Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gettin' my nerd on.

Not much going on. Cookie has been adopted by one of my close friends but she won't be able to take her home until January, so she's staying with me for another two months until my friend moves into her new, pet-friendly apartment. I can't believe the progress that Cookie has made while she's been with me. In just a couple of months she went from being completely unapproachable to now being a huge snugglebug and lap cat. She also has the loudest purr ever.

I got to practice my blood vessel ligating skills! We have a clinical skills class each semester where we learn aspects of surgical technique so that once we get to small and large animal surgery, we'll already know how to tie sutures and handle instruments in a sterile manner with correct hand positions. This semester we're learning knot tying and had to learn three knots; square throws, Miller's and surgeon's knots. Then we had to practice tying off a severed blood vessel on a model of rubber tubing attached to a syringe full of red dye. We had to use needle holders to tie a Miller's and then three square throws to completely occlude the vessel and then try to squeeze dye through it. If we could, it would be a bleeder in a live animal and we'd have to go back and resuture. It was a really fun learning experience and I learned that I am a suture-tying natural!

One cool thing did happen last week. In my pathology class we were going through metabolic diseases of bone with nutritional causes such as too little calcium and vitamin D or too much phosphorus. My professor asked who in the class had ever owned an iguana and only two of us raised our hands. He called on me and had me briefly explain about calcium supplementation powders. Later, after class, I showed him a photo of my foster iguana, Katelyn, who came to me with a moderate case of metabolic bone disease brought on from being allowed to free-roam her apartment and therefore not getting enough UVB.

Brief explanation:

  • Vegetarian reptiles don't get a lot of vitamin D in their diet. They also don't get a lot of fat in their diet, so what little vitamin D they do ingest doesn't get absorbed very efficiently (since vitamin D is fat soluble and is absorbed in the small intestine in a fat globule called a mixed micelle). So the manufacture of vitamin D from UVB in the skin is very, very important in iguanas. When they don't get enough UVB they wind up vitamin D deficient. The activated form of vitamin D, calcitriol, is necessary for adequate calcium absorption from the small intestine. No UVB --> too little vitamin D --> too little calcium being absorbed from food --> the body starts pulling calcium out of bones, leading to softening and deformity of bone.
Anyway, he basically said, "That's really cool! Wanna talk about it tomorrow at the start of class?"

And I did, and it went really well! I've had a few opportunities where I've been able to talk to my peers about a topic that I'm really passionate about. In undergrad I got to give a guest lecture in my Companion Animal Management class on exotic animal care and husbandry where I brought in a bunch of animals from the rescue that I volunteer for. It was super awesome. I actually really enjoy teaching.


  1. Did you do that lecture with Dr. Allrich? :)

    1. Wow, okay. It took me until now to realize that you said Dr. Allrich and not Dr. Reich. Were you in pre-vet with me? Because I did do an exotics lecture in Dr. Allrich's companion animal management class.