Saturday, 21 January 2012

PEPPERIADE

Very cheerful, colourful course. This rainbow-like, not gruelling dish is ideal to start with especially for anyone who hasn't been familiar with cooking so far. The food is sweet and very juicy, ideal as a salad or even as a healthy dessert.


INGREDIENTS:
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper 

TOOLS:
1 kitchen knife
1 chopping board
4 small bowls
1 medium round plate



DIRECTIONS:
Wash all four peppers thoroughly. Than give them a wipe or let them dry. Choose the one that has the nicest stem (let's say: the orange pepper) and cut it crosswise in half. See that those two pieces of pepper you've just received have tiny seeds inside. Remove them all (running water helps alot) along with the core and pale fibers (you may need to use your knife again). Having this done, put the half with the stem aside (it's gonna be our 'candle'). The other half of orange pepper needs chopping. You can achieve this by slicing it along the fibers and than cutting the slices fine into small pieces. (Watch out, it's getting juicy!) Once you've finished, put those pieces of pepper into a bowl. Now, we've got three more peppers to chop. The difference is that this time the stems are going to waste and need to be removed first. You have to cut them off but since it's pepper you do it in this special way: stub the knife into pepper's pulp about 2 cm away from the stem and cut around it till it fells off along with the core (throw it away, we don't need it). That's it. The hardest job is done. Wash out the tiny seeds from the inside. Than the procedure is similar to the orange pepper case: we need the three other peppers chopped so you know now what to do. (Remember to use seperate bowls for different pepper colours.) At some point you should finish with a half of pepper with a stem and four bowls filled with colourful pepper. Now, here comes the best part. Take the stemed half of pepper and put it into the center of the plate. Than use your pepper fine pieces to create this round, rainbow pattern around it. See how simple it is? Enjoy! :-)

LILLY'S REVIEW: NOW, THAT'S ONE RICH, FINE DISH INDEED!

TIPS&TRICKS:
It's really up to you what colours of pepper you choose and use. The stem half can be orange but also green, or red, or yellow as well. It all depends on your imagination. Be creative and enjoy experimenting with colours. Good luck! :-)

Friday, 20 January 2012

LILLY AMONG THE SHRUNK HEADS

It's all about food. I entered the recipe contest and Lilly's hoarding enormous amounts of grain as if it was Winter comming, not Spring. Having eating in my mind I was in mood for this short funny movie put together from elder videos.


The story of the Coconut Head is a little bit fuzzy. I got it once from my husband but it wasn't one of those presents you'd wish for LOL. Not before Lilly came to my life. Only than this creepy (crappy?) sculpture became handy.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

THE 2012 RODENT RECIPE CHALLENGE

Regarding Lilly's illness we need some good entertainment more than ever before. Since Inky from 'Inky The Hamster Mommy' blog had this brilliant idea of Rodent Recipe Challenge we decided to enter 'cause it really sounds like fun.
LILLY REVIEWING THE DISH
Lilly is too little to hold the knife straight so I'm gonna be the top hamster chef and Lilly's gonna be the culinary critic. I believe she's trully capable of professional reviewing my dishes since she's the one who tought us hamster savoir vivre, remember...? :-) Anyway, I've already decided. Each first day of every month Inky is going to announce the list of hamster friendly ingredients. Using those we are to invent, prepare and test a brand new, original hamster dish. I just can't wait! :-) I generally like the idea so I decided to false start privately with the recipe for our famous Pepperiade I made last year for Lilly's Three-Months-With-Us Anniversary. I hope you'll enjoy as much as I do. Stay tunned and keep on looking for new posts about hamster cuisine from Fluffy Toughie's kitchen :-)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

LILLY VS. PYOMETRA (ROUND ONE)

Starting from today Lilly is undergoing her medical treatment. This post is not only for you but also for me, not to forget. I'm going to put in here every detail worth of later discussion with the vet.The therapy should last up to seven days.
LILLY'S BIRTHDAY PRESENTS :-(

First of all we've had Lilly's cage cleaned thoroughly from a scratch. I've done it lately, but decided to do it once again, just in case. This pyometra disease, it's caused by certain kind of bacteria so you can never be too cautious, can't you?

And these are the medications:
- Enrofloxacin (antibiotic) - 0,1 ml per 100 ml of water a day,
- Lakcid (probiotic) - 1/5 of normal human dose a day,
- daily belly massaging.

Enrofloxacin needs to be mixed with water, you can achieve this by adding the required dose to fresh, clean water in your hamster's water dispenser. Lakcid can be easily replaced by yogurth but Lilly's never liked it so we chose Lakcid.
LILLY TAKING HER MEDICINE

Day by day I'm going to write down the course of the therapy along with my observations. If someone finds it helpful - good, but you must remember this: 

NEVER DIAGNOSE OR CURE YOUR HAMSTER 
WITHOUT VETERINARIAN CONSULTING

DAY 1:
Thursday, 12.01.2012

No visible mucus leaks today; belly still tough. Lilly is very vivid. She was running in her spinning wheel a lot, hoarded huge amounts of food and collected her nesting material. She wasn't eager to receive Lakcid from the syringe so I injected some onto a hazelnut and smuggled it this way. My only consideration is that she barely drank, maybe about 1-2 ml of water, which means she hasn't delivered much medication to her organism today. There's serious question: why? Because she wasn't thirsty or because she felt that the water is 'contaminated'? Strange, 'cause I deliberately haven't given her any fresh, juicy food lately so she should crave for water. I must watch it carefully.

DAY 2:
Friday, 13.01.2012

It seems like we've got a break through... Today Lilly was in heat. According to what our veterinarian said this is the time when animal's bottom opens wide. That's why this evening I massaged Lilly's belly gently but even more thoroughly (for about an hour), taking this chance to help clearing her inside.
MASSAGED OUT PLUG OF PUS
First there was certain amount of liquid mucus flowing again but than I massaged out of her this long, hard plug of pus (divided in the picture). That's what was blocking her womb, I guess, or most of it. The belly softened. After that Lilly was even more happy: playing, hoarding, grooming and running in her spinning wheel till 3:00 A.M. like crazy. I think she really felt relief. We consulted it with vet and he admitted that's a remarkable progress. Well, we've won the battle but not he war. The good news is also that this night Lilly drank a lot, about  8 ml of Enrofloxacin solution. Also she licked the whole Lakcid from hazelnuts so we're doing great. Moreover, I had an idea to put her on weight to control her general condition; she weights 183 g (normal). I'm gonna fight for my hammie.

 DAY 3:
Saturday, 14.01.2012 

Lilly's received her third part of medications: there's about 8 ml of solution less in the water dispenser again. Her opening is sealed today. No leaks in my presence but the fur on her belly is sticky so I know the pus still flows. Weight: 184 g. Apetite: good. Lilly is strong and full of energy. She gladly left the cage to rip a paper toy I made for her and get to the treats hidden inside. I'm still learning about the pyometra disease. There's many pieces of information in the net, some of them are mutually exclusive so one can really get lost. Thank you all for your support and kind words. It helps alot, I'm not so scared anymore. Tina from 'Feldhamster' made very wise remark that dosing medications via water dispenser is controversial as it may be risky in hamsters case since they often drink too little (underdosing) and sometimes too much (overdosing). Supposedly it is safer to use medicines that don't require mixing with water. Well, I admit there's strong logic in it and I like the idea but right now I decided to stick to the method we've already started. PRIMO: I trust my veterinarian who's got experience curing rodents and he says Enrofloxacin seems to work better if received randomly so it works for hamsters even if  given via water dispenser. SECUNDO: I can't change Lilly's treatment in the middle of the therapy.  You just don't do that, it's antibiotic we're talking about. She must take it all once she started. You can't mix it now with another one. Still, I don't exclude the possibility of trying something different if this one doesn't work. One thing I know for sure: at this point an operation is counted out. I'm aware that only sterylization gives 100% insurance that this disease is bitten and won't strike again but on the other hand the risk of such a procedure is too big. I don't wanna take it as long as Lilly's life is not directly in danger and it is not.

DAY 4:
Sunday, 15.01.2012

Weight: 185 g (is it my imagination or is she getting even more fluffy under my nursing...?); about 4 ml of Enrofloxacin solution drank (that's a decent number); Lakcid from two halfs of a hazelnut licked; belly massaged. There was a small discharge of liquid pus today, just like in the beginning. Lilly wasn't in the mood to play outside her cage, she'd rather run in her spinning wheel and hoarded. She slept more today and stayed active for much shorter time than before. I guess she needs her day off, just like everybody else does... I watched her sleeping... My little furry angel... She really tamed me, you know...


DAY 5:

Monday, 16.01.2012

Today Lilly was full of energy again. She slept long and well, and when she woke up she craved for pranks: first she was trying to eat her own spinning wheel, than she demanded taking her out of the cage in purpose to scoot under my desk and dig in the carpet (I thought she's a big girl now, but seems like old childish habits returned). Well, I know it's not much educative, but I gave her walnuts anyway... After all, that's what a hamster life is about: hoarding. Although, when I put her on weight today and the display showed me number 186 I was confused. Than I realised she was weighted along with this nut hidden in her cheek pouch and after drinking :-) By the way: Lilly drank about 6 ml of Enrofloxacin solution today, so again she delivered a desirable dose of medicine to her organism. Good job, Lilly!
Seems we don't have a dosing problem. I also came across this article about pyometra on 'Hammy's World' website. It's very informative and specialist so if you have any doubts - read it.

It's been five days, so I called the vet and consulted with him the following procedure: since Lilly seems to respond well to the therapy I'm to give her Enrofloxacin for next two days. Than we'll take a break and see the results. What's most important, I was told to continue her belly massages as that's what gives her the biggest relief and helps to keep her womb in a decent state. 

DAY 6:
TUESDAY, 17.01.2012

Today was a big day. According to my calculations Lilly should be in heat and she was. The mucus flowed, but it was different: thiner, cleaner than before (I've got a feeling that's a good sign). So once again, I took my chances and after an hour of working I massaged out of her even twice (!) as much of pus plug (pudding-like colour, wax-like consistency, no blood - I'll spare you and myself pictures this time). When this thing came out there were no more leaks this night at all (I checked many times, believe me) and Lilly's opening looked nice and clean. I hope, I SO hope that maybe we've just managed to get rid of this nasty disease...? After today massage Lilly has gone crazy: she became so fast and rapid I couldn't keep up! She acted as if she was light like a feather: jumping, climbing, running... As if someone magicaly changed my hamster! At some point this thought arised in my head: what if this feature of her character I called 'shyness', what if it wasn't even a feature of the character, but this damned plug of pus growing inside her, constantly disturbing her...? During this evening Lilly drank about 9 ml (!) of Enrofloxacin solution. That's just great since the medicine seems to be working. She was so hyper active I didn't manage to weight her properly: she couldn't stay one second in place, constantly running away from the weight cup. The display showed me once a number 180 but it's impossible she lost 6 g over a day eating and drinking normally (this plug of pus wasn't so heavy, for God's sake!). Anyway, today events gave me hope. Now I trully believe that together we can make it through.

DAY 7:
Wednesday, 18.01.2012

It was the last day of Lilly's medical treatment. She received last doses of her medicine: Enrofloxacin (about 8 ml of solution drank) and Lakcid. If you believe in electronic devices she weights now 187 g (even more than before the therapy). But I don't have good news: the pudding-like mucus flows again. It's thick, smelly and there's much more of it this time (maybe because nothing's blocking the uterus any more). Anyway, I'm a little bit dispirited. After yeasterday success I really hoped for a change... But Lilly seems not to bother at all. She looks perfectly happy, acting normally (I mean: not quite, 'cause she's still hyper active) and doing all those things a happy hamster is supposed to do: grooming, hoarding, playing. In the end of the evening I cleaned the cage thoroughly again and first thing she did with her clean-new spinning wheel was inventing a rattle (by dragging a bunch of sunflower seeds into it, husking them there and than running along with the shells). So much for my cleaning [sight]. I also had to lure her from behind the counter 'cause she was strong enough to pull of the old rug blocking the secret passage leading to the Forbidden Dark Hole. I just... love her. And I'd like to keep her a lil' bit longer...


To sum it up:

- meeting Lilly vs. Pyometra round one (1:1),
- Enrofloxacin didn't fight the bacteria (we'll have to try something else),
- abdomen massages - the best thing to do! (we will continue),
- the surroundings must be kept clean,
- most important thing: not giving up.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

DIAGNOSIS: PYOMETRA

I'm still about to cry and have to constantly calm myself down. I don't even know where to begin... Ok, I'm gonna put myself together now and try to sound reasonably: last night I saw this huge amount of smelly, pudding-like mucus leaking out of Lilly's rear end. Her whole belly was covered with it. It happened twice. I've never seen anything like it before but I've read many articles about hamster health so unfortunately I had an idea what this could mean. That's why I immidiately called our neighbouring veterinarian (we're lucky he's also rodent specialist) and today Lilly was examined by him. We both were stunned how good and calm she was during this visit. She let the doctor (a stranger to her) not only hold and pet her but also do all those unpleasant things doctors do. She wasn't running away, didn't attempt to bite, and so on. Only from time to time she trotted towards me, and climbed my sweater so that I hold and caress her. The vet said that he's never seen such a tamed hamster before and at this point I felt really proud of my little, brave Lilly. The diagnosis is cruel but plain: pyometra. I knew something was going to happen 'cause lately her belly was tougher and bigger than normal but I hoped it was due to her good apetite and nut diet not disease :'-( It's so sad... But there is much, much more than that. According to the vet's words it's possible that Lilly has been living with it... since the very beginning, even long before I brought her home...! How come? During last year, each few days there was always this pudding-like mucus leaking from her bottom but it was almost unremarkable amount. Lilly is my first hammy ever, I have no comparison, and I've been told that such a small leak of clear (no blood) mucus is normal, that it's sirian hamster females' way of reacting to treatments they don't like (holding or squeezing too much for example). So we lived with it while I should have taken her to the vet long time ago...! Stupid me...! There is one good thing: in this case we deal with open pyometra which means the pus doesn't stay inside to decay but flows outside freely not causing contagion which leads to death. I was talking to the vet for a long time. The good thing is I've always been massaging Lilly's belly every few days, when she was in heat (just like that, in case) and it's possible that only this prevented the pus from blocking inside so far [SIGHT]. If nothing changes, Lilly has a good chance to live her life through up to the old age. She's vivid, eager to play, eat and drink and if you didn't know, you couldn't tell by her look that she's ill. But the mucus flows... God forbid it pluggs...! Due to Lilly's good condition and nature of the disease we've decided not to put her through operation. But she must have her medicine and that's enrofloxacin (hamster friendly antibiotic) plus lakcid (to keep her bacterial flora balanced). We're starting tomorrow. Just cross your fingers for her, would you...? <:"-(

P.S. It's not fair. We were just about to celebrate her first birthday. Yes, Lilly was born in January, we don't know exactly when. On the 6th February we brought her home. It was a year ago.  So much for her first birthday present :-(

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

HAMSTER WINTER OLYMPICS

          - So that's how this famous New Year looks like! - squicked Lilly and sighted. - The same old same. Boring...
           And she was right. No snow, no frost, just cold winds and rains as if it was Autumn. Nothing changed at all. It's dark, it's grey, everything decays... This Winter is the least winter-like Winter ever! No wonder Lil's fed up with it.
STRETCHING
We all are. Instead of making a snowman or sledging one must find themselves something to occupy their minds. Lilly did. She decided to go for... lets say: winter sports. Since she's a very comprehensive hamster she doesn't limit herself to one form of activity, oh no! It would be too simple. There must be some balance between mind and body so many different types of exercises are required. Look what we've got here... There you go! First of all it's something called STRETCHING. Kind of funny but effective way of keeping your body in a good shape. It goes somewhat like this: front paws low and the back rear up just along with your head. That's a good one after awakening :-)
CLIMBING
Ok, guys. We're awaken and stretched. What's next...? Lilly's answer would be 'breakfast' but that's not the point. The thing is you have to train your body and your spirit as well. Great way of taking care of both in the same time is CLIMBING, very demanding sport for those who are ambitious and determined. Well, it doesn't sound like Lilly, it really doesn't, but you would be amazed seeing this middle age lady acually swinging on the top of the highest spinning wheel with no fear at all. It may be some kind of recompensation for her poor height, I suppose... Well, the advantage of getting high is also going down which often gives you a pleasent thrill of emotion in your stomach so I think this might be the reason for choosing by Lilly this particular form of activity. At last (but not least) we've came to the third form of hamster winter entertainment and that's CORN COB SPARRING. One does not have to explain how important cobs are.
CORN COB SPARRING
The position they take in hamster life is crutial and undeniable but - unfortunately for the poor cobs - Lilly is a little bit (just a little bit) too fluffy and up to loosing some weight before Spring comes (and she means it!) so she's just started her daily work out. Instead of eating - she's beating. And she does it hard, she does it accurately, my million dollar babe. As you can see, there is nothing impossible for someone who really wants to do something. It seems like Lilly The Triathlonist is preparing for the Hamster Winter Olympics. How far would you go to kill this winter boredom...? Me myself, I'm lazy so I think I'll just stick to supporting my little fit-hammie :-)
LILLY IN STEALTH MODE