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Wednesday
Apr102013

Cat-a-tonic!

From the magic and movement with Richy Jackson and The Haus dancers to working out and sweating with Richard Simmons, I have committed to reaching beyond my comfort zone this month.  Reaching beyond the preconceived limits of what I thought is possible.  Before I reach beyond, let me share where I find comfort and relief from the stress and tension of living with lupus.  My comfort zone tends to be located wherever my cat is.  (At the time, my fur baby is cuddled in a ball by my feet.)  I don't think of or see myself as a "cat lady", in fact I grew up as a "dog person" but now when I think of my comfort zone and favorite method of relaxing there is no place I'd rather be than cozying up to and with my tuxedo cat, Rex.

Today's writing prompt for the WEGO Health "Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge" was to share as a parent what do I hope I'm doing right.  Well, I am not a parent.  Thanks to lupus, I am unable to conceive my own children.  Again, thanks to lupus when my husband and I went to explore adoption, we learned that birth moms usually want the adoptive moms to be healthy and wealthy, the ones we met didn't want to give their babies to someone who lives with a chronic illness.  Thankfully, the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter isn't so stringent in screening prospective "rescue" families.  I am a "cat mom" and I hope that I'm doing it right.  Aside from the obvious needs of fresh food and water, I hope that Rex knows how much I love him.

When I am suffering and in pain, Rex will cuddle beside me.  When I get up and dance to Lady Gaga's powerful music, Rex will watch me dance.  During this month of facing challenges head on, Rex offers his support with his soft purrs.  I am lucky to have Rex in my life.  He offers his unique form of "cat therapy" by looking up at you with his big eyes and vocalizations.  When I need some TLC, my Tender Loving Cat is there.  Rex is an amazing "Cat-a-tonic" and he soothes me and ease the pain and tension of being someone who lives with lupus.

I know that circumstances prevent some people from having pets, but if you can.  I would suggest that you adopt/rescue a pet from your local animal shelter.  Rex is one of the best assets I have in fighting off the helpless, hopeless feeling that can envelope me as a 45 year old woman who will never have anyone call out "Mommy" - I swear sometimes the sound of Rex's meow sounds like he is calling out out "Mom" I know how that must seem... so may be I am a "cat lady" after all.

Time for a treat.

Sunday
Nov112012

Purr-fection...

Pet love is one of my favorite things that is not health-related but very likely improves my life.  Today is Day 11 of WEGO Health's National Health Blog Post Month.  One of my favorite things is not a thing at all but he is my cat, Rex Ryan.  Rex is the best.  He is a tuxedo cat and he has changed my life.  He offered me instant support and gave me something to love when I thought I'd never experience pet love again.  Rex Ryan is a living breathing passion collision, I love the New York Jets and support the Alliance for Lupus Research.  Both of those teams are led by Woody Johnson... but the coach of the New York Jets is Rex Ryan.  We named our cat after him.

I used to be a "dog person" but that changed when my hubby Steve and I got a cat from Craigslist.  We were "under construction", and my brother Jeff said a cat would keep rodents away.  We got a kitten and named him Bernie Williams for the Yankees center fielder.  Hubby is a Mets fan and I didn't like baseball, but I learned to love the sport and the Yankees.  So when it came time to name our cat, Bernie was the perfect choice.  I didn't know how to raise a cat and Steve had never had a pet before, so we treated him like a dog.  Bernie Williams was a real life "catdog" and, more than baseball and the Yankees, Bernie Williams found a place in our hearts.

Bernie Williams was special.  He had personality and soul-- he was supervisor of our construction site and the crew all loved him.  Well, okay; looking back, the HVAC guy had an issue when Bernie popped up into the vent to check out his work.  Though he was a cat, Bernie was our surrogate child.  As a woman who is unable to have children, Bernie consoled me through a lot of hardship.  From the stress of remodeling our house to my husband losing his job, Bernie was there to love us no matter what.   Then one day in July of last year, I found Bernie panting on the floor -- rushing him to the vet and then the animal hospital;  the ensuing three days were an emotional turmoil that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  It was determined that he had an enlarged heart.  We didn't need a doctor to tell us that.  His heart was larger than his body could handle.  We had no choice.  After we held Bernie one last time, the doctor gave him a shot and Bernie died in my arms.

I was distraught and had no plans to adopt another cat so soon after the death of Bernie.  I was in no shape to raise a kitty again.  Then Steve's computer's hard drive crashed and we had to replace it.  The closest Best Buy to us didn't have the model my hubby wanted,  so we went to the Best Buy near the West LA Animal Shelter and found the "best buy" of our lives.  Knowing that I wasn't ready to adopt another one, we went jus to see the kitties and get the feel of fur on our skins.  That is when in the corner of the Cat Room I saw him snuggled up in a corner.  The other cats were agressively vying for our attention but the one that got our affection was the snuggly one whose collar read  "Lightning" because of his crooked "bolt like" tail... and a string of numbers that ended in 451.  That is when I knew that I was holding our next cat.  For those of you who aren't Yankees fans, the number on Bernie Williams' uniform was 51--so when I saw the 451, I read it as "for Bernie Williams" and in a way this cat was from Bernie Williams, his way of telling us it was time to move on and get a new fur baby.

Rex is a unique cat.  He is sweet, kind and vocalizes his love, wants and desires.  From his first days in our home and my arms, to today where he proudly struts the neighborhood and pounces when it time for his "treats" -Rex is a member of the family.  I like to think he is Grandma's favorite Great-Grandchild, with apologies to my brother's daughters.

I can't begin to describe how pet love and the love of two very special cats has improved my life, but I suppose with this post I have tried...

Tuesday
Apr242012

My Mascot ~ Sidecat!

This post is all about Rex Ryan.  Rex Ryan is our resuce cat; my husband and I named him in honor of New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan.  We love rooting for the Jets and supporting Woody Johnson's "other team",  the Alliance for Lupus Research.

You may know that my alter-ego is "LA Lupus Lady", a caped crusader who shares that "Lupus Awareness is Fun"!  She is the "made-up superhero" I created who dresses in purple and has a mascot--well ,not a mascot,  but a "sidecat".  (Why a sidecat?  Because a sidekick hurts!  Her Lupus causes her to bruise easily...)  Sometimes dressing in purple boots and tights while wearing a cape to shed light on Lupus is not enough!  That's when the cool cat plays his part assisting "LA Lupus Lady" in her quest to support the Alliance for Lupus Research.  Whether he purrs his approval as "LA Lupus Lady" when she dons her costume en route to the LA "Walk with Us to Cure Lupus" event , or keeps vigil by my bed when I rest my achy joints,  Rex Ryan is a reliable, dedicated and trusty companion.

Rex Ryan roams the streets outside and surveys the inside of the house with diligence and pride.  He knows his main job is to defend the house against any rodents and bugs.  Rex also intuitively knows when I am not feeling well; he then becomes my caregiver and cuddly cat.  Rex Ryan takes after his namesake in that he is tough, strong and protective of his team.  My mascot / sidecat is real.  He truly saves me from myself, especially when the Lupus pain breaks through and I am at my worst.  Petting Rex calms me.  Combing and brushing Rex provides me joy, knowing I am helping him look and feel his best.  When I can not do for me, somehow I find a way to do for him.  The love I feel for Rex is much more than that of a fur baby and his mom.  I truly feel even though we "rescued" him from the West LA Animal Shelter that he has rescued me/us.  

Rex Ryan is a Tuxedo cat!

Don't buy a pet, rescue one...