Friday, February 26, 2010

A Sad Day: Furry Friends in Sickess and Health

Today is supposed to be Happy Friday.

See, several years ago one of the Co-op's manufacturer's had never heard the saying "TGIF." Cindy and I tried to explain to him that we weren't talking about the restaurant, we were simply wishing him a Happy Friday of sorts. The phrase stuck and has since lived on for years now. Sun, rain, travel, days in the office...very few Fridays have passed without one of us wishing the other a Happy Friday.

Today, the sun shines bright in Salt Lake City, but it doesn't feel like a Happy Friday. This morning I took my Siamese cat, Diddy, to the vet with a cough. While we waited for the vet, Diddy took to his usual post on my shoulder and busied himself trying to get his face as close to mine as the laws of physics would permit him. He's such a good baby, even when he's stressed.

My heart sunk when the x-rays revealed an enlarged heart. Diddy is unlike any cat I've had and as is often true with Siamese and their humans, we're tight. I tried to keep myself together as the vet scrawled the name of a specialist down and sent me on my way, x-rays in hand.

The appointment with the specialist is tomorrow, thankfully. As soon as we have a firm diagnosis, I'll get him an appointment with a holistic practitioner to see how to best support him. I've already ordered heart-friendly taurine, l-carnitine, and fish oil to get him started nutritionally.

My hope is that holistic healing is in my blood. I'm pretty sure my grandmother deserves the Guinness World Record for keeping dogs alive the longest after their "death sentences." One dog diagnosed for kidney failure and given "three months, tops," lived another happy, healthy 7 years. Another dog had heart problems for ages, but lived well-past 14. Her current dog, Lilly, has been living with an enlarged heart for most of her, now long, life.

Skeptics may say that because they're Jack Russell Terriers they just stubbornly refuse to pass on, but I know better. I know she's given them all various homeopathic tonics and other supplements. She's never been a big fan of the allopathic system and she likes nothing more than to see the astonishment on their faces when her dogs keep on truckin'. I'll be calling my grandma later today. I'll be sure to pass along whatever she tells me.

In the meantime, I'm just going to keep enjoying my Diddy kitty. No matter how long I have him, he pretty much insists that I enjoy every minute of him I get. Diddy is a retired show kitty, and while he's well-socialized, I don't think he got nearly enough direct adoration in his previous life so he doesn't want to miss a drop. Good thing he picked the right human.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Suffering - A Blessing in Disguise?

Yesterday I had lunch with a good friend who recently had his gall bladder removed. He's learning that while humans can survive without the little gall buggers, it takes some adjusting. High-fat, high-carb, and extra spicy foods are out for my friend, yet he doesn't always "remember" this until it's too late.

We soon started chuckling about how even though there are all kinds of things we know we shouldn't eat, we find a way off the hook. I, for example, really shouldn't eat wheat. Ever. No really, I shouldn't. I sneeze, I itch, I suffer. A lot. Yet when a neighbor blessed my front door with a moist, truffley chocolate cake...well...I cracked.

I rationalized that I'd just have a little bit and that I'd take the Co-op's Pancreatic Enzymes to aid my system in processing the irritant (they work wonders in this way). Unfortunately, the next morning I could still feel the effects. Enzymes help minimize the damage, but they're not miracle workers.

See, I have lots of ways of letting myself off the hook. I tell myself I'll just have a little; or that I've otherwise been really good about wheat that day; or that whatever I want surely can't have that much wheat; or that I'm really hungry and don't want to suffer a growling stomach all afternoon. I'm just so darn clever, but my rationalizations don't fool my body at all.

Dr. Rodier is often quoted saying of his patients, "They haven't suffered enough yet, they're not ready to change." And it's true. My friend didn't think too much about changing his wicked ways until his gall bladder complained enough to require surgery.

I'm not so different sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit. As soon as I feel my immune system struggling, it's amazing how easy it becomes to say no to the golden grain. Yet, when I'm feeling out of harm's way, my resolve suffers. I've heard the same confessions from others trying to be more healthy; whether it's wheat, sugar, bacon, alcohol, or some other something they shouldn't have, it's tough to be good.

If pure, unbridled willpower were all it took to change, the world would be a very different place. So where to turn instead? Here are a few ways I've discovered to support myself.

Personal Resolve: Getting clear that I actually want to stay away from wheat always helps a lot. Knowing that I "should" isn't enough. It's too easy to feel rebellious and reckless.

Network of Support: Telling the people in my life that I'm staying away from wheat works wonders. My father's widow (who serves pasta, sandwiches, and other temptations for big family dinners) said, "I didn't know you couldn't have wheat. That's all I've been feeding you!" I didn't want to inconvenience her, but turns out she was happy to be more accommodating. Confessing my wheat-free wish to friends helps, too. They help me shy away from choices I'll regret and suggest places to eat with lots of friendly options.

Keeping in Touch with the Body: When I pay attention, my body has so many ways of telling me what it likes and doesn't. The sneezing is obvious, but more subtle cues include having to pry my lifeless body out of bed in the morning, dry skin, puffiness, slight bloating, and itchy ears. Charming, huh? The truth is when I tune in, I don't even want wheat. I love it when my body feels good, but when I'm not so connected to feeling (good or bad) it's easy to tolerate a lot of these symptoms.

Keeping Friendly Choices Handy: I confess, I don't plan. I fly by the seat of my pants, much to my mother's horror. However, magically, when I keep the fridge stocked with friendly foods and don't pick restaurants I know will push my resolve, it's not hard at all to keep from sneezing.

So, when I suffer the itchies and sneezies, I take it as a reminder that I need to return to better practices like the ones above. I try not to scold myself, but instead look at how I can better support myself.