When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I actually bought myself a puppy to help remind myself that “life goes on, despite Lupus”. No matter what happens with this disease, we always need to remember that. I also named my dog “Hope” to further remind me that the cure is out there, it’s only a matter of time before researchers find the missing pieces to the mysterious puzzle known as Lupus.
I can tell you so many stories about how my pets are a Godsend to me. Animals love unconditionally and do not discriminate. Humans could learn from them in how we treat our fellow man, that’s for sure. Animals certainly have mankind beat when it comes to compassion and empathy.
I have both cats and dogs. Both are equally loving and supporting of me, especially when I am really sick. They sense it and provide extra love to me when I need it the most. I would definitely recommend getting a pet to anyone who is chronically ill. Mine make me smile and feel better all the time. They have unique personalities that provide hours of entertainment in their quirkiness. They are always making me laugh- goofballs, just like their Momma LOL
At my sickest back in 2007, when I was pretty much at death’s door..my cat, Shadow took on the role as nurse. I didn’t have to ask her to, she just did. She knew something was wrong and instinctively did everything she could to make it better. She would keep tabs on my heart rate/breathing like she was checking my vitals.
Shadow would come and sit on my chest and lay her head over my heart and listen to the beats. I honestly believe she was very concerned at the abnormal rate my heart was beating. At the time, the Lupus had caused my periods to go haywire and I was slowly bleeding to death. Doctors tried all sorts of things to stop the bleeding to no avail. Everything just made it worse. The doctors told me that because was bloodcell count was so low, that my heart had to pump that much harder to get what little blood was there to pump through the rest of my body. I used to get severe chest pains any time I would have to go up the stairs to the bedroom or to the shower. Scary, scary time.
I eventually had to have a hysterectomy but it took months before my bloodcell count was within safe limits to even perform surgery. (I talked about this more in depth back in December in my “Meet Someone With Lupus” article that you can read in the Lupus Magazine’s archive http://thelupusmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/12/meet-someone-with-lupus-kristel.html)
Another interesting thing that Shadow was concerned with back then was the amount of sleeping I was doing. I honestly believe she realized how close I was to dying because if she thought I slept too much, she would come over, place her cold nose on me to see if I was still breathing. When she was satisfied that I was, she would either go back to doing what cats do, or lay there next to me purring.
To this day, my animals still sense when I am not feeling well. They’ll come cuddle me as if to tell me “Its ok Mommy, everything will be alright” and “We love you no matter what”. My dog “Hope” is actually good for my Rheumatoid Arthritis part of my diagnosis so my joints don’t get stiff and ache more. She is always bringing me stuff to throw so she can play fetch. One of the things with RA, is its actually good to have movement, and will often lessen the pain to do so. Hope’s a smart cookie. It is fascinating how animals just instinctively know what is good for you and do it. I think she has taken on the Physical/Occupational Therapist role.
Of course “Hope” is also my little buddy. She follows me everywhere to make sure nothing happens to me. She enjoys talking to me (she is a very vocal dog, sometimes bossy too when she wants me to do something I don’t want to do) LOL Stubborn! She will yip and yap at me “Now Mommy, you know this will make your joints loosen up, just throw the blue Monkey for me to chase and fetch”. Then she will smile at you, wagging her tail at you “I love you Mommy”. LOL Sneaky methods and it’s a good thing she is cute 😉
I have lots of other friends with Lupus and various chronic illnesses who also have had wonderful experiences with their pets when it comes to their illnesses. Some of the pets even have their own facebook pages to help share in the love and caring worldwide.
Animals truly are angels sent from God to make us feel better. They just love us unconditionally. You will never hear them tell you “ohh but you don’t look sick” or “Oh, Lupus- that’s no big deal”, or “well your chemo cant be all that strong if you take it as often as you do”. Animals sense the truth and just KNOW what you need the most- love, compassion and understanding. They are hands down the best means of emotional support a chronically ill person could have. They love us no matter what. I honestly don’t think I would have the same attitude towards my disease without my pets being here to make it better for me. They give me hope.