purTY purTY purTY

Pretty red bird, he sings it every day!

Photo by Virginia Sanderson via Flickr

Every day for the past few weeks I’ve heard the Cardinal call,  “PurTY, PurTY,  PurTY.”  What a nice thing for a bird to say!

I’ve always especially loved Cardinals and the male is certainly an eye-catcher,  just as nature intended.

I wonder what the very handsome guy in the above image is thinking, but then I also wonder if birds can think.

I’m too tired to research this question in-depth, but I came across a wonderful article about a Parrot, Alex, who sadly died in 2007, but left with us interesting questions about animal intelligence that I find fascinating.

There may be more to a “birdbrain” than we thought.  The article about Alex is from 1999, but I imagine there remains, “a highly emotional debate about whether thought is solely the domain of humans, or whether it can exist in other animals.”

“Alex can think.  His actions are not just an instinctive response, –but rather a result of reasoning and choice.”  (Dr. Irene Pepperberg, A Thinking Bird or just another Birdbrain).

I’ve always wondered about humans being the most intelligent species and the older I get, the more I wonder.

Living with a chronic illness has a way of putting you in touch with being human.  Living with persistent pain and/or illness is humbling.  Strangely, this experience of being so damn human gives me a sense of connection with all living creatures.

I guess when I think of the pain and fatigue I live with I remember the ticks.  They are so small and relatively low on the food chain, but one bite from the wrong one at the wrong time can change your life, or worse.

There is a sense of oneness in the awareness that these little vectors can transmit disease and that a resulting illness can fall upon any person.  We are all alike in one way.  Blood runs through our veins and a beating heart keeps us alive.

I remember the day I found the baby deer tick on me.  It was in the afternoon and was a beautiful day outside.  I remember falling to the ground in weakness, while walking to my car.  Suddenly it felt like someone had grabbed my throat and was choking me.  My joints protruded for months.  For several weeks, I lost almost complete use of my hand and eventually my arm too.

I remember lying in bed looking out of the window thinking how I’m not any stronger than those ticks.  We are the same in one way you look at it.  We each have our place on this planet.

A few weeks ago, the deep joint pain like I had after the deer tick bite in 2003 reappeared.  This scared me.

I went to the doctor who tested me for autoimmune diseases.  I didn’t think to get tested for any of the tick-borne illnesses.  I’ve seen a few crawling on me this year, but none of them were attached.

“Positive,” one of my lab reports reads.  I received them in an email without an explanation from my doctor.  A lab report I can’t understand, but I do know the word positive.

I called the nurse,  “What am I positive for?” I asked her.

“Something arthritic,” she answered.

I know the test is for autoimmune diseases, but they have to do further testing to know which one.  It could be Lupus or RA and for all I know it could be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or something else!

My doctor still hasn’t sent me a note, explained anything or asked for a follow-up.  Modern times I guess.

The referring nurse called to say the Rheumatologists can see me in August.  This is April.  Sigh…

We have many fine Rhuematologists here, but they won’t see me because I have insurance for poor people and doctors don’t like it because they don’t get paid as much for their services.  I also have Medicare, but because I have Medicaid, they won’t see me.  The only ones who will take my insurance are the teaching clinics at the hospitals, which is a lot better than going to the public health department like I had to when I lived in the mountains.  That was altogether horrible.

Still, it isn’t very cool that I have a positive test for an autoimmune disease, which was taken because of joint pain and a worsening of fatigue and not be able to know what exactly I tested positive for.  I would at least like advice or counseling, since knowing me, I probably wouldn’t use whatever medication they suggested.  I can’t take medication for arthritis.  They all make me sick.  I can’t take most medications without getting sick.  However, I’d still like to know where I stand and what my body is battling.

I’ve suspected Lupus before and so have a few doctors I’ve seen, but you have to test for this disease when it’s active for the results to show positive.

I’m very tired and life isn’t slowing down for me.  It’s hard to keep up my obligations, some of which are difficult when I’m feeling well.

I keep thinking things will get better.  They’ve been bad before and they got better.

A cabin in the mountains near the hot springs is what I fantasize about.  Taking my dogs, a few good novels and waking up for a month or so, only to walk over to sit in the natural springs and enjoy a Swedish massage afterwards.

For now, I take comfort in nature.  I listen when the birds sing.  I hear that Cardinal.  “PurTY, PurTY, PurTY.”  He is so nice!

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts.  Emails are never published.

Forest Food Web via mdlk12.org

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Michelle, Sorry that I’ve fallen behind in reading your posts, which are so thoughtful and well-written. I haven’t had time to blog or to read blogs for about a month. WORK.

    Our medical system, which so many blindly believe is the “best in the world,” it sucks!

    I’m printing out your Homeless with dog post, and look forward to reading it right now. — John



    • Hi John,

      Never worry about falling behind, as I have on just about everything. I’m glad to hear you have work, even though since you wrote it in all caps, I suspect you would rather be doing something else.

      You are right. The medical system does suck. Thank goodness for the few people within it who are kind. That makes it easier, but it ought to be normal and not considered so special to be kind and decent.

      I’m off to pay the mechanic. At least he can fix things, but I’m never prepared for their bills. I need work! I’ve been thinking of jobs a person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can do. I’m still thinking…



  2. Although I subscribed to your blog, I haven’t been getting notices. My memory is so bad that I tend to follow closely those blogs that show up in my inbox! I dropped by today, and found several entries I hadn’t read.
    I go by a cybername when I blog and my real name elsewhere (When I first developed an online personae, I didn’t know how to circumvent some spaces and use my blogging name.)
    My brain isn’t finding words too easily today, so I’ll end by saying your blog is interesting, evocative, open, and honest. Thanx for sharing.



    • Hi Phylor,

      Thank you for your comments. I don’t know why you aren’t seeing updates. I did notice you had subscribed, (thank you) although I can’t remember if it’s through email or WordPress. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be seeing my new posts (as rare as they are these days).

      What you’ve said has opened my heart today. You are right. I do have cyberfriends and I need to keep that in my mind. I guess I am somewhat afraid to tell what is happening with me.

      Thank you too for the compliments about my blog. Not feeling too good about myself these days. I appreciate your kind words, esp., since I believe you are being honest and not just saying it to make me feel good. Thank you.

      Maybe the blog updates will happen. I can check into it later and see what I can figure out.

      With much gratitude,



  3. Hi Michelle –
    Wow, what a great post & comments! You touched on so many things I can connect with. Like you, I have such a feeling of connectedness with Nature. We are all related. I’ve often wondered at the arrogance of humans, thinking we’re the smartest animals, but the other animals at least have enough sense not to “foul the nest.” We’ve certainly polluted our entire planet, and continue to do so. We arrogantly assume everything was placed here just for us, to consume, or pave, or destroy… but in reality we are all connected in the same web of life, and we have unbalanced the delicate perfection of our ecosystem.

    It all makes me very sad & angry. I don’t thing we’re “better than” any other species, and even our own science has proven animals have emotions & feelings just like we do. And they problem-solve and understand far more than most people give them credit for.

    I am still in disbelief that your doctor would be so callous as to email you test results like that without talking to you first. He should have had you come in for an appointment. I understand exactly how the medicaid messes up the doctor search – we’re also on medicaid, but in Virginia it’s run thru managed care organizations, and I picked Anthem for us. It made it much easier – in the beginning it was just “medicaid” and nobody takes that – they don’t get paid enough.

    Seems like a lot of doctors now are not even accepting insurance – you can submit it on your own but a lot of insurance companies don’t reimburse at all, or very little.

    I looked up the ANA test on About.com and it explained what all it means – the titer level & pattern indicate what form & how severe the autoimmune issue is. Many people with CFS have autoimmune issues. I have “reactive inflammatory arthritis” – the arthritis is caused by the body’s reaction to the infections, the epstein-barr, herpes varieties, & I guess the XMRV.

    I’m not on the computer so can’t send you the link. Sorry.

    I’ll be thinking of you & sending healing energy & prayers. I’m so sorry you are having such a rough time – but you’re not alone. Strength in numbers!

    Many hugs –




    • (Updated this comment at the end! For my new friend Laurie!)

      Dear Ash,

      Hello my friend and thank you for this comment.

      I love what you say in your first paragraph! You speak for me. I agree with every word you say.

      We have discovered time and time again that something we believed was true is not. One day we might “discover” that humans are not the smartest of all the creatures on this planet.

      You are right too about this comment thread being interesting! Thanks for pointing this out to me.

      We have touched on being human and humbled, living with illness and having to fight for our rights as a patient. You have a special gift of knowledge and are now following your bliss via “Ash’s Weekly Advice.”

      Dreamwalker (from Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary, which is a wonderful place to visit!) beautifully invites us to a healing that we can have no matter where we are in our lives.

      Deb (DorkyDeb) has a wonderful way of sharing nature with us through her unique voice, knowledge in biology and her talent as a photographer.

      Each comment is a part of the web connecting us to each other and to that which is everything.


      About healthcare. Doctors are seeing two or three patients at the same time, each one getting 12 minutes. This isn’t working. Things have changed. My doctor used to call during hard times. He was always available to his patients by phone. Not anymore!

      Being a long-term patient means you eventually get to a point where you know as much as the doctors, or more. This is liberating and extremely frustrating at the same time.

      Knowing what I know causes me both disappointment in our medical system (because it is failing so many people) and gives me anxiety when I realize what is being missed and neglected in my personal healthcare.

      I feel like I’m on a journey home. I wish I could just get there a little faster so I could have more peace; more joy. I feel like I’m heading back, even though I’m moving forward. I feel like giving up, for the most part anyway, on modern medicine. I feel like returning to nature as I’ve done in my past, only this time I’ll have the Internet. Of course :)!

      Thank you so much for becoming a part of this blog. I am honored!

      Thank you also for your friendship. Blessings!

      PS My new friend Laurie, from Hibernationnow blog, also shared in this “web.” We were apparently connecting to the Cardinals at the same time.

      From Laurie: “–and seeing a cardinal, yes, especially the male makes me incredibly happy. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy..it’s the little things.”

      A blog is a wonderful thing! Among other benefits, it’s a place where we find others who understand what life with chronic illness is like. We all need a sense of connection and community and like we have said, being home-bound either all of the time or most of the time, sure makes the Internet a blessing!



  4. Arrgh My Dear Michelle… I know only too well those days of pain and fatigue and I am so sorry that you are still going through your days like the ones you describe.. I hope that your results and tests will soon prove helpful in relieving some of your symptoms and you can find some relief very soon..

    You are doing right in visualizing … this is a must…. to visualize yourself free from pain able to walk and enjoy your time among the mountains with walks to be carefree once again from all your problems.. Below I wrote a poem a while back.. in which I imagine my own healing grid.. I often place people upon its web.. and you are among them.. so link into its image and see if we can pull some of the Universes own healing energy down to uplift you and fill you back up with some vitality and healing.. Much love and healing sent your way Michelle.. When you connect to your imagination and healing.. Use the OM sound.. or get the drums going again Michelle… Music and its vibration the OM in particular has its own healing vibration… use it with Positive thought!… Positive Intent.. and pull in your energy…. its there, Trust me… Im living proof..

    Imagine floating up on high,
    Further up, beyond the sky.
    A perfect circle made of light.
    Reflecting colours, yet mass of white.

    Rotating, swirling, like Saturn rings,
    This if the Healing that it brings.
    With heavenly watches at each Pole,
    Within its centre is a hole.

    From its centre does spread out lines,
    On this the healing you shall find.
    Glistening now like spiders web,
    Come and join, lay down your head.

    We can link with silken thread
    Just imagine what I’ve said.
    Along the thread a dewdrop falls
    Back down to Earth, Healing All.

    The Healing Grid create with your mind,
    Imagine Love and peace you’ll find.
    Music is your healing sound
    The Healing Grid you now have found.

    So come to join us on the web
    Of Love and Light we hope to spread.
    The dewdrops are a two-way thing
    To give and receive the Love it brings.

    The Healing vibration the Grid will share
    Link into the Love, its beyond compare.
    The Grid will give you what you sort
    I leave you all with Healing thoughts.

    Sue Dreamwalker



    • Hi Dreamwalker,

      Thank you for your healing message. I love the poem. I was having such a hard time yesterday. It was Easter here when families are supposed to get together, but I believe mine has put me out of their minds. I miss them, but I wonder if they miss me. The sicker I get, the less contact I have with them.

      I finally sat down at my computer after a terribly emotional day and saw this message. It came at a good time. I’m sure my son would thank you because he was getting a larger dose of my poor mood than he deserved until I read your poem.

      I meditated a little and calmed down immediately. We had a pleasant quiet evening afterwards. We ended up watching some videos about Easter and of course came across some others. One included drums and chanting (that one wasn’t about Easter.) Then finally I fell into a deep sleep. Hadn’t had that in a while.

      You are very kind Dreamwalker. I am happy to know you and call you a friend. I am honored to be yours.

      “Along the thread a dewdrop falls
      Back down to Earth, Healing All.”

      I will read this one many times Dreamwalker. I will keep on imagining. Maybe one day my dream of being able to rest in that mountain cabin by the springs will happen. We really do have a place like this in my state. It is up high in the mountains where I used to live. I miss the mountains so much. They are beautiful. The springs are from the earth but they modernized them and built a little resort around them. It is affordable and people from all over the world come there. I think it would help me to get away from my normal environment, which is quite stressful. I know stress is doing a number on me.

      Thank you for the poem and for including me in your “web” of healing.

      With gratitude,



  5. I agree birds and other animals certainly think. There are some very interesting studies out there on crows. Crows are some of the most intelligent birds. Researchers are still learning new things about crows and are amazed at what they can do. I was involved in the hand-raising of 2 crows years ago and I don’t find the studies amazing. Because after spending time with them it is obvious they are brilliant little animals. If I can find the link to the study my husband showed me not too long ago on them, I’ll send it to you. It was a fun video to watch. I just can’t remember where it was that he showed it to me from. I’ll ask him when he gets home.

    I am very sorry about the increasing health issues and the frustrations of poor coverage. I am experiencing both of those myself. My best guess on your bloodwork would be RA. RA is extremely common with FM. So much so that they test me often for it, they keep expecting me to be positive but so far I haven’t been. They tell me they think it is only “a matter of time”. Certain autoimmune things tend to run together. I have arthritis in areas of former injury, but not RA. Not yet anyway.

    In the U.S. they cannot make you wait until August to know the specific results. Under the law you have a right to a copy of your medical records if you request them. That’s the law. They may not like to acknowledge that (I’ve ran into those types) but they do have to show it to you if you ask, and provide a copy if you ask. They can charge a small (and it must be “reasonable”) fee under the law for a copy (something like a dollar or two per page copied is sometimes asked) but they do have to let you see it. So I would ask them. Most decent offices will mail you a copy to your home address of record without a fee, if it is just bloodwork results, and you ask nicely. Some offices are more frustrating. But I would try that. That way you can have some answers before August. I would just call the office and say that you would like to request a copy of your most recent bloodwork results and be specific that you want the results of the test that came back positive for an autoimmune disease. And see what they say.

    Another thing I would try is calling the doctors office that they got the referral to, and asking them directly if there is anyway they can see you before August. If they say no, then I’d ask if they keep a cancellation list that you could request to be put on, to be called if they have a cancellation. Those are things that have worked for me (at times) in the past.

    I wish you the best with all of this. And I will keep you in my prayers.




    • Hi Deb,

      I’ve read that crows have more than forty different calls. That amazes me. Please do send me the link about them. I met one while camping last summer. That crow seemed to know my schedule better than I did and was keen on stealing my fruit when I was sleeping.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I sure hope I don’t have RA. I was thinking Lupus because I get pleurisy and that’s one of the symptoms. I’ve also had the little thing they call a butterfly rash, which is redness on my face shaped like a butterfly. Weird huh? Lately I’ve had swelling around my joints and this is not normal for me. The only time they have swelled was after the tick borne illnesses in ’03 and ’05. I don’t know what to think. They hurt a lot but so far, my normal dosage of pain meds make it tolerable for now.

      About the tests. I get mine via email. I did receive the positive Anti-Nuclear Antibody (ANA) test. The nurse said I would have to see a Rheumatologist to find out what I am positive for. Because she said that, then I thought they had to do more tests and could determine that way if it is positive for Lupus or RA or some other autoimmune disease, but Laurie who commented and has an autoimmune disease, says she didn’t know they had a test for a specific one, so I may well be wrong.

      I’m going to make some phone calls this week to see if I can be seen before August.

      Today I have to drive to Duke to take care of my foot. Going to a new doc ’cause the last one wanted to do surgery. No way I said.

      Sigh… I took a break and the sky broke loose!

      Hopefully, I will feel better soon. I will surely let you know. Thank you again for your sweet comment. It sure does mean a lot to me. Take care of yourself too and I’m thinking of you.

      doggie kisses and hugs 🙂



  6. Wow, we are all connected. Yesterday for the first time in years, I put bird food out so that my beloved cardinals would find their way back to me. This morning I saw the first one and seeing a cardinal, yes, especially the male makes me incredibly happy. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy..it’s the little things. There are a ton of ticks in my area so we are always trying (to remember) to check. Before I first got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis they did a lyme test on me a few times. It’s so hard when all the symptoms are so closely tied together. I’m somewhat in shock about you having to wait until…..did you see August? I don’t know where you live but that’s just unacceptable. Would it help if you went to an ER? I’ve had just about every test so feel free to ask me any questions, I didn’t know there was a blood test for just autoimmune diseases. I wish you better health, I wish it for you and me and all our chronic pain friends. I hope you feel better, and in the meantime, we call both listen to the chirp from the cardinals we can hear from inside our bedroom windows.! Take good care, your fellow dog lover, Laurie



    • Hi Laurie,

      Thanks for reading my post. It’s nice to connect here with you.

      I think when you face illness every day that it takes less to make us happy. We do see the little things in a different way than when our bodies didn’t speak so loudly to us.

      I wrote about the tests in my comment to Deb. I had a positive ANA test, but I thought they could do more testing to figure out which, if any, autoimmune disease this test may be indicating. Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe they diagnose which one based on symptoms. I sure hope it is not RA, but then I don’t want any other diseases. I was just getting to a place where I could understand fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I don’t want to learn about more diseases.

      The nurse did indeed say it would be late August before a specialist can see me. I think it is poor communication on my doctor’s part not to explain the test or ask for a follow up to see me. He didn’t even add a note to the test. It simply says Positive. He used to be one of my favorite doctors ever and I felt so lucky to have him.

      Nowadays he sees too many patients, like most doctors I guess, so the quality of care has lessened dramatically. I wish doctors could just settle down with making a hundred grand or so a year but I think they want to be millionaires.

      Thanks for your kind words and for sharing about the birds up there. The Cardinal is a wonderful and beautiful bird isn’t it? I love the photo I used for this post. I love the look in that bird’s eye. He is mighty intent on whatever he sees.

      Hope to see more of you in the blogosphere! Thank you so much for commenting.

      Also, if you take any photos of the birds where you live, then please share them.

      Take good care, “your fellow dog lover”

      PS I imagine my many names is confusing. I used to always go by dogkisses, but often use my name (Michelle) on my blog. Just thought I’d share that with you. I think I might write about my pen name, which you know me by. It isn’t really a secret, but is simply a name I like the sound of.



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