Saturday, August 9, 2014

Puppies, My "Pain Partner in Crime" and How One Woman Saved My Sanity

Let me just say, as cliché as it sounds, I truly believe certain people come into your life for a reason.

If you have read my story (which you should), you will know that at one point last October, I decided puppies were my "happy place" and I reached out to several breeders to "help socialize". While most of them were quick to turn me down,  "Mary" (given name for privacy) graciously agreed after explaining my situation.

Mary is the owner of her own goldendoodle breeding business. And it's thriving, one of the most sought out goldendoodle breeders in the doodle biz. (Plus she is a woman who truly loves and takes care of all of her dogs, which is unfortunately not always a common thing with breeders.)  Mary is also a wealth of knowledge on any dog advice or information I could need at any given time. 

What you would never guess about this person is that she too suffers from a very serious, progressive genetic mutation disorder called Systemic mastocytosis. Like most of you reading, I had never heard of this in my life and it is apparently very rare. This woman, due to the "masto" (as she calls it), also suffers from several other serious medical issues including fibromyalgia, diabetes, RA, etc. (as well as several other things). You'll find things like wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and traction devices in her house. 

The day I was finally allowed to come over was one of the best days I can remember of this last year. (There weren't a lot of them.) I was so excited. I've never tried any recreational drugs before, but there can't be a more euphoric feeling than being completely smothered in 6 week old fluffy puppies. 

The best part was--I sat for two hours on the ground (unheard of) and almost felt NO pain. While Dr. Gerwin may technically refer to this as cognitive behavioral therapy, I called it a serious fluffy distraction that made me immensely happy.

Mary had known, due to my desperation/plead to play with puppies that I was suffering from chronic pain, but I was completely oblivious to her own. Like most people with chronic pain, her medical issues were not divulged to me until there was a closer relationship formed and I was not just that strange girl at her house smothering her puppies with love. Once I was officially known by Mary as "the dog whisperer" and as time went on, I was over to "help" and "socialize" (read as: play with and smooch) more and more. I was so amazed by the concept that puppies could genuinely help with my pain. 

The more I was over at Mary's house, the more we talked and the more we realized we quickly had a lot in common. The only difference: I was a novice and Mary was a long time, experienced mastermind to world of chronic pain, plus we both share a very clear obsession with dogs. Like me, Mary believes dogs truly have the power to heal. We have planned many ridiculous themed puppy photoshoots together and when my 11 year old German Shorthair Pointer/absolute love of my life, Gracie, died from cancer in February (heartbreaking), she even offered me a puppy. Even thinking about Gracie now, I still tear up. The dog spent so many hard days by my feet in my bed and I will probably always miss her. Even though we ended up getting a Weimaraner (due to a full blown obsession my family has generally had with them) that we are now infatuated with, Mary was always there for support whenever I needed her. She helped train our new puppy, microchipped her and saves every picture I post on the internet. That's right, Sophie, our Weimaraner puppy, has a huge folder of pictures on Mary's computer and I love her for it. When Sophie got pneumonia, and we were convinced was going to kill her, Mary was on call giving suggestions and support 24/7.

Gracie, our GSP. (I loved this animal more than you will ever know.)
Our little Sophie, 8 weeks old, the day after we got her. Can we talk about how stunning she is?
Like sponsors to addicts in recovery (see my last post), Mary quickly became my pain mentor/guru/pain partner in crime and one of the very few people I felt I could truly confide in, where my shit was never too depressing or hard to hear. While people that were close to me, like my parents, grandma and best friend, could be sympathetic, Mary could truly understand my pain, how I was feeling emotionally and why without really even having to explain it to her. I always felt like I was burdening people telling them my problems and how I was feeling. I never felt that way with Mary and she was never a person I didn't want to talk to. (I generally didn't want to talk to most people.)

And the best part about her? She is a damn strong, empowered woman and she will always tell like it is. (I admire these types.) 95% of everything I've learned about handling pain, physically and mentally in general, is purely because of her. 

Like puppies, Mary plays a large role in my success to handling chronic pain, not that she would ever take credit for it. She also seriously put all my shit in perspective. Her situation, not that she would ever want the sympathy for it, is much more serious than mine…and harder to treat. Even when I search it, there is almost virtually nothing helpful the internet offers. After hours of long phone calls exchanging pain problems and suggestions, my phone call would end and I would get teary eyed because I was so inspired by her. I have met people from all walks of life over the course of my 24 years on Earth but I had never felt this way about a person before. I seriously do not know she does it, but I commend her. 

To this day and probably forever, I will always respect her and appreciate what she's done/doing for me.  This woman, despite all her medical issues, will not let the masto "have" her or deter her from what she loves--dogs. Even with all the shit she has to put up with on a regular basis, she is crafty as hell and always finds a way to make things work. She is also really resourceful and she is always there for me, even if it's at two in the morning. 

Because of her, I was motivated to be the internet's Mary because everyone that has chronic pain needs one. There are certainly not enough Marys in the world and through all the randomness of our worlds strangely colliding for our mutual love of dogs, I am honestly grateful just for knowing her and a better person because I do.

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