Monday, January 9, 2017

Dangers of a common antibiotic Levaquin / Cipro / Fluoroquinolones

First snow of the season!
We finally had SNOW in Charlottesville, Virginia. I've been a busy bee all winter long selling mainly on Etsy and Ebay. It's my peak season so I tend to not have much time for anything else.

I did run into some health troubles after Christmas. I'm not sure if it's from working online so extensively or if something else is up. I've been experiencing lasting, severe red eyes that my eye doctor said was severe dry eyes (which worsen in the winter and are due to RA / Sjogren's Disease which I've had now for 15 years). I was diagnosed by my general doctor with a Sinus Infection and prescribed Levaquin, the generic for Levofloxacin. It is in the family of drugs called fluoroquinolones along with Cipro among others. These drugs are the most prescribed antibiotics in the US.

Mr. Squirrel appears with the first flake panic eating bird food!
Before taking Levaquin I read the warnings... tendinitis or even a ruptured tendon. I'm so used to hearing the laundry list of possible side effects on TV that I've become numb to them so I proceeded to take this drug, thinking my doctor certainly knows best. I never thought that I would actually experience any of the side effects (three doctors have told me that it's quite uncommon). I was given a course of 1 pill for 14 days and on the 6th day my calf muscles began to feel stiff. I talked myself into thinking that it was just psychosomatic so I took another dose. The next morning I could hardly walk from the bed 10 feet to the bathroom. My calf muscles were so tight I could not bend my ankles. I was dragging my feet on the floor for 2 days so as not to have to bend them. I made my husband stay home from work as I was unable to go up or down the stairs. On day 4 I decided to rake a few leaves and my heart began to race (5 swipes of the rake) and stopped. I began to research this family of drugs more online and based on consumer comments, the potential damage is extensive.

Sure, people do have reactions and when I read a handful I don't worry but when there are pages and pages of accounts then I start to worry. There is even a tag line given to it called floxing or I've been floxed.

My neighbors horse in the snow.
It's been a week since I stopped taking this drug and my legs have improved but my tendons still feel like a rubber band being stretched. I can now go up and down the stairs but I'm fearful of putting any additional stress on my tendons and am not taking my daily walks down the street which was my form of exercise for the health of my body and bones. I've not pushed much exercise but my heart has not raced with normal daily activity. It has been mentioned that tendons have ruptured months after stopping this drug and especially if a lot of stress is put on the tendon, like in running. Interestingly, a friend mentioned she took Cipro without any issues and then it dawned on me that months ago she complained about peripheral neuropathy, another possible side effect of this drug that she never equated to taking it.

Please, please, please have the sense, because I did not, to ask you doctor for something less powerful if they attempt to give you this line of drugs. I would classify this line of antibiotics as one to take when all others fail. I have not taken an antibiotic I would estimate in 10 years and another one with less side effects could have been prescribed. I wish I had taken the risks seriously given I already have health issues. Now I have to wait for months and possibly years in fear of rupturing my Achilles or developing something worse. Read this and especially the comments from Consumer Reports if I have not convinced you, too risky to take.

-Rebecca



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Annual Virginia Master Naturalists North American Butterfly Count

Butterfly Count in the forest at Kemper Park
It was an privilege for me to be able to participate in the North American Butterfly Count for Albemarle County. Today 2 teams of Virginia Master Naturalists (for the exception of a few of us) headed out at 9 am to count butterflies. I was assigned to the team that went to the amazing Kemper Park nature trail that traverses up to Monticello. When I left the house it was 77 degrees, when I returned after noon, it was 97! Needless to say, it was a hot day. We were very fortunate to be able to walk deep in the forest to escape the oppressing heat. The other group was dispatched to Crozet, another area in the county.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Thistle, parking lot Kemper Park
The official numbers have not been tabulated but it was obvious that the numbers were lower this year. The most commonly spotted butterfly, and one of the largest, was the yellow with black stripes Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Of all the butterflies in Virginia, it probably is the most recognized.

I found this photo amusing given our addiction to cell phones. This little American Snout is trying to grab the attention of one of our young nature lovers that was on the count. Almost to say, hey you, get off that thing and pay attention to me! Check out the unusually long snout on that guy.

The small Silvery Checkerspot
There are many reasons for a species to decline. One of the best ways to encourage butterflies in your yard is to plant natives and other trees, shrubs, and flowers that caterpillars like to eat or that butterflies prefer for egg laying. I finally have a little patch of three Paw Paw trees that are coming along nicely in my yard. This attracts the stunning Zebra Swallowtail, one of which we saw today but it was so high in the tree I could not photograph it.

Cardinal Flower and Joe Pye Weed
Not only do we see wonderful Butterflies but also interesting plants and little critters. We were lucky to have a budding entomologist along that magically spotted unusual insects that I had never seen before. It's a thrill to see something new. Of course being on the trail with Master Naturalists, most plants are also identified.

My first sighting of the Hackberry Emperor
It was a hot day but when your mission is to "spot the butterfly" it some how takes a backseat to your quest to find the next elusive beauty. Especially when you find a species that you have never seen. I was happy to see a Hackberry Emperor complete with a crazy pattern and many "eyes". All designed to confuse predators and make it blend into the environment.

The Kemper Park group
Training prior to the event was prepared by Nancy Weiss and Terri Keffert of the Rivanna Master Naturalists. Many thanks to both of them for their dedication to this effort and to our team leader, Laura Seale.

-Rebecca

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Historic Garden Week 2016 in Petersburg, Virginia

 Petersburg 1838 Courthouse Clock Tower & Roses
This year as part of Historic Garden Week in Virginia, we selected Petersburg as our annual tour destination. I wanted to spend some time in the amazing Old Towne area and get a closer look of what could be described as a congenial southern historic town. 
YUMMY Sweets provided by The Petersburg Garden Club

I'm always impressed with the effort extended by the host Garden Club and Petersburg did not disappoint. The Petersburg Garden Club members at each stop were so welcoming and personable. We absolutely fell in LOVE with the house on the hill, Centre Hill, as the museum staff was superb. We can certainly understand why movie crews rush to Petersburg to set up camp to film.

All interior photos of Floral Arrangements were graciously provided by Molly Sammler, Petersburg Garden Club photographer for Historic Garden Week. 

Stone accents at the Kramer House on the Lake
Driving 2 hours from Charlottesville, we began our tour by visiting three homes located on the lake in Chesterfield Virginia. These relatively new large homes all offered lovely views of Lake Chesdin. We especially liked what we referred to as the pink and green house (my favorite color combination). Upon entry into the Kramer House, one looks beyond the open entryway through huge windows straight onto the lake. A light and airy home decorated by owner and designer Glenna Jean who makes beautiful bedding, pillows and accessories.

Rose Arrangement at Centre Hill by Molly
We were so touched by the history of her mother who died at 105 years of age. Being that her favorite flower was the rose, there were many small items in the home that she had beautifully painted. She also was a blue ribbon cookie maker and her winning Sugar Cookie recipe was handed out to every visitor. Several rooms were decorated in a garden theme featuring walls perfectly painted by an artist that had Alzheimer's. We very much loved getting to know this home on a more personal level and relaxing lake side on the multi-leveled deck chatting with garden club members.

Meeting a few furry friends @ Strachan-Harrison
Next we headed to Old Towne to race through Petersburg to get to the next set of three homes on tour. After a break at Demolition Coffee (a really cool shop in of course an amazing historic building) we were off to the Strachan-Harrison House. A boxwood garden complete with majestic trees surrounds the front entry. Inside there are beautiful period portraits. The owners have gone to great lengths to make the interior represent the homes age dated in the late 1700's. There was also a barn outside with a sweet Donkey that protects the dear Lambs from predators.

Massive Kramer H. Peacock Arrangm.
Next we were off to Centre Hill. I really do enjoy an element of surprise when I plan a tour and don't like to know too much about a property before I visit. We were walking around what appeared to be an amazing Civil War period mansion, lolly gagging along taking pictures of the roses at neighboring homes, who, by the way, have a great view off all that goes on at Centre Hill, when we read a little sign outside of the building that said for us to please forgive the length of the grass as the PBS series, Mercy Street, wants it that way! 

Centre Hill Mansion
I thought Mercy Street was filmed in Alexandria Virginia. Mercy Street is actually filmed in Richmond and Petersburg and in the series, it was chosen to list as being portrayed in the town of Alexandria Virginia. Centre Hill Mansion is the central family's home in the series. Centre Hill has been used by many movies and is a known for paranormal activity. Do not miss this beautiful mansion when you go to Petersburg.

Iris in Ginger Jar @ Strachan by Molly
At the end of our tour we dashed through - oh I wish we had more time - the historic McIlwaine House which was featured in the film, Lincoln. Amazingly, this 3-story shell of a building was moved from its original location 8 blocks away. The original ornate hand carved interior woodwork was missing but eventually found in storage and restored back on the walls. This ca. 1794 high-style federal building is now in fine condition complete with beautiful period pieces supplied by the current owner who has done an amazing job restoring this structure back to it's original condition.

Marie Bowen Gardens in Walnut Hill
Our last stop was to the natural gardens named after the Raleigh Parish Garden Club member, Marie Bowen who spent, up until her death in 1979, countless hours tending and planting the Fairfax side of a ravine. A sweet and tranquil garden that can freely be visited from dusk to dawn. It was the perfect end to a beautiful day in Petersburg, a nice mix of the new and old. 

Goodies provided: Laptop Case, Recipe, Seeds, Magazine
A nice briefcase bag was given to each participant, which now holds my laptop, along with a packet of Forget Me Not seeds. I last planted this dear plant many years ago on the grave of my dear Schnauzer, Tator. If I can get it to grow, it will be a sweet reminder of my trip to Petersburg and my pooch.

Little meditative spot at 
After hitting several Thrift Stores (another reason to visit Petersburg) and buying 2 cute purses for $2.50, we headed to Cary Street in Richmond for dinner. Home at 11 pm - pooped. My only wish was that we had another day to really delve into the history in Petersburg but I can't wait to return!

-Rebecca   
  
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