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The Reality of Care

Until the recent passing of our beloved dog, Leah, I had not really considered the parallels between her situation and mine, in terms of the intensity of care required for both of us. It has opened my eyes to how this impacts everyone in my world, especially my Care Team.  I think in our quest to manage the chronic nature of RA, we sometimes forget the very real cost of that care to those who support us.

The real cost of care

Our little Leah was deaf from birth.  In addition, she had chronic, costly and persistent autoimmune skin issues and allergies that plagued her for her entire life, which was 12 ½ years.  To say, that our lives were ruled by her various care appointments as well as the normal care that any pet requires would be an understatement.  After she passed, when I could bring myself to look at my Leah calendar, I realized that each month we had a minimum of an appointment a week and more times than not, two.  Because she was deaf, she could never be off leash, which meant anytime, day or night, if she needed to go out to do her business, either my husband or I took her, walking her to an empty lot, or down the street, no matter the weather conditions.  I estimated that to be about 20,000 times over the course of her life!  All of that said, she was a sweet, loving, playful pup who gave every ounce of her unconditional love to us as we did her.

Which brings me to my recent epiphany.  It has only been a few weeks since she has passed and much of that time I have spent reflecting on her life and how it changed as her health deteriorated, directly correlating with how the intensity of care for her escalated.  I could not help but be reminded of how this has been true for me as my RA has progressed over the years.  I have always deeply appreciated the care and support of the many wonderful people in my life, personally, professionally, and medically.  But, somehow, this time of reflection about Leah, has deepened that gratitude to new heights!

The role others play

I liked to think I always felt thankful for the role that others play in managing my RA but I now believe, thanks to Leah, that I finally get it, to an extent not known to me before.

I think because I am often so entrenched in my own tasks as they pertain to the management of my RA, that I forget to look outside myself and see how this truly impacts others.  RA is demanding to manage on so many levels; physically, mentally, emotionally.  It is daunting at best and often overwhelming.  I think it is inadvertent yet understandable that remembering to be sensitive to how this effects our support team can be overlooked.  Thanks to this new found insight, I now have a deeper and much clearer picture of just how this disease effects all of those who support me, day in and day out.

Thanks to the legacy of Leah, I will move forward, doing my best to never forget, and always be grateful for, the reality of care for everyone who supports me.


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


  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Oh no! I am so sorry to hear about Leah, Nan. My thoughts are with you.

    This was a beautiful post. There are so many similarities between us and our pets it’s amazing. We can also learn so much from them.

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    1 year ago

    Nan- I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Leah. I know losing a pet can be so tough but the amount of care you gave to her over her 12 1/2 years of life I am sure was the best care she could of every asked for. I have to say that your article resonated with me, as I have a dog who I call my “lemon” who is always at the vet, she has skin issues, allergies and has been close to death twice. Her immune system has attacked her entire body and could no longer fight the infection unless highly medicated. (She is only 3) Her care is so important to me, because she deserves the best life and I will do whatever it takes for her.
    Thanks so much for writing this piece.
    Gentle Hugs,

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Lauren!! I am so sorry to hear about your puppy. Just like in humans, her mentality will help her persevere. Dogs don’t hold on to anger, sadness or pain. They live in the moment and just experience joy and love from their humans (which I know she gets a lot).


  • Nan Hart moderator author
    1 year ago

    Oh Lauren I am so sorry you are facing some of the same care issues we had with Leah. Beyond the deafness, her skin issues started when she was around 5 and it just was a never ending cycle of flaring, medication, new medication, flaring, etc. I do think these things eventually wore her down until she just was not able to cope anymore. I find comfort in knowing we gave her 12 1/2 years of love and care. Take care.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 year ago

    We lost our little Cocker Spaniel two years ago. Like Leah, her skin (as well as her ears, nose and paws were an autoimmune mess.

    At our house she was Sheryl’s dog and I was just allowed to live her (sometimes). I miss her terribly and yes like in your house she taught us so much about persevering, having fun and going with the flow. .

    She was great and I hope she is no longer scratching.

  • Nan Hart moderator author
    1 year ago

    Rick I send my sympathies to you. I appreciate your comments as to relating to what we went through. Take care.

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