Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pug - A Lupus Patient's Best Friend


It was bound to happen. Those of you who know me had to assume that if I was going to post a picture of my"baby on the way", I would find a way to post pictures of my other two babies who are already here! For those who haven't been introduced, let me present Henry Gorman, age 8, pug extraordinaire. We've had Henry since he was a baby, a mere 8 weeks old, and he's been a lovable handful ever since.

His brother, Darwin Gorman, age 7, is the nicest pug you will ever meet. Darwin (Dar or DJ for short), lives to please, just as most puppy dogs do. Sure, he has a thing for scooters, skateboards, and bicycles, but I'm telling you, this guy is nice.

Although we didn't have Darwin during some of the more critical years of my struggle with Lupus, both dogs have given me keen insight on how I should be taking care of myself in order to stay on the road to wellness. Here are just four of the lessons the pugs have taught me - valuable tips for anyone dealing with a chronic, debilitating disease with limitations and restrictions.

Four Valuable Pug Tips

1) There's no need to rush:

Take it from these guys. There is nothing in this world so pressing, so urgent, or so necessary that you should find yourself overexerted or overextended. Henry and Darwin believe that life is to be enjoyed - slowly, peacefully, and without running. They are lallygags 100% of the time - when they get out of bed, when we ask them to come downstairs, and when we take them out for walks. In fact, Henry's preferred rise and shine time is 1pm; he's pushed it to 5pm, but we try to encourage 11am. In the pugs' opinion, you should lounge when you feel like it, relax when you need to, and smell a few roses along the way. Spend a day with the pugs and you'll realize it's not a bad way to live.

2) Napping long and often is encouraged:

About 3 years after I was diagnosed, I realized I needed to start taking a nap in the middle of each day. At first I was pretty excited about it. I knew that if I stopped down from 4-6pm each day and rested, I would be refueled enough to make it through the evening without collapsing. If I didn't nap, come 5:30pm or 6pm, I was a complete zombie and could barely make it through dinner, much less any evening activity. After awhile, though, the allure of the "recharge" wore off, and I began to resent the fact that I had to nap every day in order to function normally. That's when Henry turned on this charm, and became my little nap time cheerleader. He relished our naps together, and would come to me each afternoon, begging me to snuggle up with him in bed. I would feel guilty if I deprived him of the pleasure, and the responsibility I felt to appease him replaced any bitterness I felt toward the act of napping to begin with.

Henry and Darwin have traded places, and it's now Darwin who is my faithful napping companion. Where I used to feel like I was missing something during the 2 hours I took for myself, I now look forward to a little together time when Pug and Mom can rest, relax, and recharge.

3) Make life as easy as possible:

At all costs, I used to avoid taking the easy way out. I'd always choose to push through my pain and suffering in order to accomplish whatever task was at hand. I thought that was the only way things got done, but Henry taught me that life doesn't have to be so hard.

When we moved into our last house, we purchased a new queen bed that Henry couldn't jump onto by himself. Truth is, he could probably do it, but because it was easier for him to whine and pout until we helped him onto the bed, he refused to jump on his own. At the time, I had horrific chest pain, joint pain and swelling, so much so that I could barely bend over to pick him up and bring him onto the bed. Because I was in bed a lot back then, this became a real problem. Taking a cue from my pug, I thought, "What would Henry do in this situation?" I decided he would make life as easy as possible on himself, so I did the same. I bought an ottoman that he could use to catapult himself onto the bed and it worked like a dream! Henry could come and go as he pleased, and I could avoid a lot of unnecessary pain each time he did.

Had I not considered an easier way to do things, I would have continued to endure the pain of bending over and bringing him up, simply because I thought that's what I had to do. Had Henry not set such a fine example for me to follow, I might not have ever considered a better solution.

Henry has since decided that once he's on the ottoman, one of us needs to reach down and help him onto the bed. Always thinking of others, aren't you, little guy?

4) Don't hesitate to ask for help:

Because the boys tend to wake up in the middle of the night and need a drink of water, we've placed a water bowl in the bathroom off of our master bedroom. Johnny and I do our best to fill up the bowl before going to bed, but every once in awhile, we forget. When Henry wakes up in the middle of the night and it's empty, he doesn't hesitate to ask someone to come to the rescue. His first attempt to get help is to tip the empty, plastic water bowl over with his paw so that it topples over and clanks, clanks, clanks against the tile floor. It's a wonderful sound to hear in the middle of the night, I can assure you, but most of the time, it gets our attention. However, if neither of his parents come running fast enough, Henry comes out of the bathroom, looks up like, "Uh, Helloooo. Didn't you hear the empty bowl clanking on the floor?" and gives a bark or two. If this still doesn't arouse us in the time he deems appropriate, he heads to the door stopper attached to the wall, and gives it a couple of "boing, boing, boings" to make sure we know he's in desperate need of water. Poor guy. Maybe he shouldn't head to the salt lick so soon before bed.

I was the exact opposite. I NEVER asked for help, and avoided doing so whenever possible. Henry reminded me that there are people in this world who are very willing to help, if you simply ask. I'm slowly perfecting the art of asking, so my advice to you is as follows:

If someone offers to run an errand for you, let them. If it would alleviate your pain and fatigue to ask someone to finish up a project for you at work, do it. If delegating the dish washing, the laundry or any other household task helps you to feel even momentarily better, don't hesitate to do so. Asking for help isn't something to be embarrassed about; you should be proud that you can be resourceful and responsible, all in the name of good health.

There you have it. Deep thoughts from Pugs 1 and 2. If you generally enjoy pug humor (though it doesn't necessarily have to be mine), check out the book link at the side of my blog for The Juggling Pug. This book is sure to bring a smile to any pug lover's face.

1 comment:

John Gorman said...

Viva Henry and Darwin!