Coping with Sarcoidosis, COVID-19, and the Loss of a Partner
This has been one of my most difficult weeks in many years!
For four weeks I’ve self-quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many others, my family and I continue adjusting while evaluating everything important to our lives. Everything seemed to be going well for the first three weeks. My wife, kids, and dog were all in the house enjoying each other’s company and getting used to being around each other 24/7. The whole family was either working from home or not working at all. This situation made for an ideal time for us to reconnect. Prior to the quarantine, we managed to get a lot of the essential items we needed so we didn’t have to go out much, so by all accounts we were ready for the ride … or so we thought.
There’s a reason and a season.
In June of last year, I wrote an article about losing a caregiver. What would happen if a dependent person lost their primary caregiver? Like many, I rely on my family as caregivers. Sadly, I recently lost both a caregiver and rehab partner.
On Sunday, April 5, I lost my beloved dog, Brownie.
Brownie was a rescue dog my family adopted in 2013 from our local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. We decided it would be a good idea to rescue an animal we could spoil and include as part of our family. It just so happened that Brownie was brought into the shelter the day before we picked him up. Someone found him wandering in the street, eating from the garbage. He was the smallest dog in the shelter and somewhat timid from being in such a big place with other animals. His hair was matted all over him, so they cleaned him up, neutered him, and got him ready for adoption. After seeing him and understanding his circumstances, I was only too happy to include him in our family.
He had an impact on everyone from day one. He quickly became a fixture for our immediate and extended families. I often called him “Brown Clown” because of his personality — he was a big ham! Hands down, he was the spirit of unconditional love … and he was all ours.
I didn’t see that coming …
When I suffered the first of two spontaneous pneumothoraxes, a result of pulmonary sarcoidosis, I spent two months in the hospital. My family told me that Brownie would sit by my front door back home, waiting for me to return. Eventually, he would retire upstairs under my bed where he slept — it was his safe place. After coming home, I would often find him curled up on the floor on my side of the bed, guarding me while I slept. As I rehabilitated at home he watched me exercise and would follow me around the house to make sure I was OK. When I sat down to rest, he would curl up under my feet. We’ve had many years together and he brought so much joy to our family.
We hadn’t realized his health was declining. He started becoming distant and lethargic. We took him to the vet three times in the span of a week, and they prescribed meds for pain and to help him relax. We thought the meds made him act more listless, but we weren’t sure. On Palm Sunday, he kept whining and walking aimlessly. I guess he felt like he had to keep moving. My fear is that he was scared, like I am with my health. At times he would stand and do nothing but look at the walls. He would see his reflection in some glass cabinets or picture frames and just stare at himself.
We took him to the vet, and while there, he had a seizure that he didn’t recover from. We knew we had to say goodbye. No one wanted him to suffer anymore.
It’s all good.
Our Brownie was with us for a reason, and it seemed like the season we spent together was too short. Over the past two years I’d relied on his companionship, guardianship, and love as a source of my recuperating and rehabilitation. I’ve come to rationalize that his job here was complete — it was time for him to leave.
He was the support I needed throughout my health struggles so maybe his leaving is a sign that I’m going to be OK. He did what he was supposed to do and now living is up to me!
Sometimes the smallest gifts bring the biggest joy. Rest in peace, Brown Clown!
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