Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So far, so good.

My first two exams are out of the way. I got an A on Epidemiology and a B+ on Pathology II. Neither class is especially difficult, however both involved new professors and not being familiar with their exam styles so there was some apprehension going in. Epi was completely straightforward and all of my fears over how Dr. Berezowski would write a test were completely alleviated. His clicker questions in class can sometimes be tricky, so I was afraid, but it seems like those are the way they are to make us think and talk things out whereas in an exam he's much more cut and dry. Pathology II was nerve-wracking simply due to the amount of material. Even after just two weeks, we had 10 Powerpoints with dozens of diseases to know the clinical presentations and pathogenesis of. I'm not a fan of how Dr. Castillo writes questions, as it's a format that is almost designed specifically to trip vet students up. "Which is correct: A/A & B/A, B &C..." etc. We vet students have a horrible habit of overthinking things and talking ourselves into wrong answers, and that kind of format is like a snare trap waiting to snap shut.

Mechanisms of Disease is next week, but only has 8 lectures on it, so I'm really not worried. It's looking like my only two classes of concern this semester are Pharmacology II and Clinical Pathology. I'm making sure to study those two extra hard. Clin Path is difficult in that it's mostly case-based. Exam questions go like, "A 2-year-old intact male pit bull comes into your clinic with pale gums, weakness and inappetance. Interpret the following leukogram and CBC. What type of anemia does he have? What is the most likely cause of his anemia?"

This semester we're finally learning the bare bones of how to do medicine, and interpretation and making a differential diagnosis list are stressed pretty heavily. It's pretty tough.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Overall badness.

So I finally experienced what most Ross students will have a taste of at some point during their stay on the island. My car/property were broken into last Thursday night. I only realized that my car had been broken into going out that morning and finding it unlocked and the visors flipped down. Nothing had been taken that I could immediately tell, most importantly the battery and tires were still intact (popular theft targets). It wasn't until I got to school that I realized that my hoodie was missing and that there was a rental key resting on the hood of my car. I figured that whoever it was had used it to trip the lock on my car. I had two exams that morning (one I got an A on and the other I'm still waiting to hear my grade), and then went home to find the tourists staying at the villa waiting for me.

It turns out that the key was to their rental car and had been stolen during a break in at the villa the night before. The robbers didn't get much - some lunchmeat, cheese, laundry detergent and a camera charger. They left the TV and DVD player. Everything about the randomness of what was stolen suggests teenagers on a thrill-seeking chase. Still, it's very disconcerting to know that there were strangers on my property while I slept. It's not a feeling that I like at all.

Also, sadly the same night, Elvis of Elvis's Love Shack on the Timothy Beach "strip" was shot and killed. Elvis was a very nice man who was always good to Ross students. Although I'm not really a party type and don't make it to the strip often, I met him a few times and he always remembered who I was. Word from my friends who hit the strip often on weekends is that he took very good care of them, often giving them water when he noticed that they'd had a little too much to drink or walking girls safely to their cars. The orientation bonfire each semester was also held at his bar. I have a picture of his bar from my own orientation here. The entire Ross community was hit hard by the news and we're working on organizing a fundraiser of some kind to help his wife and teenage son through this difficult time. It's truly a sickening and brutal loss of a very kind person.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I've been meaning for some time now to secure the screen doors in my bedroom so that I can sleep with the french doors open at night and save on A/C costs. Well I got my first electric bill yesterday (I signed the meter over into my name in September and haven't received a bill yet, so I went down to the electric company.). My bill for four months was $2,448 EC, which works out to about $900 US. So yeah, that put a bug up my ass to finally get the project done. I stopped by the hardware store and bought some eye-and-hook screws and secured the screen frames so that Mama can't push them out and escape.

She's in love.
It's been wonderful, actually. My apartment is cool enough to leave the A/C off, it smells wonderful with the breeze coming in off the ocean, and there's more natural light in my bedroom which lifts my mood considerably. Plus I can hear the waves and that's calming, particularly at night. The only downside is Porch Kitty, a stray I've been feeding for the last few months, got into a scuffle with Mama through the screen last night. I woke up around 3am to screaming and hissing. I moved his food dish so hopefully it won't happen again. They already tore the screen a tiny bit, and if a good size hole develops then how secure the frame is won't matter if Mama can escape through a tear in the screen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weirdness of being a vet (student).

When you're a vet, vet tech, vet student, etc. you basically tattoo "Free medical advice!" on your forehead. Everyone in your life starts hitting you up for what to do about their cat puking, their dog scratching, behavior problems, etc. Of course it can be an annoyance, particularly when you feel used or taken advantage of, or when the people you're advising ignore everything you say and you feel you've just wasted your time and had your professional opinion belittled. Most of the time, though, it's a good thing. We're usually happy to pass along what knowledge we can, particularly if it's an easy fix. I can't tell you how often I've advised people to simply add another litter box to their home in cases of inappropriate feline elimination and it has solved the problem. Also, the more we pass along good information, the more the people we tell will further disseminate it. Sometimes I get a stupidly goofy grin on my face after I get to drop a juicy nugget of knowledge on someone, because I know that sooner or later their friends and family will hear about it and pass it along.

Such was the case during my last gynecological exam to have a contraceptive implant placed. As I lay there, in the usual position, having cold things stuck into uncomfortable places and grimacing in pain, I was talking to the technician assisting the doctor about her dog jumping up on counters. She mentioned that she "disciplines" him when she arrives home to find food containers from the counter on the floor, open and partially consumed. I said that actually disciplining so long after the incident was unlikely to have any effect, because the crucial time period for a dog to form an association between a behavior and a consequence is only a couple of seconds. I related to her a study I had heard about (and cannot find, so take it as you will) where dogs were "punished" after researchers left the room and the dogs went through the trash. Then, the dogs were brought into a room where there was already trash on the floor but the dogs had not done the deed. The dogs still demonstrated the classic behavior that most owners associate with "guilt"; tail between legs, hunched posture, bowed head and looking up with "puppy dog eyes." These are the signs that owners always point to and insist that their dog "knows what he did wrong." Instead, these researchers proved that the dog simply knows that trash on the floor upsets people, not that the dog knows that the act of getting into the trash is bad.

The tech was astonished and very remorseful, insisting that she never meant to scare her dog or unnecessarily hurt him. I assured her that I didn't assume that she had intended to and now that she knew better she could work on finding a better method of trying to correct his behavior. I went home sore but happy, because I knew our conversation would become water cooler talk with the other nurses and techs at that clinic within minutes of my leaving.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gussied up.

Mr. Ross is a big deal down here. We elect a guy from each semester to compete in a variety of talent categories to win the title of Mr. RUSVM. For us girls it's become the event each semester where we pull out all the stops, break out the pumps and go out looking like a million bucks.

I just wanted to show my mommy how pretty I looked in the dress we bought while I was home over break.

Friday, January 13, 2012


We found out the official total number of people that we lost from our semester, and it's depressing. In third we had 127 people in our class. As of this semester we have 97. We lost at least 30, because I'm not sure how many people repeating 4th semester we gained. I have heard that 20 of that number is due to Virology alone.

So when I talk about how hard classes are or how scared I am about failing out and people back home kind of hem and haw about it or tell me I'm overreacting, I have to point to shit like this and go, "Nuh uh!" We lost 27 people from our class in 1st semester, I'm not sure how many in 2nd, and another 30+ in 3rd. These are not stupid people. These are not lazy people. And perhaps most glaringly, the most recent crop of students made it through rounds one and two of weed outs and still got nabbed.

This is a ridiculously difficult program and Ross is an unforgiving mistress when it comes to failing out. You fail two classes, you're done. Appeals rarely work. You fail you're gone, and $100,000+ more in debt than when you arrived. That's why I'm so scared. That's why I've been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks these last few months.

Monday, January 9, 2012


First day of fourth semester and I already feel like I'm doomed. Dr. Walker came into our Pharm II lecture this morning and opened with, "If you thought Pharm I last semester was hard, this semester is much, much harder." And I about burst into tears. No, really. My eyes welled up and I wanted to cry right there and then. Pharm I was a nightmare for me. Hearing that was like being read my death sentence.

Then later during Clinical Pathology I was completely and utterly lost. Part of it was because the version of the PowerPoint presentation that we had available online was way out of date and missing like half of the slides, and part of it was because it was just an extremely poorly put together lecture. For two reasons: 1.) She assumed way too much knowledge on our behalf. The professor assumed that because most of us had been techs we knew how to interpret blood work results. I was a tech for nearly 3 years, but I was never taught to interpret blood results. I was a trained lab monkey - put the plasma in the machine and bring the print out to the vet. Luckily I wasn't the only one that felt that the professor was being very presumptuous. 2.) Jumped around, couldn't seem to find a continuous train of thought or tie concepts together in a logical way. It was just a mess.

So yeah, I came home, stress-cleaned my apartment, made dinner that I had to force myself to choke down because my appetite was nil, and now I'm having a cocktail and going to go cry in my shower for about five minutes before reviewing today's material. Hopefully things get better.