Having an eye for Wildlife

On our vacation to eastern Canada in 2010, we kept our eyes open for Moose. Every Moose Crossing sign got us excited that we may see our first Moose. We were so disappointed that we never saw one.

In Australia, we were on the look-out for wildlife. We were determined to not go to any zoo’s or sanctuary’s to see animals. We were passionate about finding them in their natural habitats. Our determination paid off – we saw Sea Turtles, Monitor Lizard, Kangaroo’s, Koala’s, Echidna’s, Australian Sea-Lions, New Zealand Fur Seals, Fairy Penguins, a Dingo, Cassowary (father with baby chick),  and even Platypus in the wild.

Since returning from Australia last fall, I find myself on high alert for wildlife, especially while driving.  Yesterday, we were driving 81 North (between Watertown and the 1,000 Islands) when I saw something land in the grassy median. The way that this bird fell from the sky reminded me of the water eagle we had watched on the BBC dvd “Great Barrier Reef” the night prior. I frantically told my husband to pull over to which he replied that he would not. I told him to look as I thought I had seen a Bald Eagle. We both looked and watched this bird with a white head and ginormous wing span fly away.  While on the ground, I remember seeing little birds all around the Bald Eagle that seemed to be frantic. I think I witnessed a live version of discovery channel and the reality that I dislike watching – the circle of life. Since I never got the chance to take a photo, here’s a photo and short description of the Bald Eagle: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/bald-eagle/

I believe that “having an eye for wildlife” is an acquired skill. I watched so many vehicles zip by this Bald Eagle, I wonder how many never even noticed. Seeing wildlife also requires sheer luck – being at the right place at the right time. If our schedule had have been earlier or delayed by a minute or two we likely would have missed seeing our very first Bald Eagle. We’ll never forget seeing a Bald Eagle on Memorial Day 2013. It was a sight that left me giddy afterwards.

Credit: http://powerage76.deviantart.com/art/Bald-Eagle-Stock-Photo-163247515
Credit: http://powerage76.deviantart.com/art/Bald-Eagle-Stock-Photo-163247515

Hypothyroid

In April of 2012, the secretary at my doctor’s office called and told me that my thyroid was low. I was caught off guard as I expected my blood work to come back as “normal” like every other time. I had just turned 28 years old, how could I have hypothyroid? I did some research on hypothyroidism and was SHOCKED as I had the majority of symptoms. I’ll name a few:

– constant fatigue
– unexplained weight gain
– dry skin problems
– below normal body temperature and low blood-pressure

Prior to being diagnosed, I used to be exhausted after work each day.  I felt as if I had been on my feet all day long when I had a desk job. I would come home at night and really push myself to make dinner and get a chore or two done before bed. I felt beat and needed to be in bed by 9pm. I REALLY paid for it the next day if I ever stayed up until 11pm. I thought I was just a low-energy person and not being able to ever stay up until 11pm was part of growing older. I’ve since been told that this is not normal for someone in their mid to late 20’s.

In the last 2 years, I was eating less calories than the years before, yet, I was gaining weight instead of loosing it. Now, I must address a major misconception in regards to a person taking medication for hypothyroidism – one will not experience rapid weight loss once started on medication. Being treated for hypothyroidism helps weight loss in the following ways: it assists in returning a person’s metabolism to a “normal” state and therefore,  allows the opportunity to loose weight like the average person by eating well and exercising. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me to loose the weight that I gained while hypo.

Since a year ago, I have shared with some  family, friends and co-workers what I’ve learned about hypothyroidism. After sharing my symptoms, many have said, “maybe I have it too!” I even had a co-worker decide to get tested because she was feeling a little sluggish and had put on some weight (5 pounds). She doesn’t have a hypothyroid and seemed disappointed not to. Having hypothyroidism isn’t something to be excited about. I will need to take a pill daily, on an empty stomach, for the rest of my life. It’s not fun to have to stop eating by a certain hour so that I can take my medication on an empty stomach. And if I eat something past dinner time, I have to take my medication first thing in the morning and wait at least an hour before having breakfast. It’s a pain in the butt.

When was the last time that you had your thyroid tested? A TSH of anything above 3 is hypo in the United States, and a TSH of 4.5 and up is considered hypo in Canada. I was a 5.3 when my doctor decided to tell me that something was up.  If you haven’t been tested for a while ask to be. This is especially important for women who are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant.  Hypothyroidism can cause infertility. Also, a mother’s low thyroid during early pregnancy has been linked to learning disabilities in the child. Pregnancy also can be a trigger for a mother’s thyroid to suddenly change. I just so happened to get blood work done for a different reason and learned that I was hypo. It’s scary to think that I could have gone many more years untreated. Thyroid conditions are rarely proactively addressed by family doctors. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with hypothyroid, ask for blood work to be done (TSH + Free 3 and Free 4 as well) and be sure to ask what your numbers are afterwards!

For more information, please visit: http://www.drnorthrup.com/womenshealth/healthcenter/topic_details.php?topic_id=59

 

A life long dream: Australia

In elementary school, I did a class project on Australia. Ever since then, seeing Australia was on the top of my bucket-list. October 2012, hubby and I took the 21 hour flight to Oz. Prior to going, I spent months planning our trip via online research, we saved for over a year, and we took a month off work. We spent that month flying all over Australia. We figured that since this may be our one and only time there, we might as well see as much as we can. I must admit that I was teary a couple of times during our trip (like when we landed in the Outback and while on a tour of the Opera House). Seeing Australia was a dream come true & the trip of a lifetime.

Here are a few photos of our adventures Down Under:

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands - this is looking down at Whitehaven beach.  copy of: pinkcanuck
Sailing the Whitsunday Islands – this is looking down at the famous Whitehaven beach.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Flying over the Great Barrier Reef! property of: pinkcanuck
Flying over the Great Barrier Reef!
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
last croc tour of the day on the Daintree River property of: pinkcanuck
last croc tour of the day on the Daintree River
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Boyd's Forest Dragon (little guy) in in the Daintree Rainforest. property of: pinkcanuck
Boyd’s Forest Dragon (little guy) in in the Daintree Rainforest.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Where the Ocean meets the Rainforest (Daintree). property of: pinkcanuck
Where the Ocean meets the Rainforest (Daintree).
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
A Tree Kangaroo (at Lumholtz Lodge B&B) property of: pinkcanuck
A Tree Kangaroo (at Lumholtz Lodge B&B)
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
We saw a platypus in the wild (by a farmer's field) property of: pinkcanuck
We saw a platypus in the wild (by a farmer’s field)
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
We found a Cassowary father raising his chick on a beach the locals recommended to see one! property of: pinkcanuck
After not seeing a Cassowary in the Daintree, we asked a local where to find one while still in Queensland. We waited for half an hour and then saw a Cassowary father raising his chick!
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock) in the Outback!  property of: pinkcanuck
Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock) in the Red Centre/Outback!
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Kata Tjuta (the Oglas) is less touristy than Uluru but right next door.  property of: pinkcanuck
Kata Tjuta (the Oglas) is less touristy than Uluru but right next door.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
We got lucky - we saw our first Kangaroo in the Outback! This was while hiking in Kata Tjuta. property of: pinkcanuck
We got lucky – we saw our first Kangaroo in the Outback! This was while hiking in Kata Tjuta.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
I met this lady who was fostering a joey who lost his mother. This was my
I met this lady who was fostering a joey who lost his mother. This was my “greeting” to Kangaroo Island as she was at the airport when we landed!
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Evening Penguin Tour at Kingscote, KI. The Fairy Penguins come to shore at night to rest and can only tolerate the red light (flash bothers them).  property of: pinkcanuck
Evening Penguin Tour at Kingscote, KI. The Fairy Penguins come to shore at night to rest and can only tolerate the red light (flash bothers them).
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Echidna hear the side of the road. We saw several of these driving around Kangaroo Island. property of: pinkcanuck
Echidna near the side of the road. We saw several of these driving around Kangaroo Island.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Walking on the beach with wild Australian Seal Lions playing or sleeping all around us. This is at Seals Bay, Kangaroo Island. property of: pinkcanuck
Walking on the beach with wild Australian Seal Lions playing or sleeping all around us. This is at Seals Bay, Kangaroo Island.
photo property of: pinkcanuck
A Koala sleeping in the tree tops. They are surprisingly hard to spot. We saw about 20 while on Kangaroo Island (all in the wild) and a couple of them with babies! property of: pinkcanuck
A Koala sleeping in the tree tops. They are surprisingly hard to spot. We saw about 20 while on Kangaroo Island (all in the wild) and a couple of them with babies!
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
This is at the Remarkable Rocks, KI. Near-by is Admirals Arch which is breathtaking with New Zealand sea-lions playing below.  property of: pinkcanuck
This is at the Remarkable Rocks, KI. Near-by is Admirals Arch which is breathtaking with New Zealand sea-lions playing below.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Pelican's let us get up close and personal on Kangaroo Island! property of: pinkcanuck
The pelican’s let us get close on Kangaroo Island!
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
Photo taken from the Sydney Harbour bridge (you can walk the bridge). The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world. property of: pinkcanuck
Photo taken while standing on the Sydney Harbour bridge. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
The famous Bondi beach. Lots of people even on a school/work day.  property of: pinkcanuck
The famous Bondi beach. Lots of people here on a school/work day.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox
A day trip from Syndey to the Blue Mountains. property of: pinkcanuck
A day trip from Syndey to the Blue Mountains.
photo property of: spinkoutsidethebox

Australia didn’t disappoint. We were extremely happy with our busy yet satisfying itinerary.  We saw so much wildlife (there’s countless photos of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef not included here) and we did it all without going to a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. If you decide to visit Australia make sure to give yourself enough time to experience the many wonders. And don’t forget that Australia is very large (the same size as the USA!). If you’re up for the long flight to Australia and taking additional flights while there, you can experience this beautiful country and you’ll undoubtedly leave a piece of your heart behind.