Adult female pets her dog. A Cocker Spaniel. Pets, Animals, companionship

How Pets Add Value to My Life with MG

Last updated: March 2023

Once my medication controlled my myasthenia gravis (MG), I started doing pretty well. However, over the past 4 years, MG and my emotions have been challenging. During this time, my husband became ill. It was not terminal, but it was serious enough that he has been unable to do much of anything or go anywhere. In fact, much of that time, he was incoherent and doesn’t remember anything.

So, what does this have to do with my MG journey? I’ve been his caregiver while trying to keep myself as healthy as possible and emotionally stable. While his illness wasn’t terminal, we didn’t know what was wrong and the doctors were almost no help. As a nurse, I also tried to figure out what could be wrong with him based on his symptoms.

I was basically alone

A lot of his illness was during COVID, so when I’d take him to see a physician, I couldn’t go in with him to discuss his care. That in itself was very frustrating, considering he was incoherent and often only knew what I told him (if he could even remember). Because of that, I started writing everything down and sending the note with him.

Trip after trip, to the doctor or emergency room, usually determined nothing. He went through a multitude of symptoms and illnesses during that time. Also, I’m sure you will remember, we weren’t supposed to have visitors, family, or go out, even if he had felt good enough, because of COVID.

Our children have always been very careful when it comes to my compromised immune system and have stayed away when they were sick, so this was no different. Even though they weren’t ill, they respected our circumstances and stayed at a distance. However, that meant, I didn't have help around the house or garden and I had no one to keep me company. I was basically alone with no one to talk to. The only thing I really had was my dog.

My dog provided comfort

It’s true what they say about a dog being man’s (or woman’s) best friend. At the time my husbands illness began, we had a black cocker spaniel, Aleshanee (Ale, as we called her). She was my mainstay. She was there for both of us.

She comforted him and provided comfort and companionship for me. I would take her outside and walk her. There were times I just needed time to let my anger, loneliness, and frustration out, so I’d take her to the end of the property that was adjacent to an open field. While she was sniffing and enjoying being outside, I cried uncontrollably.

Why there? It was private and away from my husband. Worrying about me was the last thing he needed, so I got away from any prying eyes and just cried. The stress was really weighing heavily on me, which in turn eventually caused me to start showing mild, but aggravating MG symptoms again.

Saying our goodbyes

Having Ale was a godsend. I don’t know what I would have done without her. However, one night, she wouldn’t eat and she kept falling down. I just knew she was dying. The next day, we took her to the vet. We dropped her off, then headed home. We were almost home when we got a call from our vet saying Ale had terminal cancer.

We immediately turned around and went back to the clinic. They explained everything to us and gave us our options. We spent some time with her, then decided not to allow her to suffer any more. We said our goodbyes.

My heart was broken. Now during the times my husband wasn’t doing well, I had no one to keep me company and some of my symptoms slightly worsened. I spent the next year feeling depressed, lonely, and looking for another cocker spaniel.

Our new dog

I finally found one that was affordable and so cute. We picked up Theodore Remington Steele (Teddy) and it was like someone turned on the lights in a very dark room. We fell in love with our little guy immediately. For the first time since we lost our sweet Ale, we were actually smiling and laughing again.

Having Teddy has decreased my stress and has caused me to have a better outlook on life again. Some of my symptoms have all but disappeared, but some linger. However, I am better, physically, mentally, and emotionally since Teddy came home with us.

We all need something special to help us through life ... help us through the tough times. Find what makes you happy and what makes you less stressed. It really does help! My stress relief is God and my family, which includes my dog. Thank you, God for my family and for Teddy!

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