Saturday, December 24, 2011

Finished xmas tree

I forgot to put up a finished picture earlier, so here it is.  Total cost - $3 for the can of spray paint, $2 for the ribbon for the bow ornaments, $3 for the lights.  Not too bad for an $8 tree.  

I need to do some reading before classes start - I've got 6 Jefferson Bass books, a new Patricia Cornwell book, and a new Jeff Lindsay book that I haven't had time to get to during the semester.  I keep getting distracted by going down rabbit holes online, instead of just reading my books.  

A google search for the red cross hand crank radio I got as a birthday present from my brother lead me to a review on some survivalist forums, which I browsed around, which lead me to a bunch of links on homesteading, which lead to a bunch of really interesting recipe sites.  I just wasted two days not really getting anything done, but now I really want my own mini farm when I graduate.  

I think if I could get 3 heifers, a bunch of chickens, an aquaponics setup with tilapia and veggies, and a decent sized greenhouse, I could probably provide 70% of the items I'd buy from a grocery store.  I'd be able to guarantee that my animals were raised humanely, veggies wouldn't have to be trucked from all over the place, and I'd be good to go in the case of a zombie apocalypse.  Unless cows can be turned into zombies.  Then I'd probably be worse off.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Soo... I don't know how to feel about this.

Every now and then I look at the google search terms used to find my blog.  Today's search terms are awesome.

I'm sorry for the 11 people that were looking for information on llamas and ended up here.  But those of you who decided to google "kill it with fire," "brain bleach," and "llama paws," stick around.  You'll probably fit right in.  

And I was thinking about my Christmas tree post, and how it was probably unfair to Purina.  I'm sure Nestle Purina has some products that are better than their shipping boxes.  I was set to write a post about how if they really wanted us to push their products when we graduate, how they should also send us a monthly allotment of chocolate.  I then remembered that Cadbury got sold to a big corporation last year, and was going to make that suggestion, but no, Kraft bought Cadbury, not Nestle.  Then I decided to look up what Nestle products we could be bribed with, hoping they made some sort of European chocolate that doesn't taste like wax. Nope.  All I could find were things like Crunch bars, Butterfingers, and the abomination that is Raisinets.  Oh, and apparently allegations that their cocoa is harvested with slave labor.  So I totally retract my idea that they bribe us with their waxy slave chocolates.  

However, there was an amazing quote from the article above, which I think I will use if I ever have a client ask me why they should use Nestle Purina dog food over another brand.  "We said, 'Show us one documented case of a baby who has died because of NestlĂ©,'" says François-Xavier Perroud, head of media relations, who was hired to help deal with the crisis. "No one could come up with anything."

So use their dog food.  Because nobody can document that they've ever killed a baby.  

p.s.  Can I list that as a qualification on resumes in the future?  "Why should we hire you?" "Well, nobody has ever documented that a baby has died because of me."  "Hmm, good point.  You're hired."  

p.p.s.  Now I'm a little nervous about what google searches will accidentally find this post.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Because I'm broke and easily amused

Every month, we get a free bag of Purina food delivered to our house.  It's basically Purina's way of saying "I hope this free stuff will make you feel obligated towards our company, so once you graduate you'll recommend or prescribe our products."  Getting their food in the mail is my way of saying "This isn't going to work on me, but I have no problem jacking up your advertising budget."  It's sort of a parasitic (on both our halves) symbiosis.  Just like every other month, Purina sent me food this month. But I'll be they didn't know that this month, they also sent me a christmas tree.

Falling for that sort of advertising makes me feel like a corporate tool.  But here's a recommendation I can totally get behind, and recommend 100%.  Purina Shipping boxes make amazing ghetto trees.

Since technically dog food doesn't require a prescription, even though the food companies market their diets as "prescription only," I'm going to assume the same applies to the boxes it comes in.  So here's the official recommendation I'll make in 2 1/2 years, once I have prescriptive authority.

See, their practice of sending free products to students will totally pay off!  

P.S.  I'm going to spray paint and decorate the tree tomorrow.  I don't want my xmas tree to be that ghetto.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

One more final to go

One last final exam tomorrow morning - molecular and cellular bio.  Last week, when I was talking about how nice it is that our finals are so spread out and laid back?  Now I'm running into the downside of that.  I'm burned out, and it's 6pm, and all I've managed to do so far is open up a bunch of course documents, while surfing online. Not that I've read any of them, but I have 30 tabs open to make me feel like I'm actually doing something.  To make things worse, I looked at my grade in the class, and determined that I can completely bomb the test and still pass.  Knowing I can get away with a 40% is not helping my motivation at all.  Must.  Study.  Molecular.  Mechanisms.  Zzzzzz.

Somebody posted this on facebook, and it has me cracking up right now.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The finals fog is starting to clear

Last block, for midterms we had 7 tests crammed into one week.  For finals this time around, we've got 6 tests spread out over a week and a half.  (Tuesday-Friday of this week, then Monday and Tuesday of next week.)  I must say, it's so much more laid back and relaxed this way.

So far this week, I've taken the first VBS exam (140 multiple choice questions over the first 4 cases of the block), the practical exam (histology, anatomy radiology, toxicology, pathology and parasitology), vet issues (our law/ethics class,) and clinical skills. The first two I'm not feeling so great about, but the last two I'm not at all worried about.  However, the day of the practical, I was getting really annoyed, because I kept blanking random words - related to the test and completely unrelated to school.  For instance, blanking the word "clove" in regards to garlic, and deciding that "lobule" was a good substitute.  Sometimes I get paranoid and am convinced there's a subconscious part of my brain that gets a sick pleasure from randomly purging bits of data.

Anyway, two left - the second VBS test, which covers the last 4 cases of the block, and molecular and cellular bio.  I'll be huddled up all weekend reviewing male and female repro.  Two more days of tests, and I'm done for the semester.  I'm sure my pets are getting sick of getting neglected during exam week.

Oh, I also found out why the ACT exam we took at midterms took so long to get graded.  Apparently, out of the entire staff, only two people were grading them.  I feel really bad for the two faculty members that had to plow through 200 of those.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I am easily amused.

According to my pathology book, there is a disease of sheep foreskin called "pizzle rot."  I can't stop giggling at the name.  Because apparently, deep down, I'm 12.

I had a rather interesting lab in school today - we had to do an equine rectal exam on a model, which was basically a horse butt on one end, and realistic rubber organs on the other side.  We had to talk our professor through a rectal exam from start to finish, as we were doing it - having never done one before.  After we did the exam, we could go on the other side of the horse, and watch the next person.  After doing it blind, it was really cool to be on the other side.  Here's a similar one I found online.  

For our clinical skills class, our professor decided to do something fun, and bought us build-a-bears to practice suturing on.  Then she turned it into a competition that will be judged tomorrow over who can decorate their bear the best.  I spent the afternoon making internal organs for my group's bear.  I tried to take pictures, but it's really hard to see.  It was a fun way to de-stress and waste 2 hours.  

The video below has been circulating on facebook for the past week or so. Haha, it's just a funny way to promote spay and neuter, right?  Here's a thought process... try re-watching the video, only instead of when she says "balls" or "testicles," replace it in your head with "labia," and pretend it's a guy instead of a supermodel talking. (Ok, I know that replacement doesn't exactly work, but since our gonads are internal, I'm just choosing an external piece of female anatomy at random.)  That video's suddenly not so funny, is it?  It's an interesting double standard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A bunch of random stuff

We had our last "official" PBL session of the semester today.  I swear, vet school is like some crazy time machine - it does not seem like the end of the block.  Each block since the beginning of school has seemed progressively faster than the one preceding it.  I only have 2 1/2 years to go, and at this rate, it will feel like nothing.  

This block's group was one of my absolute favorites, and I'm kind of bummed we have to change in January.  The little chunk of time before you find out who is in your new group is always the worst.  You look at who you've been in a group with already, and who you could still be in a group with, and keep your fingers crossed the entire time you're in suspense that you don't get stuck with certain people who rub you the wrong way.  Yes, I'm sure there are people who have their fingers crossed that they're not stuck with me.  

Since it was the last day of PBL, our facilitator gave us all these paper pop up snow globes.  She even "customized" the animals featured in each snow globe to what each person in the group was into.  I left all my Christmas decorations in Colorado, so the little snowglobe is my Christmas decoration.  I love it.  

I was talking to my med school neighbors earlier today.  They were talking about how excited they are for getting to get out of Southern California next year, and how terrible SoCal is.  It's been a year and a half here, and the one thing I cannot get over about this place are the advertisements for plastic surgery.  It's not that I can't believe how common it is.  It's that I cannot believe that somebody would choose a surgeon based off of a billboard or catchy jingle.  The advertising must work, because it's everywhere, but really?  Picking somebody to do an invasive surgery off of their ad copy?  Apparently agrees with me.  

Tomorrow, I have an equine rectal palpation lab.  We're expected to be able to talk about how we would safely sedate and handle a horse for a rectal palpation, then walk through how to do it on a teaching model.  It's a pass/fail thing, which would be fine - if we'd ever been able to practice it before.  Everybody I talk to who's already done the lab has said it was really laid back and fun, but I'll let my guard down once it's over.  

Oh, and Tyler's sick.  Of course he is - he's been working his butt off long hours in a crowded Guitar Center full of the general public and their germs.  I'm trying to stay as far away from my vector-husband for the time being so I don't end up sick for finals.  I'm so caring.  "Here's a cup of tea and some cough drops.  Let me know if you need anything else, but stay on that side of the room."  

Monday, November 28, 2011

What is a reasonable time frame to wait for a test to be graded?

Well, we're on week 8, the last week before finals.  Which means it's been 8 weeks since mid-terms.  Which means our entire class has been waiting two months for our ACT exams to be graded.  It's a little bit unsettling going into finals not knowing where you stand, especially on a test that's worth 20% of your semester grade.

And I've really tried to be understanding.  The faculty decided this year to have both the first and second years take the ACT during midterms, to avoid last year's disaster of not getting our grades back until the first week of February. Last year, the people who had failed first semester didn't find out until a month into second semester.

Anyway, so that means that they've had to grade 200 tests, each about 8 pages long.  I get it.  That's a massive amount of grading.  I've been whining to my husband and my parents for the past month about not having a grade, and my patience is really starting to wear thin.  Partially because the 1st years got their ACT grades a week and a half ago.  So we had to wait until February last year, and this year, even though ours were originally supposed to be taken during midterms, we still have to wait even longer for our grades?  It seems to me that it would be more fair to not make our class wait freakishly long two years in a row.

Even worse is that faculty keeps telling us that finding out our grades shouldn't affect how we study for finals.  Personally, it doesn't really affect how I study, but for some people it might.  A blanket platitude may not apply to the entire class.  Think about it - you have a class of 100 people who are used to being good students and obsessed about their grades - that's how they qualified to get here in the first place.  Telling them to not worry about something isn't going to work, because that goes against the personality type that admissions selects for.

And while it doesn't effect my study habits, it does give me an unknown to stress over.  I've had a blank spot in my excel spreadsheet of my grades that's just sitting there mocking me.  I can fill it in with hypothetical values, so I can get rough numbers of the percentages I need to get on finals to get X grade, but when it affects 20% of my overall grade, the numbers are barely more than wild-ass guesses.    

Or another way to think about how irritating the 2 month wait is, is in dollars.  Tuition is 22k a semester here. The class that had the ACT exam is 16 credit hours out of 22 credit hours.  That means that class costs 16k. That basically means the test that's worth 20% of our overall grade is worth $3200 in tuition per person.  Multiply that by 95 classmates, and that's $300,000 going towards our class's ACT exam.  And yes, I know it's disingenuous to assign test grades a monetary value like that, but when you're putting yourself in debt up to your eyeballs, you expect to get value for your dollar, or feel like you're getting what you're paying for.

Or here's another way to think about why waiting 2 months is so annoying.  8 weeks = 56 days, or 40 days if you don't count weekends.  If they're grading both classes, that would mean they should grade a minimum of 5 tests per day, or if we're only looking at our class's tests, 2.3 per day.  I don't really feel like that's a reasonable pace.  In undergrad, professors taught multiple classes of 100 students, and managed to get grades back quickly.

And then telling us a week and a half ago that we'd get them back "just after thanksgiving break" isn't true, when JUST after thanksgiving break is Monday, which is today, and there are no grades.  Telling us today that we "should" have them by Wednesday doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, when we "should" have had them back weeks ago.

Can you tell it's the week before finals, and I'm stressed and I'm grumpy?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Long weekend

I had a wonderful thanksgiving yesterday.  I cooked a big feast for myself and Tyler, so we're probably going to live off of nothing but turkey leftovers until finals are over.  Even though I spent most of Wednesday after class, and Thursday morning cooking, having thanksgiving with only the two of us is so much nicer than the usual guilt trips, manipulation, and awful conversation that comes along with visiting extended family.  Now, that's not from my side of the family - it's pretty much all from my crazy mother-in-law.  Basically, the formula for a great holiday is doing absolutely anything that doesn't include her.  I know that sounds like a terrible way to speak of somebody, but if you met her, you'd understand immediately.

One of the great things about Tyler is how he turns everything into a joke.  After dinner, the two of us were ripping up the turkey carcass and putting all the meat in tupperware containers.  He'd pull off a piece and say "What's this?  Is it food?" before putting it with the leftovers or trash.

So he grabs this branched piece and holds it up.
Tyler:  "What the hell is this?"
Me: "Umm, that kind of looks like the aortic arch."
Tyler: "So it's food?"
Me: "Eww, no!"
Tyler: "So you're saying you don't want to eat it?"
Me (gagging): "Please throw that away."
Tyler shoves the aortic arch in his mouth and starts chewing on it with his mouth open. "mmm.  rubbery."  He then pulls it out of his mouth and holds it at me.  "Want some?"
And that is how I almost threw up on a turkey carcass yesterday.

I still have 3 more days of my long weekend.  Our last 3 cases have been female repro cases, so I figured since I have some time, that I would read the entire "Pathways to Pregnancy and Parturition" textbook.  About 3 chapters in, my attention span has gone on the fritz.  Hopefully it will come back sometime soon so I can finish the other 12 chapters.

Friday, November 18, 2011

About that spay study I mentioned yesterday

I got a little bit more information about the study I signed up for.  I found out today that there will be the two groups - an open spay group, and a laporascopic spay group.  The open spay group will be taught to do an OVE (spay removing just the ovaries, instead of the more "traditional" american way of removing the ovaries and uterus,) and the other group will do a laporascopic OVE.  If we're randomized into the open spay group, but still want to learn the laporascopic technique, the professor doing the study promised to teach that group laporascopic technique once the study's over.  If all goes well, by the time we're in 4th year, the school should be offering a laporascopic surgery rotation.  How cool is that?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spay Goodness

Awhile ago, I signed up for this study that's being done by one of our professors.  The study's looking at the feasibility of teaching 2nd year students to do laparoscopic spays vs. the traditional abdominal incision spays.  I just got an email this morning saying I'd been selected to participate in the study.  I don't yet know what group I'll be assigned to, but I should find out soon.  I'm happy with either.  If I get to learn laparoscopic techniques, that will be really exciting, but if I'm assigned into the "normal" spay group, it will be nice to get additional training in that as well.

I also had my VACS rotation this afternoon.  I got to scrub in on a spay, assist, and do parts of the procedure.  Next block, I'll get to do even more.  Last night, I was rather terrified about it.  I spent the whole time from when I got home from school to just before I went to sleep studying the surgical procedures over and over.  When I got to VACS, instead of being terrifying, the way Dr. Bossong walked you through everything, it was a confidence building experience.  I'm excited for next time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I've been debating whether or not to post about this

In the Nov. 1st issue of JAVMA, there was a pretty scathing letter written by Dr. Robert Marshak about how WesternU, Ross, and UNAM don't deserve to be accredited.  For reference, the AVMA's accreditation requirements can be found here. 

Basically, his argument comes down to a couple poorly supported points, which I'll point out below.  However, I've spent enough time on the internet to know that the #1 rule is YOU DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. And I kind of feel like I'm breaking that rule by even giving his letter the time of day.    

He doesn't think that a college that solely concentrates on health sciences counts as an "institution of higher learning," according to a definition that he says " generally accepted that an institution of higher learning is a community of scholars with many branches of advanced learning, including the foundational sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology), the humanities, and the arts."

Now, an institution of higher learning has a pretty strict legal definition that can be found here.  According to that definition, DeVry is an institution of higher learning.  Pima is an institute of higher learning.  Pretty much any college or vocational program that grants degrees is, not just the standard public or private universities that you typically picture when you think of a college.  The legal definition for that is pretty low - I mean, red-flag schools that advertise on late-night cable meet the legal definition.  But Dr. Marshak made up his own definition, then decided that WesternU didn't meet it.  In constructing arguments, is there a logical fallacy name for blatantly making shit up?  It's the same kind of dishonest arguments creationists use when they whine "but evolution's just a theory!"

His next problem with Western's vet program is that we don't have an on-campus teaching hospital.  However, the accreditation standards say a school must have "[a]n accredited college must maintain an on-campus veterinary teaching hospital(s), or have formal affiliation with one or more off-campus veterinary hospitals used for teaching."  I really do understand the concern that we don't have an official teaching hospital. However, as wonderful as it would be to have top of the line technology at your fingertips, I don't necessarily think that the teaching hospital model is superior.  What good is learning to diagnose with full access to MRIs and computed tomography, when in real life day-to-day practice, your clients won't be able to afford that standard of care?  We do rotate through specialty practices that have all the bells and whistles, so we'll have exposure to it, but we're exposed to real world veterinary medicine with its peaks and pitfalls.  He may see it as a downfall.  It's one of the main reasons I chose to go here instead of the other veterinary school I was accepted to with its shiny updated teaching hospital.  I don't want to be crippled by relying on diagnostic tools that I won't have access to 99.9% of the time.  

One of Dr. Marshak's other problems is our on-campus Banfield.  Yes, we do have a Banfield on campus.  No, I'm not crazy about the idea of mixing corporations with education.  However, from my rotations there, there are only two things about the clinic that scream "corporate medicine!"  One is the sign on the outside of the building.  The second is Banfield's charting and practice management software.  Contrary to popular belief, the software does not dictate treatment.  The veterinarians on staff do, just as any other veterinarian decides a treatment plan.  We use it only for the medical charting. I have my own beefs with the software. Mainly, the fact that I like to imagine the code was written by troglodytes who haven't touched a computer since they owned a Commodore 64, and don't know logical keyboard shortcuts, or the concept of user-friendliness.  I spend a total of 8 hours a semester there, and third year will spend a few weeks there.  I'm not being indoctrinated into the cult of corporate medicine.  If anything, it's teaching me why I will never work at a Banfield, so I don't get desperate and make that mistake once I graduate.  

He then complains that "as far as he is aware," we don't have PhD, masters or residency programs that tie into the vet school.  Now, we may not have as many as other schools, but we do have a partnership with the University of Minnesota for a masters of public health degree, and WesternU offers masters in biomedical sciences and pharmaceutical sciences.  As far as residencies, I only know of one veterinarian who is working on her radiology residency here, but as somebody who keeps their head down and doesn't know what's going on around me half the time, just because I'm only aware of one person, doesn't mean there aren't more hiding where I don't see them (and it doesn't mean that there are others.)  Unlike Dr. Marshak, I don't just get to say "as far as I'm aware," then make shit up instead of looking it up.  Or maybe I should, this could be a fun game.  "As far as I'm aware, Dr. Marshak doesn't NOT have a tail."  Yeah, not the soundest argument.  I think I learned that you can't plead ignorance as a debate tool when I was in middle school.  

Dr. Marshak's next argument is the obligatory jab at our problem based learning curriculum, based off of an appeal to tradition.  Or as he puts it, "I question that such heavy emphasis on the problem-based learning method can provide, in a discipline-based, orderly, and concise manner, the solid foundation that students need when they enter clinical training."  Basically, the "Hey you young whippersnappers, get offa my lawn" argument.  I get it.  It's new.  It's scary.  It's why I came here.  Yes, there are days when I would kill just to be told what I'm expected to know, and be spoonfed a lecture on certain topics.  But those days are few and far between.  I'm sure if I were at KSU instead, I'd be struggling to stay awake during lectures, and tempted to skip class and catch up on my own.  There's no one solution for everybody.  Different strategies work for different people, and if you haven't experienced it, it's hard to understand it.  

When WesternU was brand-spankin' new, our NAVLE (national board) scores were looked at under a microscope.  The first class had a pass rate of 86%.  The next two to graduate had a pass rate of 93%.  Last year's class had a rate of 97%.  Dr. Marshak begs the question, and has decided that since there's such high pass rates, that obviously the test must be too easy, and isn't a good representation of the education we get here.  It's been considered adequate for years upon years - until we do well at it.  Then it's suddenly a bad measure of competency.  I don't know if I can roll my eyes hard enough.  

Dr. Marshak then goes on to make some common sense arguments for transparency and accountability in the process of accrediting vet schools.  Which would have been a fine couple of paragraphs on their own, that don't necessarily relate to his massive bashing of a few select schools that preceded it.  

He then concludes his letter with a "sky is falling," xenophobic, bleak view of the future of the profession, and ends with a slippery slope argument that somehow we're paving the way for the profession to go to hell in a handbasket.  

Ok, I get it.  New ways of doing things scare Dr. Marshak.  Hell, he's from the University of Pennsylvania, where I hear from SDN that they still teach their first years in a (poorly climate controlled) brick room that was around when the school opened 100 years ago.  Change scares him.  But the veterinary world is not static, thank god, or else we'd still be in the dark ages, instead of close on the heels of the best human medicine.  WesternU's an experiment in progress.  Will this school get everything perfect, all the time?  Hell no, it's run by fallible humans.  But I can sure as hell guarantee that every single school in this country has its flaws, along with their strengths.  Our vet program has only had 4 graduating classes to date.  It will take years for enough of us to get out into practice, and prove ourselves.  But by then, it might be too late for old curmudgeons to realize that they've been left in the dust.   

I probably shouldn't have even acknowledged that letter.  I don't think it deserved the 30 minutes it took to type that response.  But at least 1500 people read this blog every month.  Some of those might be veterinarians, or students at other schools with access to the original JAVMA article, who might want to get a glimpse into the faults of Dr. Marshak's arguments.  And now 1500 people can realize that sometimes I can't resist feeding the trolls.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Random stuff

Remember me complaining about my next door neighbors, and their propensity to shake my house with 100 decibel mariachi music?  I swear, they must have earned me some "good neighbor" karma, because my neighbors on the other side of me are awesome.

They're 2nd year DO students.  They're quiet.  They have super-sweet puppies that I get to love on.  We exchange cookies.  And best of all?  They yelled at the bad neighbors on the other side of me over the weekend, and they haven't blared music since. (Which I'm sure is only a temporary reprieve, but I'll take what I can get.)

Anyway, their level of awesomeness is pretty proportional to the other neighbor's shittiness.  I'll be sad when their rotations start next year, and they move away.

Our case this week is a reproduction case with a clouded leopard.  One of the issues brought up in the case was stress, and how it affects repro.  Anyway, I was reading about the adrenal glands, and reviewing Cushing's and Addison's diseases, when it kind of clicked for me.  I wonder what the signs of Cushings are in humans?  So I ended up looking that up, and it pretty much exactly matches one of my good friends back home - the potbelly with skinny legs, the moon face, dry hands, skin tags, acne, stretch marks, and diabetes.  So I sent him a quick email basically saying "not to butt in, but maybe you should read this and mention it to your doctor." Anyway, it kind of got me thinking about where exactly that line is that should not be crossed into human medicine.  Is saying what I did to a close friend about mentioning something specific to their doctor crossing a line?

And because we have a clouded leopard case this week, I need to promote an awesome website.  Zooborns is a blog that posts pictures of newborn animals from zoos all over the world.  If you need some "aww" injected into your day, that's the place to do it.  (Pic below of a clouded leopard cub at the Point Defiance Zoo.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Izzy update

It's been 4 days since Izmere's surgery.  The difference between how she was acting last week, and how she's acting this week is astonishing.  Last week, she was only getting up when she had to, she was depressed, she stopped eating, and she was hurting.  This week, she's wagging her little tail nubbin again, she's giving kisses, and she keeps trying to run and play, and I ended up having to lock Skwisgaar up in a different room so she would stop play-bowing at him.

One of the strange things about her the past few weeks has been her attitude towards me.  She's always preferred Tyler over me, and I'm pretty convinced the only reason she tolerates me is because she knows she'll get in trouble for trying to pull the whole alpha bitch thing again.  Anyway, she's been sick, and guess who she's been demanding cuddles from?  I'm a little skeptical of her being so nice to me.  When she starts feeling better, is she going to go back to trying to wedge herself between me and Tyler when we're watching TV, then trying to kick me off the couch? Even if it is a transient niceness, I'll take it while I can get it.

Today in our Molecular and Cellular Biology class, our group had to give a presentation on how VEGF interacts with angiogenesis in portosystemic shunt surgeries.  I hate how no matter how much I practice the night and morning before a presentation, I get in front of a group, and my mind blanks, and I feel like I sound like an idiot.  At least it's over for this block, and I'll only have to do 2 more MCB presentations this year.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

My poor baby girl

So Izzy had surgery today.  First, I have to say how abso-fucking-lutely amazing Dr. Bossong is.  He worked through his lunch break to do the cystotomy.  If I can be half the vet he is when I graduate, I'll be lucky.  I watched all but the last few minutes through the windows of the surgery suite.  If I didn't have to run to PBL, I would have stayed for all of it.  First, I have never seen a bladder that red and angry before.  I've only watched 3 or 4 other cystotomies, but the bladders on those were still pretty much normal pink.  Izzy's was bright red, and thick.  At first, Dr. Bossong couldn't find any of the stones, but when they flushed the urethra, they found that they had all pretty much settled in there (I cannot imagine how badly that hurt). Here's a small amount of what was taken out of her (the rest either went down the drain, or were sent to the lab.)

Anyway, Izzy's drugged up like crazy right now, and even though she just had abdominal surgery, she seems more comfortable tonight than she has since this all started on Wednesday.
Out of our two dogs, Izzy's Tyler's spoiled baby girl, and Skwissgaar's my spoiled boy.  I was worried about Skwissgaar annoying the heck out of Izmere, but I think he realizes something's going on.  For once in his life, he's actually being calm, and not pestering the poor girl.  He's been hanging out in his crate, and letting me hang out next to Izmere without getting jealous of the attention he's not getting.

Anyway, I need to get started studying for this week before the trick-or-treaters start ringing my doorbell every 5 minutes.  Our case this week is a runty mini schnauzer.  I'm relieved that we seem to be off of this whole cow GI kick we've had going the past 2 weeks.  On to the liver! (I think.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poor Izzy

So Izmere's been a pain in the butt this weekend.  Last night, she managed to get out of her e-collar, chew through her ridiculous getup, and chew out her catheter, while unsupervised for maybe 20 minutes. I swear, she was just waiting for the first opportunity she wasn't being watched like a hawk.

Since she was still dribbling some pee, and didn't seem to be completely blocked, we elected to just take a "wait and watch" strategy, instead of having another catheter placed.  So today, she was lying on the couch, and started breathing heavily.  I walked over to check on her, and I swear, I heard a cartoonish "pop" noise.  All of a sudden, an entire bladder full of urine starts pouring out (luckily my couch cushion covers are removable.) After getting her outside, I went to clean up the accident, and found this.

I cannot imagine how badly it would have to hurt to pass something like that, but I feel so bad for my baby girl.  At least now she's sleeping, and acting more comfortable.  Less than 24 hours until surgery, and we can hopefully get this behind us.

I've spent all week worrying about her, taking her to vets, and I haven't gotten a whole lot of studying done.  I'm frantically trying to catch up on this week's case today, so I can start tomorrow's case with a clean slate.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Have I mentioned how amazing everybody here is?

So last night, Izmere blocked again last night.  Tyler took her to the e-clinic that we've been to before all of this started happening with Izzy and the bladder stones, and they had to put in a catheter yet again, and take another set of radiographs.  Luckily, the vet there was yet another Western U grad, and they didn't charge for the radiographs, and they gave Tyler their "professional discount," so it only ended up costing about $80. Without that bit of help, the bill would have been $275.

I went back into Banfield today to let them know what was going on, and Dr. Togneri placed a more permanent catheter to get us through the weekend, and Dr. Bossong agreed to do the surgery for me, knowing I can't pay for it.  The willingness of everybody I've talked to this past week to give us a bit of a break when we really need it, and help our dog has been pretty overwhelming.  I'm so lucky to have so many amazing people on faculty, and I definitely am going to pay forward as much of that good karma as I can, when I can.

Izzy's doing pretty good right now.  Her nose is a bit too long for her e-collar, and she looked like she wanted to lick the catheter, so I tried putting shorts on her.  She promptly wiggled out of them.  So I tried putting undies on her, and she wriggled out of those.  So I put a t-shirt on her, and rubber-banded the undies to those.  She hasn't gotten around that system yet, but she sure is giving me dirty looks about it.


(And yes, I know her e-collar is wonky.  I was in a hurry putting it together so I wouldn't be late to class, and made it "inside out."  It's been fixed since that picture was taken.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I am so exhausted.

Last night, my lovely dog decided to get a urinary blockage. Of course, our dogs never manage to get sick during the day, they always wait until around midnight.  After waiting about an hour, we decided to take her into the ER.  The first ER told us they were about to do an emergency surgery, and steered us towards another one in Upland.  The ER vet in Upland didn't feel comfortable un-blocking her (and was not the most pleasant vet I've come across, so I really didn't mind going elsewhere), so sent us to their other location in El Monte, about 25 minutes away.  So around 2 am, we finally got her seen, and unblocked.  We lucked out, since it happened to be a clinic that a classmate worked at before coming to school, and the vet was a 2007 Western grad. He treated Izzy for free, under the condition that I "gave my classmate a hard time."  Finally got home at 4:30, got to sleep around 5:30, and my alarm went off for class at 7.  I then dropped Izzy off at Banfield for a urinanalysis, and I'm going to try to manage her bladder stones medically, but she's probably going to need a cystotomy at some point.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can put it off until January, since I am flat broke, out of funds, and relying on my parents to help pay my bills until the next disbursement of student loans.  I managed to take a 1 1/2 hour nap after class, but I'm running on fumes, trying to get a bunch of studying done before tomorrow.  It's not quite as productive as I had hoped.

I'm tired, and stressed about money, and I just want this week to be over.

Speaking of money, surprisingly, that is probably the most stressful aspect of vet school.  We moved into the cheapest house we could find that would let us have our dobermans, which costs almost twice what our house in Colorado did, and it's a much worse value. At least my old house was in a good neighborhood, unlike my Pomona ghetto neighborhood here where I get to see homeless people sleeping in the park across the street, and hear hookers yelling at their johns.  When I budgeted what we could afford before we moved, I made the mistake of thinking I would cover half, and my husband would cover half of our bills.  It has not turned out that way at all.  He's only managed to find a low paying job that gives him around 35 hours per week, and barely covers gas and his own bills, with next to nothing left towards shared bills.  So around halfway through each semester, I find myself flat broke, and mooching off my parents' generosity, and it stresses me out like no other to have to ask them to pay my rent, when I should be a self-sufficient adult by now.  The resentment tends to build up towards my husband for not carrying his own weight, and I just get overwhelmed.  And then on top of all of that, I have to figure out how to get my dog surgery.  This is the 3rd ER visit with one of our dogs since moving here, and it seems like they're just financial time bombs.  They're already the reason why we have to live in a more expensive house, instead of a studio apartment.  Stupid cute, furry money pits.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I had a pretty amazing revelation this week.

A couple weeks ago, before midterms, I was threatening to drop out of school and run away with the circus.  Not because I have anything against school, it's just that tests were looming, and it seemed like a good idea.

I've had this idea floating around in the back of my head for years.  Once or twice a year, I look up Coney Island's sideshow school and wish that I could afford blowing $800 to learn to swallow swords and breath fire.  I've got a mild obsession with the Jim Rose Circus and Cirque Berzerk.  10 years ago, my biggest heroes were Erik Sprague and the Enigma.

Anyway.  Over the weekend, I was looking for summer internships.  I found a Ringling Brother's internship, that unfortunately, I cannot do, since it starts in February.  But for some reason, looking into the circus never occurred to me.  I figured if I wanted to work with exotics, my choices were private practice on exotic pets (most likely), working at a zoo (less likely, and I could never afford to pay off my student loans with a zoo vet salary), or finding a conservation/wildlife organization to work with (once again, probably doesn't pay well enough to handle 200k in student loans.)  I don't know why I never considered running away with the circus and being a vet at the same time.  Hmm.

Anyway, in school, we've got a cow case this week.  Similar to last week's case, but this one's an adult, compared to last week's calf case.  We don't have near enough information for me to even narrow down my list of what the cow has, so I guess in the meantime, I can finish making my study guide for rumen anatomy and physiology.

I also have a Hill's rotation tomorrow.  I made sure to wash and iron my white coat for tomorrow, but I'm noticing it looks kind of dingy.  Now I'm torn.  Do I bleach it again, and turn the embroidery that was once black an even weirder shade of brown, or do I just let it not be quite perfectly white?  I completely understand the rational behind the white coat - studies show that people unconsciously respect doctors wearing them more than other outfits.  The school needs a "uniform" to easily delineate students.  But it's white.  We work with animals.  Every time I wear it, it gets muddy paw prints, or blood or feces on it (no kidding, I actually had a chihuahua I was holding poop IN THE POCKET once.)  Maybe they should make our white coats out of some sort of awesome 70's shiny polyester so nothing stains, and we don't need to worry about bleaching out the apparently non-color-fast embroidery.  I don't think there's really a good solution to the problem.

Later in the week, we have some Halloween stuff going on at school.  Friday is the Spayghetti Dinner, a dinner with performances, costume contests, and a silent auction to raise money for local shelters. We also have a contest to decorate our PBL rooms for Halloween.  Last year, I was too stressed out to really think about doing either thing, but this year I'm pretty excited about both.  I've been searching through my house for decorations, and kicking myself for giving away so many boxes of Halloween stuff when I moved out here.  I'm also looking around at the stuff I do have, and I'm kind of paranoid about bringing it to school.  I pretty much kept my most valuable stuff, and I don't know how safe it is in our PBL rooms, and how much I trust the housekeeping staff.  Even if I leave the most awesome stuff at home, I think if I disassemble my living room decorations, I've got enough stuff to totally win a Halloween decorating contest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Awesome therio lab today

We had a clinical skills lab scheduled for today that said nothing but "bovine therio" on the calendar.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  Last year, when we had a therio lab, we basically palpated a cow uterus through a curtain, and tried to find the ovaries, and practiced AI techniques.  I thought this might be similar.  

This time, we had a bunch of stillborn calves from a local dairy, and they were in model cows (basically a wooden frame with a plastic uterus and vagina.)  They had us practice palpating to find the position of the calves, then we had to place chains around their legs, so we could safely "deliver" them.  We also had fetotomy tools that we could practice using, in case you had a cow that couldn't deliver a dead calf.  It was disgusting and fascinating at the same time.  

It makes me look forward to when I graduate, and can afford some land, and can get some cattle of my own.  Still not interested enough by the cow stuff to consider food animal practice, but I do want my own herd.  And a goat.  And chickens.  And a large aquaponics greenhouse.  A girl can dream, can't she?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Those are cute shoes. I wonder why I never wear them?

I wish I had answered that question before the day started.  I grabbed this forgotten pair of mossimo ballet flats out of my closet this morning and threw them on.  I then drove to class, and realized that all the parking lots were full, except the one 4 blocks away.  Walking to class quickly answered my question from earlier in the morning.  I don't wear these shoes because they're evil, not broken in, and completely lacerated the backs of my heels. 

I enrolled in this business certificate program through the VBMA, which has a bunch of required lunch talks.  Today's talk was supposed to be about personality differences in the workplace.  It ended up being a 30 minute talk about Meyers Briggs personality types, and then another 20 minute digression into why the speaker's husband's personality traits infuriate her.  Awkward.  Not sure what exactly that had to do with business skills.  :)  

After lunch, I limped up to PBL, where we found out that our case is a calf with diarrhea.  So after I'm done procrastinating on here, I need to start looking into rumen anatomy and physiology, a bunch of microbiology, and fluids and acid/base balance stuff.  I know it's only the 2nd week of this block, but I'm way more in love with the internal medicine cases than the musculoskeletal cases.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New block started today!

Oof, long day.  Anatomy at 8.  Review test scores from 2 of last week's tests (the rest of the scores will slowly dribble in over the next few weeks.)  Meet Sarah for lunch before she moves back to New Hampshire on Thursday.  Palpate cows for pregnancy (eee!  I actually could feel membrane slip and amniotic vesicles!)  After palpating cows, completely forget all answers to questions we're asked about the estrous cycle (since it's been almost a year since I studied it.)  Get stuck in traffic on the way home.  Get a text from Sarah that her landlord isn't letting her keep her apartment while she's gone, and she now has about 36 hours to pack.  Help her pack.  Haul a carload of boxes full of textbooks back to my house for storage.  Sit down to study for this week's case, and realize that I'm too tired to even pay attention to what I'm reading.  Post on blog instead of doing anything useful.

Friday, October 7, 2011

And.... DONE. Hello, 3 day weekend!

I am so glad this week is over.  Nothing like 7 tests in 5 days to make you wonder if you actually retained anything you learned.  And nothing like leaving a test, double checking your answers, and realizing that you just mixed two disease processes into one.  (I'm looking at you, ACT.)  At least I have 8 more weeks before I have to go through that again. 

I've got 3 days, no studying.  I'm going to actually get my house clean, because it's a complete wreck right now.  Tyler and my anniversary was last saturday, but I kind of blew it off, so I'll try to do something fun to make up for it.  Plus, I should be able to watch 2 episodes of Dexter this weekend, and the season finale of Breaking Bad.  Whee!  (Ok, I realize I have no life.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

5 down, 2 to go.

And tomorrow cannot end soon enough.  I've got the worst tests out of the way, and I've already gotten a grade back on my molecular and cellular test (which I felt like I bombed, but I got my highest score ever on - there must have been a wicked curve, because I don't feel like I did that well.)  Tomorrow are two of the easiest tests of the week - clinical skills, where we do stuff like suture, put halters on animatronic horses, calculate drug dosages - all the relatively simple stuff that should theoretically be a breeze.  My brain is fried from this week, and for some reason, my hands always start shaking during that test, so things that I do well when I don't have somebody looking over my shoulder looking for ways to dock points go to shit. Try using surgical tools to put a nut on a bolt when your hands are shaking.  No bueno.   

My "studying" for that test is not going well so far.  We had some models available in the banfield to practice orthopedic maneuvers, that I was going to practice on this afternoon - apparently they took them away yesterday, so I get to go to the test without being able to practice them.  I tried practicing on the dogs, but they're only so patient for so long, and after a full orthopedic exam, and eye exam, Izzy tried to bite my face off when I went to use the otoscope on her ears.)  If I had known the models would be gone, I would've taken an hour out of studying for today's test to go do it yesterday.  Whatever, it is what it is.  

After clinical skills, we have the ACT - it's my favorite test, since instead of filling in bubbles for a couple hours, you actually get to write what you know, and use problem solving instead of just regurgitating information.  The best part about the ACT?  After I finish writing it, I have a three day weekend ahead of me!  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dear Brain

Hey you, yeah, you squishy useless lump of grey stuff in my skull.  I don't know what is up with you this week, but blanking the names of things that you knew weeks ago, and definitely knew last night when I reviewed is not cool.  Also, pulling up random songs from my childhood that I haven't heard in over 20 years, and I didn't even know I knew the lyrics to until you got them stuck in my head is just wrong.  Did you use that to overwrite the data I need to use on my tests?  Shape up, brain, or I will start holding your non-functioning neurons hostage with a lobotomy pick.

The rest of the body.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Commence the fetal position

Midterms start tomorrow.  Amazing how yesterday, when I was reviewing, everything was serene, and I felt like I knew what I was doing.  Today, the opposite is true.  There's so many more things I need to review!  My pets are sensing that I'm stressed, so they're being extra clingy, then when they're pushed away, they decide that they just need to be more pushy and try even harder.  Aargh. 

I don't know if I updated on here or not, but my friend who was hospitalized is out and doing well.  The school's having her drop down into the class of 2015, and re-start her 2nd year, since she missed so much class.  I'm pretty bummed out about not having my best friend in my class with me anymore, but here's how awesome she is - yesterday, she thought I'd need a study break, and took me to get burgers. She told me today that even though she missed the last 4 cases, she'd do everything she could to quiz me and help me study.  She's such a badass, I'm going to miss having her around so much. 

About 5 years ago, I was considering going to dental school, instead of vet school.  When I was talking to my dentist about it, he said something along the lines of "You have to be a sadomasochist to go to dental school.  A sadist to do this to people all day, and a masochist to get through school."  While I ultimately chose vet med (because I wanted to have a career where I looked forward to going into work every day,) I was thinking about his quote earlier today.  Since there's really no sadism in vet med, I guess that just confirms that I'm a straight up masochist.  (Thanks, midterms for pointing that out!) 

At school we constantly get bombarded with hundreds of emails per week.  Some of them actually apply to us, or are important papers from classmates, or veterinary related clubs.  Others just clog up your inbox, and make you have to sort through and delete 20 spammy messages every day.  This week, we've been getting emails from the alternative medicine club (which I assume is associated with the DO school.)  It's a reminder for a lunch talk on homeopathic medicine, and they're providing a "free, non-pizza lunch."  Every time they send a reminder, I keep picturing them dropping a piece of pepperoni into a big bucket of water, diluting it over and over, then using that to feed the people coming to the lecture.  "Well, it's technically not pizza, and hopefully the placebo effect will make you feel full for an hour or so."

The new season of Dexter starts today, and I'm too broke to get showtime.  If anybody knows of a good place to download episodes, please let me know.  I'd rather not have to wait almost a year until it comes out on DVD. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

1 week until mid-terms!

We're in the final stretch of week 8 - one more case, then a solid week of tests. 

I like to try to guess what type of case our upcoming cases will be.  I'm very often wrong, but it's a fun momentary distraction.  I was thinking that this week's case was going to be a large animal infectious disease (because we've gotten those alot right before exams,) but instead, it's a dog emergency case.  Talk about being pleasantly surprised.  I was just going to be happy if it wasn't another horse case.  I'm starting to feel like this about horses:

So far there's not a lot of NEW information on this case, but it does review a lot of old information and physiology from all over the place from last year.  While it should take some time to get caught up, it shouldn't be hard to remember with a little bit of review. 

My friend's out of the hospital, and doing well.  Unfortunately, she missed so much school, that she's going to either have to start her 2nd year over next year, or try to do next semester with our class, and fall semester with the class of 2015.  I'm really bummed out about not having her around, but incredibly thrilled that she's doing alright, and that she kicked the butt of sepsis and pneumonia. 

I need to kick my butt into high gear this week to prepare for exams.  I've got a rotation tomorrow, which hopefully won't cut into my study time too much.  I'd much rather be right in the middle of midterms, then have them a week away and looming over everything.  Hopefully time will fly. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

I am too easily distracted

It's Friday, which means that various people in my neighborhood are partying, and my poorly insulated 1920's house doesn't exactly keep out the noise.  I had the brilliant idea of putting on some instrumental music to drown it out so I could study.  Apparently, I cannot study and listen to Vivaldi at the same time - too many countermelodies to just get lost in.  I think an hour just disappeared sitting on the couch with earbuds in. 
And this is embarassing, but there was a part in one of the concertos I wanted to see what was going on in - so I downloaded the score, and apparently I can no longer read treble cleff.  It appears as if you don't use it for 10 years, you have to resort back to cheezy mnemonics to read it.  At least bass cleff is permanently seared into my brain.  (Now that would be embarassing if I forgot it.) 

The whole music thing really gets to me sometimes out here.  Playing music's always been a huge stress reliever, and I pretty much left everything at home.  Sure, I have my bass guitars out here, but I didn't have room in the moving pod for my amp.  And yes, I have the ukulele I just got, but that's a joke - I have a hard time even regarding it as a real instrument.  I really wish my harp wasn't sitting in my mom's living room back in Colorado, and I wish I still had my upright bass.  Selling my cello right before I moved probably wasn't the brightest move either, but once again, there was no space for it in the pod.  I just feel like I left a huge chunk of myself in Colorado, and it's honestly one of the things that makes me the most homesick at times.  I have to keep reminding myself that I chose science over music, and watching Tyler's attempt at a career in music definitely makes me realize I made the right choice, but damnit, I wish I could have both right now. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

This is quite possibly the coolest thing ever

Gamers Unlock Protein Mystery that Baffled AIDS Researchers for Years

Basically, the University of Washington has a website,, where you can play competetive puzzle games, that aren't exactly games at all - you're figuring out protein structures, electron density, and actually helping science at the same time.  I'm not even going to download the program until after midterms, since it seems like it could be an addictive time suck, but damn, that's cool. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I hate my next door neighbors

I have houses on either side of mine.  On one side is a pair of DO students that also go to WesternU.  They're awesome.  They're not the problem.  On the north side of my house, are the most inconsiderate assholes ever.  I don't know if they run a chop shop, a repair business, or what, but they're always bringing different cars to their back yard, and working on them.  I don't mind the power tools so much, but what I do mind are the car stereos.  Whenever they get a car with a decent stereo, they play it as loud as it will go, less than 10 feet from my side windows.  It shakes my entire house, I can't concentrate, and their taste in music is godawful.  It ranges from mariachi to rap to buttrock.  I swear, there's a rule somewhere that the worse your music is, the more you have to force it on other people, as loudly as possible. 

Since Tyler's non-confrontational, he's pretty much talked me out of every solution I've come up with to the problem.  Call the cops?  Nope, he doesn't think it's fair without talking to them first.  Talk to them first?  They don't speak english, and he doesn't want to be the one to try to talk to them.  Use the plans I found online to build a homemade EMP gun out of an old microwave, and fry their electronics?  Probably illegal.  Launch dog poop over the fence until they turn it down?  He doesn't want to make enemies.  Re-name our wireless network to "the people at X address are horrible neighbors with shitty taste in music?  They're probably too ghetto to have a computer.  Hook up the ukulele to the amp outside, and play it non-stop until they turn down their crap?  Don't want to annoy the good neighbors.  Sit here and seethe while being unable to think due to the bass vibrations?  Sure, that's a good solution.  Aargh!

Update:  Tyler finally waited outside until there was a break in a song.  As soon as there was a quiet moment, he started chewing the neighbor out.  There's blissful quiet now (and they actually apologized.  I don't believe it was a sincere apology, but whatever).  We also talked to the good neighbors on the other side.  They're trying to study for a cardiology test, and they're less patient than us.  Apparently, they called the cops 4 times today because of the music.  Guess who never even showed up once?  Apparently in Pomona, having Colorado plates is a good reason for police to pull you over, you'll get chewed out for calling the police on a drunk driver that's trying to drive away after hitting your car, and 3 hours of over 120 decibles is A-OK.  And California natives wonder why those of us who moved from other parts of the country don't like it here.  It's because living in Pomona is barely a step up from living in Walmart.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Time to catch up

I am so behind this weekend.  I barely got any reading done at all last week, since my schedule has pretty much been: Wake up.  Go to class.  Go visit S in the hospital, until visiting hours are over.  Get home.  Remember I haven't eaten anything all day.  Eat something quickly.  Read a review paper about the case.  Take a shower.  Go to sleep.  Repeat. 

So now that I've got the weekend, I need to do a week's worth of reading ASAP, and then start reviewing for mid-terms in two weeks.  And make it to the hospital whenever I have my car.  And catch up on sleep.  Aargh! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bite me, Fusobacterium.

My best friend out here has been really sick since last thursday, and has landed herself in the hospital (once on Sunday, and again Tuesday through today.)  She'll probably be there for awhile longer.  It's bad when the infectious disease specialist comes in the room, and says that they isolated the cause of her sepsis, and that he can count on one hand the number of times he's seen somebody with Fusobacterium in a blood culture in the whole 20 years of his career.  I've been at the hospital the past 2 days with her, and haven't really gotten any studying done.  I'm just freaked out, my friend's sick, the hospital she's at seems ghetto, the nurses are ignoring her pages, and I really hope when her dad flies out tomorrow that he can convince her to insist on a transfer to a better facility. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Looks like a light week

So far this week, it looks like our case covers one of the differentials we covered during neuro block last year.  Nothing new (yet) to study.  Anatomy consists of the sinuses, larynx and pharynx, there's some microbiology, and radiographic anatomy of the horse noggin.  It's nice to have a light workload leading up to midterms. 

VACS last week was awesome.  I monitored anesthesia for a rabbit neuter, and watched a couple more rabbit neuters, a rabbit OVH, and two guinea pig neuters.  Out of all the rotations we do, VACS is the one I really look forward to getting to do, instead of seeing it as an inconvenience in the middle of a busy week. 

I have two more rotations this week.  Thursday I have an equine rotation, and in two weeks I have a rotation at Hills (which pretty much consists of wellness care and behavioral consults.)

Just in case anybody wanted to know why I play bass/harp, and don't sing, here's proof to you that I may be slightly tone deaf.  Did I mention that I got a freakin' ukulele this weekend?  I may not have any of the instruments I like here with me in California, but I now have a really high pitched instrument with a terrible tone. 

I was going to wait until just before midterms to post this, but I should probably be studying then, not uploading videos to youtube.  May I present what should be Western U's school spirit song? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Sorry, I'm probably a little too excited.  We have a turtle case this week.  Judging just from the picture we were given online on Monday (since we didn't have class,) I'm going to assume that the turtle our case was based off of has been subsisting on a diet of iceburg and ground beef. The poor guy's in terrible shape.  I did quite a bit into different nutrient deficiencies yesterday, as well as common viral and bacterial infections, and I should probably look into it even more today, just to be prepared.

Instead, I am completely side-tracked by random turtle stuff that is never going to find it's way onto the test, but is driving me batty.  Apparently, turtles (along with most reptiles, amphibians fish, and some birds) have one or more lymph hearts.  It's in such a wide variety of species, so it should be easy to find more information on, right?  No such luck.  Depending on which source I find, it either consists of smooth muscle, or skeletal muscle that resembles cardiac muscle in some ways (aargh, way to be completely non-specific, while covering all your bases!)  Nothing really describes the appearance - is it just constricted musclature around a lumen, or are there some forms of chambers? I found studies talking about the end diastolic volume in the lymph heart, so is that possible to have without chambers?  It seems pretty important - some studies I found showed that up to 20% of a turtle's plasma is contained in the lymph heart, and if it's disrupted or removed, it quickly leads to fatal edema - so why isn't there more information about this?  The most frustrating thing is many of the papers I'm finding were either written between 1880-1920, or cite papers that were that old.  I really need to just let it drop - I've already spent about 3 hours looking into it, and it's not going to help my grade in any way, but there's something about not being able to find a good answer that makes me reluctant to give up. 

Other than me wasting hours on something insignificant that I could have been using to do something useful, like review limb anatomy, this week's looking to be pretty freakin' fantastic.  I've got my VACS rotation on Thursday, which is hands down my favorite rotation - and this year, depending on how convincing we are that we know the surgical anatomy and procedures, we'll be able actually do parts of the spay/neuter surgeries.  This time we'll just be monitoring anesthesia and observing, but if all goes well, I should be able to get some decent hands-on experience during the last 3 rotations. 

We also have a reptile handling lab on Friday morning.  Last year's handling lab was kind of dissapointing, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this year's will be a little better. 

Anyway, since I'm on a reptile streak this week, this guy has been showing up on my porch for the last few days.  Anybody know what he is?  I'm thinking some sort of skink, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 4!

At school, we've got our new case for the week.  It's another horse case, but it looks like we're finally moving from bone to muscle. 
I've been trying to be good, and keep up with making a study guide as I go.  I was putting one together for muscle physiology, and googled a couple things, especially pictures, so I could be lazy, and not have to scan pictures out of my physiology and histology books. 

Then I took a brief break, and read some cracked articles.  Apparently, since I had cookies on my computer from sites that mentioned muscles, google ads threw THIS ad at the bottom of the article I was reading. 

Oh, my god.  Kill it with fire!  Since there's no such thing as brain bleach, and it cannot be unseen, I figured I'd share it, and everybody can be creeped out by captain testosterone.  

This was going to be a serious post, but I cannot figure out any way to segue from that picture to any other topic.  Balls. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yay beefs!

Today we had our large animal rotation, and ended up working with beefs.  (I stole that phrase from a classmate.  I like it much better than "cattle," and at least it has a gender-neutral singular form.) 

First, we did a breeding soundness exam on a bull.  It involved a breif physical exam, examining, palpating and measuring the testicles, rectally palpating for the vesicular glands, ampullae, and prostate.  We then inserted an electroejaculator, and collected a semen sample.  It was really cool to get to see everything, instead of just reading about it.  I don't know if I'm the only person who sort of supplies their life with a soundtrack of songs that get stuck in my head, but the whole time we were doing the BSE, I had this song stuck in my head (warning, probably NSFW).  Stupid brain. 

After doing the BSE, we lead a bunch of calves through the shoot, and the vets vaccinated them, and then tagged and tattooed their ears.  While the brucella vaccine they were giving was required to be given by a liscensed DVM, they did let me tattoo and tag the calves.  It was pretty awesome.  And after working in tattoo studios for over 5 or 6 years, who would have thunk that the first tattoo I've done would be on a cow?

After that was all over, we had the opportunity to go back to school and watch a necropsy on a ram, which I really wanted to do, but after being out in the sun for 2 hours, and turning beet red, I was done for the day. 

It was probably one of my favorite rotations so far, and that's a lot, considering that I started vet school pretty cattle-phobic.  They still freak me out a little.  When I was a kid, we were out checking the fences at a relative's farm in Kansas, and all of the cows formed a circle around all of the calves, and looked like they were going to charge us.  Which is the same behavior that Triceratopses are thought to have done.  So I kind of grew up associating cattle with angry triceratopses. Laugh all you want. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 3 begins...

And it looks like it's going to be themed towards large animals. 
Our case this week is a horse hindlimb lameness case.  I'm a little baffled by all the hind limb stuff we're getting this year.  Last week we had 3 weeks of hind limb cases, and no front limb cases, so I kind of assumed that this year would be all front and no rear.  So far it's been 1 front limb case and 2 hind limb cases.  Weird. 
Tomorrow afternoon, I've got a large animal rotation.  I'm not sure what we're doing.  We're meeting up at a local community college's swine unit for 2 hours.  From what I understand, we could be looking at any of their animals that need to be checked over, so I don't know if we're going to be looking at swine, cattle, sheep or goats. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Apparently I'm a klutz.

I set up my blog so I'm able to post via email, either from my PC or from my phone.  Apparently a few days ago I accidentially forwarded a completely random email to my blogspot email.  Oops.  Sorry if you saw that and was wondering WTF was up. 

Classes are going well.  I don't have any rotations this week, so it'll be a little more laid back than the weeks where I do have rotations.  This week's case deals with bone repair and some common parasites. (So far.  Maybe they'll throw us a twist later in the week?)  I'm trying to be more organized with my notes and studying this year, so I'm forcing myself to use OneNote to keep everything together.  It seems to be working so far, but I have a feeling that there are a bunch of cool features I haven't discovered yet. 

We also had a pathology club officer's meeting today, and one of the things we were talking about was fundraising.  I suggested that we try to set up a day where people can pay to get decent, professional-quality portraits of their pets taken.  Partly, because I think it's a novel way to make money, and partly because whenever people post their professional portraits of their dogs on the forums, I get a little bit jealous.

And on the subject of doberman pictures, I have the show breeder I got one of my rescue dobes from as a friend on facebook.  Her dobe just had a litter, and she's always posting pictures of the pups.  They're finally out of the larval puppy stage, and into the freakin' adorable stage.  I'm glad she's all the way in Kansas, so there's zero temptation to even go look at them. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

1st Banfield rotation of 2nd year

Only 2 days in, and I already had my first rotation.  I spent 4 hours in banfield today, doing physical exams, helping with a foreign body removal surgery, taking radiographs, and generally enjoying it.  The banfield rotation is definitely are a lot more fun this year than last.  I still can never remember how to use their practice management/medical records software, since it seems to have been designed by somebody in the 90's who had never used a computer before. 

The practice management software issue is one I put a lot of time into.  I make no secret of the fact that I plan on owning my own clinic within 10 years of graduating from school, and I've been doing a lot of research into the different software platforms.  The clinic I used to work at had avimark, which wasn't impressive, even though it's one of the most common in the industry.  Numerous threads on VIN, and even many of the software company's own sites fail to live up to what my expectations of good software should be.  If I knew any languages other than HTML and java, I would totally fix that.  But on the off chance that somebody who does reads this, here's my list:
  • Should be intuitive to regular computer users.  Keyboard shortcuts should mimic those we're already used to.  A search function should be ctrl-F (or command-F for mac users,) not one of the f-keys. This is one of the big areas most software I've looked at fails.
  • Should seamlessly integrate scheduling, billing, estimates, records, and patient reminders. 
  • Should automatically take care of inventory - drug quantities (and keep track of expiration dates,) medical supplies, while cross-referencing them with accounts receivable from suppliers.
  • Should have a quicken-like accounting function, and should take care of clinic accounting and payroll. The accounting software portion of it should let the owner look at their clinic's profits by categories, and run multiple "what if" scenarios.
  • Should have a logical record-keeping system, that's customizable to a clinic's needs, and that backs up medical records to either a hard drive or the cloud on a regular basis.
  • Needs to automatically upload lab results into medical record, straight from in-house lab. (Ditto for radiographs, ECGs, ultrasound images, cytology slides - anything that could be digitally integrated into a more complete medical record.)
I'm sure I'm leaving a lot of my requirements off this list, as I'm just taking a quick break from studying.  I really don't understand why there's not an ideal program yet on the market.  It's 2011.  It's not like I'm asking for something that is technologically impossible.  I honestly think that the market hasn't demanded this product yet, because the main buyers of practice management software aren't really comfortable with computers, so they don't know what to demand, or how to describe their needs.  Maybe there will be something fantastic by the time I can be in a position to have to make that decision. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Well, that's a little awkward.

First day of 2nd year!  It was a short day, we just had PBL for 2 hours.  It's looking like I've got a pretty great group this time around. 
The awkward part comes in when our facilitator is asking us all of these questions about synovial fluid, chondrocytes and forelimb anatomy, and all of us have forgotten the details from last year, or in the case of the forelimb, haven't even looked into it yet.  It'll probably only take a week or so until everybody gets back into the swing of things, but it's already got a really good feel to it. 

Anyway, this week's case is a german shepherd mix pup with front limb lameness.  We don't really have enough information yet to know where it's going, but its nice of them to ease us in a little at the beginning of the year. 

Tomorrow I've got 8 am anatomy, a pathology lecture, then a banfield rotation.  This year, they've told us to wear scrubs to banfield, instead of business casual.  I'm not sure if we're going to be monitoring anesthesia, or assisting with surgeries, or if it will be more of the same, but I'm looking forward to finding out. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

2nd year orientation over

I just got home from the 2nd day of 2nd year orientation.  Yesterday, we had an Evelyn Woods reading dynamics class.  It wasn't particularly helpful, but it wasn't too painful to sit through, either.  Today, we had one announcement after the next about changes in our classes, and updates on university policy.  It wasn't bad at all, until the end.  We were scheduled to get out at 4:30, and around 3:30, it was looking like we had very little to go over, and we could wrap things up and get out early. 

Pretty much all we had to cover was a quickie reminder on plagiarism and copywrite issues. Those were partly due to a small chunk of our class that got in trouble last school year, because apparently you can be well on your way to becoming a doctor, and not have figured out that it's a bad idea to copy and paste an assignment you have to turn in. Those were to be followed by an overview of how to put together a CV.  Should have been pretty quick and straightforward. 

But nooo!  It's the anti-grey area part of the class to the rescue!  I'd forgotten about that particular subset of people over the summer.  Instead of using common sense, or realizing that there's not an exact answer to every question, they have to spend as much time as they can coming up with every potential hypothetical situation to see what catagory it falls in. They then proceed to beat whatever subject it is into the ground. 

An example of this group from last year - we were discussing disease onset in a pathology Q&A session.  So they spent about an hour on questions like "so if you hit your shin, and it takes a hour to swell, is that acute, or peracute?" "What if it took 35 minutes?" "What about 26.14728 minutes?" "What if it took an hour and three minutes?"  Aagh! We were held captive by an hour-long stream of questions along those lines. 

So they were back in full form today.  "What if you copy and paste some information for your own notes, is that plagiarism?" "Let me understand this.  It falls under fair use if I share a .pdf I got from the library with my PBL group.  What if I share it with my PBL group and ONE OTHER PERSON?" "What if I put together an outline of my notes to study off of.  Do I have to put a citation under any pictures I use?"  "You said to put any and all previous research on our CV.  Does that include undergrad?" 

After about 45 minutes of sitting through questions like that, your jaw starts to hurt from grinding your teeth.  It's baffling how people get so worked up over things.  Of course, nobody's going to look at your notes and cite you for plagiarism. If you're not turning it in, nobody's going to care. If you are turning it in, don't be stupid and copy/paste from a paper the instructor wrote (yes, somebody did this.) There's no legal definition of the exact amount of people who can utilize a resource before it stops being "fair use." It's like Potter Stewart's view of obscenity - "I'll know it when I see it."  And apparently, it's hard to grasp that the word "all" in regards to previous research encompasses undergrad, as the modifier "since undergrad" was not in that sentence. 

Umm... I guess the point of that, is that we didn't get out until about 5 minutes before we were scheduled to get out.  Thanks, askers of a million useless questions. 

Anyway, minor rant aside, orientation was good.  I got to have lunch with my awesome little sib, got to talk to my mentor for a bit this morning, bumped into my favorite 2013er.  And best of all, I didn't have to sit through any motivational speakers, nor was I coerced into dancing, or having group "fun" activities. 

I'm so excited for monday to start.  I'm pathetically giddy, considering the pile of stress that begins next week.  But it's the good kind, where you're doing what you love.  Last year, I was excited, but so overwhelmed with everything, so I ended up getting off to a rocky start, and not ever fully recovering.  This year, I'm pretty optimistic that things will go much more smoothly, and I can't wait to get started.  Come on, Monday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Last day of summer

I can't believe today's the last day of summer.  Tomorrow and Friday, we have a short orientation (looks like a speed reading class, and a bunch of announcements,) then real classes start monday.  This summer felt freakishly long, since much of it was spent at home, since I was pretty broke, and couldn't spend any money to actually DO something.  I'm excited to be going back, but somehow it managed to sneak up on me.  I'm pretty much looking forward to everything involved with school except one thing.  This year, anatomy lab starts at 8 am.  I am going to be a zombie.  I think I got a little spoiled last year not having to be in until 1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, unless it was one of the rare days I had a rotation. 

I spent today up in the mountains with Tyler and some of his friends target shooting.  Even though I kept spraying myself with SPF 100, I seem to have picked up some extra freckles.  Damnit. 

If you're a first year reading this - good luck once classes start, and hopefully you're not finding orientation as painful as I did.  Luckily, the week is over pretty quickly, and you can pretend it never happened.  Once real classes start monday, you get pretty wrapped up in everything, and time passes freakishly fast.  Enjoy it while you can. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Get up and do something.

I don't care if you're a vet student, pre-vet, a grad student, faculty, or just value higher education.

Call or write your congressman or senators NOW. Our country undervalues education enough as it is. If subsidized loans are pulled from grad students, we're either going to end up with grads too broke to survive, or a bunch of smart people opting out of a graduate degree because it just became that much harder to afford.

Please take the 5 minutes to call or write, so much of our future's at stake.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rather impressive.

Last Christmas, I got a kindle. It's been awesome - I can carry around a whole library of books (including textbooks) in something that's smaller than a notebook, and weighs less than a pound. It's way nicer to have a choice of textbooks in my backpack all the time, instead of having to plan for which ones I'll need to bring with me to class.

There's only been one downside. It occasionally freezes. Usually rebooting it, and making sure it's fully charged does the trick. Not Saturday. It would freeze, reboot on it's own, then freeze again. Eventually it got so frozen, I couldn't even reboot it.

It was finally bad enough that I steeled myself to call amazon's customer service. If you're anything like me, customer service is the last resort. It's where you call if you want to spend hours listening to shitty easy listening jazz, followed by questions about whether or not your device is plugged in, making you power cycle it, or any of the freaking obvious things you tried to avoid calling them. Then you get to the point where none of those things work (because they didn't work before you called!) and the CSR is baffled, because that's not in the script. You're put back into jazz he'll while they transfer you to the next person who may have a different script to go off of, before finally throwing you back on hold to somebody who may be able to help you, if you're lucky.

So I prepared myself for this before calling amazon. I looked their number up on their website, and it had an option to sign in, and have them call me, so I wouldn't have to repeat my account information. The phone rang almost immediately, with a real human on the other side. They asked what was wrong, and transferred me to a different department. There was a brief 30 second interlude of baroque music, then another human. She immediately recognized the problem - apparently an older version of the leather cases (which I also got for Xmas) short out the kindles. She immediately sent out a new device, and credited my account for $35 for a new case - even though the one I had was purchased at target. Both packages were supposed to arrive at my house Wednesday, but I got the case cover today, and the tracking for my kindle says it should show up tomorrow - even faster than promised.

I am so shocked. I never have pleasant customer service experiences. This just makes me love my kindle (well, the new one) even more.

If there are any students reading this - I highly suggest you look into amazon prime. If you have a .edu address, you get a year of free 2 day shipping. Totally helpful for textbooks and stuff. (and I don't get paid for promoting that.)

Hopefully the formatting on this post is ok. This is the first time I've sent a blog post from my phone.