Love and Writing

The art of writing is not as easy as many would think: writers spend hours on end engrossed in ink and paper, pouring thoughts and emotions out and attempting to organize them into a written message. They degrade their eyesight by transferring thousands upon thousands of words to paper every day. They transcribe thoughts into printed script for the sake that the world can view their work; and the pay is risky as well, not guaranteeing that the public will receive the piece of literature the way the writer intends. Sometimes writers risk even more than their livelihood when the message is received the way want it.

True enough, reading printed material is easy. Writing is the work that bears the brunt of hardships when it comes to words on paper. It is hard to see why some people choose such a life, but it is unquestionable that they do. Beneath all the hardships however, the art of writing does have its perks. There remain those who seek out the art, developing a real love for it.

Writers, like all other artists, are gifted with the ability to spread a message. Being a writer usually entails better communication skills – better mastery of language – than the majority of the population. This allows the greatest of them to use the full power of words; evoking the emotions they desire from their readers, and seeding minds with thoughts of their choosing. History has seen the often great, sometimes terrible, but always powerful effects of eloquently delivered messages in the works of men such as Churchill or Hitler, and many fall in love with the art of writing for this power.

Writing also calls people to it because of the freedom it promises. A writer’s pen can be likened to the hand of God, and the paper, a universe of His creation. There are no bounds and no laws that can truly hold back a writer’s words. Even if it is against the law to write against the wrongs of a government, and even if the writers who do so anyway are executed, they die knowing that the stories written are of their choosing, and not that of the opposition. In the writer’s own universe, the rules that govern reality do not apply unless the writer deems it so. Even lesser writers than such are afforded the same freedom, as proven by the mythical worlds we read of in paperback novels.

Finally, there are those who fall in love with writing because of the life it brings the writer closer to. Those who write for newspapers write of truth and that truth that is part of daily life. Some share stories of places and times of the world, telling tales of color and sound of cultures across the world. Many write to reveal the happiness, sadness, and souls of those who live day by day.

So yes, writers risk much, and face much more. The truth is this does not discourage them from the art. Writing is more than a skill, and more than a job. It is – to the truly devoted writer – a calling; and while many start writing as a necessity, the best of these artists find that given enough time, they write because they love it.

Tips on Writing Your First Novel

A novel is a form of prose; a fictional narrative about characters and their experiences. The word originates from the Italian term “novella,” which means “short story,” and often refers to prose more than forty-thousand words in length. Due to the sheer length of novels, they are considered by some fiction writers to be the pinnacle of the art.

Many new writers can be daunted by the challenge of writing a novel because of how the art form is viewed in the modern literary sphere. Even so, it is not impossible for new writers to create masterpieces enjoyed by millions worldwide; in fact, such occurrences are quite common. All it takes is the proper investment of skill, resources, and dedication.

Because a novel is fictional – though it can be based on reality – the first challenge when writing one of any genre is the same challenge met when writing any fictional story: the setting. The first task of the writer is to come up with a mythos; a set of rules to serve as the framework of the fictional world the characters inhabit. This set includes the geography of the world, a relevant history, social dynamics, cultures, technological advancements, etc. When coming up with a setting, the writer also takes note of how much time elapses from the beginning of the novel to its closure. A good setting will never stray from the rules unless the plot requires it to, and even in such situations, this is done in accordance to another rule in the mythos.

Once the fictional world is created, the novelist’s next step is to fill it with characters. This means not just the main cast of the story, but the general public that they encounter. For example, it is one thing to write about a man in a marketplace, but a completely different level to write about “a man in a marketplace filled workers – some carrying crates and some checking lists – whilst he haggled with a merchant over a kilo of fish.” A novelist may also add more characters to the scene, such as a beggar on the corner of the street dressed in muddy, brown rags. Skilled writers never neglect the background characters, because they help build the atmosphere of the place and time they are placed in. With regards to the characters the novel revolves around: Depth is necessary. It is very hard to enjoy a novel where the antagonist is pure evil (unless the mythos demands it to be). The most loved characters in writing are those with more than one face; a good father with a past as an alcoholic, a priest who committed murder as a child, or a sociopathic killer who genuinely loves and cares for a daughter who doesn’t know he exists. Depth of character makes it harder to love the good, and to hate the bad of the individual. It makes the character seem more real, and allows the reader to connect that much more intently with the story.

The third requirement to writing a good novel is plot. This refers to the events that drive the characters, building up tension until a climax is reached, and then releasing it to come to a conclusion. Some novelists may choose to write the story over time & with no clear end in sight. Others may have an entire storyline in mind, and merely have to transfer thoughts to paper. The conclusion may not necessarily be clear as well; open-ended conflicts tend to stir intense emotions among readers. A good plot, whether original or with a recurring theme, drives the cast of characters from one event to the next until they collectively lead to one important climax.

Finally, when the setting, characters, and plot come together, all that is left is to organize everything in the pages what is to become of the book. Writers will often do this in an outline form before actually writing the first draft of the story to make sure everything adds up. Once done, the novelist writes and edits the draft. During this phase, it is advisable to not shy away from rewriting and revising the draft as many times as necessary until the entire work is consistent with itself, and all errors are eliminated. Though long and tedious, this process guarantees that no corners are cut with regards to the quality of the written content.

Writing a good novel is no easy task. Many writers tend to get discouraged in the middle of the story when it dawns on them just how much work needs to be done. In fact, some novels require years to complete (J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings took 18 years to write and publish). However, time and effort often pays off, and novels drive the writer’s own created world into full view of the public. Many writers continue to write novels even if such success is not their goal however; the idea of having breathed life into paper is enough for them. That is after all, the true reason of the novel.

Q & A about Second Degree Sunburn

A couple of months ago, I met up with a high school buddy. He had managed to build a business and sold it for a handsome amount of money. Now he lives the fast lane and most of his time is spent travelling exotic lands and living life to the fullest. Meeting up was by chance. As we caught up, he informed me that he was planning to visit Africa during his next adventure. “I’ve been there a couple of times. The only thing I didn’t enjoy there was the hot sun. I actually got sunburn the first day I went hiking.” He said excitedly.

We parted ways as we promised each other to keep in touch. I had come across people with sunburn but didn’t give it too much thought. However, my friend’s mention of the condition aroused my curiosity. In particular, I was interested in sunburn of the second degree. Here are some of the common questions and answers about the condition.

What’s sunburn?

This is a condition where harmful ultraviolet sun rays damage living tissue. These rays usually destroy skin tissue since it’s the most exposed to the sun.

Are there different types?

There are three main types depending on severity. First degree sunburn is mild in nature and usually affects the skin tissue. It usually resolves within a few days. Sunburn of the second degree is a bit severe and besides damage to skin tissue, the damage can extend to nerves in the skin. Third degree sunburn is the most severe and will usually require immediate medical attention since damage extends deep into the underlying tissue.

How does second degree sunburn occur?

This condition occurs when the skin is exposed to the suns rays for extended periods of time. The sunburn can occur within 10 minutes of exposure to the suns rays. Symptoms can emerge within 30 minutes of exposure and can last for weeks.

What are the symptoms of sunburn of the second degree?

Some of the symptoms of this condition include the following. The first symptom is reddening of the skin as the skin tissue starts deteriorating. Many people will think it to be a tan. As the damage advances, swelling and inflammation occur. At this point the skin feels hot to touch and is painful. In severe cases, blisters start forming on the skin and the person might experience other symptoms such as fever and fatigue. Dehydration is another symptom associated with the condition.

Who is at the highest risk?

Anyone can suffer from sunburn of the second degree. However, people of fair skin complexion, fair eyed and, with freckles are at the most risk.

How can sunburn of the second degree be prevented?

One of the best preventive measures to take is to keep your skin covered when you go out in the sun. Vulnerable areas such as the face and arms should always be covered. If you engage in activities which expose skin to the sun such as sunbathing, it’s advisable to wear sunscreen at all time to protect against UV rays.

How is the condition treated?

Treatment usually involves using products which promote healing and prevent further damage occurring to the skin tissue. Vinegar for sunburn is one of the popular home remedies for sunburn. Applied to the affected area, it helps prevent infection and relieve pain.

Theories of Personality: I don’t know you, but I know I won’t like you

Do you ever wish you could look at a person and just know whether or not the two of you can get along? Think about it. Wouldn’t it be much simpler if people could just tell from the start whether or not they are in the right company? That way, we could avoid people we don’t want to be around, and surround ourselves only with people who we know we’d have no problems with. I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say these things. Throughout history, mankind has made attempts to predict behavior. A simple Google search with the keywords “theory of personality” brings up a multitude of names, dates, hypotheses, and researches dedicated to understanding how and why people get along with some, and loathe others. One such theory was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Catherine Cook Briggs.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator theorizes that people are extraverted or introverted, sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. A combination of these traits forms a general picture of how the individual forms pictures and makes decisions regarding the world around them. Interestingly, the MBTI has been absorbed by pop culture to the extent that a decent following of people use it to determine their interaction with other people.

Here are a few examples. I took the MBTI test, and found that I was classified as an INFJ personality; introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. According to supporters of the MBTI, INFJ relationships tend to follow a set of personal standards, and are full of intensity and meaning. INFJs are said to be perfectionists who strive for the “best” relationship. On the other hand, a friend of mine took the test and turned out to be ENFJ; pretty similar to me, except he was considered an extrovert. The personality inventory would have that ENFJ relationships are usually warm, with the occasional tension created by the ENFJ personality’s strict observance of how he believes the relationship should be. The list goes on to cover a vast majority of traits possessed by every human being. People can interpret the results to determine whether people are jealous or not, whether they make good families or not, etc.

I’ll be honest here, though: I sometimes wonder how valid such theories of personality are. I mean yes, they give us some grasp of how people think; and yes, they allow us to make predictions of human behavior. But are human beings really limited by such rigid rules?

Don’t get me wrong: I am not against psychology, and I fully support the quest for understanding human behavior. I understand the importance of needing to understand the thought process and interaction process that happens between each person on this planet. What I don’t understand however, is why single theories of personality are held by some people to be all that people follow.

Here’s what I believe: mankind does follow a set of rules hardwired into our genetic code. We follow rules that guide our personality and tell us who we are. But I really don’t believe mankind is so shallow as to be encompassed by a single theory of how we behave.

I don’t feel strongly for what pop culture has done to theories of personality originally meant to serve as bases on which we ground our understanding of who we are as human beings: turn it into a set of rules that dictate who we make good matchups with, and who we should avoid before we even have a chance to meet the person. Sadly, personality tests have turned into mere compatibility tests.

No, I don’t believe that at all. Nothing beats good old fashioned experience when it comes to meeting new people; getting to know them so you can tell if they’re the ones you should be around. When it comes right down to it, the best compatibility test is called meeting in person.

A Look into the Bunionette

Sometime back, my buddies and I decided to go hiking. It was a week long trip that comprised the guys only. It gave us time to enjoy nature and catch up. Most of us had been so caught up with work and family that we didn’t have time by ourselves. The trip had been planned for weeks and we were all excited.

Three days into the trip, one of my friends started slowing down. He needed constant breaks and was complaining about his sore little toe. The edge of the toe was completely swollen and the toe itself seemed to be riding upon the other toes.

“It’s a bunionette.” he exclaimed to us as he sat down and removed his hiking shoes. “Gets sore ever time it rubs on the boots surface.” He said as he examined it carefully. After a couple of minutes, I suggested he wear open shoes and we walk more slowly. “With open shoes, your toe won’t rub against any surface.” He did so and we had an exciting hiking trip.

Back then I didn’t know much about the bunionette. After that trip, I sought to know more about it.

What’s a bunionette?

A bunionette is one of the two types of bunions. It’s a bone deformity that affects the joint between the metatarsal bone and the little toe. The deformity is such that the joint protrudes outward forcing the little toe to point towards the other toes.

It’s also called the tailors bunion. This name was coined centuries ago when it was believed that tailors were the most likely to develop the condition. This is because they usually sat with their feet set at an angle such that the edge of the shoe at the small toe constantly rubbed along the floor.

What causes bunions?

Bunions are caused by wearing ill fitting shoes. Studies show that people who wear shoes that are too tight at the toe box and high heeled are at higher risk of developing the condition. However, there are health conditions that affect the foot which are believed to put people at higher risk. These conditions include having overly flexible ligaments, abnormal growth of the metatarsals and having flat feet.

Can the bunionette be managed?

Bunionettes can be quite painful. Managing them is therefore essential to ensure that you can comfortably walk. Some of the techniques you can use to manage the condition include the following include the following.

Wearing shoes that fit properly, or as was with the case with my friend open shoes will help you prevent aggravating the bunionette further. Wear shoes that are wide at the toe box and low heeled. This will protect the little toe against rubbing against the shoe surface.

Orthotics placed inside shoes help to balance out the body’s weight along the foot. As such, there won’t be too much pressure around the toes which is one of the reasons bunions develop.

For pain and inflammation, you should use ice or painkillers to provide relief.

Gum Bleeding and a Bad Taste in the Mouth

metal taste in mouthGum bleeding is a common problem that plagues hundreds of millions of people everyday. Interestingly, not everyone notices that they even have such an oral problem. One of the leading causes of gum bleeding is gingivitis.

I recall a cousin of mine who regularly complained that she had a condition called dysgeusia; an altered perception of taste. She often whined about a metal taste in her mouth or a salty taste in her mouth after eating, brushing, or flossing. Earlier this year, we finally got sick of her whining and set her up with a long overdue dental checkup.

It was just as well we did. As it turns out, my cousin Samantha was diagnosed with gingivitis; her gums were sensitive and suffered from inflammation. Sometimes, her gums even bled during meals or during flossing or brushing. The taste of salt or iron in her mouth was actually the taste of her own blood.

Looking back, I don’t understand how she could not notice gum bleeding; Sam claimed she never saw discolored spit-water after rinsing with mouthwash. She said she never saw any blood on used floss either. Still, the dentist didn’t lie. She definitely had gingivitis. The only thing she could focus on after that was dealing with the problem.

As it turns out, gingivitis is brought about by a number of risk factors which include poor oral hygiene, stress, low dental care utilization, and smoking. Sam was actually guilty of all these. The result: buildup of oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar. These in turn, lead to halitosis (also known as bad breath), discolored gums, and sensitivity and irritation when eating.

Needless to say, the dentist gave Sam a set of rules to follow in order to nurse her gums back to good health. She was given toothpaste-coated floss, a bottle of antibacterial mouthwash, and of course, reminders to brush three times a day.

While not what some people would call a medical emergency, the gravity of the situation was enough to embarrass my cousin into taking the dentist’s words to heart. The effect of the antibacterial mouthwash was instant, and alleviated most of her symptoms, most especially halitosis. With regular use, coupled with brushing, flossing, and a dental appointment every three months, the rest of the symptoms eventually subsided as well. Within months, we had gotten used to her no longer talking about her oral problems (that eventually led to better table conversation).

If I think back on the symptoms she had regularly complained about – the taste of metal in her mouth – I have to think about how common of a problem gum bleeding and gingivitis in general really is, and how often many people take such simple activities as oral hygiene for granted. Think about it: wouldn’t it be better to spend five minutes every day to make sure you look better, smell better, and present yourself better, rather than wait a few months, then spend a couple of hundred dollars to repair damage done to your mouth just so you could attain the same level of cleanliness and neatness?

Seriously. Think about it.

Weekend Trip for the Family

It is very unfortunate for my two kids, Dana and Eric that they are experienced acne breakouts during their adolescent years. I said the term unfortunate because I did not experience it back in my day. It is a bit puzzling because my family and my wife’s family does not have much history about acne breakouts. My wife, Katie remembered that she experienced a scalp acne once in her life and it was gone in just a week. I told my wife that what our kids are having are not normal because they are big, unsightly, nodular acnes. We both agreed that we really needed to have our kids examined by a trained professional. I told our kids about it and I am glad that they agree about it. My kids shared that some of their classmates are teasing them about their acne. My wife and I assured our kids that once they are treated by a dermatologist; their acne would go away gradually.

I still remember when my wife called the dermatologist and she booked our kids’ appointment that coming weekend, so that they do not have the need to be absent at school. She reminded me about the appointment and I should not miss it. I laughed and told my wife that I am going to file a leave of absence this weekend and I assure her that I would come with them for our kid’s consult with the doctor.

I went off to work and I told my best friend, Rico about my kid’s appointment. I am so happy that he understands my kid’s situation because his kid has also experienced the same teasing when his kid had big acne breakouts on his face. I told him that I hope that my kids would be treated as soon as possible because I do not want them to suffer self-esteem and self-image issues at a very young age and Rico agreed with me.

Weekend came and my wife is so glad that I am able to come with them at the clinic. I asked my kids if they are excited and they told me that they are a bit nervous about the treatment. I told them that they should not be worried so much because the doctor would just examine them and then she will tell us about the available treatments possible.

In just a few minutes, my kids’ names are finally called and then we went inside the clinic. The doctor greeted us and she introduced herself as Dr. Henderson. She asked about what brought my kids into her clinic and my wife told her about their acne breakouts. She examined our kids’ acne and she told us that since they are just young, she would just clean their faces with mild cleansers and then, they would need to put topical antibiotics on their acne two times a day until they become dry. I asked about how long will the treatment last and she said that with my kids’ case, it would take them three weeks to a month.

That Itchy Feeling

dog park

My two kids love their pets so much. When they were young, they used to have a dog each. They loved their pets deeply, as they often stroll to the park with their dogs with me. Every weekend, we did a routine of socializing their pets with other dogs from the community, so that they would not be so aggressive towards other dogs. During weekends, my wife and I made it as family bonding time, as my wife always brought snacks and it would appear as a picnic at the park. My kid’s dogs have been enjoying their time, as they always have exhausted their energy every weekend with playing with other dogs.

One time when we came home from the dog park, my kids noticed that their dogs have been itching around their neck and ear area. They thought that the dogs just needed to take a bath, but after bathing them, they still had the penchant to scratch themselves. My kids told me about the dog’s symptoms and I said that they must have gotten it from the other dogs from the park. I told my kids that we should go to the veterinarian, as soon as possible before their condition gets worse.

I told my wife about it and asked her a favor to call the veterinarian to book an appointment this afternoon. She had done it right away and she told me that our dogs are booked for 3pm. My kids were so glad about the appointment and they thanked their mom and me for the immediate response. I reminded our kids to keep track of our dogs’ activities, so we would know if it is getting worse and our kids agreed.

We went to the clinic early. In just a few minutes of waiting, the doctor came out and asked us to come inside his clinic. He asked about what made us brought our dogs to his clinic and we told him about the itching symptoms around the neck and ear area. He examined the dog’s ears and skin carefully and he told us that it looks like a yeast allergy, but he still needs a confirmation, so he got a cotton swab from the dogs’ ears for him to study. In the meantime, he prescribed our dogs some allergy medicine for dogs to alleviate the itching symptoms. He added that the dogs would feel a bit drowsy and it is just normal because it is a common side effect of antihistamines. Before we go out of the clinic, he reminded us to isolate them from other pets that we have. My son asked him if he could still stroll around with his dog and the doctor told him that he could, but he needs to avoid contact of his dog with other dogs because he does not want the disease to spread around our community. We all thanked the doctor and we told him that we would come back in a week for a follow up check-up.

Reducing Risk of Stretch Marks Development during Pregnancy

I remember my wife’s first pregnancy. We were both excited that we would welcome a new family member in a couple of month’s time. As the pregnancy progressed, my wife’s weight grew exponentially. She seemed stressed because of the changes happening to her body. In particular, the stretch marks that developed on her body weren’t exciting to her. She tried to find ways of how to remove stretch marks but couldn’t find any helpful resources. She tried everything ranging from gels to home made remedies but none seemed to work. She resigned to the fact that she was among millions of women who get stretch marks during pregnancy.

During her second pregnancy, she was more prepared. She conducted research on ways of reducing chances of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Even though these didn’t guarantee that the stretch marks didn’t develop, those which do develop are minimal. Some of the effective techniques include the following.

First, diet plays a major role on your skins health. Being the largest organ in the body, it requires a mix of nutrients and minerals which promote its normal functioning and helps it heal. Some of the best nutrients for the skin include vitamins, essential fats and zinc. You should also avoid foods which will accelerate weight gain since the body is at a stage where it’s gaining weight fast. Foods which are rich in saturated fats and cholesterol should be avoided during pregnancy.

Second, ensure that your body is always hydrated. The skins flexibility largely depends on whether the body is hydrated. Flexible skin is at less risk of developing stretch marks since it can easily stretch to complement the body’s exponential growth. In addition to promoting flexibility, keeping the body hydrated also promotes healthy development of new skin cells which take the place of cells which become damaged through stretch marks.

Third, using skin care products can also help reduce risk of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Although there’s much debate concerning the effectiveness of such products, some have been found to help pregnant women reduce development of such scars. The most recommended products are those which include ingredients such as aloe vera, zinc and vitamin E. these oil soluble ingredients seep into the skins surface promoting collagen production and overall skin health. It’s advisable to avoid products containing ingredients such as alcohol which are known to dehydrate the skin.

Fourth, massaging areas which are prone to develop stretch marks can also help prevent their formation. Stretch marks on breasts and other parts of the body can be reduced or prevented this way. The reason for this is that massage promotes the flow of blood and flexibility of the skin. As more blood flows to this area, it increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients available. This in turn promotes cell division and development of collagen.

Finally, exercise can also help reduce risk of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Regular exercise geared towards burning excess fat under the skin and promoting development of lean muscle will help regulate the body’s growth.

Mixing It Up: A Healthier Diet for Your Dog

A lot of pet owners are happy to feed their dog off-the-counter pet food. These same people may also think that “mixing up” the average pet’s diet consists of adding the occasional vegetables to the menu. For the most part, a 100% dog food diet isn’t really a bad thing anyway. However, some dogs tend to be picky eaters, and some owners don’t feel comfortable feeding “artificial” food to their pets. There is actually a vast selection of foods that your dog can enjoy that involves more than beef flavored strips and lettuce on the side.

Before opening up your fridge and tossing its contents into the family dog’s food bowl however, I give a word of advice: talk to a veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet. Their digestive systems work differently from our own, and therefore, require different nutritional sustenance.

fish oil for dogsNow that that is out of the way, it’s time to get to the good stuff: what can your dog safely eat? Well, dog digestive systems are designed by nature to be carnivorous, and that means a heavy animal-based diet. Many pet owners cook unsalted meat – poultry, beef, fish, and pork – especially for their dogs. These foods are high in protein, and almost always agree with the animal’s natural diet. They are also easy to prepare; boiling in water helps tenderize the meat just enough to maximize the nutrition the dog can get from the meal. The only important thing to take note of is careful removal of bones and skin; the former can damage the animal’s digestive tract, and the latter can be rather unhealthy.

What about vegetarian options? Can dogs eat bananas? Apples? Well, for the most part, dogs need high protein diets. However, they do eat certain fruits just fine. Yes, they can eat bananas and apples. Certain beans are also a good source of nutrition for pets, and many dogs can safely enjoy a carrot or two every now and then. Sweeter treats such as strawberries, strawberry jam, or peanut butter are fine too, and high carbohydrate grains such as wheat or rice agree with most dogs. Of course, the basic rules still apply: Avoid giving grapes, chocolate, onions, and garlic to your dog.

When trying to give “human” food to dogs, the general rule is to ask is: would my dog eat this in the wild? It is a good idea to replicate the ideal nutritional content a dog would need in a natural environment. This of course, means tone down on preservatives, artificial food colors, and artificial flavoring. Such measures ensure the quality of your dog’s diet, and helps keep your dog living a healthy lifestyle.

In the long run, a real pet owner treats the welfare of his/her pet the way he would treat himself: with proper and utmost respect. This reaches out and touches every concern from housing and grooming, to primal issues such as food the animal consumes. The dedication displayed by simply ensuring your dog is not only healthy, but also happy, speaks volumes about the individual, and promotes a living relationship between mankind and his/her pet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to feed my dog.

Rumbly in Your Cat’s Tummy: Roundworms in Cats

I recall around the second week of April this year when I was tasked to take care of my cousin’s cat for a few days while she took a trip to Italy. I had done that sort of thing before, but there were a couple of things that made this time different: first, her cat Rachel had given birth a week before I had to take care of her; and second, I discovered two days after I started babysitting Rachel and her three kittens that I had to deal with a roundworm problem.

That second one was a real surprise as well; I had always thought that if Rachel had roundworms, I would have noticed before. She showed no real symptoms any of the times she stayed over at my place and the only sign that gave away the presence of the problem was the sudden change in appetite of the kittens.

The first thing I did after I noticed how badly the kittens were doing was set up an appointment with the vet. Having done that, I decided to ease my mind by reading up on symptoms and possible diagnoses on what could be wrong. When I came to an article about roundworms in cats, I hoped that the vet would tell me it was something else. Of course if you’ve read up to this point, you know that the vet didn’t ease my mind at all.

As it turns out, roundworms can be fairly asymptomatic in adult cats. Rachel may have had been carrying roundworms in her gut for a long time without a problem, and without anyone noticing. However, like other asymptomatic diseases, out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind. The veterinarian surmised that Rachel may have passed on the roundworms to her kittens via her milk; roundworm larvae are small enough to fit in the mammary glands. Once in kittens however, they can threaten the lives of the animals by feeding off of the nutrition meant for the felids, and thus interfere with the critical period of growth that the kittens have to go through.

And the news didn’t stop there, by the way. Before I had a chance to thank the doctor for her diagnosis and treatment, she told me: “That’s it for the roundworms, now let’s deal with the mites.”

And lo and behold, she lifted up a small patch of fur on Rachel’s leg to reveal a rough bald spot: mange.

By the end of the day, I had burned a sizeable hole in my pocket by getting the cats treated for roundworms and mites. Truth be told, I didn’t mind. I learned quite a lot, like how it is possible to find mange in cats even if it is usually associated with dogs. I didn’t mind spending a bit as well, considering that the lives of pets I’ve already considered a part of the family were at stake. After all, there isn’t any sense getting a pet if you won’t show it some love and care. Besides that, my cousin Beth would have killed me if I didn’t do it (though I’d have killed her if she didn’t pay me back).

If I were to sum up my experience, I guess it would be with the notion that I’m a lot more concerned about parasites now. They are definitely a threat to pets everywhere, especially for owners who are serious about keeping their animal family members in top condition. Couple that with the possibility of some of these parasites making the leap from pets to humans, and you have more than enough reason to keep your pets healthy and safe from critters that would otherwise literally get under their – and your – skin.

Guide to Shoulder Subluxation

I have come across dislocated shoulders most of my adult life. Most have been in athletes playing contact sports. However, I recently came across a condition that’s a bit similar to dislocation. However, unlike dislocation where the affected person usually has to be rushed to the ER, subluxation isn’t that serious. In fact some people actually don’t have to visit the ER and their shoulders can be treated at home.

My first experience with this condition was with a neighbor. His shoulder apparently went out of place as he lifted a bucket of water. He simply placed the bucket down and then set the shoulder back. “Doctor says I have shoulder instability. I have to keep up with this at least once each year.” He said as I watched in utter shock. I looked into the condition and found the following.

Shoulder subluxation

This is a condition where the shoulder joint partially dislocates. The shoulder consists of a ball and socket joint that includes the humerus (ball) and shoulder blade (socket). In the instance of subluxation, the ball slips from the socket but can be placed back as there’s no tearing of tendons and ligaments as it is with shoulder dislocation.

Subluxation is the result of shoulder instability which can be caused by any of the following conditions. Instability can be caused by a hereditary condition affecting the connective tissue. This is such that the tendons and ligaments are abnormally loose resulting in what most people refer to “double joints”. Another cause for shoulder instability is a previous injury to the shoulder joint. Persons who have previously had a dislocation or subluxation are more likely to have shoulder instability. It can also be caused by direct trauma to the shoulder such as impact during a spear tackle during a football game.

In the instance of subluxation, the affected person might experience one or a combination of the following. A sensation that the shoulder has slipped out of place which might be accompanied by a popping sound is usually felt. An attempt to move the arm results in the shoulder moving back into place. The person might feel mild or severe pain in the affected shoulder. This pain might move through the shoulder and be felt as pain between shoulder blades. Inability to temporarily use the shoulder due to pain and numbness also accompanies an episode of subluxation.

Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to prevent subluxation especially for the aforementioned groups. However, taking care not to accidentally injure your shoulder is the best way to avoid the condition.

The treatment regime for subluxation takes several steps which include the following.

First, return the shoulder joint back to its normal position. This prevents further damage especially to the ligaments and blood vessels.

Second, apply ice and use painkillers to relieve pain and reduce swelling and inflammation.

Third, immobilize and rest the shoulder to allow for recovery. Use a sling to keep the joint immobile. You should however allow for a little mobility as long as it doesn’t cause pain. This mobility prevents a condition called frozen shoulder.

Finally, with the help of a physiotherapist, exercise the shoulder joint to restore strength and flexibility.

Guide to Anxiety

I remember when my sons were growing up and a situation arose when I had to reprimand them for a wrong they’d done. I was usually gripped by anxiety especially when they were in their early teens. “How do I handle this? Will the reprimand affect our relationship? Do I let his mother handle this?” these were some of the questions I kept asking myself.

My anxiety was primarily driven by the fact that I had to find the best way of correcting my son but at the same time not compromise our relationship. The problem was I didn’t have days to rehearse my reprimand.

My anxiety in most cases left me tongue tied. I simply let my son get away with the mistake. However with time, I realized that anxiety shouldn’t get in the way of raising my sons right and any mistake afterward wasn’t swept under the carpet.

Anxiety can adversely affect a person’s life and that’s why I’ve decided to look into this condition in detail.

What’s anxiety?

This is a condition where a person has a sudden feeling of fear, tension and fright. The source of anxiety might be known or unknown to the person. The symptoms of the condition can last for a few minutes or days.

When a person is anxious, the body releases adrenaline. Often referred to as the fight or flight chemical it prepares the body for immediate response. If present in the body for extended periods, this chemical can be harmful to the body.

After the release of adrenaline

Some of the vital organs such as the heart and lungs are triggered to work harder in order to ensure that the adrenaline is supplied to the different muscles especially those in the limbs. In addition, carbon dioxide is also being released from the body fast.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself as a combination of a number of symptoms which include the following. Difficulty breathing is one of the first symptoms as the lungs try to draw in more air and release carbon dioxide. This is accompanied by an increased heart rate as the heart tries to supply more blood and adrenaline to the different organs in the body. These two symptoms can result in anxiety chest pain which is often mistaken for chest pain associated with heart attack.

Persons suffering from anxiety will have difficulty concentrating as the brain tries to focus on the agent causing the anxiety. Increase in body temperature, insomnia and fatigue are other symptoms.

Forms and treatment

Anxiety takes different forms. As mentioned, the person might know what is causing the anxiety or not. Some of the common forms include the following. Social anxiety occurs when a person becomes nervous around many people and prefers to stay along. Relationship anxiety occurs when a person in a relationship isn’t sure about the future of the relationship. This was my case with my sons. Other examples include panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety doesn’t have a cure. However, with the proper treatment, it can be managed. Some of the treatment options available include supplements for anxiety, counseling and home treatments such as herbs.

Some of the Reasons We Get Low and Mid Back Pain

I remember one day last year when I was completely immersed in a DIY project at home. The boys and I had decided to do some home repairs which involved changing the overall look of the house. Three days into the project, my back suddenly gave in as I tried to lift my toolbox. There was a sharp pain which lingered around my lower back. I had to sit for a while and recover before I could stand again. The boys completed the project under my supervision as I recovered.

For my case, the back pain resulted from a strained muscle. It didn’t require medical attention as cold-warm treatment and taking painkillers coupled with some rest did the trick. This is just one of the reasons why we get low and mid back pain. Other reasons include the following.

Poor posture is perhaps one of the leading causes of middle back pain in people. The back has its natural arc shape in neutral position. This is the recommended position it should remain in whether seated, standing or sleeping. However, many people don’t observe this position applying strain to the spinal cord and the back muscles. For my case, I bet my muscle strain occurred because I didn’t keep the proper posture as I tried to lift the toolbox.

Pregnancy is one of the main causes of lower left back pain in women. The growing belly applies a lot of pressure on the pelvic and lower back area. The lower back is a sensitive part of the body as it supports the upper body and consists of just the vertebrae of the spinal cord. As the belly grows, more pressure is placed on this part of the body to provide support.

Diseases and infections affecting different body organs can also cause pain in the mid and lower back. This is known as referred pain as the pain is felt at a body part but comes from another part of the body. Some of these conditions and the organs they affect include the following.

Organs found in the digestive system such as the liver, pancreas and gallbladder if affected by certain diseases and infections might cause mid back pain. Some of these conditions include liver disease, pancreatitis and gallstones.

Diseases and infections affecting the female reproductive organs can also cause pain in the lower and mid back areas. These conditions include fibrosis, ovarian cysts, cancer and endometriosis.

Conditions which affect the lymphatic system can also reveal themselves as mid and lower back pain. Such conditions might develop in the form of tumors which grow around the spinal cord. If such a tumor grows large enough, it might apply pressure on the nerve endings causing pain. One condition of the lymphatic system is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Diseases and conditions which affect the urinary tract will also cause low and mid back pain. These include kidney stones, kidney infection, infection of the bladder and obstructive uropathy.

There are many reasons why we can experience pain in the lower and middle back area. It’s always advisable to visit a doctor if you have back pain and don’t know the reason why.