Archive for January, 2013

At Your Service

I have a cat. Please wait before you discount anything I might say moving forward as crazy cat lady gibberish and allow me to expound. I do understand that to many people; cats are like Lima beans: you either love them, or you hate them! However, while I would like to focus this entry on pets in general, specifically service pets, I am drawing from my own experience which involves our cat Sparky.

DISCLAIMER:

I am aware that trained service animals are not pets per say, but I firmly believe that our furry companions provide an invaluable service to us, their staff owners; especially for people affected by chronic issues.

Tom  and I rescued Sparky, a Maine Coon, when he was 18 months old. He is now a mature gent living the “The Life of Riley” with commodities that include, but are not limited to; a filtered water fountain, a queen sized sleep number bed, a pet stroller and a dedicated staff of humans that are firmly wrapped around his pinkie claw. In exchange for these creature comforts he is the source of continual companionship, entertainment, unconditional love and a plethora of cute stories that when mentioned in social settings, for some reason seem to embarrass our children.30_Sept_2009_Sparky

Sparky is also my self-appointed nursemaid. Having filled this role many times over his tenure with us; it was no surprise when, following my recent left side SI Joint Fusion, he immediately sprang into action. It warmed my heart observing him sit on the bed at my feet each morning receiving ‘instructions’ for my care from Tom.  Often the “conversation” went thusly:

“Take care of Mommy today.”

“Mow!”

“Don’t let her get up by herself.”

“Mow!”

“She’s not allowed near the stairs.”

“MOW!”

“Good boy!”

“PURRRR!” 

One day in particular after Tom left the bedroom, I struggled to rise reaching for the walker and an alarm sounded! “Meow, MEW, MOW!” Plunk! Sparky leaped from the bed and RAN to the door positioning himself in the threshold; the alarm continuing to sound off. “Bud! I am NOT leaving the room; I am going to the bathroom!” I whined, as I shuffled slowly toward the master bath. Suddenly he was beside the walker, circling it. I stopped to avoid the fuzzy trip hazard; the LAST thing I wanted was to fall disturbing my shiny new titanium pins before they seated properly. When I started moving again, Sparky followed beside me so closely, that I nearly ran into the wall.  No way, I thought he’s herding me away from the door! We proceeded in this manner all the way to the toilet. When I stopped, he stopped. When I sat, he sat. When I rose, he rose. Once I reached the door to exit the bathroom – he ran ahead of me and right into Tom who had been listening to the walker scrape across the floor from his office downstairs. I heard him address my furry little nurse from the next room, “She’s up! Why didn’t you come get me? “

“MOW!!” 

 It was like listening to a re-run of that 1950’s television classic, Lassie! “Hurry Lassie, go get Pa, Ma’s fell down by the pine trees. Not the Lob-lolly pines on the south forty, the Blue Spruce with the short needles on the back forty. Go girl, GO!” 

“WOOF” (or in this case, MOW!) 

Although Sparky would never be considered a service animal, he does fall vaguely under the category of social/therapy animal. Studies have shown that a good owner/pet fit can produce such physical benefits as a drop in blood pressure and heart rate. Additional studies have shown that pets can impact our psychological and emotional well being by reducing stress, anxiety and improving mood. While these benefits are mediated by the degree of attachment between the animal and its owner, there is no doubt in this owner’s mind that having a pet is good medicine! As I embark on my next surgical journey; a right side SI Joint Fusion, I look forward to another possitive outcome eventually providing additional pain relief, the fabulous care that I have received many times from the talented, compassionate staff at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, PA and coming home to my furry nursemaid.

Do you employ the help of a service animal or have you been comforted and/or encouraged by a pet? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time my dear friends, be blessed and continue looking in the right direction; UP!

 

 

 

The Call to Battle

  windmill

For someone who has been writing since grade school, a blog would seem to be a natural transition; albeit a huge leap into the 21st century! Certainly a far cry from note pads full of thoughts and the yellowed pages of old composition books long forgotten in some box no doubt collecting dust in the corner of the basement. Although it took some encouraging to venture this far into cyber space,  now that I am safely here, (with the help of a dear friend and a hilarious, personalized blog tutorial); I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and looking forward to taking readers along with me on this endeavor. My plan is to venture deep into those uncharted and often scary areas of my life where chronic pain resides, master of all he surveys, boastfully taunting me.  I dare say that I rise to this challenge, like Don Quixote preparing to fight his giant and ferocious windmills!

For years I have written my thoughts, dreams, fears, and the longings of my heart on pages of loose leaf paper clipped into binders or in journals in the form of poetry, prose or stories. I would personify inanimate objects or create characters who bore some resemblance to me and on whom I often laid the burdens which I could not bear. One could say that I lived vicariously through these unfortunate ‘individuals’ in an attempt to create a happy ever after ending where none was apparent. Most recently I journaled my experiences during and following surgeries to implant spinal cord stimulators; giving me more control over my nemesis, chronic pain.  These thoughts, quotes, scriptures and pictures that I held onto to get through each painful day were compiled in book form and made available through Amazon.  Very personal and real glimpses into my life which helped me, and hopefully will help others come to terms with the emotional aspects of chronic pain. Even three months after being published though, the thoughts and words continue tumbling out, vying for attention.  I needed another venue to expound my ponderings and this blog is where I plan to share them with you my dear friends, in hopes that you will find encouragement and become empowered to stand up to your giants.

Fly not cowards, and vile beings, for a single knight attacks you!” Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes: ChapterVIII)