Category Archives: Education

Leo the Boston Terrier Medical Update: Pet Parent Warnings, Cushings, Medications and Second Opinions

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Leo the Boston Terrier Medical Update: Pet Parent Warnings, Cushings, Medications and Second Opinions

*AS NOTED IN PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS I AM NOT A VETERINARIAN OR DOCTOR OF ANY SORT.
**I AM A COLLEGE DEGREE HOLDING PET OWNER THAT BELIEVES ALL PET PARENTS NEED TO BE PROACTIVE, DO THEIR RESEARCH, FOLLOW THEIR INSTINCT AND ADVOCATE FOR THEIR PETS. IF IN SHARING OUR EXPERIENCES AND LEO’S STORY WE CAN HELP OTHER FAMILIES IT WILL MAKE US FEEL LIKE WE CONTRIBUTED TO THE WELLBEING OF THE PETS AND THEIR LOVING FAMILIES.
As most of you know Leo had an anterior luxation that caused acute glaucoma and had to have an eye removed in May of 2013. In October of 2013 we noticed some symptoms in Leo that lead us to believe he may have Cushing’s Disease. Symptoms at the time included: weight gain in belly, fur loss on lower back region, panting and a slight increase in water intact. We took Leo to the vet and expressed our concern stating that we thought he may have Cushings and requesting he be tested for it. At this point in time that vet told us that the symptoms Leo was experiencing were common signs of a thyroid issue. They tested his thyroid and told us it was low at which point he was put on Soloxine. A few months later we took him back in to the vet for bloodwork to see how his levels were and Leo was diagnosed with a non-specific liver and kidney issue as a couple of his liver enzymes were elevated and he had 3+ proteins in his urine. Leo was then put on Denamarin to assist with liver function. More time passed and bloodwork was done two more times by this vet, both times Leo still had elevated liver enzymes and protein in his urine. Finally, we were able to talk them into testing for Cushing’s Disease as Leo had an increase in Cushing’s symptoms. They ran the test and it came back negative for Cushing’s Disease. We then continued to monitor Leo’s liver and kidney function with no definitive answers as to what was going on, what was causing the issue or how to effectively treat the issues. At our final visit with this vet they diagnosed Leo with high blood pressure and attempted to put him on medication for that…at this moment I decided to follow my gut and seek a second opinion from a holistic vet in our area.
Upon meeting the holistic vet and having him examine Leo and go over all of his records he noted that Leo’s thyroid was fine and that he did not need to be on the thyroid medication Soloxine in the first place. When testing the thyroid there are three numbers that come back, many vets only focus on one of the numbers, but all three numbers need to be taken into consideration. Our new holistic vet explained that thyroid issues are often times over-diagnosed in dogs. At this point in time we decided to take Leo off of the Soloxine as he didn’t need to be on it in the first place and it was what was probably causing the increase in blood pressure for Leo. A month and a half after taking Leo off of the Soloxine we took him in to run blood tests and check his blood pressure. Leo’s blood pressure was perfect! Leo’s thyroid was perfect! A couple of Leo’s liver enzymes were elevated and Leo did still have protein in his urine. We put Leo on some Chinese herbs to help with liver function and decided to do more bloodwork the following month. The next set of bloodwork came back with Leo still having increased levels of liver enzymes and protein in his urine, Leo also had increased calcium levels. At this point with all of the bloodwork results all of the signs were pointing towards Leo either having lymphoma or Cushing’s.
As concerned pet parents we were not good with the idea of Leo having lymphoma, so we started researching Cushing’s again, at which point I made a few very interesting discoveries. The following is the exact (minus the blocked out names) email that I sent to our holistic vet sharing the information I found and seeing what his thoughts were:
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Dr. ___________________,
I apologize for the length of the following email, but also know that typically I am better at explaining things in writing than I am verbally…so it is a bit of a read, but I feel there are some good points. Goal is for Leo to be as healthy and happy for as long as possible. I know that there is a chance that Leo has lymphoma, but looking at all of his symptoms, etc. I feel that he probably has Cushing’s Disease.
The symptoms most commonly seen in dogs with beginning Cushing’s include:
Increased thirst and urination (which can lead to the symptom of incontinence): When monitoring Leo he does drink significantly more than our other two dogs. During daytime hours they drink nearly the same amount, but Leo is up at least three times every night drinking water. Leo also requests to go outside far more often than the other two dogs. We have been lucky thus far and not had any incontinence issues.
Increased panting: When first bringing up the concern of Leo possibly having Cushing’s with old vet I did inform them that Leo was panting much more than normal. Leo, at that time, could sit and just pant, even with no physical activity prior. Leo is currently not doing this anymore.
Weight gain in the abdominal area, in spite of a reduction in calories (pot belly): The main symptom noticed with Leo, other than hair loss, was that he was getting or had a Buddha belly that was mainly noticeable when he was sitting, but was also quite noticeable when he was standing (he appeared almost pregnant).
Thinning skin and change in the pigment of skin, from pink to grey or even black; bruising: Leo’s skin does appear to be thinning, especially in the belly and neck area. Leo’s skin pigmentation has also changed in his ears turning to the greyish black color.
Hair loss and dullness of hair: Leo has significant hair loss on his lower back. Leo has also lost much of the sheen of his coat.
Irritability or restlessness: We’ve not seen much irritability out of Leo as he is typically very good natured. We have noticed a lot of restlessness.
Increased hunger: No increase in hunger noted.
• Seems very tired and inactive: Leo does at times seem very tired, but still has a great amount of physical activity and enjoys playing. We associated his decrease in activity with an increase in age.
Gets skin infections: Leo is suffering from ear margin dermatosis that he has never had before, this is new to him.
Decreased Muscle and bone mass: Leo’s muscle tone is lacking compared to how it used to be, we just associated this with aging.
Much less common are symptoms of rear limb weakness and blood clots. Leo has shown signs of weakness in his rear legs. Old vet noted that he did not immediately move paw back when she curled it under and stated it was “nerve damage.” We have witnessed Leo having episodes of back leg shaking and this has been increasing. Noticed it for the first time about 6 or so months ago. There are times that Leo’s back legs or hind end will shake while he is standing, but this does also occur sometimes when he is in a seated position.

Cushing’s is an over production of cortisol which is the stress hormone. Leo didn’t start showing any symptoms until October of 2013. In May of 2013 was when Leo had his eye removed, which could have been a trigger as he had been in a lot of pain prior to surgery and losing half of your vision, plus your depth perception, along with running into things, etc. has to be very stressful on him. The increase in cortisol can affect immune function, “trigger a glucose release from the liver” (thus making the liver work harder and I would assume knock liver enzymes, etc. all out of balance). “Cushing’s dogs get referred after a misdiagnosed liver disease. The liver of an animal with hyperadrenocorticism gets overtaxed from trying to process the excess cortisol in circulation throughout the body. This causes an elevation in the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and the inducible liver enzyme, alkaline phosphatase (ALP).”

There are two major types that affect dogs:
Pituitary dependent. This form is the most common, affecting about 80% to 90% of the animals who have Cushing’s. It happens when there’s a tumor in a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary.
Adrenal dependent: This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that sit on top of the kidneys, called adrenal glands. About 15% to 20% of diagnosed dogs will have this type.

When we first took Leo to old vet with concerns about him having Cushing’s they diagnosed him with a thyroid issue and put him on Soloxine. The following are cautions linked to Soloxine:
Cautions:
Soloxine should not be used if your pet has ever had thyrotoxicosis, or an uncontrolled adrenal gland problem. Tell your veterinarian if your pet has heart disease, anemia, diabetes, or problems with the pituitary or adrenal glands. If you give your pet insulin or diabetes medication by mouth, dose adjustments may need to be made.

Being that Cushing’s Disease in dogs has two primary types: Pituitary dependent and Adrenal dependent and that the above states that Soloxine should not be used in cases where the animal has issues with pituitary or adrenal glands I question if Leo being on Soloxine when the Cushing’s test was done could have affected the test results.

Depending on your opinion I would really like to re-test Leo for Cushing’s Disease, or start to treat him for Cushing’s Disease to see if it would help him.

Sincerely,
Roxanne ______________
SOURCES:
http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/cushings-syndrome-dogs
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/21/cushings-disease-caused-by-pet-stress.aspx
http://www.1800petmeds.com/Soloxine-prod10138.html
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/21/cushings-disease-caused-by-pet-stress.aspx

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Our holistic vet received this email on Monday November 2 and by Friday the 6th we had Leo in testing him for Cushing’s a second time. As you remember from above the old vet tested him and it came back negative. This time Leo was not on unnecessary medication (Soloxine) that would skew the results. On Monday November 9th we received the call that confirmed that Leo DOES have Cushing’s Disease.
Leo has now started Vetoryl, one of the only FDA approved medications to help with Cushing’s…not a cure, but a help. Leo has only taken two doses so far.
Now our adventures in diagnosed Cushing’s Disease begins….we will be sharing Leo’s story along the way.

**PET PARENTS:  PLEASE FOLLOW YOUR GUT.  FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT.  GET A SECOND OPINION OR EVEN A THIRD IF NEEDED.  DON’T BLINDLY TRUST A DIAGNOSIS IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT COULD BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  DO YOUR RESEARCH.  ASK QUESTIONS.  ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PETS–YOU ARE THEIR VOICE!!!

Leo the Boston Terrier with his sister Kuki and brother Doc.

Leo the Boston Terrier with his sister Kuki and brother Doc.

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Hydraulic Fracturing and Health Concerns

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(Please note:  I am in no way an expert in the field of hydraulic fracturing, but did spend a few months researching and working on an argumentative research paper for a college course and thought I would share it with you along with some of what I learned along the way.)

Hydraulic Fracturing and Health Concerns
As human beings there are two basic elements that we need for survival; oxygen and water. Industrialization put these precious resources in harm’s way by polluting our air and leaking toxic chemicals into our water. Currently one of our growing threats to clean air and fresh water is hydraulic fracturing. Since first being introduced in the late 1940’s, hydraulic fracturing has grown exponentially, especially in the last two decades, yet long term environmental and health effects are still unknown.
Hydraulic fracturing, which is commonly known as fracking, is an effective method of drilling for natural gas that is located in the earth. During hydraulic fracturing water that is mixed with sand and a variety of chemicals, is highly pressurized and used to break through sandstone and shale in order to reach natural gas deposits thousands of feet within the earth. The hydraulic fracturing process consists of two main parts: “well development and production” (McKenzie, Witter, Newman, Adgate 79). The first step in well development is preparing the drilling pad. Second comes the actual well drilling process. The final step in well development is the completion process. During the completion process the fracking fluids, along with natural gas, is brought back to the surface, then the newly drilled well is capped off so that the natural gas doesn’t escape. At this point the natural gas can be harnessed for use by being transported through pipelines and by tanker trucks.
Fracking fluid contains 99 percent water mixed with sand or silicate materials and a 1 percent chemical concoction. The sand or silicate helps to hold the cracks that are formed during the drilling process open. The chemicals used in the fracking fluid “includes acids, solvents and corrosion inhibitors” (Tollefson 146) that help keep the well from plugging up as it is being drilled. This mixture of fracking fluids is drilled into the ground at an average 9,000 pounds per square inch. As the fracking fluids are going into the ground it breaks the shale open so that natural gas can be released. Each new natural gas well takes an average of 2 to 5 days to frack and uses an average of 4.4 million gallons of fracking fluids (State Impact Pennsylvania). Each well can be fracked up to ten times while each drilling pad can have as many as 28 wells on it (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange). Once a well is completed the fracking fluid is then brought back up to the surface and stored in pits or large tanks until it can be treated.
The following infograph is a visual example of how the hydraulic fracturing process works.

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Granberg, Al, Schmidt, Krista K. “Infographic: What Is Hydraulic Fracturing?” ProPublica 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 2 March 2014.
In our continuous search to find a cleaner and greener energy alternative natural gas has become a shining star. Coal has been used for many years, but is not clean burning. According to studies natural gas burns “about 40 percent cleaner than coal” (Harder). Robert Howarth, biogeochemist, ecosystem scientist and researcher from Cornell University argues that once the methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing are added in “natural gas could be twice as dirty an energy source as coal” (Harder). On September 16, 2013 the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that “significant leaks of heat-trapping methane from natural gas production sites would erase any climate advantage the fuel offers” (Lovett). Though natural gas is cleaner burning than coal, the environmental impact, if large drilling companies don’t follow regulations and watch drilling emissions, could be catastrophic. Large drilling companies have a long way to go until natural gas is a viable “clean” energy alternative.
Although hydraulic fracturing has been around since the 1940’s, it wasn’t until recently that the industry has boomed. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency hydraulic fracturing has grown by eightfold in the past decade, and is expected to account for almost half of the United States’ natural gas production by 2035. In 1990 there were only around 269,000 natural gas wells in the United States, by 2010 that number had risen to nearly 500,000. It is estimated that from 2012 until 2035 there will be 17,000-35,000 new natural gas wells drilled per year. This continued growth is helpful for our economy, but is drawing health and environmental concern.
As hydraulic fracturing becomes more prevalent so does public concern. Environmentalists, researchers and the public are concerned about the environmental and health effects of hydraulic fracturing as many of the chemicals used during fracking have been linked to health issues. Methane has been found in drinking-water sources near drilling sites and air emissions from hydraulically fractured wells have been shown to contain volatile organic compounds. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas which diminishes the ozone layer. VOCs or volatile organic compounds have been classified by the EPA as toxic and hazardous air pollutants, which have direct links to human health issues including cancer. In the United States the largest polluter of VOCs is the natural gas and oil drilling industry (“The Future of Fracking”). Regulations are in place and new regulations are being introduced to help make hydraulic fracturing as safe as possible for the environment and human health, but even with the regulations there is no way of fool-proofing hydraulic fracturing so that it is 100 percent safe.
For many years air emissions in relation to hydraulic fracturing went unregulated. Federal and state governments have been creating new rules and regulations that drilling companies need to follow to help keep emissions and contamination at a minimum. The EPA announced new air pollution regulations in 2012 that all drilling companies will need to comply with or face possible fines. The new regulations require that drilling companies follow a green completion process, which is estimated to reduce the amount of air emissions by 99% coming from fracking sites. Environmental Health Perspectives, a monthly journal that publishes peer-review research about health and the environment, published an article called “The Future of Fracking: News Rules Target Air Emissions For Cleaner Natural Gas Production” that explored emissions and regulations in great depth. The article states that drilling companies need to “capture the targeted emissions” during the completion process when fracking fluids flowback and methane come back up prior to capping the well off. Natural gas drilling companies will be required to start capturing the methane that comes back up the well with the fracking fluids once the well is complete. The new regulations require that drilling companies be green compliant by January of 2015. Drilling companies are encouraged to complete the green completion process or be green compliant voluntarily prior to January of 2015. Devon Energy is a large drilling company “that has been using green completion equipment for more than half a dozen years” (“The Future of Fracking” A272+). If drilling companies do not adhere to the new regulations by January 2015 they will be required to flare (burn off) the emissions coming off the wells. The EPA has estimated that once the green completion process is in full swing it “will result in reductions of 190,000 tons of VOCs, 11,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants and methane equivalent to 18 million tons” (“The Future of Fracking” A272+). Since the preindustrial era the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has gone up almost 160 percent (Lavelle). The regulations however are only aimed at newly drilled wells, as they do not apply to existing wells. Many older wells have been shown to be producing a large amount of air emissions as they are leaking or were not capped off correctly. Many states are being proactive to ensure their air quality doesn’t suffer due to hydraulic fracturing by making sure the new regulations are followed.
Colorado is a leader in air emission research and model in groundbreaking regulations. At this time Colorado is the sixth-largest producer of natural gas in the United States. Colorado “has seen a 450% increase in natural gas production” (“Putting The Heat On Gas”) since 1990. On February 22, 2014 the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved new regulations that require drilling companies to “fix persistent leaks from tanks and pipes” (Oldham). Andarko Petroleum Corp., Encana Corp. and Noble Energy Inc. are three large drilling companies that worked with environmentalists in Colorado to back the new rules. The new rules require gas drilling companies to “monitor leaks from equipment at drilling pads, at tanks and at compressor stations” (Gold). The Department of Public Health and Environment in Colorado estimates that by monitoring leaks from equipment, tanks, compressor stations, processing plants and limiting flaring, VOC emissions may be reduced by as much as 34% per year (Gold). Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPH, and researcher with the University of Colorado Denver spent three years studying air emissions from natural gas wells in Colorado and found that people living within half a mile of a drilling site were exposed to hydrocarbons such as toluene, xylene and benzene which is a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Families living close to wells suffered from difficulty breathing, headaches and sore throats. The hydrocarbons coming from the natural gas wells have been linked to respiratory and neurological issues (McKenzie, et al). Lisa Mckenzie said “Our data shows that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water exposures to hydraulic fracturing” (University of Colorado Denver). With hydraulic fracturing continuing to grow, related air emission health concerns will also continue to grow. Continuing to research, regulate and keep the public informed are all steps that will need to be taken to help lessen the effects of hydraulic fracturing air emissions.
Along with air emission concerns are concerns with ground water contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing. A large amount of methane emissions appear to be coming from leaking natural gas wells. Much of the contaminated groundwater comes from well casings leaking and seems to occur when natural gas wells are drilled near shallow drinking water aquifers (Aldhous). Duke University chemical engineer named Robert Jackson, in a study done in Pennsylvania, found that methane levels in drinking-water from water wells that were within a mile of fracking wells contained a six times higher concentration of methane than water wells further away from fracking sites. Robert Jackson “found methane in 115 of 141 shallow, residential drinking-water wells” (Fischetti 21). Some families who have leased their land to oil and natural gas drilling companies have experienced fizzing or hissing water, water that has a strong odor, discolored water, and water that they can light on fire (Lavelle). Fracking experts have found that gas wells drilled on the Marcellus Shale have a higher percentage of leaking wells than “oil and gas wells drilled into other formations” (Fischetti 21). Large drilling companies argue that there is no way that their drilling can be causing the contamination in drinking-water as they drill thousands of feet into the ground and far below water aquifers, yet the families experiencing contaminated water never had a problem prior to the hydraulic fracturing in their areas.
Large oil and natural gas drilling companies are exempt from the Safe Water Drinking Act, which means that many of the chemicals that are pumped into fracking wells are not monitored or have very little regulation. In 2012 eleven states required natural gas drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they used during hydraulic fracturing and nine more states were in the “process of adopting” the same disclosure regulations (Kulander). Many drilling companies have started to report the chemicals they use during fracking to online chemical-disclosure registries. FracFocus is one of these online registries and thus far over 500 drilling companies have reported the chemicals they use (Tollefson). According to FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry they identify close to 60 chemicals that are “commonly” used in hydraulic fracturing (FracFocus). FracFocus currently has 62,887 well sites registered on their site. Some of the chemicals used have been linked to endocrine disorders, birth defects and cancer. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange has identified over 600 different chemicals in fracking fluid (TEDX). Scientists hope that eventually a database of all fracking chemicals will be available so that they can do further research and in time develop greener methods and alternatives that will lessen the environmental and health effects of fracking (Tollefson). Having open knowledge to the chemicals being used during hydraulic fracturing will also help in diagnosing illnesses and coming up with a treatment plan for related illnesses.
Although there are state and federal regulations that large drilling companies have to adhere to, there are also a lot of loop holes in the system. Hydraulic fracturing is exempt from many clean air and water acts. “Without restraints from the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and CERCLA, the gas industry is steamrolling over vast land segments” (TEDX). Unfortunately there are some major loop holes in the reporting system which makes it very hard to document all of the used chemicals. Some of the issues that come with reporting the chemicals used in fracking is that not all states have disclosure laws and often times in the states that do have disclosure laws the laws only require disclosure for public lands and much of the drilling is happening on private land. Another huge loop hole in the regulation and documentation of chemicals used in fracking is “trade secrets” otherwise known as a chemical mixture produced by large drilling companies that they consider their intellectual property, which can contain a large variety of chemicals (Tollefson). As stricter regulations and guidelines pertaining to hydraulic fracturing continue to develop, many of the loop holes will hopefully disappear.
Even with evidence showing that the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing and air emissions from wells are causing health issues for people living nearby there are still those who argue that there is not enough evidence directly linking hydraulic fracturing to the health concerns. Peter Aldhous, Ph.D. and freelance journalist states “evidence that fracking poses serious risks to human health or the environment, beyond the pollution associated with fossil fuel extraction is scant” (Aldhous 8). McKenzie and her research team state “further studies are warranted, in order to reduce the uncertainties in the health effects of exposures” (McKenzie, et al, 86). As advances in research, continued studies and overall chemical identification increases, so will the knowledge of long-term health effects of hydraulic fracturing.
Documentaries have opened many people’s eyes to the dangers, both health and environmental, wise of hydraulic fracturing. Gasland and Split Estate both show how hydraulic fracturing is effecting the people living nearby. Families tell stories of their water being contaminated and flammable due to methane, illnesses and even deaths in animals living near contaminated water sources. Headaches, rashes, difficulty breathing, and burning eyes are just some of the symptoms described in these documentaries that the families have been experiencing. Both documentaries show large drilling companies paying families off and having them sign non-disclosure paperwork so that they are not allowed to tell their stories to the media. Drilling companies argue stating that the stories told in these documentaries are extreme cases and are very rare (Gasland, Split Estate). Natural gas drilling companies and hydraulic fracturing has a negative image in media and the public’s minds. Documentaries like Josh Fox’s Gasland that show drinking water out of the faucet starting on fire due to being contaminated with methane does not help big oils image. The oil and natural gas industry haven’t helped their image by trying to fight federal drilling regulations and opposing disclosing the chemicals they use while fracking. Not only does the industries fight against regulatory legislation give them a negative image, but a “lack of public data” continues to fuel distrust (Harder). Not all large oil and gas drilling companies are trying to keep their chemical usage private or fight legislation. There are many large drilling companies that are complying with regulations and working with environmental groups to help lessen the impact of hydraulic fracturing.
Although, there are some major concerns linked with hydraulic fracturing in relation to the environment and health issues, there are some very positive aspects of hydraulic fracturing. Large oil and natural gas companies provide over 9 million Americans with jobs. Oil and natural gas also “contributes more than $86 million to the Federal Treasury every day” (API) which helps economic security and growth. The expansion of the oil and natural gas industry throughout the United States has helped make America less reliant of foreign fuels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration the United States was importing close to 60 percent of its petroleum in 2005. By 2011 the percentage of petroleum imported went down by 15 percent, largely in-part to oil and natural gas production growing in the United States (EIA). Oil and natural gas are huge contributors to our economy and job growth. Without having oil and natural gas production the United States would be completely reliant on imports of petroleum from over-seas, our job market would suffer, as would our economy.
With the cooperation of natural gas drilling companies, diligence of environmentalists and the concerned public, and further research, hydraulic fracturing has the potential of being a safe and clean method of harnessing natural gas. The long term goal is clean energy, at this point natural gas has the potential of providing a clean energy source. Other energy options that are safer for the environment and health of the public need to also be considered. Wind and solar power have both also proven to be very good sources of energy that have smaller environmental footprints than natural gas production. In the end having a reliable source of energy that is safe for the earth and its inhabitants is the goal.

 
Works Cited
Aldhous, Peter. “Drilling Into The Unknown.” New Scientist 213.2849 (2012): 8-10. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Feb. 2014.
American Petroleum Institute. American Petroleum Institute. API, 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. TEDX, 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. FracFocus, 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Fischetti, Mark. “Fracking And Tainted Drinking Water.” Scientific American 309.3(2013): 21. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.
Environmental Health Perspectives. “The Future Of Fracking: News Rules Target Air Emissions For Cleaner Natural Gas Production.” Environmental Health Perspectives 120.7 (2012): A272+. Environmental Studies and Policy. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
Gasland. Dir. Josh Fox. HBO Documentary Films, 2010. Film.
Granberg, Al, Schmidt, Krista K. “Infographic: What Is Hydraulic Fracturing?” ProPublica 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 2 March 2014.
Gold, Russell. “U.S. News: Colorado To Tighten Drilling Rules—Democratic Governor’s Move Follows Votes In Four Localities To Ban Fracking.” Wall Street Journal, Eastern Edition ed. Nov. 19 2013. ProQuest. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
Harder, Amy. “A Fracking Mess.” National Journal (2011). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
Kulander, Christopher S. “Shale Oil And Gas State Regulatory Issues And Trends.” Case Western Reserve Law Review Summer 2013: 1101+. General OneFile. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.
Lavelle, Marianne. “Fracking For Methane.” National Geographic Magazine Dec. 2012: [90]+. Natural Geographic Virtual Library. Web. 1 Feb. 2014.
Lovett, Richard A. “Study Revises Estimate Of Methane Leaks From US Gas Fields.” Nature 16 Sept. 2013. Nature News. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
McKenzie, Lisa M., Witter Roxana Z., Newman, Lee S., and Adgate, John L. “Human Health Risk Assessment Of Air Emissions From Development Of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources.” Science of the Total Environment 424 (2012): 79-87. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.
Oldham, Jennifer. “Colorado First State To Clamp Down On Fracking Methane Pollution” Bloomberg Sustainability 23 Feb. 2014. Web. 3 March. 2014.
“Putting The Heat On Gas.” Environews 115:2. Feb. 2007. Environmental Health Perspectives. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.
Split Estate. Dir. Debra Anderson. Red Rock Pictures, 2009. Film.
State Impact Pennsylvania. “How Much Water Does It Take To Frack A Well?” NPR 12 March 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.
Tollefson, Jeff. “Secrets Of Fracking Fluids Pave Way For Cleaner Recipe.” Nature 12 Sept. 2013: 146-147. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Regulatory Impact Analysis: Final New Source Performance Standards and Amendments To The National Emission Standards For Hazardous Air Pollutants For The Oil And Natural Gas Industry.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA. Apr. 2012. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
University of Colorado Denver. “Air Emissions Near Fracking Sites May Pose Health Risk Study Shows; Sites Contain Hydrocarbons Including Benzene.” ScienceDaily. 19 March 2012. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. U.S. Energy Information Administration. EIA, 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted Blankets and a Long Distance Thank You

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A wonderful girls weighted blanket made by Kathy Anderson.

A wonderful girls weighted blanket made by Kathy Anderson.

 

For years I have had the privilege of working in health care and through those years I’ve worked with many amazing people.  One of those amazing young women is my friend Kathy’s daughter who has Sanfilippo syndrome (MPS-III).  To learn more about Sanfilippo syndrome please read:  https://roxannesrandoms.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/sanfilippo-syndrome/  .

 

Weighted blankets, lap pads and vests can be a very beneficial, non-invasive, non-drug therapy for individuals with a Sensory Processing Disorder.  To explain:  sensory processing is how we perceive, filter and act on information received from our senses.  Our senses include sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and movement.  A Sensory Processing Disorder means that your brain isn’t able to process the information it receives from all of the senses (it is also sometimes referred to as a Sensory Integration Disorder).  Simply put you just aren’t able to properly process sensory stimuli.   Some examples of SPD/SID are:  autism spectrum disorders including Rett syndrome and Asperger’s syndrome, ADD, ADHD, and CP.  As we know, SPD does not discriminate and can affect all ages and races.

 

Many parents or family members of individuals with a SPD struggle to figure out and find what therapies work best for their loved one.  There are many medications out there that can assist with symptoms, but with many families wanting to go the more natural non-invasive route, weight and pressure therapies are awesome alternatives.  Weighted blankets, lap pads and vests can all provide a constant and even deep pressure that can help with sensory input.  The weight provides a proprioceptive input to the brain which is very calming.

 

Weighted blankets have also been shown to be beneficial for people with insomnia, traumatic brain injuries, RLS, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and many other conditions.

 

 

Researching weighted blankets can be overwhelming as there are many options and typically the price range is between $60-$190 depending on the size and weight of the blanket needed.  Please make sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist prior to choosing your blanket.  There are many large companies out there that make weighted blankets, but I have always been a fan of supporting small businesses and keeping it local, so I am recommending my friend Kathy.  Kathy’s rates are very reasonable and her blankets are very well made (along with being made with love).   Kathy’s rates for blankets are as follows:  4lb= $30,  5lb=$35,  6lb=$40,  7lb=$45,  8lb = $50,  9lb =$60,  11lb= $70,  12lb= $85,  13lb= $95.  Kathy will make blanket to the weight that your loved one needs (all sizes from children to adult).  Kathy picks great fabrics and will actually take your special requests, so that your loved one will have the perfect blanket for them.  You can go to: https://www.facebook.com/WeightedBlanketsLapPadsVests  to see more of Kathy’s creations.  You can also email Kathy at weight4less@aol.com and ask her any questions and place your special order.

 

 

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A fun boys weighted blanked made by Kathy Anderson.

 

This last Christmas was a very tight one in our home, as we had just moved and hadn’t found jobs in our new state, so we just didn’t have Christmas.  My birthday is Christmas Eve and I received the best gift anyone could ever get, a handwritten thank you card.  The card said:

Roxanne,

     I ordered a weighted blanket for my son with MPSIII from Kathy Anderson.  It was awesome & so was her pricing 🙂  She let me know she was able to make them for the special kiddos at that price due to donations from generous people like you who help her with her fabric purchases.  Thank you so much for your contribution to Reed’s blanket!

Merry Christmas

Love,

Zezee

Not only did this wonderful heartfelt card bring me to tears, but it also brought my husband to tears.  Knowing that my little donation was turned into a blanket that is able to help a wonderful young man warms my heart.

Kathy is able to keep the costs of her blankets so reasonable because of donations.  Big, small and everything in-between helps.  Many times families are struggling with money and can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a weighted blanket, especially with the cost of insurance, medications and other therapies.  I know take this moment to kindly request that if you have $1, $5, or more that you can donate to help a family who has a loved one that will benefit from a weighted blanket, please do so.  You can email Kathy at weight4less@aol.com to see how you can help and donate.

 

Weighted vest made by Kathy Anderson.

Weighted vest made by Kathy Anderson.

 

Some Helpful Links:

http://www.spdfoundation.net/

http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/proprioceptive-dysfunction.html

http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/

http://www.autismspeaks.org/

An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

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An Open Letter to Ann Coulter.

THANK YOU John Franklin Stephens for your wonderful heartfelt letter!!

Please take the time to learn more and educate others by going to http://www.r-word.org/

Emotional Chords and How We Play Them

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We all have emotions.  Happy, sad, angry, miffed, excited…all emotions.  We feel emotions in different situations, around different people and in different ways.  Sometimes it purely depends on the situation as to how you will react emotion wise, other times it depends on the day.  Example:  That movie or commercial that always pulls at your heart-strings–sometimes when you watch it you feel that emotional connection and respond by really thinking about the theme and acknowledging it, other times you see it and end up bawling for 15 minutes (and no, not the cute cry…the ugly cry, snot and all).  How we chose to process those emotions is where things sometimes get a little tricky.

The following is an emotion wheel that I thought would be fun to use pictures of our dog Doc showing some of the different emotions.  Pets are always great at helping people regulate their own emotions and studies have shown that pets are also great therapy.

 

Doc emotions through pictures.

When something happens in your life that does strike an emotional chord, learning how to react can be a real challenge, we have to learn how to play those emotional chords.  Yesterday a friend of mines young son was at school and injured himself during gym by running into the corner of a wall.  Joe’s injury required that he get 5 stitches in his temple area.  Joe did not cry, nor did his mother, yet when she contacted me about his injury she explained how hard it was for her to stay strong and not to cry so that Joe would be able to stay brave.  It is hard seeing someone you love hurt or in pain and in some situations the best thing that you can do is play your own emotional chords very softly so that the other person’s emotions do not escalate.  My friend did a perfect job keeping her own emotions in-check because they helped her son stay calm.  Later in the evening when Joe’s father arrived at home Joe showed that he had a great sense of humor about the injury by jokingly telling his dad that “he took on the whole class” and that the cut was all he got out of it 🙂

Part of our way of dealing with our own emotions depends on how we chose to look at life.  If you look at life and think that the world is out to get you and that life in general sucks, you emotions will also portray that.  If you try to stay upbeat and positive, even when life hands you the occasional lemon, your emotions will portray that.

Our emotions and moods also rub off on those around us…or other people’s emotions can rub off on us, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.  I have one friend that stands out as always being happy (well, 98% of the time at least).  He has a great sense of humor and loves to make other people laugh and have fun.  If you are in a funk of a mood that day, within just a few minutes around him your entire day will brighten and your emotions will be uplifted.  A smile and a laugh really help in keeping emotions in-check.  On the other hand I have a friend who is always a “Debbie-Downer” she is either mad, angry, ticked-off or irritated all of the time…gosh, imagine how much stress that puts on your body to be feeling those emotions all of the time.!?  Even when something super positive happens in her life, rather than being happy and excited that it will happen, she choses to look at it and say “well, it wont last.”  Your life and emotions all come down to your own choices.  Chose to be happy, chose to be sad…it is all up to you.  Yes, sometimes people are actually not able to control their own emotions which can lead to depression and other health issues, but counseling & some medications (depending on each individual situation) can really help balance out the different emotions.

Years ago I had a friend that would call me in tears at least three times a week and tell me the horrible things her then boyfriend (now husband) would say to her when they were fighting or arguing.  After a few months of this I finally stopped her in the middle of one of her venting sessions and told her that the next time she called me she needed to tell me at least 3 positive things that he said or done for her before she started telling me about all of the negative things.  This made her stop and actually look at all of the positive things that he said and did, which helped her not focus on the negative things as much.  A few months later their arguing and fighting had lessened and their communication had opened.  After one of their arguments where he had said something horrible to her she finally asked him why he says such mean things to her when they fight and his answer was “you hurt my feelings so I just wanted to say the meanest thing I could think of so your feelings would hurt too.”  This made her realize that there were two sets of emotions in the relationship, and when she only focused on hers and he only focused on his their relationship sucked, but when they took the little time to focus on each others emotions their relationship became much stronger.

This leads me to think of a variety of questions, that hopefully also make you think:

Have you ever said something to just purposely hurt someone elses feelings?

How often do you stop to think about how your emotions affect the people around you?

Do you let other people’s emotions rub off on you?

How do you stay positive in a negative situation?

How do you stay strong when your emotions are tested?

How often do you just stop to think about other people’s emotions?

On days when you are sad have you found anything that helps make you feel emotionally better?  An emotional outlet that works for you?  Reading, baking, exercise, pet therapy?

How do you choose to play your emotions songs?

Do you find that little things often times “get” to you?  If so, how do you deal with them?

If you could choose three negative emotions to work on how you react to them, what would they be?

If you could choose three positive emotions to use more and make stronger in your daily life, what would they be?

Have you ever been so emotional that you have said or done something you later regret?

Have you ever transferred your emotions about a situation or about yourself onto someone else?  Example:  You are mad because you got in a car accident and you yell at the other driver, a few days later you realize that it was your own actions that caused the accident, so really the person you were mad at was yourself, yet you took it out on the other driver.

Have you ever let your own emotions hold you back in life?

Do you help others when they are on an emotional low?

Are their people in your life that you can look at and say “Susie is always happy” or “Jake is just a downer”?  How do you let their examples mold the emotions in your life?

As you have aged have you become better at controlling your own emotions?

Do you think that television is affecting the emotions of generations of young people?  Does seeing people get angry, scream, swear and turn a table over teach young people negative emotions or negative ways of dealing with their emotions?

Who are the three people in your life that you admire the most for their emotions and emotional support?

 

 

 

 

20 Lessons from Reality…TV.

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1.  Drink, drink more, drink even more.

2.  Strangers and “friends” are both used for one night stands (typically after #1).

3.  Fake.  Fake boobs.  Fake tans.  Fake lips.  Fake hair.  Fake hair color.  Fake eyelashes.  Fake teeth.  Fake butts.  Fake bellies.  Fake nails.  FAKE PERSONALITIES!

4.  Being disrespectful is normal and acceptable.

5.  There are no consequences for your actions.  Go ahead, punch his lights out and pull her hair extensions!

6.  Money grows on trees, so make sure to use that credit card for EVERYTHING!  $1,500 shoes, hells yeah!

7.  Morals?  WTF!

8.  The best way to deal with your issues is to scream and swear loudly while overturning tables and trying to attack someone.

9.  Clothing is optional in any circumstance.

10.  When clothing is worn it needs to be tight and tiny.  Seriously, bending over and showing the world your snatch is 100% normal, just make sure that you are going commando.

11.  BLING!!!

12.  Be a glutton and then get liposuction.

13.  You can disrespect your family, but if anyone else does kick their ass.

14.  Good sportsmanship is when you show everyone how much better you are than them.

15.  Marriage is just a contract that can be broken at any time….even 72 days later.  Marriage is also a fantastic tool to assist with self-promotion.

16.  Dogs and small children make great accessories.

17.  Brand names help make you who you are, they must be worn at all times.

18.  Drugs are a speed dial away and you’re only “hot” if you do them.

19.  Men and women will do anything for true love, as long as it is being video taped.

20.  Laws are made to be broken because no matter what you do if you’re famous a slap on the wrist is all you’ll get.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM REALITY TV?

Sad when you think about it and realize that most reality tv is targeting people between 13-25.

Lost Children: Generation of Technology

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Recently I have seen many posts online referring to how different the “older” generation’s childhood was from our current generations.  These post range from not having air conditioning, cable, cell phones to actually going outside and playing to burn of excess energy.  From reading the variety of posts it made the wheels in my mind start turning and made me wonder just really how different are the children of today.

I was born in the late 70’s and can say that I was alive and participating in the world for a total of 1 week in 1979.  I was a child of the 80’s and a teen of the 90’s.  During the 80’s we were one of the first families on our block to get a VCR and my family had a membership to the local video store. I was limited to 3 movies per week and that was the extent of my television, the rest of my time was spent playing outside, drawing, pretending, doing homework, reading and being a kid.  Some of the basic toys that I loved was coloring books, slinky, stuffed animals, etch-a-sketch (I would get so frustrated when my family would walk by and purposely bump it just to mess with me), and of course the mighty bicycle.   I remember my parents (in 1985) bringing me home a Teddy Ruxpin as a surprise and I was terrified of him (terrified!!!)…seriously, those of you who remember Teddy Ruxpin tell me he wasn’t creepy.  Moving into the 90’s of course everything changed.  Nintendo, Sega and other gaming systems became all the rage, and I do have to admit that for a while I was very good at Super Mario, my specialty—flying.  My father also made sure that I kept active and limited video game and television time.  Some of his favorite tasks to keep me busy with was having me haul in wood, do dishes, clean the house, mow the lawn and other things that the typical teen doesn’t find very cool.  I am grateful to my father for having made me do those things, because not only did they get me off my butt and outside most of the time, but they also taught me a great amount about responsibility and what it means to be a successful adult…the fresh air was also good for me.

When my father was a child toys were made to last forever.  They were sturdy.  They were metal.  They had sharp edges.  They were meant to be played with.  They were toys that had substance and longevity, unlike the toys of today’s era.  Many of the toys that my father played with were made in America, the good old U.S. of A.  I truly believe that the toys that last are the toys of the past.  Majority of the toys that are currently on the market for this generations children are made in China or whichever country the manufacturer can find to produce it the fastest and cheapest, in doing this I believe quality is completely lost.  The toys of today are made out of plastic and have nice rounded corners and edges so that there is virtually no chance of a child hurting themselves.  At this point pretty much the only thing on the toys that will hurt the children is some of the paint that is chalked full of lead.  Of course you want to keep your children safe, but then isn’t part of growing up having battle wound stories to tell.

Enough about today’s toys…let us move onto electronics and the mass addiction that today’s society has on them.  Majority of the adults that I know have a computer, cell phone, MP3 player, high-def tv, dvd/bluray, etc…but the question loudly ringing through my mind is WHY ON EARTH DO CHILDREN NEED ALL OF THESE ITEMS TOO???  I worked as a nanny with a child who was right in the 2-year-old range and his parents would let him play with their I-Phones and if they did not he would throw a fit.  The parents also would play Wii with him…seriously, the kid is 2!  In his bedroom he had a MP3 player and docking station and would refuse to even think about going to bed or taking a nap unless music was playing.   At 2 years of age he already knew that he would rather play with his parent’s phones than go outside and I find that sad.

 

How young is too young for children to be obsessed with technology?

How much technology is too much?

Should children be regulated on their technology consumption?

Are parents to blame for using technology as babysitters rather than taking the time and actually interacting with their children?

How many parents are encouraging physical activity—outside?

How unhealthy does our current generation on children need to get before our red flags go up and something changes?

How many parents are hands on in teaching their children about the world around them?  Nature?  Cooking?  Mechanics?  The basic life skills that will be much-needed as an adult.

Being that Christmas is just a little over a day away I wonder how many parents/family members/etc. will get the children in their lives something educational or something that promotes physical activity that is not completely dependent on technology?  I keep seeing Santa on the news and  hearing children asking for I-Pads, video game systems and other items along the same line, which makes my heart sad because when I was young you would have never asked for items so expensive.  No wonder families are struggling to get by.  Going off of the Christmas and Santa thing it makes me wonder how parents explain where toys were made to their children.  According to the Santa myth his elves all hand make the toys at the North Pole, yet if you have a child who is of reading age and they read the bottom of a toy and it says “Made in China” I wonder how exactly does a parent explain that one away?

Children used to enjoy going outside to play, playing until they were exhausted and using their imaginations.  I feel like a lot of the children today are going to lack many of skills that we and generations prior to us have taken for granted for so many years such as CREATIVITY, CURIOSITY, and RESOURCEFULNESS.  When children used to be able to imagine a stick was a sword they could swing or a horse they could ride that took a great amount of imagination and mental exercise.  Now all kids have to do is go online or play a video game that swings the sword at the tap of a button or makes the horse run with a click of the paddle, the game is being their imagination for them and due to that I feel like there is a lost generation being raised.

In closing, children of my father’s generation and earlier were like little MacGyver’s, while the children of today’s generation are like little Mac Guys (sorry Justin Long, nothing against you as an actor).  Please take time to encourage your children and the children around you to be creative, use their imaginations, burn energy outside and look at this amazing world we live in through their own eyes in splendid wonder.