NAMI SC peer retreat

This weekend I had the NAMI SC peer retreat. We had peers from all over South Carolina come together for a weekend of connecting, relaxing, and sharing. I helped plan the retreat, so of course you know that I planned it at the same hotel we use for PSDP conventions– the Hilton Garden Inn in Rock Hill. Our sleeping rooms were covered, so I stayed at the hotel with Felix for his very first hotel stay!

I showed up at 1PM on Friday, not realizing that check-in wasn’t until like 3 or 4PM! Oops! So my room hadn’t been cleaned. They assigned me a different already cleaned room without an issue, though. The woman checking me in was very nice and I recognized her from the PSDP conventions. She asked if Felix was a service dog, and when I said yes she noted that I didn’t have to fill out the pet form (it’s a pet friendly hotel). She did ask his name for their records, which I gave them. She also asked for a cell number for me in case Felix and I got separated. I figured that wasn’t a bad idea, so I gave her my phone number.

When I got up to the room, I immediately realized that it was not a wheelchair accessible room. But it was the very last room on the hallway, so I figured this would be perfect for Felix’s first hotel stay without people walking past our room all the time. And the room was workable for me. I’ve actually been in wheelchair accessible rooms (or what are called that) in other hotels that were as big as this room was. I just have been in this hotel’s accessible rooms before and know that this was not one of them. I could just barely squeeze my wheelchair between the bed and the TV, so really the whole room was usable.

Unfortunately the end of the hallway is where the ice machine is, however. Luckily Felix got very used to hearing the ice machine make more ice every few hours and didn’t bark at it.

I went downstairs and helped set up the room, and then we had an hour to kill before the retreat started. So we sat in the lobby with my friend Laura who I met at the last peer retreat, her fiancĂ© Ian, and Deniece who helped plan the retreat with us. I put Felix on his mat with a chew, and was able to crochet for a full hour with him staying on his mat with his chew! That’s a new record for him! I was very proud of how well he did with that!

Then we headed back to the room for registration and art time. It was fun to meet everyone as they walked in, and we had a great time doing art together.

I decided that Felix needed some down time, so I ate dinner in my room and fed Felix. After dinner we had BINGO run by the Executive Director of NAMI Piedmont Tri-County, Robert. Robert was a great BINGO caller and we had a really fun time competing to win the prizes.

When we walked into the room I had my eye on three prizes, and I ended up winning three times and got all three of my top prizes!

Unfortunately I ate too much for dinner, so I didn’t sleep very well. Felix did amazing in the hotel at night. He barked once on Friday night when someone went to the ice machine, but not when other people went to the ice machine.

The next morning when I took him out to potty, I think he didn’t realize the hotel was not our home and that other people would be there. The first people he saw, he barked at! But then after that he seemed to realize that it was OK for other people to be in the hotel, too.

Saturday we had two things in the morning after breakfast– a keynote talk and a group discussion about reconnecting. Now in the past when I’ve been out doing things with Felix, he’s never fallen asleep on me. At the PSDP convention he stayed awake all day long, and when we’ve been playing games with Brad’s family, he stays awake the whole time, too. Even when he’s really tired, he never lies down and falls asleep on me. But I guess our lack of sleep Friday night finally caught up to him, and Saturday morning he conked out several times on me! It was so cute! I asked a few people to take some pics, and I’ll put them at the bottom of this blog entry. He was out like a light several times on Saturday and on Sunday!

We went out to lunch at Chili’s on Saturday with a group of people from the retreat. I pulled my mask down to take bites, but kept it up the rest of the time. This was Felix’s first time being inside a restaurant– we’ve only ever eaten on patios before. Plus we hadn’t been to a restaurant since the summer– looking at my calendar I think the last time was June!!!! So Felix is really really out of practice with restaurants. And it showed, unfortunately.

There was some food on the floor under the table, and Felix kept trying to go eat it. And then my friend Pete was sitting next to us, and Felix kept wanting to sniff his leg! I was very embarrassed, but everyone told me it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.

After lunch, I decided that Felix and I needed a break, so we skipped the next session and rested in our room.

I did, however, participate in the afternoon scavenger hunt. This was a scavenger hunt I designed to take advantage of the stores in the shopping area. So you’d think I’d be a whiz at it! But we were really really slow. We had a lot of fun, though, and so did everyone else! One of the items on the test was to take a picture of a Frog, so everyone went to Sweet Frog, the fro-yo place in the shopping area. I got a small bit (about a cup) of frozen yogurt with some gummies on it. It was SO GOOD! We ended up coming in last LOL.

While we were hanging out after the scavenger hunt, a person with a dog walked by the windows and Felix barked! I was so embarrassed! He really needs to learn that hotels are not his home!

We hung out and did art and stuff for a while, and then headed out from the hotel to the hut (the NAMI PTC building) for pizza, movies, and games. I played Uno and Taboo and we had so much fun!

We left at 8PM because the people I came with all wanted to get to bed at a good time, but other people stayed later.

Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well again on Saturday night because I had a bad headache and no medicine to take for it. Felix was good again, with just one bout of barking in the night.

When I went to get breakfast the next morning, the woman serving the eggs and sausage told me that I couldn’t have Felix in the breakfast area. I said he was a service dog and she said it didn’t matter, no dogs allowed. So I went over to the front desk and told the woman what was said, and she got right on it and went and educated the person.

Then after breakfast, Felix did a good job again of lying on his mat while I crocheted. Then we did our group picture, and finally our last connections meeting. It was a really good meeting, and I was sad the retreat was over. It was a good retreat, and I had a lot of fun and made some really good friends.

Below are pictures mostly of Felix LOL that I took at the retreat, and that others took of us/him. He is sleeping in most of the pictures in my arms. There’s also a selfie of me with my new friend Jessica, and a group photo of everyone.

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