Saturday, July 4, 2009

An Early Adventure, Yellowstone Nat'l Park, Bears and squirrels

When my daughter was about 5 years old, my family (husband, daughter, dog named Rexie and me ) moved to Arizona. Arizona was a great place to have adventures. One summer we went to Yellowstone National Park tent camping along the way. One night we camped at the foot of a small hill which was filled with ground squirrels. They drove Rexie crazy. One would stick its head of a hole and go, chhhhh. Rexie would run up to the hole and, of course, by the time she got there, the squirrel was back in its hole and another one was sticking its head out of a hole and going ccchhh. The poor dog finally got some rest when it got dark and the squirrels settled in for the night.

When we got to Yellowstone, we set up the tent and the rest of the camp putting the Coleman stove and our cooler on the picnic table. We ate dinner and went to bed in the tent. Early in the morning, we heard this noise. My husband, Bob stuck his head out of the tent to see what was going on. Plenty was going on; there was a huge bear trying to get into the cooler. He/she was rolling the cooler down the hill. The stink of the bear was pretty bad. So Bob motioned to us to stay inside the tent and he went out (undoubtedly a foolish thing to do, but...) and started throwing rocks at the bear. He finally hit the bear in the head a few times and the bear left. We managed to rescue the cooler, open it to see if anything was left. Surprisingly, a dozen eggs still in the carton were intact in spite of the bear rolling the cooler over and over down the hill. I was amazed and thought Coleman made very good coolers.

What was also surprising is that Rexie who was in the station wagon never uttered a peep. It was good that she didn't because the bear would probably have attacked the station wagon.

We straightened up the camp site and then decided maybe we didn't want to camp after all so we rented a cabin. That night we went to a talk by a ranger. He was telling us what to do concerning bears. One thing he said was to leave a bear alone; I asked, supposing the bear doesn't want to leave us alone; he really didn't have an answer.

This was many years ago; things have undoubtedly changed in Yellowstone. But the reason the bear "disturbed" us was because other tourists would feed the bears and leave food and garbage around. I think there are more rules at Yellowstone, advice and places to hang food or bear proof containers that can be used.

We did enjoy the rest of our stay, seeing Old Faithful and the other wonders of Yellowstone. But I think I'll never forget the bear.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Actual surgery

Next; Actual events of the surgery. 

The surgery went well. I was in good physical shape so did not need a blood transfusion (hip surgery can be very bloody). I got up the next day and walked around on crutches, didn’t need a walker. The second day I was allowed out of bed on my own. A funny thing happened when I wanted some orange juice and no one answered the nurse’s bell. I got out of bed to go and get some myself. A nurse passing by in the hall yelled at me, “you, what are you doing out of bed? You are not supposed to get out of bed”. I stood there with my mouth open and finally convinced her that I could get out of bed by myself.I did have to be careful not to adduct (bring legs together) my legs and had to sleep on my back with an adductor pillow between my legs. It is very important to do this because there is a likelihood of the replaced ball and socket joint coming apart before it has time to heal. I was taught how to go up and down stairs using the crutches. People asked me if I had a lot of pain. The answer was NO. It was such a relief to not have the pain I had had that any pain from surgery was barely noticed. 

I went home and recuperated with no problems until it was time to go back to work in late August. That also went well except for one problem. When I teach, I write on the chalk board a lot. Writing on a chalk board while standing on crutches is a challenge to say the least; actually pretty impossible. So our lab tech fixed up an overhead transparency machine with a roll of transparent plastic that I could write on and show on screen. (This was way before computers.) My students were very understanding, From then on, I could walk freely without pain and go back to the physical activities I had done before.

Conclusion: if you need hip surgery, do it, but don’t let it interfere with plans you’ve already made. You can do both with no problem and you’ll feel much better in the end. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Canada, Oregon, and Home

We went from the city of Vancouver by ferry to Vancouver IS and Victoria. Had tea at an old inn, then went to where we were staying; a miniature mock Shakespeare village. Very interesting. Here we were introduced to this wonderful desert called “Trifle”. Basically it is a sort of pound cake with whatever the cook decides to put on top of the cake, fruits, nuts, whipped cream, etc. It is called “Trifle” because you put a trifle of this and a trifle of that in it. We had a good time in Canada and started home as planned along the coast of Oregon. Trip home was ok except, it was too cold to camp. 

Therefore, the night before we were to get back to California, we were driving along the coast road; it was getting late and we were tired and hungry. All the motels were full. Finally we found one “inn” that said vacancy so we pulled in and my daughter went in to see if we could stay there. The woman was hesitant, said she didn’t have anything available.  My daughter did an act. She said, her mother was in the car, didn’t feel well and was going to have surgery in a week. The woman relented and said ok if we paid her $40 in cash. We had just exactly $40 left in Travelers Checks. So, M said to me, make sure you limp in and act like you are in pain. Well I got my cane and played my role to the hilt. We slept well and got back to California in good shape. Then I drove home to Arizona.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On the Way to Canada

I left San Diego and drove to Northern California and picked up my daughter. Then we headed towards Portland, OR to pick up my granddaughter. Before we got to Portland, we stopped at a roadside stand that was selling raspberries. Since my daughter and I and my grandaughter all love raspberries, M and I stopped and bought some. Then we got a carton of whipping cream and pigged out with raspberries and cream. However, we didn’t eat the all; decided to save some for J.

Another stop was at the site where Mt. St. Helens erupted. We drove back as close as we could get to the site of the eruption, picked up some ash and then drove back to the Interstate. On the way back, we stopped at a field where there were vendors selling souvenirs. I was buying a souvenir when someone shouted: “There she goes!”. I got so excited, I totally lost it; I shoved my credit card and stuff I was buying into the vendor’s hands to run to the car and get my camera. Fortunately M rescued my credit card. Mt. St. Helens was sending ash and smoke into the sky. We couldn’t see much because of clouds. Someone had a boat so we all went out on a small lake nearby in the boat to get a better view. I got some good photos. However, all the prints and negatives got lost in the process of my sending them to M and her sending them back to me. It was still pretty exciting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How my summer plans almost got messed up?

As people get older, they may be faced with having hip replacement surgery. Since I have had 4, I thought I'd publish some information and funny stories about my experiences with hip replacement surgery. The first starts during the summer of 1980.

I had a great summer planned for 1980. I was going to:

Go scuba diving in the Sea of Cortez

Take a course in Marine Biology at a small college in San Diego

Drive from San Diego to Northern California, pick up my daughter, M, drive to Portland, pick up my granddaughter, ‘J’ and then drive to Vancouver, Canada and take the ferry to Victoria. Then we would drive home along the Oregon coast and camp along the way. 

Best laid plans don’t always work out. For me here is why my summer was almost not to be. 

For many years when I was in my late 40’s and early 50’s I had problems with my left knee. Basically it hurt, both when I walked and when I was sitting or lying down. Mostly I tried to ignore it and did the things I wanted to do. All the doctors I went to said there was just a little arthritis in my knee but nothing serious. Finally in 1980, I went to a doctor who said the problem wasn’t my knee, but my hip. Went to an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed that it was my hip and he recommended surgery for a total hip replacement. I asked what would happen if I didn’t do that. He said, if I wanted to walk, I would have the surgery. So, yes of course I would have the surgery. 

However, I wasn’t going to spoil my summer plans so scheduled the surgery for the middle of August, 2 weeks before I went back to work at the community college where I taught. Read about Trip to Canada 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Are you contimually telling your kid to clean up his/her room?See below as to why it keeps getting messed up.

Is your linen closet a mess? Do you constantly have to tell your kids to clean up their rooms? Do you know why things keep getting messed up? 

Well, here is one reason. There is a physics law called the second law of thermdynamics. (Don't panic). This law basically says that in a closed system, order eventually goes to disorder. To have order again, you have to put energy into the system. This is called entropy. So, to have your linen closet all nice and neat or your kids' rooms all picked up, you have to use energy (your energy) to pick everything up and/or rearrange the linen closet. When I was teaching and had to discuss entropy, this example always seemed to make sense to my students. You can add the word, entropy to your list of answers to trivia questions. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do you have a dog, cat, mosquitoes?

Do you have a dog(s), cat(s)? Do you live in an area where there is lots of standing water and mosquitoes? Then you should have your pets checked for heart worm disease. Example: I adopted a very very nice dog from a shelter. When I took her to the vet to make sure everything was ok, the vet discovered she had heart worms, thereby starting a long, expensive treatment. Fortunately the treatment was effective. More about the treatment below. 

This is a nasty, nasty disease that affects mainly dogs, but can also affect cats. For a worm (parasite), they have a pretty easy life cycle. Of course the point of all living things is to pass their genes on to the next generation. Well, these horrible creatures have it made. They have two hosts (a host for a parasite is where the parasite lives), dogs (cats) and mosquitoes. They can also affect other canine types such as coyotes, wolves, etc. 

Starting at the beginning (I have to start somewhere) with the adult worms (male and female) who live in the right ventricle of the heart and the blood vessels to the lungs (pulmonary artery). Well these worms have it made. All they have to do (don't have to find food or shelter or stuff like that) is mate and mate and mate and reproduce and reproduce etc. etc. on and on maybe for years. The female lays live offspring called microfilariae. The babies go into the dog (cat)'s blood and circulate around and around. So the dog is out walking with his/her companion when they go by a lake where mosquitoes are swarming. Mosquitoes bite dog and ingest the baby worms. Baby worms circulate in mosquito and go through a couple of other stages in their life cycle leading them to an infective stage dwelling in the salivary glands of the mosquito. When this mosquito bites a dog, the microfilariae enter the blood stream of the dog. These baby worms wander around the dog's internal organs and finally end up as adults in the right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonary artery where they start the cycle over again of mate and reproduce, mate and reproduce.........

Prevention is the best way to stop heart worm disease. There is a medication given once a month to prevent the microfilariae from the mosquito from continuing the life cycle any further; adult worms do not form.

Treatment is long and expensive; I know from experience. In my case it was effective and my dog is free from heart worm and living a happy life, except she is too fat. 

Comments or questions welcome. More information can be found all over the Internet; I don't want this post to go on too long. Hope you found it interesting and useful.

Photo of worms in heart ©