Friday, February 19, 2010

Spencer's New Problem

Within the past few months Spencer's breath has become horrible. Originally I thought nothing of it. If anyone knows anything about greyhounds, they know most have been dealt a bad set of cards in the dental department. However, looking closer I noticed his teeth weren't bad. They're not perfect pearly whites, but there's not a huge buildup of tartar and calculus. More recently we've noticed Spencer itching his mouth on anything he can find. His paws, a rug, our legs, and even our radiators throughout the house. Most recently I took a look inside his mouth to see his gums are red. We're not talking pink....we're talking RED, inflamed, painful gums. In addition to the redness we noticed this past weekend that there were lesions on his gums from rubbing so much. So we had him checked out.

Originally we (myself, David, and the doctors) visited the idea of him having a form of allergic reaction to his phenobarbital (anti-seizure medication). After research we came to the conclusion that chances are this theory isn't right. Thankfully due to my co worker's (our vet's) affiliation with OSU he called them to get some input. OSU has a large greyhound "program" that focuses on greyhounds, along with research on the breed. They lead us in a new direction.

There could be a multitude of things going on with Spencer, but these are our current ideas....lymphoplasmacytic stomatitis, pemphigous vulgaris, bullous pemphigoid, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Those are some mouthfuls, eh? Basically they're all autoimmune type of diseases.

The next step in diagnosing is to put him under anesthesia, retrieve a biopsy, and submit it for further examination. I'll be taking him into work in 2 weeks to have this procedure performed and hopefully we'll get some answers. It may not be a serious problem, but it's obviously uncomfortable for him and it's time to find out what's going on. If it is one of the diseases listed, USUALLY they symptoms can be controlled through corticosteroids. Although, the side effects of steroids aren't preferable (increase food/water intake, increased urination, weight gain......), especially using them long term.

Once again, it comes as no surprise that we may have yet another special need to address with our pets. As I've blogged so many times, they each have their nuances and diseases. And although we don't want our kids to suffer and wish they didn't have these problems, we wouldn't trade them in, even if we had the chance. I'm thankful that they are in our lives for a multitude of reasons, especially the fact that we have the ability (for the most part) and the desire to help them instead of casting them aside like some others may do.

Once we receive results I'll post more information.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Looking back through this blog I've seen myself go through many changes. Changes range from lifestyle to physical to mental changes....and many more in between. I'll admit, sometimes after reading through my posts and seeing what I've written, seeing what happened, and/or seeing where I am now, I feel like I look like an idiot who can't decide what I want to do. Meh That's the bad part of a blog I guess. You expose yourself. The good and the bad.

For over 1.5 years I've been a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I guess you can say I've succeeded in that change I blogged about. I like it and it's worked for me. About a year ago I entertained the idea of taking that another step further and making a change to a "raw diet." (I hate to use the word diet, because it's not a "diet." If you think about it, anything that you eat is your diet.) A raw diet is where you don't eat anything that's been heated/cooked. Technically it's a form of vegan diet. Basically a lot of veggies, fruits, and nuts. Don't get me wrong, it's not a chincy diet. You'd be amazed at the combinations and recipes out there.

I love being a vegetarian. At the same time I'll be the first to tell you, it's easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian. As with my running, I've let my eating habits slip. I've gained weight and just feel blah overall. I want to feel healthier again. That leads me to the moment where I am now. I think I'm ready to try a raw diet. Since Monday I've been attempting a raw food diet. So far so good. This isn't something I can do cold turkey like going vegetarian. However, I've done very well maintaining raw until a few pieces of candy each night.

So why am I doing this? The answer: why not? My other reasons -

I'd like to re-align my body to become healthier. If you think about it, I'm already halfway to already being raw by being a vegetarian. Even if this doesn't stick maybe it can help with being a healthier vegetarian.

It's been shown that going raw can help with chronic problems/diseases. I'm all for trying "holistic" options.

I don't like to make food and actually go through the process of eating. I know, that sounds crazy. If I didn't have to feed myself, and could receive my food through IV, I'd be happy. Don't get me wrong, there are foods that I like, but it all just seems like a hassle for me. So the way I look at it, the easier it is, the less I have to eat, the better. I don't want/like my life to revolve around food.

Although this will sound contradictory to my last statement, changing my diet may allow me to try different foods I may have never thought to try. I may not want to work for my food, but I'm always willing to try new things.

Going raw can also help with weight loss. Although this isn't my main goal, I'll take it if it comes.

I think it's funny that my diet is basically what our Russian Tortoises eat. Heck, no veggies and fruit will go to waste between me, the tortoises, birds, and dogs (yes our dogs LOVE veggies and fruits).

So, that's where I am. You never know what changes are going to stick and be lifelong or just be a personal fad. Either way, changes make us who we are and they make life interesting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Mardi and Tchoupi are adjusting quite well to each other. We have been surprised as to how well they've not only adjusted but bonded. I'm not sure if Tchoupi likes Mardi better than Chango or if she's trying to cope with the loss, but she now seems more relaxed in the cage (she sleeps curled around versus straight now). And as I write they are as close as they can get to each other and sleeping away. Although we miss Chango terribly, this makes our hearts happy.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I'm not sure where to begin with this story. Chango flew away yesterday. I think we're both still in disbelief.

This past summer we decided to add a bird to our family. After getting Tchoupi home we realized we probably should have gotten another one to keep her company. We went, purchased Chango, and headed home. Immediately they both perked up and they were inseparable since. Parakeets may learn to talk but given them being paired it was unlikely. We worked with them nonstop to get them acclimated to us. In all honesty, they were used to us, but still relied on each other for their comfort.

As time went on their clipped wings (to limit flight) grew back out. Finally, they didn't flop to the ground if they fell. We'd allow them to fly around the house a little bit each day. We enjoyed watching them. Clipping wings is a topic I'm on the fence about. Yes, I know they're pets, but I'd like all of our pets to live as "naturally" of lives as possible, within reason. That's one reason we let their flight wings grow. But that thought process kind of leads me to doubt owning any birds. You know, taking their natural abilities away. On the other hand, they were bred to be pets, not to be out in the wild, and no matter what they're going to be a pet to someone....and we'd rather them be with us, knowing they'll be loved. I know, I'm thinking to deeply into it and I can't wrap my brain around it.

So, we let their wings grow. Yesterday we got home, let Spencer out to do his business. I also let the birds out of the cage to fly around the house. At that same time David let Spencer in, and out Chango went. I heard David's, "Oh shit!" and the door slam. I ran to the door. I'll never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I could see Chango's turquoise wings as he flew higher and farther away, never looking back. Then David, out in the ankle+ deep snow, his flip flops thrown from running, standing there in his socks, with his hands on his head, and the look in his eyes of his heart being ripped out. Off we went, on foot, trying to find him. We called his name. We threw seed. Mom and dad even went out just to make sure. He was gone. He never stopped, so we could only imagine where he went.

I didn't know what to do. My heart hurt. It still does. However, I deal with death on a daily basis through my work. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could perform a euthanasia on a pet. Now, sometimes I feel heartless as I walk into a room, perform the procedure, and don't think much about it. Don't get me wrong, I give every client and pet the respect they deserve. And I always say, "Say "hi" to Toto for me." (Toto being my childhood pet that was euthanized several years ago). I also admit there are days that I do break down and cry with the client or shed a couple tears as I walk out of the room. It's all part of my job. In addition to my dealing with death, I wasn't as close to Chango as say our dogs and cats. When their time comes I will be a basket case.

With all that being said, I'm handling Chango flying away differently than David. My heart hurts from losing Chango and the thoughts of what will happen to him. But my heart hurts more watching David. The pets are his "release." He will sit in the pet room for hours admiring them all. Playing, feeding, cleaning....whatever. He's content. Chango was "his" bird. David, just like most men, doesn't cry easily. And whenever he does I'm at a loss of what to do. Yesterday was one of those days. I didn't know what to do to comfort him. All I could do was hug him and say, "it's going to be alright." Unfortunately, it's most inevitable what will happen to Chango. Domesticated birds don't usually survive in the wild. Add onto that the cold weather, chances are he didn't make it through the night. Last night was harder than yesterday, knowing this to be the case.

All we can do is be thankful for the time he was with us and hope that he was as happy as he made us during that time. And if and when he does pass, it's not a time of suffering for him.

Not only were we grieving but we had Tchoupi, our other parakeet, to worry about. We didn't know what to do for her. She seemed ok, but confused. After doing research most people said to pair them again. I gave David the option and told him that the choice is his. He decided that he wanted to pair her again and she now has another friend. His name is Mardi (as in Mardi Gras). They seem to get along. However, it's back to square one teaching a new bird that we're not the enemy and that they can trust us. It will be a long road, but as always, worth it in the end.

To Chango: Mr. Blue we loved you!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Kidney Stone Update

I had my 6 month check up with my urologist today. I can't help but feel that I failed. You may ask, how can you fail a check up with a doctor? I have no idea, but I feel I did.

Number 1 - According to a test I'm not producing enough urine. In other words I'm not intaking enough fluids to flush the kidneys. My doctor said the number 1 reason in the US for kidney stones = dehydration. And I'm the poster child for that model. Great. I've tried to up my fluid intake with always having water/lemonade with me at work and using straws. Unfortunately my type of work isn't the best situation to be drinking all the time. Not only the drinking, but visiting the can too. I'll try to work on it.

Number 2 - In the past my stones have never been seen on radiograph, only by cat scan (there were approximately 2 in the kidney last scan). This time? Yep, one of the stones is showing on the radiograph. It's either that or I have arthritis on my ribs. I wouldn't put it past my body about having another problem, but chances are I don't have arthritis in my ribs...yet. This isn't necessarily a bad thing that it's now seen on radiograph....but in my mind I think it is. My thinking....if it's visible on radiograph, it's larger than last time.

Number 3 - I'm currently on potassium citrate to inhibit the formation of stones. My citrates used to be really low, so we started supplementing. After 6 months of supplementing my citrates have risen. However, not enough. So now I'll be on 2 tablets 3 times a day. Not real fun. It's not a big deal, just a hassle to remember sometimes. In addition, more pills means more money.

So that's my visit in a nutshell. Time to kick it into gear with more hydration and more potassium citrate, then I get to do it all over again in 6 months.