I've been having a tough time since my recent relapse; I returned to Uni part-time for just over a week, but then saw my GP and he signed me off 'unfit for work' for a month to give me time to rest and recuperate, because I wasn't going to stand a chance of bouncing back while pushing my limits, and I was in a bad way. I'm therefore now at home being looked after by my parents. Things haven't picked up in the way I'd have liked, but it's certainly nice to be with my family and my home comforts and, of course, my dog.
He's what keeps me going when life just doesn't seem fair and doesn't make sense; he loves me and I love him. I chose him as a puppy when I moved areas at the age of 16, and he brightened up my life in every way. I had a long summer between GCSEs and Alevels to get him trained and bond with him, and we certainly did both. I started off with so many rules he must abide by, and most of those have now disappeared. I love it when he comes in to see me in the morning and his joy to see me is heartwarming. However much pain I'm in, it makes me smile.
Pain. See that's something that wasn't an issue when he first came into my life..
When I first got my boy I was totally healthy (apart from allergies and mild asthma) and he was a healthy 8 week old puppy. I trained him to sit and lie and walked him on a lead round the garden which he thought was a great game. Once he'd had his injections my family and I took him out for his first walk. He was excited by everything, wasn't phased by anything, and certainly didn't stop. He pulled and I let him- it showed a zest for life that really appealed to me.
We practiced calling him between us in the fields and soon he was walking mostly off his lead. He and I used to run in the fields and have races down the paths (he always won!) and generally just enjoy being out together.
Soon I had to return to school and we spent more time in the house and garden together, with my parents taking on a majority of the walking duties, although I still often went out with him at evenings (depending on homework/clubs) and weekends. I taught him tricks and he spent time with my other pets and I. We played a lot, I chased him around the garden and threw balls for him.
Then everything changed. I got ill. My ability to walk gradually decreased. To start with I'd just get tired so I was less inclined to run around with him or walk him. Then I got slower, and he had to learn that pulling (zest for life..) wouldn't make me go any faster. Then there was a period where we rarely left the house together, and when I was home I was mostly asleep. Then I went off to Uni and walking eventually became physically challenging, so then there were occasional wheelchair rides which he quite enjoyed sitting on my lap for (not exactly exercise for him, but we were both warm snuggled up together), and then I got my scooter.
It is great, we can go out together again just me and him. We can be alone- just us- like the old days. He likes rides on my knee. He comes to pick me up from the railway station when I come home from Uni and likes riding on my knee on my scooter and going in the lift and out to the car while trying to tongue-attack me. He wiggles from side to side in excitement, which isn't great for my pain levels, but I honestly couldn't care less.
The thing is, it's not the same. The thing I miss probably more than anything in the whole world is running in the fields with him. It was special. Running alongside him with his ears flapping. And I'm not sure I'll ever get to experience that again. I hope I will, but I'm so far from being able to do that it's unreal. My walking ability had got pretty dire before this relapse, and I'm feeling more wobbly and weaker now, which may be temporary, but it might not. Getting from practically completely immobile to running in fields again feels like a practically impossible challenge, and there's a chance it may never happen, and a definite possibility it won't happen in his lifetime. That breaks my heart, it really does.
He has given me absolutely unfaltering adoration (well possibly apart from when I'm being annoying and waking him up for a cuddle etc), and yet I can't be sure he even remembers those special early days. I've been ill for 4 of the 5 years of his life.
I'm glad I've had him while I've been ill, because he has been amazing. He can cheer me up when nothing else really can. He loves me in such a simple, unconditional way. But in another way, it seems such a shame that such a massive proportion of his life is going to be spent with me not well enough to properly play with him, not able to walk him over fields or run with him. I just hope we get to spend some time together with me relatively well again before he gets old.
I'm so grateful to have him in my life. Pets offer fantastic companionship, particularly for those with illnesses/disability, but they also require a lot of care and attention. I'm incredibly grateful that my parents look after my (well.. our) dog so well. He's a part of the family. He's a 'mummy's boy' really- he does love my mum more than me, but that's ok- she does practically everything for him these days, and she does give very good cuddles (my dog certainly doesn't approve of how bony I am these days- not comfy at all! Lol).
Things feel very challenging at the moment- I don't know if/when/how much my health is likely to improve from this low-point and that's terrifying. This relapse has been very physically challenging; I've had a truly horrific day today, one of the worst of this relapse so far (and that's saying something!!), but being at home with my dog has been brilliant for my mental health- his joy is infectious and snuggling up together helps all my worries melt away and distracts me from my pain and discomfort, and for that I am so incredibly grateful. I won't pretend I'm not struggling at the moment, but those moments when I can forget about it all are therefore very precious.