Journal Entry # 4

January 28, 2006

    I have not written in a long time!  I think I last wrote on December 21st, so that gives me a time frame to summarise my activities with.  I took the California state board exam on December 19th, and after that I spent Christmas at home in southern California with my parents and grandma (who is 91 years old and is the only living grandparent of mine).  The day after Christmas, my mom and I flew to San Antonio to spend some time with my sister and her family.  We got to see Ashton (my nephew), who I saw when he was about 6 months old last - and he is now 1.5 years old.  He is walking and talking and knows how to get what he wants using words.  I think we spent 4 or 5 days in San Antonio, visiting the zoo and eating out a couple times (I tried Whataburger and Cracker Barrel for the first time).  The last day we spent some time with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Don, who also live in San Antonio.  We flew back to southern California the day before New Years' Eve.

    I spent New Years Eve watching videos that I rented and we did nothing special at night (as usual, which I find sad).  I had one week left in southern California and I didn't do too much.  Last minute shopping and such.  Significant things I accomplished over the winter break: I took the NAVLE and CA state board exam, I watched King Kong and Walk the Line, I watched Wedding Crashers and a couple other movies on DVD, I visited with family, I shaved my cat Barny (he gets matted), I took Barny to the vet and had blood work & urinalysis done, I had Barny in for a dental and mass removal with biopsy (turned out as sebaceous adenoma), and I even spent some time with my friend Dave.

    After the break, I flew back to Glasgow and the next day began night shifts at the vet school.  For one week (Monday until Monday) we (Carolyn, Catriona, & I) worked from 8:45pm until 9:15am.  We had to care for all the animals in the university small animal hospital, and it was a lot of work and stressful to get treatments done before the next hour's treatments started.  I was not tired so much as stressed, I'd say.  I had my body converted to sleeping during the day (worked just great) since it's easy to do when coming from another time zone.  There was no time to go grocery shopping, unless you wanted to give up some of your sleep hours (and go to the store when it's time to sleep), and little time to do laundry or eat meals.  That week we only had one night off of ICU (where there were no patients in ICU) - that was the first night.  The next week we worked day shifts from 8:45am until 9pm-ish.  We alternated turns in the ICU so that I had about 3 days there (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday).  We were quite busy in ICU but not so much in wards.  We were really only responsible for 6pm and 8pm treatments, since nurses were doing everything during the day.  We did have a couple tutorials (bandaging and equine field anaesthesia).  It was nice to finish Sunday night at 9pm!

    But I rose early on Monday morning (Jan. 23rd) to begin extramural studies ("seeing practice") at a small animal & exotics vet practice in Cumbernauld.  Cumbernauld is north-east of Glasgow and I had to figure out how to get to and from there daily.  I opted to take the train.  I now wake up at 5:45am and leave the house at 7am to catch the 7:28am train from Anniesland to Glasgow Queen Street station.  Then I catch another train from Queen Street to Greenfaulds station at 7:53am.  I arrive at Greenfaulds station and walk zig-zag across some housing areas (lots of flats) up and over a hill to reach the practice (there is no direct route or main street that I can walk on to get there).  The practice is very nice!  It is only about 5 years old (the building is) and has 3 exam rooms, 1 operating theatre, a kennel area, a separate exotics ward, an x-ray room, a separate isolation ward, and a couple of nice big rooms for treatments or pharmacy/lab work. 

    I will be spending a total of 2 weeks at Cumbernauld, and then I swap and spend 2 more weeks at Falkirk.  The practices at both place have the same owners (some partnership) and vets.  I have really enjoyed my one week there so far!  I am asked questions and encouraged to see interesting things.  I am allowed to do surgery (at my level, of course) and so far have done two cat castrations and most of a cat spay (flank technique).  I have watched other interesting surgeries and go into consult rooms with the various vets to observe (and later ask questions or discuss cases).  I also take blood samples from animals and use the IDEXX Vettest machine to do biochemistry; also, I run PCV's and stain various slides to look at them under the microscope.  Once I even did a necropsy on a buzzard (Buteo buteo, a raptor).  I have done various bird things too, like doing a crop wash and gavaging medication, or restraining birds for grooming.  I am pleasantly surprised at the exotics case load there.  I have seen rabbits, a snake, a tortoise, a roe deer, and almost 2-3 birds per day (minimum).  Bird species seen so far include Congo grey parrots, budgerigars, a cockatiel, a lovebird, a greenwing macaw, and a racing pigeon. 

    Other news here is that I passed the California state board exam (and also the California law exam)!!!  I still have not heard about NAVLE results though.  It may be as late as the second week of February for that.  :0(  This upcoming weekend (Friday through Sunday), Amy and I are going to Tenerife.  This is one of the Canary Islands (belonging to Spain, located off the west coast of northern Africa).  It was my idea, as I wanted to visit Loro Parque - a zoo-like animal park where they have over 300 species of parrots (which is my special interest!) and maybe even some Spix macaws (the only parrot species that is extinct in the wild but still exists in captivity).  Amy is looking forward to drinking pina coladas and getting a tan - and I might enjoy doing that, too (once I finish with the parrots).  A break is sorely needed considering my 13-14 hour "work days" for 4 weeks straight by the time I get to go to Tenerife.  (Well, almost - I do have this here weekend off!). 

More as news comes...hopefully it'll be good news. 2006, Cindy Fulton