Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Break!

I have one more day at my pathology/reference laboratory rotation, and then I get to make the 18 hour drive back to Colorado for spring break.

The lab we're at is one of the most helpful rotations I've had all year.  They have us reading histology and cytology slides, UAs, fecals, and interpreting blood work all day.  Mornings usually start with a pathologist presenting an interesting case they've seen.  I keep cracking up, because I'm convinced the reason they have WesternU students there is so they can tell us their pet peeves for when vets send in labwork, and hopefully we won't be one of those vets.  "See these slides we got?  Notice how the vet didn't label them.  ALWAYS LABEL YOUR SLIDES!"  "This guy sent in 20 slides with a biopsy, and NEVER SEND YOUR SLIDES WITH FORMALDEHYDE!"  "Oh, look, more tubes that weren't labeled."  Yeah, guys, you've been awesome.  I'll make sure I never send you unlabeled samples.

I am so excited to go back home for a week.  I'm a little nervous, since I haven't been back since the massive forest fires last year, so I'm not sure exactly what to expect.  Hopefully the mountains don't look too charred.  And even if they do, they'll still look better than the scrubby midget mountains out here with no timberline.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A sad day for the body modification community

Shannon Larratt, the founder of BMEzine died.  I've read BME or his personal blog almost every day since I was 13 or 14.  If you're not part of the bod mod community, it's hard to explain his influence, but I'll give it a shot.  BME was built as a community - not just a website for sharing information or pictures, but as a "homebase" for people who may not have had one in real life.  BME strove to cover all aspects -> spreading accurate information, including detailed risks, while covering the cultural and fringe aspects.  It gave people a voice, and a cohesiveness that hadn't existed previously.  It was a place to browse photographs, read about new techniques for new modifications, read/listen to interviews with practitioners and the heavily modified, and fight poorly written legislation and discrimination. BME was what provided me with the information to become a body piercer, and to be the best damn body piercer I could be.

In 2000, Shannon built iamBME, a social networking page that allowed its members to form subgroups, share their photos and thoughts, and once again, served as a way to connect the community.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but iamBME preceded all the other social networking sites like myspace and facebook by a good 3-4 years.  That's right, the freaks had it first.

His personal blog exposed me to some great things I may not have stumbled upon otherwise.  My love of earthship architecture is because of Shannon.  He's the one who really got me thinking of the advantages of off-grid living and self-sufficiency.

Whenever I emailed him, he would always reply, even though we'd never met, and he never had any obligation to me.  Whether it was 14 year old me asking about the steps necessary to break into the industry, 20 year old me asking about different piercing techniques, or last may, when he wrote me a very well-thought-out reply to my blog post on the need of modified people to be more visible in a professional capacity, he always took time to support members of the community.

Within the past few years, he started experiencing some problems.  What started out as an odd mass on his leg, eventually turned to muscle wasting, pain, difficulty walking, and eventually apnea even when he was awake.  He spoke about the difficulties getting diagnosed (finally with a rare disease called tubular aggregate myopathy), and sadly about the difficulties of getting proper pain control in a system that would rather withhold real relief for people who need it rather than risk medicating a drug seeker.

I left the body modification industry in 2009, when I quit piercing in order to work at a veterinary clinic full time.  I never left the community.  Shannon became less important to me as a representative of body modification over the past few years, and more important to me as a philosopher and fellow human being.  Even though today's news was expected, it feels like there's a gaping hole left in the world.  I'm so happy for him that he's no longer suffering, but so sad that he's gone.  Even if you're not the least bit interested in tattoos or piercings or extreme mods, it's worth clicking the link at the top of this entry and reading his last post.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I survived small animal block

I just wrapped up my final's week for small animal block.  Looking at my test scores - apparently having a Dr. Who marathon instead of studying the weekend before exams wasn't my brightest plan I've ever had.  Oh, well, I'll just chalk it up to a life lesson in not allowing myself to get too complacent with things.

To celebrate exams being over, I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific with Sarah, then walked around Long Beach, and ate lunch overlooking the harbor.  After having zero free time for the past 2 months, and a shitty exam week, it was exactly what I needed.  I got to spend the day relaxing, with no time constraints, just great conversation and beautiful weather.  I was really surprised at how unimpressive the actual aquarium was - I've been to the aquarium in Denver, and I thought that an aquarium in an even bigger city, right next to the ocean would be phenomenal, but it was way smaller than expected, overrun with kids and strollers, and with way fewer and smaller fish than I was hoping to see.  And it didn't even matter, because I got to spend the day with my best friend.

Next week's rotation starts at a diagnostic lab - from what I understand from people who have already done this rotation is that you battle hellacious LA rush hour traffic there and back, you're sleep deprived because of the commute, but that you learn so much that it's all worth it in the end.  Fingers crossed.