Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goodbye, my Honey Bee.

Hi all

I had the same dream again this morning. It was a little different. This time it ended with Honey and I holding each other, she nuzzled against my chin, me stroking her hair. She looked at me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said once again in a mix of English and Chinese; "It's okay daddy. Baby pu yao." I got a call about 15 minutes later. It was Dr. Jenny. Honey had just taken her last breath. Surprisingly, I am holding up rather well. I suppose it was the uncertainty of her situation and the possibility of inadvertently prolonging her suffering that really got to me. I don't know if you are superstitious people, or if you believe that animals even have souls. But I know what I believe, and that is I have always had a very strong connection with my animal friends, what more a friend like Honey whose lived with me and done so many things with me. I really do believe that this recurring dream is a message of sorts. And through that I have found my closure.

My dearest Honey bee, I wish I could tell you again how much I love you. Or that I could stroke your head and tickle your ears just one more time. But I guess it is time for you to go to the Goddess. We may never meet again, but I will feel you now everywhere; in the air that fills my lungs, in the soft wind that ruffles my hair, in every blade of grass that cushions my step, in every flower that brightens my sight. I love you, my sweet little honey bee. Goodbye.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Hardest Decision to Make

Hey ya'll 

I am writing this because I need to "talk" about it. Honey's condition has taken a turn for the worst. She was up all night, crying from pain and irritation and when I checked up on her, was quite astonished to find that the scab on her leg had fallen off. In its place: a gaping wound resembling nothing more than a black, sticky hole. I didn't have to be a veterinarian to know that this was bad news and so I snapped a picture, and sent an urgent email to our Doctor, Jenny. Within the next few hours I had gotten a reply. I had to come in with Honey and the news just gets worse.

From what I understand, based on my limited knowledge on veterinary terminology, Honey has a genetic condition which causes the muscles to deteriorate under the skin. The problem, when it starts, is often unnoticeable and may present itself in signs such as very minor looking wounds, redness, or loss of hair (symptoms which are, incidentally, more commonly recognized as that caused by overgrooming). Indeed, due to the sensation of discomfort under the skin, the glider would indeed exhibit signs of overgrooming or self mutilation such as excessive scratching and biting. Over time, contaminants such as bacteria from the glider's saliva get into the wound and accumulate there exacerbating the process, causing the surrounding tissue to become necrotic. By the time the scab falls off and the owner finds out how serious the condition actually is. Well... In Honey's case, the problem started on her left hip causing weakness in the attached limbs which may also explain how she came to dislocate her ankle in the first place.

According to Doctor Jenny, the problem probably resulted due to an illegal shipment of gliders from Indonesia that were carriers of the rogue gene. The problem itself is quite a recent development and the affected gliders are all likely to be progeny of interbreeding between the Indonesian glider stock, and the local gliders thus contaminating the DNA. I have given consent for Honey's tissue samples to be sent to a lab so that research can be done to prevent, and hopefully event cure the problem. As of this moment, the condition still looks grim and I am told to "be prepared". To be honest, I don't think I can ever "be prepared" for a moment like this. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One Dream to Change the World.

Hey ya'll 

An old friend, with whom I've admittedly not always seen eye to eye with, posted a message on my Facebook account recently. In it, she told me she experienced a rather lucid dream where she and I were walking down the street. As we made our journey down a nondescript road, she began to realize that something was different around her. The advertisements on all the billboards, the posters plastered in front of all the shops, were catered to non-straight people. And she realized, all of a sudden, that she been suddenly transported into a world where the heterosexual matrix no longer held sway. I suppose it was all so disconcerting to her, and the feeling was all the more compounded by the dream's lucidity, and suddenly she began to understand what it was like to live in a world where she was the obvious minority. Everything that she had taken for granted to apply to "everyone", day-to-day things like advertisements and the sorts of messages/ideologies they carried, are not as "universal" as They would like us to think. 

The dream ended there, or if there was more she did not tell me, but it was eye opening enough to cause her to do something about it. Firstly, to tell me about the dream. But more importantly, to extend a hand of support. She told me she admired my courage, for being who I am, indeed for even just living, in a world that is so much structured in a way that I am not. It cannot possibly be easy. Indeed, it is hardly ever. At the end of the post, she said, "I may not always understand you, or what you are going through. But I want you to know that I am now for you." And that said it all. Because that's what we really want isn't it? We don't need the whole world to understand us, or what makes us tick. Heck I've known my family for my entire life and I still don't know what makes them tick sometimes. What more an entire community! All we're asking for is the same acceptance and community that is extended to everyone else, regardless of race, sexuality, gender, or culture, as fellow HUMAN BEINGS

The post was removed several hours later, despite garnering a flood of "likes" from fellow Facebook users, and when I tried to search for her account to thank her personally, I realized that the following user no longer exists. I don't know what happened, and I could be reading too much into this... but if, for whatever reason this might have happened, I would just like you to know; that I may not always understand your point of view, or are able to accept all you have been taught to believe. but I want you to know that I am for you, and other's like you. People like you make it possible, for people like us to be courageous. People like you help make things a lot easier, make us feel a lot less scared. But most importantly, people like you give us Hope; the most powerful thing anyone can have in the world. Hope for a better future, Hope for a brighter tomorrow, Hope of acceptance, Hope that all our dreams and ambitions are more than just that. Whether we know it or not, Hope is what powers many of us and pulls us through when we are at our lowest. People like you, have given us that. It is never too late to extend your hand of acceptance, regardless of whether or not you currently understand. I do not, for example, have to understand everything about your spirituality, to know, accept, and embrace you as a fellow human being equally deserving of the same rights and dignities I have. 

Thank you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Road to Recovery 2

Hey ya'll 

had to wake up EXTRA early this morning to settle Honey's feeding and medication because I will be obliged to go for the Ghost Festival later in the morning. (FYI the Ghost Festival, according to local belief, is the one day of the year that the dead may return to the mortal plane. Think, the original concept of Halloween, except more of a "break" from being purged of their bad karma in "hell" as part of the (unnecessarily) complicated process of Buddhist Reincarnation). Anyway, I really don't have much time as I will have to be leaving soon so do allow me to get straight to the point. 

  • Honey's condition appears to be improving quite rapidly in terms of the wound on her leg. The redness and blood had gone down drastically this morning and I think it may have something to do in part with how I got up in the middle of the night to re-apply her lotions. Dr. Jenny mentioned that the site is aggravated by dryness so it stands to reason the recovery process can only be aided by keeping it constantly moist but clean.
  • In terms of her injured leg, however, I do not see any improvement yet though, in all fairness, it has only been a couple of days since her visit to the doctor. She drags the appendage behind her and does not use it at all, which in itself may be good for recovery, but what worries me is the position in which she drags it and her propensity for minute bouts of hyperactivity (which may inadvertently make things worse!). As it stands, I try to divert these hyperactive moments by keeping her otherwise occupied. Usually by stroking her, or playing a little "stationary" game with my fingers where I wave them in front of her and she sits still and tries to grab at them using only her front paws. Again, I shudder to think what might happen next week when I go off to work.
  • Honey ate her medication with no hassle at all this morning (GOOD GIRL!) and also drank approximately 2.5ml of Ensure, which is a formula dietary food that is high in calcium which is supposed to help her bones heal faster and promote health all round. 
Comparison of wound from yesterday shows encouraging improvement! 
Back to sleep after a quick nibble. Not sure if its the medication that's causing the drowsiness or if she's just more lethargic generally these days. Either way less activity = less chances of self injury. I'd much rather she limited playtime to when she saw me so I've taken to covering the cage when I'm away to remove any external stimuli. So far so good! 
Ps. I really hope she gets better before me and Ray's weekend trip to Perhentian. Otherwise I may have to start planning alternatives. Perhaps a call to Dr. Jenny is in order (she did mention that she has boarded some Gliders before). But that is more than a month away, and I sincerely hope she will be walking and healed by then! 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Road to Recovery 1

Hey ya'll 

just going to post up random updates on Honey's condition. I don't expect this to be a day-to-day thing but I do expect it to be rather regular as I document her road to recovery. I realize, despite overwhelming concern on your part that not everyone may wish to follow a day-to-day mini post on the healing process but I'm really doing this for me as much as anyone else because writing about it helps me cope and "feel" that there is some progress. I can only hope that in time, reality will match my expectations. SO, let us begin. Day one of the healing process. 

  • Woke up at 7.00am today to feed Honey her meds. Turns out there was less fuss about it than last night as she drank the relaxed anti-inflammatory pills and antibiotic without any hassle. Perhaps it is the early morning hours, but I'm inclined to think that she is beginning to understand the correlation between the "icky stuff" I've been feeding her and the relief she must be feeling about the pain and itching in her back and legs.
  • On a less favorable note, it appears that Honey's constant scratching has reopened the wounds on her back. The spot was sticky with dried blood this morning and it caused me some alarm. I did take comfort in the fact, however, that her brutal "ministrations" were only concentrated on one side of the hind-quarters this time and that the other portions of her back look significantly less red/inflamed. Upon cleaning the wound I found that a scab had formed over the affected location. Also quite encouraging was the fact that she did not squirm, cry or try to claw and bite at the afflicted area even after I placed the lotion on it. 
  • I am actually more worried about her skin condition now, than I am about the leg. While she still drags the limb behind her from time to time as she is walking about, it does not seem to hurt or inconvenience her unduly any longer as she uses it from time to time. Hope we can see some visible improvement as the week progresses. 

A trip to Dr. Jenny's

Hey ya'll

so sorry for the lack of posting, but I came home to quite an emergency last night when I found Honey (our female glider) not in her usual sleeping spot next to Cookie (our male) in the pouch, but curled up on the floor. I dismissed this at first as I thought she had come down to eat but then I noticed a strange abrasion running down her back. I picked her up, to get a close look at the wound, when I noticed that something was not right at all! Her left leg, which was tucked under her body, seemed to be held at an awkward angle, and when not in use, dragged behind her as if it was broken! Naturally I was quite alarmed and started to panic! My baby... my poor baby! What do I do? Who do I call? Are there still any exotic vets in Kuala Lumpur? Thoughts flashed instantly to the sad fate of our two baby budgies, Cumulus and Nimbus who did not manage to receive treatment fast enough, which was when I resolved to do WHATEVER IT TOOK to get my Honey the necessary treatment she needed! Once again, I am indebted to the (sometimes) remarkable wisdom of the online community who directed me to Dr. Jenny of Hands "N" Paws that could treat serious condition in gliders! 

I emailed her first thing that night and was quite shocked to get a reply in less than half an hour later! Please note that this was already quite late into the night and I was only expecting a reply earliest by the following day! Without hesitation I told her, "I'll bring her tomorrow (meaning today, in present time!)" and an appointment was made to see Dr. Jenny the first thing she gets into clinic at 12.00pm.  

The trip to the vet was quite uneventful, save for the cries Honey made from time to time (no doubt due to the pain she must have been going through) which honestly tore into my heart each time it happened, but we finally made it and Honey got a chance to curl up and sleep a bit while I registered her and we waited for Dr. Jenny to arrive. As it turned out, we didn't have long to wait and, considering we were the first and only ones there, managed to see the doctor in under 20 minutes. 

Dr. Jenny performed a rather through inspection of Honey, and when she was done declared that we were really dealing with two separate but correlated problems here. 
  1. First of which was her leg. It appears that, very likely due to some play time accident, that Honey's ankle had been completely dislocated with a possibility of a fracture. To treat this Dr. Jenny did some massaging of the afflicted limb to help move the bones back into their correct place but told me that Honey's housing arrangements had to be changed. A splint, she explained, was quite impossible for Honey because of her remarkably small size, so the best method of promoting a quick and proper recovery would be to house her in a climb-free environment such as a terrarium. Bedding such as pieces of towels and sleeping pouches were also discouraged as they may entangle the limb and cause further damage.
  2. The second issue was regarding Honey's skin condition which had worsened dramatically in a relatively short span of time (several hours, by count of how long it takes that I'm out at work and then back home). As it turns out, the leg injury (which obviously put her in pain) caused her to lick the afflicted and surrounding area obsessively causing some sort of over abrasion of the dermis resulting in swelling and redness. This, we would treat with topical lotions and creams. Dr. Jenny has shaved her too (there was some struggle when this was done, and I had to steel myself to her cries) in the lower region and this is to prevent saliva buildup (from her licking) that may cause the skin to be further inflamed. 
In addition to that, Honey was discharged with a series of anti-inflammatory pills to be taken, as well as antibiotics. I never knew, before this, how challenging it could be to feed a small animal medicine (especially when it tastes foul!) but I will persevere! We've also gotten a tub of ensure (calcium rich food formula) to feed her as it will promote bone growth and recovery. The whole thing, all expenses included, only cost me RM43. Which is not just reasonable, but extremely cheap in my opinion and a LOT less than I was originally ready/willing to pay to get my baby back into tip top shape.

Honey in her make-shift sickbay. Rest is very important now I think. 
Cookie, was also brought to the vet, and I was told that he was a glowing example of good health save for a rather full anal gland (which is used to ward of predators and mark his territory) which I was told by Dr. Jenny is not really anything to worry about because he probably just had no reason to use it. He also got his annual deworming treatment and was very compliant about it. GOOD BOY COOKIE!!!! Anyway here's to a speedy recovery for Honey. Cookie misses her a lot, but I dare not let them play together for fear she gets over excited and injures herself. For now he is content with sitting next to her terrarium sick bay and watching over her as they eat their meals on separate sides of the "glass".

ps. Thanks for all of your wishes and prayers everyone. I (and I'm sure Honey) appreciate them all very very much. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Love at First Sight

Hey ya'll 

we're celebrating a rather momentous occasion today as two of our most darling animal friends finally got acquainted and appear to be enjoying each other's company very much! I first got Honey as a companion for Cookie several months (almost three, I think) ago when I noticed him pining for attention and companionship! Of course as his "best friend" I was only more than happy to provide him with it and we used to enjoy hours of each other's company, him sitting on my shoulder and playing with whatever else I happened to have on my person while I go about my work. But after awhile I began to realize that my companionship can never be a full substitute to the sort of companionship a strapping young glider needs. And that's when Honey came into the picture. Of course I did not introduce them together right away (she was small and needed to adjust to her new home first) but I did make sure that their cages were placed side by side. Still, there never had been any interaction between the two. Until today that is, when I allowed them take their meals side by side. 

Dinner was quite uneventful with the two of them fastidiously keeping to their own feeding bowls, but once they had polished up all they could eat, curiosity got the better of them and it was straight off to the "getting to know yous".  Well I must say that they hit it right off from the start! It was like love, or at least friendship, at first sight, and Honey proved to be quite the forward little girl as she started rubbing her nose all over Cookie's chest the instant they met! Cookie himself was quite the gentleman and did not try "anything funny" if you know what I mean! Instead, he consented to allowing her to cling on his back while he made his way up my shoulder. 

When playtime was finally over, I was about to separate them for bed when Cookie went into his "room" and made a little noise that caused Honey to come in right after. I waited for them to settle down before I peered inside to make sure that everything was okay and true enough they were cuddled up and fast asleep, Honey clinging tightly to Cookie's back. The light from my nosiness disturbed them somewhat and Honey woke up and made a noise which prompted Cookie to crawl out of bed, give me what I imagine was an apologetic look, before he pulled the blankets (really an old handkerchief) from my hand to cover her with it.  I suppose its rather safe to say that this marks the beginning of a very beautiful relationship.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Hibernation in Tarantulas

Hey ya'll

I've been noticing some weird behavior with our spiders lately and that is a sudden increase in lethargic behavior. Normally this wouldn't be so alarming with tarantulas but it has gone on for several months now. They appear to exhibit all signs of pre-molting behavior (not eating, curling up in the corner etc.) but nothing, not even a quick misting of the cage seems to prompt any molt whatsoever. What's even more alarming is that this behavior seems to be afflicting only two out of my three spiders, the Honduran Curly Hair and the Mexican Red-Knee. My first spider, Keric (Grammastolosa rosea) appears to be in extremely good condition, is eating on a regular basis and has molted once in the same time it has been since the other two exhibited such behavior. Indeed, though it started off as one of the smaller in size, it has quickly grown to surpass even the Honduran Curly Hair (which is often touted by enthusiasts as a "fast-growing" species). Needless to say, this has gotten my quite worried although, a "talk" with some online friends of mine allayed my fears somewhat by offering the possibility that they may

  1. Be going through a period of fasting, a behavior that is typical to most tarantula species
  2. In a state of torpor (temporary hibernation) due to the low temperature of my room. 

I have since moved the spiders out and into a warmer location so I suppose only time will tell how they are really doing. In the meantime, a more recent measurement of Keric's body length has revealed her/him to be almost an inch long! Although, quite regrettably, she/he seems to be loosing much of that brilliant red coloration she/she had as a baby. This, however, I'm taking as a sign that Keric is in fact a female. (females tend to be duller in color compared to males). 

In the meantime, I'm still looking for possibly explanations regarding my other two babies' strange behavior. Just some information on each, the Mexican Red-Knee is about 1cm in length, while the Honduran Curly Hair is just a little above half an inch. Once again, I put my faith in the intellectual capabilities of the online community. Hope to hear from you soon!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fairies under the Troll Bridge

Hey ya'll

Damselflies truly are the most amazing and beautiful things!!! Superficially and at a glance, they sometimes resemble their close cousins, the dragonflies... but one need only take a second look to see that they really are quite different! Their flight patterns for example, are not quite so purposeful or aggressive as their, rather aptly named, relations and their bodies too are articulated in a rather unique manner. Instead of having both eyes joined together in an enormous orb, damselfly eyes are separate and usually resemble delicate beads on either side of the insect's head. Their wings, too, are held differently and while a dragonfly would hold its wings flat (that is spread out on either side of its body), damselflies typically fold both wings over their backs in pretty much the same manner butterflies do! Either way, I must be quite frank with you that I do not know enough about damselflies (or dragonflies, for that matter!) to be able to espouse anything that may be of exceptional use, but I can recount one particularly joyful experience of mine which took place sometime ago when I crawled under an old and dis-used bridge (to hunt for frogs, fish and things like that). Unknown to me, my forays disturbed an entire colony of damselflies which rose all around me in a shimmering cloud! Such wonderful colors they came in, from brilliant greens and golds, to dazzling purples and sparkling blues! All around me, they fluttered and tumbled, and some of the braver ones even consented to alight on my hands. It was quite a magical thing, and I almost felt as if I had stumbled out of this world and into that of the fairies! Indeed, it was one experience I will not soon (or ever) forget!

I crawled under the Troll Bridge, and found fairies instead.