The Loveliest Little Helpers

Dear Audy,

Today’s prompt for NHBPM is to write about something that is not health related but improves your life. This is an odd topic to think about because so much of my life revolves around my health, however a visit and some words of wisdom from a friend helped me to understand what this means.

Everything that improves health improves my life, but things that improve my life can also improve my health. Stress can have a huge influence on malfunctioning nervous systems and things that reduce stress can help to improve symptoms.

Things like these guys.

Maltese Shih Tzu Beagle Cavlier

Dogs are some of the best people.

When I first developed CRPS, I was living in a tiny, second floor flat near the city. This was an awesome place to live when I was working and socialising. It was the perfect club house for being young and adventurous.

The flat changed shape as my condition worsened. All of a sudden, I was stuck in those small rooms all of the time. Instead of a hub of independent living, my flat became a prison cell. Going anywhere was precarious, because the only way in an out of that flat was via a staircase. I couldn’t drive or tolerate being on a tram, so the only excursions that I went on were being driven to and from medical appointments.

It sucked like a vampire on a vein.

As my CRPS spread and general ability to do things lessened, it became obvious that I needed to move back to the suburbs and closer to my family. I just needed more support. There were too many appointments to attend, too many nights when I was stressed about how to get food.

Suburban life wasn’t what I was hoping for as a 25 year old, I was way more interested in being close to city life, friends and things to do. The sad reality was that, despite being locationally close, I couldn’t do a lot of the things that I wanted to anyway. It was a hard pill to swallow, somewhat thicker and more stubborn than the handful of pain meds that I was taking per day back then.

Little did I know, a little white knight was on his way to brighten my world. This is Sammy.

Sammy belonged to family who were unable to look after him any longer. He needed a home and I needed the company. We were a perfect match.

Not long after adopting my fluffy little buddy, I learned that a good friend had also found themselves in the circumstance of needing to re-home an adorable canine. It didn’t take much thought for me to want to welcome her into our little pack. This is Lucy.

Sammy and Lucy got along right from the get go. It probably helped that Sammy thought she was a bit of alright but didn’t have the skills to do anything about it and thanks to some behavioural issues and a trip to the vet, no longer can. It’s OK, he still thinks she’s pretty ace.

As long as she’s not stealing his pats. Neither of them are particularly fond of the other receiving human attention, but Sammy is the most likely to hilariously dance around and put on a show in protest.

One of the best things about living with dogs is how often they make you laugh. They’re like furry little comedians. As you get to know a dog, you quickly learn how much personality each of them has and just how loveable those individual traits can be. It’s funny when they do things that are just so them and also funny when they surprise you by acting completely out of character.

Laughing is good for everybody!

Dogs pick up on when people aren’t feeling so good and they often have cuddles ready and waiting to help. I can’t tell you how many times I have curled up with Sammy, or Lucy, or both of them and just cuddled my way through a rough patch.

You can also learn a lot from your dogs. In a lot of ways, my dogs are smarter than me.

  • My dogs never worry about things that aren’t important. Except thunder, but that’s not Sammy’s fault, if you were just little you might think that the sky yelling at you was cause for alarm too.
  • My dogs never stay in uncomfortable positions for too long, or move in ways that are disrupting to their skeletons. Lucy has some arthritis, probably some chronic pain, but she doesn’t let it get in the way of her loving the things that she loves.
  • My dogs are always happy to see me, they never let upsetting stuff get in the way of them enjoying the present moment.
  • My dogs don’t want much at all and they thoroughly appreciate everything that they get. You haven’t seen real excitement until you’ve seen Lucy anticipating a tasty treat. She actually shakes with how very thrilled she is, through every fibre of her being, it’s adorable.
  • My dogs love to exercise. Going for a walk is Sammy’s absolute favourite thing to do and Lucy’s second favourite. They don’t even want to go far, or to fancy places, they simply want to go and check out the stuff that is right in front of them, whatever that might be.
  • My dogs are masters of mindfulness.

  • At the time, moving back to the suburbs seemed like failing at life, but the universe loves to surprise us when we least expect it. Looking after my dogs has helped me in so many ways, through all the things that I learn from them and by allowing me to be needed and useful in another being’s life. They even helped to stop me going off the deep end; before I had dogs I was talking to far too many inanimate, household objects.

    Occasionally, I feel guilty because CRPS gets in the way of me being able to take them out for walks as often as I’d like. Thankfully, we also live with a lovely man that can usually walk them when I can’t. If it’s just an unfortunate day and there are to be no walks, they help me to work through any guilty feelings with cuddles.

    You’d be surprised how many problems can be solved with cuddles.

    Do pets help you to cope with chronic pain or illness? I’d love to hear about them! Please feel free to take a moment to gush about your gorgeous little guys and gals.

    Love & Woofs,

    P.S. Evening writing is weird, yo! Today had things in it that meant I couldn’t write my post in the earlier and more caffeinated hours of the day. Quite proud of myself for pulling this one out at the eleventh hour. NHBPM is helping me stretch myself and achieve more than I thought I could. Tune in tomorrow when I’ll be calling BS on something ridiculous! x

    For those just joining me, here are some quick links to my NHBPM contributions so far:

    Why I Write About My Health
    When Health Is Weird
    You Need To See A Psychiatrist
    Disclosure & Chronic Pain: How Much Is Too Much?
    What About The People With Chronic Pain, Government?
    Extra! Extra! (video post)
    What Mindfulness Means To Me
    Dear Body, I’m Sorry
    When Happy Memories Hurt
    Is Posting About Health On Facebook OK?

    WEGO, CRPS Awareness Month, #NHBPM

    This post written as a part of National Health Blog Post Month, run by WEGO health. Check out what people have been contributing via #NHBPM on Twitter, or joining the NHBPM Facebook Event.

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  • 2 thoughts on “The Loveliest Little Helpers

    1. Della

      You did a great job writing at an uncomfortable hour. I’d have never known the difference. I don’t have any pets right now, and I sure miss having them! When I was first injured I had a Pug named Mopsi, and a cat named Lucky. Lucky came first, and though she would not tolerate any other animal for the longest time, she took to Mopsi right away. They kept me entertained for many hours on end! At first Mopsi was small enough to walk under Lucky’s belly, and she loved that game. They never stopped playing and entertaining me til Mopsi died. Lucky’s and my hearts were both broken when that happened. A few years ago, and for a few years, I had a mutt named Lexy. She also lit up my life and was the only reason I got out of bed sometimes. Those were dark years, and she was a lifesaver to me. I had to let her go when I had to move back here. Another broken heart. I miss having pets so much, but don’t plan to have another til my life is a lot more stable. It’s hard though! They really are a wonderful help in pain management, and they always helped me feel needed.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks for sharing your stories about your lovely little helpers! Pets really do seem to show up when we need them the most. I’m sorry that you aren’t able to have one at the moment, I hope that the settling happens soon for you and you can get a new furry friend. I’ve seen a trend emerging of people keeping bunnies as inside pets, if I didn’t have my dogs I’d be a tad tempted…. 😀 xx

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