Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jake and Zowie RIP 1996-2011

Not sure where to start so I will start from the ending. At 1330 hours today my son took Jake into the Animal Shelter and had him put down. He has had that dog since he was 10 and it was probably one of the hardest things he has ever had to do. It was hard for all of us, to me it felt like we were giving up on Jake. That was the emotional me, the rational me said we lost our dog 3 months ago after his sister died and he had his first seizure. Since then he has been deaf,blind,incontinent, and he slept most of the time. Last week he had a seizure and blood was coming out his nose. We loaded him in the car then, but the shelter was closed so we brought him back home and he survived a few more days. Today he started howling in pain, that was the last straw. Zowie died in her sleep back in January and I knew it was only a matter of time for Jake. I waited to write this post until they had both passed. 

So now let me start from the beginning, in 2006 we were living in Yuma AZ. Yuma Proving Grounds specifically as I was stationed there with the Special Warfare Center. Our previous dog, a beautiful Boxer, we had to give up for adoption because my wife was doing daycare in our home and the dog scared the kids.However being dog people we only went a few months and decided we needed a pet. One day when I was at work my wife and kids went down to the Humane Society to find us a new puppy. So when I got home from work, there he was, a cute little black furball that I instantly named Jake. After a few minutes of playing with the new puppy I noticed my daughter Jade had not come out to greet me. I called her name and from the back bedroom I heard her say "Nothing." When she was younger and she was only about 3 years old then, she used to say that when she thought she was in trouble. I knew something was up so I walked back to the bedroom and there was my 3 year old daughter hiding under the bed with another black furball. Being my normal understanding self I said "WTF, I thought I said one dog!!" But it was too late we had two and they named the other furball Zowie since she was female. As the story goes they entered the humane society and saw Jake in a kennel with the rest of his litter. My daughter picked him out and they carried him around checking the place out. Well when they passed back by the kennel ready to leave, there was Zowie all  by herself, all her brothers and sisters were gone. My wife has a heart as big as the planet and she couldn't stand to see Zowie all by herself. So we got two dogs.

As they grew they developed personalities they would have for their entire life. Jake was the aggressive one, always the alpha male. Until he got older he would bark at everyone he met. I had to keep him away from other dogs for most of his life.  Zowie was the opposite, the princess looking for attention. She would walk right up to strangers or strange dogs looking for a pet or a friendly sniff. Jake was a homebody and when and if they escaped our yard he would always return looking for some chow. Zowie however I used to call "Houdini dog" because she would escape and more often than not I would have to bail her out of the pound. I picked her up in doggie jails in at least 4 states and 2 countries over the years.  They both mellowed as they got older but they remained the same until the last few months. I have memories I will never forget:

The time they escaped out apartment in Germany and Jake came back of course and we found Zowie with the help of our German neighbor down at the pound.A German gentleman had tried to catch them and Jake had nipped his hand before he ran off. It was just a scratch but the guy had it bandaged like he needed 30 stitches.

The time I drove them 100 Km to drop them off for their trip back to the states in the pet transport plane

Playing catch with Jake and his tennis ball (he used to love that)

The way Zowie would walk up and rub her head on your leg looking for a back rub, then when you did rub her back her entire hind end would waggle so hard she almost fell down.

The way, until the day he died,  Jake would go outside in the morning and he would bark at the horizon as his 
front paws lifted off the ground. I think it was his way of saying, "C'mon day bring it on!!"

Zowie would jump in your lap and snuggle like she weighed 3 pounds instead of 30.

I used to take them both running with me through the woods and fields when they were younger. I think they liked that.

The last few years they became more sedentary and spent most of the day sleeping on the living room floor or by the fireplace. Zowie just quit eating one day, we couldn't even get her to eat if we fed her by hand. About a week later she died in her sleep.It is like she just decided it was time. Jake had a seizure shortly after that and he was never the same. You know how he passed.

Jake and Zowie always together in life, and always together in our memories. Rest easy my friends, all dogs go to heaven. We love you.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sylvan Island Stampede MTB Race

Sylvan Island Stampede - April 10th 2011l

So this weekend was pretty busy, after taking my NREMT practical yesterday,today I headed to Moline, Ill. for ironically enough the first race in the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series. The race was on Sylvan Island which is in the middle of the Mississippi river. It is about 100 miles to Moline from my house so Jessie and myself took off at about 0630 for the 0900 start. He slept most of the way and when we got to the island, we grabbed my gear and walked across the pedestrian bridge to the check in. After check in we chilled out and he took some pictures of the river etc.. It was a gorgeous morning about 70 degrees and sunny.

About 15 minutes before race time, the loudspeaker from the registration tent advised us to move to the east end of the island to get ready for the start. Once again this year I am competing in the Novice (Cat3) division. With as much riding as I do I will probably remain a novice forever. There was probably about 50 racers and like I do for must running races I went to the back because I figure it is easier to pass someone than to try to stay ahead of them. More on that strategy later. The starter gave a countdown from 5 then pulled the trigger on the starting pistol. As a group we took off down a gravel walking path for about 300 meters then took a right into the woods. The entire course was to be 8 miles long and would consist of 2 1/2 laps around the island. We would start with the half lap. 

Since we were on an island,elevation change wasn't very significant but where the challenge came was the tight turns, roots, and rocks that littered the course. The island had formally housed a steel mill and you could see the remnents of loading docks and building foundations much of which we had to navigate as obstacles. This pretty much summed up the first half lap. I also discovered that I had made an error by starting in the back, I spent the majority of my time on that first part stuck behind a couple of slower riders with nowhere to pass. I eventually passed them however and was passed in turn by a different faster rider. For the first lap and a half this would be the pattern I would pass 2 or 3 riders and I would be passed by 1. So after the initial section the course dumped us back out on the same walking trail, I put it in high gear as this was a spot where you could make up some ground. I crossed the finish line and officially started lap number 1. These full laps started us towards the western end of the island which was more open but also flooded and hillier. I had fun trying to navigate the inclines directly after riding through a big mudhole or muddy section. I saw a couple big wipeouts in this section. I had a small advantage as I wear regular running shoes when I ride rather than clip in shoes. So the advantage was if I couldn't make it up the incline I could hop off and run up the hill, disadvantage was once my feet hit the mud the pedals became very slippery.

The last part of the full lap retraced the original section on the eastern half of the island, as I approached the start of the second lap I was happy to see I was still on the lead lap. Lapped riders didn't get to continue due to time constraints. I also saw my time was 1:39 for this first 1.5 laps. This second lap was more of the same, however I only passed one rider and was not passed by anyone else. Everyone had spread out quite a bit and pretty much settled into their pace. Being my second time through I was more efficient this second lap and was able to make it up and over some of the inclines that had given me issues on the first time around. I did get pretty muddy though as the course now was a quagmire in some sections. I saw a rider fly head over handle bars as he was racing downhill and his front wheel caught a particularly muddy spot.He was ok though and hopped back on his machine. I could smell the finish line once I hit the east half of the island and picked up my cadence. Once I hit that last 300 meters of flat trail I put it in the biggest chain ring and did my best to hammer it to the finish. I felt pretty good about the race, much better than my first race last year

I finished in 1:08:04 official placing will be posted later.

NREMT-I Practical Exam

So I took my practical (hands on) exam for my upgrade to Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate. This practical is one of the two culminating events that finalize everything I learned in my EMT-I class over the last 4 months. National Registry is a strange animal, I have already passed the course work at the Community College for EMT-I. As far as they are concerned I am done,however to actually work as an EMT-I I have to pass the national registry practical and written test. So I was a little nervous. I haven't taken a hands on test in about 4 years or since I took my practical exam for my EMT-Basic.

Last Thursday the instructor who taught our class was actually working with me at the Ambulance Service so she ran me through all the possible test stations (Thanks Mary). I wasn't totally confident though as test conditions are always different. On Friday night, before the test, I watched a bunch of youtube videos that showed other people going through National Registry stations. I woke up Saturday morning and as soon as I was conscious the test steps started running through my head, I guess I was a little tense. Anyway I took a shower, got dressed and made the 30 minute drive to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. 

When I walked into the testing area, I saw that there where about 60 people taking the practical that day. Most of these though were from the latest Paramedic class and they had different stations than the EMT-I's. There were about 10 of us testing for EMT-I. I checked in with the proctor and sat next to a few of the guys I had been in class with. I looked through the test steps again but I could definitely feel the old rush that I always feel when I take a hands on test. From the Basic Training Skills test to the Military Freefall Jumpmaster Personnel Inspection and all the others in between I would feel a mixture of nervousness and adrenaline. Eventually the National Registry representaive came out and handed everyone there test paperwork. We filled it out as she read the rules and procedures for the test. We then got in line to start the test.

How the test was organized for the EMT-I was we had to pass a trauma assessment station, airway management, intravenous cannulization, and a random basic skill. We would get in line and be given a plastic card that told us what station to go to next. So when I was at the head of the line the first card I got was the trauma station. This was the go hard or go home moment for me. This was the station with the most points,most opportunity for failure and the most leeway for the evaluator to be subjective. It was also the station I dreaded the most since when I took my EMT-B test I failed it the first time around and had to retest.

So I made my way down the hall hoping that I wouldn't blow the very first station of the day. I entered the room and the evaluator read me the instructions for the station. The scenario was a young lady who was a victim of domestic violence and I was to do a trauma assessment and treat and transport appropriately. What made it difficult was she was unresponsive and all moulaged up with several injuries to the face,abdomen and left arm. I started my assessment and interventions, I made sure I verbalized everything I was doing and asked the evaluator for any information such as vital signs or changes as I went along. I was in the zone and had tunnel vision on the victim, I was trying so hard not to miss anything. At one point my mind went totally blank, I started to panic a little not sure where I was at in my assessment or what the next step was. However, I took a breathe and suddenly my mind started working again. At the conclusion the evaluator asked me if there was anything else I wanted to say. I realized I had not called for additional help which was critical fail criteria. I blurted out " Advanced life support is in route since I never called them off!" The evaluator asked if I was done and I said yes. I left the room feeling pretty good about that station.

So trauma was the turning point and I got it out of the way early. I went through the next three stations fairly easily as they followed the check list in my mind. No subjectivity on the evaluators part you either did each step or you did not. Airway management was accomplished using a Combi Tube which is a blind insertion away device. The Combi is a tube you insert into the trachea to keep a patient's airway open. The basic random skill was the application of the Kendrick Extrication Device. The KED is a short semi-rigid backboard that is used to maintain spine control on a patient that may be seated in a vehicle or chair. My last station was the IV station which due to all the cross training I had in the military gave me absolutely no anxiety. When I was all finished  I went back out to the lobby and waited for my results. I looked over the criteria for each station again and unless I was totally wrong I felt I had passed them all. Eventually the National Registry representative called me and asked if I had any issues with the test. While she was asking me this she had a little smile on her face. When I said no she informed me I had passed. I felt this enormous sense of relief as all the self induced stress just left my body. I thanked her, informed my classmates I had passed and walked out of the Hospital on cloud nine. I will be taking my written test next week and then I will be a Nationally registered EMT-I. That day was a good day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My ipod: Story of my life

So as most of you know I like to run, and as some of you know I like music. So when I got an ipod for my birthday last year what could be more natural than to put music on it for running? Now I like country music,blues,jazz, opera, and even native american powwow music. I like them all, a lot, but when your running you want something upbeat, so when I run, I run to rock and roll baby!!! During my weekly long run last Saturday I started day dreaming about the music on my playlist and why it was on there. I also do a lot of day dreaming while I am running. You can group the music on my ipod by different periods of my life.

High School:

I am a product of the late 70's and early 80's having attended high school during parts of both those decades. This was also the Disco era and the era of it's crazy,radical,and anti social counterpart Punk Rock.Being a young man raised in the Middle West to a middle class family I did what was normal, I rebelled against society. Or at least I thought I did. I was rocking the mullet (spray painted blue and spiked). I also liked to wear skinny neckties with t shirts. Safety pins and electrical tape were fashion accessories. Being weird was a badge of honor along with the myriad of small buttons on my jacket pledging allegiance to BLACK FLAG or the RAMONES. Gabba Gabba Hey was my anthem!!! I would constantly visit the "record" store looking for the latest vinyl.

These songs are on my ipod:
Rock Lobster
Dance This Mess Around
Planet Claire

We Want the Airwaves
I Want to be Sedated
Sheena is a Punk Rocker

Oldest Story in the World
A Million Miles Away

Early Military:

After high school I joined the military and was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division. I was in my late teens and early twenties. This was the period in my life where I did a lot of stuff and I mean a lot of stuff that should have killed me or got me arrested. Like Josie Wales said though" I was always lucky in the order of things." My roommate and best friend was from Southern California and he introduced me to the heavy metal hair bands of the 80's. I still think for pure rock mania these artists remain the best. This is the period when I fell in love with Judas Priest, Metallica, Black Sabbath and others. Nothing like listening to Ozzy at level 11 on your bitchin Reel to Reel tape deck while guzzling some brews.

These songs are on my ipod:
Balls to the Wall

Holy Diver
Rainbow in the Dark

No One Like You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

The 90's:

During the 90's I was a starting to establish myself as a career soldier. I also made the transition from infantry to Special Forces. It was during this period that my family was young. So I alternated between raising my children and perfecting my craft as a special operator. What goes on TDY stays on TDY wasn't just a saying it was a code of honor between brothers that I will never break. I started to get introduced to all sorts of "new  music" as I spent spent many days and weeks crammed together with my team in isolation or on deployment. The "neu metal" and alternative rock that was making the scene like Nirvana and Limp Bizkit started making its way into my music collection.

These songs are on my ipod:

Veruca Salt

Kid Rock

Rage Against the Machine
Bulls on Parade
Fistful of Steel

Celebrity Skin
Miss World

The Cranberries

The new millennium:

During the last 5-6 years of my military career my unit was constantly deployed and constantly at war. Bosnia,Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq where all places that were very familiar to us. If we weren't in a hostile fire zone, we were training to go to one or refitting from just coming back. We were finally honed killing machines, just to survive this period I became a very angry and violent man. My first reaction in any situation was to close with and destroy my adversary. Constantly moving forward, keeping the enemy off balance and seizing the initiative. Violence of action was something to be proud of. The music I listened too reflects this. It was also influenced by the immense amount of time I spent in Germany in particular and Europe in general.

These songs are on my ipod:

Du Hast
Asche zu Asche
Feuer Frei
Links 2 3 4
Reise Reise
Stein um Stein

Wait and Bleed
Spit It Out

Freak on a Leash

I haven't found anything good to listen too since I left the military. It is almost like my interest in new music ceased at the same time as my status as an action guy. Maybe I will find something in the future but since I very rarely listen to music radio and I never buy CD's anymore I think I am stuck with the choices I have made. Every song has a memory though, I think Garth Brooks said that.