Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Still Here

Greetings one and all. I hope Christmas was a good one for you and the food was plentiful and the annoying relatives minimal. I have been on a self imposed blogging holiday to concentrate on other things, like shopping, baking, parties, and the like.

I also needed to get a little distance from the whole CCSVI thing. Many people have been asking me about that "vein" thing and while doing follow up internet look ups on it (and speaking with MS professionals), I have even more questions of my own. I have spent much time explaining how it is supposed to work and why, and then I spend the same amount of time posing questions that remain to be answered. Most folks I speak with understand once I explain and they also understand why we can't leap into this without further research. More than once though, I have found myself wishing that CTV had spent some time talking to Dr. Freedman (of the Ottawa clinic) before airing that W5 documentary in order to get a more balanced look at what Dr. Zamboni has and has not done in his research. I suppose it's up to people like me to spread the word of cautious optimism.

I have continued to follow comments from people about this discovery and I am amazed at the amount of paranoia and conspiracy theory that abounds. I supposed it's o different than the conspiracy theory that surrounds cancer research. In case you aren't up on these theories, some folks speculate that there will never be a cure for cancer (or MS or whatever) in order to keep all those researchers and doctors and drug companies rolling in the dough received from drug treatment sales.....um, yeah.....

Anyway, I have managed to keep on walking 4-6 kilometres most days so am enjoying the exercise. I am also seriously considering joining the 52 WBC. That's the 52 Weeks of Biking Challenge, where you bike at least 30 minutes every week of the year. Kind of cold this time of year, and slippery at times, but I think for the weeks with nastier weather, I can pull out the mountain bike and stick to off road trails. Of course by April/May, I'm on the bike for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, so that's not a problem. There are hardier souls than I who ride to and from work every day no matter the weather, so I think I can do at least 30 minutes a week.

In the coming days I plan to tell you about the seal that has taken up residence not far from my home, the audio books I can now listen to thanks to a fantastic Christmas gift, courtesy of the Wookie, a job interview in the new year, and some fun stuff like the great lemon loaf I made at Christmas. A tradition I have just begun.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm Still Here

Greetings! Been a little busy with Christmas just around the corner, sending out resumes, etc. and helping to stock the Sackville and Little Sackville Rivers with trout given to the Sackville Rivers Association by the Department of Fisheries. Last week we were given 7 2 year old hand reared trout for our aquarium at the Community centre and I arrived just in time to fish one out of the garbage can and put it in. Then we headed out to make 4 stops and release 2000 fingerlings into the rivers. Way cool.

On the MS front I've spent more time explaining, to those curious enough to ask, the pros and cons of Dr. Zamboni's findings and theory. I stopped in at the clinic last week, too, and the nurses there figure that every clinic in the country lost a week because they were on the phone explaining this vascular theory to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who called. While they understand the media has a job to do, they wish they were a little less quick out of the blocks to report "cures". Or at least explain the pros and cons rather than just the pros. From what I've read, some people were angry that Canadian doctors and researchers aren't jumping on the Zamboni band wagon right away. I'm not sure why CTV did not get opposing viewpoints to this theory before they broadcast the W5 episode. They have interviewed Dr. Freedman of the Ottawa MS Clinic before about his stem cell research and experiments so why not talk to him again. Especially since Dr. Freedman was aware of Zamboni's findings before the program aired. Actually, I had read something very briefly a few months before the broadcast and thought it looked interesting, but there was little buzz about it then so put it at the back of my mind. *Sigh*. As is so often the case with research, more questions than answers arise.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Milfoil and Wintergreen

Photo by Alison Fox, University of Florida, Bugwood.org

The water milfoil (from French, milles foille, meaning 1000 leaves) is an invasive aquatic plant found world wide. It can get quite long and tangled and is sometimes found in masses on the surface of ponds or lakes, blocking sunlight from reaching under water plants and choking them out. It can live in pretty extreme water conditions, too, so pollution has little effect on it. Which is, in our case (the Sackville Rivers Association), a good thing. It's a great collector of crappy stuff in waterways.

Sebastien, our resident plant expert, and I went out today to harvest some of this water plant, what little is still alive at this late stage of the fall. At this point I must set the stage. As you know, I've been doing a lot of walking in all temperatures and conditions this fall. Cold, wind, rain, whatever is going on I'm dressed for it, but today, Sebastien asked me, when I picked him up, if I still wanted to go. It was freezing and windy and there were snow flurries. I was dressed for it so said of course. He got his son's chest waders for me to wear and we were off. We didn't have to travel far, only a kilometre or so, and we were on the land of a local lumber company that has set aside a piece of land as a green space. Included in this property is Feely Lake, our destination. We put on the waders (mine were a touch too small in the legs) and we were off. Because the waders didn't allow me to bend my knees farther than, say 20 degrees, I ended up walking like a penguin. For 50 feet along the fence, across a stream that came over my knees, and around the end of the fence I waddled. I also needed help going up inclines.

Anyway, we made it to the lake and started wading along the edge to retrieve the plants. I think we walked 2-300 metres along the shore with the wind and snow flurries around us. There were some obvious beaver signs and the bottom of the lake is rather sandy so there'll be a bunch of leeches for me to check out next summer. Sebastien also said there's a lot of eels there as well. After gathering a bag full of the milfoil, we climbed out of the lake and walked through Acadian forest back to the fence. Along the way, Sebastien pointed out wintergreen (Eastern teaberry) and picked a couple of berries for me to try. They taste like....wintergreen! Of course. Why was I so surprised? Anyway, I also tried the leaf of the plant which is also strongly flavoured - but even more so, and rather bitter. I'm afraid I had to spit the leaf out.

All in all, and despite my waddling, it was a great little trek into an area I'd not visited before. Sebastien will hang onto the plants we collected until (maybe tomorrow) he and other members of the group can get them to areas along the Little Sackville River for river remediation since the oil spill last month. I'm hoping to join them as well at some point...and will remember my camera this time, too.