Lost and found…

I took a break from blogging after losing my beloved Georgia Grace. I have to laugh because I do work hard on my blog, but anytime I write about my pets, I get the most views. I agree….my pets are pretty special. Losing Georgia was leading me down a path to depression. The worst part of the whole situation was being isolated due to the virus. The lack of social connection ….the inability to even get a hug (I tried to get the cat to do it, but he is too squirmy)….just added to my misery. I felt myself sliding into depression. I was eating poorly. Crying non-stop. Sleeping way too much during the day because I could not sleep at night. I continue to speak to a therapist and I admit, it helps me a lot. I knew I needed to do something to snap myself out of my funk.

The main thing I was missing was my purpose. Georgia’s illnesses and schedule were so all encompassing that she ruled my life. I share a porch with my neighbor and I went out to talk to her one day and I said, “I feel like I have no reason to go outside.” Stores are closed, I’m working from home, and I didn’t even have my dog to take for her daily walk. I felt like a stranger in my own home. I was lost and realized I needed to find a new normal. Now, losing Georgia would have been difficult at anytime, but being stuck inside my house 90% of the day was amplifying the issue. So I began to plan.

I decided that I would go for walks. I started out walking in my neighborhood, but people would stop me and ask where Georgia was and I would cry. I was constantly stopping and starting and I wasn’t clearing my head. So I changed up my routine and I now walk in a cemetery by my house. It’s actually a historic cemetery and has been featured in many Philadelphia movies over the years. It’s beautiful, quiet, and (at first) it was empty. I started off my new journey with doing 1K (0.6 of a mile) on my first day. I noticed distance markers on my second day and followed the path for 2K (1.24 miles). I started to notice that my body ached in weird places, but it was muscular discomfort, not joint discomfort. Let me say that again, it was muscle discomfort from exertion, not joint pain. I didn’t even have swelling. I felt like a stranger in my own body. Each day, I continued to push. Suddenly, I was walking 3K or more 5 days a week. Only days I took off were when it rained. I’ve noticed that my feet/ankles swell a bit and my body seems to fatigue much quicker than normal the day before a rainstorm. Each step is a bit more difficult on these days. Normal days not pain free, but that added fatigue makes it way worse. It does hurt. At night, I need to stretch my feet on my wakers to keep them from tightening up. I need to stretch my hamstrings and my calves a ton or I can’t walk upstairs to go to bed….but I am doing it. My goal is to do 5 miles, 5 days a week. At this point, I am maxing at at about between 3.5 to 4 miles. I’m learning I have to listen to my body and be realistic. I’m still aiming for 5 miles, but I am counting each day as a victory. My heart is still broken, but my joints are hanging in there.

Another thing that I am doing for my mental health….is avoiding all the social media experts who know all about immunology, etymology, virology, and microbiology. I have friends who don’t quite understand why I don’t go out and shop for my food, why I chose to wear a mask, and why I am mailing in my vote this year instead of standing in a crowded line. I haven’t missed a local, state, or presidential election in 32 years, and I don’t plan to do so now because of the pandemic. I also won’t put myself at risk willingly. My friends don’t understand why I fear crowds. They don’t understand that when I made my only trip to the supermarket, it was at 6:30 am and as soon as I walked in my house, I removed my clothing and showered. It’s okay. They don’t walk in my shoes. They don’t get sicks for weeks on end and run out of sick time. They don’t have to constantly load up on steroids so they can breathe because a cold turns into a sinus infection, and an ear infections, and pharyngitis that leads to bronchitis or pneumonia year after year. I don’t often complain to friends about my immune issues, so many don’t realize how seriously I take my health. None of them read my blog either, so they truly have no clue. My immune system is weak from my autoimmune disease and because I choose to use a biologic drug that lowers my immune systems ability to fight off infection. It’s my choice, but as I mentioned above, I’m now able to walk 3.5-4 miles 5 days a week. I could not have done that a year ago. Hell, I haven’t been able to do this for over 10 years. I’m finally taking a drug that is working. It’s a miracle…..that only took me 18 years to find.

Finally, although my heart is completely shattered, I have found that life is truly better with a dog. My amazing friends have been beyond supportive and I was guided to a puppy in Kentucky through a combination of friends and what I consider Devine intervention. Baby girl Conway, a blenhiem Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was born on 5/2/2020 weighing 8.5 oz. She will come to live with me around the beginning of July. This gives me something to look forward to while my heart heals, and while I puppy proof my house! Honestly, I need a forklift to accomplish this, so wish me luck. This puppy will never be a replacement for my Georgia Grace, but I am hoping it will be a new love story and help me complete my little furry family. The journey to finding happiness again requires effort and I am giving it all I’ve got.

It’s been exactly one month since losing my Georgie girl. She will forever be in my heart. Her story will continue as I begin a fund to help people who have dogs living with chronic illness with skyrocketing bills. We were helped often and now it’s time to pay it forward. Georgia Grace’s Lemonade Fund will debut in the near future.

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

3 thoughts on “Lost and found…

  1. Sending love and virtual hugs to you. Georgia was really special I know, from reading all your posts about her every week. I hope your new puppy arrives very soon, and warms your heart again, in a different but equally wonderful way.

    Liked by 1 person

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