Friends

Standard

friend2

 

Friends are the family we pick for ourselves. I truly believe that. My family is fairly large, yet on the surface, it is a superficial type of friendship that I have with them. Yes, we share a history, but truthfully, I am not close with them at all. The exception to that is my children. My sisters and I have lived our lives on our own, mostly, and our family groups have left the bigger group to form smaller circles of immediate family only. Shoot, one of my sisters has isolated herself almost completely.

My family put the fun in dysfunctional. It really is sad that I do not have relationships with my sisters but I do have many tight, sincere relationships with those I call sister. I have a beautiful bouquet of friends that are my family. They are my confidants, my loyal and trusted pals who share with me as I do with them. They do not judge. They have the option of leaving yet they stay and support. The support goes both ways.

There is a song called ,”You find out who your friends are” and it is true. I am fortunate enough to know who my friends are. As many of us with autoimmune diseases know, once we got sick we saw many “friends” leave, unable to process the changes in our lives. It happens.

I feel like it enhances our lives even if it is painful to find out who are the superficial friends especially if you were a true friend to them when they needed you. The folks who walk out of our lives in our time of need do us a favor. They show us who the true friends are and by doing that, they have given us a gift.

True friends are blessings. I have several and I totally know they are there for me as I am for them. I do not take them for granted. I love them, they are the family I chose to surround myself with. They are the ones who I know will be there if I need them. I am so thankful to have them in my life. I hope you have those who are in your life as well.

Cats and chronic disease

Standard

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!

The Lupus Community

Standard

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…