Losing a beloved pet is heart-breaking for anyone, but even more so for someone who has already lost so much to years of being sick. Even when you have a neurological illness that few people understand, animals can provide unconditional love and support.
Helen still has her other bichon frisé dog Snuffe, but the recent loss of "her little shadow" Lillen (pictured) dealt a devastating blow, especially since any stress tends to make chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) even worse.
Helen studied Swedish and English, became a librarian and had three children in just over three years. For several years she was effectively a single parent, as her husband worked in a different city, and she had no family members around to help.
Then, when the children went to school and she was planning to return to work, Helen got sick. She was constantly suffering from colds and flus and ran a fever for many months. After that she never recovered.
That was 16 years ago. Helen, 57