Tag Archives: Pets

MS and My Four Legged Guardian Angel

A Guardian Angel Named Lucky

My Cat Lucky

My Guardian Angel

     I moved to the Washington State in 1996 to be closer with family who had already relocated to the ever-green-state. I quickly found a job at a private golf club and then became involved with an animal rescue organization on Whidbey Island in Western Washington. WAIF or, Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation, as it is still called, took on the daunting task of financially supporting many unwanted and abandoned pets as people moved off of the island leaving their dogs and cats to fend for themselves.

     About a year and half after my move I got a phone call one early evening from another volunteer from the WAIF shelter in a state of pure panic. Earlier in the day she had witnessed a car throw something out of a window as it sped past her house, concerned about just what that might have been she went out to look. And to her shock and dismay she found that the object that had been tossed was a kitten lying semiconscious in the middle of the road. She quickly scooped up this tiny ball of fur and was off to the vet where it was diagnosed as just being in shock and having a few bumps and bruises. This volunteer already had many dogs and cats in her own home and felt that one more was just too much for her small house and yard, which is where I came in, and why she was calling me. She couldn’t bare the thought of taking this kitten and turning her over to the shelter as she felt that this kitten had been through enough already and would I please consider adopting her? Answering no wasn’t an option, even though I already had two cats in my apartment. Which is how Lucky, as this volunteer friend had already named her, came to me.

     Two years later one of those original two cats passed on just as I was struck down with my first MS attack and it wasn’t long after that the second cat followed in much the same way leaving just myself and Lucky to deal with my new life as a person with Multiple Sclerosis. I was literally rocked to my physical and emotional core but Lucky became the lifeline that I clung to as she always seemed to sense when I needed her most.

     For most people dealing with insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, while trying to stay employed are just some of life’s little nuisances that have to be dealt with when time permits. However, when you find yourself facing an incurable disease they become something more on the line of monumental challenges where the rules are rarely, if ever, explained to you. And it’s at times like these where the tears often fall as the aggravation mounts to levels that most people either don’t, or can’t, comprehend. And it was always at times like these that Lucky would realize how badly she was needed on my lap, even when I’m sure, she would much rather have been outside climbing a tree or chasing a bird or a mouse.

     As the years passed Lucky was my ever present rock against, for profit insurance companies, who could have cared less whether I got any better or not as they tried their best to keep the cost of my healthcare as low as possible. And she never complained once about my loud vocal outbursts when trying to map my way through government agencies that I thought were there to help you but more often then not end up creating even more stress as they pass you from one level of bureaucracy onto the next.

     And now eighteen plus years later, as I watch her deal bravely with her own health issues of having both kidney and liver disease knowing that the end is not far into the future for her, I realize the most important gift of all that she has given me. And that is that we are all here to learn to live, love, and overcome all of these challenges that are thrown our way as best we can with what God has given us to help us endure these trials of life. And my Angel Lucky taught me this, without ever saying a word.

This article was recently published in MS Focus Magazine!

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MS AND MS LIKE DISEASES IN DOGS AND CATS

 

     Mountain woodsA recent MS study suggested that people who grew up with cats during most of their lives appeared to have a less aggressive form of multiple sclerosis then those people who didn’t grow up with cats. However, on the flip side of that, back in the eighties there were researchers who also thought that one possible contributing factor in developing MS may have been a bacteria/virus found in cat feces that people were getting from cleaning their cats liter boxes. In the years, and from several studies done since, that connection has never been proven as being true even though that bacteria is very real and anyone with MS, or otherwise, should take precautions when cleaning cat liter boxes as it would more than likely make your MS symptoms even worse were you to contract that nasty bug as well as being difficult to get rid of.

     And surprisingly enough dogs have their very own disease that is very similar to multiple sclerosis called, Degenerative Myelopathy or DM, as it is often referred to as. And just like MS this disease is considered to be an auto-immune disorder with many of the same symptoms in dogs, as their human MS sufferers experience, but no link has ever been found that even remotely connects these two diseases. And finally, dogs are also prone to a degenerative disc disorder that can mimic some of the symptoms of MS but this can usually be treated with surgery in the more extreme cases.

     Degenerative Myelopathy, again like multiple sclerosis, has no cure and progressively gets worse just like MS. The only treatment for DM that seems to help hold this disorder at bay is taking your dog for long walks and even somewhat extreme workouts with their toys as physical activity appears to slow the progression of DM significantly in many cases. And what is a bit strange about that, is that Neurologists are starting to believe the exact same thing about people suffering from MS, that a sedentary lifestyle may be the worst thing for multiple sclerosis sufferers over the long turn.  

     Do cats and dogs offer any real health benefits to people with MS? It turns out that; “yes!” they offer a whole host of beneficial health enhancing benefits. If you have a dog I am pretty sure that many of you are aware of the need to walk your dog several times a day for potty trips and so dogs can use their social skills by smelling trees, sign posts, street lights and anything else that lies in their usual walking path which also helps lower high blood pressure in the person doing the walking. I recently had a friends dog and got several workouts everyday which I’m sure my Neurologist would have loved to know if I had told him as he is constantly telling me that I am physically able to do more than I currently do. And that dog also liked to play rough, so I was the one who had to adjust to the extra workout, not him.

     And yes cats provide their own unique health benefits for their human companions.It has been shown in lab studies that just having a cat around can reduce the stress related chemicals that humans experience throughout any given day. And it’s also been proven that when a cat purrs it actually reduces the blood pressure in any human that is in ear shot of their kitty. And that drop can be as much as twenty points according to some studies and that’s very significant for someone like me who has high blood pressure. And yes, one of my best friend’s, is my eighteen year old cat, Lucky!

Cat on Chair

Lucky!

     In conclusion, if you have MS or any disease that causes you to feel lost and alone I can not stress enough how much having a pet can help you through the hard times. If you can and don’t already have a pet, and if you don’t suffer from allergies, please consider going to your local shelter and see if you can’t hook yourself up with a forever four legged companion. I honestly think that it could be the best treatment you ever got for all of your ills!

*****

I’m requesting stories from any and all of you who have ever had a pet die and than return in any way to let you know that they survived death and came back to ease your fears about their crossing. I think I’m going to write a book about pets surviving death as I have had like at least three of my pets return after death to comfort me after their transition.

What I would like for you to do is to first write the experience you had out in long hand and put it down for a day, or a little while, and then type it out and send it to me at the email address below. If and when I write the book I will certainly let everyone know especially if their story made it into the book. This is kind of a nonscientific study that I am undertaking so I would love to hear from you all if you’ve got a story to tell. The reason for having you write it out twice is that usually after you write something once and wait a little bit your mind starts to recall the experience and you often remember more than you did in your first draft. And I want the stories to be as in-depth as they possibly can be.

Please send your stories to: wc.walker@yahoo.com

Thank you in advance. And please ask around family and friends to see if they have stories to contribute. Please put, Pets surviving Death, in the subject box!