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Nurse Butterfly

Nurse Butterfly

Nurse Butterfly

 

Every once in a while I have these “spells,” like a Victorian lady having the vapors. I’d use a more scientific term if I could find one, but diagnosis has been elusive. The spells start with head pain and nausea, usually, and quickly lead to trouble speaking and trouble moving. I feel very unsteady and yet almost rigid, like I’m trapped inside of my body and can’t really control what it’s doing. I feel dizzy, and frightened, and sometimes I start to drool (a little bit, not too embarrassing) or my eyes start to water. The overall feeling is that something-is-wrong, but I can’t articulate what’s going on.

Cricket keeps her distance when these spells happen. She goes under my bed, or under her couch, or stares at me with suspicion from across the room. But Butterfly comes over and tries to help.

Cricket, under her couch

Cricket, under her couch

The other night, I had one of my spells while I was sitting in my comfortable chair in front of the computer. I felt this unbearable need to crawl to the floor to safety. As soon as I was down on the rug, Butterfly came over to lick my hands and keep close. She watched me and snuggled next to me, not asking for petting the way she normally would, just staying close.

And when I felt well enough to get up and go lie down on my bed, she came with me and snuggled next to my shoulder, until she was sure I was normal again. After that, she left for her midnight snack and whatever other adventures she goes on at night when she’s not taking care of her Mommy.

Butterfly made me feel loveable at a moment when I felt alien and unreal. She reminded me that I was able to walk her and pet her just a little while ago, and that ability would return soon.

"Hi Mommy!"

“Hi Mommy!”

My sense is that these spells have an electrical component, because Butterfly is sensitive to electrical things in a way Cricket is not. And she seemed to know when the static had subsided. I love that, in return, when it’s stormy outside and Butterfly’s electrical senses go wonky, she comes to me for comfort. She climbs on me, or sits on my shoulder while I’m (sort of) sleeping, and she knows that her Mommy will keep her safe.

Butterfly was a mommy, and maybe her mommy instincts are what kick in when she sees that I’m struggling. She must have been such a good mommy to her puppies. Maybe that’s why the puppy mill was still breeding her at eight years old. They had to have seen her sweetness, even there, where she was a commodity and her puppies had price tags. They knew, at the very least, that other people would want their own Butterfly puppies.

Sometimes I feel guilty for loving her and wanting her to be happy here. All of those puppies are on my conscience, as if I took them away from her, as if I wished them away because I selfishly wanted Butterfly for myself.

Cricket never had puppies and has therefore remained a puppy herself. She’s never had to take care of someone else, though she does see Grandma as her protectee. Cricket’s caretaking is free of niceties like offering comfort. She is there to protect Grandma – from bad dreams, strange noises, encroaching cold weather, and Butterfly’s advances. She would definitely stick close by if Grandma had a cold or an injury, but she’d so absorb the anxiety that she would become the second patient. She doesn’t quite believe that she and Grandma are separate people.

Baby Cricket

Baby Cricket

Cricket especially likes to sit on, or next to, Grandma’s head, as a way of sharing dreams and being ready to beat down any monsters that might show up in Grandma’s nightmares. Otherwise, she curls up next to or on top of Grandma, so that there is no air, only blanket, between them, and that way she always knows where Grandma is.

"This human belongs to me."

“This human belongs to me.”

My girls are very different. I have the sense that if we were home alone and I had an attack of some kind and needed help, Cricket would bark for someone to come and Butterfly would sit by my side and keep watch over me until help arrived.

My girls, resting until duty calls.

My girls, resting until duty calls.

 

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

119 responses »

  1. What a blessing you have in your pups.

    Reply
    • You are so right! Thank you!

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    • I agree… Your animal companions are indeed incredible. They were meant to be in your life, and you theirs. You seem to have a very intuitive essence about you. Did you know that physical symptoms can accompany spiritual shifting? If you meditate, you may be able to determine if this is indeed what is occurring. I had a terrible dizzy spell a few months back at work of all places. My brain felt like both halves were rubbing up against each other in vertical movements. I was worried… I thought I had a brain tumor or some other bizarre brain disease. This episode lasted for nearly 10 minutes, in which I felt I should get someone’s attention and get to the emergency room. Thankfully, the brain tilting stopped, and my nausea seemed to go away as well. It hasn’t happened since then, and I have had some intense shifting spiritually… If you’d like to chat more, feel free to email me: sandi.martinez@outlook.com. I’d be happy to talk with you more about this. Many blessings, Sandi.

      Reply
  2. Have you been to a doctor? Those ‘spells’ sound like they could be serious. I don’t want to scare you, but please get checked out right away.

    Reply
    • I’ve been going to doctors for a few years now, trying to figure out what’s going on. Hopefully the latest tests will help the latest doctor figure things out. Thank you so much for your concern.

      Reply
      • Yes, I was going to say the same thing! I know it can get really frustrating finding a doctor that will really help, but don’t give up. Maybe try a naturepath? Sometimes they will test you more thoroughly than a Medical doctor will.

        I’m so happy you have Butterfly to comfort you. She sounds like a sweet heart.

      • The doctor loop is crazy making, but I keep trying, and I will keep on trying no matter how incredibly annoying the whole thing gets. It’s so nice to have all of this concern on my behalf. Maybe I should bring all of you guys to my next doctor’s appointment!

      • I can’t believe they haven’t found what it is yet. Keeping my fingers crossed that they find out soon so they can fix it or treat it.

  3. I hope you are feeling better- dogs are able to sense when we are not “right”- and always prove to be our truest companions. Fell better.

    Reply
  4. Yes, I agree – I think you need to see a doc. Get this checked out. Your puppies aren’t going to save you if there’s something serious going on., but they probably are sensing something isn’t right.

    Reply
    • Don’t worry, I just went for an MRI and an eeg. Hopefully the doctor will be able to figure out what’s wrong. But it helps to have the puppies, and all of my blog friends, rooting for me.

      Reply
  5. Butterfly sounds like a natural born guide dog. Some are trained to care for people with epilepsy, and they react much as you describe – sensing the electrical current that precedes an episode, and then guiding the person to a safe place where they can sit or recline, often alerting the person before he/she even knows it’s coming Butterfly just comes to it naturally. She was meant to be yours. The older I get, the more I believe there are no coincidences.
    Guide dog or not she has the most adorable face ever!

    Reply
    • I feel so lucky that she found me, but I think you’re right, it wasn’t a coincidence. I don’t know how these things work, but the universe is a surprising and fascinating place.

      Reply
  6. Unfortunately, my dogs are more like Miss Cricket than Nurse Butterfly. They will protect me against all comers, but if I’m sick it’s up to me to manage things.

    Reply
    • This is why I had to go looking for a second dog. I love Cricket, and she keeps me thoroughly entertained, but she’s a tiny bit low on compassion. I think having Butterfly around is helping her as much as it helps me. But she’d never admit it.

      Reply
      • I’m not being entirely fair; Miki, my only boy dog, is very cuddly and clingy when I feel bad. The four girls just don’t have natural caretaker personalities.

      • I love that it’s the boy who cuddles and the girls who are, like, whatever.

      • LOL! In my personal experiences male dogs are frequently much cuddlier than females. The girls are just more independent. Of course, it does vary some, but boy dogs are kind of mommas boys. 🙂

  7. It always amazes me… the power of the puppy. Did you know scientists have discovered that dogs can actually smell cancer? I believe we’ve only scratched the surface of what our furry family members can do. No longer are they taken for granted as just pets. In NH, the local station has an “amazing animals” segment, where they show off how incredible animals are; how when faced with a dangerous situation they’ll give their life for their humans every time. It’s wonderful that Butterfly has developed senses and helps you when you need it most. I too have one like that at home. Hopefully our love is enough to pay them back for all they do for us.

    Reply
    • Cricket and Butterfly always amaze me by the human and more-than-human things about them. Even if I never get to understand how their minds work, I will be forever grateful.

      Reply
  8. Enjoy your posts and such lovely descriptive language of your life being loved by pups.

    Reply
  9. How wonderful the combination of protectee and protector. I do hope you figure out what those ‘spells’ are about so that you don’t need your pups except for fun and cuddles. – Lorian

    Reply
    • Now if only I could bring the girls with me to the doctor’s office… Cricket could harangue the doctor until he took my symptoms seriously, and Butterfly could give me cuddles and keep me calm. that would make everything so much better!

      Reply
      • Agreed. Have you thought about keeping a log for awhile of what you eat, what the weather is, what you do during the day, to try and id the triggers? I know that the cats are the best nurses for me, the dogs get very confused and don’t know what to do when I am not myself. Best of luck. Remember that doctors are ‘practicing’ medicine because they have a lot to learn.

      • The EEG tech who helped me with the test told me about her cat who has taken on the role of second parent in the house, following her around to each boy in the morning, to give a wet nose on the cheek and a kneading on the shoulder to help them wake up. Makes me think that what my menagerie is missing is a hypoallergenic cat to take care of us all.

  10. I knew this would be a wonderful post and, of course, it was. What you said about Cricket not having had puppies so she remains a puppy herself just sunk in for me. When I brought Parker home as a kitten, I hoped Kitty’s maternal instinct would kick in and she would ‘mother’ Parker. Absolutely no darn way! But now it makes sense. We had Kitty fixed before she even had a litter so how would she know to ‘mother’ Parker. Why did I never think of that before?
    Your girls are absolutely adorable (I know you know that :)). You have the perfect balance: one to call for help and one to stay until help arrives.
    And yes, Rachel, I do hope the doctor can help. These spells scare me.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! It’s amazing how much hormones play a role in things we think of as strictly emotional. Cricket was fixed before she ever went into heat, so she never had the chance to get the programming. Whereas Butterfly was awash in those mommy hormones on a regular basis. But, I don’t know, maybe they would have been just the way they are, no matter what their circumstances had been. It’s a mystery.

      Reply
  11. I hope you get some answers from the doctors as to what’s going on. Our fur babies are the most wonderful and sensitive nurses, and so intuitive about bodily things. Sending you special cyber hugs. ❤

    Reply
  12. I’ve just spent the last week alone with my two while my wife visits grandchildren. My two get very clingy when my wife is away. It makes it difficult to sleep but I too don’t mind.
    Good luck with the strange spells………. maybe you are developing a superpower……… you never know.
    Terry

    Reply
  13. Rachel, first off — I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Butterfly and Cricket are simply adorable!” (If we lived close, I’m sure my C-Dog would have a double-crush!) But, seriously, you’re so spot-on about dogs and their ability to stay by us when we need them. My neighbor has small seizures, and I’ve noticed how her dog stays very close and protective of her the whole time. It’s just amazing how wonderful the canine species is — and your post so admirably explains that bond. Beautiful.

    Reply
  14. Since none of the three of us have ever had pups and They don’t get sick too often, I don’t know what our position is on this matter. I think that it’s good that you have one activist and one caretaker.

    Reply
  15. Look at that precious pupper!

    Reply
  16. Two enchanting and lovable dogs. And I too think that Cricket would bark to alert someone to come and Butterfly would keep watch over you until help arrived. I hope you get some answers from the doctors soon.

    Reply
  17. Dogs seem to know when things are out of kilter or we need that extra bit of company and warmth of another living being. I love your two, they are such characters in their own right and it’s obvious from your posts that your love for them is deeply returned.

    Reply
  18. I hope you soon get some answers and get better soon, bless your girls and you’ve still written a brilliant post with wonderful pictures, thinking of you all xx

    Reply
  19. I hope they figure out what’s going on with you, soon. I’m sure it’s scary to have these episodes and not know why, or how to prevent or slow them down, but it’s good you have a nurse dog to help when it happens. I had a wonderful nurse dog in Sweet Rudy, but he’s gone now, and sadly, Lucy is absolutely clueless during times when I’m physically down or less than 100%. She just stares at me, and keeps her distance. You and your sweet dogs are lucky to have each other, it makes me smile, for all of you. Sending you “be well” thoughts!

    Reply
  20. Your description sounds like the TIA attacks my Dad use to have. I hope they can find a diagnosis and help you overcome.

    Reply
    • I worry about the TIA idea, because we do have a history of strokes in my family. So far, the doctors haven’t gone down that road, but I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for more information. Thanks for thinking of me!

      Reply
  21. this sounds similar to what a friend of mine is dealing with, he had a weird virus in his inner ear. he is still dealing with it. Hope something is shown soon.

    Reply
  22. I hope you can get some help and relief from your spells. So glad your girls are with you, watching over you–what a comfort. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Cricket is giving me a suspicious look right now. I’d like to believe she’s keeping an eye on me for my benefit, but I think it has more to do with the possibility of breakfast.

      Reply
  23. Butterfly is a wonderful friend, I bet you will feel better soon with such a cute nurse on your side. Both of your furkids are fabulous, enjoy every minute with this cute pups :o)

    Reply
  24. Wow I’m sorry you are having to go through that and I hope you get some insight soon.

    I wish either of my pups were like your Butterfly…instead when I am sick they just try to climb on me or chew me! 😛

    Reply
    • I’m sure they’re trying to chew the sickness away. That’s what I tell myself when Cricket climbs on my chest and scratches my face to get my attention. She’s trying to get the poisons out.

      Reply
  25. These precious little things take on somewhat angel status don’t they. Did you give them their very appropriate names or had they already got those names? As with your many readers I, too pray doctors discover what it is. Meantime your angel puppies will be there.

    Reply
    • Cricket and Butterfly pretty much named themselves, though Butterfly was walking around with the temporary name of Betsy while she was at the shelter. Cricket toyed with the names cinnamon and ginger, until she started to chirp and hop like a Cricket and found her moniker.

      Reply
  26. What a sweetheart! Have you checked into a form of migraine? I get something called complicated migraines that were first wrongly diagnosed. They sound very similar and everyone has a different constellation of symptoms. Try a neurologist who specializes in migraines if you haven’t already done so. Good luck!

    Reply
  27. Wow. I’m glad you have a pup to stay with you when the going gets weird. I have seizures, and fully understand that “feeling like an alien” phenomenon. I hope your docs figure this out sooner than later.

    Reply
    • It feels so strange to be a word addict and still find it hard to describe what’s happening to me. Most of the time the best I can do is say “I don’t feel right.” Doctors don’t like that. I hope your doctors have been able to help with the seizures, and that you have someone like Butterfly to look after you too.

      Reply
      • The docs tossed in the towel here. They’ve dubbed it “Non-epileptic seizure disorder” and told me to return if the situation changes.

        My seizures are minor … mostly twitches and tremors that mutate into other weirdness if there’s a trigger. No medications work, so I just have to dodge triggers (flashing lights, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, stress, sleeplessness, etc).

        It is very hard to describe a seizure from the inside, but I do hope the docs turn up something useful for you.

      • What I liked most about the neurologist I’m seeing now is that he said, if we find something going on in your brain, the next step is to figure out why it’s happening. Doctors who lack curiosity drive me buggy.

      • Excellent. I had one give up because medications didn’t work. 😛

        The second went through all the possibilities she could come up with until we got to a point where the next step would be exploratory brain surgery. Um… no thanks. We decided at that point that the seizures were more annoyance than hazard and let it go at that.

        I’m glad you found a good neurologist.

  28. She is so cute and utterly adorable.

    Reply
  29. What sweet dogs you have! What you’re having sounds like some kind of seizure to me. A lot of people have had relief from seizures with marijuana. They make one specifically for kids with seizures that doesn’t get them high. It’s called Charlotte’s Web.

    Reply
    • Favorite book ever! Seizures are definitely one of the possibilities we’re looking at. But wouldn’t it be nice if reading children’s books would solve all of my problems, so i could skip the marijuana?

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  30. Rachel, your ‘spells’ sound terrifying! By the sounds of it you have been doing the difficult rounds with the docs already. I really hope you are able to find out what is wrong soon!
    Both of your pups are such a blessing, I think dogs make such capable comfort and care-givers because they are used to supporting without words, they are able to use their love in ways us humans can’t!
    Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

    Reply
    • You’re so right! I depend on language so much that when it’s gone I feel lost. But they’ve learned how to communicate in other ways and they really do get their messages across. I need to study their ways more closely!

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  31. Your dogs are absolutely precious 🙂

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  32. How wonderful. Some dogs are very sensitive to human ailments. She wants you to feel safe while feeling unwell. I do hope you can get rid of these spells.

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  33. I can relate to you about the doctors and having issues that bewilder them for a while; hang in there, it will get figured out. 🙂 In the meantime I am so glad that you have at least one nursemaid Butterfly. Cricket is definitely entertaining, but Butterfly’s infinite compassion makes me want to hug her so tightly, the little puff of fluff. We are lucky humans to have our wonderful doggie friends. 😀

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  34. That must be scary for you! Thank goodness you have such loving caretakers!

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  35. I never want your posts to end, Rachel. I want to read more and more and more! Butterfly is incredibly in sync with your needs. What sweet girls you have looking over you. 💜

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  36. Butterfly seems to have an abundant urge to nurture. A delighful attribute 🙂

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  37. I hope you find a practical solution for your symptoms. In the meantime, think of Butterfly as a channel for healing energy!

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  38. It’s amazing how smart and helpful dogs can be. So many talents. They sense seizures, sniff out cancer, help out people as service dogs in a variety of ways, and search for illegal drugs (or illegal fruit at some airports) as well as sniffing out bombs and other police or military uses. I even heard of one that went out in boats and sniffed out whale poop in the ocean for some sort of research.

    You’re lucky to have Butterfly to help you out. Hopefully you will know the cause and have a cure soon. Checking for food triggers as someone else mentioned could definitely help as there are so many unnatural things in the food supply these days. My mother had migraines for years until she realized they were triggered by chocolate. She stopped eating chocolate and no more migraines. That’s not to say your problem is that simple, but if not eating particular things could even lessen the frequency or intensity it would certainly be beneficial.

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    • My grandfather had chocolate migraines too. But I’ve tried all kinds of diets and nothing has worked. Strangely, when I tried to go gluten free, I had more of these weird events, instead of less. Bizarre. I have to say I’m relieved. If had to be sick, AND go without real bread, or chocolate, I would be very unhappy.

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  39. I do so hope that you are able to find a doctor who will actually take the time to work with you to discover what is going on. Animals can be so sensitive to different things or react in different ways. It sounds like Butterfly and Cricket are right where they are supposed to be!

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    • The hysterical thing is that the girls try to diagnose each other. Cricket does sniff test on Butterfly to see if her sugar is too high, and Butterfly checks in with Cricket when a mood seems to be surfacing, and tries to calm her down.

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  40. Dogs are incredible creatures, and as individual as people! 🙂

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  41. Your dogs are gorgeous and adorable. I can’t wait to have a puppy again. 😀

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  42. And tweeted it again. (Hope Butterfly is even happier).

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  43. they are such faithful companions! thank you for the like today ~ Hope yours is beautiful!

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  44. I am sorry to hear about your “spells”. I hope they can figure out what is wrong soon. It is amazing how dog “just know”. I had a dog as a child that knew when I was upset, sick, or hurt and would always come and find me to comfort me. Now I have two doggie boys and they each have their own unique ways… one needs to be with me a lot more and is the baby the other knows when I am sad and comes over to me. Both come over if I am crying or upset but usually our terrier mix. Dogs are just so amazing 🙂

    Reply
    • I’d be curious to find out if the people doing MRIs on dogs will find what it is in their brains that allows them to sense things humans can’t. Then maybe I could have one of the dogs do my diagnostic tests.

      Reply
      • Ya, that would be very interesting 😉 Dogs are miraculous and in cases like this way ahead of science when they can sense things 🙂 I wish you all the best. Blessings 🙂

  45. I know Honey worries about me, especially when I am ‘doing things about the house’. I was changing a radiator this weekend, and she was very attentive, nudging me with her nose whenever she thought I needed encouragement. At least, I think that’s what it was….

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    • Butterfly has taken to waking me up three or four times in the morning. It reminds me of the way my mom used to give us three warning calls to wake up for school in the mornings. I’m just not sure what Butterfly thinks I need to get up for at five thirty in the morning.

      Reply
  46. Tweeted this and two others, Rachel 🙂 Happy New Year!

    Reply

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