Mourning the Loss of a Pet

Losing a pet can be equivalent to losing a close friend.  The loss of a pet, after sharing your home with them for a significant amount of time, can be a profoundly sad and emotional time.  To you, your pet was not “just a dog” or “just a cat”, but a companion and friend.  We are still dealing with the death of our 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Skip.  We adopted Skip when our son was in first grade – our son will be 20 this year.  Needless to say, we loved Skip, annoying habits and all.

Normal Feelings of the Grieving Process

We can go through many emotions when dealing with a pet’s death.  All of the following can be normal when coping with your loss:

  • denial
  • anger
  • disbelief
  • sadness
  • depression
  • loneliness
  • guilt

The grieving process is a very individual experience.  You may encounter all of the above feelings or just some.  It is important to give yourself the time needed to move through all of your stages of grief.

Guilt can be a particularly difficult reaction to have when your pet dies, especially if euthanasia is involved.  We often feel bad for not being able to do more for our pet, even if this is the most humane option.  Even when euthanasia is not necessary, we tend to be overly critical of our caring for our pet – we beat ourselves up over not spending more time with our furry friend, or that we occasionally became annoyed when our pet misbehaved.  In times such as this, try to remember the love and quality of life you gave to your furbaby.  One day you will remember your times together with less sadness and guilt, and more with fondness and even laughter.

Managing Your Grief

Here are some possible ways that may help you to deal with your bereavement:

  • your feelings are your own – don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel
  • hold a memorial service or funeral for your pet that includes your family members
  • creating a memorial for your pet – a photo book, memory box, etc.
  • seek solace and consolation from others who have experienced the loss of a pet
  • continue daily routines with surviving pets – they grieve as well and can sense your distress – this will benefit them as well as you
  • be sure to care for your own well-being – eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise
  • seek professional help if needed

Should you get another pet?

The decision to get another pet is also a very personal one.  Knowing when, if at all,  to open your heart and home to another loving companion will take time.  Take the time you need to mourn your beloved pet before adopting another furry friend.  You will know when you are ready.  A new pet can never replace your old companion, however, we are fortunate that our hearts have unlimited capacity on how many we can love.  There are some that feel they can never suffer the loss of a cherished pet again.  It is a fact of life that humans more often outlive their pets.  For myself, I know that I will always have a dog sharing my home.  I believe it is better to have experienced the unique friendship, companionship, and love than to never have had that blessing in my life.

Death and loss, unfortunately, are elements of life.  The sorrow we feel with the loss of a pet is often difficult.  This experience, like any in life, can be lessons in appreciating our time here on earth and making the most of the adventure.  Being able to share it with a furry friend by our side is a privilege.

Is the Sleep You’re Getting Good Enough?

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Not getting enough sleep can cause a myriad of symptoms.  You’re probably familiar with most, if not all of them, with sleepiness being the most obvious.  Irritability is another common symptom of not getting your zzz’s, however, lack of sleep could also be linked to more serious disorders like anxiety and depression.

Not being able to concentrate on tasks at hand can also subsequently result in an impaired cognitive ability.  This might not sound like a big deal at first, but consider if you are operating heavy equipment – such as driving your car.  The combination of flawed thinking and driving in busy traffic or along the highway is not a good combination!

Those who are sleep deprived also can suffer from poor judgment, confusion, and even hallucinations.  Lack of sleep can even cause a person to be confused about the time, day or even year.

So far these symptoms have all had a cognitive element.  Did you know that lack of sleep can even cause physical symptoms such as achiness and general discomfort?  Some can also experience gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.

How can I get a more restful sleep?

The following tips are just a few of the numerous ways that you can improve your sleep quality and quantity, also known as “sleep hygiene”.

Start with eliminating caffeine intake between 4-6 hours before bedtime.  This includes coffee and some colas, but don’t forget that other things such as tea, chocolate, and some pain relievers can also contain caffeine.  Caffeine is a stimulant that can work against you when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Exercising at the right time of day – earlier in the day – can help you to fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality.  However, because exercise can cause the body to become more alert due to secretion of the hormone cortisol, it is recommended that you hit the gym no less than 3 hours before bed.

Establish a pre-bedtime routine.  Do something that relaxes you, such as reading, watching tv, or performing relaxation techniques.  Such activities will calm your system and induce drowsiness.  If you can’t stop thinking about work issues or personal problems, try keeping a pen and paper by your bed.  Writing concerns down and getting them onto paper will help to get them off your mind and allow you to relax.

Be sure your bedroom is a haven for rest.  Ensure your bedroom is quiet and dark.  If ambient noises are bothersome, try earplugs or a white noise machine.  Extraneous light can be a powerful signal to our brain that its time to wake up.  To block out light, try room darkening shades or an eye mask.    Lastly, try keeping computers, tv’s and work materials out of your rest space – these can all disrupt our association between restfulness and alertness.

Knowing the signs of sleep deprivation is the first step to getting a better night’s sleep.  The next is taking action and keeping a routine with healthy sleep habits that can improve your health hygiene.

Here’s to your sleep health!

Does Dog Ownership Make You Healthier?

Miss Lola

Are you a dog owner?

If so, do you think your pup is adding to your health and well-being?

Most dog owners feel they are happier than non-pet owners.  If you need convincing, read on…

Overall, dog owners are more active.

Dog owners are healthier because they are more motivated to keep moving.  It’s hard to ignore a persistent pooch who is whining or gives you the sad puppy dog eyes while waiting by the door.

In our house, we can’t even utter the word “WALK” without sending our Corgi, Lola, into excited glee.  In fact, I can’t put my sneakers on without Lola getting that eager look in her eyes!

Research has shown that dog owners met public health guidelines of 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, whereas non-dog owners did not.

Exercise releases endorphins, which can increase self-esteem and increase a generally positive feeling.  This is but one reason dog-owners are not only healthier but also happier.

Dog Owners can Live Longer

The American Heart Association stated in 2013 that dog ownership is probably associated with decreased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.  Based on a study published in Circulationit was found that dog ownership was strongly associated with living longer in people diagnosed with CVD.

Dogs give us Emotional and Social Support

Studies have shown that having a dog in your life can provide just as much emotional and social support as human friendships!  Pet-owners were found to be healthier, happier, and more well-adjusted than non-pet owners.

In one survey, pet owners were even more likely to have greater satisfaction with their life than non-pet owners.

Who’s Happier – Dog or Cat Owners?

In 2016, Psychology Today posted a story that declared dogs make their owners happier than cats.   Based on online surveys completed by pet owners, aspects of positive mental health were measured.  They found that dog owners as a group are happier than cat owners (sorry, Garfield!).

Dogs can Help Prevent and Manage Chronic Illness

An article posted on stated that owning a dog can help to prevent chronic illnesses like type II diabetes. In children, allergies and autoimmune diseases may be less likely to develop.

For those already living with chronic illnesses, dogs can provide some pet therapy.  In dementia sufferers, dogs can decrease anxiety and agitation.  Those with high blood pressure were found to have lower blood pressure levels in stressful situations if they were a pet owner.

Are you convinced?

I feel that I live a happier and healthier life with a dog in it!  Having a dog as a pet definitely motivates me to walk almost every day.  Additionally, when my kids left home, it was beneficial to my mental health to have our Corgi as emotional support and companionship.

What’s your opinion on this subject?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below!

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“So you work in a hospital – are you a nurse?”

I can’t count how many times acquaintances have asked this question of me.

It is a common inquiry, given the fact that nurses make up the majority of professionals in a hospital setting, and they are the staff patients see for the majority of their time spent in the hospital.

While nursing is a noble profession, it never held any appeal to me as a career option. As a student, I was interested in science, and I liked solving puzzles and mysteries. When a student is interested in science, academic advisors frequently guide students towards nursing or physician careers.

However, there was one major difference for me –

Although I wanted a profession in which I helped others, I was not interested in the daily patient interaction that is an integral part of being a nurse or practitioner. Luckily for me, I had an informed college advisor who guided me to Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS).

This is a profession not well known or understood even by others in the healthcare field, while at the same time is a vital part of a patient’s healthcare team.

Medical Laboratory Scientists, or MLS, work in the CLS field. They are the professionals who are responsible for performing laboratory tests that are a part of your annual physical, such as a glucose or cholesterol levels. MLS are also responsible for more complex testing, such as screening blood for safe transfusion and identifying antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and determining which antibiotic is required to save a life. We are also responsible for identifying abnormal white blood cells in initial screening tests, which alert the doctor to possible leukemia. These are but a few examples of the hundreds of lab tests we, as a profession, perform every day.

Statistics show that 70% of medical decisions are based on laboratory results.

There are many clinical symptoms that a patient can exhibit upon a physical exam, that without laboratory testing, the clinician cannot make a definitive diagnosis. In addition to providing accurate results, we are also responsible for providing timely results. Consider the patient who presents to the emergency department with shortness of breath and chest pain. Blood tests that can aid in diagnosing a heart attack are drawn and performed in minutes, allowing for faster treatment of the patient and minimizing damage to heart tissue and preventing death.

According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) 2014 vacancy survey, the average vacancy for lab testing personnel is greater than 10%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics rates CLS job outlook as 13%, which is greater than average. What these statistics tell us is that there are currently not enough MLS to perform laboratory tests so vital to a person’s health status. This shortage is expected to increase with health care reform and baby boomer retirements. What the statistics also show is that job prospects are good – MLS can go virtually anywhere in the country (or world!) and be gainfully employed.

Are you wondering how you can become a MLS, or know someone who might be interested in becoming a MLS?

I recommend you visit the following site:

Also, see the following 12-minute video to learn about the impact MLS can make

Here is what some recent CLS Program graduates have to say about choosing MLS as a career:

“I chose the CLS Program because I am interested in medical science and enjoy working in a laboratory environment. The program is preparing me to work in a high demand career field.”

“I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field and I knew I didn’t want the day to day patient contact. I love the problem solving that occurs in the lab and I enjoy all of the testing that goes on. You get to do something different every day and nothing is ever the same. The laboratory is definitely my home.”

“I enjoy the hands-on work during the shift, along with being able to leave work at work when I go home for the day. The high job availability is also very promising.”

If you would like to learn more about your own or a loved one’s laboratory tests, please visit the website:

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