The Power of the Pooch….

Tuesday evening: On the couch with my laptop and a heat bag but the aforementioned pooch is trying to get on top of the heatbag, on top of me, and there just isn’t room for all three….

Will have to finish tomorrow!

Wednesday morning: So back to what I was saying….

There are many alternative therapies, I’ve tried quite a few, most of the time without realising what I was really trying to cure (oh the innocence!)/fix/help….apart from heavy periods and strange unexplained pains.  There’s all sorts of everything out there, from Acupuncture involving lots of little needles to Tai Chi which is all about pelvic balance or so I’m told 😉 .  I’m not going to go through them all, I’m not an expert. 

Acupuncture for me is by far the best or most effective alternative therapy.  It doesn’t take the disease away, and no good acupuncturist will claim that they can, but in many cases it can have a tremendous effect on pain levels, and other symptoms such as bloating, constipation and fatique.  Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine and works by placing needles along energy lines (meridian lines).  People blanche when you mention needles but really its just a pin prick….lots of little pin pricks … and then 30-40 mins of calm.  Most practitioners will leave you for a short period for the needles to do their job, with calming music in the background.  For someone who really can’t do naps…. I’ve woken myself up snoring on a few occasions.  At one point in Paris, my periods were so heavy that I was really tired and worn out looking all the time and my doctor ordered a whole range of bloodtests….all were fine.  He was also an acupuncturist  so instead I saw him once a month for almost a year and the effects lasted up to year after I stopped.  Those monthly visits were my only hour of calm in a hectic schedule.

Some believe it’s a pseudoscience, a placebo, but each to their own.  A friend of mine is very skeptical of anything alternative and is convinced all these practitioners are just quacks out to make money from people in pain.  However I beg to differ.  After a diagnostic laparoscopy in June 2015, I went on the pill again, back to back packets, as per the doctor’s recommendation to give my body a break after a particularly tough year.  3 months later I wasn’t myself, and the pains were back even though I had no period.  So I made the decision to come off the medication and try something else.  After much searching I found a new acupuncturist near me (as I had moved counties that summer), and I started weekly sessions.  I did those for almost 6 months, nearer the end it was fortnightly. The first period off the pill was ok, but once I started the sessions the next one was horrendous, just endless bleeding….. At 50euros per session I thought great, this is literally, and figuratively, bleeding me dry!  But I persevered and by January I was in such a better place.  My periods were manageable, with one painful day, and the other joyful side effects of constipation, diarrhoea and fatique had eased enormously.  We moved to fortnightly sessions and then once a month.  At the moment I haven’t had a session since May and we’re doing ok.  We reached a point where the only major issue left was the night pain from the adhesions, and as she says she can’t undo that damage.  That comes and goes depending on my level of tiredness, which is of course linked to how much sleep I get and that in turn is linked to how much pain at night I have…. bit of an endless circle that one!  But for anyone on a lot of medication which in turn brings its own side effects, I would recommend trying it.  Like many therapies it’s expensive and I really had to tighten my belt over those 6 months in order to do it.  But if you are regularly going to the doctor and shelling out a fortune on pain medication every month…. maybe it is swings and roundabouts in the end… For me it was quality of life, I couldn’t keep going the way I was.

There are other treatments that work for other people, everyone finds their own thing and you often have to try a few to find what works.  I would say to people don’t be afraid to change if it’s not working for you or you feel the practitioner is not listening.  When I first started looking in September for someone, I found a lovely lady nearby, 10 minutes drive away.  She was very positive and welcoming and really seemed to know her stuff, however after 2 sessions we parted ways.  I was lying there one day, with needles popping up from my arms and legs and even in my head. She started to ask me about things in my life, I had recently been through a difficult break-up and she jumped on that straight away as a source of negative energy in my life…. damn straight it was negative…I was upset, he was upset, the dog was upset…. it was traumatic! But I was doing my best to deal with it.  She asked me if I believed in the Man Upstairs and to be honest that’s really my own business, between me and himself.  Taking my vague nod as a form of yes, she went on to talk about Guardian Angels and how we needed to put more trust in them.  Long story short she told me I should go home and have a chat with my angel, who would then go for coffee with his angel, and pass the message back to him… and it would all get sorted out if we put our faith in the angels…. Now its not that I wasn’t willing to try anything at that stage, but he was a devout atheist,  so if he was having difficulty hearing things from me, well all I can say is good luck to the angel!  (I’m not for a second knocking those who do believe in God and angels, each to their own, but things were not that simple).  I came home and had lunch with my parents and brother that day and told them the story, at least we could have a laugh about it.

While it’s great to try all these things, and I think anyone with a chronic illness needs to be open to trying different things at different times, there are other forms of support and comfort right in our own homes, in the form of a 4-legged friend, be it cat or dog.  My pooch may be small but she wears many hats, she’s my counsellor, my extra heatbag, and my personal trainer that gets me off the couch when I’d really rather not.  She’s the best kind of listener, doesn’t try to tell me what to do, never says “go take some Nurofen and quit that whining”!  She just snuggles into that 4″ space between you and the armrest, wriggling until she’s settled, and places her head on my knee looking up at me with those big eyes.  She came into my life as a tiny helpless (slightly demented) bundle 6 years ago in Paris.  Just me, the pooch and a 22m2 studio on the 6th floor.  She certainly got plenty of exercise in the first few months with all those stairs…. it was a pity she didn’t always wait until she got to the bottom of those stairs before marking her territory on the old parquet floors!  But we figured it out together and have been inseparable since.  She’s been a torment at time, she’s quite the comedian at times, and has even peed on my bed at times (just when she’s really not happy with me! 😉 ) but I wouldn’t be without her all the same.

Over the last few days I’ve seen a lot of posts from women on the EAI forum with their pooches, their source of comfort, their trustworthy friend. Dogs can sense things, they have that innate ability to do so.  I am always fascinated by the guide dogs for the blind, and the support dogs for Autistic children.  You can see the amazing work they do and its a testament to their trainers and their handlers what they can achieve, but its also down to the dogs themselves.  But your pet doesn’t have to be trained to love you, and that is what they do best.  The pooch will always come back to me if I have food…. that’s a guarantee, she can hear the word sausage from the far end of the garden and she can hear a crust being dropped in her bowl from another room, but come back when I call for her to come because I need to leave….phah! why would I do that? But I never have to call her when I feel bad, that she knows, she just seems to sense it, whether its following me around, or just knowing when to climb up on my lap and be that extra heavy heat bag.  For a lot of women, exercising is difficult and the motivation to do something, even for a short period can be hard, but when you have to walk the dog, just around the block will do, its a great excuse to get out.  All she has to do is lie by the door and look at me, and I give in… even in the winter when its raining outside, I’ll put on a hat and coat and go because she needs me to.

Comfort comes in small doses (you could argue so does pain medication…), it comes in all shapes and sizes, from a lot of different sources.  Don’t underestimate your pooch and the power she has, to help you that is.  Take those cuddles and make the most of them.  Every little thing helps. 🙂




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