Apologies and Updates

Hi All,

I really hope all my lovely readers are happy and healthy and I apologies for being AWOL for a few months. As you know, I blog weekly (if not more), but these last months have been filled with, illness and grief and interspersed with new beginning.

Firstly, our beloved Chocolate Labrador, Chippy, passed away after a 5 month battle with two types of terminal cancer. Chippy came into my life when I was only 16, which was an extremely difficult time in my life. Chippy is outlived by his older brother, Buttons and thankfully, after 2/3 weeks of being quiet and depressed, Buttons has now found a new lease of life. Chippy’s ashes are now home with my Mum, I have his collar and his blanket and have recently bought a special piece of commemorative jewellery, so he is always with me.

Some people really do not understand why I have been so inconsolable over Chippy’s death. For me, he wasn’t just a pet, he was my best friend, soulmate and my greatest source of comfort. As I said, he came into my life during a particularly turbulent period for me personally and Chippy saved me from self destruct. Chippy was the sweetest and most gentle soul, he loved nothing more than having his bottom tickled, to run with his big brother, play with his toy monkey or football and have lots of snuggles. Chippy passing has left a huge whole in our lives, although we are coping better each day, it is still incredibly painful.

Secondly, our beautiful puppy, Tywin, was found to be born with two birth defects. The family vet can only locate one testicle and the other is absent or suspected to be in his abdomen. We have been told not to breed from him (which was never the plan anyway) and advised that at 6 moths he needs a castration or his under developed testicles could turn cancerous! We’ve already had enough canine cancer for one lifetime, thank you very much!

Tywin was also born with half of his front left paw, which was missed on two puppy check ups! Due to it being a birth defect, Tywin’s insurance company would not cover the cost of surgery and the surgery was urgent, so we had no choice but to book it and attempt to cover the costs ourselves. After much persuading from various friends, the vets and private discussions, Anthony and I decided to set up a crowd funding page, to ask for financial support towards Tywin’s paw reconstruction from friends, family and strangers.

Tywin had stumps of two weight baring toes, was missing large amounts of soft tissues around these missing digits, was diagnosed with a rare bone deformity and was missing pads from the underside of his paw. This meant he was actually walking on deformed foot/toe borns and the only thing between this bone and the floor, was a thin layer of skin! Luckily, we were referred to a well-known orthopaedics centre in Godalming, Surrey, where Tywin received exceptional care. So much so, that he never wanted to leave and would cry/scream when his favourite doctors and nurses stopped tickling him!

Unfortunately for our little lad, has endured at least two nasty bacterial infections after his surgery. Thankfully, the surgery has been a complete success, but the journey to recovery isn’t a smooth road. Tywin is currently on strong antibiotics to deal with the latest infection and is having daily Himalayan salt baths to help toughen and clean the exposed skin on his new paw. Both seem to be working well and Tywin has almost completely stopped limping! We are so proud of him and the strength he has shown from 12/13 weeks old, when this deformity was found.

Anthony and I would like to say a massive “thank you”, to all of you for your continued support when it comes to Tywin’s surgery and recovery. Without your messages of support and generous donations towards his expensive care, we wouldn’t be where we are today and Tywin would have lost his entire leg! We cannot begin to explain just how grateful we are and words don’t quite seem to express our thanks adequately.

Tywin Lennard – The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd

Tywin’s surgery came 3 days after Chippy passed away, so the financial and emotional stress has taken its toll on my body. We cancelled my birthday celebrations as I didn’t feel like celebrating, but then my lovely friend, Julie encouraged me to at least have a few friends over for dinner and to play cards, so that’s what I did for my 26th birthday. But by this point, Anthony had noticed a significant decline in my ability to function. We ended up back visiting my GP who is a fantastic man, he agreed I was having an EDS flare up and that my Gastroparesis had well and truly kicked in!

Gastroparesis is a long-term (chronic) condition where the stomach can’t empty itself in the normal way. Food passes through the stomach more slowly than usual.
It’s thought to be the result of a problem with the nerves and muscles controlling the emptying of the stomach. 
If these nerves are damaged, the muscles of your stomach may not work properly and the movement of food can slow down.

– NHS.org

Yet again, I was put on a medicated, liquid diet for 12 weeks. At 8 weeks, we started to introduce solid food back into my diet. To be quiet honest, it is still very hit and miss when it comes to what my stomach can handle, but I’m persevering well. However, about 2 weeks ago, I developed a nasty, chesty cough. Anthony was instantly worried because as soon as. my lungs are compromised, my heart acts up and my whole systems seems to fall out of kilter. As usual, Anthony was right and one morning it became so hard to breathe that I was blue lighted to East Surrey Hospital.

Whilst in hospital, my chest was x-rayed and wasn’t in the best condition. I had pockets of fluid all over my chest, making it hard to drain and I was found to have 3 separate viral infections in different parts of my body. Due to them being viral infections, I was unable to receive any treatment. Because I use oxygen at home as part of my oxygen therapy programme, I was allowed home on the understudying that I was to be on bed rest until further notice. Bed rest sucks, these days I feel like I spend the majority of my life on bed rest!

On top of all this, I was found to have yet another blood clot, but this time it had travelled through my heart and lungs and had ended up in my left arm! It was daunting for me as I was in hospital alone and had recently received trauma to my stoma site by a member of staff at the same hospital. Thankfully, my Mother works at the same hospital I had been admitted too, so during the physical consultations, I had a family member with me for support. It has been so long since my Mum had to do the hospital regime with me, but it took the stain off of Anthony, who as you can imagine has been rushed off his feet these last few months/weeks!

Now, on a much happier note, we finally launched Buttons & Leash Dog Walking. I think that having Tywin, him being poorly and Chippy passing away, really gave Anthony the signs he needed to make this huge career change. At present, Anthony is still working his office job as he continues to build his client base for B&L on evenings and weekends. We have a busy family life and Anthony being the only breadwinner, means we are having to make sacrifices and cutbacks as he solely supports our family. During this time, Dan has been fantastic at helping with my care (as has my Dad). Without them, getting B&L off the ground would have been much more difficult.

So far, we have had nothing but encouraging and positive feedback from our new clients and friends/family who use our services. We have been met with such a great response from people, that it has spurred us on to push harder and make a good go of this. Obviously, it is going to be lots of hard work (mostly on Anthony’s part), late nights and not much in the way of downtime, but already Anthony is thriving because he has found his calling.

I help out with the social media, finance and admin side of things, as and when I can, but as the business grows we may have to take on some more staff to fill those roles, as my health is too unpredictable for me to hold the fort. I am unbelievably proud of Anthony, his hard work and dedication to his new job and our family. As Buttons and Leash continues to flourish, I hope Anthony’s confidence and self belief increase too. He is the hardest working man I know (apart from my Dad) and when he sets his mind to something, there is no tearing him away until he has accomplished everything he has set out to achieve. Well done, Beardy, we love you!


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Ella Hollis

Trying to find normality amongst multiple chronic illnesses.

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