Puppy Power

I’m getting a new library dog.

What’s a library dog? you ask. I can’t afford to keep a dog: I can’t afford the food, I can’t afford potential vet bills, and I can’t be relied upon to be healthy enough to look after a (normal) dog. But a library dog is a dog that I get but have to return later. And, SEDA pays ALL the bills. How cool is that!

Well, yes…I have to train him to poo on command and walk on a leash but, you know…

Animals provide unconditional love without judging you for having a medical condition that most people don’t understand. And a new study shows that my part-time library dog may still let me to reap the benefits of pet therapy.

In fact, Dawn Marcus, M.D., the lead author of this study, suggests that the impact of a visit, as short as 10 – 15 minutes, with a therapy-trained dog significantly reduced the pain severity in FM patients. Further, all measures including fatigue, stress level, calmness, and cheerfulness improved, not just pain. Slightly longer visits tended to produce better results, of course, but not all of us can own a dog.

During a 10 – 15 minute period prior to their doctor’s appointment, 84 patients received pet therapy and another 49 FM patients just spent the time in the waiting room. A short questionnaire before and after the therapy service or wait time was used to detect symptom differences.

Animal-assisted therapy is a complementary approach to helping people with a wide range of medical conditions. Pets are often dogs trained to be obedient, calm, and comforting, and visits are typically provided through volunteer services at healthcare settings. Obviously, animals can be stress-relieving, but studies also show they boost the body’s production of pain-fighters and immune system healers.

“Clinically meaningful pain relief was reported in 34% of the fibromyalgia patients after the dog visit versus only 4% in the waiting room controls,” says Marcus. “Effects did not appear to be substantially influenced by co-existing mood disorder symptoms.”

Satisfaction with the dog therapy visit was 92%. Also, the effectiveness of the pet intervention did not depend upon whether the patient viewed themselves as a “dog lover” or someone who prefers cats.

You can get yourself a slice of pet therapy and receive the potential benefits from it, if you don’t already have a pet, by contacting your local Humane Society, animal organization, or veterinarian clinic to find out about programs in your area. You may also volunteer for a while to determine what type of animal best suits you and your pocketbook.

Taylor-Made Doggy

When I was young, we had a goldfish (which I killed trying to feed it a lamb chop). This was the closest I got to a new friend.

I have always wanted a dog – my Mommy was against it as s/he may demand too much energy or get sick. My Fibromyalgia has been kinda under control (knock on wood!) and I received a permanent disability payment from my superannuation so I can afford my dog, no matter what!

taylorI was also lucky as the foster carer works at WorkCover and knew about FM: she knew that I needed a dog and she also believed that this is the right dog for me!

So, my new dog (currently called Taylor) is on the way…he should be here by Tuesday!

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There are so many benefits of having a pet – especially if you suffer from a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia…

Conversation Starter

Firstly, everyone likes to talk about pets. Even if you hate them, you’ll still be able to talk about them! This is particularly good for Fibromyalgia sufferers because, for one thing, it stops us talking about our pain. It keeps us focused on other things going on in our lives, often finding humour and entertainment in the retelling of stories about our pets.

It’s also a good way of making new friends, which can be particularly helpful if you don’t work and spend a lot of time on your own. Dog walkers often start conversations with each other whilst out and about, and taking your dog to puppy school (or something similar) can widen your social circle.

[NB: I’m not suggesting you get a pet, just because it’s a conversation starter! It’s purely an added benefit.]

Keep you Fit

Not all pets keep you fit, but dogs are great at forcing you to leave the house for some gentle exercise. If you live near big open spaces then it’s even better – your dog can run around whilst you have a gentle meander.

To a certain degree cats and pets that stay in the house can also keep you fit. Cleaning out rabbit hutches or litter trays requires a certain amount of energy which can be difficult for Fibro sufferers, but it’s a good way of keeping you busy and giving you a small amount of exercise.

Happiness and Love

Having a pet is an easy way to feel guaranteed, unconditional love and comfort. When you’re in pain and feeling low, curling up with a fluffy friend can be a great way to calm you down and remind you of the good things in life.

I am so looking forward to curling up with Taylor when either of us is in need of a cuddle.

Animals are wonderful companions and a great way of keeping your spirits up.

A Sense of Purpose

It’s very easy to become reluctant to get out and about when you suffer from chronic pain – particularly if you’re experiencing a flare up. However, having a pet can give you a sense of purpose and routine. You have to get out of bed to feed your cat, you have to go out to walk your dog, you have to get up and clean your rabbit hutch. When you have a pet, you have responsibilities and these can be a great way of ensuring you don’t get stuck in a rut.

What benefits do you get from your pets?

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Catching Up

I haven’t really checked in with you guys recently so I’m going to try to catch you up ASAP. So, what’s up with me?

Housemate

After a very long (and oh-so-complicated) 18 months, my housemate has left. We had an on and off relationship for a while which ended with us being ‘just friends.’ Anyway, it’s been a month since he left; and it’s like this great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It had gotten to the stage where everything I said was misinterpreted by him – so we just kept fighting. I didn’t realise how hard it had become: I was trying to be so careful with what (or if) I spoke to him; whereas, when we first met, I remember how much fun, and how I used to feel when we were hanging out.Boris and flowers I really hadn’t realised how much our relationship had changed until I was away from it (permanently).

We are supposed to still be mates BUT he posted my key back to me, didn’t help with cleaning up after him and his cat (it’s taken me a month to clean everything alone!) and hasn’t wanted to talk to me all month…I don’t need friends like that!

Garage Sale

With all the cleaning, I decided it was time for a clear-out. I emptied my house out (as did some of my neighbours) and we had a multiple household sale. 20150724_182631It was huge…and very hard work.

We ran around, the night before, putting out all of our signs. Then it was up at 6am. (I had practiced getting up early for the two days prior).

Although we all made some money and got to know each other, I really don’t think I’ll be doing that again!

Million Dollar Minute

Four days later (and more practice at getting up early), I arose at 5am so I could wake up properly, get ready and go to Channel 7 studios for the opportunity to appear on Million Dollar Minute.

profileI made it (and, for those in Australia, I will be on TV on Thursday 20th August at 5.30pm). I can’t tell you what happened – non-disclosure statements and all that – but I can tell you that, if you don’t watch on the 20th, you won’t see me again!

It was great fun and I met a lot of very clever people.

After all of that, I crashed (of course) and I really have had not the energy (spoons) to do much more than sit on the couch for the last 2 weeks. However, I am building up to some more energetic activities.

Rescue Dog

With the cat (and Simon) gone, I have decided that I would like a dog. I have never had a dog before and it has to be a particular kind of dog as I live in a 2 bedroom unit with, only, a small courtyard and I can’t walk particularly fast or long distances. I would prefer to rescue a dog BUT, with my particular requirements, this may not be possible.

I am religiously perusing the rescue dog sites (as well as nearly being ripped off by 2 interstate people who were looking to re-dogs).

This is Coco - a pomeranian/chihuahua mix.

This is Coco – a pomeranian/chihuahua mix.

This is Rocky, a maltese mix.

This is Rocky, a maltese mix.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Daiichi Sankyo Research Study

Last week, I wrote about the Daiichi Sankyo research study. I have decided (after consultation with my GP) that I will be signing up. The first part is a blind study so I’ll be telling you about how I feel, if I am accepted – I have to give up my Lyrica and Sertraline (scary!)

LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA

The next issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA is due out September 1st. It has been a VERY difficult issue as our contributors appear to be slowly disappearing so, sadly, unless I can get some more volunteers, the September issue will be the last one. If you want to write for us, please email me at contributions@fibromodem.com.

Now you’re all caught up. What’s going on with you?

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