would be sorry if she ever did. A few days ago, I noticed her right lip was fat and swollen. It appears the damage was minimal and confined to her lip, and that she is on the mend.

We were 15 minutes late getting up to the 4th floor. We encountered a patient outside who wanted to pet Chel, and she obliged him. He was a floor 3 patient - it was obvious he had some sort of back injury because he was wearing a rather large back brace, but he was able to walk with a walker and get around. While not in great shape, he was in good enough shape to be walking on his own. Anyway, he was somewhat disappointed we would not be coming to three, but I explained to him that the brain injury patients were sometimes impulsive and yelled, which was not a good situation for the dog. He seemed OK with that and thought he was rather lucky to be downstairs when we came in. We also saw someone else from the 3rd floor (family) and they wanted to pet Chel also. So we were 15 min late.

We got to three and Chelsie gave the nurse coordinator her standard greeting - by scrounging through her trash. The house was pretty full tonight, with only three patients in isolation. Sadly, one of the isolation patients was one of the ones who really enjoyed Chelsie's visit last week. Thankfully, the curtain was pulled in her room, so hopefully she did not see or hear Chelsie, I know she would have been disappointed. Maybe next week.

Upon our arrival, one of the floor nurses told me she thought she had someone who would really like a visit. His name was Bob, and it turns out he has a 2 year old golden retriever named Buddy at home, who he misses dearly. Bob was probably in his late forties, and had a stroke; he had been at Dodd since last Friday. Apparently he had a stroke 5 years ago as well. Bob was divorced 2 years ago, and got Buddy after his divorce. As the nurse was unsure if Bob would want to see the dog, I had her go in there and ask him; the answer was yes, please bring her in here. Off we trooped to Bob's room, and within the first few seconds we were in there, I knew that Chelsie had done her job for the night, regardless of whether or not anyone else wanted to see us. He lit up when we walked in - said hi to Chel, told her she was a pretty girl, a good girl and asked her to shake. For the first time in her life, Chelsie held up her paw while she was standing up. At that point, he just teared and told me how much he missed his dog Buddy - told me all about what a good dog he was, how energetic he was and that his daughters were going to bring Buddy down to see him this weekend. (He will be visiting Buddy in the courtyard - there is a pretty nice courtyard in back of Dodd, between the University hospital and Dodd) Bob was waiting for us in his wheelchair, and thanks to the class we had, Chel had no fear of the wheelchair and walked right up to him. I was eternally grateful for that training tonight - I think if he could have, Bob would have invited her on to his lap. As it was, she sat on his bed for a few minutes so she could be eye level with him. I know our visit to Bob did him a world of good. I think we will see him next week - he was there for 3 weeks when he had his previous stroke, and he is hoping to be in for only 2 weeks this time. Let's hope so, so that he can get home to Buddy.

We also saw the lady who had the baby and lost her hearing. She was quite glad to see Chelsie also. I pulled her bed table away and got the chair as close to the bed as I could. I think she is seriously lacking some sort of touch - human, animal, anything. I think she wanted Chelsie to jump on the bed and sit with her, but she is too frail for that and can't hear. Chelsie did stand up and got face to face (with a few kisses in there I think - which mommy does NOT like) so that was good. I wish she had been a little more interactive with this lady, because I think it would be really good for her. But she was glad to see Belle and I tonight.

Our old man whose grandsons had drawn him the pictures was still there - causing trouble in the halls, raising a ruckus and picking on his nurses. He is a nice old man, I hope he goes home soon.

It took us over an hour to get down one side of Dodd 4, which turned out to be OK. Two of the isolation rooms were in the other side of the hall, and by the time we got there, many had drifted off and others did not want to see us. I guess that is further proof that everything works out OK.

On our way out to the car, we encountered 2 year old John, out wandering around with his dad (and had on these bright blue Nike shoes!). He was quite interested in the doggie, who laid down nicely for him to pet her. In the end, John decided he was not into petting the doggie - apparently, the neighbors have a border collie who jumps on him and knocks him down.

I was a bad mommy and did not feed the little angel before we went tonight. For all her hard work, she was rewarded with dinner and lots of praise from mom. She is resting comfortably on the couch next to me, after dispensing email advice to her 10 week old friend, black lab puppy Shelby (she was telling Shelby to oblige her humans when they want to hold her and only chew on what they give her).

On a final note, my softball Buckeyes will be hosting a regional this weekend here in Columbus. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and they have been playing well as of late. So...on that note, have a great week and of course, GO BUCKS!

Love, Nicole and the Chelsie Belle

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My new blog...

At the encouragement of a very dear friend of mine, I have created this blog to document our weekly therapy dog visits to Dodd Hall. I might add this particular friend of mine took great joy in reading my Asia blog, especially the enrty about the grouper staring me in the face all through lunch. I should also add she volunteers with one of her dogs in the same capacity as Chelsie and I do - only Keyton is much better at playing up "look how smart and handsome I am". There is really no arguing with him though, he is a beautiful dog.

As many of you know, Chelsie and I are certified as a therapy dog team through Therapy Dogs International, based in NJ. To get certified, Chelsie and I took a class that was not only geared toward the certification test, but toward our therapy visits as well. The class introduced us to wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, loud noises, etc, which has proven to be very valuable. In our work at Dodd Hall, we encounter many of these items.

For those of you not familiar with Dodd Hall, it is a nationally renowned rehabilitation center. Patients at Dodd are those patients well enough to be released from acute care hospitals, but not well enough to be home yet. Dodd 3 is where the spinal cord and traumatic brain injury patients are, while Dodd 4 is where the general population is. We volunteer on Dodd 4, as the brain injury patients can be impulsive and yell at people - not an ideal situation to say the least. Mom is perfectly fine with staying on the 4th floor.

From the outside, Dodd does not look like much. However, there is a lot packed in that building. There are several rooms where patients complete rehab during the day, with the main room being on the first floor. There are all the things you would expect to see in such a place, with a few other things as well:

1) Kitchen - many people have to re-learn how to do normal every day tasks such as cooking, washing dishes, etc. Rehab specialists oversee this in the full kitchen on Dodd 1.
2) Laundry - another task many patients have to re-learn. Right next to the kitchen is a washer and dryer.
3) Fully equipped apartment living - If patients are going home by themselves, they must first show they can function on their own. To ensure the patients will be safe, there is an apartment situated on the first floor where patients will go and live for a few days to show the therapists they are capable of being on their own.

The volunteer process at OSU is a long process. First, I had to take Chelsie to meet one of the volunteer coordinators. We are what is known as "Pet Pals". Once it was established that we were indeed fit to be pet pals, the process began. I had to attend a few meetings and was subjected a background check equivalent to something someone seeking classified information must go through. By the time the meetings and background checks took place, nearly 9 mos had passed and TDI was wondering why I had not been out on visits.

Anyway, suffice to say, we have been volunteering now for about 2 mos. Every Monday night, I get her little red jacket and her special collar with her therapy dog tag and off we go. Up to Dodd 4, where Barb, the nurse coordinator greets us. Chelsie greets her by sniffing the trash for leftovers, in true scrounging form. We figure out who is in isolation (we cannot go in those rooms) and who we know would not be up for this and then we take a walk up and down the floor.

Even though we have been doing this for only a few mos, I know we have made a difference in people's lives. There was one girl in particular this last time who was very taken with Chelsie. Apparently, she had a baby about 4 mos ago, and something went very, very wrong. It was obvious she had brain surgery - the front of her head was shaved and you could see where the scar had healed (staple marks had healed also). Somehow in all of this, she had lost her hearing as well, so the only way you could communicate with her was to write everything down. The attendant told me she was not sure how much she had seen the baby since this happened, however, I did notice a picture of a baby on her bed table. We spent quite a bit of time with her, and one of the nurses commented that it was nice to see her happy, she usually was not. Further proof we should not take pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child for granted. Or the health of the mother, for that matter.

People were in a good mood the other night. We went into one room where the lady said she had always seen these dogs on TV, but never thought one would visit her. We proved her wrong. The first room of the night heard us coming and was just thrilled. In that room is a lady we have seen for the past three weeks, and unfortunately, we will probably be seeing her again. Not wanting to insult anyone, we hope we only see them once. That is a luxury many of them wish for but seldom achieve.

There was an older gentleman we have seen for the last 2 weeks who was a real spitfire. His grand kids drew pictures for his, which he has posted on his door and is very proud of. We went back to one of the first rooms we visited at the end of our night - they were eating when we first got there, but wanted to see the dog so we came back. There was yet another gentlemen who was going home the next day and was thrilled to have a dog come visit him. So many different stories...

At any rate, I hope you all enjoy out stories. This is our way of making a difference.


Nicole and the Chelsie Belle