Thursday, March 21, 2019

An Overview of the West Highland White Terrier

Bianca Catherine Knight graduated cum laude with her juris doctor from Belmont University in 2014. Beyond working in the legal profession, Bianca Catherine Knight enjoys spending time with and her raising her two dogs, a West Highland White Terrier and a Golden Doodle.

The West Highland White Terrier, often known simply as the Westie, is a breed with more than 300 years of history. Intelligent and affectionate, the Westie makes an ideal companion animal, particularly for families who cannot house a large animal but are still interested in raising a durable, playful dog. That said, there are a few things to consider before bringing a Westie home.

For starters, despite its diminutive stature, the Westie is far from a lapdog. Like all terriers, Westies require daily exercise and are particularly fond of playing with squeaky toys. Westies are, by and large, a friendly breed, but can demonstrate same-sex aggression, particularly in females, and have been bred to hunt and kill small rodents, making them a poor fit for a home with rabbits or similar pets. 

Westies are generally healthy, but owners must be prepared to prevent or treat certain conditions common to the breed, such as craniomandibular osteopathy and pulmonary fibrosis. Individuals or families who believe the Westie is the right dog for them should reach out to a respected breeder, which may be listed at

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Cheers to You, Water!

As someone who likes to exercise and who does not drink alcohol, you could say I love me some water. I stay hydrated all day long and even more so when I’m going to be outdoors or on the treadmill. I really enjoy flavored water the most, but as long as it’s bottled, I’m a fan. Did you know there are many different kinds of water? Water is categorized by its origin, composition, consistency, and treatment.

The water that comes directly from your faucet is of course tap water. It may or may not be suited for drinking, though, as we learned from the Flint water crisis.

Spring water is underground water that has soaked through the earth’s surface. It pools and forms a spring. Spring water is generally considered safe to drink even though it hasn’t been subjected to treatment in a plant. Spring water is often confused with mineral water, but spring water is water from the earth’s surface whereas mineral water is tapped straight from underground.

Then there’s mineral water, which is tapped from underground, making it rich in minerals like manganese and calcium. I think it’s interesting that the minerals in the water have to be naturally occurring for it to have that name, but I find random stuff interesting. Mineral water cannot be treated water, either, but carbonated mineral water is fine. Who knew?

We’re all familiar with well water, right? Well- it’s water from a well. Like spring water, it’s absorbed into the earth when it rains and then it trickles down all the crevices big and small in the soil and forms lakes under the ground. It’s then brought up from these lakes using the bucket on a pulley system. The deeper the well has been dug, the more water it may be able to access and tap. In rural areas, well water is sometimes the primary source of the community’s water. This was the case for small communities right around the neighborhood I grew up in.

Purified water has been tapped into and brought up from below, but that has undergone purification treatment after that point in a plant. This is done in order to remove contaminants like bacteria and any remaining solids so that it becomes suitable for drinking..

Distilled water is a type of water that has been subjected to treatment called distillation to remove all minerals. The result is a completely pure form of water, though it is not usually suitable for drinking because we humans need the minerals and salt usually found in water. I did not know this for a very long time, and I remember buying distilled water in the past thinking it was just, well, drinking water.

Lastly, did you know that sparkling water is just water that has been carbonated? It can consist of any old type of water- spring, mineral, or purified, plus carbonation. So it may not be as fancy as I first thought, but some of my favorite water is flavored sparkling water. Try it!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Myths About Weight Training for Women

A Nashville, Tennessee, resident, Bianca Catherine Knight is a past community organizer for the Tennessee Disability Coalition who herself is legally blind, living with Leber’s hereditary optic neropathy (LHON). Through confidence and hard work, Bianca Catherine Knight has learned to thrive in spite of her diagnosis, and has enjoyed keeping active through regular workouts, which have included weight training.

Many women who begin an exercise routine often misunderstand the value of weight training, believing the following myths:

1. Weight training causes women to appear bulky. Arguably the most pervasive of all false myths about women and lifting weights is that the practice causes women to build too much muscle and leads to a large, bulky appearance. General weight training will not lead to the amount of muscle gain that most women imagine, as muscle gain of that magnitude requires a rigorous weight training schedule and diet plan.

2. Women should tone by using light weights and performing many repetitions. Using a very light set of dumbbells to complete a high number of repetitions is actually less likely to give a woman the toned appearance she wants, according to Fitness Magazine. Lean muscle mass is best created by using a heavier set of dumbbells and performing between 6 and 12 repetitions, depending on each woman’s goals.

3. Cardio has to be practiced before weight training for optimal weight loss. While cardio is an important part of weight loss and weight maintenance, a weight training regimen allows a woman to burn more baseline calories each day than cardio alone, even while her body is at rest.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

LHON - A Rare Disease of Blindness that Affects Young Persons

Bianca Catherine Knight has been a community organizer for persons who are disabled. Earning a JD from Belmont University in Tennessee, Bianca Catherine Knight was stricken with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON).

LHON causes vision loss in persons around 20 or 30 (more often males), usually leaving them legally blind. In LHON, the optic nerve atrophies. (The disease is named after its discoverer, German ophthalmologist Theodore Leber.)

The first sign is generally blurriness and cloudiness in the center of the visual field. The sharpness of vision and color perception significantly degrades over time, along with abilities such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces. An enlarging blind spot also appears.

Although the exact mechanism of action needs further research, LHON originates genetically in the DNA of the mitochondria. Mitochondria convert food energy into a form that feeds cells’ functions. 

LHON is inherited. It strikes both genders, but only females pass it on, even if they lack any symptoms. In a family where the gene problem is present, it is hard to tell which members will develop symptoms. Rarely, additional symptoms may develop, such as heart arrhythmias, tremors, movement disorders, and symptoms similar to muscular sclerosis. 

Diagnosis is challenging because many doctors lack familiarity with LHON. Good places to look for qualified specialists include advocacy groups, medical journal articles, and clinical trials. Other sources are university hospitals and other facilities that treat complex illnesses.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How About a Talking Coke Machine?

Sometimes it’s just the little things that make a huge difference between the sighted world and those of us with limited vision.  Take a Coca-Cola fountain dispenser for example.  Why on earth would it not occur to the folks at Coca-Cola that the interactive button-press selections on the “technologically advanced” dispensers that require a touch screen without any type of vocal audio will not work for people like me to make my choice of Diet Coke?  Hey, you guys at Coke, I cannot see to make a choice! I’m betting lots of people with visual maladies can’t either! I have Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. My optic nerves won’t transmit the images of your product choices from my eyes to my brain. Please, please make the machine talk!

I wrote to Coca-Cola to state my concern and in their stock reply they responded by calling me “mister”. I just don’t think they listen OR read.  Oh, well, guess I’ll have water.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King and My Sight Loss

Today, April 4, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination (and near the10th anniversary of my sight loss) and I felt it rather appropriate for Dr. King’s words to speak regarding my struggle; hope for justice, public disability awareness, and tolerance; and desire for equal rights for those like me.  While there is more work to be done in fulfilling his dream of racial equality, what a beautiful thing it is that his rallying cries and words of hope can be adopted today and every day to seek justice for the disparaged everywhere.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

“The ultimate measure of a man [or a woman—my addition!] is not where he [she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [she] stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“It all boils down to this:  that all life is interrelated.  We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

My thought?  Dr. King, all our destinies are made better by your 39 years on this earth.  Thank you.

#DrMartinLutherKing #blindness #LHON #LebersHereditaryOpticNeuropathy #disability

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Helen Keller and Spring

One of my uncles, who researches my dad’s family tree, recently told me of my kinship to Helen Keller.  Must say I was popping a few buttons over that knowledge!  Though stricken with both hearing and vision loss at nineteen months of age, she became one of the most inspirational women of the twentieth century through her lectures, books, and political activism. I can only hope my own vision loss yields a fraction of Helen Keller’s insight and ingenuity. And today, in the midst of March, on a gloriously warm sunshiny day that seems to melt away winter’s never-ending chill, I’m reminded of a quote by Helen Keller:

“I am thankful that in a troubled world no calamity can prevent the return of spring.”

I’m thankful, too, Helen, for spring and the promised beauty it always brings.

#HelenKeller #spring #LHON #lebershereditaryopticneuropathy