Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Everybody with a chronic illness should have a cat, a computer, and a book to write. I've been surprised by recent studies that say that people with disabilities are less likely to have computers. With the cost of computers coming down to where it's pretty reasonable, I'd like to think that most everybody can squirrel away a few dollars a month until they can afford one, although I talk to enough people who can't afford their medications that I know that, for some, there are no extra pennies, not to mention dollars. But I also can't imagine being without one. I could not do my job without internet access -- period. Indeed, I often get calls from patients who could have done an internet search and come up with the same information as I end up giving them. But that's okay; I'm glad to help. Still, for those of us who are mobile, it's important to remember that there are computers in every public library that we can use if we are looking for help the phone doesn't satisfy our needs.

Most of us have books in us. In some cases, it's a journal. In some cases, it's a story. But most people could write if they so chose. I guess because I love writing so much, I can't help but assume most others do, too. I spend half my life on the phone, but speaking and writing feel totally different to me. Writing -- even here, where it's intended to be read -- is private, it happens inside, it's a way to express oneself without gauging the reaction.

But unless you are allergic to cats, you really ought to get one. Emily is cow-print -- black and white -- with a pink nose and a purple collar with a bell on it that she loves. She doesn't walk; she prances. I don't know how else to describe the bouncing on her toes that she does when she feels secure. Which is most of the time -- all of the time when it's just me and her at home. She's gotten less scared of other people, although she's still not used to children. But she's getting there. I wish she liked being hugged more, but what she loves is to be scratched at either end -- head or butt. And she likes Boar's Head Virginia ham (not honey maple, mind you). And chicken is way up on her list of preferences, too.

No matter how sick I am, when I get in bed, Emily climbs on top of me -- whatever the highest point is. If I'm on my back, it's my tummy; if I'm on my side, it's my hip. She stands watch over me, facing outward, not toward me, making sure I'm safe while asleep. What more could one ask of a friend?

Conversation, you say? Emily and I have long, deep conversations. She knows when I'm up and when I'm down, and she responds accordingly.

She is, without doubt, the best friend I could ever ask for.

So if you have a chronic illness, think about getting a cat. They take very little work. These days, you can buy scoop-able little (although Emily won't use it), so you don't have to carry so much. Food is very inexpensive. And what you get back is worth it a thousand fold and then some.

I can't imagine life without Emily. I know I will get another cat when the time comes, but I know there will never be another Em. J

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