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.

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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!

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.

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.