Saturday, December 8, 2012

Therapeutic Companions

As an adult, I have had three dogs. Aside from my husband, they are the loves of my life and though it may be hard to understand for some, I love them like they are my kids. All three have unique dog personalities and have helped me cope with my disabling Migraine and constant headache in their own ways.
Mr. Knightley...ah, my Mister Knightley or simply Knightley for short was what Emma called the man she fell in love with in Jane Austen's novel Emma. I was given my Mr. Knightley, a ten week old Blehneim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by my parents as a present for my graduation from graduate school when I was twenty-three years old on May 25, 2003. It was ironic that in Emma, Mr. Knightley's first name is George...the same name as my husband who I did not meet until a year and a half later. I was told that male Cavaliers fall in love with their owners and my Knightley lived up to that and then some. I always told Knightley that he was born out of the womb of my heart.

Zoe (pronounced "Zoey") means life. I was not particularly fond of her given name, but when we met her, "Lily" did not match her tomboy-ish attitude. She is intelligent and with her tail wagging, she thinks every person in her view is coming to meet her. She is the youngest and about to turn five years old in January. Zoe is a Black and Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. On August 4, 2009, we got her from a rescue organization specifically for the breed called Cavalier Rescue USA. (You can see her photo on the website's homepage along with some of my family's other Cavaliers: #4) She was 18 months old. Her prior owners could not afford to care for her after losing their job, and we were so happy to add her to our family.

Giselle was renamed after we adopted her because we felt she deserved a new name to go with her new life. She had had a rough start to life and has an anxiety disorder unofficially referred to as "fly-biting". We named her after a character in one of our favorite Disney movies Enchanted but the only thing she has in common with the Disney character is that they both have red hair as Giselle is a Ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We got her from Cavalier Rescue USA as well. She had just turned four years old and had been living with her wonderful foster mommy Julie and three cavaliers for a couple months when we adopted her on May 21, 2011. Since she has been with us, she's grown her coat, gained weight and her anxiety disorder has improved though it is still very much present. I am starting to see her become more like a happy healthy dog every day instead of the traumatized little one we adopted.

Recovering from Endolymphatic Sac Decompression Surgery
How the dogs help me cope with my chronic illnesses is largely by being my companions. They help me feel less alone, which is the most important thing for someone who is home bound. Pain can often make one lose perspective, but having my dogs around helps to keep me grounded. They also make me laugh with their silly antics

I love my girls, Zoe and Giselle. They motivate me to get moving and take walks with them when I can. They cuddle when they want to. Zoe is a pro at helping me through anxiety and panic attacks as she is very perceptive. If I'm laying down crying, she will nudge her muzzle under my chin and lift it up. She also gives "hugs". For a dog who likes her space, she is quite attentive when she picks up something is wrong. 
Cuddling during a bad Migraine attack.
 There is a huge hole that was left when my Mr. Knightley died suddenly at 9 years old from Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) on June 8, 2012. He had shared this journey with me from the start of my disabling Migraines and Headaches for four years before we adopted Zoe. Knightley was my caregiver when George was at work, and he knew it. Please read more on how my Mr. Knightley made it onto CNN Health online and how he helped me through Migraine disease by checking out Sharing My Heart & Hope With the World via CNN.
My boy taking care me during a Migraine on vacation. May 2011

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sincerely Sick Style

One of my fellow Migrainuers, Kelly, recently started a blog called Sincerely Sick Style that I am so excited about and thrilled to share with my readers. Her tag line reads:
A place for the sincerely and seriously sick to learn to fake looking well and how to take care of their skin, hair, nails, makeup, etc with the least amount of effort possible.
Sincerely Sick Style is a unique blog that fills a need for those of us who are chronically ill: how do we look good while feeling terrible with minimal effort? 

Throughout the four years I have known Kelly, I have witnessed our chronically ill buddies repeatedly go to her for beauty tips and product suggestions. Kelly has a treasure trove of invaluable tips and suggestions gleaned from her life experience as a chronically ill person. 

In her most recent post, Winter Skin Fixes, I was happy to find out that the fact many of us chronic Migrainuers do not shower very often actually can be beneficial for our skin in the winter because we aren't removing our skin's natural oils. I bet with this knowledge, my non-chronically ill readers are now jealous of our community's dirty little secret of lack of showering, even though you may be cringing!

Sincerely Sick Style is easy to read and filled with links to products and contains useful information regardless of your illness status. I particularly appreciate that products that are also in a reasonable price range are recommended.

Check out Sincerely Sick Style which Kelly describes to be "a lifestyle blog about looking fabulous while feeling awful all of the time. My primary audience is people who suffer from chronic illness and therefore don't have a lot of time or energy to take care of their looks.  But anyone can benefit from my advice on skin, hair, makeup and nails."