Journal Entry #8

April 19, 2004

    Today is the first day of the Whitsun (third) term.  We began veterinary epidemiology today, and forensic pathology.  Wednesday we begin our last term of parasitology, learning about ectoparasites (flies this week).  This week in pharmacology (Thursday) we will learn about cancer chemotherapy drugs.  We have Fridays free all term...mostly because we have professional exams coming up (starting around June 7th) and need the time to study. 

    What has happened since my last journal entry?  I took my class exams for the second term (Candlemas) and felt I did OK, and some I felt I did well on.  Today I obtained my grades (marks) and found that I did do just fine, and very well in a few subjects (pathology remains my worst, sadly).  After the exams, I had to write a pharmacology "review paper" about pre-operative analgesia.  I stressed over it, trying to finish it before leaving for the States.  I was unable to finish it, so I completed it at home and Fed. Expressed it back to the vet school (what a pain).  The very next day I had to begin my clinical extramural studies (EMS).

    Courtney and I did two weeks of clinical EMS at Chino Valley Equine Hospital.  We found that we were expected to be there 24 hours per day, 7 days per week (no pay)!  This seemed ridiculous to us, and we chose to do it "our way" (we were getting tired with painful feet, Courtney had swollen ankles, and she had to work a few nights at a small animal practice as well).  We stayed there 24 hours for 5 days (leaving for lunch and dinner, but being "on call" if away).  We stayed at home during the weekend and then came back for 5 more days, but went home at night (Courtney had to work and I had to take care of my dog, 2 cats, fish and bird). 

    The equine work was interesting.  We worked closely with two interns; Marco was from Spain and Becky had graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London (but is American like us).  Our "chores" were to do physical exams on as many hospitalised patients as possible - usually there were at least 20 horses in the hospital at one time.  Exams had to be done at 8am and 4pm.  Courtney and I started in the back barn (less critical patients) and worked our way up to the ICU barn, with one intern doing the opposite.  Throughout the day, we mostly observed cases that were brought to the hospital on an outpatient basis: lameness exams, gastroscoping for gastric ulcers, rhinoscopy, ultrasound and radiography of limbs, evaluation of "wobblers" etc.  We were very impressed by the computerised radiography - neither of us had seen this before.  Colic cases came in often!  They were treated as emergencies.  Work ups for colics included history/signalment, physical exam, ultrasound, radiography, rectal exam and abdominal tapping.  As a last "test", they would put the horse in a stall and let it be for several minutes - if they came back to find it rolling, that was a sign that surgery was needed (rolling is a sign of severe pain).  If nothing abnormal was found on radiograph or ultrasound and the horse was not showing severe pain, it was usually hospitalised and put onto "medical treatment of colic" which included IV fluids, oil by mouth, psyllium and fasting. 

    Surgeries were done on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and occasionally on other days if necessary (colic surgeries were preformed almost every day).  I got to see arthroscopy (boring!), repair of a fractured pastern, laparotomy on a cryptorchid stallion, two tie-backs (for laryngeal paralysis), ruptured umbilicus repair, mass removal from an eye (using the CO2 laser), neurectomies (using the CO2 laser), and these colic surgeries: impaction, epiploic foramen entrapment, enterolith, and strangulating lipomas.  I learned how to "scrub in" for surgery (become sterile) and assisted with three colic surgeries and one tie-back.  Courtney also scrubbed in on different surgeries and assisted.  One "standing" surgery I observed was removal of cysts from the uterus of a mare, using laser (or cautery?) and an endoscope. 

    During my two weeks of EMS, my nephew "Ashton Douglas Williams" was born in Texas.  My mom was present for the birth and my dad arrived right when Ashton was born.  Ashton weighed 8 lb. 13 oz. and was 20.5" in length.  He has been a very "good" baby (not crying too much, no temper tantrums yet) and is doing well.  I have lots of pictures and can't wait for more. 

    The last two weeks of my break were spent doing chores around the house (stuff my parents won't do, like shave the cat, siphon the aquarium, clean the aquarium filters, bathe the dog, buy new fish, etc.) and relaxing (reading, playing computer games and watching TV).  I did ride my bike a few times, but found that my rear tire was flat.  The weather at home was variable - sunny and 80 degrees one minute, then overcast and in the 60s the next minute.  We had one thunder storm and heavy downpours. 


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