Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A hurricane, of course.

So I just got internet back at my place after two and a half days without. Turns out the phone wires were corroded from moisture and needed to be repaired. The two technicians from Lime were super sweet and stayed nearly a half hour after their shift was over to fix the problem.

But my joy might be short-lived, as I'm likely to spend the next two days without power. We have a tropical storm heading for us that's supposed to hit tomorrow, which may or may not develop into hurricane Isaac before it leaves the islands. I've got my two, big jugs of clean water, some canned soup, beanie weenies and Sterno fuel to warm them up. Time for the critters and I to hole up and wait the storm out.

So far dives have gone well. Had a giant, five foot barracuda scare the ever living daylights out of me this morning when I looked up from collecting data and saw it hovering a foot from my face. Those guys are so creepy. They won't bite, they just follow you, like a big, toothy shadow.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aaaand relax!

This is my favorite time on island. No classes, no stress, just watching lots of movies and TV on my laptop, surrounded by friends' animals that I'm petsitting, and watching the waves on the beach from my porch. I only ever stay for August breaks, and this time last year I was moving into a new apartment and had my family coming down, so it was less relaxing. My mom is coming down on Saturday, but that's much less hectic than four people (mom, grandma, aunt and cousin). And since we got all of the tourist-y type stuff out of the way last time, we can just chill and relax this time.

To be honest, with a whole week to myself I'll probably be completely batshit bored by Wednesday. I'm not the sort of person suited to long periods of idleness. I'll wind up deep cleaning my whole apartment (on my to-do list anyway). I'm also offering a fish ID training session for the AR Project members still on island where I'm going to take them snorkeling and I'll point out fish and have them try to identify them with these nifty flashcards my PI let me borrow.

Friday, August 17, 2012

6th, here I come!

After a very anxious wait and feeling like I might throw up at any second, grades were finally posted earlier this afternoon. I passed my classes and am moving up to 6th semester. It feels so bizarre to be almost done with my time in St. Kitts. But I wanted to talk about something a bit more serious, after my experience over the last few days and watching my classmates go through the same thing.

First of all, this pretty much sums it up. I think I've said it before but it bears repeating that in undergrad, pre-vet students spend all of their time and energy being so focused on getting into vet school that we don't really ever stop to think about what will happen once we're there. No one stops to consider that just because you were accepted, it doesn't mean you'll stay. You can fail out of vet school. All of your hard work and thousands of dollars in student loans can go spiraling down the drain after a few bad exams.

I know I've talked before about vet school and mental health, but I get new readers all the time who may or may not have gone back and read old entries, and this is a very important topic. In our first semester we had a lecture on vet students and mental health, substance abuse, etc. It was good that the university acknowledged it, but I don't think it's a topic that's talked about enough before students are admitted to vet school. Pre-vet students have no idea what it's going to be like, unless they have a really honest friend already enrolled. And people applying to Ross are often so desperate just to get into vet school (I remember, I was one of them) that they haven't even considered the possibility of what it'll do to their emotional and mental health.

I've mentioned my own struggles here before. How I never expected to become clinically depressed in vet school, to the point where I considered seeking out professional help. I even made an appointment with Ross's counselor but I cancelled at the last minute. But I just wanted to provide a quick and dirty little summary as something to chew on for any potential pre-vets who might read this.

During the course of your time in vet school, you will:

  • Be so tired from lack of sleep, pulling three all nighters in a row during finals week, studying for more information than seems humanely reasonable for one person to possibly memorize for a single class, that your physical health will be affected. You'll get ulcers, your whole body will hurt, you'll feel like death warmed over. I've actually thrown up the cup of coffee I just drank the morning of an exam because my stomach was so upset from anxiety that just brushing my tongue triggered my gag reflex. This happens every four months for Rossies as opposed to twice a year in the state schools, so be prepared. You don't get summers to relax and recoup here. You punish your body and brain continuously for 3 1/2 years straight.
  • Cry. A lot. You'll feel stupid, inadequate and overwhelmed. You'll feel like everyone in your class finds all of this so much easier than you do. You'll take your last final and go home, physically and mentally depleted, unable to eat because your stomach is a rolling vat of battery acid, and just sob into your pillow because you're sure you just failed everything and you're going home.
  •  If your spouse/parent cosigned your student loans, or even if you're just married, this adds a whole new level of pressure to the experience. Because your debt is not simply your debt anymore. Whether you fail out and go home with $100+ K in debt and no job doesn't only effect you, but whomever is also attached to that debt. This makes the wait for final grades each semester even more nightmarish as you envision their disappointment and how your failure might ruin their life, too.
And if you think any of this won't happen to you, trust me, neither did I. This isn't just my experience, although yeah, I've done all of these. This is basically a reproduction of the experience of everyone I know here at one point or another.

So before you apply to vet school and take on that first student loan check, ask yourself if this is really something you think you can handle or even want. If you have a good job that you enjoy right now and are happy and financially secure, it's something to consider that maybe vet school can wait a few years. Give yourself time to get your brain off of the "Must get in!" hamster wheel and consider the consequences of what happens if you do.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Too sexy!

I do believe that this is the best photo I have ever taken of my cat.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

About that time.

Finals begin next Monday and I feel completely unprepared as always. Let myself get way too behind in Toxicology and DI. Luckily I only need a 52% and 42% on those finals, respectively. I need a ridiculous 20% on Anesthesiology, so that's going to be my "cram the night before the exam" class this semester. The class I'm worried about is Small Animal Medicine I (SAM I) because I need a 63% on the final and the subject matter is mostly neurology, which is not easy and highly detail oriented.

I am excited that I get to spend a week goofing off with my mom soon. That's going to be a blast.

Unfortunately my break is going to be a little bit marred by the fact that the only other member of the Artificial Reef Project who is signed off on data collection and staying over break just broke up with his girlfriend and is moving back to the U.S. (he was a VIP of one of the students). That means I am the sole member of the project capable of doing data collection who will be on island, which means I am now responsible for completing twelve dives over break. It's going to be exhausting, but I feel silly complaining about it when my PI did all of the dives herself for month-long stretches in the beginning of the project before anyone was signed off on data.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How'd you find me?

I figure every so often I'll compile the funniest phrases that have been put into a search engine and led to this blog. Some of these are downright hilarious.

ggsaaavhh - Oookay. I don't even really have a comment for this one, I'm honestly just stumped.

let me eat the sushi with my blood on it - I had to Google this one myself, because it amused me so much. Apparently there is a viral video of a little Asian kid screaming this.

"vet school" and girls with testicles - That is a very specific fetish you have there.

hemolytic anemia comic - In what way is hemolytic anemia funny?

 diuretic meme - What? I don't even...

 "julie lada" vet - I originally chose this one because I loved the fact that my name was in scare quotes. As though that was in doubt or something. I found out that this search was actually by a friend trying to find my blog, and if you put a phrase in quotations into Google it's because you want that exact wording.

swim team blood type a - Someone is a creepy stalker and knows way too much about me.

blog about my cat - Hey! Okay, yeah. I blog about my cat a lot. Guilty.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I'll take it.

So apparently I don't have to make up my equine physical exam. Emails were supposed to go out yesterday and only two people received them out of our entire class (or at least they're the only two that are speaking up). I'm happy because it means one less thing to worry about in the week before finals. I am angry and frustrated because I don't feel I earned a passing grade and wanted a chance to redeem myself. I don't like that the last impression Dr. Yvorchuk had of me was not exemplary.

Today I'm planning on spending a couple of hours relaxing and luxuriating in a bubble bath with some of the homemade rosemary peppermint sugar scrub I made, and then later this afternoon buckling down and beginning the process of hardcore finals cram time.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pic dump.

I thought I'd share these two photos. I didn't take them, I just really liked them.

Just an average day, driving to school and stopping for the giant herd of sheep.

An absolutely gorgeous Kittitian sunset.

Silly but useful post.

I have to share this link. It's got suggestions for simple household frustrations made easy. I've already done two of them - the painted keys, for my cat sitter to easily tell which key goes to what, and the ziplock baggie full of vinegar for the showerhead.

See? No scrubbing required.
The split toilet paper roll for wrapping paper is genius, and I am totally doing the shoe organizer for cleaning products thing when I move back to the States. And I'm going to clean out a lotion bottle to use for my keys and cell phone this weekend during my dive. That's brilliant.


A new student security report: "At about 00:30am on Sunday 29th July a student was robbed of her wallet and cell phone at her front door just before entering her apartment. There was no threat or weapon involved and no physical harm to the student."

I have to warn anyone who would try to rob me without a weapon... I'm over six feet tall and 200 lbs, and my husband has taught me a few ways to put down an attacker quickly and involving a lot of pain. I carry mace everywhere with me, and when my back is turned unlocking my door when I get home after dark, it is in my other hand and my finger is on the button. Your attempted robbery is not going to end well for you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mental dysfunction of vet students.

Earlier this semester a professor said something that made us all laugh. "You're all a little OCD, otherwise you wouldn't be in vet school." It's funny, but it's so true. Vet students are, by and large, Type A, perfectionist, control freaks.

Case in point, my Intro to Clinics physical examination exam today. It was divided into canine, equine and ovine portions with 5 minutes per section. You went in and picked a card that had 5 tasks from the physical examination of that species on it and had to complete those tasks while describing them out loud to an instructor who could (theoretically) offer you no feedback. For instance, if you got palpation of the throacic limb as one of your tasks you'd have to describe what you're doing, why/what you're feeling for, and if you did feel any abnormalities what they could indicate. That's just one task and you've got five to complete in five minutes. It's a little nerve-wracking.

Long story short, I completely choked on the equine portion. My third objective was to palpate the pulse in a superficial artery of the head and I found my landmarks and explained why I was palpating in that location and how (palmar aspects of the distal ends of the fingers, NOT the tips!) and then I went to feel the pulse and... nothing. Couldn't find it. I spent over a minute trying three different locations on the horse to get this damn pulse and I couldn't feel a thing. Time ran out and I didn't complete my last two tasks.

So I am definitely repeating that portion, which is fine. It's why they offer make-up in the week following the exam. Not everyone passes all three sections the first time. I know this. I know it's okay. And I absolutely rocked my canine and ovine portions. I mean, I freaking nailed them. I know this because this is where the "theoretically" part about no feedback comes in. While they can't tell you if you've successfully completed a task or answer questions during the exam, both my canine and ovine instructors told me I did a wonderful job after I completed my exam. In fact, my ovine evaluator was quite enthusiastic about what a great job I'd done.

This is where that pesky, perfectionist vet student thing is so annoying. I nailed 2/3 portions of that exam with high praise. I screwed up one part, which I have an opportunity to redo and I will do fine on next time. But instead of feeling good about the parts I did well on, I mostly just feel like a complete and utter failure and horribly embarrassed about the part I did poorly on. It's totally black and white with us vet types. Either we're awesome, or we suck. There is no in between.