And so begins a new chapter in my own journey with chronic disease

October 28th, 2016

Today will be my last day not being on a drug that I will take for the rest of my life. As of tomorrow I will come to rely on a drug so I can move the left side of my body normally again. But with this comes hope that I’ll be able to use my body in the way that I did before my nervous system decided to stop working a year and a half ago. I look forward to dancing normally, doing yoga, typing with my fingers (Yes I’m dictating this with my voice), and I look forward to walking without people asking me why I’m so stiff. Already with an herbal called Mucuna I’m getting a hint to what it’ll be like. With taking a small amount of this herb, I have energy again and feel like myself. My skin is no longer too tight on my body, I no longer feel so twitchy and out of sorts and I’m not as painful because of the rigidity in my muscles.

Three days ago I was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. It didn’t come as a total surprise, I’ve been having symptoms for almost two years, although I’ve been hoping for a long time that I have a disease called dystonia, which isn’t so great anyway. You would think with this diagnosis but I would feel sad and fearful. But really I don’t, I have found that I’ve smiled more in the last few days than I have in awhile. This came as a surprise to me also, I had no idea I would respond to this outcome like this. In many ways it is freeing to know what I have, it’s an illness I share with many many people in this world. There are treatments for it and there’s promise that there will be better treatments and even a cure for it within my lifetime.

And I’m finding that I don’t want to fight this but I am convinced that it can be cured or kept in check by embracing it. I think the key is actually accepting it but not letting it take over my life.

In my cancer book I wrote “And in embracing life fully, I found that these dogs and cats didn’t progress into death. Once we have embraced death fully there is nothing left but to live. And live they did!” While I do not have a death diagnosis I feel the same. I plan on living fully! I look at the animals I treat that have cancer who live a long time and in many cases they aren’t in remission but their body has learned how to live with the cancer within it and it is not the cancer that kills them or even makes him sick. Many of them died of normal old age changes and live better lives than if they had not been diagnosed with cancer. So I think the key is finding peace within my body, within the fact that I will have to take drugs probably for the rest of my life. I think the key is opening my eyes to each day and not regretting anything that I don’t do. I think how to live with this disease, is to find happiness in every step of the way and to appreciate everything in every moment. To not say I’ll do that in 10 years, to let go of all resentments, to take ownership of living my own life in the best way possible. To find joy and move towards joy. When I am eighty someday, and no Parkinson’s does not kill you, I want to look back and not have any regrets of the things I didn’t do, especially the things I didn’t do while I could still do them. This is really no different for any of us whether we have a chronic disease or not.

Everyday I plan on telling my dopamine producing cells in my brain how much I love them and care about them. I plan on getting myself in the best physical shape possible and everyday making a conscious decision to move towards joy. I get to dance again!

I have not been me for a long time, if it takes a drug or two to make me me again, that’s okay. I look forward to what the future holds and I’m ready to meet it with open arms.

One last thing, please don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t and you being sorry for me doesn’t help me. This is part of my journey and I plan on learning and growing, loving and living!

Blessings!

Help in preventing cataracts and retinal degeneration (including PRA)

August 8th, 2016

I’ve recently been listening to a set of lectures from Dr. Carmen Colitz, who is a veterinary ophthalmologist. I’m impressed with the product she developed, Ocu-glo, which has the ability to prevent or slow down both cataract formation and retinal atrophy.

She highly recommends it for all dogs with PRA and also diabetic dogs (who over 50% go blind). I would also use it in the older dogs who start to get the lens clouding. It is a blend of antioxidants and very safe in any dog. Here’s an Amazon link Ocu-glo and for small dogs Ocu-glo under 10lbs.

Melatonin in dogs – beware of xylitol!

July 1st, 2016

One of my clients brought to my attention recently that most Melatonin contains xylitol which can be highly toxic to dogs. I have not had any toxicity in dogs who have been on the brands with xylitol so I think the amount is low enough to not cause major issues. However I highly recommend not using the brands that contain xylitol.

The one brand that seems to be safe is Natural Factors Melatonin. Melatonin is commonly used in dogs for sleep disturbance issues and seasonal alopecia. Thanks Relaena!

Is the sky falling down? Fireworks and your animal friend.

June 23rd, 2016

Soon we will celebrate July 4th. Unfortunately for many of our animal friends this can also be a stressful time because of the loud fireworks that many people set off. For many animals, fireworks can seem like the world is ending and every year animals injury themselves by trying to escape out of houses or by running away and getting lost or hit by cars.

If you have an animal who is afraid of fireworks or a new animal in your household this is a good time to be home with them if at all possible. Here are some things you can do to avoid stress and injury to your furry companion. Not everything works for every animal and many of these suggestions can be used in combination. Some animals get such severe anxiety that they need to be sedated with medication, so if your animal falls under that category this is the time to call your veterinarian. Most of the suggested products below can be purchased at natural pet supply stores or online by clicking on the links.

  1. Put on loud music or turn up the television to cancel out the noise. If your animal is prone to stress I would suggest classical or other calming music.
  2. Use pheromone sprays such as Feliway for cats and D.A.P. aka Dog Appeasing Pheromone for dogs to calm them down. The comfort zone products are the same as the vet products that are called just Feliway and DAP but are cheaper and can be bought at pet supply stores.
  3. Spray a natural lavender product around the house. Lavender can be very calming but make sure you use a natural product and not one full of chemicals. Do not spray directly on your animal.
  4. Bach flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy can be very helpful for stressed animals. These are homeopathic in nature and very safe for even the oldest of animals. Put a few drops in their mouth or on the ear and a few drops in all the drinking bowls in the house.
  5. My Kingdom of Basil Calm and Peaceful formula is great for taking the edge off anxiety in dogs. Animals’ Apawthecary’s Tranquility Blend works well for anxiety in both cats and dogs. However check with your veterinarian if your animal is on any medications or has any major health issues before using these.
  6. Wearing a T-shirt, Thundershirt , or Anxiety Wrap can help your dog if they have problems with anxiety from fireworks. It sounds weird I know, but it actually does work.

    It is based around the ideas from Tellington TTouch of using an ace bandage. Wearing the shirt enhances your dog’s sense of their own body and makes them feel more confident in their movements and behavior. You can use a snug fitting human T-shirt, a Thundershirt , or an anxiety wrap.

  7. If you are home, talk to your animal calmly and rub them gently. If they become agitated try to stay calm. Your stress will only make them more stressed.
  8. Make sure all windows and doors are closed. Do not leave your animal outside.

Have a wonderful new year and thank you for visiting!

Spring Detox Formula for Dogs

March 2nd, 2016

IMG_0263It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to go into my pharmacy and play! I love working with all the herbs and using them to help my animal friends. Spring is in the air and along with it the explosion of pollens and allergens. Spring is also a good time to clean out any toxins in the blood, because as the weather warms our circulation picks up.

So today I got to make a wonderful and safe little western formula for our animal friends. Although I’m also sitting here while sipping the tea I just made from the formula. I love the supportive and bitter aftertones of the flavors!

So what herbs volunteered for this spring detox formula?

  • Nettles Yes they can string you but they are also great for allergies and are a good tonic for the blood
  • Dandelion root and leaf – My favorite weed is a great tonic and liver cleanser
  • Burdock root – Roots are great tonics. This one helps to support the blood, clears the skin, detoxes the liver and clears waste materials out of our bodies
  • Milk Thistle – A very strong liver protectant.
  • Goji Berry – I love goji berries! Yummy and very good for the blood.
  • Oregon Grape Root Oregon grape is a great liver tonic and is also antibacterial. A great herb for spring detox!
  • Eyebright I bet you can guess what eyebright does! However I also find it has a quality of helping us to see the world clearly and be present in every moment. Very appropriate for the new beginnings of
    spring if you ask me!

As with all the formulas I make, this one is available in my etsy shop Kingdom of Basil

How to help our elderly animal companions with the seasonal change to spring

February 24th, 2016

Did you know that spring is one of the hardest seasons for older dogs and cats?

Often times we think of fall with the dark coming and winter with it’s cold short days as the most difficult but coming out of the dark into spring is also a large time of transition and when I unfortunately loss many of the older animals I work with.

I think part of it is that spring is a time of rebirth. Many new animals come into the world, flowers spring out of the earth and the winds bring change into our lives. The other side of this is that many animals who are near the end of their lives choose the transition of spring to do it in. Whenever there are new beginning their are also endings.

From a practical standpoint I think the ups and downs of weather in the spring as particularly hard on our older friends. It is warm one day, freezing the next, dry than wet and the wind can come in and weaken those who are already vulnerable.

From a Chinese medicine standpoint, our bodies change with the seasons. In the winter we hold more blood in our core, preserving our warmth in our organs. In the summer we send more blood out to the extremities which can cause the inner body to be more deficient. In spring we began that process of pumping more blood out. In yin and yang terms we externalize our yang and if we don’t have enough yin to hold to the yang in our bodies it can cause behavior changes such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, organ failures or if yang is not held at all death (the ultimate separation of yin and yang).

So what can we do to help?

  • Consider putting a coat on your older dog when you take them outside, especially one that covers the neck area. The Chinese say that external pathogens can easily get into a body which is already weak and that they come in through the neck.
  • Consider adding some of the tonic foods to your animal’s diet. Bone marrow or a broth made with marrow bones is awesome. Make sure your animal is getting enough protein i.e. meat. Shiitake mushrooms or a mushroom supplement such as MUSH can be helpful. Tender spring bitter greens such as spinach or dandelions help to keep blood moving well.
  • In the older ones consider using infrared light therapy. See Infrared Light Therapy for dogs and cats.
  • If you are in an area where acupuncture is an option it can be helpful with some of the issues of transition.
  • In older dogs the formula Xiao Chai Hu Tang can be helpful to balance yin and yang and to help with times of transition. Do not use this formula if you have a dog in kidney failure without the direction of a veterinarian.
  • Help your older cat and dog to get some exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to help with brain function and to help keep blood moving well.
  • Love them every moment. All of us will pass at some point in time. Unfortunately our dogs and cats live shorter lives than us. Sometimes no matter what we do they are ready to move on and all we can give them is our full love and acceptance.

Arthritis and our animal friends -holistic approaches

January 18th, 2016

It’s sad to see our animal companions no longer be able to do the things they once could do as they age and grow older. All older animals have some amount of arthritis, although some have many more problems with it.

Unfortunately, Western medicine has very few options for treating arthritis and uses mostly drugs, to treat the pain. This is starting to change with some veterinarians doing stem cell and plasma rich platelet injections. However these treatments can still be expensive. Ask your vet about if these treatments are right for your dog. Some animals are not able to tolerate these drugs and many times animals are on three different drugs and it still isn’t enough.

In some animals arthritis manifests as weakness caused by the inflammation pushes on the nerves. Many dogs walk around like their feet are asleep, tripping over things, stumbling and no longer having the strength to jump into the car or onto the bed. Unfortunately because they can no longer walk as far or do as much as they used to, their muscles start to atrophy or waste away, causing a vicious cycle. As the weakness increased, they do less, which causes more atrophy from disuse, leading to more weakness and more atrophy and less activity. In the end many of these animals can no longer get up on their own or even take a short walk.

In other animals arthritis will manifest as pain, which can also prevent movement and cause the weakness/atrophy cycle. Many of these animals will become moody and withdrawn and may even snap and bite at their people out of fear of pain. It is so hard to see our friends have so much pain that they no longer want our affection.

In most animals there is a combination of pain and weakness.

Usually dogs suffer more than cats because they carry more weight and are used to daily activity. Also people often don’t notice that their cats are painful because they spend so much time sitting and sleeping

So what do we do for our friends to help them live out their old years happy and pain free? Often the best approach involves both drugs for pain and holistic treatments to support the body.

  • Acupuncture Being an acupuncturist, I always recommend acupuncture first. Of course, this is also because I have seen how well it works in the animals I treat. I often find that if I can work with animals when they first have problems, they do so well, I only need to treat them every one to three months. Unfortunately most of the animals I see have had problems for a while and their people only learned about acupuncture when they had tried everything that western medicine had to offer. In these animals, acupuncture can still work and work well but usually treatments need to be closer together.

    It is so nice to see these animals happy and able to enjoy life again!

  • Hydrotherapy is a great option especially in dogs who have muscle atrophy. Unfortunately it cannot be done with cats, although Sheila Wells at Wellspings has told me they have worked with rabbits before. Hydrotherapy is done in a small swimming pool and involves massage and physical therapy in the water. I have seen excellent results with hydrotherapy especially combined with acupuncture. Hydrotherapy helps to rebuild muscles, increase range of motion and work out sore and sensitive areas of the body without the impact on the body of exercise on land. My favorite pool is Wellsprings in Seattle Washington. They have a great website with lots of information and photos that I love to refer people to. Click on the link to check it out!
  • herbs5

  • Herbs
    I have worked with Chinese herbs with many of these arthritic dogs and some cats. The combination of acupuncture and herbs usually helps with pain and movement and helps animals maintain between treatments. I rarely use Chinese herbs in cats because they are very sensitive to them and it is hard to medicate cats. I sell an senior dog herbal formula called Senior Dog Support, through my etsy shop, that helps with arthritis pain and improves blood circulation into the joints. Your holistic veterinarian may have something else they recommend.
  • Fish oil/ Omega oils
    The Omega 3 Fatty Acids in fish and cod liver oil actually helps decrease arthritic inflammation in dogs (not true for cats although it helps with other things). Adding a little fish oil to the diet can help many animals.My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals – Pet Cod Liver Oil . Nordic Naturals is one of the best brands for quality and they test for heavy metals and contaminants.
  • Glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin
    These supplements help to decrease inflammation and rebuild damaged cartilage. They are often sold in combination. The nice thing about these supplements is that they have few side effects and are very safe. Some animals have a wonderful response to them and some have almost no response. It usually takes a month to six weeks to see if your animal will have a positive response. Adequan, similar to glucosamine is also available in an injectable form and works better in some animals. It is also a lot easier to give to cats who are hard to medicate daily. After the initial series of injections it usually only needs to be given once a month. Adequan can only be purchased through your veterinarian. My favorite glucosamine product is Sea Mobility Beef Joint Rescue jerk treats, they work well and are very tasty. There are other good ones out there.
  • Infra-red light therapy – Infrared light helps ease the pain of arthritis in joints and increase blood circulation to the area. It is very cheap to do and can be done at home. See my article Infrared Light Therapy for kidney failure, incontinence and arthritis.
  • Chiropractics
    Many animals have subluxations of their spine especially as they age. A good chiropractor can often help with mobility and pain. I have found that chiropractic adjustments work best in animals with a very tight back and more pain then weakness. For my own cat, chiropractic adjustments have worked better than anything else we have tried and have made his life much better. Make sure you find a chiropractor who is used to working with animals and knows animal anatomy.
  • Massage/Acupressure
    Massage can help to loosen tight muscles and increase blood circulation. It also can help with pain.We know it works for us, why not for our animal friends. Once again make sure you find a massage practitioner who is certified to work with animals. I have two amazing massage therapists I work with in Seattle, Kim Rogers and Jen Streit. Kim also does humans!

    Acupressure works with the acupuncture points and helps decrease pain and relax muscles.

    There are many great books on acupressure and massage for animals. Here are a few
    The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure
    Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure
    The Healing Touch for Dogs: The Proven Massage Program for Dogs, Revised Edition
    The Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats, Revised Edition
    Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs

  • Reiki/Bowen/Polarity/Craniosacral and other energy therapies These therapies help stimulate the body to heal and can decrease pain and improve quality of life. Since there is little regulation of these therapies it is important to get a referral before seeing someone. This is especially true of Reiki since there are so many people who practice it. A good practitioner can make a huge difference in an animal’s quality of life.

It is better to do one thing and stick with it than to jump around between therapies. Often times animals will began with me doing acupuncture and herbs and then we will add in other therapies as needed. If I can’t help an animal with acupuncture I will refer them to another practitioner to try something else. Don’t make too many changes all at once in an old animal’s life. Go slowly instead.

How to prevent cancer in dogs and cats – repost

January 11th, 2016

I often get the question, “how do I prevent cancer in my dog or cat?”

This is always a hard question to answer. There are so many factors involved in the development of cancer that even doing everything we can to avoid it, animals can still get cancer.

In addition cancer forms when multiple control processes in the body fail. There are many things we still do not understand about both why cancer forms and how to treat it effectively. I am certain that in the next fifty years we will understand a lot more and with the new gene and stem cell therapies that are emerging we will look back on how we work with cancer now as barbaric and ineffective.

Cancer is a breakdown of the immune system and the processing and chemical/hormonal systems in the body that regulate cell growth. Every day cancer cells form in our body and our immune system immediately finds them and destroys them. In addition there are chemical and hormonal processes in our body which stop cells from becoming cancerous. These processes make it so cells age and die naturally as new cells take their place. In cancer this does not happen. The signals for cells to age don’t work and cells rapidly divide and reproduce.

We know that there are genetic factors involved in cancer. This is especially apparent in the purebred dogs. The Bernese Mountain dogs are the most likely breed to have cancer. I have never meet one who did not die of cancer, which is a shame for such a beautiful and kind dog. Most get cancer before their eighth birthday. They are closely followed in percentage of cancer cases by the Golden Retrievers and Boxers, who also are very prone to cancer.

Toxins and pollutants also have a role in cancer. BPA in plastics has been linked to cancer. Estrogens in our water supply may also contribute. We know there are industrial chemicals in the environment and pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals lead to cell damage and chemical abnormalities in the body, which can cause a failure of signals that stop cells from becoming cancerous or in a weakened immune system.

So with all these factors, what can we do to prevent cancer in your animal companions?

  • In my opinion the number one thing you can do to help your animal friend is to feed the best diet possible. I prefer raw diets of high quality meat but a good home cooked or canned diet can also be great. If you feed canned food make sure the company which makes the food is not using BPA coated cans. If you can’t afford anything but dry feed a high quality dry food with high protein. Consider adding cancer fighting foods to their diet See Diets for Cancer – you are what you eat a fighting cancer machine.
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other toxins. Make sure you don’t use chemicals on your lawn, and when you are out walking your dog try to avoid the lawns that are too green and weed free. Be careful what chemicals you use in your home. Do not use harsh cleaning chemicals around your animal.
  • Only use flea medications if needed unless your animal has a flea allergy. Yes these are also pesticides and the jury is still out on how toxic these products are to your animal friend. I feel like it is becoming too common to just put animals on year round flea treatment even when it is not needed. If you do use flea medications use the least toxic ones possible and avoid products with multiple ingredients.
  • Avoid over vaccination. I do believe in vaccination but I believe the current vaccine schedules are more than is needed. There are studies confirming the links between vaccination and certain types of cancer like fibrosarcoma. While the correlation is harder to prove with other cancers there does seem to be association between over vaccination and certain cancers like hemangiosarcoma and leukemia. See To vaccinate or not to vaccinate that is the question part 1 cats and part 2 dogs.
  • Keep your animal from becoming overweight and make sure they get exercise. Overweight animals are more prone to both cancer and inflammatory disorders such as asthma, inflammatory bowl disease, diabetes and Cushings disease. Exercise helps promote good blood flow and a healthy immune system.
  • Do not smoke around your animal. There are studies that show that second hand smoke significantly increases the risk of cancer in your animal by three times the rate of animals in non-smoking households.
  • Depending on the source of your water consider using a water filtration system. Some water contains toxins, hormones, and heavy metal contamination.
  • If you have an animal at high risk of cancer because of breed or because of factors you can not control consider some extra anti-cancer tools
    1. Add supplements to their diet to help control cancer like Cod Liver Oil, extra vitamin A and D, IP-6, Coenzyme Q10 and/or mushroom supplements like MUSH Medicinal Mushroom Blend or Host Defense MyCommunity
    2. Work with an acupuncturist or holistic vet to do treatments to help correct any imbalances early or to do occasional detox treatments. This can be done with acupuncture, herbs, homeopathics or other therapies.
    3. Get regular check ups to catch cancer early and when it is treatable.

Is there more cancer in our animals then there used to be?

It is hard to tell. I believe a lot of cancer used to not get diagnosed. It was the ain’t doing right dog in the backyard that wasn’t taken to the vet, the cat who just wandered off one day.

We definitely do a lot more diagnosing these days and with it catch more cancer then we used to. However I think our world has also become more toxic, with chemicals and pollutants. Our cats and dogs are down on the grass, sniffing, eating, licking their feet. Our animals are on our couches and beds that have flame retardant chemicals on them, they are eating foods that are becoming more unhealthy, they are being treated with more pesticides then every. So it is hard to say if there is really more cancer or that we are just doing more to diagnose and treat it then ever before.

There is no way to completely avoid the risk of cancer but there are ways to decrease the risk. Many of these suggestions also can help avoid the risk of other chronic diseases and help animals have more energy and vitality as they age.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Taking care of ourselves so we can care for our elderly and sick animals

January 4th, 2016

Lately the topic of compassion fatigue has been coming up for me over and over again with my clients. Night time yowling cats, banging dogs, dogs that need check ins every few hours or six meals a day. It’s exhausting! I’ve written so much about animals on this blog, and how to treat them in hospice, and how to care for them well, and how to make them better. But I feel like I need to write more about the wonderful caregivers who care for these loved animals and who don’t always take good care of themselves in the process.

So here goes!

Did you know there’s a difference between a caregiver and a caretaker? I learned this recently. A caregiver is someone who gives care to another person or being with love, because they choose to, and with no resentment. A caretaker is someone who gives care to another without those elements. It doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, that they’re flawed in some way, or that they’re doing anything wrong. In fact we often times swing between caregiver and caretaker. One of the biggest elements in the swing is self-care.

No matter how much we love a person or animal, we will build up resentment if we’re not taking proper care of ourselves. It is not selfish to put ourselves in front of those we are caring for. In fact not only is it not selfish, but it is necessary for us to care well for another being.

One of my counselors once told me about the pitcher and the bowl. If you put a pitcher in the middle of a large glass bowl and you fill the bowl with water, the picture will fall over. If you once again put the pitcher in the middle of the bowl, and fill the pitcher with water first, the pitcher will fill, stay firmly planted, and then will overflow filling the bowl. We are the pitcher and we must fill ourselves before we can get to others. Otherwise we will topple over and not only not be able to take care of ourselves but not be able to take care of anyone else either. We give better care when we take care of ourselves.

This is extremely hard to do in a society that value self-sacrifice and makes self-care out to be a selfish act. It is even harder to do when sometimes we feel it means that our loved ones do not get quite the care that we wish we could give them.

Yesterday I went for healing session for the first time with Virginia Rain down the street. She posed the question to me, what if your body was your pet? How would you treat it then? It’s an interesting question. Even those of us that do quite a bit of self-care, exercise, eating well, sleeping well, we don’t always take proper care of our body. We take it for granted that it’ll be there to support us and we don’t honor it or care for it like we would our beloved companion animals.

So what are the most important elements of self-care so we can be good caregivers to our animals?

Number one is sleep. Without sleep it doesn’t matter how much self-care we do we’re good to be a mess. Our body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day. Most people I know don’t get this and most people I know taking care of a hospice animal really don’t get this. So what does this mean? It means that sometimes we have to put our animals in a different room and ignore their whining, pacing or yowling so we can sleep. This is one of the most difficult things to do for caregiver. But it’s also the most important. If we cannot do this, then sometimes we have to enlist help from a spouse, a friend, or someone else that can help us have time to sleep.

Another important thing is making sure that we get self-care for our body. Especially with larger dogs that need to be lifted and moved, we need to keep our body in good shape. Throwing your back out when you have a 70-pound dog you need to carry around is not going to be a good plan. And the time to deal with that is in prevention and not waiting until it happens. Body care can include things like getting acupuncture, bodywork or massage, chiropractic adjustments, and making sure that we have time to stretch and exercise. One of the main reasons I started Kingdom of Basil was so my human caregiving clients could get their own healing care in the same building as their animal companions.

Emotional well being is also extremely important. It is so easy to just shove our emotions deep into our body because we don’t want to feel them. Hospice care is hard and a lot of grief comes up around watching our loved ones slowly pass away and struggle. Pushing our emotions down only makes us more ill. It’s important to have an outlet for emotions. This may be a support group, a trusted counselor, an energy healer, or someone else who can help us do release of these emotions.

While this last suggestion may not seem that important, it really is. We need to continue to have a life. Hospice care is so emotionally draining that having some normality is really important. We need to still take time to get together with friends, to go out to eat, to connect with other people. This all will help us be better healers for our animal friends. Often times help is needed with this also. Many cities have people with businesses that can help take care of hospice animals. In West Seattle, two of my clients retired and started to pet care business. They’re able to help out with the midday care, veterinary appointments and have experience taken care special need animals. Look for something like them I’m in your city.

I think one of the most important things to remember about hospice care it is to be gentle to ourselves. No one can do it perfectly. We can’t always be there. I think a good start is to treat ourselves with the same kindness that we treat our animal companions that we care about.

Resources in Seattle

Please excuse any typos – this article was written with dictation software.

On to 2016

December 31st, 2015

You know I’m ready for this year to be done. I’ve always said that being kicked in the behind gives you a chance to look at your life and fix those places you have gone astray but it doesn’t mean it’s not painful when it happens.

I feel like it’s not just me. Most of my healer friends have also had a really hard year.

This year, I’ve lost some of the dogs and cats who had been in my practice for longer than any others, who were my friends. This year I watched the people connected to them grieve, as did I. This year the left side of my body gave out on me. This year my son did not graduate from high school. This year my husband left. So if you are wondering why I haven’t been writing, that kind of sums it up.

In February the left side of my body suddenly stopped working correctly. I couldn’t move my left toes, could barely use my left fingers, and the whole left side of my body would shake uncontrollably. After waiting a month to get in with the neurologist, I was sent for an MRI, STAT possible diagnosis of brain tumor high on the list. I remember lying in the MRI machine making deals with god over not wanting to die at age of 42. After an agonizing wait, I finally got the news that my MRI was normal. And after a sigh of relief, that I wasn’t going to die in the next year, I realize that the things left on the list were also pretty dire, with Parkinson’s being at the top.

But you know something. I learned a long time ago that diagnoses tie you to the condition. And according to a dog named Lou, diagnoses are only as good as the paper they’re printed on. And I knew from my work with dogs who did not understand what diseases they had, that healing was possible even in the face of serious disease when our mind had not yet resigned to being stuck in a certain state. So I made the decision to stop all diagnostics and not let someone put a name to what was going on with me. There’s a lot of power in naming something and I chose to take a path without names. If I thought there was things on the list there were easily treatable I would’ve not taking this path, but those had already been ruled out.

And so began my dive into one of the most intense healing journeys I’ve ever been on. Over the past year, I’ve gathered together one of the most amazing groups of healers, who believe in me and have helped me work through this illness. The left side of my body is still abnormal, it still shakes, I still can’t type. But I have gotten better and my symptoms have changed for the better and they no longer fit Parkinson’s disease. And emotionally I’m starting to heal. I realize the damage that is been done by me shoving emotions into my body for the past 42 years and I’m cleaning house. It’s not pleasant, everything I have ever decided not to feel I am feeling now. Believe me that can be painful. My body and my illness are guiding me on this journey

I now consider my neurologic disease my super power, at least most of the time. Yes there’s times I still get scared, there’s times I still feel alone, there’s times I think why me. But overall, it has enabled me to be more in touch with who I am, it has made me a better healer, and it’s opened up a journey where I will be well someday. I’m learning so much more about healing than I ever knew, and I’m learning that sometimes I have to put myself first, and I’m learning about the power that emotion has to make our body ill and how we can reverse that.

And as much as this year has been incredibly hard, I am so blessed. I have the best job in the world. I have a job I can do even with my left side not functioning right. I am daily blessed by working with some of the kindest people and the best animals in the world. My work helps me heal. Even on the days that I’m ready to give up, I know that there are so many people that support me and care about me. And there’s so many people that I care about also.

But I’m still ready for this year to be over with. So here’s to an incredible 2016, full of healing, love, and new beginnings. Blessings to you all. And an incredible thank you to everyone that has supported me on this journey.