First day back

Well, as you may have noticed I did not end up posting about my equine practical work over the break.  I ended up being far too exhausted at the end of the day and spent my weekends recovering.  Good news for you though, I have to write up a report and so I will likely post that here when it is finished.

In other news, today was my first day of semester two for BVSC2.  They didn’t waste any time getting started with lectures.  Integrative Physiology had a full on lecture followed by an intro to Mechanisms of Disease.  Then there was a break where the Nutrition lecture will normally be (because they have random no lecture days) where my flatmates and I went to get our lab manuals for Comparative Anatomy.  That took the full hour, after which we went to the introductory lecture for Comparative Anatomy.  It was a combined introduction and first actual lecture on the equine limb.  I am very excited to be learning about horses (finally), but that was pretty intense.  We didn’t actually get through the whole lecture so she is bringing us in on Wednesday afternoon for half an hour to finish it (much to our displeasure because it cuts our lunch hour in half).  

After lectures we had our lunch break to quickly eat and then headed to the farmlets to see our sheep.  I don’t know if I mentioned the farmlets before, so here is a quick rundown: there are 3 mini farms that each have 16 sheep for a stocking rate of 20 sheep per hectare; they have different rotation lengths to simulate best practice, and two mistakes; lambs will be born in the next few weeks.  Our farmlets started with 500 kilograms more grass than last year, even with the drought over the summer.  Even with that, the two intentional mistake flocks have visibly lost weight while the best practice flock is doing okay.  We will actually have to rescue the short rotation length sheep so that no welfare issues happen with them (either send them to a different set of paddocks or reduce the stocking rate on that block).  I absolutely loathe the lecturer who is doing this assignment with us.  He is taking something that should be fun and interesting and turning it into the assignment from hell.  He doesn’t answer our questions (he answers whatever he wants to whether it is relevant or not), he is condescending and rude, and he waffles on about irrelevant things in every lecture.  He is quite literally the worst lecturer.  Many complaints have been filed against him, hopefully next year or maybe the year after them will get a different person teaching them.

In brighter news, one of my friends from pre-vet finally got in!  I am so very happy for her, her life will be miserable and exhausting just like mine!  Ain’t vet school grand?  It’s only the first day and I already have more work than time!  But I did pass all of my exams last semester so I don’t have to sit any supplementary exams so far.


Week of Study

Since my last post, I have turned in a drawn assignment of the oestrous cycle of a mare and had a test on Renal and Reproductive Physiology.  Both were rather rough.  The test was on Friday, which is why I didn’t post last Thursday – I was studying my brain into mush.  Friday night was Mr Vet, and then Monday morning was a Genetics test followed by an Anatomy test first thing Wednesday morning.  In this time I also managed to get very sick and still manage to pass my tests.  So now you know where I have been.


I will start with my Physiology assignment.  He told us on his last day lecturing what it was he wanted and gave us precisely 2 weeks to finish it.  Me being me, I procrastinated and got it all finished on the last weekend, giving myself exactly 4 days to study for the test.  I put off all note-typing and focused on studying renal and reproductive physiology for the week (minus time on Wednesday to work on my anatomy pre-lab).  Thursday night my flatmates E and A and I got together to study together the last bits and by Friday morning I was as prepared as I was going to get.  E and I went over a bit of histology before the test and that was it.  I feel ok about the test, I’m reasonably sure that I passed.  At least it is over now and I don’t have to take it again.


Friday night was Mr. Vet, which is pretty much a beauty pageant put on every year by the 3rd year students.  Two male representatives from every class are chosen (either they volunteer or get volunteered) to compete for the pink sash.  They participate in a group dance at the beginning, a talent portion, a formal wear portion, and a swimwear portion.  The opening act was pretty hilarious with them all starting out in fuzzy girlie bath robes, doing a bit of stripptease down to a towel.  They danced around in the towels for a bit and then whipped them off to reveal daisy duke shorts (they also put on straw cowboy hats) and did a little line dancing before ripping those off to display either rainbow g-strings or leopard print briefs.  It was pretty hilarious watching them all dance around.  Some of them were clearly better at it than others (the two from my class looked like they had skipped a few practice sessions) but they all did a pretty good job overall.  Next was a mix of talent, swimwear, and formal wear.  I don’t remember them all perfectly, but there was one act that followed a theme – the Ginger from third year (maybe? I think? he may have been fourth year…I’m also reasonably sure he has a real name, I just don’t remember what it is.) had a running theme of a comedic history of the Ginger (from some pop reference I’m sure), except for his talent portion where he did a ballroom type dance routine with several girls from the class (which now makes me lean more toward him being 4th year), he also played guitar and had sparklers on stage for various other performances.  One of the other guys did a bit of trampoline acrobatics which was really amazing.  The Asian guy from 3rd year (?) did a magic trick for talent, dressed as a sperm for swimwear, and danced to “kung fu fighting” for formal wear.  There were several acts that did Lonely Island songs, and quite a lot of partial nudity (as in most acts ended with one of the guys wearing just underwear).  The boys from my class did a duet for the swimwear (and were so drunk by that point that they didn’t really remember their dance moves), one wore a dress for the formal wear, and one did a rap for the talent portion.  They were good sports for having been picked by the class (since no one volunteered).  Next year we will have a better team because we already have guys thinking about what they want to do.  In the end, the Asian from third year won first, the Ginger took second, and someone…else…took third.  It was a very fun night out.


Saturday I tried to study genetics, but ended up down with a migraine headache instead.  I managed to sleep it off by the end of the day and felt well enough on Sunday to actually get some study done.  Sunday night our friend A (A2 from now on) from down the street came over and we did some group study.  He stayed until around 10 and then we cleaned up and toddled off to our respective beds.  Monday morning came bright and early and unwelcomed.  I had started coughing a little during the group study, and it escalated till around midnight (keeping me awake) when I remembered that I have cough suppressant left over from last year.  So, working on few hours of sleep, and feeling like I’d been run over by a garbage truck, I went in to my test and actually did alright.  I went straight home afterwards and slept for 4 hours, woke up and had a drink of water, then slept for a few more hours before getting up and attempting food of some sort (managed a small serving of rice) and then heading back to bed.  Tuesday I didn’t make it to school because I still felt awful and wanted to be somewhat recovered for the Anatomy test on Wednesday.  I slept in till 10am, and studied in 30-60 minute blocks with hour naps in between.  By 5:00pm I was finally feeling more human and managed to get in a few solid hours of study before bed.  I woke up bright and early (6:00 am) and got an extra hour of study in before heading to school.  I managed to miss exactly 13 points, which I took as a lucky sign since I was relying on a great deal of luck to see me through.  The grade is passing, even if it is below average, and so I am happy with it.


Wednesday afternoon was our last anatomy lab on the face (after the mid-semester break we start on the brain), so there was not much time to do any pre-lab.  Thankfully there wasn’t much pre-lab to work through and we managed to crack through the dissection in about an hour and a half.  The rest of the day was spent in jubilation.  Finally done with the tests and lab so our only responsibility left before the break was to make it to lecture in the morning.


Today we made it to lecture, sat through all three, and then escaped into the beautiful sunny day.  After classes I went to town with a friend for her birthday and had Japanese food.  My stomach was telling me that I could eat the entire portion of their largest bento, but it failed me.  The food was very good though and I made sure to eat all of the parts that wouldn’t reheat well.  I now have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Tonight we are doing our usual Friday Flat Dinner because tomorrow everyone is leaving back to Auckland for the holiday.  So it will be just me and the cats for the two weeks.  However, I did manage to score some Dairy Practical work over the break so I will get that taken care of and only have 2 weeks left to do next mid-semester break.  This way I don’t have to work Dairy over summer and can spend more of the break home with my loved ones.  I still have to set up my Sheep and Beef work, but I might get to do 3 of those weeks over winter and finish off the last week in November and then fly home.  It will mean quite a lot of work and no rest, but it also means more time home over summer which I feel is worth it.


Thanks for sticking with me through that long post, here are some pictures from Mr. Vet for your trouble.

Mr Vet 008 Mr Vet 011 Mr Vet 012 Mr Vet 018 Mr Vet 019 Mr Vet 020 Mr Vet 022 Mr Vet 032 Mr Vet 036 Mr Vet 040 Mr Vet 043 Mr Vet 047 Mr Vet 055


New Posting Schedule

After nearly 3 full weeks of classes, I think that I have finally settled in enough to figure out when I will have the time and energy to post.  So far it seems like Thursday nights after Anatomy Lab is when I have both.  Usually I would be studying, but after a full day of lectures and gym and lab my brain is pretty much mush, so focusing on study becomes an exercise in futility.  Therefore, you will get weekly posts on Thursdays when I can manage it.  No promises though, and there might be a smattering of other posts if I can get there.

So without further ado, let me tell you about my first four weeks in New Zealand of 2013.

I arrived in the country on a very warm summer day and found myself delayed in customs for nearly an hour, eating up all of my time to change flights.  Thankfully a kind person in front of me let me through ahead of them so that I could SPRINT across the airport to the domestic terminal (a completely different location about 10 minutes walk…I made it in 6) just in time to make my flight.  Which, of course, was delayed by more than 10 minutes.  Rather than missing my connecting flight entirely (which I was afraid of), I actually had time to sit and drink water and cool down before boarding.  The flight from LAX to Auckland had been the most turbulent flight in my experience of flying, but the trip to Palmy was quick and easy.

I was picked up from the airport by the friend who took care of me while I was grieving last semester.  I stayed at their house that first night, and planned on moving all of my things from storage into the new flat the next day.  I slept in the way that only jetlagged and heat exhausted people can, and woke relatively refreshed the next morning.  I then waited for my friends to wake up so they could help me move my stuff because I have never driven with a trailer before and needed a little assistance.  We eventually got up and situated and ready to go, picked up the trailer, picked up my spider infested things, and took the whole car+trailer load to the flat.  From there we unloaded everything in the hot sun and got my room mostly set up with all of my things.  Unfortunately for me and Mr. Shadow, my bedding smelled RANK.  It smelled so awful that I was sure I needed to wash it at least three times.  Double unfortunately, the washing machine hadn’t been delivered yet and I was too tired to drive to the Laundromat.  With nothing left to do at the flat, and no way to stay the night comfortably, I took my helpers to lunch at our favourite sushi place.  After lunch I walked around town with one of my friends while the other went home to get ready for work.  I ended up spending the night at their place again and looking into internet options in the morning.

After that it was a great deal of waiting around for the router to show up and the connection to go through.  We waited an entire week from when I initially set it up to when it finally arrived.  Absolutely ridiculous.  However, the internet has not had any problems since then so I am willing to give this company a chance.  Also I signed up for a 2 year contract in order to get the router free…so I’m stuck with them.

The washing machine finally showed up on Saturday afternoon (I arrived on Wednesday and moved in on Thursday), so I was able to wash my bedding and everyone else washed their clothes.  I’m going to take this time to say that I REALLY enjoy my flatmates this time around (Henceforth referred to as A, E, and M).  They are fun, funny, weird, awesome, and awkward.  In no particular order.  We have dinner together at least once a week, we go shopping together when it suits us, and we can just hang out.  They have also encouraged me to start working out more regularly so I have done more exercise in the last 3 weeks than I did over the entire semester last year.  I also share the house with 3 cats: Mr. Shadow, Serrate (M’s cat) and Gremlin Fivetoes (a foster kitten for M’s friend who is looking for a flat that will allow cats).  Shadow and Serrate are both older cats and they both dislike the kitten, but unfortunately cannot use that as a bonding tool and also dislike each other.  Once the kitten is gone I think they will be better able to work out their issues.

My first week of classes went relatively well.  We were introduced to the paper coordinators and told a little about this semester, and then flung full speed into study.  My flatmates are also really good at studying, which encourages me to be good at studying and procrastinate less (which is why I haven’t posted every night).  We will see how long this habit lasts, but I am going to give it an honest 4 weeks to set in before giving up completely.

My schedule is pretty easy this semester: Mondays – 3 hours lecture starting at 9am followed by 3 hours tutorial starting at 2pm, Tuesdays – 1 hour lecture at 9am followed by one Physiology lab at 10 and one alternating lab/tutorial/field trip for either Animal Industries or Animal Nutrition, Wednesdays – 3 hours of lecture starting at 9am and three scheduled hours for Anatomy lab preperation, Thursday – 3 hours lecture starting at 9am followed by three hours of Anatomy lab starting at 2pm, and Friday is 3 hours of lecture starting at 9am and a free afternoon.  The times my flatmates exercise is during the lunch breaks Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and 6am on Fridays.  I am going to start doing the Monday and Thursday lunch hour days (Body Pump = a weight lifting class set to music for 50 minutes, Body Attack a 30 minute aerobic class, and CX Works a 30 minute core workout) and do Yoga with some of my American classmates on Monday and Friday mornings.

As for specifics, I won’t regail you with all of the bloody details of the lectures which can be both intense and incredibly boring.  However, I will try to talk about my Anatomy and Physiology labs when they are interesting.

This week in Physiology we took a section of non-pregnant rabbit uterus and connected it to a pressure sensor.  The tissue was attached to a hook at the bottom of a bath apparatus (to keep it alive), and at the top to the pressure gage, by sutures.  We then introduced hormones into the bath one at a time, and then in tandem, to measure the reaction.  The experiment we designed was to test which hormones blocked uterine contractions during the fear response to prevent parturition.  There may have been a mix up in the labelling of our hormones, because we found that Nor-adrenalin stopped contractions while Adrenalin increased them.  This shouldn’t have worked and should have been the reverse.

This week in Anatomy we got to look at the eyeball and external ear of our dogs.  We were given back the heads of the dogs we started dissecting last semester and will be getting back the abdominal section later in the year.  In previous weeks we removed the skin to look at the muscles of facial expression which are mostly innervated by Cranial Nerve V.  The following week, we removed those muscles and looked at the muscles of mastication, which are mostly innervated by Cranial Nerve VII.  We also removed one mandible and looked at the muscles that the tongue attaches to.  By the time we got to today’s dissection there wasn’t much left of Buddy’s left side of the head.  We enucleated his left eye and studied the structures in and around the globe.  We also cut into his external ear canal to take a look at that, it was pretty gross in there.  There was also a freshly dead dog (not preserved) that we were able to practice with the auriscope on, which was really cool and saved a live dog the torture of 100 newbs digging around in its ears.  For anatomy, none of the dogs were killed specifically for the lab, they were all going to be euthanized for other reasons.  However, the lab demonstrators did euthanize the animals themselves so we respect our dogs very highly and do our best to learn the most we can from them.

That has been my last three weeks in a nutshell.  Now I am off to bed so that I can be awake for Yoga in the morning.

The morning after

I didn’t make it to school today.  I stayed the night with friends who knew him.  Friends who, like me, saw the abuse for what it was.  They are a vital part of my support system right now.  I will be going back to their place again tonight.

I saw a councillor this afternoon.  The same one that I saw before.  She has helped, it still hurts in ways that I have never hurt before, but she gave me ideas for options that I can look into for classes.  I am going to apply for impaired performance, and talk to one of the staff members (who is my staff mentor) about other options that might be available.

I want to be home so badly.  I want to go to the funeral, but I want to be home with my family and major support network.  Only 40 days and then I am home.

Oh hello again Life, nice of you to drop by

I woke up this morning with a headache and sick to my stomach.  Since I couldn’t get solid food down reliably, I decided to stay home from school.  A friend in the class got recordings of the lectures that I can get off of her later this week, so I should be ok.

Around 2:00 pm I found out that my bestie killed himself sometime last night or early this morning.  This is the same one who’s girlfriend killed herself when she broke up with him and he wouldn’t take her back.  She blamed him, several of her friends blamed him and left abusive comments for him to read on facebook, and he blamed himself.  Now he is dead.  I now realise that he cut me out of his life because he knew that I’d be able to tell when he was serious about doing it.  He is very good at fooling people, but hasn’t been able to fool me.  The others let their guard down because he did a very good job of playing “okay”.  I don’t blame them, even if they had watched him like hawks for months they would have eventually grown weary.  Being on suicide watch is exhausting.  He would have waited for them to lower their guard and done it when he saw his opening.  He was a stubborn asshole.  I place all of the blame squarely on his shoulders.  Just like I place all the blame for his ex’s suicide squarely on her shoulders.  Nobody can MAKE a person commit suicide, it is a choice.  It is a selfish choice, quite possibly the most selfish choice that a human can make.  She abused him and he was left quite utterly warped when she was done.  Now they are both dead.  I wish like hell that she had never existed, or that she had succeeded the first time she tried to kill herself and so never existed in my bestie’s world.

I’m going to see a councillor this week.  The funeral is looking like it will be next Monday (a week from today).  Until then, I have things that won’t stop just because some selfish jackass decided that killing himself was the answer to his problems.  There is an Anatomy test next Wednesday to study for, an Anatomy lab this week and next that I can’t miss, and final exams to study for.

A Riot of Spring

The weather this week has been very “Island Weather” also sometimes called “schizophrenic” when its particularly bad.  The mornings start off cold (about 3-5 degrees Celsius), rainy and windy and gross, then the sun comes out for a bit in the afternoon to give you hope and possibly trick you into putting your washing out to dry, as soon as you start thinking the day might be alright after all its gusting winds and raining just enough to be annoying.  Ah spring, such a lovely season.  We were blessed with a very mild winter so it would seem that we are cursed with a very spastic spring.  Only 45 days until I fly home though, I can deal with 45 days of any kind of weather if it means flying home to Southern California’s beautifully consistent warmth.

Lectures today were good.  First lecture was Animal Handling on pig welfare and handling.  Not much on handling so much as “this is how they are farmed commercially”, but still interesting.  Reinforces that I never want to own pigs, unless of course there are bodies that need to be disposed of (more omnivorous than say cows, oh man that article is priceless, I’m seriously laughing so hard it hurts).  The one thing I remember most from the lecture is that lots of straw is best for pigs because it keeps them busy and keeps piglets from getting crushed if the sow accidentally rolls on them.

Second lecture was Biochemistry.  I don’t really want to talk about it.  Mostly we talked about different anaemia’s caused by vitamin deficiencies.  B12 and Folate deficiencies can cause similar symptoms initially, but B12 deficiency can cause irreversible nerve damage so it is important to test for it if Megaloblastic Anaemia is seen in the blood work.  All of this, of curse, is related to protein and fat metabolism   Thankfully this was the last lecture on protein and fat metabolism, next week we start the section on “integrated metabolism” and then we are done.  Hopefully forever, this class has been the worst taught biochemistry class in existence.  I know that I can do biochem, I got an A in the other biochem paper taught at Massey.  That paper had the exact same material that was covered in the semester test that I only just barely passed.  Everyone else in the class is equally frustrated with the class.

After lecture’s I waited in the vet tower for my future flatmates to show up so we could check out a potential house to rent.  We got there, stepped inside, and realised that the house was Cold and quite damp.  We didn’t even bother looking through all of the rooms.  There is another flat that we are going to look at on Sunday, hopefully not as old and damp.

Flat hunting meant that I missed Grand Rounds this week, but next week I should be able to go to both Grand Rounds and Post Mortem  rounds.  Not sure why going to see dead things is so exciting, but I’m looking forward to being able to stay for the full time in PM rounds.

I made up my last Animal Handling practical today.  Cattle Handling 101 was both better and worse than I expected.  It was not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be, and I was able to do it with some of my new friends in the class which was nice.  However, we managed to pick the three worst cows for doing things to.  Our first cow was a little headshy and while we were able to put the rope halter on her and get her into the headbale, we had trouble holding on to her.  The second cow we chose for the next set of tasks was even worse about having her head held, we didn’t end up doing anything with her.  The third and final cow is apparently the worst one they have about that sort of thing.  We still managed (with help) to get a gag into her mouth (it is a metal wedge that holds the teeth apart so that we can check the mouth for lesions and cancers and stuck stuff.  We also got a handle bar type thing into her mouth so that we could slip a rubber pusher down her throat (it is used to push large chunks of food down when they get a little over excited about eating and forget to chew).  I’m reasonably sure at this point that I am not destined to be a cow vet.  These were cows from the “tame” herd and so were used to getting messed with.  This meant they knew the tricks for getting away with things, but also that they are going to be easier than most of the potential patients in the future of cow vetting.  I’m not giving up on cows just yet, just not entirely sure its my calling.  I do so love sheep still.


Post Test NOT Tired For Once

I actually woke up feeling very refreshed this morning, not the usual so exhausted that I don’t even want to think about waking up that happens after a test.  My morning was very lazy because today was my late start for the week.  This set me up for a really good day overall.

Lecture today was back to Biochemistry, and like usual I felt like a survivor at the end.  Today we went through protein oxidation again focusing on specific steps that he says we don’t need to know but should understand.  I have no idea what that means.  Looks like I’ll be studying it all and hoping for the best.

Lab today was using electrodes to create an ElectroCardioGram (ECG) and listen to heart sounds. My group is very fun, but not the most organised.  We were the last group done and didn’t get through as much as we probably should have.  Luckily it isn’t graded on anything other than having been completed.  The professor asked us how the test went and we got to complain about the lack of time to answer questions.  Hopefully if we complain to all of the lecturers next year there will be some change and future students won’t have to deal with that nonsense.

After lab I took the bus into town and had sushi for lunch.  Salmon sashimi, miso soup, and green tea.  It was super delicious.  Then I took myself to the new-age-hippie-store and bought a Loreena Mckennitt CD for in my car.  Now all I have to do is figure out how to get the CD player to actually work.  After that I walked back to the bus stop, checked the time, and then got gelato.  Caramel Late flavoured gelato might be my new favourite thing.

Back at school I had a follow up appointment with the councillor.  Because I’d been having such a good day we had a quick check in and then worked on general stress lowering activities to help me with study stress.  This should help my overall health quite a bit.  I have one more appointment with her during the study break and if everything is still going well then I won’t need to see her again this year.  She has been a big help, I am very glad that I went to see her.

Now I am off to bed so that tomorrow can be another good day.  Grand Rounds are tomorrow, and my Cattle Handling practical if I’m feeling up to it (and the weather holds).