To the Dog Who Helped Raise My Kids and Watched My Illness Grow

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I have this picture in my room.  One day, my daughter asked me, “Mom, is that the day you married Lucia?”  My answer was, “No baby, Lucia and I were already together forever.”  You see, my dog and I began it all….

I bought my dog to celebrate my first job out of college.  I had been lonely from leaving my college town and thrust into real life and big responsibilities.  It was love at first sight.  After I brought her to the vet, I was told she would most likely die from Parvo.  That fluffy little ball of fur proved them all wrong.

My Golden Retriever was my life.  She was part of my engagement, watched me get ready for my wedding and moved to an apartment and 2 different homes over time.  She was our first child.

When our first human child arrived, she didn’t feel pushed out.  My sweet dog thought our baby was hers.  She had paced the floors with me and pregnancy insomnia.  She sat with me during round-the-clock feedings.  She was there for me as I had meltdowns about being over tired, over worked, underfed and overwhelmed.  It was years of blurry joy and hustle and she was there through it all.

 

As a stay at home mom with a husband who traveled, Lucia was my constant companion during some lonely times.  I had days where I spoke to no adults.  I spoke to my babies and my dog.  Conversations can be had without words and my dog was always my biggest cheerleader and best friend.  Her tail, ears and eyes spoke volumes to me.

 

There was no better big sister for my humans than Lucia.  She was patient while they played vet and poked her in the eyes.  She was smart when she learned how to stand under the high chair to avoid flying sippy cups while reaping the benefits of fall out food.  She was even ok with squeezing hugs and the occasional ear tasting.  She was sensitive to yelling and was always a reminder for us to use our talking voices.

She was the emotional equalizer.  As I walked into the house with 5 bags on my arms, screaming children chasing behind me from the car and everyday chaos we entered a home of love.  Our Golden Retriever always came running with a stuffed animal in her mouth, a wagging tail, and an attitude that said ”Leave it at the door.”  We all changed when we saw her sweet face.

 

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Do you know those moments before Tick or Treating and everyone is melting down?  I  always had someone to laugh with

 

She put my children to bed every night without fail.  She’d lay on the carpet as I read to one and get up and move to the next room as I did the same.  There was never a night she missed tucking them in.

 

As my oldest became school aged, my dog started picking her up from school.  Everyday when my alarm went off, she went running for the door.  She knew it was time to pick up her girl and go for a car ride.

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Over the years, my dog had 2 knee surgeries, many teeth pulled, growths cut off and more.  Even as she was recovering, she still took care of me.  (link)

As she grew, so did my struggle with migraine.  She became a therapy and emotional dog to me that no one will ever fully understand.  She got to a point that she sensed my pain spikes.  She learned how to comfort me and held my hand very early on and never let go.  Her eyes were always on me.  No matter how many humans we added to our family, I was her number one.

 

Feeling like number one when I give my full self to my family was priceless.  I don’t even put myself first, yet she always did.  She followed me from room to room.  My shadow and my protector.

Over the years we spent countless hours in a cold dark room with my chronic migraine.  There were many nights where I collapsed to the bathroom floor and she slept pressed up against me.  She spent hours unmoving from my bed while I thrashed in pain.  I’d be covered in ice and wiggle my fingers to feel her little kisses on my tips.  She’d do anything to make me feel better and she did.

 

In her last days, our only concern was making sure she wasn’t suffering and that we showed her all the love that she provided for us over the years.  I had a vet once tell me, “Goldens will wag their tails and eat until 3 days after they die just to please their owners.”  On her last day, she did just that.  We bought her lots of treats and threw her an early 13th birthday.  She wagged her tail and cuddled us while we knew it was time for her to go.  She knew and her eyes told us so.

Saying goodbye was, without a doubt, the most gut-wrenching moments of my life.  I feel so blessed that it was in her best interest, we didn’t allow her to suffer, she went without panic and pain.  As I laid with her, I felt God take my best friend, my four-legged soul mate, my first child and migraine warrior.

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The days after, I saw her everywhere.  I heard her everywhere.  I felt her everywhere.  My son was sick and I was trapped in my house and grieved over every hair, nose smeared window and inch of my house.  My house was no longer the home I was at ease in.

She went to God on May 8th.  On May 11th my turtle of 20 years passed away.  He has lived in my family room of every home I’ve had since I was a teenager.  My pets passing away in 3 days was extreme! The numbers 8 and 11 are hugely relevant.  I was born on 8/11.  My favorite numbers have always been 8 and 11 along with being my numbers in sports and more.  It was not a coincidence that these were the dates they went to the rainbow bridge.

A week exactly from the day we said goodbye to Lucia my baby boy graduated preschool.  I thought it would feel totally different, but it just felt like a tremendous loss.  I’ve dedicated my life to my children and animals  and it just felt like everyone was leaving me.   It was as if my pets were saying, “We started this family and raised your babies and now it’s time”.  It felt like an end of an era and one I was not ready to say goodbye to.

I’ve heard the phrases:

  • Our pets don’t live long enough
  • When it rains it pours
  • You’ll never get over her but someday it will hurt less

I’ve been told to get another dog not to replace my four-legged soul mate, but to find another love.

I’ve been told that another dog can learn to be a therapy or emotional support dog too.

Here’s my answer to all of this:

This next dog will have a distinct difference from Lucia.

  • My family belonged to Lucia. We started it all!  I was her number one.  Our children were hers.
    • The next dog will belong to them. They will see her as their childhood dog when I will forever know Lucia as the dog who gave my babies joy and me sanity.
  • Lucia watched my migraine become chronic and she evolved as my therapy and emotional dog.
    • The next dog will hopefully see me get better. Her focus won’t solely be on me.  She is coming into an already made family and connections will be totally different.
  • There will never be another being on this earth that can complete me.  Right now I feel this painful hole in my body that physically hurts with every breathe.
    •  With Lucia went a piece of me that I will miss forever.  Yes, I will love another dog, but I know I won’t get that piece back.  She will be missed each day! I know it will get easier but everyone has been honest with me in saying, it will never go away.

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National Puppy Day 2018

Happy National Puppy Day!  Every year I post a picture of my dog.  She is my nurse, my therapy, my medicine and my first child.  As I was locked in my room with a 3 day Migraine from hell, guess who slept beside me?  Guess who kept me company in the middle of the night while the pain was raging?  My dog.  She’ll always be my puppy!  My almost 13 year old puppy!

 

Here’s more on her endless love and support:

How we doctor my dog and she doctors me

My dog with Migraine. Therapy, service, comfort, support and treatment. Pets can help heal

National puppy day 2017

Rockwell Pets Pro review of natural dog shampoo

National dog day

Why is Healthcare so Unaffordable?

Why is Healthcare so Unaffordable_

This week I was notified that my copay for an already expensive medication was raised.  I was supposed to receive the treatment and was not properly notified of the change so my much needed appointment was postponed for 2 weeks. I spent the day on the phone with my specialty pharmacy.  I  was sobbing as I gave her my credit card information.  The woman on the phone’s voice actually started shaking too because she felt so bad that I required a medication that has such an obviously outrageous cost. The price of ONE medication is more than I make in a YEAR!  I basically work 3 full time jobs.  I’m a full time mom, a teacher and a blogger/freelance writer.  All of these take long strenuous hours and get paid very little for the time and passion I put behind them.

My last conversation with my neurologist was her saying “If you don’t take more medication you aren’t going to get better.”  I wanted to say to her, “If I took all the medication you want me on, my Migraine may go away but the side effects would make me a different person and I’d need to sell my house to afford the 5 other meds I require.”

The costs of medications are insane and the question remains for not only me, but everyone: WHY IS IT NOT AFFORDABLE TO EVERYONE?

Missing my appointment caused me to cry all day!  The crying spiraled into a migraine cycle that I now am existing in and quite possibly can suffer with for the next 2 weeks.  With a neurological disease, everyone is so different.  Medication should be affordable to all with options to receive treatment that works for each individual.  I can’t tell you the amount of money that I’ve spent on meds I’ve filled and ended up throwing away.

When there is no cure, how are any of us supposed to figure out how to feel better if we can’t afford it?  We can’t work enough hours to pay for it and the lack of proper medication makes us miss work or be unable to work because of it.  The result of missing my appointment has and will continue to make me miss days, if not weeks, of my life suffering A LOT.  I’m talking about a level of pain that I hope many people will never understand. This requires me to take more medication (which in reality doesn’t fix it), which also costs a lot, struggling through side effects and other issues.

HOW CAN WE GET BETTER IF WE CAN’T OBTAIN OR AFFORD PROPER TREATEMENT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL PERSON?

Yet again, I spent all my free time this week on the phone!  Check out how this isn’t the first time….I spend my free time talking to insurance, pharmacies and doctor’s offices

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*Note: I typically don’t speak about the specific medication I am on because I don’t want it to be confused by advice.  Everyone’s results, side effects and costs are all different.  We all need to do what we think is right for our journey.

My Migraine Life Instagram Inspiration

In case you missed it this week….

 

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#itstheclimb 🏔Most days I feel proud of putting one foot in front of the other. Some days I feel like I can scale mountains and other days it takes as much effort to get out of bed. Everyday is a challenge and with rocks by my side I feel powerful 💪👣

 

 

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“Whatever you are physically…male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy–all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.” ❤️🌊🙏
Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

 

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Walt Whitman — ‘Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.’

 

 

 

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This is how I spend my snow day and why we are snow birds!

 

A picture can say 1,000 words.  After going on vacation this week’s posts serve as inspiration and a visual escape. 

Be sure to follow along on Instagram

 

Sunday snoozing, shopping and sipping

Today I’m having a cozy day crafting, eating donuts and drinking coffee…

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While I’m doing this, I’m finishing up my holiday shopping.  Here’s some reminders on the great options for a loved one or yourself this year. *affiliate links included

    1. Don’t forget to enter to win a bottle of Migraine Magick!  Image-1 (3)
      1. If you are interested in buying a bottle use code mymigrainelife for $22off your order here
    2.  If you are looking for a weighted blanket to assist in anxiety, stress and sensory needs, I suggest the cuddle blanket from SensaCalmIMG_1531
    3. Axon Optics are my favorite light sensitivity glasses.  They are offering a 10% discount using code migrainelife through December 16
    4. Organic Aromas” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Organic Aromas   runs weekly giveaway for diffusers and while you are there buy some oils that suit your specific needsImage-1 (1)
    5. Original Sprout– Save up to 60% off Holiday gift sets that are organic hair care made responsibly and naturally and safe enough for children. Great for the whole family.IMG_1534
    6. Aromafloria– Looking for unscented products that hydrate and don’t cause smell trigger? I use these unscented or with my favorite essential oil.


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Happy and Comfy Sunday vibes to you!

*affiliate links are included in this post.  This means that if you purchase through the links I will be rewarded for my recommendation.  Thank you!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Why I talk about products

Some people ask me, “Do you really use all the products you write about?”

YES!!!!!!

Today, for example, I used several of my favorite products even before lunch.

3am. Got a Headache Hat to sleep with because the pain woke me up.

7am. Used Aromafloria lotion for my dry winter skin.  It’s unscented and feels so good! (check for review and giveaway soon!)

7:15am. Used Original Sprout hair mist to hold my braid without being stiff (check gift guide for $10 off link)

7:30am. Turned on my Organic Aromas diffuser in the kitchen (giveaway ended)

7:45am Sprayed my neck, shoulders and face with Migraine Magick before walking out the door (check for review this week and giveaway NOW! check gift guide for $22off order!)

8am. Taught in my Axon Optics (Use link and code for 10%off now through December 16. I can’t live without these, I highly recommend them)

1pm. Climb under my weighted SensaCalm blanket for a snuggle with boy. (one of my favorite new products!)

Want to hear more about my Holiday Gift guide, links and DISCOUNT codes?!

Check it out here

Also, don’t forget to enter to WIN a bottle of Migraine Magick
Here!!

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Does Acupuncture Work for Migraine?

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This year I tried acupuncture.  I have heard about acupuncture for migraine for years but was hesitant.  I get on average 75-90 shots a year to treat my Chronic Migraine.  The thought of trying another doctor putting needles in me didn’t sound appealing.

I was recommended to an acupuncturist by a family member who was a physician shadowing an acupuncturist who was described to me as brilliant.  The office was about an hour away while the appointments lasted about 20-30 minutes.  As always, I had a driver because the results could cause feelings of “drinking a 6 pack of beer” and I didn’t need to be driving an hour after my treatment.  I was also hesitant because my insurance didn’t cover acupuncture and it was going to be more out of pocket costs.

With all this, I tried it anyways.  The doctor I saw gave me an immediate calming feeling.  After years of doctor’s visits, I tend to start a new treatment with a bit of trepidation.  Retelling my history gets tedious and after 30 years I feel like I’ve heard it all.  But this doctor was special.  He believed me!  He didn’t give me a list of things to try that I had already attempted, he didn’t judge, he just believed me.

The coolest assessment he did on me was to have me hold my middle finger and thumb together while he pulled them apart.  He did this with ease.  After asking questions and putting a few metal discs with band aids on he tried the assessment again.  This time my fingers held tight.  He looked at my mom and said, “See, she’s really hurting.  This would not have happened if she wasn’t able to tell me where she hurts.”  This was not saying that my mom did not believe me (she knows I hurt) but to say that my pain was real.  Having a doctor ask me and not tell me what to do to be helped was profound.

Each time I walked out of his office I felt optimistic.  I felt lighter and less pained.  This was something new for me being I’m used to walking out of offices with a script and pumped full of much needed meds but mentally down.  I was pricked with very few needles that were essentially painless.

While I was there we talked not only pain but triggers, emotions and concerns.  Once again he was letting me talk and treating me from there.  It wasn’t a protocol that the medical professionals deemed for everyone, it was specific to me.  I’ve always fought to be treated as an individual and not just one of 57 million Migraine sufferers.  It was refreshing, I felt heard.

Did it help my migraines?  Each time was different as I find with all treatments.  The optimism was the same.  One treatment I felt no “6 pack” feeling, while another my head was swimming on the way home.  One time I felt it lasted a week (which for someone who gets migraines daily at some point) was a relief.  Another time I got hammered with a 3 day severe migraine the next day which made me want to give up on my acupuncture treatments.

These results seem to be on par with all of my treatments.  Nothing works every time in the same way every time.  After several months my doctor retired.  This was the end of my acupuncture treatments.

Why did I not follow up with another acupuncturist closer by?  While loving my doctor and the incredibly interesting ways he treated me, I’m shelving acupuncture for now.  I feel that I got lucky with this amazing doctor and know that every doctor is not created equal.  I fear disappointment in finding another doctor and losing the little bit of magic that acupuncture and this brilliant doctor provided me.  It’s expensive and not a long term fix for me.

If asked if I would recommend acupuncture, my answer would be the same as always…..follow your own path.  You can read about the benefits of migraine treatments from many different resources.  My goal is to give you my experiences and hope that you will learn from my stories and listen to where your heart takes you.  After saying no to acupuncture for so long I finally said yes and it was the right decision for me.  I’m glad I tried it and would try it again in the future.  I don’t think it would be around for thousands of years to treat hundreds of things if people hadn’t had success.

 

Have you tried acupuncture for Migraine?  What did you think?