I am repeating this post because, believe it or not, while I was at the doctor’s office today, the Arthritis Today magazine had an article about pets and arthritis. Ironic, but I figured it made for a re-posting of this older post. Enjoy!
I have a cat. Her name is Shelby. She was a foundling who adopted me. She is also so much more than just a feline friend.
Shelby has an intuitive nature that allows her to see when I am ill and respond to me. When I am in bed, like now, she is laying next to me. When I am asleep, she lays either next to me or above my head. Some days, she is not around and that is usually when I am feeling good. She goes about her business as she normally would do.
When my lupus is acting up, though, she is right by my side, purring and rubbing on me and trying to help me feel better. It is uncanny, (or should I say, uncatty) how she knows without me saying a word, that I feel awful. She is not overly in my face, but she is on the periphery should she be needed.
While my cat is unique, she is not the only one who is intuitive. I read a story a few years back about a nursing home that had “adopted” a stray cat. The cat was allowed to roam the halls and “visit” with the residents. This cat had an intuitve nature too. It was discovered that the cat would go to a particular resident who was imminently ready to pass away. When a resident was at this point, the cat could not be coerced to leave the room of the resident. It would stay until the person passed away. It became noticible to the staff and they would know by the cats behavior, whether there was an impending death or not. They felt that the cat didn’t want the person to be alone, so it would stay on the bed with the person until after they passed.
I also saw a story about cats and patients with AIDS. The story said that those patients who had cats, tended to live longer than those who did not have a pet cat. Cats were the pet of choice because they did not require as much work as dogs and chronically ill people may not be able to give a dog the exercise they need. Who knew?
So, my Shelby has this same empathy, but for me. She has been a true and loyal friend in my down times and always helps me with her presence. She is not a “talker” type of cat, but she is always here, by my side, when I need her most. She does not judge me, or make me feel I am worthless when I cannot do things. She is just here, faithfully, making me fell loved.
Funny that a cat can do that and so many humans can’t. We should take a lesson from the animals on this one!
Many of us have friends, some life long and others shorter term. One of the things that bind us as friends, is a commonality of something. Call it a community of sorts. I have several of these communites in my life. The one I am going to talk about today is the Lupus Community.
I have lupus. This can be a devastating thing that can overwhelm you when you are first diagnosed, and leave you shell shocked for some time. After the intial shock wears off, the knowledge phase kicks in, namely, where you research and learn more about this disease and its effects on your life and family.
It is during this phase that many of us have found a surprising community of folks who have been there, done that and now help others just like themselves. I call this the Lupus Community.
Now, to be certain, you would think that to be great friends would require seeing each other daily, talking on the phone, and sharing life’s events. Yes, that is true. In this community though, we do all of the above with tthe exception of seeing each other in person. We “see” each other online.
In this community, we can share things that we would not tell others. We can be honest, and discuss the way this disease has affected our life, warts and all. We can be brutal in our descriptions of certain manifestations of the disease and feel free to express our innermost feelings without fear of judgment or belittling that many “normals” sometimes do inadvertantly. If we are depressed, we can tell others and know that they will lift us up and help us to get through it. It is a community of others who are dealing with many of the same issues that are difficult to describe to those who are not ill. We laugh at our jokes and inadequacies, we cry when we lose a friend, we rejoice in remission, and we commiserate in our pain. We share links with information and discuss various clinical trials and developments as well as improvements in care and even good doctors versus bad doctors.
In the end, it is a community of caring, intelligent individuals who share a commonality of an incurable disease and who are living with it each and every day. When those closest to us get tired of hearing our complaints, this is the community that will help us and bolster us as we survive each day and keep the wolf at bay. It is a sounding board for us to vent and scream, to cry and laugh, to share and care. We cross all socioeconomic boundaries, all races and religions, and all countries across the world. We speak different languages and have different colors of skin. Underneath it all, though, we share the wolf. We fight it as one, and never give up on each other. We are men and women who share this unique bond. We are young and old, we are survivors one and all.
I am blessed to have found this community and to share it whenever I can. Yes, I may have in incurable disease called lupus, but, and here is the difference, lupus does not have me! I am a lupus survivor! I share this distinction with many millions earthwide! We will fight until our last breath each of us! If you are newly diagnosed, please join in the lupus family and you will feel the love and caring that I have experienced…
See, I am indeed blessed…
Ok, so I admit it, lately I have not been blogging. However, the reason are many and also why I needed to be blogging again… a paradox but true. You see, I am in a flare and it has been particularly ugly. That being said, I have also been on steroids again to treat it.
I have been feeling pretty bad. Even with prednisone. No matter what I am taking. It sucks. Big time.
This flare is making me miserable and no getting away from it, it is a bad one for me. I cannot move at times and I lay down and sleep at all times of the day. I am having pain in my joints so bad I cry. I hurt when I drive, my ankle joint hurts. I really have downplayed it but this is a bad one. Add the misery of this heat and humidity, and I feel like never getting out at all.
Many of my fellow lupies have been having issues too, so I am not alone. This disease will not win!It can take my life, but not the living of it!
I know, I am complaining again, but if you felt like I do, you would be crying I tell you! Normal people have no clue how painful it can be just to get up and walk to the bathroom. Simple acts, like getting in and out of a car can bring excrutiating pain in the joints and therefore, are not to be done unless absolutely needed. Fingers throb in pain from the act of typing. The headaches from the prednisone tapering off are horrible! Now, add to that, having to try to act like you are not in pain, and you have my life.
My family is supportive in so many ways. My sons seem to cope better than my daughter, but they get it, all of them. Some days their mom is out and about and having a great day, and other days, you cannot get me out the door. Plans can be made, but only with the disclaimer that I may not be able to do them when they arrive.
I have to try to keep all the doctor appointments in line and make them but if they are not on my calendar, I forget about them. The memory is having issues, not like alzheimers, but all of my memroy, sometimes, odd bits will be forgotten, then reappeaar again. No rhyme or reeason. I hope the neurologist will get to the bottom of it. I have my emg this week, oh joy… and of course, the moving. Gee, wonder why I am so sick?
I am sorry if this is negative, but it is truthful and if I am not truthful, then I am lying to myself.
The bright spots in my life are my grandchildren. They give me a reason to hope, to believe, and to live. I am blessed to have them! I am thankful to Jehovah for them every day. My friends are another of my blessings. I have some outstanding people in my life who help me in so many little ways that they may not even be aware of doing it. They are my heroes and keep me fighting each and every day.
I guess I hope that if someone reads this and is one of the “normals” or people without lupus, they would see that life in our shoes is not pretty, or without substantial pain, but it is lived despite these things. I used to like helping others when I was normal, now I am thankful for those around me who give me help when I need it! I may look like I am not sick, but the war inside my body rages on and it is up to me to decide to have a good attitude or not. I cannot control the disease, however, I cannot let it control me. Yes, it hurts, yes, it is hard to live with, but I refuse to let it win!
I seem to be a little flighty tonight, but that is also what it can do to you. It is called brain fog, and it is a medical condition associated with lupus. This rapering down on prednisone is rough too. Forget about my fat “moon” face and the unwanted weight gain, the fact that the pain returns as you taper down is enough to make you cry! Then the mood swings from the drugs is there as well. It can be up and down and all around and if this is rambling, you can see how it can affect us! It sucks. Lupus sucks.
For today, I am choosing to be happy, and smiling, and loving. If I try hard enough, maybe the pain will give me a few little breaks and I can feel as normal as I can for a few minutes! If not, I will smile through it and wait until I see my neurologist and rheumatologist this week and see what they think… I will keep you updated!