Hello…

Hello.. My name is Mocha, I am 6 (weeks!!) old and I live in The Lavender House with my 5 brothers and sisters. When I grow up I am going to be a service dog helping sick children to walk again.

Dogs For the disabled
Yesterday I met someone who is not a child but is sick..(he is old!!! lol) I sat on his lap and he told me he really missed his old friend Jack, but I licked his face and that made him happy..(works every time!!) He went for a walk with Jennifer and they both came back smiling.

I hope he comes back to see me again soon!!

Silent Isolation

Hi All!! Just back from a weekend away with family in Connemara in the West of Ireland, beautiful food, good company, stunning scenery and nice walks. Best of all…? I got to go and The Cat had to stay home. Yes I know, I used to get car-sick but the ginger snaps have fixed that and just in case an aunt had left some gingerbread, not that I saw any of that!!

We have spoken about loneliness before, but in relation to The Owner, that isolation that is experienced during a bad symptom day or simply the effect Parkinson’s Disease has on the best laid plans… All are subject to change at very short, or no notice due to the onset of freezing, tremor or fatigue. I encourage The Owner to push through these difficult times, and most times he does or works up a compromise. Doesn’t always work but he is no longer taking the easy road and just saying no.

What I wanted to talk to you about is the loneliness experienced by his wife. She married him 15 years ago a strong, athletic man with a good sense of humour and a blossoming career path. Sounds wonderful!! They had fun together, they enjoyed travelling, food and most of all each-others company. His wife his now essentially his primary care giver, and that is the role that occupies so much of their time together. Granted they have 2 children which takes up a lot of the time, but less and less  as they get older.

So why were there tears last night? Simply put she occasionally misses the athletic and carefree man she married and understandably so. She is now responsible for far more than anyone would have been anticipated and she never complains. Never, ever complains. She loves the man she married and she still loves him every bit as much today, probably even more than when they walked down the aisle. However sometimes the line between being both wife of and caregiver to get’s blurred.

The Owner needs to make as big an effort as she does, to ensure that his wife get’s the best of him and not his caregiver. Not as has been the case too many times before, where the chores of the day are done and she is left only with a sleeping house and  memories of what might have been, before Parkinson’s Disease stole some of the man she married.. Absolutely entitled to shed a tear.

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I Love Him…. So very, very, much!!

Jack and Dad

It has been a while since my last post and to be honest I have been very busy with The Owner, it has been a tough couple of months with a prolapsed disk. For once however Mr Parkinson is taking a back seat, he still sticks his head in the door three times a day with the little yellow pills, the big white ones, and the other white ones, etcetera, etcetera… I could go on!! His surgery is scheduled for 14th of May and believe me, it cannot come quickly enough. He is such a grump!! Not just with me mind, but with everyone!! The family had friends for dinner last weekend (no leftovers!!) and I heard this sound I didn’t recognise. The Mother leaned over to me and said “It’s okay Jack, I think he is laughing.”

Now I don’t know about you, but there is only so much a dog can deal with in a day. “Down Jack”, “Stop sniffing the Cat Jack”, “Food or love Jack?” and my personal favourite “I don’t care what the other dogs do, please don’t wee on your food bowl!!” Regardless of how grumpy he is with me, he knows I love him so, very, very much, but boy can he make it difficult. When I wake up in the morning it’s a fresh start for me so, love, honour and obey (well maybe not all of the obey bit.) For family and friends it is a bit more difficult to get over harsh words and short answers.

He had his pre-op assessment last week, and I think it opened his eyes to other people’s pain. In 4 weeks time he will be back on his feet and pain free. The older gentleman sitting beside him, unable to cry, such was the shock and grief he was experiencing. He had lost his wife of 47 years that morning. She was his whole life and he will never get another second of the life with her back. Two strangers sitting side by side, one offering inadequate sympathy and the other sound advice. “No matter how difficult the day before was, wake up in the morning, tell your wife you love her so, very, very much, and give her every opportunity every day to love you.”

I think what he was trying to say was that no matter how tough your illness is, be it Parkinsons or something else, you must give the people that love and care for you every opportunity to love you. Don’t allow pain, uncertainty and doubt to consume you, let them know that you love them so, very, very much and say goodbye to Mr Grumpy. Oh yes, the answer to the question Food or Love? Easy… Love (unless of course I am hungry!!)

The Only Place You are a Burden… Is in Your Own Heart.

WP_20150209_016 (640x359)The Owner and I were watching a home renovation TV show this evening, about a veteran who had been invalided out of his military for injuries recieved after serving for 10+ years. His injuries are progressively debilitating and he was really struggling with moving his life forward, believing that for him his future was on pause for the rest of his life. In his own words “I don’t want to be a burden, I don’t want my condition to prevent my family from doing things, that they would be able to do if I was able-bodied.” He is married to a wonderful woman with three fabulous children, but struggling to accept the physical limitations and identify a future for his family given his medical condition. Sound familiar?

I think everyone on the TV show cried when the reveal was done, The Owner cried and I would have too (if I could!!) The effect of seeing this man who had nearly given up, being given his hope back was very powerful and emotional for him and his family. During the show his family were interviewed about the effect of making his home more accessible to him would be. The recurring theme of their answers were that their father felt he was a burden, but that they loved him regardless of his injuries and the day-to-day difficulties of living with his condition. Sound familiar?

He is a proud man, and reluctant to ask for help, but the effect the renovations to his home had on his life was profound. The father was stunned by the generosity extended to his family, and that is the key… He  realised that the family included everyone living under the roof, most importantly him. That denying his wife and children of his participation was making the situation worse not better. That he could no longer deny them the love, care and devotion that they unconditionally give him everyday and that they love him just the way he his. Sound familiar?

The story resonated with The Owner and I. You could replace his injuries with The Owners Parkinson’s disease and they would fit like a glove. Just let them love you…

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Setting Your Own Pace

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Bow Wow!! It has been a while, and a lot has happened since my last post, we have moved house same area, but much closer to the village, which means The Owner can walk down to “His Local” whatever that is, have a couple of “Pints” whatever they are and be home within an hour of leaving the house. This therapy seems to be working, as he is only gone for an hour and arrives home in much better form than he left and most importantly he walks. I would like to go too, but The Owner says no dogs allowed only blind dogs… Anyone got a spare high visibility harness?

So the house move went fine, and we are all settled in, including The Cat. No real surprises until moving in day, The Owner was complaining of a sore back, little did we know… He went to the doctor and the issue has been diagnosed as a prolapsed disc, that is pinching a nerve going down his left leg, looks and sounds very, very painful. He has been referred for surgery but in the mean-time lying on the floor is the best treatment… this is where I come in. I as you are all aware am a world champion at lying around on the floor, I have won the endurance competitions in my breed for the last 3 years. You can observe my technique in the picture above.

What it has meant is The Owner has not been able to sit, or drive for the last 4 weeks, so while he is flat on the floor the Mom has had to take up all the slack, as well as unpack in a new house and look after the children. Tough going in anyone’s book. There has been some upside, his posture has improved dramatically, he is walking a lot more, he looks like he has grown 2 inches and lost 25 pounds. This gave me pause for thought, how come it has taken something unrelated to Parkinson’s Disease, to get him exercising more frequently and walking everyday? I think the answer is confidence… He has realised (the hard way!!) that he has to look after his whole body and if that means walking slowly to start with so be it. Attitude and exercise works for mind as well as body.

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We all have our little thing…

We all have our little thing!!

Hi it’s Jack, we had a really nice surprise last week when The Owner’s cousin stopped by with her youngest son, Baby Leo. The Owner and his cousin have known each other a long time and are very relaxed in each other’s company. Me, I am a dog, so I take my cue’s from The Owner, if he is chilled, then so am I. Baby Leo is 9 months old, so can’t make that decision himself, instead he takes his cue’s from his mother. She knows me well, so is as you can see, cool with Baby Leo chilling with me on the floor. They don’t call me the “Baby Whisperer” for nothing, well actually they don’t call me that at all… but some day though!!

The essence of my relationship with her baby is one of a mutual trust and an absence of fear. She knows me well and trusts me with her child and he is not afraid of me. Equally I know and trust her, and I am not afraid of her baby. Simple… isn’t it? So how come with some other relationships The Owner manages to make such a dogs dinner (I had to get that in!!) of it? So is it the absence of fear and or trust that is missed…or is it that he forgets that it has to be mutual… the latter me thinks!! If people are afraid to ask him questions then 25% of the equation is missing before they even get started. That is his job to work on and he knows it. When you are sick you can tend to get very self-centred and forget that those around you have their own lives to lead and that you have to respect and encourage them to do so. Sometimes he needs a kick to be reminded that the world does not revolve around a Parkinson’s Disease axis, with him that the centre of that sphere.

The other thing he needs to consider on occasion is that he is not the only one who is sick, just because there are no visible indications of sickness does’t mean every one else’s life is perfect, because it’s not. Some may be better had hiding it, others may not even be aware of it yet and for yet others there may be no visible indications, but… We all have our little thing!!

But most of all you’re my best friend

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Hi it’s Jack…. I have been The Owner’s constant companion for the Christmas Season. He has been in very good humour and has really enjoyed catching up with some friends he had not seen in a long, long time, so all good. He was looking at some pictures taken long before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and boy did that bring a smile to his face. Different time, different place, but fun most definitely, they looked like they all had lots and lots of fun!!

Today however, I saw a shadow cross his face, just for a second, very quick but it scared me. A look of silent despair and anguish, that is usually covered with a grin and a change of the subject, but hidden. His irrational, yet very real fear of being seen as a burden, irrational because he knows that he is loved, real because it is real to him. Every now and then, it comes at him, … hard… but this time he cried, so I did what I do best, and I put my head in his lap looked up at him and loved him.

The trigger? A scene from a movie “Love and Other Drugs”, where Jake Gyllenhaal, speaks to the husband of a late stage Parkinson’s Disease sufferer. A 30 second insight into the life of those people who carry that unceasing load of caring for, of  loving and living with a person who has Parkinson’s Disease. This is his greatest fear, that of being a burden to family and friends. 99.99% of the time it’s not an issue, but every once in a while he is reminded. Being strong 99.99% of the time is good going, so I cut him a bit of slack on the 0.01% and told him to man up…he got the message.

One of the many things I have noticed since I have come to live with My Family, is the amount of time he spends on his own, be it resting and recuperating, or simply going to bed early because his energy levels are so low, it can be isolating. I am usually with him all the time, as well as My Family. That’s not enough, so why don’t you call just to chat, to recommend book that you have enjoyed, or music that you like. He can also be very grumpy, but I not so sure that’s a Parkinson’s thing.

PS When you are talking to him you might just let him know that I am sorry about the accident on the carpet, please don’t tell the cat, and he is… My best friend.

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Ignorance is not Bliss… It hurts

The Owner is angry today, not with me or his family, not even with himself… He is angry for someone else, a friend of his, and although I have never met her I am angry for her too!!

The Owner was diagnosed 11 years ago, so he has gotten used to the awkwardness of telling people about his diagnosis.. “I have Parkinson’s Disease.” It took him a while (like 6-7 years!!) but he got there eventually, but only with the help of family, friends and colleagues. More often than not now, when he tells people it is done with humour and sensitivity (yes I did say sensitivity!!) He knows how to explain the basics of Parkinson’s Disease and how it applies to him. Upon hearing the diagnosis the response is invariably “But you are so young, and intelligent and handsome and you can put up shelves..” Well maybe not the put up shelves bit… But their initial reaction is based upon what they see, a younger person with Parkinson’s Disease, which is generally perceived to be associated with older people.

“It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle  it that counts….” You will have heard this before, well it goes both ways. It’s tough enough for the person who has Parkinson’s Disease to live with the disease, never mind a person who is recently diagnosed, add-on top of that early onset… you get the picture. Or maybe you don’t, so to be clear.. It’s shit. So if you ask the question “What’s wrong with you?” be sure you can handle the answer, because if you can’t you are not helping. If the person thinks you need to know they will tell you, when and how they think best, because in this circumstance they do know best.

Coming back to the anger, when a friend of yours, diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease less than a year ago says and I quote:

“I am sick and tired of people saying Oh so and so died from Parkinson’s, can’t you just keep that to yourself !!!!!!! Please”

That makes me as angry as the owner. Ignorance is not bliss…. It hurts.

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PS. If you want to hear The Owners response let me know and I will seek his permission (There are a lot of * in the ******* response, but you get the idea!!)

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Sometimes you just have to do..what you just have to do!!!

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Hi it’s Jack. People sometimes ask the Owner, what is Jack like? His response is usually “Jack is the most amazing Dog ever created in the Universe ever..!!!” Ok sorry I may be getting a bit carried away, what he actually says is “Jack does all the dog things you expect him to do and more…”

The Cat told me last week that we are moving house, my immediate thoughts… where am I going to go? They love where they live… so why are they moving? I pondered, I worried… pondered some more, and then I just asked The Cat. She smiled her enigmatic cat smile and said.. “Lots of reasons to stay, lots of reasons to go…. but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do…!!” Hmmm, great help..

Last night I figured out what she was saying. Sometimes you have to do things in life that you really don’t want to do. Things like move house, or reduce your working hours and the fear of facing and explaining those decisions can paralyze your decision making. So nothing happens, the circumstances may not get worse, but they certainly don’t get any better… Why the paralysis? Lots of different reasons, fear of failure, or fear of being seen to fail, not wanting to admit to yourself that your future may not be within your control. Whichever one it is you end up in the same place, not worse but not better.

Then sometimes you realise that you just have to do what you have to do… Face the fear of failure, ignore what you think others may think (generally you are wrong anyway!!) Most importantly face the reality of your circumstances and just do it… My family did, the house may be smaller, the garden may not be as nice…but it is ours and that’s what matters.

And I can see The Owner walking taller already.

Consent