Monday, November 07, 2011

Winnie loves Minneapolis

Oh blog. Has it really been almost a year since last we wrote?

Well, I suppose not much has changed since then... except that I moved back home, got a great job, and we moved into an awesome little house in south Minneapolis.

Here's to our triumphant return to blogging!

Winnie loves Minneapolis!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winnie update, thoughts on Tucson, and NAVC

I'm in the Tucson airport waiting for my flight to leave, and since the airport kindly provides free Wi-Fi, I thought I'd post a little update...
Winnie Bear is pretty much back to her old self. None of the tests we ran found any cause for her pneumonia, but after her lung biopsy she turned around and seemed to get better every day. Her chest x-rays that we took on Monday looked normal, so whatever happened seems to be behind us. The going theory is that the lung biopsy released the evil spirits ;) Whatever works!
Of course the whole country has had its eyes on Tucson for the past week... It's still all a little surreal. I keep seeing the mountains in the background of photos and thinking, "Wow, that place looks just like Tucson." I think everyone is still absorbing the full impact of what happened. I don't live very close to where the shootings occurred, but it's certainly a familiar area. Gabrielle Gifford's office is on my way to work, so I have been watching the number of flowers, signs, candles, and other memorials grow every day. President Obama's speech seemed to resonate well with everyone. I hope we eventually get some insight into what drove Laughner to do what he did and destroy the lives of so many people.

For now, I am leaving sunny Tucson behind for a week in sunny Orlando at the North American Veterinary Conference. This is my first time off from my internship since I went home in August. I've never been to NAVC, but it's supposed to be completely amazing and overwhelming. There are over 20 lectures to choose from every hour for 9 hours a day, plus breakfast lectures before the official lectures start, plus lunch-and-learn lectures, plus dinner lectures after the official lectures end, plus wetlabs and master classes. There are tons of avian and exotics lectures this year, and I'll be attending a master class about avian medicine that should be really valuable. They say you need to set aside a whole day just to peruse the exhibit hall and look at all the fun new gadgets, medicines, books, and supplies available in vet med this year. Should be great! I'll also get to see a handful of classmates, so it will be fun to catch up and see how everyone's been doing since graduation.

Hooray for travel and seeing vet friends!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good thoughts for Winnie

Our poor little Pooh Bear has been fighting a strange mystery disease since Thanksgiving. Everything started with urinary tract signs (mostly frequent urination, peeing in the house, etc). She was started on an antibiotic and all those signs cleared up, but a couple of days later she developed a fever. That started us on a wild goose change through her abdomen looking for the cause- did a bladder infection ascend to her kidneys? Did she eat something inappropriate? We sent out a urine culture (negative), checked bloodwork (normal aside from an elevated white blood cell count), and checked for tick-borne diseases (negative, plus she's on monthly tick preventatives). Radiographs revealed an enlarged spleen, so she had an abdominal ultrasound. Aside from a slightly prominent spleen, no other abnormalities were noted. A splenic aspirate was sent out- nothing really significant there either.

Winnie's fever persisted, so the hunt moved from her abdomen to her chest. Thoracic radiographs revealed consolidation of her right cranial lung lobe. Suspecting pneumonia, we started her on some more antibiotics, but her fever didn't really respond... So off to the U of MN teaching hospital she went. Although they agreed it would be strange for a middle-aged otherwise healthy dog to suddenly develop pneumonia, the radiographs and bloodwork were all consistent with pneumonia and didn't revealed any potential underlying causes. We decided to give the antibiotics a little more time to work, and Winnie's fever disappeared for a couple of days. Unfortunately, it came back... so Winnie went back to the U for a transtracheal wash to try and collect some of the organisms causing her pneumonia and culture them out. After a few days of waiting, nothing grew on her cultures. She had another day or two of being fever-free, but then it all started again. Her doctor then performed a fine-needle aspirate of the affected lung lobe, hoping to find the organisms causing her disease, but the samples just showed inflammatory cells. We added one more antibiotic to her regimen as well as an anti-inflammatory to give her some relief from the fever... which worked great until the drug wore off and the fever came right back.

After 2 1/2 weeks of trying different medications, we finally decided that we needed to try something else. Based on Winnie's age and the focal nature of her pneumonia, we suspected that she might have a migrating foreign body (i.e. she inhaled a seed or bit of a plant, which was travelling through her lungs and wreaking havoc). Unfortunately, Winnie was too small for bronchoscopy to be an option to explore the problem lung lobe. We finally bit the bullet and decided to take her for a CT scan and, if everything was still limited to her right cranial lobe, proceed to a lung lobectomy. Her CT scan was Thursday, and (because nothing in her case has gone as expected) the images showed that the lung lobe that had been looking bad was looking better, but now several of the lobes on her left side were looking affected. Sigh. She wasn't doing great under anesthesia, so she was recovered and went home on Thursday night. She returned to the U yesterday for a lung biopsy, in the hopes that getting a piece of tissue would be more likely to grow organisms in culture or show us any other underlying problems with her lung itself. Cytology yesterday unfortunately just came back as "neutrophilic inflammation" with no evidence of organisms... so now we wait for histopathology results to come in.

Winnie has been in the ICU since her biopsy with a chest tube in place. She's doing well, and if everything goes according to plan, she'll be going home in the next day or two. For now, we are onto yet another class of antibiotics to see if whatever's in her lungs responds. Winnie is being a trooper, and even though she hates the hospital and being in a kennel all day, she is tolerating everything pretty well.

So, please keep our little Winnie girl in your thoughts. It is miserable to be so far away from her during this, but her vets in Minnesota have all been fantastic and she's in the best hands. All we want for Christmas is a healthy corgi, and some answers about why she's been so sick!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

bad blogger

Okay... so my pledge to write about something I learned every day didn't exactly work out. I am still learning lots, of course, and I'll do my best to get back to blogging regularly. But for now, I spend most of my (rare) free time either baking or curling up for naps with this kiddo (how can I resist when he makes napping look so amazing?)...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Oats and Coconut

This one used up the rest of the flour in the house. I am sure burning through it! For fine french breads I like to use bread flour, which has about 25% more protein (aka gluten) which makes the bread structure stronger internally and lets it rise high. But, with breads with lots of additions like this I feel like it is kind of pointless and general flour works just as well.

I added egg in this time, and I can't really tell what it does to the bread. I think it gives it fluff by binding things together similarly to what the gluten does, but I can't find any information on this online. Anyone know?

Otherwise, I just let the raisins, yeast, sugar, and coconut soak for a while, then added the flour until it mixed right. But, I forgot to leave any for flouring the counter for kneeding, so I tried using the silicone mat Megan uses for chocolate and it worked great. A good thing to know for working with wet dough that you still want to work with.

Another nice tip I found for softer/chewier crusts is to just toss in a 1/2 cup of water into the oven while it is baking. The steam transfers heat well and it makes makes the crust not crumble.

I am also working on the cuttings on the top of the loafs, since they make them look so nice! And that works with my philosophy: good looking food tastes better.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Daily Bread

This is our 1000th post, and in an attempt to mimic one of our favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, I took some nicer pictures of my evening bread. Challenges in food photography! The bread itself is a whole wheat and oats cinnamon rasin bread with zucchini. I didn't know before I started making bread that most normal "whole wheat" bread contains just a fraction of whole wheat flour, 1/4th in this case. I have used the zucchini before and if you shred it it makes the bread lighter and moist, but it doesn't give it much flavor.

When making my bread I don't use any recipe, besides the basic ratio of flour to water, salt, and yeast. So far so good, and I have made about 10-12 loafs so far. My one complaint is I can not manage to get that big round artisan bread loaf look yet, and keep getting flatter round loafs. Still good, but that height isn't there. To fix it, I am going to allow more rising, drier dough, and use parchment paper instead of cornmeal.

Bread making like this really is just like brewing. Get the basics right and follow those rules very close. Then, throw in whatever sticks and try it out! Don't worry, the yeast will save you in both endevers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

State Fair 2010

Here are some of my photos from the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. I am also going to try and use Flickr more, to try and get facebook and the blog closer together: