Stress, migraines and other sh*t!

I have had a good few days over the last week with no headaches turning into migraines until this morning. Every night though I still wake up and have to change my pillows several time to make my neck and back of my head comfortable. More often than not I end up sleeping without any pillows. Something I haven’t done since I was 18-19 when I had neck issues then. The problem is with being that flat I then quite often wake up with back pain between my shoulder blades. If I prop myself up I end up with back pain in my lower back. If I could just find the one sleeping position that allowed me to sleep through the night without any pain waking me up that would be fantastic.

I can’t really complain though after the years of insomnia I suffered from around 2008 until 2016 when I was given Melatonin. Back in the bad old days I would only sleep between 2 -4 hours a night for two nights then on the 3rd night get no sleep at all. On the 4th night I would sleep 12 hours and then feel absolutely terrible, almost like I was drunk without the fun part. I did absolutely everything I could to get to sleep, lavender sprays, lavender sachets in my pillows, not using the TV or phone in my room, all without any success. This cycle of so little sleep had a very bad effect on my mental health and my pain levels. Everything felt heightened, my pain could be off the scale frequently and my emotions were all over the place.

This 4 day sleep cycle would just repeat over and over. I would occasionally get six hours sleep which would be a treat. The most frustrating times were when I would drop off to sleep and then two hours later wake up and that would be it for the night. I existed on cigarettes and mugs of tea. Usually one of the dogs would keep me company and they would swap over so that they all did a few hours each. Even now if I get up in the night I am accompanied by Dembe. He will either sleep right beside me, like he is doing now as I write this blog post or he will sleep on the sofa opposite to the one I am on, so he can watch my every move.

Dembe the Labrador is curled up on the sofa, the MG Kids leg is in frame along with her Chromebook, which is open on her lap.

I cleared this morning’ migraine quite quickly with a dose of Sumatriptan. However due to the stormy weather ( we have a weather alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms until this evening ) the top of my head feel’s like it is in a vice and being squeezed so hard my eyes feel like they are going to pop from the sockets. For as long as I can remember I have had headaches when the weather is stormy. I feel a bit cheated though as friends over an hour away have had massive thunder storms. Mr Myasthenia Kid’s mum rang us to check we were ok as where she lives they have had torrential rain and copious amounts of lightening. We have had a few showers and currently the sun is shining. It is very humid so I haven’t bothered sorting out my hair. It will stay straight for 30 seconds and then frizz. There is no point wasting any energy on it.

This will sound completely bonkers but I am quite a private person, despite the blog and talking about all manner of things. There are things I keep private because they involve other people or because I just don’t want the sympathy vote. Sometimes I am still processing stuff in my head and just don’t have the energy to deal with the questions that writing about an issue will cause. Things are really stressful here at the moment, we never seem to get a minute to catch our breath. But we keep going like everyone else does because the world doesn’t stop just because you are having a shit time.

There are several issues going on but the one that is worrying me most at the moment is Dembe ( and this was probably the source of the migraine this morning). On and off for a few months poor Dems has had an intermittent limp. Not an obvious one, one that unless you knew what you were looking for you wouldn’t know it was happening. We had him at the vet’s last month to be checked out and the vet couldn’t observe it in him, isn’t that always the way. He was put on some medication a it was hoped that perhaps it was a soft tissue injury that needed some rest and some anti inflammatory medication would help. Within a few days he was doing so much better and no more limping. As a precaution we cut his walks with the dog walkers right down to the bare minimum, ensured he didn’t do anything too physical. Sadly on last Thursday the limp came back, I still had pain medication so I gave that to him. The limp settled and then on Monday was back again.

I rang the vets on Monday evening and got Dembe booked in for an appointment the following day. Mr Myasthenia Kid took him to the appointment as they only allow one of you into the building at the moment due to Covid. This time the vet could see the limp and she gave Dembe a full check over. Since this limp started there has been no swelling, no heat coming off any of the joints in his leg and for the majority of the time his limp is very subtle. You actually have to watch his head as he is walking towards you, every few paces his head bobs down, that’s how subtle it is. It is so intermittent that we and his dog walkers have been unable to catch it on video. So the next step is x-rays of both his front legs. The vet has checked his back legs and his hips are sound. Hip Dysplasia is a massive issue within the Labrador breed and we ensured both his mum and dad had low hip and elbow scores. We also stuck to the rules about not allowing stairs until he was old enough and also we stuck to the exercise rule of 5 minutes exercise per month old. However sadly Labrador’s are also prone to elbow Dysplasia and no matter all the precautions you take with your pups sometimes shit happens and this could be one of those times. I am not too concerned as he is insured, so they will pick up the tab. It is the fact that he maybe in pain, that he has to go to the vets and stay there when he has only ever been left for 30 minutes with someone else in his life since he was 8 weeks old ( other than his dog walks).

Those of you who have followed my blogs will know about our first dog Travis who passed away shortly before his 3rd birthday. As a teenager we also lost a family dog when she went into be spayed as she was allergic to the anaesthetic a situation that was just tragic. For some reason with Dembe I have always wrapped him in cotton wool and my fear about him having to be sedated for the x-rays really has me on edge. Plus the fact that he is coming up for his third birthday has me freaked out. I know he isn’t sick like Travis was but I am just paranoid about it. If you want to read more about the dogs we have had please use these links https://themyastheniakid.com/2014/10/30/the-dogs-in-my-life-part-one/ and https://themyastheniakid.com/2015/08/06/the-dogs-in-my-life-part-two/ . I need to write part three to cover Willow, Frankie and Mollies passing within 55 weeks of each other but even though it is several years on it is still just too raw.

I was much more chilled with the other dogs, than I am with Dembe. I have gone back to being like a brand new dog owner and going to the vet about everything! I did feel when we brought Dembe home I had completely lost my confidence and I was always terrified I was going to hurt him ( accidentally obviously).

So until the X-rays come back from the orthopedic specialist we will be none the wiser as to whether he has Elbow Dysplasia or a soft tissue injury or anything in between. If it is Elbow Dysplasia depending on how bad the joint is the treatment could be conservative, treating it when it flares up, reducing his weight a little etc or it could mean an elbow replacement. The thought of which terrifies me as the recovery period is 12 weeks of crate rest which he will go bonkers, quickly followed by myself and probably Jay. So for the moment all professional dog walks have been cancelled. He is allowed 25 minutes off the lead a day and then small lead walks as he point blank refuses to go to the toilet in the garden. He has had his pain medication increased and hopefully that is helping him. The vet constantly reassured my husband that she felt whatever the issue was it has been caught early so the damage shouldn’t be too great.

Dembe is fine in himself, loving, affectionate, eating and drinking fine. He keeps wanting to zoomies in the house so I am having to think up games we can play that doesn’t involve too much food and too much movement! He is pretty chilled most of the time and is quite happy to snooze. I just thank our lucky stars that he is no longer a puppy as he would be manic with the need to burn off energy.

So the migraine this morning was not unexpected as that seems to be my default setting when stressed and at least they have reduced in number since my whinge post.

The Best Dog

One of my favourite sayings about dogs is,

Everyone thinks they have the best dog.

And none of them are wrong.

W.R Purche 

Dembe since coming home with us on 11th January 2019 has proven time and time again that he is not just the best dog but an exceptional dog. Highly intelligent and intuitive especially when it comes to matters of my health. It started when he was very tiny. He would some how know that I had a migraine and would lie quietly beside me with his face pressing against the side of my face that was hurting due to the migraine. He wouldn’t leave my side unless dragged away. I just put it down to him being impossibly cute but there are so many instances over the last 12 months that have made me realise that his behaviour isn’t just a fluke but something very real.

Around 3 weeks after we brought Dembe home I came down with a chest and sinus infection. I was floored by it, it was probably the closest I have come to feeling like I had the flu without having it in a few years. Dembe would have been around 10-11 weeks old and full of beans. Due to the fact we were still toilet training him I couldn’t go to bed, I simply didn’t have the energy to be going up and down the stairs every 30 minutes ( I couldn’t have done that on a normal day let alone this). So I would lie on the sofa counting down the hours until Jay would be back home so that I could crawl into bed.

A pup of this age is normally a live wire, yes they sleep quite a bit but when they are awake they are into everything. Normally Dembe would have been, however he seemed to know that I was poorly. Instead of running around playing with his toys, for 4 days straight he would lie on my feet or chest up on the sofa and sleep, as I slept. At the time I thought it was odd that such a young pup would alter his behaviour so radically. As soon as I started to be on the mend the crazy pup came back and yes sometimes it was a little too much for me as I was still feeling pretty rough but to contain all that energy for 4 days whilst I waited for the antibiotics to kick in was pretty weird.

 At the time I just put it down to a fluke, that I was projecting and seeing what I wanted to see after losing my beloved nurse Frankie. 

There have been a couple more instances over the year, where it was clear that Dembe was picking up on health stuff to deal with me. We have had a couple of dog training sessions where Dembe has wanted to just get back to me where normally he will quite happily ignore me. One night I was sat quietly on the sidelines when I suddenly lost the vision in my right eye, I knew I had a migraine brewing but as there was only 30 minutes left in the lesson I didn’t see the point in making a fuss. In the end I did have to speak up though as Jay and the trainer couldn’t understand why Dembe wasn’t focusing on the lesson like he normally would and all he kept doing was looking back at me or attempting to get back to me.

We had the same thing happen a few weeks ago during an agility training session. Out of nowhere earlier that morning I had been hit by vertigo. I had taken my medicatiom to attempt to stop it in its tracks but my head was still spinning. I was having to be careful how quickly I turned my head. Dembe again was really unsettled, every time he was off the leash he was back at my side. One of the fellow spectators commented on it and I just said “It is because he knows I am not feeling well, he gets very protective of me if he senses something isn’t right.” I then went onto explain something that had happened just a week or so earlier.

To the uniformed observer this way look like a cute photo of me and Dembe having a cuddle. Although it was cute and comforting it couldn’t have been any further from the truth. I had been feeling not quite right all day. Jay had just gone back to work after coming home for lunch when I had the strongest feeling that I was going to pass out ( even though I was sat down, you see I can pass out in any position it is my super power). Initially I tried to fight it by clenching my buttocks and calf muscles in the hope that this would get the blood circulating. However when I started yawning ( this is a key indicator that my blood pressure is dropping rapidly) I knew I was going to have to get myself to the floor as quickly as possible and then get my legs raised. Dembe was asleep beside me on the sofa.

I quickly got myself down on the floor and got my feet up on the coffee table. I expected Dembe to sleep through this. Instead he got up and then curled up beside my head resting his face against my face. Normally when I lie on the floor this signifies play time. I was fully expecting to be licked, trampled on and toys dropped on me as he would think this would be part of the game. However he didn’t move he just snuggled beside me, I took the photos after I had been down on the floor for ten minutes as I couldn’t believe that he was doing this. I tried to get up but he wouldn’t let me, he had me pinned to the floor for a good 30 minutes. If his face wasn’t against my face he was lying on my arm making it almost impossible for me to move.

What I find incredible is this is not something I have ever taught him to do, this is something he has done on his own. He was also just 14 months old when he did this, he is now 15 months old.

I still find it hard to believe that he is so in tune with me that for whatever reason he knew that I was very unwell at that time and needed him to look after me. Feeling that ill, whilst alone is scary. Thankfully I had my mobile phone on me as the top I was wearing has  what I call a kangaroo pouch pocket. I always try to wear clothes with pockets so that I always have my phone. I managed to get in touch with Mr Myasthenia Kid and explain what had happened I got really tearful when I explained what a wonder Dembe had been. He asked if I wanted him to come home but I said until I knew if I could sit up or not unaided there wasn’t any point. Around 30 minutes after I first hit the deck I was able to sit up, resting my back against the dresser. Another ten minutes later and I made my way up to bed and spent a few hours lying down . Again Dembe behaved beautifully, he just came up to bed with me and slept beside me.

Which if you had ever met Dembe you would know what a normal active, annoying pup he can be. Who regularly crawls onto my lap and knocks the chromebook from my hands because it has been at least 15 seconds since I gave him a cuddle. Who throws his crocodile toy, well any toy of his choosing that day around the lounge and to hell with the consequences. So to adapt his behaviour on his own accord is really quite amazing to me.

This is what I am battling against at the moment trying to write the blog post

 He is not a quiet pup, he isn’t massively high energy but if he wants your attention he has ways and means of ensuring he gets it. Who could resist that face peering around the computer screen.

I thank my lucky stars everyday that we were lucky enough to have Dembe choose us to be his human parents.

I do feel like I need to point out that just because of Dembe’s unique ability doesn’t mean I love our previous dogs Travis, Mollie, Willow and Frankie any differently. Life will always be marked in sections before the Weims, after the Weims. Life goes on but it goes on around a huge Weimaraner shaped hole. And it always will. Dembe is not a replacement but our boy and the beginning of a new chapter. He is currently our best dog, same as Frankie, Travis, Mollie and Willow were when they were with us.