Thursday, June 30, 2011

Polymorphous Light Eruption: Allergy To the Sun

After spending my teens and 20's trying to get the darkest tan possible, and a few impromptu outdoor excursions without sun protection (usually a roam through an old cemetery), I have permanent sun damage on my lower arms, hands, and neck. Our grandmothers may not have known that sun causes skin cancer, but they knew that LADIES didn't have tans. Thus, the white gloves, hats, and parasols!

I have become diligent about using sunscreen, and my current favorite is a CVS brand, a dry lotion (not greasy and sticky!) which I can use on my face under makeup. It is 100 SPF with UVA AND UVB protection. Unfortunately, I'm not good at remembering to reapply during the day. Even that may not be enough protection. I believe that I am experiencing my first bout with something called Polymorphous Light Eruption, which is simply an allergic reaction to the sun.

The reaction began as a bright pink raised dime size area on my arm. I assumed that it was an insect bite. The next day, I found the same type of thing on my left arm, and for days afterward, it spread as a rash on both arms. Two days ago (two weeks after the initial outbreak) it erupted it welts on my neck and chest.

Evidently, my dermatologist has never heard of it, because he immediately diagnosed it as contact dermatitis combined with an allergic reaction to Benadryl cream. Actually, The rash had spread for two weeks, and I had used the Benadryl for a couple of days two weeks ago. Even though the puzzle pieces were not fitting, my doctor stood firm on the most common diagnosis for an idiopathic rash. I was determined to understand what had happened so that I could avoid it in the future, so did my own research.

I take a daily walk in a local park, and often sit on the bank of the pond and photograph the ducks and geese. Even with sunscreen, and even late in the afternoon, my neck and lower arms were getting a lot of sun exposure. The recommended treatment is hydrocortisone cream, so I'll be using it every day while I'm mindful of reapplying sunscreen and avoiding the sun as much as possible in mid-afternoon.

I just wanted to put this out there for anyone who may experience a rash in areas exposed to the sun. What kept me looking for answers was the "contact dermatitis" diagnosis in the very areas that were not in contact with anything! Polymorphous Light Eruption can affect people of all races and skin coloring.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wildlife and Healthy Eating

My baby wrens hatched, and are little fuzzy gray things with big beaks. Their eyes are not yet open, and they never make a sound. When mom comes, they stretch their little necks and open wide. When she leaves, they settle in on the floor of the nest. From my eye-level vantage point, they look a little like the kind of mold that grows on rotten fruit. I'm sure they'll be cute one day!

We have new baby ducks at the pond, and I'm saying a lot of prayers for these eight little ones. I saw the Blue Heron again, but I never spot it until it gets spooked, rises up, and flies away. I never have my camera ready! Otherwise, I've been communing with the Canada Geese, bunnies, and bull frogs whom I hear but can't see in the tall grass. Sounds like a deep, deep kettle drum, or some otherworldly base instrument!

I've been trying to cut back on desserts. After losing so much weight last year, I have felt a bit immune to gaining weight, but I need to get back to rationing sugar and chocolate. I'm not a dieter, but am a label reader. I try to limit calories, trans fat and saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. I try to include lots of fruits and vegetables, calcium, protein, and whole grains. I'm growing to like Silk (soy milk). It is high in protein and calcium, and is lactose free. It tastes more like raw almonds than milk.

In reading labels, I discovered that a single egg contains 213 g of cholesterol, and the recommended daily limit for anyone with borderline or high cholesterol is 200! The limit for "normal" people is 300, so one way or the other, two eggs in one day far exceeds the limit for anyone.

In this long economic recession, I have to focus on and appreciate the small things that make me smile and enrich my life. My niece shared this web site with me, and I've spent too many hours reading and laughing and crying over these hilarious iPhone auto correct disasters: . I think I'll make it part of my morning routine to read (1) Daily Word, and (2) Damn You, Auto correct!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Feeding Wild Ducks

Our baby ducks haven't had good luck this year, and we don't know whether to blame snapping turtles, hawks, ground water pollution, or all of the above. The first family only hatched two, and they were gone within three days.

The second family of thirteen didn't fair well at all, and by the time the mother had orphaned or abandoned them, only three ducklings remained. They were aggressively rejected by the mother of Family #3, and actually survived on their own for a few days, staying together and doing the things their mom had taught them. Eventually, Mother #3 allowed them to join her brood of seven.

With the combined families, we are back to only seven. The babies are teens now, and it's difficult to tell which are from Family #2 vs. Family #3. One has been lame for a couple of weeks, but he seems to manage OK in the water, and limps around on land. I pamper him and all the rest of the teens and their mom.

I'm still amazed at the number of people who bring big loafs of white bread, throwing it in big chunks into the water. First, it may fill the tummies of ducks, geese, fish, and turtles, but white bread is not healthy or nutritious for man nor beast. It causes water pollution, introduces additives like sodium to their diet, and deters them from finding and eating what they should be eating: PROTEIN. Normally, this would come from insects and larvae in the water.

It's recommended that wild ducks and geese not be fed by humans, but if you must, please feed them something that could be part of their normal diet. Feed stores sell domestic duck and goose feed pellets. PetSmart usually carries a Duck and Goose blend with whole dried corn, wheat seed, and milo seed. We usually buy a seed blend and mix it with cracked corn, which is less expensive. We purchase ours at Ingles. It is labeled as "Scratch" in the pet food department.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wren's Nest

A Carolina Wren has made quite a nice nest on an upper shelf in my carport. There are four white eggs speckled with dark pink. I wish I had cleaned the carport before I fractured my shoulder in October, because I feel guilty that they don't have a nicer neighborhood.!

I worry about Norman, my only outside cat, who may become more tempted to make the leap when the babies hatch. All I can do is move everything out of the way that he might use as a stepping stool.

I'm also concerned that the mother doesn't seem to have a mate helping out. She has been away from the nest for long periods of time in search for food and water. Of course, it is brutally hot here, so perhaps the eggs and chicks are doing OK without mom. However, I placed a small dish of water and some bird seed on a nearby window ledge (about 5 1/2 feet off the ground). I hope she finds it and can stay closer to the nest. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's The Little Things

Weeds (but aren't they beautiful?

Eastern Song Sparrow (or Swamp Sparrow?)

I took this photograph in March, and believe that it is an Eastern Song Sparrow. It appeared very blue to me, even from 15 feet away. There's also a Swamp Sparrow that looks similar. These sparrows have the typical rust colored caps and streaked breasts, but their lighter color is white, rather than buff or tan. Technically, the Atlanta area is not a nesting area for either, but many birds (and people) decide that they like our weather!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Merganser Duck at the Pond

We believe this is a Common Merganser duck. Occasionally, it appears at our local pond and mingles with the Mallard ducks. It does not have a mate. We're quite fond of the Mallards, but this "duck of a different color" is a treat!