Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Follow Your Beak


You’ve met Paddy, our green-cheeked Conure before. He’s the parrot who sometimes thinks he’s a dog.

Well Paddy also has some other strange perceptions about himself. He seems to think he is this helpless little creature who needs to sit and squawk until someone comes to carry him to wherever he wants to go

Now Paddy was fully-fledged when we got him. His wings are not clipped and he will certainly fly if he is startled. I’ll admit some of his problem is caused as a direct result of Mum and Dad being a bit too protective and over indulgent. We’ve treated him more like our baby than a pet. But apparently this problem is fairly widespread among domesticated parrots – they really do forget how to fly, except as a response to fear.

We watched the parrot training videos and tried to retrain Paddy to fly – but he refused to cooperate. Now we’ve hit on the idea of at least showing him that he can walk from place to place. When he squawks to go from his cage to the filing cabinet where he loves to play (yes, he has his own filing cabinet to play in), I will take him down from the cage and put him on the floor. I will then walk along in front of him and encourage him to follow. It’s a slow process and he will often head for the nearest chair to climb on rather than to complete his journey to the filing cabinet. But he is learning.

This morning he was in his filing cabinet, but I was in the kitchen doing the breakfast dishes. He started kicking up a fuss because he wanted to come and see what I was doing. So I decided to teach him that the reverse applies. He can walk from his cage through the kitchen, into the lounge to his filing cabinet, and so he can just as easily walk from the filing cabinet into the kitchen. For some strange reason this new concept seemed to completely throw the little fellow. He sat there on the floor, squatting and quivering and wanting to be picked up. Finally, instead of taking the extra few steps involved to get him into the kitchen, he climbed up onto the back of the sofa and squawked at me to carry him from there.

Paddy understands how to climb across the furniture from his filing cabinet to reach us at the computers, and even how to reach us by walking across the floor and climbing up Dad’s leg. But he doesn’t grasp the concept of extending his walk to reach the kitchen or any of the other rooms. He can see them. But he seems to feel trapped within the small area in the living room, or on his cage and play pen in the laundry.

Eventually, with a lot of patience of our behalf, Paddy will come to understand that he can actually go wherever he wants to go. Even if he doesn’t want to fly, he can always walk. He just has to look in the direction he wants to take and follow his beak. Right now his only limitation is his grasp of directional travel.

And isn’t that exactly what it’s all about for us too? It’s not enough to know what you want to do and where you want to go in your life. You need to take the necessary steps to get there. You are really only limited by your own confidence, and understanding of the principles involved.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

R U O K?

Apparently Thursday is R U O K? day.

Because of the rising number of suicides in this country, it’s been suggested that everyone make an effort to text, email, or phone at least one someone and ask them the question – ‘Are You Okay?’

There are a lot of people out there to whom you would never need to ask this question, mind you. They will make sure that everyone knows exactly how they are feeling at any given moment of every day. But there are also a lot of people who tend to keep it all inside. They don’t feel comfortable opening up and sharing. And it is usually those people who end up being completely overwhelmed by their problems.

We are all so busy. The days scoot by with alarming speed and all those things we really meant to do just stay undone. We think – I must call so-and-so. I must email; I must pop around to visit. And then we find out that our friend, our family member, our neighbour has been going through some dreadful ordeal and we feel all guilty because we should have been there for them, but we were too busy with our own affairs.

Not everyone is going to appreciate an R U O K? text/email/ phone call. If fact you might just get some very suspicious reactions – ‘What the heck do you want?’ But this is not something you do for your own gratification. It is meant to be a way of reaching out – of offering a life raft to someone who might be in danger of sinking.

Now I think R U O K? is a great idea. But, at the same time, I hope it will not just be a ‘one-of’, where we all rush around calling or texting everyone we can think of and then forgetting about them for the rest of the year. I really hope this concept of ‘keeping an eye out for each other’ can become part of our everyday lives.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Difference!

It was my birthday; I was probably about six at the time. My Dad came into my room that morning and picked me up to carry me back into the Master Bedroom, where I would open my presents. The first thing I wanted to know, when he lifted me up, was ‘did I feel any different now that I was six?’

I remember Dad laughed at me and I suppose I was a bit disappointed. Surely turning a whole six years of age meant that there would be some discernable difference in me?

Of course when we are children we are in such a hurry to grow up. Each birthday is looked forward to with great anticipation and delight. Yes, it has something to do with the thought of getting presents – but there seems to be an accompanying idea that each birthday marks the start of a brand new adventure.

Then, as the years roll on the glorious anticipation of ‘birthdays’ turns to dread.

I was certainly dreading the last birthday. How could I possibly be turning 60? Where did the time go?

Well the big day was yesterday. This time it doesn't seem even remotely disappointing to find I don't feel any different at all.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Diabetes in Cancer Link


This was the photo of Pete and Paddy which appeared in this mornings Courier Mail, and this was the general gist of the story that followed

AN AUSTRALIAN study has identified a link between type 2 diabetes in men and a significantly increased risk of bowel cancer, triggering calls for diabetics to have regular checks. Researchers tracked almost 1300 people with type 2 diabetes, recruited in the 1990s as part of the Fremantle Diabetes Study, for up to 17 years, then compared results with Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics. They found men aged 55 to 84 with type 2 diabetes were 87 per cent more likely than the general population to develop bowel cancer. Study author Tim Davis, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Australia, presented the findings at the Australian Diabetes Society annual scientific meeting in Perth yesterday. He said more research was needed to explain the link. "It might be that the risk factors for the two conditions, including obesity, are the same and that they develop independently of each other or it may be that factors associated with diabetes trigger bowel cancer," Professor Davis said. Prof Davis said that based on the study findings, faecal occult blood testing every one or two years should be considered for men aged over 55 attending diabetes clinics. Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggens said the study added to existing evidence linking the two common diseases.
Peter Murphy, 63, of Margate, north of Brisbane, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001 and bowel cancer eight years later. He said if he had known about the link between the two conditions, he would have had regular colonoscopies after being diagnosed with diabetes. The 63-year-old had surgery and chemotherapy as a result of the cancer.

It was a long day and Paddy didn't like the photographer snapping away at him and blinding him with the flash. He really didn't want to cooperate at all.

Pete had been going to see the Dr complaining of niggling bowel problems for well over a year before his emergency surgery.  But, despite the fact that I was convinced there was something really wrong, the Dr's kept insisting that the discomfort was caused by a hernia pressing on the bowel. Not once did they suggest a colonoscopy to investigate further. If Pete's cancer hadn't manifested itself as it did, he could well have gone undiagnosed until it was too late.

Maybe now that this link has been found Dr's will be more willing to order further testing if a man with diabetes presents with bowel problems.
©Lyn Murphy 2011