Reflections: Inspiring Pathways
Managing Fibromyalgia Pain with Bunny Therapy: Unconditional love is a powerful tool in the struggle against chronic pain, something that Nancy Laracy learned from an unexpected source. At only 36 years old, Laracy developed excruciating pain and fatigue from parvovirus and fibromyalgia. These conditions initially derailed her everyday life, but she soon found an unexpectedly effective pain management tool — a pet rabbit named Bunnyboy, who helped her get back on track.
“In the fall of 1994, I woke up one morning with what felt like a severe flu,” says Laracy. “I had joint pain in my hands and fingers and also my ankles, knees and elbows.”
As months passed, Laracy’s condition worsened. The pain spread to her muscles, and she says the fatigue became “crushing.”
“It was terrifying,” she says. “When I passed out one day 18 months into the ordeal, I ended up in the hospital, where the doctors finally diagnosed me with Parvovirus B-19.”
Laracy says that as her pain and fatigue worsened, her mood deteriorated.
“I was angry at the whole world, and sad,” she recalls. “That’s when Bunnyboy entered the picture. Something in me just gave when I held this darling, cuddly rabbit in my arms.”
Bunnyboy and Laracy were soon inseparable. However, when Bunnyboy developed serious medical issues that threatened his life, Laracy switched roles, and became the caregiver instead of the patient.
“Chronic pain sufferers may be fearful of the extra work involved with having a pet, but they are actually on the receiving end of pet therapy,” Laracy says. “We have to get up to feed them, clean their litter pan or play with them — and moving helps us feel better.
“Pets also teach us about unconditional love,” she continues. “I truly believe that unconditional love heals and helps prolong and improve the quality of our lives. When an animal completely relies upon you for their care, you cannot help but bond with them.”
Bunnyboy lived for nine years. During that time, Laracy took care of him through several medical emergencies.
“I remember thinking, He just keeps going, nothing seems to get him down, and that helped me keep my pain in perspective,” she says. “He helped me feel less broken — to feel it was okay not to be able to do everything I used to do. We became unbelievable partners in pain management.”
Laracy now shares her experiences with others in pain, bringing her new fluffy partner, Muffin, as a reminder of how powerfully love can heal.
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.
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