My Dogs Add Value to Life With MG and Anxiety

Retha De Wet avatar

by Retha De Wet |

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Around three years ago, I welcomed home an Italian greyhound puppy named Pablo. He changed my life for the better. Now, my boyfriend, Tom, and I have adopted another 1-year-old Italian greyhound.

Dogs, MG, and anxiety | Myasthenia Gravis News | Blitz lies on the bed and shows off his teeth in a goofy grin.

Blitz with a goofy grin. (Photo by Retha de Wet)

His name is Blitz, which means “bolt” in my home language of Afrikaans. Get it? It’s because he’s fast. (He was actually named by a 4-year-old.) Blitz’s personality is as silly as his name. He provides us with endless hours of comic relief, as is evident in the photo above.

In a previous column, I wrote about how Pablo was going to help me to exercise more. This time around, however, I am focusing on the emotional benefits I experience as a dog owner.

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I recently changed jobs, meaning my whole routine has changed. As a person with both myasthenia gravis (MG) and generalized anxiety disorder, it is a terrifying experience.

Changes in my routine affect some of the ways I have adapted to the limitations imposed by MG. For example, the time I get up in the morning determines when I take my first Mestinon (pyridostigmine) tablet, which determines when I should eat, which determines how functional I am. This can complicate my whole schedule. I work as a speech therapist; I can’t eat lunch while I’m working.

Taking Mestinon on an empty stomach can lead to some uncomfortable digestive issues. I have used one too many public toilets for my liking.

I have been feeling very anxious and unsettled at work due to the changes in my routine. But as soon as I get home and am greeted by my dogs’ happy faces, I calm down. I forget about all the newfound uncertainty. Pablo and Blitz have been so good at helping me leave my work stress at work. Our home has become a place of relaxation and calmness. They are the perfect distraction.

Dogs, MG, and anxiety | Myasthenia Gravis News | Pablo and Blitz stand in Retha's garden.

Pablo and Blitz pose in Retha’s garden. (Photo by Retha de Wet)

They also force me to actually sit outside and enjoy our lovely garden — even if it’s only to make sure that they aren’t destroying my plants. As someone who spends most of her free time in bed or on the couch, the fresh air is a nice change of scenery.

Blitz has proven to be a better cuddler than both Tom and Pablo. He is still adjusting and is a little anxious, just like his mama. He has been very supportive on my symptom-heavy days, as have Tom and Pablo.

American opera singer Robert Breault once said, “The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.” This is one of my favorite quotes.

Dogs, MG, and anxiety | Myasthenia Gravis News | Retha lies on the couch, with both dogs lying near her.

(Courtesy of Retha de Wet)

Expanding our little family has been a rewarding experience. I am trying to learn from Blitz and embrace the lighter side of life, even when I feel anxious. I am so thankful for my dogs. What are you thankful for?

Life is beautiful. Never stop fighting.

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Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Comments

Roger Dale Carpenter avatar

Roger Dale Carpenter

It helps to know that we are not alone in this. I also have several other medical problems. Life can get pretty lonely and scary. I understand your anxiety.

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Norm Nisbet avatar

Norm Nisbet

I am thankful for our seven cats. We took in a stray, who had five babies. Then we took in another stray -- male this time.

My wife and I are kind of amazed by the richness they have added. They are shockingly insightful sometimes. And always a pleasure. Sometimes when we think we are comforting them, it's really vice versa.

My MG -- diagnosed in 2019 -- is well under control with predisone, azathioprine, and pyridostigmine. I'm going to try reducing the dosages and still remain symptom-free.

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