Monday, September 28, 2009

Me and Zea

So here is the tale of the Ostrich...Actually, I wish I had a really great story to tell you, one than involved say a saddle, or a rope, or an actual Ostrich fight (ostrich v human of course I wouldn't pit them against one another) but, this week was remarkably uneventful with this bird. And in the end, she was really kinda sweet, and cool, and not at all what I expected. Today was our physical exam examination, and I was remarkably comfortable with this giant bird alone in a closed room, with only a broom handle to protect me...ok let's start from the beginning.

We were to arrive last Tuesday, an assigned group of four, to the wildlife farm for Ostrich orientation. The first thing this kindly, and very knowledgeable 3rd year told us was this, "You can't outrun an ostrich, so don't even try. If they are after you either jump the fence ( 6 ft high) or get down on the ground. After all, they can disembowel you with one kick and it's better to be stomped than disemboweld." Ummm....ok I was not to sure how the rest of this was gonna go, I hate birds and now I was gonna have to either outrun one (probably not) or just take my last rights before I entered the pen each morning. In a somber mood, the 3rd year led us to the pen where our bird was housed..."But this bird," she said, "is a total anomaly, she is so sweet and would never hurt you." Just as she said that Zea, our ostrich, stuck her head through the fence and looked at us like "hey, new friends, cool!" I couldn't help but laugh.

We were taken into the exam room and given the basics of ostrich care, anatomy, clinical signs and normal ostrichism...and surprisingly I knew quite a bit. Things like the significance of a renal portal system, birds only have a left ovary, and not to wear jewelery as she will try to peck it off. On that note, though Zea is a nice bird, we were instructed to take a broom handle into her cage with us at all times. Mostly to give her a target to peck at as they are really curious birds, and somewhat for protection. I have had more than one dream this week of me in an epic battle with a crazy ostrich, armed only with this sawed off broom handle...each time I was victorious.

So, overall this rotation was kinda boring, in a sense of I have no epic tales to tell. I did learn a lot though:
1. Ostriches are what appear to be an odd mix of a snake and a bird-and they're kinda shifty eyed.
2. A broom handle is adequate protection from giant birds
3. Ostriches have claws
4. an ostrich will scratch it's head by putting it on the ground an stepping on it
5. though I did have fun, I do not want to be an ostrich vet...but if worse came to worse I could

So, here's the promised photos--along with a few of the resident deer who are so tame they come up to you and beg to be petted. Sooooo cool.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Finding the joy

Many moons ago at orientation (ok so not THAT long ago, but some day's it feels like it) the dean told us her words of wisdom..."Find the Joy". Basically, she told us that this was going to be one of the hardest things we were ever going to do, there would be days when it seemed impossible, and days when we just wanted to stay in bed and not face four hours of generally mind numbing lectures. "Find the Joy" she said, it's what gets you out of bed in the morning. So far, I have found this to be excellent advice. Though, I have to admit, I haven't really had too much trouble finding the joy so far. Yes, I have days that I just want to jet out early and watch Oprah (mainly days that include Histology) and days that sleeping in and getting the lectures from someone else later seems like the best idea ever...but I don't. I trudge through when I really just want to be on the couch, because I know that my goal is closer than it has ever been before. So in short, here is a list of my "joy's" so far:

1. stupid games we play to stay awake during lecture-this usually includes counting the "filler word" a professor resorts to (ie um, ah, and Dr. Histology's favorite "essentially") So far the high number reached in one lecture 84, in 50 minutes, that's pretty sad. And yes, I am listening to the lectures--but sometimes you have to come up with alternate ways to stay interested.

2. Free food- vet school is all about lunch meetings and dinner meetings which usually include some lecture, or lecture series about a given topic--and always include free food. Quite often I will go to a given meeting because I am interested in the topic, like nutrition, or colic, or cattle just in general. Other times I attend based on the food they are serving regardless of the topic. Many times I don't care--but who can turn down free food.

3. New friends-though it feels like longer, we have only been at this 6 weeks. Now is the time friendships start to really form, we are not just being polite anymore. I love making connections with new people, I love learning from new people. I am starting to really find my niche and I have good friends, that as an added bonus are really smart and we study quite well together.

4. Tuesday's- Though they are our longest day of the week, I LOVE Tuesdays. This is the only day we are generally allowed live animals. We have physiology lab which includes adorable bloodhounds that failed out of the prison program (aww, they're the rejects) they are precious and sweet, and they have a pretty good deal living the sweet life at the vet school. (No experiments are done on them, they are just used to teach us how to draw blood and place catheters and such.) Mostly, though I love Tuesday afternoons. This is the day we get to leave campus (they pretty much hold us prisoner there) and go to a ranch or the teaching hospital, or the prison farm and hone our skills on live animals. This week's lesson, running a hydraulic squeeze chute and cattle physical exams. I came home so giddy I woke Husband up to tell him my story. He reacted like most of you probably are right now, he could not understand why playing with cows was such a big is ok, it just is.

5. Medical students- just in general they crack me up. Not sure why, they are a stressed out group of folks, and they generally make me laugh.

6. My professors- they are perhaps the smartest people I have ever met. I usually am in awe of their knowledge, skills and the shear fact that they are soooo the people I want to become. And, that they genuinely care...a far cry from my professors in undergrad. These veterinarians really really want us to understand, to do well in our courses, and to love our profession as much as they do.

7. Realizing that I am here: many days it just hits me, I'll be sitting in the library, or daydreaming in a particularly boring lecture and it hits me...I am a vet student. Not a hopeful, not an applicant, an actual vet student. That right there is perhaps where I find the most joy. No matter how hard things get, or how much I don't wanna get out of bed at 5:30, I am so incredibly glad I got in, and there are about 500 other people that would give anything to be in my seat. It pretty much keeps this amazing opportunity in perspective for me.

So, that's pretty much it, that's how I find my joy. The little things, the big ones, the variance from the mundane that makes the crappy days better. Keeping it in perspective keeps those crappy days few and far between.

Oh, and yes I will post a full write up of the ostrich rotation soon--it requires it's own post. We finish on Monday, I'll get a post in shortly after that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Basically "B's"

I'm now a month in, and it feels pretty good. I survived my first round of exams with little fanfare. I made straight "B's" which isn't exactly what I was hoping for, but in comparison to the garish grades others received, I'm pretty proud of myself. I have changed my study habits a bit is important to review the lectures as soon as possible...and understand things that don't make sense in class as soon as you can. All this stuff just keeps building on itself, so if you don't understand a tiny concept one day, you will be completely lost the next.

On a humorous note, I became the jackass that hit the "reply all" button on a return email rather than just "reply". Luckily it wasn't an embarrassing email, only letting someone know that I never received something I paid for. Unfortunately I sent it to the entire vet school, not just the intended recipient, or just my class, no...the whole school. Oh well, I was only slightly embarrassed about it, and I made a pretty good joke out of it. At least it wasn't something horribly personal, like being excused from class for infections diarrhea or something. In the end not such a big deal.

I guess I haven't spoken too much about my individual classes and how each is going. So here goes:

Anatomy- I took this lovely summer course (best $500) I ever spent. So this class is mostly a review, with some new material. I am beyond glad that I don't spend too much time catching up in this course. It seems to be the course that is drowning most people. I most most disappointed in my exam grade in this course--as it turned out I just made stupid mistakes. I didn't read the question correctly, or answered too fast and put a wrong answer, or said something like "extends the carpus" instead of the "joints of the carpus". There wasn't a single question I didn't know the answer to, I just rushed myself...lesson learned. But, either way a high "B" isn't hard to bring up.

Physiology- up until now, my previous physiology course had guided me through the professor's muddled and sometimes untranslatable lectures. That's over now. I don't really know anything he's going over currently, so I am having to do a lot of reading, and self teaching to stay caught up. Which isn't so bad. I will probably do better on the next exam (hopefully) because of that. Again, "B" on this exam, not terrible in comparison. The hard thing is there were only 24 questions, so it doesn't take missing many to make a "B". And, the one's I missed I legitimately didn't know, no stupid mistakes here. I just need to work harder.

Histology- I HATE this course. The material is not hard, I just hate it for some reason. Maybe because it's at the end of the day, or maybe it's just because I can't stand to hear her lecture. (In one hour the other day she said "essentially" 84 times...killing me). I did well on this exam too, nothing major to worry about, I could have studied more...but I really really hate it.

Immunology- I like this course a lot. I thought I did great on the exam, but turns out there were a few key concepts I didn't understand as he wanted me to. I barely studied for this test--that has changed. It is absolutely key to review his lectures, and to look up any terminology he assigns. His exam is not meant to trick you, he just looks for VERY specific answers, lesson learned.

That's pretty much it, we have two more courses Professional Development, we pretty much just sit and listen to guest lecturers--show up and you get a grade. And Clinical Correlates, this is the one course where we are allowed live animals--supervised of course. I like it because it's easy, again show up and get a grade, but we pretty much have no leadership as far as what we're supposed to be doing, we are learning by muddling through it ourselves. So far we made a mess of things on an equine case, but we rallied in the end and made it work.

That's pretty much my week, same ol' same ol'. This week I start my husbandry rotation with the Ostrich, (who by the way I found out is named Henderella) I'll post pictures I promise.

Monday, September 14, 2009


First round of exams are done...well almost. I missed class today because of this stupid little dental issue called an abscessed tooth. I am feeling pretty stupid about it. I chipped the tooth almost 3 years ago, and never did anything about it. Then, about 6 weeks ago it really cracked in half--or at least it feels like it, either way it was enough to expose the root and create a nice little passage way for some seriously nasty bacteria. A month ago during orientation, I was in excruciating pain and was taking aspirin by the handful, turns out it was abscessed then. So here I am four weeks later, and I am noticing that my face is a little sore, nothing like the pain from orientation, but slightly sore when I press on it. I'll do something about that later...famous last words. I woke up Saturday morning looking like half a chipmunk--I was hugely swollen, but only on one side of my face. Nice just call me "Alvin .5" I frantically called my doctor who graciously called in some antibiotics for me, and today I finally went to the dentist. Turns out it is not so bad, the antibiotics are controlling the infection nicely and come October, when our dental insurance kicks in, I will undergo a pleasant little root canal. Nice, I thought I was going to have to loose the tooth altogether, so a root canal is a much better option, so is waiting until the insurance will pay :)

All dental emergencies aside, I made it through my first round of exams. It was exhausting, but I learned a few things:
1. Sleep is inversely proportionate to studying--well for me anyway. I can study from dusk to dawn, but if I don't get at least 7 hours, none of it will matter because I can't get any of that information out of my head and on to an exam. I was pretty prepared before I started studying (though I did modify my routine some) so it is better for me to add on an extra hour of studying each night the week of an exam, rather than kill myself and get like 6 hours of sleep all week.
2. Do not have the "freak out" herd mentality. The truth is I was remarkably well prepared for the tests, much more so than I would have been in undergrad. I would quietly remind myself that I knew the material, and not to buy in to everyone else's freak out attitude.
3. Vet school is hard, but not impossible. I might be modifying this later as this is only our first round of exams...but I did learn that you basically get out of it what you put in. If I study, I do pretty well, if I don't I am totally screwed. It has to be hard or everyone would do it, but it can't be so hard that no one wants to.
4. Med students freak out waaaay worse than vet students. While we were all pretty sleep deprived and became library rats, the med students looked like walking zombies. Maybe there is just a more layed back attitude in vet school (though it is harder) or maybe the people are just different--more perfectionists and crazy asians...not sure, but those kids were FREAKING OUT! While we were debating dropping out of vet school and going to med school 'cause it would be easier. (Not really, I couldn't deal with people medicine...the dark side)
5. Don't share grades with anyone. Though, I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I spanked my Anatomy exam, sharing grades is like sharing your salary...makes for uneasy friendships. It's better just kept to yourself.

In the end, not a bad week, just tiring. Hopefully my make-up physiology exam will go as nicely as the other three...wait and see

And on another ironic note, as I was searching for emergency dentists on Saturday morning, I typed "Emergency Dentists in College Station" into came back with a list of VETERINARY emergency dentists, as apparently no human dentist feels the need to take care of patients on a Saturday. I almost called...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

intravenous caffine

I feel like I am almost dead come Thursday mornings. I sit in desperation for caffine in our two hours of lecture, holding on to any morsel of energy I have to pay attention to the lecture. I have learned that I have to listen--I am strongly an auditory learner and listening in lecture helps me piece things together later--oh how I wish I could just zone out. But, when 10 am rolls around, and I am thanking the heavens for my 3 hour break--I get my second wind. This seems to get me through Friday, but this week it has to get me through Saturday.

To be fair, after Tuesday my week is pretty much downhill. I have a two hour break on Wednesdays (well including an hour lunch break) and then we get out at 3! Yes! cheesey afternoon TV here I come--(I know Oprah, I have missed you too) Thursdays include a 3 hour break but we get out at 5. And Friday's, glorious Friday's--lecture only from 10-12. Albeit this week we have an extra "mandatory" lecture from 1-3 and then a meeting from 3-5. Either way I get to sleep in, hall-a-freakin-luya! Our first round of exams start next week, so it looks as though my Saturday will be pretty full of studying--hopefully productive time. I am really trying hard to save Sunday's from any type of school activity--especially studying. I use this time to do laundry, clean up the house, nap, and I spend Sunday evenings at a vet school bible study. Hopefully, I can make this last.

As it turns out, while I require intravenous caffine for Thursdays, Wednesdays are an INCREDIBLE day (yes, so good it deserves capitalization). Wednesdays over lunch are BP Rounds (Bovine Practioner--I didn't know until yesterday either). Basically, instead of eating lunch, we spend our hour in the food animal ward discussing cases with the food animal clinicians (i.e. attending/teaching veterinarians). We are presented the case and then asked to come up with a list of differential diagnoses--the list of potential things that could be the issue. While I felt slightly stupid ( hey, I've only been at this two weeks, I can't be expected to know everything) I was suprised at the level of knowledge I actually already posess. First, the clinician didn't use a single word I didn't know--this is a big deal, I am learning that medicine is basically just latin. I was able to piece together several things I thought could potentially be wrong, and most importantly I was able to follow along with the actual diagnoses, the reasoning and treatment plans. I felt almost like a real doctor. It was so incredibly refreshing to be using my (small) knowledge to do almost actual medicine--or at least to put the puzzle pieces together as to why sitting in lecture for 4 hours a day is actually going to help me be a good vet. (as it turns out, we actually need to know physiology.) More than that, it was GREAT to see live animals--as we are only allowed already dead ones right now--and some of us can even mess that up. And the best part...the 3 day old calf. I love calves--my absolute favorite animal. For those that have never experienced one--cuter than puppies, I promise, they look at you with such inquisitive looks, love to play and will use your fingers as a pacifier if offered. I want one in my backyard. The whole experience was amazing, and only helped to solidifiy in my mind that no matter how hard this is, I know I have chosen the right career. How blessed am I to be doing something I am truly passionate about? Awesome.

So, overall it has been a good week. I need to buckle down and study this weeked--exams next week. But, so far I don't feel too much pressure. I'm sure that'll change come Monday morning. Ok, I'm really gonna study now.