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Beth Morse

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Service dogs are well mannered, obedient, and a best friend

Manners aren’t just a polite way of life for humans, working dogs have to learn these too. Since getting my soon-to-be assistant dog Tinker we have gathered large amounts of information on what it actually means to be an assistant dog.

Most believe the role is purely to help and ease the day to day tasks of the lucky individual who gets to have a big ball of fluff as a carer. However while this is very true it’s only about half of what these trusty animals are taught. Restaurants, shops, trains and pubs all need to know for health and safety that your assistant dog can act more like a polite gentlemen than a bounding play mate.

For a chosen dog to pass it’s assessments it needs to know its please from its thank yous. It may all sound a bit over the top but you can’t have a dog allowed in every public place if it’s not calm, courteous, and unfazed by every weird and wonderful sight. Being able to spend an hour sat under a table with little attention, not stealing the eye level food from supermarkets, and treating cars as cars are all things to be considered when an assistant dog is being trained.

At this moment in time Tinker is a few weeks off the waiting list to becoming fully immersed in the world of the working, but that doesn’t mean she’s been sat on her laurels. Interacting her with people, traffic, loud noises, and other animals are all great ways of easing her into training and getting her used to basic everyday things which she will have to cope with when she’s in charge of the caring.

Obedience is another massive part in the training. From the very beginning Tinker has had rules set which can’t be broken as this could mess up her training in the future — although, as you can probably imagine, she tries every trick in the book to sneak past these rules from unleashing the big brown yellow eyes, to laying her head on your lap. Her favourite trick is to set up one of our other two dogs. Spying some naughty goings on over food, Tinker will soon come running up to you, give you all the attention in the world then tell you what has happened, all the while glaring at a rather bemused grace.

Just because a dog is working or training to work doesn’t mean that they don’t get to have some fun. Play is an important part in any dogs life, including those who work. Tinker has now acquired many and many toys which always end up strewn around the house no matter how many times you pick them up. Playing with your dog is a brilliant way to build up trust, and a great time to test obedience. If you can get your dog to willing give you their toy in the middle of a playful game that’s a sure fire way that they not only trust you but see you as the boss.

Running round and round in circles the length of a field , trying to get our other two dogs to join in and rolling around in the grass are activities which Tinker gets to enjoy at least twice a day. Meaning when it comes to training she’s more than willing to put on her working hat , having burnt out all the manic energy in a field full of long, thick grass perfect for playing hide and seek in. It’s a long and complicated road to becoming an assistant dog. Often taking years before they pass all their assessments. But the independence and relaxing joy it can give a person means all the hard work for dog and owner becomes worth it.

 

 

Stay tuned for more blog posts from Beth Morse.

Accessibility: When it matters it matters most

“Accessible.”

The word every mobility troubled person loves to see. That big blue badge of a wheelchair like a shinning beacon that they can now enter the previously un enterable. But is this a god send or are some places actually not as disabled friendly as they first appear. Many a time I have laughed at the plainly obvious not accessible in the apparently all welcome venues. High curbs along side blue badge spaces — meaning it’s either heaving up the wheelchair or juggling stepping up a often steep curb on crutches or clutching a friends arm onto pavement. The alternative, dodging cars whilst wheeling along a sometimes very busy road until you reach the sacred corner where a lowered curb is thankfully placed.

Getting toes crunched by on coming doors is another beloved past time. When push to open buttons are placed next to a door which insist on opening into your outstretched wheelchair. I have never understood why these offenders never open away from the direction in which the blue button is pressed. But this made dash from an encroaching door can often be better than the alternative. No push button at all. The most hilarious place I have witnessed this lack of a common sense is on hotel doors which lead to accessible rooms. The room itself may be wheel friendly, but unfortunalety only those of superhuman powers can acsess. Thresholds are another troublesome fellar. Often testing the balance and strength of those on wheels. Attempting to push over a tiny lip of concreate or metal requires more skill than first believed and can leave the in need of flat surfaces feeling discharged that this blue friendly door has an elephant standing on its threshold.

Manners teach us not to discuss toilet habits. Mabye this is why disabled toilets can more likely be a flight of stairs covered in spikes when it comes to wheelchair friendly. Most are to small to swing a cat in let alone squeeze an wheelchair in. Trapping the poor soul inside their chair, unable to reach their destination. Hand dryers placed on back walls behind the toilet,mirrors to high, coat hooks nailed into the very heights of doors and having to share with baby changing fercilites all add to the list. Those ladies and gents don’t seem to shabby after all ?

Every shop has shelfs of items to buy or racks of sewn material to rummaged through. The space between these stacks of needed or wanted daily treasures are set for the walking. Leaving space for a two person shuffle can often mean those left of wheels are embarrassingly  left to stare at these isle, unable to pass through to reach the treasures. Many a time have I gone to grab something from a shelf, only to find wheels don’t fit. Leaving angry customers behind my stuck wheelchair as I try to revers out of this tight squeeze, bashing and banging shelfs and produce and toes in my quest for freedom. Insisting  items placed lovingly in stacks of the floor turn an ordinary shop into a mud run like    A obstacle  course. Being greeted my angry stares of shop owners as I struggle to manoeuvre  their annoyingly placed stock. As you can guess tiny independent shops are the most troublesome. Often ending in me sitting out side the door to the unreachable whilst my company run inside to retrieve there find. But some supermarkets can be just as bad. Mini supermarkets, supermarket extras and petrol stations seem oblivious to the size of a wheelchair. Hosting accessible doors and ramps, but leaving the inside a maze of obstacle  and abandonment.

These are just some of the unthought of non accessible in the so said accessible  world. Problems which are missed by those who have never experienced disability. And often passed as accessible when tested by the non disabled. They proved light laughter as most are glaringly obvious but that doesn’t take away from the inconvenience.

Going to a concert in a wheelchair? Here are the perks you might not know about

Loud music, flashing lights and an electric atmosphere are all found at a concert. But what is to be expected from these concerts when you suddenly have to attend them in a wheelchair? Not being able to stand on the barrier or join in a mosh pit may be downsides to the wheelchair lifestyle but when it comes to concerts there are many upsides.

Of course I wouldn’t advise going in a wheelchair just for the sake of it, but when your body decides it prefers a life on wheels taking advantage of the little perks is never a bad thing. I’ve spent all of my teenage life going to a ridiculous amount of gigs all over the country. From Tinie Tempha to My Chemical Romance, festivals to 200 capacity halls. And about 60% have been enjoyed standing up and leaping around. But for the other 40%, and this includes every festival I’ve been too a little genetic birdie has had to be taken into consideration.

Now to the perks.

1. Seating

Over the past three years I’ve tested a lot of wheelchair space. The advantage of sitting in the disabled area is 90% of the time your view is closer, uninterrupted, and at a good angle. If you pick the right block you can often be closer to the stage than most people standing. Normally sat right at the front and slightly higher up means no one can stand blocking your view, no matter how tall. I can only think of about 3 venues where the wheelchair seats were meanly placed. The main problem being the closest one they had were as far from the stage as physically possible.

2. Skipping the line

This doesn’t just apply to concerts, but it is handy when you by pass the hundreds of people lining out in the cold. It also means if your running late or need that extra half hour resting in your hotel room you don’t have to worry about missing the opening song. Often being taken in before doors open is a massive help to. Meaning you can comfortably  find your seat without trying to avoid the heels of excitable fans.

3. Free stuff

Now I understand that people often feel sorry for people in wheelchairs, but it can all get a bit over the top when roadies, stage hands and security guards pick you out of the crowd to give you free items. Not that I’m complaining. Over the past year or so I’ve got given five plectrums, four of which the band actually used. A towel from the stage, a poster, a workers back stage tour pass and a set list. Another free gift you get when in your disabled is a free carer. This is a great help as it means a ticket suddenly halves in price. Its true for most tickets to any events. And of course then theres the free parking, although this isn’t as dreamy as it sounds. As more often than not there just aren’t enough disabled parking bays. Meaning we have to begin the getting into a wheelchair in a normal tiny car space dance. The worst part of this is when one or more of these gold dust spaces are occupied by a car not wearing a blue badge. Annoyed hatred doesn’t even come close.

4. The concert itself

Nothing beats losing your self and your dignity in the engrossing thumps of blood bouncing rifts screaming from the amps. Completely forgetting for a second that your genetically mutated and nearly destroying your wheelchair from dancing. Nothing quite gives you the will or determination to take back control of your life and your body than watching people and bands living at a concert, knowing your as with them as much as you physically can, but soon you’ll be the one leading the living.

 

Stay tuned for more blog posts from Beth Morse.

7 makeup tips for women living with illness that every woman can benefit from

Spending 10-15 minutes a day putting on make up is a normal part of the lives of most women, often becoming barely noticeable from day to day — but what happens when your  daily routine gets shaken up, kicked around and generally trampled on by an illness?

When daily tasks become energy sucking and something as simple as putting on make up could zap everything you have for that day. Over the years I’ve trialled and tested the best methods when it comes to being ill and make up. Here are a few tips I’ve come up with.

1. Try to use it as a pick me up rather than a necessity

Put on a bit of sparkle when heading out for a special occasion or as a confidence boost when bad news has reared its ugly head. Changing from the daily to the every so often not only saves you energy, but also turns the boring routine of applying beige products to a rewarding treat, meaning your more likely to reach for the bright, shimmering glitter than the pale pastels.

2. When it comes to actually applying  make up try to think what works best for you

If  you have pale, deathly looking skin, don’t go running to the orange foundation. As you grow tired your face will pale even more, leaving you looking like a ghost wearing an orange face pack rather than healthy.

3. To make your face a disguise to your ill health concentrate on the eyes

Eyes are what most people will first see, make yours wide and alive. Try to find a mascara that is comfortable to wear and doesn’t clump up those long eyelashes. Use no-irritant, waterproof eyeliner in black to give a statement which won’t leave you uncomfortable in the long run. If you are unable to apply eyeliner try bold eye shadows. Placing deep rich colours at the outside edge of eyelids to give an allusion of larger eyes.

4. Try to find products which won’t irritate or disappear after an hour

Too much energy could be wasted re applying make up throughout the day, and nobody likes to be discomfited, especially when you ill. If eye make ups a no no for you don’t despair.  Stand in front of a mirror and practise getting your eyes to smile. I know it sounds ridiculous, but trust me, nothing is more beautiful or healthy looking than a smiling eye.

5. Use moisturising lipstick

Lipstick is a major problem for me and is usually avoided like the plague, due to my having chronic dry lips. But when the lure of lipstick becomes to much I use moisturising lipstick. Making your lips plump and fresh is never a bad thing. Choosing the right shade can be a bit of a dilemma. My advice, the brighter the better. No one wants nude lips when their skin is pale and there eyes tired. By using a brighter shade your suggesting health and confidence. The nuder you go the more it will wash out your features. Lip brushes are a god send for those who find hand control a bit of a bother, and if your lips need a bit of help in the fuller department use a clear lip liner to give shadow but without running the risk of the colour bleeding.

6. Foundation can be a girls best friend, and a girls worst enemy

Over the years I’ve tried and embarrassingly failed to find the right foundation. But finally I think I have found the answer. Don’t use a foundation. For my dry, pale and oily skin I use a long lasting, non  allergic tinted prima. It gives the cover and look of foundation without the heaviness. Avoid pilling on the concealer over those tattooed on bags as this will only draw them more attention. Instead apply as much as you would to the rest of your face to give an even look, then make those eyes do all the work. Try using a sponge for a better finish and the wider surface to hold can be easier to control than a brush. Using a prima with SPF in it means on those summer days your already covered.

7. Be realistic

My last piece of advice is to be realistic. If you really don’t need the make up don’t waste the energy, less for the ill is always more in the long run and nothing is more beautiful than a smile.

 

Stay tuned for more blog posts by Beth Morse.

Life with a medical condition can’t stop you from living loud at concerts and sweet at cake club

At the age of 18 many teenagers lives are the same: school, friends, parties, clothes. Mine is a little bit different: hospital, rest, friends.

These are the main parts of my life. I have a rare genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a condition called mass cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and a secondary condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia  syndrome (POTS). These effect every part of my body, from joints to skin, to organs to bones causing constant pain, sickness, fatigue and organ problems to name a few.

I’m a wheelchair user and need my mums help with nearly any daily task. At the age of 15 life was normal, but after hurting my neck things went downhill. Energy turned to fatigue and sleep came during the day instead of at night. Pain took over every cell in my body and food became my number one enemy.

After years of fighting I finally got the correct diagnoses of EDS and POTS. Three years on I’m finally getting the correct treatment and another diagnoses of MCAS. My life stopped at the age of 15, but now I’m starting to find out how to start it again and positive kicking down the negative, activities becoming social and not just medical.

My time is spent watching a slightly scary amount of reality and drama on tv, baking calorific cakes for my family, or the cake club I attend monthly (the best thing ever invented, 20 or so women sat around eating and discussing cake for a whole evening). These days I’m going to an insane amount of concerts and driving my mum crazy by insisting on waiting at the back door till 2am to meet the band, catching up and drinking too much tea with my friends, and, unfortunately, attending constant hospital appointments.

Tinker is an assistant dog and a best friend

In these blog posts I will hopefully pass on advice  regarding being ill and different aspects of life, share experiences and look at the lighter side of the dark, but mainly introduce you all to my new little doggie, Tinker, a collie cross whippet who’s meant to be a 2 year old, but acts more like a 2 month old. Tinker will be, over the next few years, trained as my assistant dog, helping me dress, pick things off the floor, open doors and be an emotional support dog. With the end ambition being her attending university with me. But at the moment she’s living up to her name, causing laughter, and being a menace every second that she’s not sprawled out on the floor in dream land.

Since getting Tinker from the dogs trust our lives have changed. Constant cuddles and guilty looks now define the days. Her little foxy tail can be seen running through rapeseed and tucked under her sleeping head. But most often the tip can be seen wagging in a pleading like manner whenever someone opens the fridge. The boss is me — most of the time. What I say goes when it comes to behaviour and training. Unfortunately, the extremely smart Tinker loves nothing more than to buddy up to my mum or brother when it comes to mischief. When the pain is too much or the fatigue turns to led in my muscles she’s an amazing snuggeler. Just the right size to cuddle without preventing the ability to breath. And there’s nothing like looking into her cheeky, glinting face to cheer up any rough day.

 

Look out for more posts from Beth Morse on her pal Tinker and living life to the fullest even with a medical condition.