This is just a note to say that I'm back from convention. I don't know if I will actually write as much as I plan to, so who knows what this post will cover?
I also have to say that out of all of the conventions, this one seemed to be the most comfortable from the perspective of someone who works with a guide dog. The relief areas were well kept, and didn't smell awful like they did in Vegas. There were many guide dog instructors from the various schools, which also helped, you knew help was always available if you needed it. There was a lot less of the feeling of "you're not handling your dog well enough" or "you just committed a sin of huge proportion" than I felt when when I last went. It seemed that people were overall more supportive. Guide Dog handlers weren't singled out in every single announcement at convention as it seemed we were last year. Instead of hearing "Guide Dog handlers, start taking your dogs out more frequently! We've had X number of accidents..." We heard, from a fellow guide dog handler something like "We've noticed that accidents tend to happen late at night and early in the morning, so we suggest that handlers pay extra attention to getting the dog out early in the morning and late at night, even if you're tired. And, people will think more highly if you stay with an accident, even though accidents can be embarrassing for both dog and handler. There will be extra reinforcements and rewards for those who do stay with the accident until it's cleaned up." I have to say that that sets a much better tone, in my opinion.
Technology, as always was exciting. As always, I really wanted some gadgets I saw. The Victor Stream looks great, and I should find out, when it ships/arrives, if I like it, but so far, I am really really impressed!
One of the most important elements of convention was the the chance to see and chat with friends. As usual, it's never enough time, but I really enjoyed seeing so many people.
From a pain perspective, there's a good and bad side. On the bad side, talk about horrendous pain levels! I didn't get nearly as much sleep as I needed, and the pain played a huge role in that. I did, though, learn new methods of controling and understanding the pain. As usual, I ended up using other friends' brains to figure out much of this, and other challenges. Thank goodness others think more logically than I do. A few things that helped were more comfortable shoes which allowed more room for swelling, a blanket Mom made that kept my lower left leg warmer and protected from all-to-painful breezes, conserving energy when possible, heat behind the knee every night, monitoring sleep, relaxation exercises, trying (even though I never succeed) to stay ahead of the pain or at least in the same state, aromatherapy, Ginger Ale and distraction through fun, learning and humor.
I'm also going to ask that people pray that tomorrow's pain clinic appointment produces tangible relief. We're, assuming nothing changes when I get there, trying Ketamine (which is experimental) and another epidural. That could change, so if you do pray, please just pray for relief. I need it, both physically and to help get my emotions under control.