What’s in a name…a lot of love…

Years ago, when trying to come up with an online name, I chose Lolabellaquin.  It’s a combination of my pet’s names (at the time).  I’m often called Lola instead of my real name as a result, which is fine by me.  Lola was my first cat, my queen, my heart and I have written about her in various places including this very blog (Goodbye My Queen http://bit.ly/2aUy0gE ).  Today, only the “Bell” in my name is still on this Earth (although I fear she is in her 9th life).  Quincy died almost 10 years ago.  Lola died yesterday.  No matter what the reason, it’s never easy to lose a pet.  A great presence has been taken from my home and I am left to grieve the loss of my beloved cat.

Grieving is something a person with chronic illness does often.  Not only do we grieve the loss of those we love,  but we also grieve the loss of ourselves as our symptoms progress.  Walking is now something that is not easy for me.  I can’t handwrite more than a few sentences before my hands cramp and lock.  Even my internal organs have had damage caused by my diseases.  People don’t know that autoimmune arthritis can do that. In the past 15 years since being diagnosed, I’ve grieved over losing loved ones.  I’ve grieved the loss of relationships that could not stand the intensity of my health needs.  I’ve grieved losing my opportunity to become a mother.  I’ve grieved over losing the body I used to have. I grieved for the life I had envisioned prior to RA.  It would be so easy to fall into depression, but I strive to find the positive in my life.  I feel lucky that I have not had to grieve the loss of a career and I can still provide for myself and my family.  The life I envisioned did not come true, but my life now is full and I am happy.  Autoimmune arthritis and all chronic illness takes so much us that is important to have things in our lives that bring us joy and positivity.

Top: Quincy Rose, Bottom: Isabella & Lola

For me, my pets always added joy to my life.  All of my pets are/were spoonies.  Quincy lived with cancer, Lola lived with inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease, and asthma.  Isabella (12 year old cat) has inflammatory bowel disease, and Georgia (my dog now, age 7) has a Chiari malformation with syringomyelia, arthritis, chronic dry eye, and luxating patellas. We are a true #spoonie family (if you don’t know what a spoonie is click here: http://bit.ly/1uyrASh ).  Honestly, caring for their medical needs helped me to cope with my own.  I know what it is like to live in pain and I’ll never let that happen to them.  It’s practically caused me to go bankrupt, but I get by and regret not a cent that I have spent to give them comfort and a good life. Their spoonie journey helped me deal with my own in many ways and I will always be grateful.  Lola may not have been an official support animal, but she got me through so many tough times over the years with purrs, snuggles, and kisses, and I will forever be grateful.

So in the future, when people refer to me as Lola, I will smile and know that my beloved girl will forever me a part of me.

Tell me about your animal support system? I’d love to hear how your pets help to bring you joy.  It will help me smile right now.

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