Tuesday, April 30, 2013

More chickens, more injuries

I’m afraid that some of my new babies are mean little assholes.

I came home from work a few weeks ago to find one of my white marans chicks covered in blood with a degloved neck. She was a little over two weeks old. Her buddies caused this injury by pecking the hell out of her. Poor baby. Apparently once they see blood, they keep at it. It can get pretty nasty.

(BTW, do NOT look at "degloving injuries" under Google images - you'll be sorry!!)

I’m sorry for the graphic images, but I hope that this kind of info might help someone else whose chick ends up with a similar injury.

My first thought was that she was a goner. However, she seemed happy, so I wasn’t going to give up on her.

I separated her from the others and put her in a bin in our tub. I crushed up a tiny amount of aspirin for her water and put some triple antibiotic ointment on the wound. In hindsight, I wish that I had irrigated it with saline or watered-down betadine solution to get out anything that may have been in the wound.

She wasn’t thrilled with the antibiotic ointment and shook her head like a wet dog every time it was applied. I ended up wearing a fair amount of it each time I put it on. She also liked to scratch at the wound with her foot, which was just awful to watch. Ugh. I tried to put some nonstick dressing on it, but getting it to stay was pretty much impossible, so I gave up.

I applied the ointment every morning and evening. The entire time she was eating and drinking normally like nothing had happened. She kept flying out of her bin and pooping everywhere. NBD, just hanging out with this giant hole in my neck. She was also lonely and incredibly sweet. She peeped incessantly until you would hold her. Every time I would pick her up, she would run up my arm and nestle into my neck. 

One day I didn’t get a chance to do the ointment in the morning and by the time I checked on her at night, the wound had started to scab over. It had been 5 or 6 days, so I decided to leave it alone and let it continue the healing process.

The wound continued to scab over and heal. After she’d been separated from her tormentors (who were moved out to the new coop) for about 9 days, I decided to attempt a reintroduction. After all, as I mentioned - she was flying out of her tub and crapping EVERYWHERE. She had become quite the sweet annoyance. So I sprayed BluKote over her wound and the area around the wound to discourage picking and pecking. It didn’t go very well initially. The big meanies started pecking at her again and she made no attempt to get away from them.

So I grabbed a cat carrier and threw her in it inside the coop. That way they could see her, but they couldn’t get to her. Yesterday morning I went in to change her food and water and she flew out. She went up to some of the other chicks and started pecking at them and basically acting a little crazy. They seemed to be leaving her alone, so I crossed my fingers and went to work. When I got home, she was doing great. There were no new marks on her and she seemed like she was getting along with everyone.

So that is the happy story of our little white marans chick Lucky. We hope to have no more misadventures with the new flock of babies, who turned five weeks old yesterday.

New coop and attached run

We are hoping to officially introduce the big girls to the little ones this coming weekend. They have had supervised visitation over the last week and the little ones seem to know to stay out of the way. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can get everyone into the same living quarters this weekend – before our trip. Although we don’t actually leave for Australia until next Saturday, we are leaving for NJ and a friend’s wedding on Friday.

Fortunately we have a small army to take care of all the critters. A book club friend's daughter is taking care of the critters, and if she can't make it either my friend or her fiance (who is the E.D. for the Humane Society) will stop by. There are a few other friends who have offered to stop by and check on things too. So I know that we're leaving our house and pets in good hands.

I’ve started to pack and have been making good progress. I had been having nightmares about forgetting things for the past few weeks, so I decided that I needed to take some action.

Exercise and diet have still been good - exercise moreso than the diet. I've had a few cheating days with the diet, but I've still been averaging at or under 50-70 net grams of carbs a week. I'm swimming one or two days a week, walking and doing the elliptical one or two days a week, and over the weekend, I used the post hole digger for a few hours. Let me tell you, that is HARD work. I don't think I could cut it if I had to do manual labor. 

My weight is still at a plateau, but I feel like I'm more fit and healthy than I was a month ago when the plateau started. I don't have any good recent pics of me, because I avoided cameras for the latter part of last year. For real. I felt huge and tried to stay behind the camera instead of in front of it. For my Wordless Wednesday post, I'll be posting some of the few recent-ish photos from the last year or two, plus a current mirror self-portrait. They're all the rage on Facebook, you know. Maybe I'll even do the pouty face!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

The stall continues, but I'm starting to be able to squeeze into some of my old clothes.

This trip can not get here fast enough. I really need a vacation. I haven't had a week off in 14 months and I'm beginning to realize how burned out I am... work and life have kinda got me down right now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordful Wednesday – The Dreaded Plateau

So I’ve been rather depressed about my weight loss lately. Or rather, the lack thereof.

It’s been frustrating. I’ve been tracking food religiously, eating under my daily calories, and exercising pretty much every other day.

Using the Lose It app, I should be losing about 1 lb per week.

 No, I haven’t measured my food. Maybe I should. But still, I think that I’ve been doing a great job.

That said, with my recent health scare, I haven’t really been doing Atkins. It’s too high in saturated fat and I was eating a lot of sodium on the diet. However, I haven’t abandoned the Atkins principals. I’ve been watching my carbs and have been staying away from refined sugars and that sort of thing. I’m still trying to eat more salads, veggies and lean meat. Over the past 4 weeks, I have averaged between 30 and 50 net grams of carbs per day (fiber is subtracted from carbs for net carbs).

Why the lack of weight loss? As of last week, I had actually GAINED two pounds back from my low weight at the end of March. I think that since I stopped being as restrictive with my carbs (<20 g per day) that I lost the diuretic effect of Atkins

Not having the diuretic effect is fine with me, if it means that I’m really losing fat. Next week I’m expecting to see the scale continue its downward climb. I’m at 11 pounds of weight lost over 9 weeks. That’s still pretty good in my book, so I’ll just keep at it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week in photos

Free range afternoon

Mouse always has his eye on me

Jay has taken up juicing. Apparently all the guys in his firehouse are doing it? The first few rounds did not go well. I'm thinking that recipes are there for a reason.

Our septic tank runneth over and started backing up into the downstairs shower. Talk about gross. So we had to get our tank pumped and the line flushed. Farewell $460, I will miss you!

Gorgeous church  outside of Chestertown. My friend Christina is thinking of getting married there next year. I had to go to our Chester River Hospital last week to train my vacation back up. Afterwards, Christina took me on a tour of Kent County. We also visited her parents' gorgeous home in Rock Hall, where we had a few glasses of wine on the porch. Her mom also made some heavenly guacamole. It was a nice visit!

This beautiful tree on the church grounds is 400 years old

Marker from the tree

Jay hard at work on chicken coop #2. It will comfortably house our entire flock!

Mouse was about to attack Jay, so he gave him a good chase around the yard

Mom visited for a Scentsy party over the weekend

She loves her grandpeeps

And she brought me some flowers for my birthday

After mom left on Sunday, I went to Martinak for a long walk and some photos. I was taking pictures of this cherry tree sapling when this tiger swallowtail came out of NOWHERE and landed on the branch. It's not nearly warm enough for butterflies to be making an appearance. It reminded me of my dad. Maybe this was his way of saying hi. 

Watts Creek... kayakers enjoying the spring day

More cherry blooms

An osprey left its nest after I got too close. :(

Early spring at Martinak

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Steroids are nasty

So I’m pretty sure that my high blood pressure was caused by a combination of pain and the methylprednisolone that I was put on to relieve the pain from my swollen tonsils. This stuff is evil.

I took my last dose of the stuff last Thursday and my blood pressure has been slowly coming back down. But by Friday it had not decreased enough for my concerned coworkers and I had significantly different BP readings from my left and right arms, which apparently is a bad sign. So they gave me an EKG.

Nothing like having to lift up your boob for your coworker to stick electrodes under. The EKG was abnormal, but not heart attack kind of abnormal. My doctor friend who reviewed it said that it was probably nothing and could be connected to the steroids, but that I definitely needed to see my PCP about the high blood pressure. At the doctor yesterday, they took another abnormal EKG and numerous blood pressure readings. By the time I had finally calmed down, it was down to 128/88. Much better than my previous readings of 140/110 and 158/108. Goes to show you how much pain and stress can affect those things. 

My primary care physician agreed that it was most likely nothing, but she is sending me to a cardiologist for an evaluation and stress test just in case. On my 33rd birthday, I get to go see Dr. Okun

This is not how I envisioned spending part of my birthday, but oh well. Jay is probably happy because it means that I’m bailing on book club and now we get to go to dinner instead. And since we’ll be on “the other side of the bridge,” we will have plenty of great restaurant options in Annapolis and Baltimore. I’m sure that everything will be okay, but it will be nice to have him with me at my appointment.

All of that said, I’m not really sure what is going on with my diet right now. I’ve been committed to recording everything I eat with LoseIt, and have remained under my target calories for the past 8 weeks. However, somehow I’ve gained 2 pounds in the last week, while as long as I stick to my plan, I should be losing a pound a week. I think it is probably all water retention from the steroids and that this time of the month isn’t great for me. So I’m trying to be patient. I'm still exercising every other day, if not every day. I've been walking, doing the elliptical, and swimming. Over the weekend I did the stationary cycle and used the rowing machine. So my body seriously needs to get its act together.

Since I’m not sure how the diet is affecting me health-wise, I am trying to keep my saturated fats and sodium low. I caved a bit in the carbs department, but I haven’t completely caved to the point of eating pizza, French bread and French fries. But I did have a rough day last Friday. I had two tater tots, a big slice of delicious pineapple, part of a chocolate dipped banana from Edible Arrangements  and several fried green beans. And too many cocktails at Harry’s. I’m now trying to keep around/under 40-60 net grams of carbs a day and under or around 20 grams of saturated fat a day. My current struggle is with nuts. I am shoveling fistfuls of almonds and walnuts into my mouth. I convince myself that since almonds and walnuts are heart healthy that eating a pound in one sitting is perfectly acceptable.

Okay, I may be exaggerating with eating an entire pound of nuts, but I haven't exactly been counting them out.

In other news, we are running out of time to figure out who is taking care of our critters while we’re away. 

Mind you, this is when we LAND in Brisbane. We are down to 31 days before our flight leaves.

Normally I’d be fine with asking our friends to take care of the chickens, but three weeks is a lot to ask of someone. Plus this vacation is going to require cleaning litter boxes, and I don’t want to ask that of my friends. When you’re spending over ten grand on a vacation, another few hundred bucks for a pet/house sitter shouldn’t be an issue. However, Jay still won’t make a decision on whether he is going to ask a slightly odd guy he knows from the Masons. So I think he just wants me to take care of it. I sent out a message to our book club to ask for recommendations… some of the women have college age kids who might want to earn a few easy bucks. Fingers crossed.

My aunt Nancy has been sending these photos almost daily. I can almost smell the salt in the air.

This picture was taken FROM A McDONALD'S! Seriously, how beautiful is this place that even the McDonald's has this kind of view?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hey, I just met you... but this could kill you!

Well, there must be something going on around the Blogosphere (or maybe my Atkins buddies) because my friend Kelly had a bit of a health scare a few weeks ago.

It looks like it’s my turn! I’ve been doing Atkins for seven weeks now and have lost 12-ish pounds. The first week I felt weird, but I attributed it to being an out of balance electrolyte thing. I had some chicken stock and everything was fine. Clearly the diuretic effect of the Atkins diet is screwing with me. Or maybe it was just the Atkins flu

Fast forward to last weekend where I was completely miserable. My throat was disgusting. My tonsils were enormous and covered in puss. I considered sharing the photo on the blog, but decided that was just TMI. So, I showed the photo to one of my doctor friends at work and she told me that I needed to get antibiotics. On Saturday, I took my sick butt to Your Doc’s In. The PA took one look at my throat and burst out laughing, “YEAH! You NEED ANTIBIOTICS!!” I told her that I knew that already.

Then she says, “There must be some mistake… you say that you’re not on blood pressure medication.” I said no, my blood pressure is always low – 110/70. She shakes her head and says, “No, you’re hypertensive. Your BP is 140/110. Are you sure you aren’t on any blood pressure medications, because you should be.” I convince her that it must just be because I’m in so much pain. My discharge papers list my first condition as hypertension instead of the strep throat that I came in with.


So I’m thinking this must be some kind of mistake. For the last month and a half, I’ve been dieting and exercising my ass off, have lost weight, and now I’m hypertensive?

So all this week I’ve been stressed about it and my chest has felt tight. I chalk it up to anxiety. I still think that a lot of it has to do with anxiety. If I could just freaking relax, it would be better. But now the seed of doubt has been sowed and every weird pain or tightness doubtlessly sends my blood pressure into stroke country. Which makes me more anxious. Which makes my pulse race and my blood pressure skyrocket. 

It's a vicious cycle.

Earlier this week, I mentioned my doctor's office experience to my friend at work Grace, who also happens to be the ED manager and my favorite coffee buddy. 

“That’s really high. You need to check it. Landra is in triage, ask her to check it for you.”

I suppose that I inherited some of my dad’s stubbornness when it comes to health problems. I’m in denial. Oh… and yes, my dad suffered from high blood pressure. So my denial is stupid, since I know these things can be genetic.

So of course, I put it off. Grace asked me again today how my blood pressure was. I sheepishly told her that I hadn’t had it checked.

She hauled me out to triage and checked it herself. It was 133/105. Still high. She said that it’s the diastolic (bottom) number that is the concern moreso than the top. She gave me a bit of a lecture on how important it is that I take this seriously. Consider me admonished.

I think that it may have something to do with my sodium intake. I also mentioned it to my boss, who agreed that the high blood pressure could be due to my excess ingestion of sodium. Looking back through my LoseIt app, I’ve been consuming between 500 and 1000 more mg of salt than is recommended. So I’m going to be reducing my sodium intake big time. Hopefully reducing my sodium to a normal level will make my blood pressure decrease to something that won’t kill me. Like back to my usual 110/70.

That said, I’ll be checking my blood pressure each day at work and I’ve agreed to call my doctor next week if it’s not lowered by then.

Fingers crossed that salt is the problem. If not, I suppose that genetics are finally catching up with me. Which sucks, since diabetes also runs in my family. 

On the bright side, at least I work in the ER where medical help is only steps away!

Wordless Wednesdays... vacation countdown

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Last week in photos

Trip to Baltimore for the dentist and happy hour with my old coworkers

USS Constellation

Chickie driving me home from work

One of the peeps hatched from our eggs

Martinak Canoes

Martinak sunset

Osprey... time to get a better lens

Martinak sunset

Lonely sunset

Ancona chickiepoo. I need to name you.

Easter Egger chickie... I think I'm going to name her Chippy...

She is too freaking cute

With those chipmunk cheeks

Dr. Tasty, Esquire inspecting Miss Chippy

And running away...

This chick looks just like Mouse when he was a baby. One of my boss's kids claimed the little guy.

Farewell old IKEA dining room table, you've been good to me! Jay has spent the last week refinishing a table that his grandfather made. I'm struggling a bit with the color, but I'm hoping that eventually I'll get used to the lighter color wood.

Another gratuitous pic of Chippy

One of the White Marans chicks... pretty sure that's what she is. No name yet.

That's all for now!