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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Choodles and Seizures: Attempting to understand why

So about a year ago, my littlest maltipoo (formerly thought to be a choodle, but blood tests have changed our minds), anyway my littlest maltipoo began having seizures. Now that I think about it, it was more in the area of 1.5 years ago.

I remember sitting on the couch in my living room, the poo's (for lack of a better nickname I will call them poo's since they are all related to poodles in some way) were happily surrounding me and sleeping - something that the poos do very well - all except the littlest poo - my maltipoo, Cheddar. Just about the time I thought how odd it was not to have him nearby, I heard a very loud noise at the doggy door, which turned out to be Cheddar attempting to enter from the back patio. He made it through the door just in time for me to witness his complete loss of balance, falling over to his side.

Of course I ran to him and picked him up, hoping to sooth away any hurt of embarrassment he might have suffered, only to find he was stiff and unresponsive. His eyes were glazed, and his head was thrown back in what can now only be called a very disturbing angle. As I carried him to the couch, my mind was working 1000mph reaching through to my years as a veterinarian technician to discover what this could be. Had he been poisoned? Or was some unknown disease taking hold. My mind settled not on my experience as a vet tech, but even further back in my life to the memories of when I was a young girl.

My mother had poodles. Two little black females and their mother a chocolate poodle named Suzi. There were toy poodles. The largest of them all, Sweetie, had seizures and my mind latched on to these memories. All the usual signs were there - stiffening, glazed eyes, legs begin to paddle, drooling - all these things Cheddar was now doing.

I held him for several minutes as he completed his seizure and settled down into my lap. I have to confess I was afraid to put him down thinking that it might trigger another seizure or that he would no longer be able to walk.

As it turns out, he was just fine. Since that time a year and a half ago, we have relocated to Florida for good and not a month goes by that Cheddar does not have a seizure.

It's commonly called "white dog syndrome" and appears to be prevalent on several of the smaller breeds such as poodles, Maltese and no one can find a true cause for the seizures.

I have discussed the issue with my veterinarian and she and I both feel that if the seizures are not affecting him and he sticks to one per month, that there is no real reason to worry or to put him on anti-seizure medications. Many experts even feel that adding anti-seizure meds can increase the seizure activity - go figure.

So I continue with my little seizure prone Cheddar and he has learned to come and find me before the seizure hits. It must be a feeling he gets before the seizure activity begins. Sometimes he makes it to me and judging by the panic stricken look on his face I know what is to come. Sometimes he doesn't make it and I will find him under chairs, in hallways seizing.

But I always hold him quietly until it passes and after about 10 minutes or so he is fine and on his merry way to bark at the TV, or one of the ducks that roam the back yard.

This dog has it made, maybe he plays me with these seizures - but it works.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving and type 2 diabetes

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought this might be a good time to mention my approach to eating during this time of the year. There are no real tricks to my approach, just some common sense views and ways to avoid the pitfalls that diabetics face while everyone else stuffs themselves. The typical Thanksgiving fair is tough on a diabetic, and there are diabetics who say "ey wth, its one day a year, I am going to splurge and then go back to all the restrictions the day after" I cant do this. I have learned that it takes me just one bad meal to reorganize my brain into thinking it can eat anything that it wants. Call this poor self-control, or no will-power - call it what you want but it is how my brain works. For this reason if I go off the wagon once it takes me weeks or months to get back on. So I just avoid the whole issue and continue to make good choices even when temptation is spread out before me. So here at The Diabetic Zone is my strategy for the big day coming up. Maybe you can use it, maybe you can't I will leave that decision up to you. Either way, best wishes to you and yours as we enter the holidays!

Friday, January 15, 2010

And the rest of the story

Well, I have a feeling that this is an ongoing story that, as the more farmland in Florida becomes populated, the more widespread it will become. You might remember the post I did on sinkholes?

Back when I first moved to Florida I slowly became aware of a HUGE issue here in Florida, an issue that has succeeded in convincing myself and my husband that buying a house here in Florida is NOT the wisest of decisions and that is the problem of sinkholes.

It is so bad in fact, that the county I happen to live in at the moment (the county that my husbands business is located - so unless we are happy with an hour commute for him everyday we also must live in) is virtually uninsurable when it comes to home owners insurance. Ok, let me rephrase that. You CAN get regular home owners insurance on a home for not much more then the national average, BUT you have to buy a sinkhole rider if you want to be protected against this little...nuisance. Most insurance companies won't even offer sinkhole coverage and those that do the prices are unbelievably high.

Ok a bit of a geology lesson here. Florida basically floats on large aquifers. These aquifers need to be fed and replenished when the water drops below acceptable levels. Mother nature in her infinite wisdom, and not to mention just basic principles of physics, compensates for the depletion by opening up sinkholes. These sinkholes range from small depressions in the ground to house swallowing monsters and appear out of no where and eat anything within close proximity of it. The sinkholes occur mostly because the water table in the aquifer has dropped so therefore there is just air between the limestone and the top of the water table. The weight of the earth will collapse in on itself and this in turn is another way to feed the aquifer when it rains. Florida is covered with small lakes many of which were originally sinkholes that through time and sediment have become bodies of water which wild life makes good use of. We have one such lake at the back of our house as I have shown pictures of occasionally on this blog.

Ok, so everyone knows the cold snap that Florida just endured right? We have not broken the 60 degree mark yet in 2010... well not until yesterday that is and there were nights that we were in the teens and twenties.

Yeah yeah so what has this got to do with sinkholes you are asking? Patience I am getting there.

Freezing temps have a huge impact on the water levels of the acquifers but in a round about way and here is how.


Yes farmers. Seems that the farmers in many places of Florida rely on the water in aquifers to water these crops. In normal situations with normal weather that is not a big deal, I guess the water used makes little impact on the aquifers and the rain tends to replenish them quickly so no harm no foul. BUT when the weather is extreme, as has been the case for the last few weeks it has done great harm and a lot of people are crying foul.

For instance, we have a city that is in eastern Hillsborough county ( same county that Tampa is in) that has self proclaimed itself strawberry capitol of the world. Strawberries are very vulnerable to below freezing temps. So the farmers of these crops will water them in order to provide a layer of insulation on the tender plants. The ice that builds on the strawberries keeps them IN MOST CASES at a constant 32 degrees. and the destructive 28-29 degree air cannot get to the plant. At least that is how I understand it. The above image I have included is the tactic that the farmers use to try to save their crops.

Great, more power to the farmer, right? But this has an adverse effect on the aquifers in that it drains more water then normal from them. The last figure I read was that the aquifer is running some 60 feet BELOW normal levels and mostly this has to do with the farmers insulating their crops. Oh and btw it is not just the strawberry farmers doing this. The citrus farmers insulate their crops in this manner as well.

So over the last few days the domino effect has begun. Some 22 new sinkholes have opened up in the area, one is on a major interstate that bisects the state from east to west. While diverting traffic in order for the state to deal with that sinkhole, the road that the traffic was being diverted to is showing signs of forming a sinkhole as well. Houses are being swallowed, land is disappearing. Many of the people who are losing parts of their land and buildings did not have sinkhole coverage.

Sometimes I think that Florida is just going to sink into the sea.

So thanks farmers. I dunno if I was a homeowner that this was happening too, I think rather then having strawberries on the table come summertime I would rather keep my house.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

St Petersburg Pier

Recently my youngest daughter came for a visit. She lives back in Arizona at the moment and one of the reasons for the visit was an appt. that she had with a cosmetology school she wants to attend. So we made time for that and the rest of the 5 or so days she spent here was getting to know the area and doing a bit of sight-seeing, something I have not really been able to do myself until she came.

So one of our stops was the famed St. Petersburg pier, in of course, St Pete. This pier was originally opened somewhere in the late 1800's I believe with a rail way that was laid down here to help transport some of the goods that were shipped over from various parts of the world.

The pier itself was torn down and rebuilt in 1973 in a more modern-istic style (at least what was considered modern in those days - personally I love the "retro" look of it with the quirkiness of a Salvador Dali painting) and became the inverted pyramid that it is today. You can see it over the shoulder of my daughter in the picture and Tampa Bay on either side of the road/walkway leading up to the pier.

There has been some rumblings in the community that the powers that be, are discussing closing and/or demolishing the pier. It has not really been reno'd or updated to meet building codes since it was built and with the advent of the modern shopping experience ( malls big and small) it does not draw enough revenue through its little pyramid of eclectic shops that are housed with in it to pay for any such renovation.

Personally I think it would be a sad thing to see this very interesting landmark disappear. There is a grassroots organization of local businesses and residents who mark the area to save the St.Pete Pier....but who knows what will happen in this economy.


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

This being the last day of the year I thought that this day of all days deserves a post on the blog.

New Years Eve is a time of reflecting and I have to be honest with you all, I am not all that jazzed about reflecting on the past year.

Each year as take down the Christmas tree I place all the fragile ornaments in their holders/tubs/wrappings, usually the last thing to go is the angel at tree top. As I remove her I wonder to myself what will my life be like the next time I see her, lately I add to that wonderment the question, "will I even be around next Christmas?". I think that it is a legitimate question when you reach the half century mark and beyond, especially when I think to myself that my late husband was just 50 when he died. In a few short months I will be older then he ever was. He died just a week shy of his 51st birthday. That is a strange feeling since he was always older then me by 6 years. So my own sense of immortality is called to the forefront as I march into this year. Don't ask - if you are not a widow you won't really get it, like most things having to do with widowhood its a "had to be there" situation if ever there was one.

Warning off topic rant below......

In the widowhood community there is a label given to non-widows, and that is "DGI" aka "Don't Get Its" for the most part it is a very appropriate label, but the widow community tends to be overly sensitive and tends to label anyone who attempts to make us feel better and falls short simply because they don't know what to do, as a DGI. And it is not always used as a nice thing. Widows like to isolate and elevate themselves. They want to think that they belong to an exclusive club that no one can get membership to unless their SO has died, and that is ok and true mostely - but some widows look down their noses at non-widows and like to chatter amongst themselves about how no one can POSSIBLY understand, so why even try "just keep your mouths shut and leave me alone"...of course these are the same widows who get very upset with the people in their lives (non-widows) who don't call them/come over/do things for them, in other words they DO leave them alone - so it is a can't win for losing situation.

End rant.

Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts running through my head. This is probably the worst Christmas/New Years I have ever spent in my life in so many ways I will not list - it is too depressing to see the words pour out of my head onto something as tangible as this blog. Don't get me wrong, my life has not been a bed of roses, I have had one or two of these things happen to me during many of the holidays of my life, but all of them at once? Never happened, so I am a bit overwhelmed right now and attempting to keep a common sense approach to things - but it is hard.

I hope that at least one of the things (and there are quite a few of them) that is making this a rough time for me manages to change this new year. I would appreciate it if you would also hope that for me as well.

Thanks for reading and hope everyone has a wonderful celebration and new year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The wild life in this swampy part of the world is quite amazing and there is rarely a week that goes by that I don't see something that makes me go "wow" and run to find the camera.

Currently, we have a little red headed woodpecker ( think Woody) making what seems to be a nest in an old dead palm tree that happens to be center stage in the back yard. It appears to be a home that over the years either many woodpeckers have used or the same one winters here, and then I am assuming, in spring brings his/her little brood into the world. Lately when we take the doggies out for potty time most of the time, this little woodpecker is sitting cozy in his hole/nest and all that is visible are his/her little head and eyes closely monitoring us and the dogs. We are trying not to get too close to the nest so as not to scare him away forever and I have yet to get a decent picture of him/her. All day he spends working on the opening and cleaning out debris from the interior and, I believe, replacing it with new debris to line the nest with anticipation of what might be to come in the next few months. So don't worry I am working on that little photo...but until then I discovered a very pleasant surprise during the last rain.

I have noticed that during, as well as the first sunny day, following a rainy day the wild life comes out in droves. The last rain we had I noticed that we have red breasted robins...a whole flock of them were out in the front yard, I assume digging for worms that were attempting to make their way out of the saturated soil and I noticed something else - a little family of cardinals... wow. I haven't seen cardinals since I lived in Nebraska back in the late 70's. I am assuming that they migrate down here from a colder part of the country and spend the winter here.

Sadly, by the time I changed lenses, set up the tripod for a zoom shot, a school bus had gone by and the noise scared both the robins and the cardinals away.

Luckily, I think that this little family of cardinals is living in a tree that is adjacent to our back yard and I found them later in the day when the sun came out in the back yard. The shot was taken with my portrait lens so there is some distance ( portrait lenses don't zoom very well lol) so that is another goal - to get a better photo that you can actually see the bird and not just a red blob in the yard.

Anyway, trust me, these are cardinals and of course click on the pic and it will show up a bit larger on your computer screen.


Friday, December 18, 2009

A murder of crows

I often wondered why a grouping of crows was called a murder, now I know.

We seem to perhaps be the wintering ground for every North American Black Crow that exists within 10,000 sq miles and we all know what crows do best, they caw. and caw, and caw and caw and when they are not cawing randomly, they do it in unison to provide hours of listening pleasure. I am not kidding, I have to turn up the volume of the TV when they are soaring nearby. It might lead me to murdering a few crows if they don't move on in the near future. Oh and lets not forget they poop too.

When I am outside and they blacken the skies I half expect one of two things to happen, either Tippi Hedren is going to jump out of the bushes and scream at me (re: The Birds), or a tripod is going to break through the trees and point its ray gun at me and disintegrate me ( War of the Worlds the most recent version with Dakota Fanning), of course Tom Cruise should be nearby if that happens, so maybe that is not such a bad thing...

The pictures that I took and posted here represents a mere fraction of the crow population that has been gracing our neighbourhood for the last week or so, but there is only so much that a lens can capture.

Our neighbourhood is defo going to the birds.