Through the Haze

Made it through exams and to the other side.  I am applying for Impaired Performance tomorrow when I go to see the shrink.  With that, I should have passed them all.  I’m generally pretty good at exams and they asked questions that I knew answers to, so I should be set.  Now I am counting down the days until I get to go home to the States to see my family and friends.  This week I will be packing up my room into various boxes (TV and Xbox are totally going last, but bookshelves and other bricabrack will be boxed up as much as possible).

I visited a couple of friends down in Lower Hutt over the weekend. We putzed around town for a bit on Saturday and I bought a much needed new bra for $20 (its a nice one too).  We had a lovely lunch at Burger Fuel and then drove along the coast and had some white wine in the sunshine.  The wine we had was very interesting, a white Pino Noir (yeah I was sceptical at first too, don’t worry).  Essentially they took the skins off of the Pino Noir grapes so that the wine was white instead of red.  It was quite fruity with some of the tannins still detectable making it almost dry as well.  It had a smooth finish (and now I feel like a total wine noob) and I really enjoyed it.  Enough that if I could find a bottle I would probably actually drink it.  For dinner we had roast chicken and chips (potatoes totally count as a vegetable), and then went to a gay bar called S&M’s (Scotty and Mal’s).  There wasn’t a lot going on, but I met a number of new people who were very nice.  On Sunday, my one of my friends and I got a massage at the East Day Spa in Wellington.  We got the Monsoon package (which you can look at if you follow that link) and it was amazing.  I felt so relaxed that I almost fell asleep several times.  The giant knots in my shoulders are considerably smaller than they were, and my skin is nice and soft and not angry at me all the time.  After our rubdown we met another friend for lunch.  I had delicious stuffed mushrooms on toast and good conversation.  Then we went back to my friend’s house and napped.  She made a delicious lamb roast for dinner and then I drove back home.  Apparently the Beast gets pretty good gas milage (kilometerage?) as it only took half a tank to get there and back (much better than I was expecting).  Its still an expensive trip, but not as bad as I had initially estimated.

Today (and last Friday) I tutored a friend in Cell Biology.  She has her final exam tomorrow and needs to pass it so that she can move on to other classes.  This is her third time through the class and even though she knows the material, she stresses out with exams and then psychs herself out.  I have been going over some of the things that she has confused herself on and untangled the knots.  She should be able to pass with a pretty good mark if she can remember to relax and breathe.

Now to head to bed because I am very tired from my vacation.


Feline Allergic Bronchitis

Today is the Physiology test, and one of the questions is going to be about Feline Allergic Bronchitis (the professor said so and if he lied there will be killing).  Because of this, I have decided to write my model answer here, for all of you to read.  That’s right, all three of you get to read the answer that I am going to be writing again in a few short hours, that is how much I love you.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart, as my darling cat back home in the states has this condition.  My sweet Littl’un has been suffering from it for years, and is the main reason that I am so very good at administering pills to reluctant cats.  Littl’un was diagnosed using a history and chest x-ray, I don’t remember if blood work was done but it is highly likely.  She gets long acting shots once or twice a year when she gets really bad, and is managed with a steroid inhaler and steroid pills throughout the rest of the year.  The poor thing blew up like a balloon thanks to the side effects, but can breathe and we like her breathing.

Feline Allergic Bronchitis is a narrowing of the small passageways of the lungs due to increased sensitivity to an allergen.  The starting process for hypersensitivity begins with a particle encountered in the lungs.  This stimulates a normal immune response, eliminating the threat and setting up specific memory cells to guard against future attacks by that type of particle.  When that same particle is encountered again, the immune response is rapid and decisive.  In affected cats, it is also overblown.  The release of histamine leads to bronchoconstriction, an increase in mucus secretion, and an increase in capillary permeability (allowing more fluid to cross if not limited).  The immune response also increases the amount of prostaglandins, which leads to inflammation.  Esinophils (a type of white blood cell) act to prolong the airway injury by slowing recovery, they are jerks, and affected cats tend to have higher numbers of them hanging around.  The increased mucus secretion (accompanied by decreased cilia movement) causes mucus plugs to form, increasing resistance along the airways.

This immune response also contributes to an imbalance of sympathetic and parasympathetic signalling.  In a healthy animal, the two (which are in direct opposition) are in balance and the airway is open.  When the sympathetic side is stronger than the parasympathetic, the airways are even more open – this is the fight or flight response system.  When the parasympathetic side is stronger, the airways become constricted.  Parasympathetic stimulation causes smooth muscle in the small airways to contract which narrows the radius of the tubes.  Flow is inversely proportional to the radius to the fourth power, so even a very slight change in radius has drastic effects on flow rate.  This decreased radius also increases the velocity of the air passing through, which causes turbulence.  Turbulent air is less efficiently removed and causes problems with ventilation.

Overall, each of these things causes an increase in resistance across the airways which decreases flow of air.  In normal breathing, the diaphragm contracts to increase thoracic (chest) volume, and then relaxes to decrease thoracic volume.  When the chest volume increases it decreases the pressure surrounding the lungs, which causes air to rush in from outside (where the pressure is now higher).  When the chest volume decreases, the pressure inside the lungs increases (until it is higher than outside) and pushes the air back out.  When resistance is too high in the small airways, the passive action of the diaphragm moving is not enough to increase the pressure in the alveoli to overcome the pressure difference.  This triggers the cough reflex and air is forcibly removed by contraction of abdominal and thoracic muscles.

Treatment of this condition is based around opening airways.  Inhalers with steroids and bronchodilators are used for acute attacks, and maintenance steroid pills for longer term.  Steroids work by decreasing inflammation caused by prostaglandins during the immune response.  These are not the anabolic steroids used by athletes and body builders, they are corticosteroids that bind to receptors in cells to reduce inflammation.

Anatomy 1 Final Exam

Well, I survived it.  I will be scraping by with the 1/2 points given here and there, but I should pass.  With the impaired performance I should be ok and not need to sit the supplemental exam.  According to the scuttlebutt there has only ever been one supplemental exam for this class since this professor started teaching it, so that is in my favour.  I took the rest of the afternoon off, got coffee with a friend from my first year pre-vet, and played Skyrim on the Xbox that I got with my bestie last year.  Playing the game is mildly depressing, but I’m working through it.

Tonight was Halloween according to the calendar, so there were a handful of children coming to the door.  The first one I had to send away because I wasn’t expecting any and so didn’t have any candy.  The second set got my Haribo bears because I delved into my own private stash.  The third set didn’t get anything because I didn’t get up from my computer fast enough and they walked away.  All of them were pretty young children, no teenagers and no adults without kids.  It is definitely a different holiday out here.  Of course its also SPRING and so not really the Halloween spirit.  Ah well, no use winging about it.

Tomorrow is the hardcore Physiology study and possibly going to see my friend and his band (he’s a music student at UCOL) play a ‘Country’ gig.  At least they are covering Lady Antebellum for one of their songs which is more country than some of the other songs that I heard suggested for the set.  I won’t go if it is too late because I need my sleep, but the exam isn’t until the afternoon so I have some leeway.

Day Before Anatomy 1 Final Exam

I managed to go through some of the other previous exams today and look through the types of questions that are going to be asked.  I should be able to at least pass, even without the impaired performance, but only if there aren’t too many questions about things that need specifics when I only have general information.  My focus has been spotty at best today.  I’m hoping that I can pull it together for the full 2 hours tomorrow.  I’m usually pretty good at tests once I sit down to take them.

I know for my main strategy I am going to look through it and only answer the ones that I know for sure first.  There is only 2 hours for the test, and somewhere around 100 points possible.  That gives me a little over one minute per point.  If I can answer the ones that I know quickly, it gives me extra time to faff around on the ones that I know less well, and time to come up with an answer for the ones I might not know off the top of my head.

I’ve been feeling pretty sick most of today.  I’m hoping its mostly just nerves that my conscious brain isn’t registering because it’s full of other things.  I do know that I will be very glad to have tomorrow over with.  Tonight is the full moon, which would be cool if I felt like going outside.  Ah well, tomorrow is Halloween (which seems weird to celebrate in the spring so I won’t be) and only 19 days until I go home.

Another Monday

I had a pretty good weekend, spent time with my friends in Ashurst who have been helping me a lot since my bestie killed himself.  We watched terrible Cult Classic films on Friday night (until the wee hours of Saturday morning) and then celebrated the fertility of early spring with a Beltane ritual.  I helped bake the breads and my friend and her husband cooked an amazing feast.  For the movie night I made nachos which were amazing, my friend made calzones, and there were heaps of sweets and snacks.  It was fun and full of wonderful people, but very draining for this little introvert.  By Sunday night I was emotionally exhausted to the point where everything was making me sad and I couldn’t stop thinking of my bestie.  So I took myself home and tucked myself into bed with a good book and have been recovering today.

I spent a few hours studying today for Anatomy.  That is going to be my first exam on Wednesday (Halloween) followed by Physiology on Friday.  Thankfully these are the two subjects that have the most in common so studying for one is studying for the other.  I haven’t been as focused as I could be, and sometimes reading the questions my classmates post to our facebook group leave me feeling like I haven’t been in this class all semester, but I’m trying not to beat myself up over it.

Tomorrow will be a better day.


Slipsliding away

Today was not a good day.  I have been steadily getting better day by day, but today was a backsliding day.  I had a series of bad dreams last night that left me emotionally drained.  Nothing about my bestie, but still enough bad piled up that I felt on the verge of tears for most of the morning.  I slept late, didn’t want to do anything, and had zero focus.  I couldn’t even be bothered playing the Sims, which is saying something because it is currently my favourite distraction.   My most favourite person living in Oregon sent me a game that has been at least somewhat entertaining, but even that was not holding my attention well today.

I went and looked at a potential flat to move into for next semester, but it was a dud.  The room was too small and the rent too high.  Overall it was a very nice house, but I need more space for all of my stuff, especially now that I am having a hard time parting with any of the things supplied to me by my bestie (the too small desk and drawers).  All is not lost however, another classmate is going to be looking at flats over the summer and seems to have similar goals in mind so hopefully we will be able to work something out.  I have a place to store my stuff (just need to get plastic to cover them with as its a garage), so I won’t have any problems with that.

I cooked today.  Cut up some asparagus (because it is spring here, early spring, cheap asparagus season) and mushrooms, covered them in oil and balsamic vinegar and then roasted them in the oven.  I also boiled up some pene pasta and improved a jar of sauce with mushrooms and fresh garlic.  Piled all of that together and that was my dinner.  The fresh garlic made the sauce amazing even though it had roasted garlic already in it.  I think I will have the leftover veges with rice tomorrow.

Just Keep Swimming

I reviewed more Anatomy and Physiology today.  I avoided respiration and focused on the other things.  I ate an apple and cheese over the course of three hours, then half a brownie-mug, and for dinner I had leftover pizza from last night.  So I have at least been feeding myself.  Not the best diet, but better than nothing.  Reviewing is extremely boring and I hate it, but it is helping me re-orient where all of the information is so that I can look it up faster during the “hard core” study sessions.

I went grocery shopping for the first time in weeks.  It was an expensive trip, but I have things to sustain me while I’m studying.  Proper breakfasts and lunches will definitely help.  I also have some good dinner ideas.  Cooking always relaxes me so hopefully it will help.  I still need to buy my beers for after the tests, but that can wait till next week.  I also still need to pick up Sunday’s roast, so I should be able to kill two birds with one stone.

Oh, I also got my grades back for my last two tests.  Anatomy (which was the week after my bestie’s suicide) I managed a 70% on about 2 hours of study, so not going to apply for impaired performance (it would only bump me up about 5%, so not really worth it).  Physiology was an average of about 70% overall with the breakdown being: Histology ~56%, Cardiology ~70%, and Endocrinology ~82%.  Considering that I only really studied Endocrinology, guessed about 50% of Cardiology, and briefly glanced through Histology the day before, I’ll take it.

That’s it for now.  Boldly going forward ’cause we can’t find reverse.