Meet My New Kitten

Meet My New Kitten!

If you haven’t been keeping up on social media, I’ve had some major life changes as of late. I’ve moved into my new apartment, started my final year of undergrad, and, most importantly, adopted a precious little furbaby!  Of course, the only natural thing to do is to introduce the new kitten to you all.

Allow me to formally introducing Varjak Fitzgerald, informally known as Fitz!

Story Time:

As some of you know, my plan was to begin training a service dog this fall.  A friend of mine was helping me search through shelters for the perfect candidate when she found this little guy in our local Amazon’s parking lot.

fitz - baby

With a coating of asphalt and a cut on his lip, this little guy was in pretty poor shape.  Fortunately, our friend is a long-time animal lover and gave him some TLC.  Some time in the process, she messaged me:  “Want a kitten?”

“…I kinda want a kitten.”

And so began my journey toward adopting this little floof.

fitz - string

But Jules, you’re in school…?

Yes, yes I am.  And no, my school doesn’t allow pets.  However, in compliance with the ADA, it does allow emotional support animals (ESAs).  Unfamiliar with the idea?  Lauren from Lauren’s Journey has a great piece on them as compared to psychiatric service animals here (also, how cute are her rabbits?)!

Disclaimer:  I was already aware of my qualification for an ESA though I had not yet requested a formal prescription.  With a rise in fake “registries” across the internet and a popular life hack of getting your pet “registered” as an ESA to avoid pet deposits, all too many fake ESAs exist.  He has a prescription letter and is legally recognised both on campus and within the ESA community.  In short:  don’t fake an ESA, it makes the rest of us look bad.

With the sermon over, back to Fitz!

6 Things to Know about Fitz:

1.  His toys have names and backstories.

fitz - sweatshirt nap

The struggle of Mommy being a writer, I suppose.

2.  Speaking of, his own name is filled with meaning!

fitz - bedtime

Varjak is the name of the primary male character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and, I later realised, another PLL reference) while Fitzgerald/Fitz covers a bit more ground:  F. Scott, JFK, characters from both Pretty Little Liars and Scandal, Fitz(william) Darcy… The list goes on and on!

3.  He’s been known to enjoy dog food.

fitz - dog food

When he first came home with my friend, he (understandably) didn’t want to eat.  Eventually, it was the dog’s wet food that coaxed him!  He lived with his “Aunt” for a while until his paperwork was completed and he could move into my apartment and had a tendency to try to steal dog food even after he’d switched to kitten food.

4.  In fact, he gets a bit confused in terms of not being a dog.

baby fitz with moxie

He loves tennis balls and tries to bark.  Perhaps I didn’t stray too far from my original plan after all!

5.  His favourite toys are his string, the Crinkle Fishes, and Mousie.

fitz and sushi crab

The Crinkle Fishes are Mr. Crinkle Fish, Crinkly Fishy, and Bob, respectfully. Note that he loves Mousie far more than her companion, Mousier.

6.  He’s extremely social.

fitz - planner

He absolutely loves to meet new people!  Like any baby, he gets tired and grumpy after too much attention, but he loves it while it lasts.

7.  Computers are his favourite things, followed by boxes and bags.

fitz - GOT

Despite his canine tendencies, he’s still a typical cat.

8.  He’s highly educated.

fitz - reading

While ESAs don’t have the public access rights of a service dog, one of my professors allowed me to bring him to class for a few days while we covered some particularly touchy material.  Fitz loved the adventure, and our classmates loved him!

9.  He loves kisses.

Fitz - recliner and squirrel

He will actively raise his face to mine for a kiss.  If he’s particularly adamant, he’ll even reach up with his paws to pull my face to his!

10.  He’s a good boy.

fitz- snuggle blankets

No explanation needed.

Meet My New Kitten

Follow Fitz on Instagram or follow FTSOGT for blog updates AND cute cat photos!

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

8 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

I have a few different illnesses that cause long-term pain, some of which have diagnoses and some that do not.  Either way, I’ve had to learn to adapt my lifestyle to accommodate them.  That being said, I’ve learned a lot of little tricks and tips for managing chronic pain.  These are based on my own experiences, but hopefully some will help you too!

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Create a flare kit.

I’m actually working on this one now!  In short, the key here is to keep handy and central the things that will make a bad pain day a little easier.  Whether that’s pain meds, a heating pad, water, or cosy socks, keeping these helpers in one spot saves you a step when finding that missing bottle of medicine is the last thing you feel like doing.  Check out Pinterest for some ideas of items to keep in yours (and follow us while you’re there!)!

I recently got a super cute Thirty-One tote (similar to this one) that I’ll be using for mine.  That leads me to a bonus tip:  if you can find something little to make you happy (like my bag) when you’re not feeling well, it’s worth it.

Don’t be embarrassed to use an aid.

If you need a cane, use a cane (I have one like this* and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made).  If you need to sit while showering or making dinner, do it.  There’s no need to overdo it if there’s a tool to help!

Additionally, this can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.  You may be embarrassed to go out with your friends while leaning on a walker, but, if you’re like me and suffer from an invisible illness, this gives your pain a new sort of visibility.  Will people still question it? Sure, especially if you’re “too young to need it.”  But maybe, just maybe, it will show those around you that it’s not all in your head.

Distract yourself.

Find a hobby that you love.  Call your best friend and chat for a while.  Throw yourself into a job you enjoy.  Whatever it is, sometimes something to take your mind off of the pain can really help.

I like to blog or work on my bullet journal when I don’t feel especially well, assuming I feel well enough to do so.

Give yourself permission to take a break.

At the risk of contradicting my former point, remind yourself that it’s okay to do absolutely nothing if necessary.  Take a nap or lie in a dark room if that makes you feel better.  Take a sick day.  Eat that TV dinner that isn’t super healthy but is convenient enough to make without using too many spoons.

I’m a workaholic and a perfectionist and I struggle with this one the most.  Do as I say, not as I do;  take a break.

Talk about it.

No, I’m not saying that complaining to your mum about your latest ache will make it go away.  But it may make you feel a little better about it.

In addition, you’ll help eradicate the stigma around talking about these things, especially if your illness affects your mental health.

The real bonus here though is that you’re letting people know the truth.  Will there be those who judge, who think you’re making it up, or who claim you complain too much?  Yes.  But those people don’t matter.

What does matter is those people who recognise that you can’t control this.  These are the friends who text you to check in or the family members who offer to help you cook or clean when you can’t get out of bed one day.  These are the people who deserve you.

Get a pet.

Yes, it’s an added responsibility.  But, in my experience, this is one of the single most beneficial tips I’ve found.

A service dog is perfect, in many cases, because he can be trained to help you with everyday tasks, or even to recognise symptoms you might not pick up on.

I can’t quite afford the training myself, so I’m in the process of adopting an Emotional Support Dog.  Since I’m living in the States, an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an amazing option.  They’ve been under a lot of scrutinies lately as fraudulent companies “prescribe” them and questionable passengers board planes with “real” ESAs.  The benefits are endless and, for me, the difference is astounding.  I have fewer nightmares and more full nights of sleep and legitimately hurt less when I’ve got a natural “heating pad” curled up next to me.  If this is an option for you, it could make a huge difference!

Update: I ended up adopting an emotional support cat! Read more about Fitz here.

Heat is your friend.

Or, at least it’s mine.  A heating pad*, hot water bottle*, or electric blanket* is sometimes the only thing that will help my aching joints.  Right now, in the middle of summer, it’s a less viable option, but during the rest of the year, these are my favourite things.

Find the tools that work for you.

For me, a pregnancy pillow* has been my best ever purchase for sleeping a little better.  For some, it’s a TENS unit*, Epsom salts*, or a neck pillow*.  It may take some testing and the process can be painstakingly frustrating, but when you find something that works, it will all be worth it.

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain