Monday, July 25, 2011

Facts about do-it-yourself drug savings: pill splitting and taking expired medicine -

Facts about do-it-yourself drug savings: pill splitting and taking expired medicine -

Pill-splitting: I do this a lot. Not just for myself, but also for the myriad of family pets we have. The above L.A. Times Health link has some good info about this little habit of pill splitting for the splitters among us. This one of those good FYI pieces worthy of an article. Hmm . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Training Ms Cindy

Bella and I have worked all summer toward therapy dog certification. My family thinks I have lost my mind, and I just might before the final objective is met.

We are currently enrolled in two programs to get us there: The Canine Good Citizen certification process and Wildrose Kennels' Adventure Dog certification. Both require training time and consistent performance with a dog that appears to be half Lab, half Border Collie.

Bella and her three sisters were found as abandoned small, helpless puppies in a drainage ditch in a rural Lafayette County Cemetery in late winter, a little over a year ago luckily by a worker from The Friends of Pete Dog Rescue in Oxford. All left for dead.

I researched dogs and resources for months before I found her. I knew I wanted a rescue dog to show what these dogs can do if given a chance, or a second chance in Bella's situation. And when I met Bella at an adoption event sponsored by Hollywood Feed, I was more than excited as her smarts and responsiveness were obvious. My only reservation: she was a little shy. And shyness and therapy dog work are not good bedfellows.

Bella has been all that: very smart, sometimes smart enough to play dumb, responsive, overly active, a good student, a good teacher, and oops, shy.

Her shyness and short attention span is innate and something we struggle to fix, walking in and through every public event showing on the Oxford calendar that will allow woman and beast. I guess we all have things that are innate and need fixing. I sure do, and Bella has taught me more through her weaknesses than I have taught her. Communicating with another species everyday will do that.

Topping the list of Bella's big plans are therapy work in my classroom for children that need extra time reading or working math problems with a dog lying and staring at them as if they were the most special person on the planet or as a reward for kids working extra hard academically. The good news is this is a story that Bella and I get to write together. It's not been done, and we have no how-to manual. But the process has been a worthwhile, beautiful thing that has unfolded.

Last week Bella met and endured some extra tough rubs from mentally challenged adult campers at Camp Lake Stephens. Her shyness peeked through, but she worked around it and actually seemed to enjoy the campers as much as they enjoyed petting and feeding her treats. A few had Bella performing a few of her tricks up her paw. Rewarding. To see a dog left for dead helping others in a small way was a good thing.

Next week Bella has another therapy gig at Heritage Gardens, an assisted living and Alzheimer's facility for the elderly. This means we'll have a little refresher course with me walking on crutches (from foot surgery days - - I knew those dousted things must have a better use) and walking in the yard with a few rolling wheels. The neighbors probably think Bella and I are joining a circus since our yard and street have served as a dog training course with a variety of odd things.

In mid August, she will take her Canine Good Citizen test, the first accreditation among several I hope she will earn. Not shabby for a disposable dog.

If Bella can pull this therapy dog job off, well, it will speak loud and clear for those throw-away dogs sitting in shelters on a ticking clock. And you know, I have never had a dog with degrees, but it sure has been taught me a lot, a good education for some things that I could not have learned otherwise.

Roll Bella, roll!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BIG Sun-Worship-er Medical News: Melanoma Survival Benefit Called 'Astounding' - in Meeting Coverage, ASCO from MedPage Today

Medical News: ASCO: Melanoma Survival Benefit Called 'Astounding' - in Meeting Coverage, ASCO from MedPage Today

Check-out the above link for great news for those suffering from skin cancer. Reducing the death rate of metastatic melanoma by 63 percent will be big health news across the nation. Using the drug agent "BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib" (say that fast three times) improved the survival rate of melanoma patients by unprecidented numbers for oncology studies. This was no slacker-study, but a large international trial.

Now, if we could just get folks out of the tanning beds and wearing sunscreen under this unforgiving Mississippi sun . . .

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Memorial Day Remembrance

a cut-and-paste LINK for Rolling Thunder Hits the Streets of Washington photo gallery)

If there's one thing you notice about Washington D.C., it's the noise, the rush on the streets. Everyone has somewhere to go and are in a whirlwind to get there. The streets even have digital timers. I had about 20 seconds to cross busy intersections with my huge, post-surgery foot in tow. I'm willing to wager, if Mississippi had street timers, our behinds and mid-girths would be a lot less in circumference.

And the bikes - - dotting the streets dashing in and out of mega-paced traffic. From businessmen in suits to businesswomen in skirts, these folks pedal. And there's essentially no bike shame. There were high-end bikes, rusty bikes, vintage bikes, bikes strapped to light poles missing a front wheel, cruiser bikes. It doesn't matter. These folks want to get from point A to point B using the fastest means possible other than cars that get trapped at intersections. Needless to say, the ratio of fat people there, was lower than the Mississippi landscape.

Amid the chaos and clamor of Washington streets, the tourists vaulting for museums and towering government buildings, there are places of solitude. It's there.

The highlight of my recent D.C. trip was where solitude lives among the chaos. It is not the noisy Smithsonian or other museums that line the Mall, but the monuments - - the testaments of history of where we've been as a nation that grab the soul.

The Vietnam Wall, The World War waterfall, the Korean War Monument were all places of absolute respect. These are places where it becomes difficult to keep a dry eye. These are places of sacrifice for those remembered and those left behind. These are places, especially the Vietnam Wall, where hands feel names, where red carnations are dropped and where people gaze behind sunglasses that are places of stillness in big city madness.

But the Lincoln Memorial has my soul. Walking into this ginormous open structure with Lincoln overlooking all, the Gettysburg Address etched on a wall and the Potomac River just outside, well, I have never felt so small in my entire life. I realize how small a piece of the human puzzle I am. Very small, indeed.

The American legacy intersects there, and it melts the heart into humble pieces. This Memorial Day, I carry these places inside, remembering the quiet among the clamor and those that made those special places possible.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What I've Learned from a Chair With Wheels and Crutches

The whole thought of having two metatarsals sawed off and re-screwed down was not appealing. But neither was hobbling in pain on one foot day in and out. According to my new podiatrist, two bones have grown too long, dropped below the fatty pad of my foot and consequently rubbed a callous on the bottom of my foot. My livelihood stands on my feet and so do most things I enjoy. No choice here.

With that said, I was mentally prepared for the possibility of pain. I was not and am not mentally prepared for viewing the world from wheels on a chair or from crutches. It has been a dismal and frustrating perspective.

I have a new found empathy and respect for those wheelchair/crutch bound. It doesn't matter how much you mentally want to do something, if your body won't allow, it just won't allow. Wishes don't count.

Here's a short list of a few other things I've learned:

You have to eat like a bird or be as large as a barge. Physical restraint leads to weight gain. I've done my own physical therapy (yoga and massage), and it does little to elevate my heart rate to a fat burning level.

Organization is key. Most things I reach for are at the other end of the house or two inches beyond my grasp. This experience gives new impetus to get my house in order. Extra steps means extra time and extra energy. In fact, I think there should be whole new branch of organization created; "What Would I Do if I Were in a Wheelchair" philosophy?

I have new goggles for viewing those I meet who are overweight and with physical limitations. It is a situation that takes no prisoners. It's viscous. And someone with the know-how needs to reach out to these folks with a few physical conditioning/training options, if any exist.

I will never underestimate the power of friendship and empathy. My friends have helped me through this: subbing in my classes, grading papers while I am under the influence of pain meds, preparing food, phoning for foot checks, bringing food, sending pizza cash for my big boys, or just being there with an sympathetic ear.

Certainly not least on my short list, is the shame I feel for not being there for my own friends and family when they were in similar situations. My philosophy: someone else is better at this "caring thing" than I am. Let them do it. Shame on me. Every drop of care in the bucket counts.

With that being said, I stand grateful for the long arm of friendship and grateful for the perspective this experience has given. And even after I am once again standing on two feet, I stand thankful for so much.