Sunday, February 24, 2013

A couple of things

It's Oscar night! I'm watching the red carpet show and there are lots and lots of sparkly dresses. There are some non-sparkly dresses, too, of course, but embellishments are really trendy right now. I'm really looking forward to doing the red carpet post this week. I'd like to think I can get it done in a couple of days but let's be realistic - it'll take most of, if not the entire, week.

Today we planted our pepper seeds. We've bought pepper plants and planted them for the last two years but this year we decided to grow our peppers from seed for the very first time. We planted five kinds of seeds (three hot pepper and two sweet pepper varieties) in moist soil and they're sitting in their covered trays on the heating mat under a 24-hour light. Apparently peppers are tropical plants and so need the extra heat to germinate - at least that's the theory. We'll see if it pans out.

If for some reason this batch doesn't work out there will still time to grow a second batch. Our growing season is extended a bit with the greenhouse. We may do a second growing just for fun just because we can.

Tomorrow is the last day I have to get up early to drive Ian to work for a few days. I'm looking forward to sleeping in on Tuesday; I was up early this weekend to walk and feed Gozer. Not having to do anything Tuesday morning is very exciting.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Almost overdoing it

These last few weeks have been exhausting for me. I've had something that I've had to do just about every day and I haven't had the kind of downtime that I've become accustomed to having. Because most of my activities have needed the car, I've been driving Ian to work and then picking him up afterwards. 

That's not so bad, really, except that to drive Ian to work I get up when he and Gozer get back from their walk and then I don't have time to make coffee or anything before we have to go. I feel rushed then and then I get home and rush to have breakfast and get ready to do whatever I need to do that day. Lather and repeat the next day.

I know that most people do more than that every single day but I haven't been doing that much so I'm finding it exhausting. This morning I got up earlier and had breakfast and coffee before Ian got back from the walk and it was much better for me. I was able to putter around making breakfast and to relax before my day really started. I didn't know I needed that time but clearly I do.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I have to take care of Gozer because Ian's curling all day but other than that I'm going to be relaxing in front of the tv with Gozer. She's missed me being able to sit with her, too - she keeps grabbing her squeakies (including Snakey, her newest squeaky that she loves more than any squeaky she's ever had) and running downstairs to wait for me. We're both going to enjoy tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2013

All about Gozer

Gozer saw the veterinary ophthalmologist on Friday because the vet had spotted a cataract in her right eye a couple of months ago that has visibly grown since its first discovery. I've held off posting the results because I had trouble understanding the information. I'm not used to all of these technical terms, you see, so it took a while for me to do the research. Well, I was also working on the red carpet post.

Ok, that's it for anatomy! We weren't sure what to expect but it turns out that they do the same exams on dogs as they do on people, just with slightly different equipment. It would be hard to get a dog to put its chin on the chin rest, lean forward, and stay still, after all! The ophthalmologist uses hand-held versions of the people version and holds the dog's face still using the other hand.

One test that's different is that they check tear production by sticking a test paper under her lid. Apparently some people do get to have this particular test but it's not one that's done unless there are problems. Gozer's corneas were also dyed to check for damage to them and her pupils were dilated to see what's going on.

Her tear production is apparently normal and her corneas showed no damage at all. She definitely does have a cataract in her right eye located "medial equatorial and cortical (mainly posterior, though anterior also involved)" which I think means that it's in the cortex of the lens around about the middle mostly towards the back of the lens and spreading to the front. Since the cortex is composed of new-ish lens fibres, a cataract there means that it's new-ish and hasn't been there forever.

She has other issues with her right eye; in particular she has a "posterior synechiae at 3 o'clock and associated with a small hole in the iris at this point." The posterior synechiae is where the back (posterior) of the iris is stuck or adhered (synechiae) to the front of the lens capsule or membrane surrounding the lens. The ophthalmologist thinks that she had some kind of trauma to her eye when she was younger that caused the hole in the iris and the adhesion, and that these in turn somehow caused the cataract to form. I'm not exactly sure how that's possible but he's the doctor so he must know what he's talking about.

We've been given Ketorolac (0.5%) drops to put into her right eye twice a day forever to try to keep prevent the cataract from getting larger. Apparently as the cataract progresses it can leak lens fibers and that's bad. The ophthalmologist wants to see her in three months to see how she's doing. He didn't talk about surgery this time around.

I don't know if it helps, but here are diagrams of the canine eye and lens to help you visualize what's going on. Don't let the human-looking eye in this diagram fool you - this is definitely a canine eye:
And here's a picture of the structure of the lens itself. It's in the same orientation as in the diagram of the eye above. Notice that the curvature of the lens is different on each side - I didn't know that was the case, but apparently it is. It's amazing what a person can learn with a bit of research, huh?

The posterior (P) of the lens is the back of the lens facing the retina, the anterior (A) is the front of the lens against the iris, the equator (E) is the widest point from top to bottom of the lens, and the capsule contains the lens itself. The lens is made up of fibres that are constantly being replenished; as new ones are formed in the subcapsular cortex (SC), the older ones are compressed into the cortex (C) and the very oldest ones are compressed into the nucleus (N).

We also took a picture of Gozer's right eye:

The green is the reflection of the pupil through the dilated pupil and the brown ring is her iris. The extra bump on the iris towards the bottom of the picture (her inner eye) and the little brown streaks coming from that are the adhesions or synechaie, I think. I think the white are between her pupil and that extra bump in the iris might be the cataract but I'm not sure. I'm not exactly sure where the hole in the iris is located.

In other Gozer news, before this appointment the vet did a blood and urine work-up. Since we don't know anything about Gozer's history we elected to do the geriatric blood panel because it gives more information. Overall, everything is ok. However, there are two results that are concerning.

First, they found triple phosphate crystals (also known as struvite crystals or magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals) in her urine. It's possible that she has a few bladder stones but since she's not having any problems urinating we're just going to keep an eye on her. 

Second and more concerning is that her thyroid levels were low. I'm actually not surprised about this since starting early last summer she started having problems going on long walks to the point of having to stop and rest after about 40 minutes and walking very, very slowly after that. She also starts panting after going up the stairs - she really doesn't have much stamina. And then there's the little matter of the weight she's gained that she hasn't been able to lose. She's lost and gained the same 0.3kg several times over the last few months. All these signs point to low thyroid levels, or hypothyroidism.

We could have done a more comprehensive thyroid panel right away but since we had planned to waist for three months to re-do the main thyroid test, I decided that it would be better just to wait and see what happens. If her thyroid levels are still low (and I expect they will be), then we'll do the more comprehensive panel. Even if she does have hypothyroidism, she's managing just fine right now.

So I think that's it for now - our little Fluffybutt has a cataract and some possible health issues. I wish she was perfectly healthy but how many dogs out there are perfectly healthy? Besides, it's good to catch these sorts of things earlier, when there might be something we can do about it, then wait until the issues were affecting her and any treatment is drastic.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Grammy Awards Red Carpet

I know it's taken a while, but I think it's been worth the wait: here's the red carpet post for the recent Grammy awards!

One of the most interesting things about this red carpet is that CBS (the network that televises the show) sent out an email describing a dress code for the event, apparently in response to lawsuits about indecency on television. People were asked to :
Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could  possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure.
I don't know how I feel about the dress code. I think it's ridiculous that many women feel they need to show off their bodies. On the other hand, I think if a woman is comfortable in her own skin, why shouldn't she dress in a way she likes? Then I think that I don't much like censorship in any form... but at the same time, I don't necessarily want to see everything a person has to offer.

Interestingly, it seems that no one was sent home to change even if they wore something that violated the rules. What's the point of a dress code that isn't enforced? That makes no sense to me.

Anyways, let's get on with the show. Happy reading!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The dryer saga continues

In last Saturday's episode of The Dryer Adventures, we were left with a rescheduled delivery date because the dryer hadn't been received at the distribution center. After we spoke with the distribution center and rescheduled the delivery for yesterday, we received the automated call from the delivery people indicating that they were on their way. Confused, since they weren't supposed to be delivering anything, we called the delivery number but they had no explanation for the call.

It turns out that the delivery people thought they still needed to pick up the dented dryer and they showed up to do that. Of course we sent them away because we don't want to be without a dryer.

Fast forward to yesterday, when we expected the delivery to arrive between noon and 5pm. I'd called the night before to confirm that they were not only delivering the dryer but also picking up the dented dryer because at this point I believe that could happen. Imagine our surprise when we received a call from our salesperson at about 9:30am to tell us that his manager informed him (on his day off) that the dryer hadn't been received at the distribution center.

Honestly, I thought that he and his manager had received the note from last week and didn't really believe that the dryer wasn't there again. I figured that the dryer would still arrive in the afternoon because how could it not have been received again? We had to take Gozer to the ophthalmologist that morning (more about that in tomorrow's post) and I left early so that I could be home by noon in case the dryer really was going to be delivered.

As it happened, I could have stayed at the appointment because the dryer really didn't arrive. At least no one came to try to take our dented dryer away! The department manager called yesterday afternoon to tell me that she is investigating the location of our dryer. She'd hoped to hear something yesterday but didn't think she would and she's off for the long weekend so she's going to call me back on Tuesday with the information. We have tentatively scheduled the dryer to be delivered this coming Friday between noon and 5pm and we'll reschedule it if necessary.

We'll see what happens. We'll have a new and undented dryer someday, I'm sure of it.

In other news, I'm working on the Grammys red carpet post and I expect to have it up tomorrow. I know, I'm slow, but you don't mind waiting, do you?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Signing up to be an organ donor

Organ and tissue donors are always needed. However, the process to sign up to be an organ donor has changed a few times over the last few years. It used to be that we ticked off a box when applying for either our driver's licenses or photo health cards and the information was printed on the back of that card. For a while we filled out cards and kept them in our wallets.

Now there's a new organ donor registration process here in Ontario. We have to register online, through a ServiceOntario kiosk, or by mail with our health card number. I understand that this might make the process easier but it's frustrating that the process keeps changing. There are people carrying around organ donor cards who think they're registered but that's no longer true.

I strongly believe in being an organ donor. I don't know if my organs or tissues will be wanted because of the mets and the sarcoidosis but according to the frequently asked questions, a pre-existing medical condition does not preclude anyone from donating their organs or tissues. The final medical team will determine which, if any, organs and tissues can be used.

Therefore, I've gone ahead and registered as an organ and tissue donor. Wherever you are, if you want to donate your organs and tissues after you die - to give the gift of live and health to someone else - then be sure to register yourself. It also doesn't hurt to tell someone about your wishes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Garments and prosthetics

I planned to work on a Grammy red carpet post today but I noticed that my arm was a bit swollen. I'd walked Gozer while Ian was away and at one point she pulled on the leash hard enough to hyper-extend my left arm. My original breast cancer was on my left side and they took out lymph nodes in my left armpit. When they take lymph nodes out from that location, lymphedema - or swelling - of the left arm is a side effect.

I've had lymphedema show up in my left arm before. Luckily, it's mild so my arm and hand don't swell up too much but when it does show up I wear a compression sleeve on my arm and a compression gauntlet on my hand.

So what does this have to do with hyper-extending my left arm while walking Gozer? Well, as the arm started to heal, it swelled up a bit. I noticed a bit of swelling yesterday before bed and was concerned enough to measure my arms. I don't wear the compression garments at night, though, so I made a mental note of the swelling and went to bed.

This morning my forearm and hand up to the knuckles were all swollen so that I couldn't fully bend my arm or close my hand. Out came the compression garments. I wore them while making dinner and learned a valuable lesson: if you chop onions without protecting the fabric compression gauntlet, that gauntlet will smell like onions.

In addition to wearing the compression garments I've been trying to massage my arm to encourage the lymph fluid to flow up the arm and down my side. Hopefully the swelling will subside and I can put away these garments. It wouldn't be so bad if they were my skin colour or even the same colour. There's a company out there that makes printed sleeves in a variety of patterns. I'm thinking of getting a set so that my arm will look interesting when I wear these garments. Since the lymphedema is rearing its ugly head, it would be prudent for me to wear the garments when I fly and I might like something a little more stylish.

In other news, although I was happy with the breast prosthetic that I bought, it's a little bit large and doesn't fit quite right. I've been thinking that it would be great to get one custom-made to be symmetrical and to fit to the shape that's there. It turns out that this is actually possible! There's a company in Toronto that makes them (and another company! it seems Toronto is at the forefront of custom breast prosthetics). I'm going to contact them and find out how long it could take and what kind of costs I'd be looking at. I'd love to be symmetrical again.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weather and tv

We haven't had strange enough weather lately, I think. To make up for that, the temperature will rise through the night and in the next 24 hours we'll get freezing rain, rain, and snow on top of the snow we got on Friday.  Wait a day and the weather will change again, I'm sure.

Ian's flight ended up terribly delayed on Friday. It was supposed to arrive at Pearson airport in Toronto at about 8pm. Instead, Pearson grounded all flights at their origins until 8pm (and later 9pm) because of the storm so Ian's flight sat on the tarmac for two and a half hours after he boarded - after it was already an hour and a half late.

When they finally landed, three and a half hours later than scheduled, there was no gate available for them so they sat on the tarmac for about an hour waiting for one. After getting gate information, the plane taxied to the gate only to find out that there was no ground crew to bring the plane in or get the baggage. The plane sat 100ft from the gate for over two hours waiting for ground crew to arrive. Ian finally made it into the airport just after 3am, over seven hours late, and he didn't get home until 5am.

At least he made it home. Other people's flights were cancelled and couldn't get home until today and he had enough batteries in his tablet, PSVita, and Kindle to keep himself entertained on the plane for the ten hours he was on the plane.

I'm watching the Grammys tonight. I missed the first half-hour because I was watching a recording but that's ok. The show is always entertaining what with the musical performances and all the musical people. It looks like people wore some interesting outfits and I'm looking forward to reviewing them in the next red carpet post.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Snow snow!

It's a winter wonderland out there! A winter storm came through and dumped a ridiculous amount of snow on us. This evening the snow, when shovelled, was over Gozer's head! My rough measurement showed that we got about 15" or 16" (37-40cm) of snow but the news outlets are saying that we only got about 12" (30cm) we got a bit more: 17" (43cm). That's a crazy amount of snow to fall in just one day! I think the snow has stopped falling and is starting to drift now.

Walking Gozer has been an adventure today. This morning we had about 8" (20cm) on the ground and almost none of the sidewalks were cleared. We tried to walk on the sidewalk but I got tired trying to break a trail and she got tired bounding from spot to spot (although she looked super-cute doing it!). We ended up walking in the ruts on the road in the opposite direction as traffic. Fortunately there was almost no traffic out there so it was safe enough but we kept the walk short.

This evening's walk was also short because not all of the sidewalks were clear - some had only been shoveled once and some not at all - and there was too much traffic for me to feel safe walking her on the road. She was able to do all of her business this morning but not this evening so I might take her out before bedtime. She's looking a little more restless than she usually does so might benefit from going for a short walk. We'll see - it's supposed to be cold and windy out there and I don't really want to go outside. But it's not all about me, is it? :)

Our neighbour has a snowblower and he cleared our driveway this morning and again this evening. I'm really grateful to him for doing that because I can't shovel that much snow and Ian is out of town. He's actually on his way back right now although the weather has definitely interfered with his travel plans. He was supposed to be home by now but the flight out there was almost two hours late waiting to be de-iced and then his flight back sat on the tarmac for almost two hours. Apparently the Toronto airport is delaying inbound flights before takeoff because the of the weather.

At this point, Ian's flight is scheduled to touch down at about 11pm and be at the gate by 11:30pm. I hope that his flight isn't delayed any more and that he's able to get home tonight. If the roads are really bad then it might be better for him to stay at the hotel at the airport rather than trying to get home. Of course I'd rather he came home, and I know he wants to come home, but I want him to be safe, too.

It's supposed to be clear and not snow tomorrow so hopefully the roads and sidewalks will be cleared up. We're expecting our dryer to be delivered tomorrow and with luck it'll actually happen.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

More dryer adventures

Getting a new dryer has turned out to be less easy than we thought it would be. We thought that after the actual purchase went so well, the delivery would be a piece of cake.

Ha. The delivery people did get there on time, which was great. However, they were unhappy that Ian was reading the contract he was asked to sign and tried to pressure him into just signing it. Apparently they never drop anything, you see.

They do forget to deliver some parts, however, and they also forget to install the dryer properly. The dryer we bought was supposed to come with an interior drying rack and we didn't receive it. The dryer also has leveling feet, which they did deliver but which they didn't actually install.

As Ian was installing the leveling feet, he noticed a giant dent in the back of the dryer and scratches from the dryer being installed without the feet. The delivery people may not have dropped it but someone definitely did. Even though the dent doesn't affect the functionality of the dryer, since we paid for a new dryer I want a new dryer in perfect condition. I called customer service, explained the situation, and they were very accommodating. They said that they'd send a message to our sales associate and that he would arrange for a new delivery and for the current dryer to be picked up.

On Sunday I got a call from a different sales associate who said that our sales associate wouldn't be in until Tuesday but that he (the guy phoning) had ordered a replacement dryer and had requested an extra quality check before it could be delivered. He said to go ahead and use the dryer we got because they don't want us to be without a dryer. He said that our sales associate would call on Tuesday to confirm the delivery time - and here it is, just after 9pm on Tuesday, and I haven't heard from the sales associate.

At least the dryer, even with a big dent in the back, dries clothes quite well. Someday I hope we'll have a lovely new dryer without a dent or scratches on it.