Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Beekeeper, Two Tiny Assistants, Three Hives and Only Four Stings!

A few weeks ago we received two requests from Los Osos (a small town in California) to remove hives.  Hive removal is much different than swarm removal.  A hive of bees is one that has settled down and made a home somewhere.  A swarm of bees is a big old ball of bees looking for a new home.  Swarms of bees are gentle and mellow and easy to relocate, but removing a hive of bees can be dangerous.  We asked for $50 for the price of a new bee box for each hive we would be taking home.  The two parties agreed saying, "We really didn't want to hire pest control to kill the bees."  How cool is that?  Glenn made arrangements to collect the bees on a Thursday evening.  We started at the dump in Los Osos where hives of bees like to make homes in gas wells.  Gas Well 11 contained a small, weak hive.
It was being attacked by ants and only had one comb of bees.
Oliver doubled as beekeeper and babysitter while I took pictures.  Glenn removed the entire hive with ease.
We moved on to Gas Well 13 where Glenn discovered a larger hive.  The hive was attached to the top of the gas well and broke off as soon as Glenn removed the cover.  The kids and I ran while Glenn stayed behind to do the dirty sticky work.

We all had our specific jobs during the removal.  Pearl's job was to eat handfuls of gravel and not cry while I took pictures of the bees.
Oliver's job was to assist daddy with angry, stray bees and test the honey for complexity and character.  I doubt Glenn could find a better hive removal team.

Hive number three was located in a residential neighborhood.  The bees made their home in a round valve box next to the street.
Glenn could tell it would be a difficult removal due to the number of bees hanging around the outside of the box.  Here is a picture of Glenn wishing he had a full bee suit.
Glenn finally manned up and got to work on the hive.  He kept saying, "I can't believe this," as he moved comb after comb out of the valve box.
He was stung dozens of times, but only three stings made it through his clothes to his skin.  Glenn waited until the sun went down, collected all of the bees in the back of his truck and headed home.
Hive number one did not make it, as we expected.  It was just too small.  Hive two and three are doing well and have adjusted to life in a square box.  Glenn's birthday present arrived in the mail last week.  Now when we go on our bee rescuing missions, Glenn will be covered by a full bee suit!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The "other side" of craniosynostosis surgery looks like this:

I belong to a support group of parents whose children have craniosynostosis.  Most of the parents post with glee, "We are on the other side!" after their child has survived surgery to fix cranio.  I understand the joy and relief of knowing that your child has made it through a major surgery, but I guess I wasn't fully prepared for what "the other side" truly means.  To me the other side meant Oliver would be free from his birth defect, have a normal, round head, and I would only have to think about craniosynostosis once a year at his check ups.  I have realized over the past four months that cranio is treatable, but not curable.  Oliver's skull is like the Earth's crust: constantly changing.  Ridges develop and then blend in while small bumps appear and recede.  One day his skull will look round and another day I will be worried about elongation.  I constantly analyze his head.  I keep thinking about the day my doctor finally mentioned Oliver could have craniosynostosis last November.  Oliver, Pearl and I walked to the park, and I called Glenn and my mom crying.  I watched Oliver playing with other children and noticed for the first time how unusual he looked.  In one way I think I was lucky.  For four years I looked at Oliver and saw nothing but perfection.  Had he been diagnosed at birth, I may have never known how that feels.
What does one do while she is waiting around to see if her son needs another major surgery?  Get involved!  Craniosynostosis has become my new favorite past time, a hobby even.  Ask me anything about cranio:  types of cranio, surgical techniques, risks or outcomes.  I think I could answer more than your average pediatrician at this point.  And instead of becoming victims of this birth defect, we are making every effort to make Oliver feel like he is a cranio warrior.  We are heading to San Diego in October to walk with Oliver and Shamu in support of kids with craniosynostosis.  Oliver keeps saying, "Aren't we so lucky that I have craniosynostosis because now we get to go to SeaWorld and I get to hold a sign?!"

It hasn't all been sunshine and roses with Oliver accepting his head.  His incision got infected and we had to shave his head.  People are now able to see his bumps and ridges and scar more easily and ask questions (which I welcome).  Oliver, on the other hand, is sick of talking about his surgery.  He doesn't even want to throw lightning bolts from his scar anymore.  He wanted to know why we didn't ask Dr. Fearon to make his incision wavy so he could spray water at people instead.  I made up a story about choppy water and we are cool again.   
Because Oliver is small and has an different head shape, we worry about bullying when he gets older.  Glenn and I were both small kids and dealt with occasional bullying.  Oliver has been interested in martial arts so we signed him up for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.  The great thing about BJJ is that size does not matter.  A smaller opponent can take down a larger based on skill alone.  Oliver loved his first class!  
We found out that Oliver can fall gracefully:
And he knows how to avoid a pile-up.  Oliver is the joyful child in white near the end of the line.
So, that's where we stand with craniosynostosis.  I'll be back to post about farm life again soon!  Meanwhile, Oliver will probably be hiding under his favorite hat, and Pearl with either be eating or sleeping or doing both at the same time.