Monday, July 20, 2009

Rhonda joins the family and emotional stress triggers a flare

About a year and a half after getting Rachael, Scott and I were discussing getting her a companion to play with since his Lupus was limiting the time he was able to spend playing with her. We hadn't made a definite decision until one day we were running errands and noticed a small pet shop in the strip mall. We went in and Scott saw a chocolate Lab that was getting to big for the crate they had her in and had a sign stating a discount on this dog.

Scott asked to see the dog and they brought out the Chocolate Lab. Well u can guess that he fell in love with th dog instantly. So we started getting the paperwork together to buy the dog. The manager came out and said he didn't have the AKC certificate for this male dog, well this totally confused us both. Scott picked up the dog again and looked between the legs and then proceeded to show the manager. There was no way this was a male. This Chocolate Lab was a female. This really made the purchasing process a mess, but we finally got everything straightened out and the Chocolate Lab came home with us and was name Lady Rhonda, Rhonda for short.

Rhonda and Rachael became best of friends and playmates instantly. Having Rachael potty trained actually made Rhonda's potty training easier. As the bonding with Scott and the two labs continued everything was going well. But, that didn't last long.

The next week I got up one morning and turned on the TV as I usually did. Scott was a little up set, as he was still sleeping on the pullout couch. He was living with me until he closed on his new condo down the street from me. I noticed that the TV coverage was not usual and told Scott to wake up and see what was going on. He started watching just as the plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. It was September 11. We spent the rest of that day glued to the TV, as it was my day off. Looking back now I think we were both in shock.

The girl's as Scott often refers to them knew something was up, Especially Rachael. She was staying very close to Scott and was not really interested in playing with Rhonda. I didn't think much of it at the time, as I thought it was just her reacting to him and his response the the Tragic events of that day.

I was surprised that about a week later Scott had a pretty strong flare of his Lupus. We have since discussed it and I now know why he reacted so strongly to the events of 9/11. He had been monitoring his Fraternity's web sites and discussion boards and had found that a fairly large number of his Lambda Chi Alpha alumni brothers were killed when the World Trade Center Towers collapse. Luckily there was no one that Scott knew personally, but He still felt a great loss a he explained to me that it did not matter that he did not know them personally they were his brothers. He tried to explain the brotherhood bond of his fraternity, but to this day I am not sure that I can really understand that bond.

Rhonda's potty training was actually pretty quick, I guess having Rachael already trained helped. It was actually fun to watch as Scott and the girls bond and interacted. I really enjoyed watching the different personalities of the two girls. Rachael was much more of a big lap dog a what I would call a more serious dog. Rhonda on the other hand was more independent and playful. We learned very quickly that Rhonda was a lick-er. It was like she had to lick you to make sure everything was as it should be. To this day she just can't keep her tongue in her mouth. If you are petting her she has to be licking you at the same time. I guess it is just her way of showing that she approves.

In the next entry I'll tell you about Scott moving to his new condo and how the girls adjusted as well as how the steroids Scott was taking affected him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bonding with Rachael and Scotts' lupus

As Rachael got older and Scotts' lupus Flared, I noticed an interesting interaction between Scott and Rachael. A couple days before Scott would experience a flare Rachael would stay extremely close, almost attached at the hip. Then within a couple days Scot would be down for the count with a lupus flare. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but as time went on this interaction played out over and over. It continues to this day. All I have to do to see how Scott is doing is watch Rachael. He may be having a string of good days, but if Rachael is hanging extremely close I know that within a few days he ill be experiencing a flare.

During this time Rachaels' potty training was going extremely well. As time went on Rachael could tell Scott when she need to go out. She also stayed very close to him when he experienced a flare. It was amazing to see how Rachael would wait extended periods of time to go out when Scott was not feeling well. To this day Rachael will not under any circumstances, unless she is ill, potty in the house.

With Rachael and Scott bonded so well, I was pleased to see that no matter how bad Scott felt, he made sure Rachael was treated like a queen. He would make him self get up and take Rachael for walks, sometimes just short ones. This was getting him out of the house for at least short periods and giving him some exercise. When Scott went out he had to be very careful about being in the sun. He solved this with sunscreen, long sleeves, and large floppy/wide brimmed hats. I was surprised that he didn't care that the hat's were actually women's. He bought one in black and one in neutral. This has worked well for him.

I really believe if it was not for Rachael, Scott would have lost much more functionality than he has. Although he usually walks with a cane he is still able to get around pretty well. That is as long as he has all of his medications.

I really don't know how he does it some times with his medications. He takes over 30 medications each day. Sometimes it seems that all he does is manage his medication, between what to take when, to making sure he does not run out of them. It seems like he has a full time job of medication management.

The number of medications and expense of them has placed a burden on the both of us. I have had to help him pay for his medications so he has them. I have maxed a couple credit cards doing this. I sure hope the fix the gap in the medicare drug program, as I don't know what we'll do if they don't, because Scott has to have the medications to maintain his health, and I am running out of credit cards to help him.

In my next entry I'll bring Lady Rhonda into the story and explain how she joined Scotts' family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How it all started

This is the story of how owning a dog, actually two, has helped and enriched the life of my disabled son. I bought my son a black lab in 2000 as a companion, he was becoming ill and the doctors were having a difficult time pinning a diagnosis to the illness. Eventually, after about 3 years, the diagnosis was Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) also known simply as Lupus.

He named the dog Madame Rachael, Rachael for short. She was 9 weeks old and they bonded instantly and deeply. As time went on I observed interactions between them that truly were amazing. Rachael became extremely in tune with my son and his illness.

The first benefit I saw was that having Rachael meant that regardless of how bad he was feeling there was a reason for him to get out of bed and feed, water, exercise, and potty her. Without having this responsibility I really think he would have lost a great deal more functionality than he has.

As I blog along I'll relate more stories of the benefits of owning Rachael and the bonding between my son Scott and Rachael, as well as what is happening with them now. I'll also introduce his other Dog Lady Rhonda, Rhonda for short.