As the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation has invited dystonia patients to honor our canine friends this February with a virtual walk, I’m moved to write about my four friends Lily, Bruiser, Luna and Bridget, how they bless my life every day and ultimately help me cope with chronic illness which is dystonia.
I was diagnosed with cervical dystonia in 2010. The symptoms came on fast and furious. It also left me mostly incapacitated for close to a year. It was completely devastating and as a special needs mom, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I didn’t know how I was going to handle everything. Through it all, I’ve come to appreciate my dogs more than I ever did. They provide a much needed distraction from the near constant pain and limitations that I struggle with. Like many people with chronic illness, I’ve become pretty housebound. When the rest of the world is too busy to notice, my dogs are always there.
I’ll start with Lily, the youngest of the bunch. With my physical limitations it probably seems a little crazy that we got a hyperactive Jack Russell Terrier, but I’m so glad that we did. There is never a dull moment with her and she always has us laughing with her antics, whether chasing around something outside, burrowing in the couch or one of her crazy blanket creations that she makes before she settles in. Lily has to go out a lot to burn off energy. We live in the country with 2 fenced in acres so I just have to go outside with her. Even if I don’t feel like walking, I can just sit down and watch her run. She is one of the most faithful dogs I’ve ever owned..she instinctively knows when I’m not well and stays very close when I’m struggling.
My Bullmastiffs are a lazy lot..they lay around sleeping for the most part but they are always very sweet and affectionate which gives me a lot of comfort even on the days I’m stuck on the couch. Bruiser like to “talk” to us which gets very funny at times. They’re 8 and 10 which is getting up there in age for these sweet gentle giants.
Last but certainly not least is Bridget my Cairn Terrier who is 17 now. She’s been here since my kids were little and is an integral part of the family. She’s old now and mainly sleeps and wanders around. As her time to cross the Rainbow Bridge grows closer I get really sad. I’ve had Cairn Terriers in my life since 1987. I love little terriers…they always keep me smiling and get me out of myself.
Throughout the month of February you can join us for the DMRF Dogs4Dystonia Virtual Walk and help us raise money for much needed medical research to help improve treatment options for dystonia. Right now they are still very limited to oral medications, Botox injections (which the insurance company fights me about) and deep brain stimulation surgery. Holistic lifestyle measures including yoga, medical cannabis and massage do help some but still are not enough.
Our fundraiser page is here.
Thanks for reading!