After fourteen years with too numerous to count misdiagnoses, this is my daily journey living with an unknown disease that has made me fully physically dependent, living by the help from my family, friends, and beloved service dog. It is how I have chosen to define myself to remain whole in spite of it.

Gardening, Anyone? 

Gardening, Anyone? 

Which is more important: an activity that I enjoy that also happens to be good physical therapy, or achieving physical therapy activities outside the standard exercises and happens to be an activity I enjoy? 

If you answered the first, you’re correct. If you answered the second, you’re also correct. My daily life is filled with activities / chores that I enjoy, and, simply by the fact that I am doing them, gives physical therapy value, as I have been so trained to make sure that everything I do, I do with intentional movements. 

This is how I happened to get into gardening. It was an idea a caregiver I had at the time had, inspired by our recent conversation about food—side dishes, vegetables—you get the picture. She suggested that we get a few pre-grown containers of vegetables and take over the patio table we had outside. Then together we would weed and harvest the crops. We started with a variety of peppers, eggplant, cucumber, and tomatoes. 

Now, I should point out, that the farmer in my family is my sister. I don’t have a black thumb, but I wouldn’t rush to stay it’s a green one either. I do, however, enjoy eating vegetables, (yes, I know I’m weird), and so found that I very much enjoyed the “container” gardening. 

So much so, that the following year my family gave me 4 foot tall gardening beds so I could just roll up to them and tend to my garden whenever I pleased. (And, by virtue of them no longer being potted, allowing me to get respectably sized vegetables.) 

The surprise, however, came, when I realized that this was one activity that Camelot and my mother’s two dogs all approved of my doing. Why? Because they too enjoy to garden, we learned. Specifically, tomatoes. 

Our dogs love tomatoes. In fact, it is now a race to see if we get any of the tomatoes at all. My sister, the farmer, plants my beds for me during the early summer, (that’s the part that truly kills my hands), and every year she pro-actively plants more and more tomatoes of different varieties, in hopes that we might get a few. 

Well, now, as our dogs get outside, rather than going to the grass to take care of business first, they immediately take a turn on the patio to go straight to the beds to check on the exploding green tomatoes taking over my garden. A few times, when my mom can’t find one of her dogs, she turns to find her yellow Lab in the garden bed itself so she can reach the top blooms of the tomatoes, tail wagging as she happily ignores my mother’s entreaties to get down. 

I feel this is worth repeating: the yellow Lab, who is turning 10 this year, jumps up the 4 foot tall by 2 foot wide garden bed and stands there eating the tomatoes off the top of the vine. In case you’re wondering, my well behaved standard poodle service dog, Camelot, (who also loves tomatoes), can normally be found eating the tomatoes off the vines that the Lab bends for him, very kindly sharing the spoils without his getting into as much trouble. 

Yes, we know we live in a small zoo.

Thankfully, thus far this year, the Lab has remained earth bound, surviving from below. Though, it’s still early and the tomatoes are still green…Any bets on who gets to the red ones first—people or dogs???

 Yellow Lab enjoying her tomatoes...

Yellow Lab enjoying her tomatoes...

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A Shriek or A Scream?

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