Pain Pals of the Non-Human Variety

Pain Pals of the Non-Human Variety

Part of living with migraine or chronic migraine is finding the things in life that make dealing with the physical pain and emotional distress that comes with it easier. After deciding to rescue a boxer about two years after I became chronic, I came to the realization that one of the things that helped on bad days was my new furry companion. Over the years of working with a nonprofit and moderating in support groups for individuals with chronic migraine, I realized I was not the only one who took solace in a non-human pain pal.

Why a non-human pain pal

I am not being mean to people and saying I only want my dogs around when I do not feel well. There are just few humans, at least in my life, who truly understand that I do not function up to par on a bad day. I may be at a loss for words or simply unable to concentrate on anything at all. By nature, most people want to chat or physically do something. If I am miserable enough that I am just vegetating, I am not up for conversation or board games. The benefit to a non-human pain pal is that they do not care what you are up for doing. If I am trying to push through and do housework, my furry children will get up under my feet until I resign to park it somewhere. They take no offense if I want to curl up with the TV on or just in the dark. They can truly sense my pain and curl up ever so close by wherever I have happened to collapse for the time being. On an honest note, yes this has occasionally involved my kitchen floor or another floor area in the house. They do not need me to talk to them or cook dinner for them. They are happy to just be cuddling with me, even on the hardwood floor if that’s where I am. If I find myself sitting in the tub with a hot shower pouring over me, they are laid out across my bathroom floor and occasionally poking their heads past the shower curtain.

Benefits of a pain pal pet

There are many benefits to our furry pain pals. One of the main benefits is how they decrease the sense of loneliness that individuals with migraine can be faced with regularly. Primarily for the reasons I explained earlier, it is not much fun for somebody else to just sit there while the individual with migraine tries to sleep it off; therefore the person with migraine ends up spending a large amount of time alone. By having a pain pal, this creates a sense of not being alone which helps to increase a sense of safety and security. Granted my fur brats are love bugs and most likely to drool on you, but when they know I am in extreme pain one of them becomes very protective of me. Many different types of animals are naturally in tune with their owner or their person’s emotions. This is how my dogs know when my pain is extremely high and that I need to stop doing chores. They can also sense when we become scared or anxious. One of my dogs knows when I am becoming anxious sometimes even before I even do and has helped wake me up from a night terror a time or two. They can help increases an individual’s activity and motivation to do things by playing with their pain pal or taking them for walks. It can be hard not to laugh when your pet does something silly, even when you are in a lot of pain. So this is most definitely a benefit because our pets do cute things all the time. Our furry pain pals can also reduce stress and create a calming sensation in their owners when they are requiring petting or some cuddling time, which mine do frequently.

An unpayable debt

At the end of the day, our non-human pain pals provide us with so many benefits. Some of their qualities are definitely things that one may find in a very special human companion but those individuals are very rare. Our pain pals present us with an unconditional love that knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter to them if we have a houseful of family or if it is just us and them, they are committed to us for the long haul. We do not have to worry that they are going to get tired of our bad days and leave or anything along those lines.

Do you have non-human pain pals? If so, in what ways do they help you cope with everything you are going through with your migraine?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (14)
  • 1m63x2c
    12 months ago

    I have 5 dogs and a horse. They are both a comfort and considerable work. The work can frustrate me when I don’t feel well, but the reward and companionship, love and purpose help me overall. I see myself as always having animals. Occasionally I get depressed because I feel I let them down when I can’t cope with pain. I am a certified dog trainer but cannot pursue more than I do currently, which is care for my own, but I have taken in dogs who have lost their homes or were abandoned. I used do hike with my dogs, ride more and was constantly active. My migraines have increased and my activity much decreased, but all animals are a comfort to me.They don’t judge and know when I need rest.

  • lindaann
    1 year ago

    My dogs lie beside me when my migraines are so bad, I cannot move. When they finally let up, one of the first things I usually do is take my furry companions for a walk. I can cry to them, be scared in their presence and regulate their breathing to mine, they are quite often my life line.

  • 1m63x2c
    12 months ago

    I agree. People seem critical of me for having so many animals( I have room, 2 acres in Hawaii). My husband spares no expense for all of them and supports our mutual love of dogs and horses. Most people don’t get why they are our best friends. When nobody else gets it, I don’t care, because I know how special the instincts and unconditional love they provide. Even my horse cuddles me and puts his head on my shouder. He makes me laugh, taking my hat off, nibbling my ears and being a sweet distraction. We are muscians and our dogs crowd around to listen, they love music. Singing to my furry audience is the best.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    You have very good dogs! I do the same with my dogs because they do not us when we feel bad or have a mini break-down. Their love is definitely unconditional for us. I’d be at a loss without mine. I’m super glad you have your babies. Give them some pets for me. Sending you lots of love
    Amanda Workman

  • John1381
    1 year ago

    I couldn’t resist adding to this topic and perhaps helping those who are anxious about getting a dog and unsure if they will be good for a dog. I think that you, grammayumyum, by asking the question are already well on the way to being very good for a dog.

    I was extremely anxious about getting my boy as it had been a few years since our last two passed on and the migraines where marching on to relentless. However, Hector has been the best friend I could have ever wished for. He is a rescue English Pointer and had a terrible start in life and had been bashed around and his skull has been dented. He is a real ‘nervous rex’ but this dog was built to love, his resilience is amazing.

    When I am bed bound he loves to hop up and have a snooze with me, it is very comforting.

    He makes me get up and out, even when crashing with migraine. Obviously there will be times when you are incapacitated, but I believe he helps me get better quicker as an attack recedes and sometimes helps either delay or ward of an attack either with a walk or some silliness that he has got up to. It is hard to not smile when they are doing something daft and are up for a game.

    Having him to care for has been an amazing part of my life, I love him.

    You also meet people, although you may note that people talk to the dog more than you.

    He lightens my life and it is, indeed, an unpayable debt.

    Thanks for the chance to drool on about our dog.

    John.

    PS my wife would love a boxer dog. (cats are great too).

  • DonnaFA moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi John1381! Your boy sounds amazing and very sweet. Wed love to see a picture of your special friend. You can share his pic on our Facebook page! Thanks so much for sharing his story here. Warmly, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • John1381
    1 year ago

    Thanks Donna,

    He is a great help and very sweet, although he has claimed the bed and the electric blanket at the moment; it is freezing today.

    Best wishes

    John.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    I have a boxer who will take over my bed and electric blankets too. Wouldn’t trade him for the world though. I do agree with you that a dog can give you a reason to get up and out sometimes but at the same time they don’t judge when you just need to sleep. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Amanda Workman

  • John1381
    1 year ago

    They always work their way into the comfiest spots.

    Thanks for your posts they have been very helpful for us.

    Cheers,

    John.

  • grammayumyum
    1 year ago

    I have applied and am waiting for a service dog. I know the dog will be wonderful for me in many ways, but recently I’ve begun wondering if I would be good for a dog? Who will walk the dog when I’m hiding in a dark room, crying from pain, isolated from the world? How will I get the dog fresh water every day, when bending over is excruciating and can trigger vomiting? Lots of other questions…

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    I know those are hard aspects to consider sometimes. If it’s anything to consider on a positive note, members on the Facebook page who have commented on this article share have mentioned how having their companion helps them even on bad days. It gives them something to get up for a moment and get some fresh air while letting their pet out to potty or to play for a few moments. Although if it’s something that is too much for you to manage, there are apps on your phone or websites on your computer to find reliable dog walkers/sitters such as Rover or DogVacay that can help you. So please do not stress too much.
    I think a service dog will be awesome for you. They are even beyond a regular fur baby because they have special training. They may even teach him or her to bring you a bag of medications or grab bottled water from your fridge!
    Change can be scary but I promise it is not always a bad thing. Sending you lots of strength and positivity
    Amanda Workman (moderator & contributor)

  • Tamara
    1 year ago

    My cats have seriously saved my life. Had a huge issue with depression and suicide thoughts (took a LONG time to find a medication that helped). The only reason I didn’t act was that my kitties needed someone to love them. On very bad days I brought yeti with me to the pet stores to do orders – forced to move slower and talk to people that ask about how I got my cat to walk on leash happily which brings the depression down a notch.

    I am actually starting to look in if I qualify for a service dog, having very bad anixety now (although probably around before just masked because of the depression symptoms). All it takes is a quick snuggle and I calm down …. would love to be able to bring a dog around with me so I don’t have to add another medication on top of the pharmacy I already take, just not sure if it’s enough help to qualify ….

    But yes, I believe everyone should have a pet – the love, entertainment and force you to get outside of yourself. All benefical “side effects”. 🙂

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    Fur babies are amazing at helping us with depression issues and honestly my dog does help me with my anxiety issues. He does not have formal training but it’s something done naturally. You could look into seeing a psychiatrist or possibly a therapist to help you determine your eligibility for a service dog. If you cannot get approved for the service dog, you can ask about an emotional support dog.
    Fur babies have lots of good side effects! I do love that comment of yours so much!!!
    I’m sending you a ton of of support and good luck vibes for your possible new addition!!!
    Amanda Workman (moderator & contributor)

  • marycr8on
    1 year ago

    Tamera, you really should seriously look into getting a service dog. My dog is not a service dog, but she’s with me all the time at home. I know I wouldn’t get out of bed at all, some days, if it weren’t for her, like with with your cats. I’m glad you seem to have the depression under control and I think being out with a dog would help you quite a bit with the anxiety. However, they do force you to be more social! People stop you on the street to talk about your dog, all the time. Just getting out and walking might be helpful by itself and you know that dogs need to be exercised regularly.

    Pets are truly a blessing for anyone with a chronic disease who spends a lot of time alone. My husband knows to leave me alone when I’m in a lot of pain but my dog knows to just be with me. Like Amanda said, they are there for you with unconditional love, for the long haul. They just give it to you with no strings attached.

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