Yeah yeah yeah, we all know the power of a pet if it’s your thing. They can lower your heart rate by petting them, boost positive brain endorphins, and all that scientific garbage we already know if we genuinely love and share our home with an animal.
This week was tough. I did an excellent food prep for my week of infusions of immune globulin with IV steroids or IVIG for my chronic inflammatory demylenating polyneuropathy or CIDP. It’s been awhile since I had IV steroids and remembered why I hate them. Most people get hyped up, have lots of insomnia, and feel crazy rage. I don’t get that. I get SICK!
So my food prep was useless as I ended up eating applesauce and rice while still being starved but anything else, my body rejected. The actual IVIG caused me migraines that I took medication for that makes me so loopy I literally can’t figure out what direction is up. It’s so strong, you can only take 8 pills in a month.
I left day 3 of my infusions with horrible body aches, collapsed in my bed and resenting my dogs a bit as 2 hours later I was getting nudged for doggie dinner. “Foolish dogs. Can’t you see I feel awful, I don’t know what direction is what, and I skipped plenty of meals”. I didn’t say any of it. I didn’t even give them a dirty look. I just wheeled myself to the kitchen, got their food, let them out, we all went back to bed, and then one laid in front of me and the other behind my back as I have to prop myself up with tons of pillows to sleep on my side or I have no chance of conquering the pain to sleep. It’s a tiring process. That night, my dogs just knew I was too tired to do the complicated pillow arrangements and getting the heating pad on my back and the ice on my hip growing a bone spur and arthritic, so they just did it for me.
Day 4 of my infusion and I arrive to lots of IV pokes. On try number 6, I started to tear up. I’m the incredible champion of pain usually. Lately the physical pain has been too much. Too many needles in my life. Too many doctors. Too many diagnoses. Just too much.
So my extremely loving nurse sent me home and said to her, “I know this hurts you more than I” as nurses are so loving and real and mine is particularly special as she discusses the complexities of backpacking with me and we talk aromatherapy and if she wasn’t my nurse, I’d want her as a friend.
So I’m home and frustrated and have to leave my phone on as the specialty pharmacy is going to call with instructions on my next plan. I want to tune the world out as blowing all those veins wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was not finishing my infusion and the implications of it.
I have a serious disease, one of many that I kid myself into thinking it’s not real. In my Facebook support group for CIDP, a woman posted a picture of the paramedics carrying her in a sling to her second floor flat lamenting she had hoped the IVIG would get her moving again. She is completely unable to move, but her gratitude is that she is off the ventilator that she posted later. It hit me hard.
My dogs have their little honing devices. The black one is my physical pain sensor and will lay to give me heat where he knows my body hurts. My little white guy is my emotional need sensor. He knows if my heart is hurting or feeling fear, he will put his paw on my heart. I have pictures!
Friday morning I woke up feeling absolutely awful. My physical pain was through the roof. I could barely move. And the fatigue.. ugh, it was bone crushing. I knew part was recovering from the infusion, even if it was shortened, the disappointment, and the fact I ate garbage the day before. I don’t eat a strict anti inflammatory diet that is mostly plant based to be a quack health nut, I do it to keep moving. I do it to manage my pain. I do it to stay alive. I have specialists who will say it’s the food that keeps me going beyond anything else I do or treatment I receive.
A big fat diversion from my point as I could go on and on about food, but it’s for another time. Needless to say, my day basically sucked.
Then I looked at my dogs. The simplicity of their joy reminded me that it’s not huge victories that make life worthwhile. They remind me that it’s being together, good food, snuggles, love no matter that our little family is a mishmash of whatever, and their mornings that they enjoy the sunrise together as it’s the start of a new day and a dog probably predicts it will all be ok. No worries. No regrets.
Simplicity of life is what my dogs remind me of each day that is an added bonus to the oxytocin your brain releases when you give a belly rub. Who cares about the love hormone when life lessons are so much more profound?
Lizzie and my two little furry philosophy teachers