Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Go green!

Today was our 7th semester class photo session on the Student Union lawn.

And my friend Laura made a video:

Incoming Summer 2013 first semester students... You will be the new Green. And you have HUGE shoes to fill! Good luck!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I'm a surgeon now, you guys!!!

My spay was on Wednesday. My surgery partner and I were so stoked, but I was slightly worried that my history of getting faint while watching surgeries would rear its ugly head. So I asked for a stool to be nearby in case I needed it, but I didn't! I was totally fine! Not only that, but I had a blast. I do wish it had been cooler in the OR, because I was sweating bullets in my gown.

Our patient did wonderfully. Almost no bleeding, woke up fine from anesthesia, didn't seem even remotely painful the next day as she was jumping around like a big goofball. Which is surprising, considering that we are first time surgeons and our technique was far from flawless. She was released at noon the next day, wagging her tail and super excited to see her owner. As long as I don't get a call before her 10 day recheck that her incision site has dehisced, I'm calling this a win!

I also started my emergency rotation on Monday. Up until that point, groups that went before ours had said, "Oh, don't worry. There's not a lot going on and no one gets called in when they're on call." They cursed us. We've had three hit-by-cars since Monday, one of which was euthanized and another belonged to a classmate of mine (thankfully, that dog got off very, very lucky with only bruising and some road rash). I was called in, and four other students were called in during their on-call shifts.

My last few days have gone something like this...

Wednesday: Performed my spay. Stayed until about 6pm doing paperwork. Went to dinner to celebrate with a friend. Got home and tried to sleep before going in to do a recheck on my patient at midnight. Got back home at 1am. Went to sleep until my alarm went off at 6:30am to go to class.

Thursday: Class, emergency rounds, home to lay in bed and try to fall asleep fruitlessly before my midnight-7:30am shift. Go in at midnight, work until time to go to class at 8am.

Friday: Go to class, go to bovine rectal palpation lab, attend emergency rounds, pick up on-call phone and go home. Fall asleep at 9pm. Get called at 12:30am for an emergency HBC. Get home at 3am. Sleep four hours, wake up at 7am for my ICU shift at 8:00am.

Saturday: Work 8am-4pm.

Sooo, yeah. I'm going to pass out for several hours.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wow, really?

I walked away from rounds today feeling kind of raw and annoyed, and I'm trying to get it out of my brain in a coherent, nonjudgmental way. First of all, I love the clinician in charge of our emergency rotation and rounds. She's a very nice, helpful and instructive person. But tonight during rounds she said something that kind of got my back up a bit.

We were discussing euthanasia and situations where it would be appropriate to not put in a catheter and administer sedatives before the euthanasia solution. Fractious/aggressive animals, severe respiratory distress cats, bleeding risks, etc. were all brought up. But then one of my group mates said, "Exotics and small animals." Now, I agree about the catheter but I strongly disagree about not offering sedation for those patients, so I said so and gave an anecdote about how I was very unhappy with the euthanasia experience with my four rats, watching them struggle and fight the inhalant anesthesia with no pre-meds.

The clinician then said, "Well, exotic euthanasias are always going to be bad and I wouldn't let an owner back there to watch."

She undermined the exact point I was trying to make, and I felt sort of dismissed. I was trying to point out that owners of exotic pets want just as good of treatment for their snake/lizard/rodent/ferret as the owner of a shih tzu. We don't appreciate our animals being treated as something apart from "normal" pets. And I definitely didn't appreciate hearing her write off exotic euthanasias as "difficult" as though we shouldn't even try to make improvements so that the experience is less stressful. And then to go a step further and write off the client as just simply not allowed to be with their pet and see them out of this world... I was kind of flabberghasted, to be honest.

I've heard of exotic animals being given an IM injection of sedative and their owners sitting in a dim, quiet room for 15-20 minutes until the animal is sufficiently calm enough to take gas anesthetic without a struggle. Yes, that eats up time for your clinic where you could be taking other appointments. But it should say something to you that the owner of a $5 gerbil is willing to pay the additional expense for the injection and spend a half hour sitting alone in a dark room talking to and kissing and saying goodbye to their pet. These aren't cases you get to just dismiss as "difficult" and take in the back while the owner sobs their heart out in the parking lot. That is just lazy and not the best standard of care we can offer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hell week begins.

This week I have my first spay on Wednesday (so nervous!) and I start my emergency rotation today.  It's a week long and requires two people on call and two people in the ICU for each of two shifts. My group has eight people, which means we'll each have a shift every day for a week. Have I mentioned that I hate emergency medicine? I like sleep and I like a schedule and structure. Emergency has none of those things. I'm basically going to get through this and then never even think about emergency ever again.

The lights came back on at my place yesterday. Yaay! I slept a lot.

My mom reminded me that I haven't posted pics of my foster cat Melody yet. So here ya go.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My first attempted robbery.

So, first off, since this is likely the first my mom will hear of this since I know she checks my blog at work where I can't call her, I AM FINE! But last night two men tried to break into my apartment while I slept.

Around 11:15pm I was woken by a sound that somehow, even groggy and coming out of sleep, I knew was the sound of a knife cutting through the screening on the French doors of my bedroom. I snapped my head up from the pillow and saw two men holding flashlights. I actually said, "What the hell...?" under my breath before my brain finally got with the program and realized, hey, maybe you should scream? So I did. Really, really loud. And they bolted like frightened deer.

That's about as exciting as it gets, actually. I screamed, they ran, and then I called Ross security and talked to a very nice guy named Vernon while I gave him directions out to my place. He arrived within 10 minutes, but due to the thick, tall plants on the property he didn't feel safe getting out of the vehicle until the police (and therefore, guns) arrived. Had I needed him to, he assured me he'd come running. But with me safely locked in my apartment there was no need for him to risk his safety. So we just chatted about how he's never attended a Mr. Ross since he started working for security two years ago, and whether we'd be watching the presidential inauguration tomorrow.

I should mention, I have no power at the villa right now. A wire burnt out somewhere on the property and so the entire property is pitch black. We have electricians coming out at 8am today to start work, but unfortunately today was not yesterday and I think that's why last night happened. I really do think they didn't believe anyone was home. The moment I screamed they ran like hell. I think I scared them almost as badly as they scared me.

I have to say, Ross security and the local police were there quickly, they did a walk through of the property to make sure no one was still hiding anywhere, they took my statement, they told me they'd be patrolling the area for the rest of the night, and then I received two more phone calls (one at 1am and one at 6am) checking on me to make sure I was still okay. This morning when I checked my email I had one waiting from the Ross off-campus housing coordinator checking to make sure I was okay. Ross definitely handled this one very well and I'm grateful.

Anyway, yeah. That sucked. It was scary. It won't be one of my fondest memories ever. I am pleased with the way I handled it, as they always say, you never know what you'll do until you're in a situation. Well, I screamed and immediately phoned the police and then sat with my mace and a knife in front of me on the sofa while I waited for help to get there, so I think I did pretty well.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Clinical placement.

We obtained our clinical placements yesterday. This girl will be going to University of Illinois!!!

While I'm still bummed to be so far from Don, I am very happy that I will be close to home. My mother lives three hours away from Urbana, and I have friends very close by as well. One of whom is helping me scope out apartments today as he's visiting his girlfriend who lives in Urbana. And Don can always fly into Chicago once in awhile and we can spend a few days together.

This semester is still kicking my ass. We were assigned our sheep and donkeys for morning and afternoon SOAPS (which stands for subjective objective assessment and plan). Basically we do a full physical exam on a sheep and a donkey twice a day and record our findings in their chart. It's exhausting, as we have to be on campus as early as 6am and leave as late as 6pm most days. That's on top of our lectures, labs and surgeries. A few professors have made jokes about us all having gray hair and no energy or motivation left at the end of this semester. I can definitely see that already, and it's only week 2.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why hello, there!

Just as a lighthearted update (unless you're an arachnobobe, I guess) from the last post...

I went to put on my dress for Mr. Ross tonight and found a little something extra.

I got a tupperware container out of the kitchen and scooped him up, but he was very lethargic. Normally Huntsman spiders are very fast and hard to catch. This guy just let me do as I pleased with him and didn't even barely move. I think he probably got into the insecticide Terminex sprays around the perimeter on his way in and was slowly dying in my apartment.

Either way, I let him go outside. Hopefully he'll recover and go on to eat many centipedes.

With my hand for size comparison.

Well, shit.

Emails were supposed to go out yesterday afternoon if we were presented to one of the schools that requires an extra step (phone interview, letters of recommendation, etc.). I did not receive one, which means that I won't be attending Oregon State University for my clinical year. Which means that my only hope of seeing my husband on anything approaching a regular basis (he lives 6 hours away from OSU) has been shot down.

I always acknowledged it as a possibility, but I thought I had a strong special consideration to get one of those spots. But I was still realistic and so while this was disappointing, I wasn't crushed or anything. My husband, on the other hand, had a very strong reaction that kind of took me by surprise. He wanted me to fight for a spot, call someone, email someone, demand to make my case heard. He was angry that I seemed to be giving up. The degree of his reaction honestly shocked me and I tried for five minutes on Skype to convince him that this is out of my hands. They've been very clear with us, once those placements are made they are ironclad. There is no fighting it and if I tried I'd just make an ass of myself.

I'm airing this dirty laundry here because the goal of this blog has always been to portray the reality of being a Ross student. I talk about the hard stuff so that people can get an accurate understanding of the trials and challenges you'll face as a Rossie.

So my husband and I had our first "fight" in a long time because of Ross. It wasn't a major one and we resolved things quickly, but it hurt me that he thought I wasn't as invested in seeing one another as he was. It hurt me that he was hurting because we'll spend another year apart. And it sucked that it was completely outside of my control and Ross let me down in such a personal way.

A lot of spouses/couples fight down here. The stress of living in a foreign country, the fact that students don't have time for their significant others, and the fact that VIPs (what we call our partners) can't get work because they aren't Kittitian citizens, combines into a state of boredom and helplessness that makes them feel very frustrated. It's ended a few marriages.

Just another thing to consider if you're reading this as a future Rossie.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What a rush!

So 7th is starting out of the gate at breakneck speed. Today I had to perform a physical exam, obtain pre-anesthetic blood work, and meet with the owner of my spay patient. I was in the clinic for three hours getting all of that done and approved by clinicians before proceeding to the next step. I'm pretty exhausted.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well my surgery partner and I worked together. It was predictably a little awkward in places. You're both trying to wear the "doctor hat" at the same time and also trying to avoid stepping on each others' toes. We had a few moments where it felt like we were both trying to take the reins, but we resolved it quickly and amicably when it happened. Overall I think we'll work really well together throughout the rest of the semester.

One thing that surprised me today was that my confidence in performing a physical exam has grown considerably since 1st (possibly 2nd?) semester. In Anatomy I (I think, it could have been Anatomy II) we are taught how to perform a physical exam and then are walked through the exam in lab. Then we don't do one again until 5th semester in Intro to Clinics. Then we don't do another one until our spay lab in 7th semester. I think this is a good pace that allows students to really appreciate the difference of where they started and ended in their preclinical education.

I felt completely lost in Anatomy and to some extent also in Intro to Clinics. I had seen physical exams performed a thousand times as a tech. I knew the steps, I could probably even do the motions in my sleep. Hell, I'd be willing to bet most of the general public could even describe and perform most of the steps in a physical exam. But it's the interpretation that gets lost in translation. I could put my hands in the right places, but what you're feeling for and why and what it means is an acquired skill. Today I finally felt like I knew why I was doing what I was doing instead of just mimicking in a monkey-see, monkey-do fashion. It was nice.

We put in our clinical placement preferences today. I requested special consideration for Oregon State, since my husband is just a border away in Washington. It's about a six and a half hour drive, and a much shorter flight and we'd be able to see each other one or two weekends each month. Hopefully it's enough to secure my spot there. If not, I don't really care where I go so long as they have a decent lab animal/exotic animal rotation.

Monday, January 7, 2013

7th semester.

I collected all seven!
I spay a dog next Friday. I'm shitting my pants. <-- official doctor terminology.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The reality of St. Kitts.

One thing I read over at the SDN also prompted me to want to clear the air a bit. Someone said that reading my blog allayed any fears she had about moving to St. Kitts. She had previously stated some reservations about crime and personal safety.

I want to be clear here; I don't want anyone reading this blog to think that St. Kitts is a land of rainbows* and puppy breath. It can be dangerous living here. The villa that I live in has been broken into three times in the last year. Luckily my apartment was never hit, probably because it has security bars over the windows (the point of entry for all three break ins). But it's still unnerving to know that people with bad intentions were on the property while I slept.

Friends of mine have had their apartments broken into and laptops, iPods, cell phones, cash, etc. stolen. Even places with security bars. Cars are routinely broken into and tires or batteries stolen. My car was broken into the night of one of the villa break ins and searched for cash. All of my visors were flipped down, the compartments opened, etc. The only thing they stole was a hooded sweatshirt and my diving booties.

There is a big drug and gun culture here. When you read about shootings, etc. they typically occur on parts of the island that students don't venture into, but some of them have occurred in town and on "the Strip" - a popular drinking destination for students. My own orientation leader told me never to be on the Strip after the bars closed, because that's when the guns come out. It's never been an issue for me, as I'm not much of a party girl.

The local men can be very flirtatious and persistent. Even letting them know that I'm married doesn't always work, because they'll frequently ask me, "Is he here?" I've never felt threatened by their attempts to pick me up, but if you're not someone who feels confident saying no to people, it could definitely be uncomfortable. I've never heard of or read about a Ross student being raped, though.

So, yeah. I don't want you all to think that St. Kitts is a particularly good or bad place to live. It has its dangers. Common sense can help you avoid some, but not all, of them. Break ins are by far the most common thing to happen to students, and you probably will be the victim of some form of theft at some point as a Ross student.

*Okay, bad analogy. There pretty much is a rainbow every day in St. Kitts. Usually on my way to school in the morning.