Definitely getting sick

Woke up ok today due to going to bed super early last night, and still managed to feel run down by the end of the first lecture.  One of my friends from last year even mentioned that I sounded terrible when I saw her between classes.  So I guess that means that I’m officially sick, time to jack up the amount of tea and vitamins and pray it goes away without getting worse.


I made it through lectures with a little help from the on campus coffee shop, and even managed to study between second and third lecture in the one hour gap they so graciously allotted us.  All of that study even helped me to be somewhat prepared for the lab in the afternoon.  Though it did not help me to be awake during the lunch break.


In lab today we cut through a number of the muscles we looked at last week.  The latissimus dorsi, pectoralis profundus, pectoralis superficialis, trapezius, and the brachiocephalicus all got the cut so that we could see underlying muscles, blood vessels, and nerves.  We pulled the leg away from the body (abducted) and found the brachial plexus (a bunch of nerves branching out from the body to the forelimb).  We cut through quite a bit of connective tissue and found several important nerves (which look an awful lot like connective tissue in preserved specimens).  The suprascapular nerve comes from the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae and travel down to the brachial plexus and then around the neck of the scapula to the lateral side where it innervates muscle groups on both sides of the spine of the scapula.  The subscapular nerve comes from the seventh cervical vertebra, follows a similar path, but from the brachial plexus only has to go to the medial surface of the scapula (much shorter distance).  The axillary nerve comes from the eighth cervical vertebra, travels ventrally to the brachial plexus and then to the flexion angle (the inside of the angle) of the shoulder joint to supply the teres major, teres minor, and deltoideus.  The radial nerve (the largest bundle of nerves) comes from the seventh and eighth cervical vertebrae as well as the first thorasic vertebrae and travels to the brachial plexus and then to the humerus where it innervates just about everything (or so it seems to this budding anatomist).  The musculocutaneous nerve starts at the seventh and eighth cervical vertebrae and travels to the brachial plexus, then to the brachiocephalicus and the biceps, then under the biceps brachii to supply the brachialis (hence the musculo part of its name) before moving further down the leg (distal) where it innervates the skin (hence the cutaneous part of the name).  The last two nerves (I know, I was excited too) run parallel and are held together by a thin layer of connective tissue so that they almost look like one nerve.  These are the median and ulnar nerves.  The median nerve starts at the eighth cervical vertebra and first thorasic vertebra, goes to the brachial plexus, then runs along the inside (medial) of the humerus and supplies most of the structures in the lower forelimb.  The ulnar nerve follows a similar path, starting at the eighth cervical vertebra and first and second thorasic vertebrae, going to the brachial plexus, and then continuing along the medial aspect of the humerus where it continues to the lower forelimb where it also supplies most of the muscles.


After finding all of the delightful nerves, the book instructed us to essentially CUT OFF the leg of our dog.  We opted out of that part, so that we can review at the beginning of next week.  If we really need the leg removed we can amputate later, for now we are keeping it right where it is.


After lab I was scheduled to meet up with my bestie to go get Chinese takeaways from our favourite takeaway place.  He ended up in his lab half an hour longer than he was supposed to, so we were pretty late getting dinner.  Fried rice is amazing when I’m sick though.  My stomach always loves it, and it doesn’t matter how stuffed my nose is because it always tastes amazing.


Now I really need to get to bed so that I don’t get worse.


Round 3: FIGHT!

Week number three has started, and I still don’t really feel any different.  I mean, I’m a vet student now.  Illustrious, much sought after, with all the rights and responsibilities that go with.  And yet, here I am, just me, still confused and a procrastinator and not nearly as confident as I thought I would be.  Impostor Syndrome is definitely rearing its ugly head more often than not.  I am having fun in all of my classes, but somehow it still feels like I have no idea what’s going on. Part of that is probably because most of the things we have covered have been review and so I haven’t actually studied much, but that is only part of it.


At VLE the vets who were the staff told us that they STILL struggle with impostor syndrome, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that I have these feelings, but some days I do wonder if I’m cut out for it.  Knowing that my third year friends feel the same way helps.  Knowing that there are others with pain issues and physical limitations helps.  Knowing that one of my flatmates has the same fainting problem that I have (standing for too long, yay poor circulation) helps a little, but not much.  I’m reasonably sure that I’m the only one with as many problems as I have.  Does that mean that I’m not cut out to be a vet?  Only time will tell I guess.


We have a 5th year vet student from Germany staying with us for a month.  He is here doing his internship (externship?)  before going back and finishing his program.  He has been here since Friday night, and I still don’t remember his name.  I wonder if he ever feels like an impostor.  He says he isn’t going straight into practice when he graduates, that he is going to apply for a post-grad position or something, so maybe he is confident and secure and Germans are just better at stuff than we are.  Or not.


My weekend was ok, I didn’t study much and didn’t really go do anything.  I went to the farmer’s market on Sunday, but only got a couple apples to hopefully put in my oatmeal.  I was going to get a drying rack for inside the house, but I wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t make it to the store.


Classes today were good, uneventful.  There was a new lecturer in anatomy to teach us about radiography.  There was also a new lecturer in biochemistry, to teach us about metabolism.  Everything else was pretty basic.  I got the info that I need to renew my visa, and I signed my loan check so that my tuition can be paid.


Now it’s time for me to go to bed because tomorrow is my longest day and I don’t want to add poor night’s sleep to the list of reasons why I feel terrible after lab.

Terribly Sorry About Yesterday

Yesterday wasn’t a terribly difficult day.  I got up at the usual time, even though I didn’t have class until 9:00 instead of the usual 8:00.  My reasoning was that I got a ride with my flatmates and had an hour before class to look over the lab for the day.

From 9:00 – 10:00 was biochem lecture, and then from 10:00 – 1:00 was physiology lab.  It was a histology lab so it was three hours of looking down microscopes at tiny structures that I could barely convince my eyes to focus on, and then drawing what I saw.  I am not an artist.  I am severely artistically challenged.  I also get really bored when drawing things, mostly because I’m not any good at it.  Which boils down to me being really grumpy in lab.

It was fun to see the different structures and to note them, but my eyes really don’t like focusing together down microscopes.  I had to resort to trickery in order to get my eyes to cooperate, and even then one would focus, then the other, then one would go black, then the other until I had to lift my head away and focus on the wall every few minutes just to keep from getting a headache.  I am undeterred though, I will just have to spend some extra time with the light microscopes so that I can build up the muscle in my eyes.  After that, world domination.

I actually managed to get out of lab an hour early and had lunch with my bestie before heading home.  He brought me bacon and egg pie, which is one of my favourite things we used to make together.  After lunch, I caught the bus home and picked up some cubed beef stock (because I was too lazy to go all the way to the real market and get the good stuff) and flour.  Once home, I started in on my soup.  I love cooking.  It is one of the things that I like to do to destress at the end of a long week.  Nothing matters when I’m dicing veges or cooking meat.  And the smells, so good.  I used some of the steak that I bought earlier in the week and made a beef soup.  I even remembered to dredge the meat before cooking it, I am so proud of me.  I added potatoes, a carrot, an onion, and mushrooms as my veges.  I usually add barley to make it really hearty, but I forgot that when I went to the market so had to forgo the deliciousness.  When the soup was done I offered it to my flatmates (one of which took me up on it) and enjoyed delicious home made soup.

Today marks the day that the third year students are halfway through their program.  So today they went on a trip to commemorate “Halfway Day”.  Last night, some of the fourth years kidnapped some of the third years and got them extremely drunk.  Wasted.  Hammered.  Smashed.  Just this side of alcohol poisoning.  The intention being that for halfway day the kidnapped people would have to do all of the activities either hung over or still intoxicated from the night before.  A major goal was to get them to vomit.  That is right along the same lines as hazing and I definitely do not approve.  I also am going to make damn sure that I am not kidnapped because no way in hell would I play along with that.

Anyway, my flatmates were both on the same page as I was, and so really did not want to get kidnapped.  They were both so paranoid that they turned off the main lights in their room and studied by small book lights.  One of them came to me and asked that if someone came to the door, that I answer it and tell whoever it was that she was out and that I didn’t know where she was.  The other one was less paranoid but still on edge.  The second one’s fiancee thought it would be HILARIOUS to sneak out the window and tap on the first one’s window, then bang on the door.  When he did this, the first one DASHED down the hallway and into the bathroom, shouting that she was not hear as she screamed past.  Not sure what was going on, I got up and went to answer the door.  Standing in the doorway of her room was the second flatmate, laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe.  Through the glass of the front door I could see a blonde silhouette  of about the same dimensions as the fiancee.  Still playing along, I opened the door, called him a dick, closed the door and undid the chain so that I could let him back in, and then proceeded to laugh my ass off.  First flatmate came crawling out of her hiding place and was pissed but laughing.  Later in the evening, after all of the kidnapping was over, one of First flatmate’s friends came around and banged loudly on the door.  Second flatmate and I were in the kitchen, me doing dishes, her talking on the phone.  When I turned around to look, after hearing the noise, there was practically a flatmate shaped dust cloud from where she took off sprinting into the bathroom to hide.  First flatmate thought it was hilarious and getting Second flatmate back for the earlier joke.

Last night was also the first year/second year party, where the second years get the first years extremely drunk (you may be noticing a theme here).  As you may have guessed, I did not attend.  The people who did attend told stories about bruises and mud and missing memories.  Most of the people who went (and got drunk) didn’t make it to first lecture at 8:00 this morning.  Some of them barely made it to the labs later in the day.  It was only a couple blocks from my flat, and I could hear them talking, shouting, singing, and the music they were dancing to well into the evening.  I regret nothing.

Today I had first lecture, then second lecture, then a long break until the best part of the day: Animal Handling Practical.  This week my group (of about 10) got to do the dog handling prac.  Which meant playing with dogs for three hours.  We learned and practiced several methods of restraint, a trick for giving oral medication in the form of a pill, and how to dispense liquid oral medication.  There were four dogs that were putting up with us, two had done practicals before, the other two were young and inexperienced but game.  The old hand was Silly Lilly the rough collie/border collie cross.  She is six years old and has been doing animal handling practicals for a few of them.  Apparently she was rescued from a puppy mill where she had four litters in two years.  She is almost a dog again (according to her owner who was teaching the practical), and was a very good sport.  The teacher’s other dog was Willow, a golden retriever/border collie cross who is about 18 months old and VERY hyper and silly.  The other two dogs were well known by the teacher and her dogs.  Ivy is a French Mastiff who is an only child and very much a princess.  Shumba (or something like that) is a Rhodesian Ridgeback about the same age as Willow (yes, you are correct, her and Willow DID attempt to spend the entire time playing together).  They were all very well behaved (for the most part) and there was no near misses with any altercations or aggression.  Ivy did decide near the end that she was done playing that game and she went and laid down under a table, but she didn’t growl or give the stink eye to anyone at any point.

After lab I caught the bus home and got to Skype with my loved ones back home.  It was really nice and made me smile like crazy to get to see two at once (since they were hanging out together).  Being able to see (even if the picture quality is terrible) and hear my friends and family makes the homesickness less.

Another thing that I should probably mention is that there is a new (temporary) flatmate living in the spare bedroom.  He is a German fifth year student doing some practical work (and sightseeing) out here in New Zealand.  He is very nice and polite and his English is quite good.  Because he is staying in the cat’s room though, the cat is hanging out with me.  So I have a furry friend keeping me company tonight.  He is currently curled up on my bed, right where I might want to put my feet later when I go to sleep.  Ah cats, how I love them.

Over the Hump

Today was a relatively easy day for me.  Three lectures and then a tutorial on how to use MyPortfolio.  During the two hour break between third lecture and the tutorial I went to two club meetings (Radiology Club and the Wild Life Conservation Club) because both offered free pizza and I was a genius and forgot to pack a lunch.


During the one hour break between second and third lecture I caught up on my physiology study guide and got coffee.  Which of course made me antsy in third lecture and open my big mouth to ask about why small birds hop.  (apparently that’s why).


Radiology Club was really cool.  We were introduced to some of the concepts and told what to expect at future meetings.  Also there was pizza.  I am actually really excited about going to each meeting.  The radiographs we looked at today had a dog with an esophageal obstruction (that looked like a bone), another dog with bones in its digestive tract, and a dystocia (difficult birth) of a small breed dog with a single puppy.  The last one was the coolest, the puppy was almost as big as the dam and you could see the whole skeleton.  It looked like it was trying to jump out but could only get its head through the birth canal.  Unfortunately for the puppy, it was probably dead, but the radiograph showed where the problem areas were so the vet could help save the bitch.


After Radiology Club (I think it has a different name but that’s what I’m calling it until I can remember the real name) there was MSWCC (Massy Student Wild Life Conservation Club).  The meeting had a brief introduction to the club followed by elections for the club.  Its only $10 to join and I get $100 worth of magazine plus subsidised field trips and heaps of learning experiences.  I’m in.   Just have to remember to fill out the form and bring my money next week.  Of course this cuts into my lunch/study time on Wednesdays, but I’m ok with that.


After the meetings was the e-Portfolio tutorial where we separated into groups to figure out and work on MyProfile.  My group is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.  As a group we have to demonstrate different Graduate Attributes that we are supposed to have by the time we graduate from the program.  We picked four.  All of us are doing 1.10: Demonstrate physical and mental health and self-awareness and strategies to maintain them.  The other three are being done in groups of three with one group of four.  My mini-group (sub group?) is doing 2.4: Be knowledgeable about animal welfare and able to identify and deal with animal welfare issues.  Since I read the Fugly Horse Of The Day blog (which deals quite a bit with welfare issues in the States), and I took Kevin Stafford’s paper last year on Animal Health, Behaviour, and Welfare, I think I have an advantage in that category.  I already know where to look for the information and am ready and willing to share it with my class mates.


At the end of the day I dragged my sorry carcass onto the bus and rode it home.  Now I have to look over the lab manual for my physiology lab tomorrow.

Tuesdays are very long days

Tuesday is by far my longest day.  There are three lectures (with a one hour break between second and third lecture) followed by anatomy lab (with a two hour break for lunch).  It is much easier to get through than it was with the schedule we had last week (no break between lectures and only an hour for lunch) but its still pretty rough.

Lectures were good, and I hung out with a couple people from my class during the break between classes (which I used to rest my brain by looking at cute pictures of puppies on the internet).  After lectures there was a big book sale and I spent over $300 on books that I won’t get to actually read until they come in.  Then there was eating (though I forgot a fork so had to go steal one from the cafeteria) and studying for the lab that I didn’t do last night.

Finally, it was lab time! Anatomy lab runs from 2:00pm-5:00pm and we can use that time however we want though there are lab manuals to guide us along.  My group got Buddy out of the chiller and got to work extending our incisions from last week.  We reflected the skin back to expose the muscles of the shoulder and back.  Our favourite muscle so far is the Latissimus Dorsi because we accidentally cut through it while trying to get the skin off.  We went over the names of most of the muscles that we could see, and asked questions about the ones we didn’t know.  We also looked at a prosected cat and a freshly dead dog as comparisons.  While we were learning some of the names and following the lines of the muscles, one of the demonstrators told us we could cut away some of the connective tissue between the muscles to separate them out.  Which we did with gusto.  Our dog now has quite distinct muscles that we can name and follow quite easily.

Because we were good kids and stayed past 4:00, we got some time with the professor.  This helped us to really learn where a number of the muscles originated from and where they inserted into the bones.  We were encouraged to tell a story about each muscle, and so I will tell you of the Lonesome Latissimus Dorsi.

Once upon a time there was a muscle.  Its name was Latissimus Dorsi, and its origins begin at the Lumbodorsal fascia (the sheetlike fibrous connective tissue on the top (dorsal) lumbar region (between the tailbone and ribs)) and the last two ribs of the dog, Buddy.  From its origin, the lonely Latissimus Dorsi traveled ventrally (toward the belly) and cranially (toward the head) until it reached the medial side (toward the body) of the humerus (upper arm bone).  It started out as a wide, flat sheet of muscle but gradually became thicker and narrower until all of the muscle fibres came together in a point where it inserted at the Teres (round, ball shaped) tuberosity (bumpy out bit) of the humerus.  Here it ended its exploration and settled down to help pull the forelimb of our dog, Buddy, back toward the chest.

The End

As much fun as lab was, I am exhausted.  I was so tired when I eventually made it home that I didn’t even want to heat up leftovers for dinner.  I settled for a bowl of cereal and some tea.  Tonight I think I will go to bed early, for tomorrow is another early (though not nearly as long) day.

Hazing: Vet School Style

As you may have guessed from the title of this entry, today was Initiation.  Which means the third years (and probably some others) hazed us first years.  It is a long standing tradition (or so I have been told), and according to the third years, we got it easy.  Here is how it went.

We had four back to back (to back to back) lectures starting in the middle, going to the far right, then far left of campus (as an illustration…I honestly don’t know where anything is on a map as I am directionally challenged).  We were all on high alert because we knew that at some point this week the whole thing was going to go down.  There were a few people with insider information (which apparently could have been me if I had eves dropped on one of my flatmates last night) who knew that today was the day, but nobody knew exactly when.  By the time we made it to our fourth lecture we knew in our hearts that it was going to be as we were trying to leave that lecture. They didn’t even wait that long.

Before the lecture had finished we heard air horns blaring outside.  Then in came a mass of people wearing masks (or bandannas, anything to cover their faces) and banging on the walls and desks, shouting at us to get up and put all of our things away.  The first person through the door had on a clown mask, which would have instilled fear in most people who grew up with It, but not me.  I was unimpressed and sitting at the front of the room.  People in the back naturally took their cues from us in the front, and us in the front were unimpressed.  I calmly saved my notes (I take notes on my computer because I type much faster than I write) and then saved them as a draft on my email so that I could access them should something happen to that computer.  I then calmly put all of my things away in my bag and calmly took off my shoes and socks as directed.  The rest of the class was also moving very slowly and not cooperating all that well.  I am very proud of my class for not giving into the pressure.  We will play your stupid game, but we will do it on OUR terms.

Once they had us all packed up and with jackets, shoes, and socks off, they strapped us together by twos.  Each pair was strapped together holding each other’s forearms and secured by zip ties.  We were then herded into the foyer of the Wool Building where they were going to pelt us with water balloons and buckets of water.

Now, today was not warm.  In fact it was rainy and gusty and pretty down right miserable.  We were all standing in bare feet and mostly without jackets on (I kept my shell on because otherwise I would have probably gone into shock from the cold).  And they wanted to push us into the street where they could pelt us with cold water.  Needless to say we did not cooperate very well.  Like scared cattle we huddled in that hallway for as long as possible before darting out and running full tilt.

They herded us down to the concourse using water balloons, buckets of water, and squirt guns.  They wanted us to run, but after the first burst of energy we mostly walked with a bit of light jogging when the pressure increased.  It took me all of 10 minutes before my feet were so cold that they hurt.  Maybe not even that long.

In the concourse they guided us to the middle where the ring leader (not clown mask) in a policeman’s cap lead us in a dance that I guess was supposed to be humiliating.  They had us dance to Barbie Girl by Aqua, which one of our groups had actually done on Karaoke night during VLE.

Once the song ended they tried to get us to run up the stairs and over to the vet pond.  Again we went at our own pace in spite of their best efforts.   I limped along at the back of the group because by this point walking on concrete felt like walking on shards of glass, and walking on the pebbled parts of the walkway felt like jabbing thick gauge needles through every possible point on the bottom of my feet.  If I wasn’t careful of where and how I placed my feet, it felt like my bones were breaking (having broken a bone I can honestly attest to that).

At the vet pond they splashed us with buckets of pond water and tried to drive us across the bridge so that we could be pelted with eggs and other gross things.  They even complained about how slowly we were going and made idle threats of “it will only get worse” if we didn’t move faster.  I told them that we would move faster if they gave us piggy back rides (because I’m a cheeky girl like that).  Again I was at the back of the pack and missed the globs of offal, curdled cow colostrum, and other disgusting bits of things.  Since I didn’t have my glasses on (thankfully as I was smacked in the face with a water balloon at one point, though it didn’t break), I couldn’t see the ground to know what I was walking on and around.  I also couldn’t see if my toes had gone as blue as my finger tips.

Once they had us across the bridge they threw flour on us and made some people wade through pools of gross things.  I made it at about the point where they were back to hurling water and water balloons and nothing gross too gross.  I got some flour and some foul smelling stuff on my jacket, but nothing too bad.  When they tired of us huddling in a corner they drove us back out and told us that all of our stuff was in a secret location and that the key to that location was in the vet pond.  Going in was less than optional.

A few people went right in and started shuffling around looking for a key that wasn’t there (I knew this, many of my classmates knew this, but we were playing along like good puppies).  By the time I made it back across the bridge to the pond entry point, everyone was just wading across while the third years threatened to throw us in if we didn’t go voluntarily.  I was the last to get in and made my way slowly so as to not turn an ankle on the loose rocks and not stab my foot through on any of the debris hidden under the detritus.   At the highest point the water was up to about my navel, which meant my jacket was wet on the inside (and smelled of duck excrement) and my pants, long underwear, long sleeve and t-shirts were all soaked.  By the time I made my way to the other side there were some third years who had been pushed, pulled, and thrown in.  One gentleman (whose face I couldn’t see and who I don’t remember other than he was tall) helped me navigate the rocks near the edge and our recently (as in that morning) elected class president helped me clamber out.

That was the end of our torturous expedition.  They congratulated us and gave us a hearty welcome to the program and we cheered less heartily and grumbled quite a bit.  They kept reminding us that they had it worse than we did, but that didn’t make our feet any warmer or our bodies any less smelly.  They had sausages on the grill for us to “warm our mouths” with, but having just been assaulted with a number of things I didn’t want anywhere near my mouth I opted to shower first.  Some of my classmates also showered, but a number of them went straight to the food (we will see how many of them come down with an illness from that decision).  My friend Hawaii was a good friend and brought me some of her old clothes to change into (some windbreaker warm pants, an old t-shirt, a sweater, and a knit cap) which was very much appreciated.    I showered and then changed into her clothes and only then did I venture forth to sausagie goodness.

Once fed (slightly) I decided to be a responsible adult.  I put my dirty, smelly, gross clothes into my locker (stunk the place right up) and wandered over to the Student Notes Distribution Center to get my physiology study guide.  With guide in hand I went back to the vet tower and had the lunch that I remembered to pack this morning.  I sat with some of my third year friends and complained a little (and was told again how much easier we had it since we didn’t have to go down a slip-n-slide into cow manure).  I ate my lunch and talked with one of my classmates about student loans, the Colorado shootings, and how the instant coffee out here isn’t undrinkable (like the stuff back home).  After food and a sit, I grabbed my gross clothes and headed to the bus stop for my ride home.  Surprisingly enough the bus driver didn’t even bat an eye when I stepped up with my smelly bag of wonders and I was able to ride all the way home.

Once home, I stripped down, threw the clothes into the wash, and had a nice hot shower.  By the time I was done with my shower, the laundry was done and I was able to get everything hung up and drying by the time my bestie came over.

My darling bestie took me to the yarn store to get yarn for my loom (Dark green, navy blue, and burgundy because they are my favourite colours), and then to Spotlight (a craft store) to get crochet thread for my heddles.  Then we popped next door to the market and got veges to steam as well as some other things I needed but forgot to get earlier.  Then back to the flat for adventures in cooking!

We made beef stroganoff based on directions from a packet of sauce.  He: sliced the onion, mushrooms, and steak; pealed the carrots; and cut the broccoli.  I pealed the onion and washed the mushrooms.  I also pulled out the neat little steamer bag for the rice and filled the steamer pot with water (for the veges).  For the rice, I boiled water in the kettle and then poured it into the pot because the pot had no lid and it would have taken ages to boil it the normal way.  We actually managed to get everything done at about the same time and had a really good meal.  There are even leftovers for one lunch and one dinner later this week.

I wanted to take some time to talk about how I really disapprove of hazing rituals and how I am going to be a conciseness objector when its my classes turn to haze the future first years, but it is late and I still have to go over my notes before class tomorrow so I’m going to leave that for another day (or possibly the comments section).