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.


Wow this semester has flown past

I apologize profusely for the lack of posts this semester, and blame it entirely on my inability to balance life and school.  It will only get worse from here however so please bear with me.


Since my last post, I have had an anatomy multiple choice test (which I passed and did better on than the last one), and an anatomy topography test (which I am reasonably sure that I passed but won’t know until grades are posted hopefully sometime soon).  I have also had several labs, lectures, and assignments.  I finished my Agronomy Assignment which was torturous, so I made sure my assignment was torturous to read (citing every sentence, short choppy sentences, and intentional alliteration) out of spite.


In awesome future things news: I am on the Equine Rotation at the hospital!  Which, excitingly, means that I will be sacrificing two nights of sleep next week in order to get my horse fix! I will be paired with a different 5th year each night and either be on call, or have a set time to come in and stay for based on the cases that come in.  Since I want to work with horses when I grow up, this is the most exciting thing ever in the whole wide world.  Slightly LESS exciting than that (but not by terribly much) is the fact that I will be working for a Thoroughbred racing stable (training) over the 3 week break.  This means I will be with horses from 6:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday for 3 whole weeks.  I am beyond excited about this prospect.  It also means that I don’t actually have a vacation between semesters.  But in better news, it also also means that I don’t have to do equine practical work over the summer break so I will get to be home for longer! Always an exciting prospect for me.


That is all that I have for you today.  I am exhausted from studying all week and my brain is pretty mushy.  I haven’t had time to do any weaving this semester, but I have cooked some of my favourite dishes including Mac N Cheese which was to die for, and a lamb rib roast (the leftovers of which I am consuming tonight).


Hopefully it won’t be quite so long between the next post, but no promises.  Thanks for reading anyway!

Friday’s post

I ended up staying up too late to get a post written last night, so I am making up for it this morning.  It’s still Friday somewhere, so it totally counts as a Friday post.

First lecture was started with MUVSA (Massey University Veterinary Student Association) elections.  We voted on President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Bar (event coordinators).  The people that I voted for did not win, but I’m not terribly concerned with it.  I’m sure that the elected people will do a fine job.  Though I am annoyed that the Girls won the Bar after their terrible campaign making light of alcoholism and setting feminism back a couple decades (why should they be picked? tits and ass of course! *rolls eyes*).  The lecture was boring and I didn’t pay much attention because it is literally ALL in the study guide.  Thankfully he is done for a while and I wont see him again until the end of the semester (a couple weeks break).

Second lecture (immediately following first lecture) was Biochemistry.  More lipid (fat) metabolism.  The lecturer goes through his slides so fast that it’s hard to keep up.  He also puts huge blocks of text on some of his slides (quite literally what you aren’t supposed to do).  At the end of each lecture I feel like a survivor.  I am very thankful for the book to look up what I don’t understand.

After lectures I stayed in the vet foyer studying Physiology for the test next week and waiting for Grand Rounds.  There were three cases presented: Water balloon cow, Snake bite dog, and Leaky puppy.

The water balloon cow was what is called as a “Hydrops” cow.  Upon presentation there were two options, either the water was in the foetal part of the placenta or the maternal part of the placenta.  Either way there was an extreme accumulation of fluid that made the cow look barrel shaped.  The cows that usually present with this are generally very dehydrated and thin.  She was in relatively good condition and upon physical examination it was found that she had started parturition (giving birth) but couldn’t push because her uterus was so extremely distended.  Because she was at a lower risk of shock and in relatively good health they opted to drain the fluid and assist the birth after supplying her with oral fluids and electrolytes.  The risk for shock in less healthy animals is thought to be due to the sudden release of pressure on some of the big veins that go through the abdomen (caudal vena cava being one of them) causing a sudden, substantial increase in blood flow back to the heart.  This cow was fine with the pressure drop and delivered two very small non-viable calves.  She was a 5 year old Jersey with enough value to be worth saving.  If she doesn’t get pregnant again they will likely cull her but since she gave birth early in the season she should be able to have enough time to recover before being bred again.

The Snake bite dog was a case from the US where rattle snakes are the most common venomous death monger.  The little dachshund cross came in laterally recumbent (lying on its side) and very weak with a very swollen paw.  They suspected rattle snake due to blood spots on the dog’s bed and that the dog lived outside in a run while the owners were away.  They took blood samples to test and make sure before dosing with anti-venom and treated for shock (which the poor thing was clearly suffering from).  The tests came back positive for things that indicate a snake bite is likely and a new and experimental anti-venom was tried.  The first dose didn’t cause a marked improvement so after waiting an appropriate amount of time they gave a second dose.  The second dose caused a mild allergic reaction (not as common in other species as it is in humans) which was treated.  The dog was still puffy and sick when it was discharged 3 days after presentation, but was able to walk and gaining strength.  Since it was an emergency facility and all of the follow up appointments would have been with the usual vet, they don’t know how the dog is doing now.

The final case was a 12 week old female Borzoi puppy.  The breeder brought her in with siblings for a routine checkup and mentioned that she was constantly “damp” and peed on her bed, though was able to urinate normally as well.  Upon ultrasound examination they found that she had an ectopic ureter (the tube from the kidney to the bladder inserted below where it should and bypassed the sphincter that holds the urine in until the properly potty trained puppy goes outside).  The old method of fixing this problem was to go in surgically, cut the ureter and move it to where it should be.  Because Massey vets are too cool for that (and because that procedure held quite a bit of risk being a long surgery with a high chance of hemorrhage) they opted to go in with a tiny scope and tiny scissors through her urethra and cut the ureter back until it was at the level of the bladder (basically opening up the top of the tube so that it goes to the right place, sorry no pics available for that one).  The breeder took her home and she is still slightly incontinent, but hopefully with her first heat the hormones will help with that.  Her new owner (she was sold) has scheduled for her spay to be at Massey after her first heat.  They would normally recommend that she not be spayed, but because this is a heritable condition they don’t want the genes passed on (intentionally or accidentally) so will be doing what is best for her and future generations of Borzoi dogs.

After Grand Rounds was my Animal Handling practical for Cats.  Which meant two hours of snuggling and petting various sweet cats being used at the Massey Research Facility.  They are running nutrition trials on the cats so feeding them various things and seeing how the cats do on the food.  There are some clearly food motivated cats (Tubby Tim hoovered up any food in his vicinity) and some not food motivated cats (one eyed Iko was thin and couldn’t care less about proffered treats).  The building is not labeled because of the crazy PETA types who are opposed to animal testing (even though these cats live the sweet life).  Anyway, we learned how to carry cats, hold cats for blood draws, and how to pop pills down their throats.  Thanks to Littlun (my cat back home) and her asthma I am very good at popping pills down cat throats.  The one other Cat Person and I finished first and passed the test so got to leave by 4 instead of 5 and I caught the early bus home.

For dinner I heated up the last of my leftover soup, and about halfway through consuming said soup my flatmate asked if I wanted to do pizza with her and some of our friends.  FAIL.  I had been craving pizza all day, so finished my soup and agreed to pizza anyway.  I didn’t eat much of it but what I did eat was delicious.  We stayed up talking and hanging out until almost 11:00 pm, and that is why I didn’t get my post written yesterday.

Tuesday’s post

I apologize for missing last night’s post, I ended up going to a movie at the last minute and by the time I got home it was past my bedtime.  The movie was the latest Resident Evil, if you were curious.  I rather enjoyed it, laughed at what some might consider inappropriate moments, and let myself get sucked in enough to be startled when the baddies jumped out.  My favourite parts were: 1) strong female protagonist, 2) strong female antagonist, 3) Michelle Rodriguez (she was my favourite character in the first movie and while I missed a few in the middle, I like what they did with her in this one).

Yesterday for class I actually missed my first lecture (Animal Handling), but if it was anything like today’s lecture all I need to do is read the study guide, more on that in another post.  I missed this lecture because my usual ride to school, my flatmate, didn’t have an 8am lecture so didn’t leave until closer to 9am.  I made it to second lecture (Physiology) and took good notes on the cardiac system as a pump.  Anatomy was also on the cardiac and pulmonary systems and I was able to get good notes on that as well.

After the two hour lunch break was Anatomy Lab where we got to slice into the heart of our dogs.  We also watched the demonstrator cut open a horse heart and then compared that with our dog’s heart.  After going through the preserved material, we were given unpreserved hearts (the animal origin of which I cannot recall).  The differences between the three hearts were very interesting and we had a good time going through them.  We finished lab by about 4:30pm and I took the bus home.

Not wanting to cook because I’m usually exhausted on lab nights, I ordered pizza and was taken to pick it up by my friend from Hawaii.  When I told the girl behind the counter my name, she looked and could not find anything.  She then looked in the computer when I assured her that I had ordered one on line and that it indicated that the pizza was ready to be picked up.  She then told me that they didn’t have any orders for any Justin.  Wow.  Just.  I don’t even.  I corrected her on my name (and wondered how she hadn’t thought “oh this is a female maybe I misheard the male name and this one that looks vaguely similar could be it), got my pizza, and went home to consume it in peace.  After my ever so healthy dinner, I got popcorn at the theater.  So healthy.

Today’s post will come along after I am done with school.

Two, Two, Two days in One!

Sorry about missing yesterday, the internet stopped working and sabotaged my procrastination, so instead I studied.  Yesterday wasn’t terribly eventful anyway so you didn’t miss much.  Class, boring lab (that I have done before dealing with osmosis) and then a “stress management” class.

In stress management they told us that vets kill themselves and then tried to give us ways to not kill ourselves – by reducing stress before we become crazypants.  We were told several signs and symptoms of stress and went over how being stressed actually can make learning harder.  All basic psych 101 stuff.  Since my body does terrible, Terrible things to me when it gets over stressed, I learned many effective and adaptive coping techniques early on.  So I think I’m covered.  It was nice to do the guided meditation at the end though.

After the stress management session I went home and goofed off on the internet until it stopped working.  Then I studied my physiology notes until bedtime.  See, told you it was uneventful.

Today started off pretty good.  I was a little worried that my flatmate wouldn’t be driving (since she didn’t get home till late) but she was and it was good.  In class we talked about dog barking and how to prevent it (and treat it) and then metabolism.  I was done and out by 10am and got a ride home from my friend from Colorado.

Once home I sat and waited, studied a little, waited some more, and then finally got the text that the cat was on his way (with human driving of course).  My friend who is moving to Australia brought over Shadow (who is black, the cat that already lives here is also named Shadow but is gray).  He was pretty relaxed but seems to be under stress as well.  He explored my little room, ate some food, explored some more, ate some more, and then fell asleep.  At one point my flatmate came in and Gray Shadow snuck in behind her.  There was almost an altercation, but I grabbed up Black Shadow and Gray Shadow was coaxed out from under the bed with his food bag.  That was the most exciting thing that happened all day.


Tomorrow I am doing a CPR clinic with the Emergency Response Club, so that should be fun.  Hopefully I can get a ride, otherwise I will be forced to bike.  Which I am definitely not looking forward to.

As easy as drawing blood from a sheep

I really should have posted this two days ago, I know this, and I am sorry.  Please forgive me, but there was Olympic dressage and dinner with third years.  I was thoroughly distracted, and didn’t get to bed until after midnight.  So I present you with Friday’s activities a bit late.


It started out pretty terribly.  I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a heard of wild trash compactors that spat in my mouth and then added an extra kick to my lungs for good measure.  I was hacking and coughing with a sore throat and really just wanted to go back to bed.  The thought of having to catch the bus later so that I could make it to lab got me up though.  I actually made it to my 8am lecture and survived through the 9am lecture (though I did start shivering near the end, a hot cup of tea fixed me right up).


During the break I got an email from the immigration people asking for another background check (even though the one I turned in last time should still be good for another year), so I ran to the International Student Support Office and asked what I was supposed to do.  They only gave me two weeks to get my new background turned in, and I didn’t have a 10 card just lying around with all of the relevant forms filled out.  I can’t get that kind of turn around from inside the states.  They want me to get the 10 card, mail it (even though the post off ice was closed) and have it back in two weeks.  Not. Happening.  The nice woman at the ISSO told me that the best that I could do was document that I had mailed the relevant documents, and was awaiting their return, and email the immigration office telling them that I can’t work faster than the post and the FBI and asking for their patience (dang that was a terrible sentence).  So I wandered back to the vet tower and settled in to my lunch.


Around 2pm my group assembled in the vet foyer and made our various ways to the Veterinary Large Animal Teaching Unit (or VLATU for short).  One of my group members drove me and two others in her car, but we left super early so had lots of time to kill while we waited.  We decided to explore and watched demonstrators move some cattle around, then found some horses and decided to stop and pet them.  While we were standing around chatting and petting the sweet little gelding, one of the demonstrators came up to us and asked if we were in the horse group.  We said that we were in fact in the sheep group, but really like horses so were hanging out with them.  She then handed us some lead ropes and told us to catch two of the horses in another pen (very easy, they didn’t move much) and tie them up.  Then she handed us brushes and we got to groom the muddy hairy beasts.  The horse I had was named Grace and was about 16 years old.  The other horse in the pen was named Toy and was 30 years old, she was sway backed but in good weight and covered in a nice thick coat.  They were filthy (because there is a perpetual mud problem in the Manawatu in winter) but stood still very well.  As we were finishing up the grooming session, we noticed that our group was gathering on the other side of the barn so we walked over to them and sat for the introduction.


Kevin Stafford, the professor who teaches the animal handling class at 8:00 most mornings, taught us all about sheep.  It was very fitting as he is in fact Irish (yes, he DOES love potatoes).  In his Irish accent he asked if anyone had any experience on a sheep farm.  One of the guys grew up on a sheep farm, so he was volunteered to move the sheep into the pens.  16 sheep per side, 4 sheep per pen.  He got it mostly right but had to toss a couple sheep over the low fences to even out the numbers.  Kevin was rougher with the sheep than my classmate, dropping the little hoggets (young female sheep) from about a foot off the ground.  My classmate placed them down gently and let them get their feet before letting go.


Once all of the sheep were in the right place we were shown how to manipulate them for various tasks.  The first molestation technique we learned was how to set them on their bums.  We pushed them into a corner, grabbed them by the nose, turned their nose to their ribs and pushed down.  Once they were on the ground we grabbed the bottom leg and pulled them up onto their backsides and leaned them against our legs.  From this position we could check teeth and genitals and do all manner of terrible things (according to sheep) like shear them if we wanted to.  I was able to do this pretty easily and caught on relatively quickly, my partner wasn’t so adept at it, she will likely not go into sheep.


The second thing we learned was how to tie them up while they were sitting on their bums.  We got them into the bum-sitting position and then used a bit of twine that was tied in a loop.  We put it around their back legs (behind the hocks) and then looped it up over their heads (with their front legs on the outside of the twine).  We then laid them on their sides to make sure they couldn’t get up, then popped them up on their brisket so that they could belch (which sheep do every minute or so).  As it turns out, getting the little buggers OUT of that rig is harder than getting them into it.  Again, I picked up on it very quickly while my partner struggled.  I love sheep.


The next bit of harassment for the poor sheep was learning how to drench them (squirt liquids into their mouths).  We were given drenching guns (filled with water to practice) and shown how to use them.  I’m still not certain that I did it correctly, but as a vet I probably won’t be doing much drenching.  Its something that the farmers get their sons to do once they are big enough to straddle a sheep.  We did however learn things that can go wrong with drenching, and I am of the belief that all knowledge is worth having, so I’m not complaining.


Lastly, we were shown how to draw blood from a sheep.  We split up in pairs again (this time I had a different partner) and had to wait on one of the two demonstrators to make sure we weren’t doing it wrong.  Each of us was required to get two samples.  I managed to miss on my first pass, but got the vein without having to switch needles and scored my first sample.  Then I stood up and held a different sheep for my partner.  He was not so adept.  He had trouble finding the jugular, and when he tried to get the vein, he missed and then pulled the needle out too far and lost the vacuum.  He was taking a while so the demonstrators split us up with people who had finished both of their samples.  On my second try, I managed to hit the vein on my second pass again, but pulled out too soon because Kevin was talking to me and distracting me.  My sample was too small so he made me do another.  The next one I got the vein on my first shot and filled the vile.  I showed Kevin my triumphant sample and then signed myself off on the sheet.  We were free to go do whatever it is first years do in their free time.


I caught the bus home, an earlier bus than I had expected, and walked into an empty house.  During lunch, my friend from Hawaii invited me to dinner at her place for chili dogs.  Since I smelled distinctly of sheep and was going to be spending the evening with other people, I decided to shower.  After my shower my flatmate was not home yet so I grabbed my loom and started weaving.  Its pretty terrible, not gonna lie, but I’ve improved since my first fumbling attempt so there is about five inches of wobbly, puffy, inconsistent  stuff and then about three inches of almost looking like I know what I’m doing.  All of the improvement is thanks to my friends back home who have been patiently answering my questions as I bumble along.


When my flatmate did finally show up, we packed up her dog and went over to Hawaii’s place.  The chili dogs were fantastic and the company was entertaining.  There was red wine with dinner and chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert.  After eating we sat on the new couches (futons) and watched some of the Olympics.  Then my flatmate and her friend and I went to said friend’s house and watched the Dressage.  I made delicious lemon ginger tea out of fresh lemons and ginger with just enough honey to sooth the throat.  We stayed up until nearly midnight and then my flatmate drove us home.


The highlights were the Brittish guy whose horse looked wonderfully relaxed the whole time, and the Sweedish woman whose horse was actually missing an eye.  Thats right, no eye.  He spooked a couple of times which took them out of the running for any medals, but he was gorgeous and floaty and amazing to watch.  We honestly didn’t even notice the eye until they showed him leaving the arena at the end.


Saturday I did laundry, and went shopping, and did absolutely no study.  So today I made up for it and studied a little.  I also cooked amazing Chicken and Dumplings.  That’s right, it was so good it deserves capital letters.  Now I need to go to bed so that I can start the week over again. I really should stop writing these so close to bed time.