Cats and chronic disease

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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!

Animals and People with chronic diseases

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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!

disappointed

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Today I actually did the things I had on my list and a few besides that! That is great! Wonderful! So, I feel a sense of accomplishment in getting these things done. Why then, the name of this post?

As much as I feel good for doing so much with so little energy today, I still feel disappointment. My body is hurting in so many places it would be easier NOT to name them. My feet in particular, and my ankle on the right side are the main culprits, but the rest of me feels like the feeling you get when you have the flu. You know, all achy and run down.

I have taken my neurontin for the feet and my tramadol for pain, but I am still in a mess of pain. As I said before, I am dealing with this on my own because I am apparently bringing everyone around me “down”. I would run to ER (like I could run) but as I said last night, they tend to shoo you out instead of addressing the issues at hand.

You see, for those of you who do not have a chronic, incurable disease, it is nice to have the ER for the emergencies in life. That is why it is there. However, when you have a chronic disease and appear at the ER, unless you are at death’s door, you will be patted on the hand and basically told that there is nothing they can do for you and to just go home and rest. Nonsense you say? I beg to differ. I have been to the ER on numerous occassions looking for some type of help with the things this disease does to my body, only to find that because I am a woman, I am treated like a child who has a little splinter in my hand.

I can say this because my husband has had to go to the ER for similar issues as mine and he is not only whisked in and thoroughly checked out, he is treated with respect. Now I know there are good doctors out there. I know several personally. The problem arises when you have so many things hurting and acting up and they cannot or will not try to help.

Let me state here that I am not looking for pain medicines. I have been on narcotics, as well as many different types of pain remedies. I do not like to take them unless it is severe enough. I do not get a “buzz” when I take them. Instead, it reacts like an amphetamine to me. You see, when one is chronically ill, pain meds do what they are supposed to do and knock the pain down. When that happens, I tend to feel so much better that I try to do all the things I can before I feel like total c-rap again. I have read studies where it has been proven over and over again that those with TRUE chronic pain do not get addicted like those who take them recreationally. They actually DO THEIR JOB in the chronically ill people.

Not to put too fine a point on it but the whole issue then seems to be that I suffer in pain, in bed, while I should be able to enjoy some things every so often. If I could find a magic potion that made me feel good, I would shout it from the rooftops. I would love to be able to just jump up and run to the store without having to worry about how far I will be walking, if I can get it all done, and how much it will hurt me after the fact.

I am mad, basically, because my pain is very real, and my meds are not working and I need someone to listen to me while I vent. If I call my family doc, they will refer me to the rheumy, who will either prescribe something or send me to the neurologist, and so on and so on…round and round we go. Been there done that and tired, too tired to care about this little game anymore. I will do my best to deal with the pain, and all the other issues because of it and I promise that I will nto inconvenience any one else because I am puny.

I pledge to:

Not whine about the pain

Not show my weaknesses

Not bring others down

Not stop even when it hurts

Do all my daily chores daily no matter what

I know there are many more for the list, but that is it in a nutshell.

Good night everyone and thanks again for letting me vent!

Don’t Say That (borrowed from Kendra)

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Borrowed from Kendra’s blog this is a must read!

Thanks Kendra and cure4lupus.org for posting this on your blog. I “borrowed” it because it is so true. I also added a few of my own to it as well. Thanks so much!

Don’t Say That

Some very well intentioned family members and friends of Lupus patients can do and say things that can frustrate and hurt the patient. Here are a few examples:

“Lupus, my cousin has that, it’s not that bad.” – Lupus is very different from person to person and can even change drastically in the same person.

“Feeling pretty good today?” – This can make us feel like we are disappointing you if the answer is no.

“You look like you feel pretty good” – Looks can be deceiving.

“How do you feel?” – It’s not that you should never ask this, we just get it ALL the time, sometimes we just want to be a “normal” person that is not focused on Lupus 24/7.

“It must be nice to not have to work.” – We would not only gladly exchange our illness for work, but those of us who have been disabled by it, miss working and contributing in that way.

“You just want attention” – We certainly don’t want attention for this. A lot of times we get embarrassed by the focus and attention for something not only negative, but something we have no control over.

“You never want to go anywhere or do anything” – Believe us, we wish we could a lot more than you do! Please understand that we just aren’t always capable.

“I heard (…) cures Lupus” – It doesn’t matter how you fill in the blank, just don’t say it. Everybody and their brother has some “miracle cure” Number one we have tried it all already, and number two if it really cured Lupus it wouldn’t be a secret, we would know about it already!

“All you need is…” – More sleep, this vitamin, more exercise, etc. It doesn’t matter how you finish the sentence, just don’t say it. People are constantly offering us unsolicited medical advice. Unless you have a medical degree, we will stick to our doctors’ advice, that is enough to deal with!

Complaining about trivial things – Please use our experiences to learn to value the important things in life! Complaining about stupid, meaningless things can feel like a slap in the face.

Talk only about Lupus – While we do need to talk about it sometimes, we get real sick of it real quick. Sometimes we just want to do something fun and silly and try to forget we are sick for a while.

My adds are:

“Oh, yeah, right, you cannot help me” This implies that we are lazy or incompetent and do not want to be of assistance. In fact, the opposite is true. We were more than helpful when able, and if not able, we need respect as a person with feelings. Do not belittle me.

“You look like you have put on a few pounds” This is one that I get from time to time, more in my past. This implies that I am out of control eating and doingthis to myself. In fact, I take oral and IV steroids that cause me to balloon up each and every time and pointing out the obvious only makes my self esteem hurt. I know I have gained weight and I want to get it off, but I am sick and need these (poisons) meds to survive. Please think before you speak.

The best advice is to follow the patient’s lead. They will communicate what they need and hopefully understand that you are just trying to help even when you say the wrong thing.

Old Post called Depths of Despair

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Depths of Despair

Recently, I am having some real issues with my health. Lupus has been flaring, despite the best efforts to keep it under control. For the first time since I have had this disease, I felt out of control and ready to give in. Give in to what, you may ask. I was ready to give up the fight and give in and have peace. Depressed, yes, who wouldn’t be when yoru body is wracked with pain, your joints hurt, your fingers are swollen, and you can hardly walk. This time, though, it was different.

My lupus has started into the neurological realm now and I see daily things changing that I cannot control. Things like, my memory for instance. Sure, I joke about this but it terrifies me to think I cannot remember things at time. The fog I am used to having is mild compared with this. It is frightening to think that, like alzheimers, I may sink into the world of no memories. It would scare anyone.

I am having more migraines, more pain, and feeling lost in the shuffle lately. Combine this with an eye doc telling me I am developing cataracts, and my straws are overloaded and my back is breaking. I know this is a little thing but it virtually sent me over the edge. I mean, come one, what else is going to happen? There I said it.

The unknown is scary. I can deal with many of the manifestations this disease provides me with, however, losing my memory is quite another thing. The edge came closer and I was ready to go on over. I am prepared to die, as it were, but I prefer to live right now. I have a lot of unfinshed business to take care of. Grandchildren to spoil and love, family to love, and friends and spiritual brothers and sisters to love as well. I have been saying that a lot lately to those around me. I love you. Simple words but powerful in their meaning. I want everyone who has touched my life to know how much it means ot me that they are my friends and family and that I love them all.

Not to get maudlin here, but the edge was there, all I had to do was give up. I can still see it. However, I have firmed my resolve now and feel much better about it. I am going to live my life and watch those grands grow up into young adulthood and be there for their important events. I have seen the other side, almost wanted to go there, but now I am determined that I am here, I am living, and I refuse to succumb to the edge. The precipice is still out there, waiting… for how long who knows? In the end, I can only think about today and what I have to live for. That will sustain me. Sharing my love of God with others, helping friends when able, and loving each person who is in my life. These are the things that are important to me.

I am glad I saw the edge. It knocked me out of the blue funk and back into the land of the living. Praise Jah for all the friends I have and for the will that was given me when I was at that low point. Thanks for the encouragement you gave me and this life that I am trying to improve to show You that it is not in vain. You alone are the Most High and You have given me the strength to continue. Thank you Father.

Essential Telangiectasia

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Essential Telangiectasia, something I had never heard of until recently. What is it, you may ask. Here is the definition: Telangiectasia: A cluster of dilated blood vessels on the skin’s surface. While this may sound innocuous at first glance, here is how it has manifested in me…I have purple feet. Yes, Purple feet. I thought it had to do with the periphreal neuropathy in my feet at first. On closer examination, this appears to be the main culprit. You see, when I looked up the phrase “purple feet” this is what I was directed to. And lo and behold, guess what is number four ont he list of diseases associated with causing it? You guessed it I am sure! LUPUS!

I will say that I do have pain from the neuropathy. The coloration, however, is definitely strange. I have had two people notice it in the last two days. Literally tell me, “Your feet are purple”. While neuropathy can cause a change in color, it is not as pronounced as this is. I mean, I could have been stomping grapes from the looks of it!

The onset has been gradual, I have seen it changing over the last month. It does not matter that it is hot or cold outside, the color stays the same. I have bouts with Raynauds in the winter time, but this is different for sure! I get bluish white from that. This is decidedly purple.

So, now the next doctors visit, I need to discuss this newest item on my list. From all accounts, it is not terrible other than people looking at you funny. I guess it is yet another thing to add to the list. I hate “The List”. It gets longer and longer all the time and I am getting more upset all the time!

Guess I will stop and count my blessings instead though… I have beautiful grandchildren who I adore and three kids that I love always and a husband who is my best friend… more importantly, I have a close relationship with God and for these things, I am grateful and blessed…purple feet and all!