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This has been a tough week. I’ve had one of the worst 24 hours of my life and it really affected my pain, mental health and wellbeing. I could’ve easily given in to everything and shut myself off from the world, but I didn’t. I managed to get through it; just.
I don’t often talk about my dogs on my blog – I have a separate Instagram page for that where I can share photos of them and talk about them all day long without annoying anyone. But this week, I feel I need to talk in more depth about two of the most important things in my life, and share how it affected me, and what I did about it.
What happened in those 24 hours?
Long story short, I found out that Wesley, my youngest Westie, has bronchitis and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – also known as Westie lung disease (WLD) as Westies are prone to getting it. The chest x-ray he had clearly shows it’s in the early stages. It can’t be cured, is very difficult to manage, and it has a prognosis of 12 to 18 months.
I am heartbroken, devastated, gutted, and just feel I’ve let poor Wesley down. Even though I could never have stopped him from getting it, I still feel like I’ve let him down in some way.
The day I found out, it didn’t really sink in. I was too focused on looking after him, as that same day, he also had some teeth removed. He’s not good with pain, so he was a little restless and struggling to cope. One he’d finally settled I started to read more online about WLD and came across some scary information and stories.
The next morning it really hit me – I just kept looking at him and thinking we could lose him in the next 12 to 18 months. I cried and cried, and just felt completely helpless.
How did it affect my pain?
Any form of stress, anxiety and tension have always made my pain worse. And frustratingly, my pain has always made my stress and anxiety worse – they seem to be natural symptoms of life with chronic pain.
The worry from being away from Wes while he was at the vets soon set my pain off. Gradually throughout the day it just got worse. And once we got the diagnosis, the pain in my upper back, neck and shoulders, was extremely bad.
I didn’t sleep well as I slept on the sofa downstairs to make sure Wes was ok. I knew it would make my pain bad, but I wasn’t the priority; Wes was. My pain was just as bad the next day, and I found it hard to do my usual pain management. Thankfully, I got my neck pain under control by taking some ibuprofen and paracetamol – in fact, I took far more doses in that 24 hours than I have for a long time.
How did it affect my wellbeing?
Since we got the diagnosis, I’ve felt very low, sad, and angry with the world. This adorable little boy has had a hard life – he came to us 3 years ago when we rescued him and we’ve done everything we can to make him feel loved and special. And this just felt like another cruel blow that he does not deserve.
I wanted to shut myself away and avoid anyone and everyone. I’ve also felt guilty when I’ve laughed or done something for me.
I never like leaving my Westies at the best of times, and knowing how Wes was, I felt even stronger about not wanting to leave them. Despite going for at least a 30 minute walk nearly every day over the last 2 months, I didn’t want to go. I just wanted to stay in the house and keep an eye on Wes.
What did I do to help myself?
I knew myself that I couldn’t get sucked in to this downward circle of being negative and feeling guilty about things. My partner (amazing, as always) also reminded me that I need to look after myself. She said I can’t look after Wes properly, unless I take care of me. And she is so right. I needed to make the time for my walks or exercise as this is important to me. It has really helped me over the last couple of months and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my wellbeing and overall pain management.
So, I compromised: I went for my walk but also went to Pets at Home to get some stuff for Wes. That way I was making time for me, but also doing something to help Wes.
Since we got the diagnosis, I’ve made sure I’ve done everything I can for Wes – daily research on WLD, make him comfortable (a new blanket), make him feel special (giving him his favourite food), but I have also made time for me. I’ve done my daily exercise – even it’s not been outside, I’ve used my treadmill; I’ve focused on my pain management – reading as distraction, and resting when I’ve needed to; feeling in control as much as I can by learning about WLD and the little things I can do to help; and spending quality time with my little family – even if this has just been cuddles and playtime with the boys.
I need to remember that I must take care of me, so I can take care of Wes. It’s as simple as that.
What stresses have suddenly made your pain worse?
What did you do to help yourself?
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