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! Edited to add that my precious Shelby passed away over 6 years ago. I still miss her.

 

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!

Why I Walk

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To be honest, last year I did not walk but still attended the event. This year is not looking too good for me walking either, but I will still tell you why I attend the walk. When I say I walk, I mean attending the event, since walking is not an option due to the disease activity right now. Please read…

I walk for my family, my children and grandchildren. They are at risk of developing Lupus because of me. I walk so they will not have to suffer and feel the pain of joints hurting and rashes appearing and organs inflamed. I walk for their future being pain free and healthy. I do not want this disease to impact them as it has me.

I walk for those who are unable to walk the walk anymore. They are fighting the best they can to survive each day with a smile on their face and joy in their heart. They do not take each day for granted but enjoy each day to the fullest because they have learned to appreciate each day they are given to survive. They are the warriors in this disease.

I walk for those who have passed on. This year alone, I have known of at least ten people who this disease has overtaken. There are many more that I do not know, but the sad fact is that this disease will consume many more loving people before their time. Those who have passed on are the inspiration to me to keep going, and not let the disease win if I can help it.

I walk for those not yet diagnosed. So many times it takes YEARS before a diagnosis can be made. With more awareness and assistance, we hope to cut this time down so patients can get the life saving treatment they need sooner rather than later. In some, this difference can mean life or death. It is vital to shorten this time!

I walk for those in such pain that they find daily living a challenge. Why must we feel bad when asking medical professionals for help in pain management? I truly believe that if more men had this disease, pain management would not be an issue. More women have this disease and as such, pain management can de a daunting challenge. We deserve to live as pain free as we can. We are not asking for something to get high. We are asking for medications that can help us to function on a daily basis as normally as possible. Why do we feel like drug addicts when we ask for help? Medical professionals need to understand that this is a chronic, incurable disease that can come and go and when we are in need of help, please give us the help we need. It is a small thing to ask for yet it is often a challenge because of the laws and the feelings of each doctor.

Finally, I walk so that others can be educated on this disease. Awareness is a key to funding, earlier diagnosis, treatment, and research. The more people realize that lupus is out here and more prolific that many diseases that have a higher profile, the more help we will get. Please take a few moments of your time and read about lupus. Talk about lupus. Join the LFA. Become proactive. For those of us with lupus, we need your help to get the word out. The normal people out there are the ones who can take the ball and run with it. They have the energy and time to be able to help those of us who can’t. Please go to

www.lfa.org and learn more about it.

If we can help just one person, will that not make everyone feel better? Join our cause and see what one person can do. The walk is just the tip of the iceberg.

On a personal note, I am proud of my granddaughter, Audrey, who has walked the walk since she was 3 years old. She WALKS and has raised money each year to help her meemaw. That, my friends, is love.

Why I Do What I Do

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There are a lot of people out there who may wonder why I do the things I do in promoting lupus awareness. The answer is as complex at times as the disease is. In answer to those that really want to know, I will try to explain it.

I have lupus. I live with it daily. It hurts. It is unpredictable. It impacts my life every day in some way. Now, to why I seem to obsess over it, as some would think, is simple. I feel better about myself and validated by studying it and sharing with others. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and allows me to vent my anger over the things I cannot control. It helps me, plain and simple.

Another reason why I give time to this cause is because it helps me feel like a viable member of society, because it is something I know about, and can help others with. I have already had to stop working because of it but it has not stopped me from wanting to have that sense of pride in doing a good job. Self esteem it is called and I could use some since not working anymore. To feel that, I promote lupus and help others understand about it. I ask organizations for grants and donations. I call businesses and discuss participating in the walk. It helps me to feel some control over lupus and to feel that I am doing something even if I am laying in bed and in my pj’s.

You see, I was always a go-getter, the first one at work and one of the last to leave. I enjoy working. I cannot hold a “real” job anymore because of the progression of this disease and the unpredictability of it all. I mean, who would want an employee who cannot say which days they can work and for how long?

In a perfect world, I could do a job from my bed if necessary. This world, unfortunately, is not perfect, yet anyway, and so I muddle on trying to keep my brain from rotting and pushing myself to do things that bring me satisfaction.

I have decided to work, as it were, at being an advocate for lupus. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. If people think I amd welling on it too much, so sorry. I live with it every day. They don’t. If what I do is causing them to think less of me, then they do not have to read. Plain and simple, I need to feel like I am doing something about this unpredictable disease and this is how I cope. Deal with it, or not, the choice is yours.

Sorry if this sounds harsh but I have been dealing with this for a long time now and it has been bothering me.  I live my life as best I can with each day and how it presents itself to me. I will not be ashamed of my feelings or my experience. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

The Lupus Community

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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…

ARGHHHHH…reposted but still applicable

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That one word says it all! I have not been well lately, in a flare, and now my back has gone out too! I have to rant about it here though, since my family has seen fit to tell me to quit talking about the pain and buck up and get over it. Hence, the other reason for the one word title.

Apparently, discussing your pain and feelings about it is not allowed. You have to emit sunshine and rainbows and keep the other things in hiding, behind a smile to pretend all is well.  Basically, it means that they are sick and tired of hearing about the issues I am having. If they think they are sick and tired, how do they think I feel? I guess that it is a moot point.

So, like the good little wife and mother I am, I will trudge  ahead, doing my work and not uttering a sound of dissent, or even resting up. In the end, I guess I can relax when I am dead. Yes, this is a pity party in a way, however, it is also a sad fact that those of us with chronic diseases deal with a lot. No one wants to hear about our struggles. No one wants to hear our pain. No one wants to deal with the issues. We are forced to smile and pretend and then we get sicker, because we are trying to push it all back and in the end, it always comes back and gets us. So, the moral of this story is, I will trudge forward, but when I am flat on my back, do not expect me to jump up and continue, because it is the aftermath of the trudging I did when we were all pretending that nothing is wrong.

It is a sad commentary on those of us with lupus or other chronic diseases  when we face this type of behavior in the world, yet we expect a warm environment at home and sometimes, we do not get it. I am thankful today, that I have this blog where I can vent and rant against this type of thing, and hopefully share with others who suffer the same types of problems. In this healthy way, I can get it out and let it go.

Thanks for letting me vent…