Goodbye to a friend…

Today I am sitting here alone in an empty and quiet house.  And why is that?  Well, sadly just over two weeks ago we had to make the hard decision to put our beloved dog Honey to sleep.

The last picture of Honey taken days before her death
The last picture of Honey taken days before her death

It was a comfort to know that we made the decision that it was in her best interests, as well as taking the pain that she must have been enduring in the final weeks of her life.  However, that does not take away the immense pain of losing a beloved pet, as she was such a big part of our family.  The loss is great, and the loss is even more evident as I am sitting alone in the house whilst experiencing unrelenting symptoms.  Honey was a great source of comfort and companionship on my worst days, especially those that were spent whilst devoid of any human companionship.  Although, if something such as fall were to happen, Honey would obviously be unable to phone or raise the alarm but just the presence of her was a comfort; during the worst falls that I have had over the years, Honey would always come to my aid, well with a quick sniff and lick to ensure that I wasn’t badly hurt before lying down by my side until one of her other humans came home.  On the days where it was just me and Honey and I was unable to get out of bed because of weak and trembling legs, Honey would regularly run upstairs to check on me before settling on her favourite seat back downstairs.  Other times, I would awaken from a nap to find Honey laying on the carpet beside my bed.

Now Honey is no longer with us, and its first time since her passing when I have both been on my own and experiencing one of my worst days and I am feeling much less secure and safe.  I feel like a small child whose security blanket has been snatched from their arms.  Without the dog around to comfort and protect me (yes, every little noise when left alone was seen as a threat to me and would be met with a lot of barking!) it has made this particularly bad day feel that much worse and feel a lot longer than the seven hours I would have spent alone.

For those like me, living with a chronic illness, pets can be a very important presence in our lives.  This is especially considering most of our time is spent in the house, often on our own as those we live with go off to school or work, and we are left in the company of a beloved pet such as a dog.  They help to ease our loneliness that we often feel when living with a long-term health condition, and shines a bright light during the darkest of days living with persistent symptoms.  Honey made me laugh so much, even on the days when it seemed I had nothing to laugh about, but she would only have to look at me with her big, chocolate-brown eyes, or do something funny and it would a big smile on my face.

Honey with a potato in her mouth!
Honey with a potato in her mouth!

Yes, they provide companionship and support, but also they become a substitute for friends in a way, our close allies to attempt to live a full and happy life despite chronic illness.  Our beloved pets, give us their unconditional love and support, and the fact that we live with unpredictable and often severe symptoms does not bother them in the slightest, in fact they often show us more love and affection because we do as they can sense that not all is well with us, and they only want to make us feel better in any way they can.  This has been only been my experience of living with a dog for the fourteen years we had with Honey.  Dogs in particular are incredibly non-judgemental, not caring what we look like or why we have cancelled on plans, unlike a lot of humans that we come across during our everyday lives.

There are an incredible amount of studies that have shown the many health benefits of owning a pet.  For example, it has been shown that pets can lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety and boost immunity as well as increasing exercise for those with dogs when taking them for their exercise!   There are also the social benefits to help kerb loneliness and isolation, such as the ability to meet new people whilst taking a dog for a walk for example.  And yes, I agree that there are numerous health and social benefits to owning a pet, but for those living with chronic illness and/or disabilities they can enrich our lives in so many other ways.

Thank you Honey for always being there during my times in need, and for constantly being a source of comfort and companionship.  Thank you for making life brighter when illness threatened to block out the light,

We will never forget you.

Sleep tight, old friend.

My beautiful dog Honey who provides comfort, laughs, cuddles and kisses during times of illness and being bed-ridden!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP Honey (2001-2016)

A Time to Give Thanks!!…

NHBPM_2011_Day28

Welcome to the twenty-eighth day of the National Health Blog Post Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health.  Every day during the month of November I will be writing a new blog post related to health and living with a chronic illness based on given prompts provided by WEGO Health.

Today’s prompt reads:

A Time to Give Thanks: What’s the one thing you’re most thankful for?  Write a list of three things that you’re thankful for, excited about, or inspired by.

Although it’s extremely difficult living with a chronic illness, it still is however important to remain grateful and give thanks for everything that is good in our lives.  We must do this in order to remain positive and upbeat despite our journey through illness so we remain resilient.  So what are the things that I am most grateful for despite living with a neurological condition?

2010-05-19-gratitudepic

I am thankful for my friends and family.  Having material items such as tablets, and other computer devices to stave off boredom and to keep me occupied whilst stuck in bed, however, it is the people in your life that are constantly there for you and make travelling the road of chronic illness so much easier.   For example, I blessed to have amazing and supportive parents.  Parents who are always there for me; taking me to places where I need to go, or do little jobs that I am unable to do.  For example, whenever I am stuck in bed, my Mum or dad regularly comes to my room and asks whether there is anything I need, such as a drink or something to eat, and they will bring them up to me, without any complaints.   In addition, a couple of weeks ago, when I was going through a particularly tough time with my illness, and as a result was constantly in tears, my Mum was there for me, whenever I needed her – she would phone me from work to see how I was, or would give me a cuddle, and wipe my tears for me.  My parents make it easier to live with my condition everyday, and no amount of words can adequately express my thanks and gratitude to them or how much I love them.

Then there is my dog Honey, and although she can be incredibly cheeky, and naughty at times, she is at other times the most sweetest, caring and loyal dog.  For example, whenever I am having a bad day, or feeling depressed, she is giving me cuddles and kisses.  Or, if my legs are particularly bad and I am falling over constantly; she is there by my side instantly to make sure that I am OK and not hurt.  And then she will follow me around; never wanting to leave me out of her sight until I am safely lying on a sofa or on my bed.  Last week, when my parents were out of the house doing shopping and other chores, and I was unable to get out of bed, Honey would regularly run up the stairs and peer into my room to check on me and satisfied that I was fine, she would return downstairs to lie on the sofa.   Once I fell whilst on my own, and was unable to get up afterwards, and she lay down beside me the whole time, until Mum came home approximately 20 minutes later, soon as she came through the door Honey rushed to her to alert her that I needed help.  She is a super dog!!

And I am finally thankful for my best friend, and surrogate sister Aisha.  Aisha has been my rock, and her friendship and support has meant to much to me.  Every day she sends me a message on an instant messaging service or via Twitter to see how I’m doing and if I am having a rough time, or need someone to talk to, she is always there.  And even during tough times, she always makes me smile with her words, and take comfort in her encouraging speeches. Once, there was a time, where friends were walking out of my life and cutting all contact with me, so I am blessed and grateful that I have found such a wonderful, caring and supportive friend.

Looking back at this prompt, I have learned that it isn’t the little material items that we should be grateful for but instead be thankful for the people (and pets!) that are in our lives and make life with illness easier and more tolerable.

What things are you grateful/thankful for?  As ever would love to hear your thoughts so please comment below…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

Hey Everyone

I hope you are all well as possible (AWAP!).  I haven’t been well recently so haven’t been able to keep up or take any photographs for the Weekly Photo Challenge, but as I am feeling slightly better thought I would start back up as it’s an excellent way of getting the creative juices flowing!  This week’s challenge is solitary which is defined as ‘the state of being alone’.  The photograph that I have chosen is taken from my sick bed when I was so unwell that I my legs were so weak, and I was feeling so dizzy and sick that I was confined to my bed.  And so my faithful dog, Honey stayed with me lying on the floor by my bedroom door protecting me.

 

Images of Hope for Invisible Illness Awareness Week

As you may already be aware September 10 – September 16 is ‘Invisible Illness Awareness Week’ and as part of this fantastic campaign they are asking for people battling chronic invisible illness to share pictures that brings hope.  This can be anything from a photograph depicting a favourite place, a pet, flowers…anything which provides hope!  So, as I have been unwell lately and have not been able to participate in the Weekly Photo Challenge, I thought I would share some pictures that bring me hope!

My beautiful dog Honey who provides comfort, laughs, cuddles and kisses during times of illness and being bed-ridden!

 

This is a picture of Honey on ‘Rhiann Watch’ on a day in which I was in bed due to severe dizziness and incredible weakness in my legs. Was home alone so Honey saw it has her duty to keep me company and make sure all is well!

 

I love sunflowers, all flowers really! They are really pretty to look at – and sunflowers especially. At a recent ‘Life 4 Living’ group session we were asked to visualise sunflowers as part of a stress relieving exercise – which really does work!

 

And for all of you who know me – know that I really love butterflies!! I find them really inspiring for all that they represent and stand for. They are the epitome of change and growth

To see more images of hope you can view them here

 

HAWMC Day 13: 10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without….

Hello, again!!  Another day, and another post for the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.  Ready?  Today’s prompt reads as follows:

10 things I couldn’t live without…Write a list of the 10 things you need (or love) most…

Another challenge that sounds so easy, but when sitting down and trying to complete it is actually quite difficult.  I presume that things such as food, water, air don’t have to be included as these are things that everyone needs to survive and live.  This challenge seems much more personal…things which I probably could live without, but things which make my life better…

So here’s my Top 10 Things I Love Most or Couldn’t Live Without (and in no particular order!):

My Parents – an obvious first choice, as they are the most amazing parents – supportive and caring.  They are both my rocks and have been with me through the good and bad times, and Dad without moaning, drives to appointments or wherever I need to go, or if I need to go to the shops for something, and when he’s not working will go out and buy me lunch which is a great help especially when my legs are feeling particularly weak so don’t have to worry about standing to make myself something to eat.  And Mum is super brilliant – helping me out whenever, phoning to check on me if they are both working and I’m alone in the house.  Mum is also the greatest person to talk to whenever I am feeling down or having a bad day, and we also have a great time together on the rare days we go out shopping together, or even staying in the house and watching a film.  No words can express my gratitude to them or how much I love them…
My Dog – my dog Honey, although crazy and unbelievably annoying at times (you should see her whenever people come over, particularly when they leave!!).  However, she is also the most sweetest, caring and loyal dog – if I’m on my own and have a fall she is there by my side straight away making sure that I’m OK.  Or, if I’m having a particularly bad day, and balance is bad and my legs are very weak she is constantly following me, and never wants to leave me out of her sights.  And if I’m bad, and lying in bed or if I’m on my computer, she will lie down beside my bed, or on the bed, or lie beside my computer chair.  Once I fell whilst on my own, and was unable to get up afterwards, and she lay down beside me the whole time, until Mum came home approximately 20 minutes later, soon as she came through the door Honey rushed to her to alert her that I needed help.  She is a super dog!!

Other family members – As with my parents, also couldn’t live without other members of my family, all of whom are also supportive and help whenever they can.  I have stayed with an Aunt and Uncle of mine when my parents have gone away on holiday, as couldn’t cope on my own for the duration that they would be away, and so they kindly took me in and looked after me in their absence…

My Crutch – My crutch is my main mobility aid which I am finding that I am becoming more reliant upon.  Whenever I am out of the house, I constantly make sure that I have my crutch with me as due to the dizziness and problems with my balance, I find that it is something that helps ground me.  And also due to the weakness in my legs, the crutch is incredibly useful to help keep me somewhat upright whenever my legs buckle or give way.  And it means that I can have somewhat more independence in the sense that I do not constantly have to hold onto somebody when out…

Online Friends and Community – The girls who I have met online are also something I can not live without now that I have met them.  It’s lovely to have finally found a group of amazing and special people, who I count upon during the good and bad times…who can understand what I am going through.  And it’s lovely that I am able to talk to them online via Skype and we can share our problems, or triumphs and have someone on the end of the computer to talk too when going through a horrible time of it, and know there is someone there who understands.  Love you guys and a special shout out to Marissa, Theresa, Lynda and Michele…

My Computer – Another love of mine and something that I couldn’t live without.  It enables me to buy things that I need such as new clothes, books or DVD’s, as I am not always able to get to the shops to buy these, especially long shopping trips due to the weakness in my legs and the inability to stand for very long.  As I found recently, when I have had the rare chance to get out, not all clothes shops even have benches or seats in their changing rooms, which I need to use, and as a result had a few falls whilst trying some clothes on – online shopping makes it so much easier in that I can order clothes and have them sent to me and can try them on at home.  Also enables me to Skype with friends who I have made online and who are very special to me, and other chores such as paying rent or researching and of course writing the blog!!…

My extensive DVD Boxset Collection – Yes, I have quite the Boxset Collection in my possession – CSI, Bones, Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and the rest.  But these are great at keeping me occupied during the times I am alone, stuck inside the house, or to give me escapism from my illness.  They also come in handy, on the ‘very bad days’ when my legs are so weak, and I am feeling very bad that I cannot get out of bed, and so they are excellent at keeping me occupied and entertained during those time…

Music – Yes, music is another passion of mine.  I love all different types – pop, rock, jazz, blues.  I listen to it when doing chores, or am stuck in bed, when I’m on the computer, to remember memories from the past or to create new ones. Music to make me happy or to wallow in when feeling sad.

Twitter and Facebook – I probably could live without these, but these are excellent resources for finding friends new and old, for keeping in touch with friends or family living near or far, or for generally keeping in touch with the latest news or gossip.  I use it a lot for the support group aspect – for making new friends who may be experiencing similar problems as me.  They are also fantastic for reaching out to different companies or for finding organisations which may be able to provide support or help. Also, a great tool for spreading the words of my blog and to let people know when there is a new post up…

Books – I could not live without my books…especially my Jodi Picoult novels as I adore all of her work and is a writer I really admire.  Love books which can provide escapism, to take you off and wonder different countries or worlds. Books which explore the past, present and future.  And especially, as with Jodi Picoult books, ones which make you think and question different moral and ethical questions.  If there are any avid readers out there, I would thoroughly recommend Jodi Picoult’s works!!  And there are an extensive number of books, to help you learn help you with particular problems or concerns.  Having a chronic and invisible illness can be so tough, knowing that there isn’t a cure out there or no treatments that can really help, so I have found a book called ‘Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired’…a books which provides hope and coping strategies for those like me suffering from an invisible chronic illness, and how to deal with the emotions and difficulties that come with living with them.  A book that has also been recommended to me is ‘How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard.  All books mentioned can be found at Amazon.com (US), Amazon.ca (Canada) or Amazon.co.uk (UK).

So those are my Top 10 of things that I couldn’t live without, what are yours?

All comments welcome….