Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Kyle: Superdragon!

Kuleana Graeme Squishee, my marvellous, grumpy lizard turned out to be a genuine superdragon.

As most of you know, she was struck down mysteriously ill a couple of weeks ago, and I've been fighting to keep her going in an effort to identify the cause and cure her.

Sadly, she passed away today, but her blood test results finally came back and the vet was astounded: A normal uric acid count for lizards: 300, lethal: 3000. Kyle had been running for at least a week at SIX THOUSAND.

They think she had an undiagnosed congenital kidney defect all her life, and the vet was particularly astounded as she managed to keep fighting for another 20 days - even after her kidneys had completely failed.

It does explain a lot about her though; from her funny barrel shape, her grumpy days, the perpetual pickiness with food, to her unique, familiar Kyle smell; sweet, warm and acid like lemon drops and mangrove wood. I now understand that this was caused by ketones, an indicator of possible kidney disease or diabetes, among other things.

Either way, it was a relief to know I couldn't have done more even if I had known, and it was nice to know that I had done all the right things for her throughout her life! In fact, I'm glad I didn't know, as it meant I wasn't permanently worrying and waiting for the worst.

I'd like to thank everyone for their support and kind words, especially my family, and the people I have never even met before (thanks to the internet) who gave sage advice such as:
"Treat tomorrow like a gift to come - it's exciting and you have no idea what's going to be in it. That's why they call today 'The present'." and "Tough times never last, but tough people do."

I have a lot of people to be grateful to, not least Kyle herself. Though I'm amused that she taught Tsam how to do the "Flying Pancake" technique... A remarkable skill, where she could instantly flatten out and skid along the carpet whilst "running" at full speed, enabling her to vanish under the bed. Bloody frustrating lizards!

Clearly she was smart, but the x-rays don't show that she had a brain... Hehehehe!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ralph and the Malfunctioning Jazz Dog

Can anyone answer this: Why do your eyes water when you pray to the porcelain goddess?

Been doing it since 3am and finally stopped barfing at 12pm. Managed to hold down some chicken soup (just) and slept for the next three hours. Woke to icecream and a skull two sizes too small. Haven't worked out what set it off; honestly, it could be anything - probably stress, but could also be that maybe McCoys changed their Sizzling King Prawn crisp recipe to contain actual shellfish extract. Who knows! I managed to eat spaghetti for tea and kept it down.

It's been an entertaining week, with Kyle so ill and having had a genuine, full on and uncontrollable panic attack on the 23rd. Very embarrassing. Wouldn't recommend it. Mind, I suppose they wouldn't call it a "panic attack" if it was nice. Perhaps "warm fluffy bundle of cute little kittens and a plate of chocolate brownies" wasn't a great name for it. Sounds like a good cure though.

Talking of good cures, laughter is supposed to be the best one - and my kind friends around the internet rallied to find His Lordship and I some good things, including our favourite video clip this week: The Dog Malfunction:

I also recommend reading Ben Driscoll's "Daisy Owl" cartoons, found HERE. There's something sweet and surreal about them. Keep an eye out for Benjamin and Steve's jacuzzi - it nearly killed me laughing! (Though not quite as funny as Michael Macintyre's Dead Arm sketch.)

Related Quote of the Day: "A dying granny tells her granddaughter, "I want to leave you my farm. That includes the villa, the tractor, and other equipment, the farmhouse and £22,398,750.78 in cash.".
The granddaughter, about to become filthy rich says, "Oh granny, you are so generous. I didn't even know you had a farm. Where is it?"

With her last breath, granny whispered, "Facebook..." - Best joke sent in by internet friend Matt.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Hats off to the reptiles - they're COOL!

Firstly, apologies for not doing Kyle updates, but I'm actually backdating these posts, as at the time I was WAY too stressed to do proper updates.

Some people dress dogs up,but I like to make/buy hats for lizards. Apparently it's more common with beardie owners than you'd think. For example, my friend Danny has both a pirate hat and a Santa hat for his beardie Chucky. We do have a Santa hat here for Christmas time!

I finished making Sandy's Halloween costume, with a raggy purple and black cape and this rather fetching, diamond studded witches hat coated in black spangly glitter. She was only too happy to let us snap a few photographs!

I think Hyph might need a pith helmet and an "adventurer" theme - any ideas? And no, I'm not taking the pith...

Tsam of course has his 1960's vintage German Commander's cap, but I'm not sure what else to add to this "costume". It does amuse me greatly to think of some nerdy specialist Action Man collector somewhere out there, throwing a complete fit when he sees Tsam wearing his precious cap.

I do have plenty of camouflage material handy, including some super military issue weatherproof ripstop fabric, so I think I might have to do him some sort of cloak or jacket to go with his hat. The ripstop actually came in really handy for keeping the rain out of the dragon basket recently.

Quote of the Day: "Sandy looks so mean and yet so darn cute." - Barry, Google+ randomer

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Visual Electro Dubstep

I liked Dubstep before it got cool, and I always enjoy seeing the new roads it takes on its evolutionary journey (discounting of course the trash that's in the charts). I was amused to discover DubstepLyrics this evening. DSL dedicate themselves to the visual realisations of sound. Now you can sing along to your favourite hardbeat dubstep.

Warning: not suitable for people with epilepsy.

Related Quote of the Day: "This beat is so sick it made me teabag a bear trap :)" Benny Benassi, commenting on dubstep track "Cinema" (the Skrillex remix) http://dubstepreactions.tumblr.com/

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Pretty Pink Patterns!

I love keeping up to date with the new discoveries in the animal world - it's amazing to think that tomorrow there will be dozens more previously unknown insects and a few new animals discovered. Every day means new findings and new delights.

Recently, they discovered another marvellously pink coloured animal in Madagascar - meet the Liophidium pattoni.

Apparently, the snake's fluorescent colouring is to mimic nasty-tasting millipedes in the leaflitter, and they don't yet appear to be toxic or aggressive.

They've also made a colourful RE-discovery a few weeks ago. Apparently, this is one of the world's most elusive amphibians, the Bornean Rainbow Toad (Ansonia latidisca). It lives in trees, and was last seen 87 years ago before making a sudden reappearance in Malaysia. You can find more info: Here

Related Quote of the Day: "You probably don't want to put this in your mouth." - Amphibian Expert Robin Moore, on an interview about the Bornean Rainbow Toad

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Lethargic Lizard...

I came home on Thursday after jury service and discovered Kyle had collapsed. The pic is how I found her, with heavily sunken eyes, and all her temples (top of head) concaved.

Thankfully I have a good vet's phone number and a great team of friends over at BD.org who were very happy to help. We were able to diagnose her with extreme dehydration, probably brought on by not eating her greens and eating WAY too much calcium. Too much protein from just eating bugs had drawn out more water from her system, forcing her to eject it all - inadvertently losing more liquids.

I immediately bathed her and she drank deeply from the tub whilst I called the vet. The vet wouldn't be in on the Friday, but she was able to call in ahead to the Taunton branch so that I'd be able to collect some Critical Care formula and hydrating salts. I'm just glad Kyle chose a week when I was actually IN Taunton - my lift was kind enough to run me to the vets to collect in the morning.

His Lordship bathed her whilst I was at jury service, and we finished SUPER early, so I was able to dash home and start treating her properly.

Tsammy recently received his new German Commander's cap in the post from a friend, so he took charge and made sure we followed the rota. (It's a 1960's vintage Action Man German hat, but it fits like it was made for him!)

After a couple of scary days, Kyle seems to be pulling through - the large quantities of fluids and care formula are doing their job; her eyes are back to normal (though her eyebrows are still a bit flat) and the sharp edges of her skull have softened, the water storing fats in her temples haven't filled out yet, but we're getting there.

Understandably, it's left her very wobbly and she's lost a LOT of weight and muscle tone quite suddenly, but I believe she's a very tough little dragon and should recover well given time.

Related Quote of the Day: Walls for the wind, a roof for the rain and tea beside the fire. Laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all that your beardie might desire. - Ado, beardeddragons.org

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Pause for the Prodrome

I have been researching into the vasovagal response - the symptoms I had were known as a "prodrome", sort of like an early warning system. It's caused by adrenaline from the stress in my case; the adrenaline makes all my blood vessels dilate, the blood pressure to suddenly drop and all your blood to pool in your legs. And when you consider how long my legs are, I'm impressed I didn't actually pass out. Apparently I'm tougher stuff than a wussy little scare!

But it does explain why the blood slowed dramatically when I went half deaf and fizzy visioned - there wasn't enough blood in the top half of my body.

However, looking up treatment methods had my laughing my ass off - this line in particular: "The cornerstone of treatment is avoidance of triggers known to cause syncope in that person." Uh, well, DUHHH. Not the most helpful bit of advice I ever heard. (And I'm guessing these tablets won't help much.)

With a bit more digging around I now know that lying down and putting my legs up will help reduce this particular side effect of my phobia. Rumour has it that licorice root helps too. Although useful to know, the response is... well, purely a response to emotional stress and not the underlying problem.

I'm not sure how to progress from here, except to get more blood tests I guess, like immersion therapy or something. Oddly, the internet isn't offering many useful suggestions. Any ideas?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Munchies with Melf

A week's worth of patience has been rewarded, as His Lordship's Danish friend "Melf" decided he'd drop by whilst on holiday in the UK.

He was supposed to be holidaying with his family in Sweden (a stone's throw from his hometown of Copenhagen), but that didn't feel enough like a "real" holiday, so they took a ferry here instead, to enjoy the sunny beaches of Bournemouth. Amazingly, the weather stayed good until today, so they came to visit us - and we took them out for dinner.

They were delighted by the idea of Ostrich Steak at Garth's, and as it's awesome, they braved it. We had red wine and mushroom sauce, whilst Melf and his wife went for the pink peppercorn and brandy - good for dippin' a chippin it seems. "Numnuhummmmnum" seems to be the Danish for "Nomomanom".

Nicolaj (the younger of their little boys that came with us) says his burger was great. His parents were pleased and offered him a burger the next day, but he says it wasn't as good as the one at Mulberrys! High praise if ever I saw it.

Hehehehehe - I just unwrapped Hyphen! I was trying to put him in his waterbowl for a soak when I realised he'd gone into Jumpsuit mode, so I carefully unzipped a strip down his belly and the rest peeled off beautifully. I got the
whole back and sides skin.

Hyphen was all "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh."

Friday, 5 August 2011

Help! Block bigger than the Lego Wall of China

Hope you've got your imagination hat on - I'm really stuck. I don't know how I wrote myself into a corner, but the story was literally writing itself. I wasn't telling them what to do, I was just writing it down as it happened...

I need to get a female main character into a massive rock band's hotel room. She's currently posing as merchandise specialist, but the doorman's asked for her pass. (I know, I don't know how that happened.) She's already dodged the worse of the suspicion by pointing out her "assistant" is useless.

The other bit is much the same problem - I'm supposed to be getting a band to do a charity gig at a massive stadium - but I need to get past the security team at the concert hall. They're supposed to be unbribable, and intelligent, though they're actually monkeys. Sort of.

If anyone has any ideas, let me know - I've really boxed myself in. Whoops!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Park 'N' Ride

Got lift to the Park and Ride! A couple of the other Jurors are from here, so the lass from Portsmouth and I have been able to hitch a lift, saving £16 a day. I have to say the Park and Ride is a really sensible system - the buses are great, and they even have leather seats!

And so another day of waiting is in progress. Thankfully I'm built with a near perfect ability to tolerate immeasurable lengths of time doing diddly squat. (Having a book, a laptop and my lovely little HTC's ability to be a portable internet hotspot is handy.) I have to thank my mother for "training" me, with considerable lengths of time being spent tolerating clicking of ballpoints and other such irritants. Hehehe.

If you're not as tough at waiting around for hours, here's a little entertainment for you whilst your brain and computer slowly melts: http://www.sketchswap.com/. Hours of procrastinationability.

This lunchtime, I managed to find the perfect bowl for Tsammy - it's identical to the one he's got, but twice the size. I'm sure we'll give him an inferiority complex, because every time I upgrade something, he wakes up and thinks he's shrunk! He was pleased that he could fit himself entirely IN this bowl, rather than going in circles with his head underwater and his back legs outside.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Travelling to Taunton

It occurs to me that Taunton is bloody difficult to get to from here by public transport. Buses won't get there on time, the motorway is too fast and dangerous for my little bike, trains mean I have to leave the house at 7 to get there by 10 - but the best one; getting there by taxi, all of 27 miles, would cost £46. Each way.

So, as you can probably predict, I wound up getting the train. Apparently the later train allows a change at Castle Cary, lopping nearly 45 minutes off the journey, but not at any times I could use.

This is all because I've been chosen for Jury Duty. For those that have been fortunate enough not to discover what this means, you're randomly selected from the Electoral Register. (My name's still misspelt on it, after three years of complaints, emails, calls and letters.)

It's a governmental calling, so you can't get out of it unless you a) know any of the involved in the case you're assigned, b) have a sufficient medical reasonm or c) will be on an already paid for holiday.

This is a bad thing - for example, one of the girls forgot to move her Registry when she moved to Portsmouth. So she's having to stay at a friends house here so she doesn't get fined. Oh yeah - that's right, not only is it mandatory, but if you fail to turn up, they can and will stick you with a £1000 fine. Some cases can go on 200+ days too, but most normally consist of a bunch of short cases for a two week period.

My first day wasn't very entertaining. Nothing happened, and we sat around in the waiting room. They did let us out a little early though, so I took the opportunity to explore Taunton's magnificent Lush store. Yomnom bath bomb! Vanilla-y. The moisturiser I grabbed leaves you smelling like New York cheesecake, and the Toffee Apple bomb smells heavenly.

Proper lush!