Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Final Countdown

5 days until I take the biggest test of my life. Sometimes I feel like I am going to rock it and sometimes (most times) I worry about failing.

Failure is my ultimate enemy and my worst nightmare. I loathe failing at anything - I am competitive and driven and I usually succeed in the things that I try. I ran a marathon after the orthopedic surgeon told me I'd never be a marathon runner. I applied (and was accepted) to multiple vet schools after my undergrad advisor gently suggested choosing another career path. I'm currently studying using VetPrep to study for boards, in addition to some other reading materials. It is a bank of 4000+ questions (about 1/3 or so are repeats) that you do as separate practice questions or timed 30 question exams. It tracks your percentage as you go through and tracks your strengths and weakness by species and by category (cardio, derm, anesthesia, toxicology, etc). Up until I got back from the honeymoon 3 weeks ago, I was at a stellar 15% or so. I finally made it to 85% today, with only 600 or so questions to go... KJ made a joke the other day about me not sleeping until I go to that 100% because that is the type of person that I am. Its so true. I'm a freak when it comes to goals. Which is actually a problem sometimes because I get so caught up in accomplishing my goals that I lose track of having fun... not that this particular goal has any relation to fun. You get the point.

Anyway, I'm still alive and here. I can't wait to return to the real world. Im my head, I keep telling myself, "I'll do this when boards are over, I'll do that when boards are over."

I seriously can't wait to do laundry and clean the house. For real.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whoa Fourth Year!

I can't believe it has been a month since I last posted! The year is flying by and I can hardly believe it is NOVEMBER! So much has happened!

The highlights:

1. KJ and I got married :) YAY!

2. We went on our honeymoon! YAY!

3. I chopped off all of my long, gorgeous, slightly obnoxious long hair and donated it to Wigs for Kids. YAY! My flowing locks that fell past my boobs are now chin length and angled so I feel like I have no hair, which is awesome after two years of growing it out for the wedding!

And now that we have been back in the swing of things for a couple of weeks, I can comfortably begin to freak out because I take boards in TWO WEEKS. So, in two weeks you will be seeing a ton more posts about fourth year adventures and animals and my next marathon. Maybe married life as well ;)

I'm on the diagnostic medicine rotation right now... meaning that I do necropsies everyday and pretend like I have a starring role on CSI: Vet Med. The beauty of it is that all my patients are dead and don't need weekend treatments.

And it happens to fall over Thanksgiving, meaning that I take boards Monday the 21st, I have Tuesday the 22nd off (all of the fourth years get two days off for boards and since mine is a Monday, I'll get a blissful day of freedom after the exam), and I go to school Wednesday the 21st. I figure I'll then drive home Thursday morning, enjoy an awesome, stress-free day with my family, enjoy some nice stress-free shopping on Friday, followed by a stress-free weekend. Then Dad has surgery on Monday, so I requested my first personal day off (you get 5 for the year). I get to be home for FIVE WHOLE DAYS. AND I don't have to worry about studying for boards anymore so I can be stress-free for the rest of the year... relatively speaking.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be *almost* done with board studying. Its been looming out there on the horizon since we started vet school and it is finally *almost* here. I'm getting my butt in gear for the two week haul of cramming/learning and then its nothing but freedom to have a life again.

And send out those wedding thank-you notes...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Long Overdue... and Foster Pup

I can't remember the last time I blogged... which means it has been far too long. I finished a month long rotation on anesthesia and moved right into equine medicine and surgery. This meant that my "cushy" 7:15am-5pm hours turned into 5:30 or 5:45am to 6:30pm (or later) every day. Weekends were only 6am-12pm... but still, lots and lots of time spent at school and not a lot of time doing other things. Like wedding planning. I'm getting married a week from tomorrow. Holy sh*t. I'm excited, but nervous because the coming week is going to be busy!

Equine has been amazingly fun. Aside from the long hours, I've had a couple interesting cases and have had an awesome rotation group - and really awesome clinicians. This is the first rotation that I've really felt comfortable with the clinicians and can make jokes and feel more comfortable in my own skin. This is kind of ironic because equine medicine is what I am LEAST confident about - I definitely know infinitely times more about small animal medicine. Nevertheless, I have never laughed this much on any other rotation and our trio of clinicians are really great. Its a group of three younger guys that are really chill and laid back and not intimidating at all (as some equine folks can be). Us fourth years, on the other hand, are a group of four girls that are constantly giggling and cracking jokes - we try to be entertaining and not distracting!

On a side note, KJ and I are currently fostering little Ally, a small 12 pound long haired Dachshund mix. She presented to orthopedic surgery 6 weeks ago with bilateral angular front limb deformities with short ulnas. She was actually "walking" on her carpi - completely weight bearing, although she did like to sit up on her haunches like a meerkat. They performed a bilateral radial and ulnar osteotomy in order to correct the curved long bones and lengthen her ulnas. A few weeks later, she came back for recheck radiographs and she had a fracture across the most proximal screw on her left radius... so then they put on an external fixator. At that point, her new adoptive mom had just adopted a two year old child and was having back surgery, so she asked our rehab specialist if she could find a temporary foster home for Ally - they thought of KJ and I right away because we were frequent visitors during Ally's first two weeks after surgery and rehab.

So now Ally lives with us for awhile - we will have had her for one month tomorrow. Last night, we were sitting in the living room and KJ was sitting in the leather chair with Ben and I was on the couch with Ally on my lab, playing with her like a baby and talking to her, and he said, "You are getting attached...". I just looked at Ally and replied, "I know... but I just want her to know love". It will be so hard to give her back, but I just want her to know that so many people love her... how is that not the best gift you can give to someone - human or animal? She is an amazing little girl - a real fighter and she tries so hard - we can slowly see her little personality come out as she has started feeling better - she plays with toys that the big dogs throw around and they are too good of dogs to steal them back from her. It melts my heart to see how good our furballs are with her.

As good of a time as I've had with little Ally, I'm not sure fostering is for me - I get too attached and have a difficult time letting go :(

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Workout Update... and Girl Fights

I have lots to update about my anesthesia rotation - but I still have two more weeks left, so during downtime this week, I'll catch up with that.

I decreased the amount of P90X to 3 times a week and started running and swimming again. Plus, since I've been on anesthesia, its been tough to find time to workout unless I do it at 9pm at night (hell no). But, as of now, I can do 5 whole pull ups now which is kind of awesome... my arms look super toned and I'm pretty sure I can kick anyone's ass now.

In fact (long side note), Saturday night, I found out that our "friends", that are getting married on the same day as us, were in town. Last week, the girl (fiance of our friend) sent me a facebook message asking me not believe any rumors about her and that she isn't the reason that they choose to get married on the same day, it was just their circumstances, etc etc etc etc blah blah blah blah. I haven't given the situation a thought for months, but here it was, being brought up again. The next night, KJ and a few of his friends got an email from the guy (who is actually our friend) saying the same thing and not to blame his fiance for anything and etc etc etc blah blah blah. My god, this drama is ridiculous.

So anyway, when I found out that they were in town, I was already drunk and watching Survivor play at the world famous Urbana Sweet Corn Festival (be jealous) and I decided I needed to kick someone's ass... namely hers. A minute later, Survivor finally played Eye of the Tiger... which got me super pumped up and I started practicing for the ass kicking that would ensue later that night in the event that we ran into them.

Now, I've never punched anyone in my life, nor would I normally want to - but this whole situation has caused people to lose friendships and other ridiculous awful drama that I want nothing to be a part of, but it keeps coming up and hurting people's feelings. However, I was thinking about none of this at the time - just that it would be fun to get in a girl fight.

Anyway, at some point during Eye of the Tiger, I turned around and saw A LOT of clinicians from my school/hospital just feet away from us... embarrassing but awesome at the same time. Eye of the Tiger ended and in my drunken state, I forgot that I even wanted to fight and I just wanted to go to the bar for something better than Miller Lite. All in all... a typical night.

Because of my new-found ass kicking abilities, I decided to sign up for a triathlon and kick figurative ass. It is October 2nd here in town - its only a sprint, but its been three years since my last one, so I need a shorty to get back into the swing of things. 325m swim, 14.5 mi bike, 3.1 mi run - awesome! I'm so excited to be doing another one - I'm planning on breaking 1:30 for sure (I'm afraid to get too ambitious) - but I heard T1 is a super long transition, since we are swimming in the rec center, so not sure how long that will take... but if you are in the area, you should sign up too :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lions and my other favorite patients

LIONS. Can you believe that in two weeks, I've had the opportunity to help out with not one, but two lions! A 15 year old lioness and a 22 year old lion to be exact. Both are living at the Exotic Feline Rescue in Indiana, and both were recently rescued from a "bad situation" in Texas a few weeks ago. For the first lionness, I was on Dentistry at that time and we did a double root canal on her left sided canines. To see a lion intubated and handled up close was incredible - since we didn't really get to assist with the root canal, we spent a lot of time taking pictures with the lionness - by her head, with her paws... super educational and productive, right? But awesome nonetheless. Her paws were much bigger than my hand... so we took pictures of that too.

It was refreshing to see the clinicians (including our head of surgery) down with the lion taking pictures on their phones - a lot of times so many of them walk around like nothing impresses them and that they've seen it all - but to see a simple lion make the most seasoned professionals act like children at the zoo is really cool. Our profession is so unpredictable and awesome - most MD's don't walk around with pictures of their favorite patients on their phones and can't entertain at parties with hilarious tales about their crazy patients. Well, maybe the latter is true - but if my doctor is walking around with a picture of me on his phone, I'll be a little alarmed!

Me on the other hand, have already accumulated lots of pictures of my favorites - my unforgettable Shy, who allowed me to put myself out there and fight for a dog I truly believed in and who never let me down; my lovely Lillian, a sweet 2 year old chocolate lab with aggressive hemangiosarcoma who wagged her tail and gave me kisses up until the minute she died; the two litters of puppies who were successfully delivered via c-section that we helped resuscitate and bring back to life; and the lions, two very large cats that made me marvel at their greatness and see that deep down, the clinicians are just like me - I know that in 20 years, patients like that will still impress me and veterinary medicine will never cease to amaze me.

Enough about lions. We got the results back from histopath about Bubs - NOT A MAST CELL TUMOR! Crazy inflammation, yes, but tumor, NO! Regardless, he does have a history of cancer, but at least we know it hasn't returned! My sweet, perfect boy is cancer-free. Since his incision wasn't able to be closed all the way, we have been doing bandage changes every other day. My bandaging skills have improved greatly and he is such an angel, that I was able to do it all by myself today while he just laid on the floor and literally fell asleep. What dog does that?!?!?

Have a lovely weekend - the end of summer is here...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bubba and his Health Woes

Bubba has another mast cell tumor. This time, it is on his left rear paw, just proximal to his toes. In other words, a shit-tastic place to have a growing mass. I caught it early, thanks to the fact that his allergies are horrible this year and he has been so itchy all summer long that I've been keeping a close eye on the condition of his skin. We did an impression smear of the mass and tape preps of his reddened, alopecic patches of skin and diagnosed his mass as a mast cell tumor with a concurrent bacterial/yeast skin infection. The real vets verified that we were right and he's going in for surgery on wednesday for a lumpectomy.

The funny thing is, I just upped his dose of Benadryl this week due to his increased itching. His allergies have always been controlled with mere Benadryl (although it may be time to bring out a bigger gun in terms of medications), which was lovely since he has a history of mast cell tumors, and the Benadryl essentially kills two birds with one stone. But maybe I should have increased it earlier?

And since I'm on dentistry, I decided to check out his mouth today and see if he needed a dental as well since he's going to be under anesthesia anyway. Wouldn't you know it, he has a slab fracture on his right upper fourth premolar with chronic pulpal exposure. I feel like a failure as his mom. I should have noticed it much earlier, but he's never stopped eating meals or seemed to have an issue when chewing bones and treats, so I never suspected anything. Thus, he'll be having a tooth extraction on Wednesday as well. They'll also be zapping off some skin tags that he occasionally nibbles at to top it all off.

All in all, I feel like I failed my boy and should have been paying more attention before his skin started to get bad and when he broke his tooth. Damn it. I hate that my dog has cancer. Not that I would wish it on any other animal, God forbid, but he's just the best boy ever. I know everyone says that, but hes MY good boy. He makes me laugh out loud, he comforts me when I'm sad by resting his big head on my lap and letting me cry, he greets me at the door with great big toothy smiles like he couldn't be any happier than at that precise moment when I stepped through the door. He loves us with his whole heart and I know if given the chance, he would lay down his life for us. I know I'm anthropomorphizing him, but he truly is an incredible dog. He is actually sensitive - he blames himself when the other animals act up - when they do something wrong, he is the one that acts guilty, even though he has NEVER done anything wrong when we aren't in the house (You can't blame tiny teeth marks on him!)

This all just makes me realize that life is fleeting - Bubba isn't dying and he will be fine now... but I can't imagine our lives without him. I love you buddy, thanks for making my world that much better because I have you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

P90X

I'm going on week 3 of P90X - I haven't done it religiously everyday (I've only had time for 5/7 days a week because of the crazy schedule), so its been about three weeks or so since I started. And I'm starting to feel kind of awesome.

My arms were toned before, but they are looking slightly better (I HATE flabby arms!). My legs are a tiny bit skinnier, but I know they will never been chicken legs - I have muscular thighs and calves and that's never going to change! What I am most excited about is that my stomach is getting toned and I have hints of ab muscles! WOOOO! I noticed that I can do more during the workouts than when I started and I can finally do 2 whole pull-ups. Last summer, I was up to 3, but then the finger debacle happened, and I haven't been able to do any since then. So... its getting there.

Plus, today, I put on my first size 4 pair of dress pants ever. If you are a guy, this may not seem like a big deal, but I've been a steady size 6 for years. My first year of undergrad, since I wasn't swimming or working out that much, I had to bump up to size 8 (EEEEEEK) which was a huge wake up call. Rewind to 4 years earlier - I joined the track team my freshman year of high school and started off as a sprinter because I couldn't run longer distances if my life depended on it - despite being a really good athlete otherwise (swimming, softball, and volleyball). As high school went on, I "graduated" from the 100 to the 200... to the 400... to the 800... and then I actually graduated, so I stopped at the 800. The turning point was one track sprinting workout where I outlasted all our best sprinters - obviously I wasn't as fast, but I had the endurance that they lacked. Coach "encouraged" me to try the 800 and I did much better at the longer distance than the sprint. My favorite workouts began to be the "LSD" runs - Long, Slow, Distance.

Anyway - when I gained that nasty freshman 15, I decided to take up running again and fell in love with distance running. And I haven't looked back. I love love love half-marathons and while I enjoyed my first marathon, I'd like to do more before saying I'm in love with the 26.2 miles :)

Moral of the story - after I finish the 90 days of P90X, I'm going to use those workouts as cross training for running and swimming. If you want to get in shape and not leave the comfort of your home, P90X is pretty awesome. I'm not doing the diet, but I'm eating relatively healthier. Last night, we got BBQ at this awesome place in Urbana and I usually get the massive combo meal with pulled pork, 4 ribs, and 2 sides (mashed potato casserole and sweet potato fries) - I do end up taking leftovers home... usually... But last night, I tried the portabella mushroom burger with pesto and fresh goat cheese from the local goat farm (that I volunteered at briefly) with the side of sweet potato fries. So, I'm still eating the foods that I love, just not in the massive quantities that I do when I'm in heavier training!

Also, a friend of mine from school wants to do a triathlon, so he asked if I'd help him with his stroke - an excuse to get in the pool? Yes please. I'm SO excited to have a swim buddy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wildlife Massacre Night

Tonight, we had 4 wildlife cases come in - all hit by cars... and 15 euthanasias. How? One of them was a momma oppossum that was brought into the hospital in a box. We opened it, she looked dead, so we went to euthanizing the rabbit that was also brought in. You may think that she tricked us and she was just "playing possum", but no :)

After the bunny euthanasia, we went back to the oppossum and I was looking at it to make sure that it wasn't breathing... well, its chest wasn't moving, but its abdomen sure was. I put on gloves and wouldn't you know it - its pouch was full of live, suckling babies.

OH MY GOD.

Not cool momma oppossum, not cool. We had to snatch each baby off of each teat (which was actually tough to do, those little buggers hold on tight) and euthanize each of them. Twelve little babies in all. Mom was already dead and ants were crawling all over her and in the pouch - it was quite gross.

Busy night, but at least I'm home by 1. Which is five hours earlier than last night!

I don't do my best work at 2AM

Last Saturday overnight for awhile... until end of October when I have my next ER rotation. However, I still have to get through the rest of tonight. And tomorrow night. And be awake and smart at 9AM for Dermatology. Which, by the way, I know nothing about.

I'm tired. I was super productive today, despite being up till 3AM and getting up and getting my butt in gear by 9. Went to lunch with friends, got my glasses fixed, ran a bunch of errands, met with Dr. B to meet her cats that I'm cat sitting next week, AND got coffee in preparation for tonight. Thank GOD that I got coffee - it has been a really long day/night. My first case was a hit-by-car 10 week old pit bull puppy. Talk about tearing at my heartstrings. Lately, my only patients have been beagles and pit bulls - my favorite, favorite little loves. Plus, I've had all the hit-by-cars as well. My last one was a sweet, young beagle stray dog with a nasty anal tear. The two guys that brought her in watched her get hit by the car in front of them and they brought her in and were very concerned about her - super sweet. We just couldn't do a whole lot besides clean her up since she was a stray.... which sucks.

My pup tonight was owned by a young couple (younger than me for sure) that had NO money with five kids. They were denied Care Credit... so he had to go home on limited pain meds after we did the most that we could to help him (IV pain meds, fluids). He had pain on palpation of his right TMJ and right elbow... so that could be a lovely discovery for the referring vet when they (hopefully) take rads and re-examine him on Monday. Poor little baby boy. I gave him a kiss and wished him good luck.

We are just running super behind in terms of who still needs to be treated... Still waiting to treat a dog with a puncture wound that came in about 5 hours ago. The owner is another vet student, so she dropped him off and went home. Good thing, because this is taking forever. However, I did get to do my first abdominal tap on a probable FIP positive cat. We drained about 1200 mls from his abdomen - in the middle of which the tube popped off the stopcock and exploded awesome yellow fluid all over the tech... she was totally cool with it and we all laughed because it is 2 in the morning and it really was hilarious.

Back to the grind... hope you all are having sweet dreams! :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being Domestic

I don't cook. I don't really know how... per say. I can follow a recipe and it usually turns out just fine, but I can't open up my fridge and throw some things together and call it a meal. Unless it involves opening up a Lean Cuisine/Healthy Choice/Smart Start and throwing it in the microwave, because I am a pro at that.

Today, I decided to cook my mom's world-famous beans and rice. I did it for the first time a couple of months ago and it turned out fabulous, so I thought I'd go super big and do two full slow cookers chock full of yummy Colombian goodness (my parents left theirs at my house a few weeks ago - mom had cooked the beans and rice for us and brought it down when we euthanized Gypsy... and now I have stolen their slow cooker). Mind you, I've been eating this meal for my entire life - nothing suits my fancy better than Colombian food. My mom is a wonderful cook, but I seem to lack the culinary gene, so last time I cooked this, I had her walk me through it, step by step, over the phone. This involved something like 6 phone calls and it ended up tasting really good. The only problem is there isn't a specific recipe for it and that little fact makes me nervous. Last time, she told me 3-4 tomatoes - this time she told me 5, etc. I only called her once, just to make sure I had all of the ingredients and then I ventured into the kitchen alone to begin my big cooking adventure.

Beans and Rice, Momma P Style
4-5 big tomatoes
5-7 green onions
1 bunch cilantro (or more if you love it as much as I do)
Garlic (maybe... 7 or 8 cloves? - I used about 1/4 cup of minced garlic in the jar... I'm lazy)
Lawry's Seasoning Salt - to taste - 2-3 tablespoons? probably more.
Cumin - to taste - 2-3 tablespoons? probably more.
Salt/Pepper - to taste.

1-1.5 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
6-7 medium red potatoes
1 can dark kidney beans, drained
1 can light kidney beans, drained
16 oz chicken stock (low sodium if you wish to be healthier)
3 cups water


First of all, if you have a food processor, use it. If you don't, get one :) Or spend a lot of time chopping tomoatoes into tiny pieces. So, first chop the tomatoes into chunks and put them in the food processor for about 10 seconds - it should look pureed, there should still be bits of tomato, but you want it to be mostly liquid. Pour into a large frying pan.

Chop cilantro and green onions - I used the food processor for this too because it is much faster. You want it to be sufficiently chopped up - I don't like big leaves of cilantro in my food, so I do it pretty tiny. Add to tomotoes in frying pan.

Add seasoning salt, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper - be generous with your spices! But you can always add more later.

Heat at high medium heat. This part takes a little while - you want it to lose some of the moisture and turn thicker. It is okay for it to retain a little bit of liquid, so do this for about 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, start browning the ground beef/turkey (I use turkey because it is healthier). Peel your potatoes and cube them - put in slow cooker. Rinse/drain the kidney beans - add to slow cooker. Once ground beef/turkey is done, add to slow cooker. Add chicken stock and water.

Once the tomato mixture is good to go - add to slow cooker. Mix it all up - add some more seasoning salt, cumin, salt/pepper (because you didn't put enough in the first time) and stir it some more. Turn slow cooker on high. If you feel the need to stir and you are home, do so every 30 minutes or so.

After a few hours, it should be ready to go. Make some rice. Taste the concoction in the slow cooker - add appropriate spices. Add rice to bean/meat slow cooker goodness and you are good to go.

Last, add tabasco sauce and fresh cilantro - it makes it yummy. If you can't handle spicy foods, avoid tabasco sauce, but I promise you, it is delicious.

I'll let you know how it turns out - so far, it smells GREAT!

EDIT: It tastes amazing. I'm still eating it.

If this was confusing - only add beans/meat to rice when ready to eat - don't just dump the rice into the beans/meat and let it sit like that :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ER Overnights

Just started week 2 of the small animal emergency rotation. I would have written sooner, except for a couple of reasons - the first being that my school computer is dead. HP and I are in a fight over the warranty right now.

Let me take a moment to vent: Last year my powercord broke, which is covered by the warranty. So I call and ask them to ship me a new one. I confirm the shipping address twice since I can't use my computer and I need it ASAP, and end the call. Two days later, I track the shipment - it was on its way to parents house - i.e. the reason that I confirmed the shipping address in first place. I call, pissed off, and place a new order. Three days later, I attempt to track the shipment - no tracking number listed online for the order. I call HP again - turns out no order was placed the second time - even though I went through the whole process, confirmed the shipping address, etc. I place a THIRD order for the powercord - and they have the gall to ask me to send the other one back. Um, no I won't be doing that.

Present day - My computer screen shattered right before finals and I now need to start studying for boards, so I would like it fixed. It turns out my warranty doesn't cover accidental damage - which I SPECIFICALLY ordered when I bought the computer three years ago. I called HP, verified that I was ordering the correct warranty, and placed my order. Three years later when I need to cash in on that warranty, I am told that I was given an incorrect item number for the warranty. I spend two hours on the phone with HP, talking to six different people - one of which was the supervisor of the tech support guy who told me he has no boss and is at the top of the chain of command of HP.

Are you kidding me? I was so livid at that point that I congratulated him for owning HP and running such a successful, customer friendly business.

I finally got routed around to the tech support supervisor's man's SUPERVISOR (weird, the first guy really doesn't own HP?) who at least made an attempt to help me. He said he'd ship me the box to send my computer in and that I'd be recieving it within the next two days. I verified my address and politely told him that I had had issues in the past with things being sent to the wrong address, so I just wanted to confirm the correct one. He read me my address and said nothing else was listed. The next day, I track the package... sent to my parent's house. I mean, come on, is this for real? It's almost funny how terrible they are.

Moral of the story - whatever happens, stay away from Hewlett Packard.

Besides the computer debacle, I'm really just exhausted. Working 70+ hour work weeks is starting to get to me. I am so excited for my next rotation - 9 to 4ish, Monday through Friday. How glorious. ER has been interesting - I've had a lot of cases, I've gotten better at drawing blood, taking blood pressures, pulse ox, ECGs, etc. Just basic, good skills to have for the rest of the my life.

Last night was one of the toughest - a few very critical patients, but we were able to leave at 2:45am. At 4:15am, I got called back in and stayed until 7am. The one I got called back in for was a panting dog. It wasn't heatstroke or hyperthermia, but just a dog that had been lying under the owner's covers, woke up panting because it was warm and was brought in immediately. It stopped panting for us, the rest of the physical exam was completely normal. When the intern talked to the owners, the owner freaked and insisted the dog had hip dysplasia.

... what kind of monkey leap takes you from minor panting to hip dysplasia? She then literally pleaded and begged the intern to tell her the truth - that her little cocker spaniel must have hip dysplasia. Her previous dog - a chocolate lab - had hip dysplasia 15 years ago, so she assumed this dog must have it too. I was so tired at this point that the whole conversation was hilarious to me. That sounds mean, and I'm very sorry, but we never mentioned ANYTHING about her hips or any orthopedic issues. I have no idea how her mind just went there! I know the owner was upset and tired herself, but this conversation got very weird very quickly.

Anyway, today is my day off and I slept until 1:30 - which is only 6 hours of total sleep, but I feel better. I went to the pool and read a book, got ice cream, took the dogs for a walk, and am now relaxing with wine. I blew off P90x today because I was exhausted, but I'll definitely get back on it tomorrow :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Unexpected Praise

I successfully made it through RAHMS (I think it stands for something like Rural Animal Health, Medicine, and Surgery). I have one phone duty shift tomorrow from 2-8pm, which sort of sucks because it is the fourth of July and I'd rather be hanging outside than inside the phone room... I'm also on-call from 8pm to 8am the following morning - I guess when that is over, I'll officially have survived my one and only RAHMS rotation.

Friday morning started off very strange. I arrived at school around 6:45am, ready for my first call of the day. The appointment was for "killing pigs"... i.e. euthanizing 7 pigs at the swine research farm. These guys were part of a research project and the study had ended, so they needed to be euthanized and sent out. They wanted it done via captive bolt, which essentially looks like a handgun. It stuns the animal, rendering them unconscious by damaging the skull and cerebrum. You can then choose to immediately exsanguinate, or allow them to die on their own. We watched Dr. CS do one of them, but we had been taught in class the proper location to use the captive bolt (or gun for that matter) - you draw an "X" from left ear to right eye, and right ear to left eye - and you shoot at the cross-section of the "X". Each of us did two pigs - there ended up being an extra pig that need to be euthanized after her cannula was pulled out (cannulas were placed in these pigs in order to sample GI contents). It was an experience - it was my first time using the captive bolt and I'm glad that I now know how to load it, use it, and clean it. If I am ever in the situation where an animal needs to be euthanized in this way, I'm glad that I know how to do it. These guys were my first real euthanasia and, to tell you the truth, it was pretty tough for all of us, especially beginning our day with that.

Our next call was at a house belonging to one of the doctors at my school. I LOVE her and she has the cutest house and barn - she has one horse, a Paso Fino, and a cute little donkey. They needed Coggin's tests, vaccines, and their teeth floated - I've never actually seen teeth floated on a live animal (I've done it on horse cadaver heads) - so that was cool to see.

We got back to school around 12:30pm and were hanging around the rounds room doing paperwork and enjoying Food Friday (the last day of each rotation, everyone brings food to share). Dr. CS walked through the room on the way to the office and looked at me and beckoned with his finger, without saying a word, and continued walking to the office. I followed him, a little uneasy that I had done something wrong, and he shut the door. He gently grabbed my arm and looked at me and said, "I just wanted you to know that I really enjoyed working with you and that you did a great job. I really hope that you'll come back and see us again." I stumbled through something like, "I had a great time, thank you for teaching me so much" and walked back to the rounds room, basically floating on air. He is an older guy that doesn't offer outward praise all that often. Plus, he is my favorite doctor. It meant so much to me that he personally took me aside to tell me that he enjoyed working with me - I actually started to feel more like a colleague, rather than a student, which is an incredible feeling.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful - I ended up going out on a call with another doctor that I like and another student (who is a large animal girl and really knows her stuff) - we were going to two different pig farms for health papers, a really boring, super quick visit. The only problem was these farms were two hours apart and in completely opposite directions from each other in relation to the school. We ended up in the car for over 4 hours, just chatting about the rotation, but mostly about one of the students on the rotation who has been an incredible headache for everyone that has had to interact with her. I'm pretty sure she must have some sort of psychological issue, and for that, I feel sorry for her. However, it doesn't erase the fact that she is a nightmare to work with, antagonistic, and rude. By the end of the rotation, I had to stop talking to her completely because every conversation left me wanted to blow out my brains. KJ told me not to feed into the craziness, which was the best advice he could have given me - I know that he must have been sick of me coming home and complaining about every encounter with her each day!

Later that night, a bunch of us went out for drinks at my favorite bar downtown. KJ had gone to dinner earlier with some high school friends, one of which works as a tech at my school. At the end of each week of RAHMS, the clinicians and techs get together and evaluate each of the students on the rotation. After the first week, my evaluation went well - I was told that I was great to work with and enthusiastic about getting things done efficiently. She told KJ that after this past week, I had the best evaluation of the group - I was totally shocked, but super pleased. I was scared going into this rotation, since I don't know large animal medicine very well. But I learn pretty quickly and love learning how to do new things - I'm a very hands on learner, has which seemed to pay off for the rotations that I have been on so far. Anyway, I'm not tooting my own horn - it was just really surprising to hear that the clinicians thought I did well - and super flattering!

I'm off to ER next - I work a few days shifts and then switch to a week and a half of night shifts - it should be very interesting and I hope that Iearn a lot!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Aw, you got some on your face..."

This morning, we headed out to the dairy farm to dry off a couple of cows and pretreat a handful of heifers. For those not in with the dairy lingo (i.e. me) - that means that they are pregnant and will be expected to calve in the next 60 days or so. They stop getting milked and will slowly stop lactating and "dry off" while waiting to give birth. This allows them to take a break from working, manage any subclinical mastitis issues that may be going on, and prepare for the next lactation. They will then start producing milk again right before they calve.

The way this dairy farm does it may be different from other practices, but this is the only place I've seen it done. First, a separate milk sample from each of the four teats is collected. This will later be plated on 4 separate agar plates (typically blood agar) to see if any bacteria grow. The teats are then disinfected and intramammary antibiotics are injected into each of the four teats. The teats are disinfected again and the internal teat sealant is injected which will form a plug, preventing bacteria from getting into the teat sphincter and setting up a potentially nasty mastitis infection.

Drying off cows is pretty simple - they are used to being in the milking parlor and are used to having their teats handled daily. The heifers on the other hand, have never been in the parlor before and have no idea what to do. When I attempted to inject the antibiotics, they flipped out and started kicking. That is all well and good - I can handle that. What I couldn't handle was when I was about to go into the teat and she flipped out... but instead of kicking, she defecated all over my arms, neck... and face. Thank you GOD that my mouth was closed. It was not ideal, but it was pretty funny!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Slaughterhouses

** Disclaimer: This will most likely not be completely politically correct, but it is my point of view, opinion, and observations, not the point of view or opinion of the university that I attend or the point of view or opinion of the university's meat plant. If you don't wish to read about the slaughter process, please don't read and please don't send me hate emails or comments because you were warned... thank you!**

That being said, I had the opportunity to visit the meat plant at my university yesterday, which is a disassembly house. Most (if not all) of the animals that go through the doors are killed on site and the carcass is broken down completely. They operate a market out of the same building where you can go in and buy steaks, processed meats, etc - that was news to me and I plan on buying steaks tomorrow and grilling!

The reason for our visit yesterday was for an ongoing research study on 2 different drugs on a group of pigs. Groups of 50 or so pigs were slaughtered yesterday and their tissues were examined for pathology (just for a basic health check). The drugs should have no side effects and I'm not entirely sure on the set-up of the study itself (sorry about being fuzzy on those details).

Our plan going in was to analyze different tissues for basic, quick pathology: snout (atrophic rhinitis), lungs (pneumonia), liver (ascarid scars), ileum (ileitis), skin (dermatitis), heart (endocarditis, pericarditis). We donned hard hats, XXXXXXXL sized white coats (they were HUGE), and our boots and coveralls and headed into the main slaughter area. The state inspector was also on site, who examined the tissues first (mostly lymph nodes, quick check of the viscera, etc). He was a cool guy to talk to and he was more than happy to show us what normal tissues looked like.

We also had the opportunity to watch the entire process from start to finish. The pigs, one at a time, walked into a small holding stall and were initially stunned at a really high voltage right behind the ears. This renders the animals unconscious and after they go down, they are stunned again at the level of the heart. They got shackled and raised up, where they were exsanguinated. They then got lowered into the hot bath (about 140+ degrees) so that the hair softened and fell out. After the hot bath, they go into the epillator (?) which sloughs the hair off. The carcasses are then hand prepared by a group of people, where the hooves are removed, excess hair is removed, etc. When ready, the pigs are shackled up again and raised up (the same idea that you've probably seen on tv or in movies) and eviscerated. At that point, the head is removed and that is when we stepped in. We were responsible for removing the snout (with a hand saw) at the level of the first molar so that we could check the nasal conchae for atrophic rhinitis. We graded the degrees of rhinitis on a scale of 0-5 and after the first few, our clinician called us "trained" and let us grade them ourselves. But if there was a question, he was quick to help :) We also were trusted to examine the organs ourselves - we got good at pathology very quickly! Since these were research animals, every single organ was weighed and saved - the reproductive tracts (all males in this case) were photographed as well.

All in all, it was a pretty cool experience. In my opinion, everyone (at least in the veterinary field, but really, everyone) should take an opportunity to see a slaughterhouse and the entire disassembly process. I don't believe the animals were handled inhumanely at all - the voltage is high enough to render them completely unconscious and stop their hearts - the reason they twitch and react to stimulation after being stunned is purely due to muscle reflexes.

Afterwards, the rest of the afternoon was pretty laid back. We rounded on LDAs (left displaced abomasums) and an equine case and called it a day. This morning, I got the chance to palpate about 15-20 dairy cows at the school's dairy farm. Although the 4:45 wake up call was way early, it was peaceful hanging out with the cows while the sun came up and trying to figure out exactly what I was touching. I realized I majorly suck at palpation. I sucked before and I suck still... but I probably will not do it much (if ever) in the future, so it was cool to go out and give it another try. I palpated another mare this morning as well that was about to ovulate. I felt nothing, but apparently she had a 51 mm follicle on her right ovary... oh well!

I also tried my hand at bleeding pigs this morning (taking blood, not killing them!). There were two large boars in isolation at the beef farm that tested PRRS positive and Mycoplasma positive, so we were re-submitting blood and hoping for some negative results. I tried a couple of times with no luck, so I ended up holding the snare for the clinician to give it a go. He isn't totally comfortable with pigs, so I think he was frightened that we would get hurt... these guys were a bit too young to know the extent of their strength so luckily it was a pretty easy process to get blood on them.

Not a truly dull moment on this rotation, and I have enjoyed immensely (other than not knowing ANYTHING about food animal medicine). I think I've learned a lot, but I think I'm ready to be back in the small animal world :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Making Animal Babies

My first call on ambulatory was the horse farm on campus. There was a group of 8 or 9 mares in various stages of pregnancy/ovulation, so we checked out the pretty ladies all morning. Most had already been bred, so we fetal sexed a few of them. The first one was an obvious colt... after that it got shady because Standardbreds are big. We are not. No amount of trying was going to make our arms longer and able to get the ultrasound probe far enough to be able to check out the babies!

Another mare that we examined was 60 days pregnant - I got to palpate and feel the right uterine horn for the fetus - pretty awesome.

Most of them had foals still with them - little fuzzballs just following Mom wherever she went. Most stood patiently while mom got palpated, but one just couldn't resist nipping at us when we were getting some of mom's blood... it didn't hurt, and it was sort of cute.

Went to the meat plant/disassembly plant today - more on that exciting morning another time. I am exhausted and have a 4:45 am wake up call to palpate cows at 5:15 tomorrow morning... it should be fun, although I'm not very good at palpating... I think I'll be happy when I start ER, even though most of my rotation is on night shifts!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Vet Med?

Someone asked me the other day when I decided I wanted to be a vet. I started thinking about the whens and whys of going to vet school and realized that I'm not really like most vet students. Veterinary medicine was never my life's dream. Sure, I wanted to "be an animal doctor" when I was a kid, but then I liked the idea of being an architect (I like to draw, but I'm terrible), and for a little while I considered pediatric oncology (which must be the most depressing career in the world) because my friend's little sister has cancer and I wanted to save little kid's lives.

I think I always knew that I loved science and would eventually have some sort of science or medical related career, but I never knew what. Once I started undergrad, I started aiming toward ecology and environmental science. I took a tutorial on marine mammal conservation because I thought I'd like to become a marine biologist... but there aren't a whole lot of those around the midwest. I eventually got interested in aquaculture and thought for a minute that I could save world hunger by building stable, healthy fish farms and feeding the world. I'm not entirely sure what the turning point was, but sometime during Junior year I decided that I didn't want to graduate. It was only my third year at Lawrence, but fourth of college and I could have graduated on time... but I kind of didn't want to leave... and since I got a scholarship that would pay for my fourth year at Lawrence, I talked to my advisor and convinced her it was a great idea for me to stay and that I was going to apply to vet school.

She nicely told me there was no way I would get in with my grades.

My response was f*ck this, no one is telling me that I can't do something. Unfortunately this ridiculously self involved mindset has gotten me into quite a lot of trouble and pain over the years (my recent marathon, the broken finger... the list goes on...). I ended up rearranging my schedule for the second and third trimesters of junior year and tearfully telling my favorite professor that I could no longer go on marine term (trip to cayman islands for research - the trimester revolves around the 2 week trip). I then registered for organic chem 1 and 2 and a handful of equally exciting classes. Talk about a huge let down to follow my new life dream.

It all ended up fine. I got to stay at school for another year and enjoy the undergrad life before going out into the big scary world. I took the following year off and took my last vet school prereq (biochem) while working full time for an animal hospital and living the high life with my parents. My parents are awesome, but having no friends around really sucked, so I took a lot of trips up north to Minnesota to visit the boyfriend and the friends that lived in the twin cities. Good thing I worked full time because that got expensive... but hey, I was really freaking lonely.

I applied to 7 schools that summer after undergrad and ended up with 4 interviews. They were all quite the experience, but my favorite was my first interview - Iowa state. If you live in northern Illinois or Iowa, maybe you'll remember the crazy ice storm from January 2008. It. Was. Horrible. Dad and I left super early in the morning to get there four hours before my interview to participate in all the fun stuff like tours of the school and learning about computers. I'm sort of happy I missed that part, but getting there 30 minutes before the interview was stressful. Especially when I still needed panty hose and an umbrella so my pretty new business suit didn't get soaked. The normally 5 hour trip took 8+ hours and Dad took away my driving privileged because I apparently don't do well driving on 200 miles of black ice. I knew it was getting bad when I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a pickup swerving EVERYWHERE across the road. I pointed at the mirror in shock, but Dad thought I was pointing at the sky and that got super confusing... Anyway. We saw more than 30 semi trucks flipped over on the side of the road and some moving vans with some poor families belonging strewn over the road and shoulder. I'm surprised we didn't die.

Interview went fine, but when I was talking fingerprint-unlocking-computer-hardware with a student (yea, its super cool, don't judge), I saw my dad on the phone looking concerned. Apparently my new beagle pup was allergic to metal. She chewed her tag off of her collar and blew up like a balloon, so Mom had to take care of that since Dad and I still had to trek back home. At that point, the first snow of 2008 began when we walked out of the school, so the trip home was as equally fun as the trip to Iowa.

Ohio State was fun too because we forgot about the time change. We successfully made it going 85 mph with 15 minutes to spare. That was my suckiest interview because one of the interviewers was terrible! He asked about my going to school near Door County and asked what was significant about Door County. I don't even know what I said to that ridiculously open ended question. When I asked what he was looking for he said, "I wanted you to say that there were a lot of cows." Word for word, dead serious, that is how he answered my question. The rest of the interview was similar to that question.

I got wait listed.

As fate would have it, at symposium at OSU during my first year, I went to a lecture and the guy that walked in was my interviewer. He ended up being pretty funny, but funny in the pompous asshole sort of way.

I ended up getting into Kansas State and Illinois, so for money's sake, I chose Illinois. I sort of regret that decision based on the downward spiral my school has taken in the past few years, but at this point I just want my degree and D.V.M. after my name!

I guess that is the story of how I became a vet student... but not why.

Simply put, I love animals. Who doesn't? But, more importantly, I believe in the strength of the human-animal bond. I believe that we coexist in this world to enrich each others lives. I hope I'll make a good doctor. My bleeding heart wants to save them all, but my science mind knows I can't and as I've progressed through the years, I hope that combination will make me good at my job.

I lost my very first patient recently. Her name was Lillian and she was the most beautiful chocolate lab I have ever seen, 2 years old, FS. Gorgeous, caramel eyes and a happy, happy tail. She presented with a history of massive right hindlimb swelling, but was also cachexic. She was taken in by a sweet older couple the week before and the swelling had been minimal. They were told she had been "kicked by a horse" the day before they picked her up. With that history in mind, we leaned toward hematoma. We ended up doing a CT, which showed 2 soft tissue masses. We also lanced the medial aspect of the thigh, and only clotted venous congested blood was seen. Two days later, the biopsy results indicated aggressive hemangiosarcoma.

I was incredibly upset, but only let myself cry for a minute alone. Life is cruel, but until the very end, she wagged her tail and ate her treats. I spoiled her with turkey baby food and peanut butter that last day and she went peacefully that afternoon. I learned that I like the effect of using propofol before fatal plus, especially on a young, active dog like herself, it lets them go very peacefully and gives owners peace of mind. Lillian taught me that it is okay to get attached to your patients and okay to be sad when they die. Because of Lillian and all the other animals out there waiting for me in the future, I'm getting excited to graduate and get out into the world be a veterinarian. It may not have been my life's dream originally, but I'm so happy to be doing something I love.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I learned today...

... about running. Backstory: So, I've been on this self-imposed running hiatus since the marathon at the beginning of May. I was nursing a strained butt muscle from the marathon and decided I needed a little break with clinics starting and what not. Well, I'm back and I'm not taking it slowly like I should. Case in point - today was my first real run since the marathon. The temperature was a cool 70ish degrees, the sky was cloudy and gray, it was sort of lovely running weather. I got home around 5:30ish and immediately put running clothes on and headed out.

Things I learned today about running:
1. Do NOT start your first run in almost 2 months with the goal of beating your world record time for your favorite out-and-back route.
2. Do NOT continue running AWAY from your house when it starts raining and the sky turns black just because you are on pace to break your world record time.
3. Do NOT smile because running in the pouring rain is hilarious to you. People will judge you and think you are weird.
4. Do NOT wear your super awesome hot pink Illinois marathon running shirt when you are obviously out of shape. You will look like an asshole.
5. DO go home and cool down by walking your dogs since it will stop raining as soon as you get near the house. They need the exercise as much as you do and you can't keep avoiding the two pairs of beautiful brown eyes that are begging you for quality time on leashes.
6. DO let the neighborhood kids play with your incredibly handsome black and white pittie. It is way too adorable when they ask if he is really a Steelers fan because he sports the matching collar.

Overall, really glad to be running again. I'd almost forgotten what a huge stress reliever it is. I can't wait to start training and build up my mileage again.

Anyway, in vet life, I learned how to dry off dairy cows this morning. It was really neat to do and I realized that I really do like working with cows and large animals. In fact, my surgery from Tuesday (my steer calf) and I have finally come to an agreement. He is one of the laziest animals I have ever met and spends more time laying down than any other steer in the ward. So instead of putting him in the headgate (which he hates), I just let him stay laying down and he lets me do what I want. Today, he nuzzled me. It was freaking adorable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My life is weird.

Intriguing title, no? Reasons for weirdness:

1. I just started my production med rotation. On day 1, I got to straddle a pig and ride around with it on a cart while someone drove us (the pig and I) around the ward... Okay, that wasn't weird, it was just awesome.

2. FARMS day 2, I got to scrub in on the placement of a rumen cannulae (so you can sample rumen contents whenever you want to). I got to wrestle my tiny steer because he kept trying to lay down with his rumen hanging out of his body. And he kept trying to kick us. So I punched him in the face. Sterile field my ass. Four hours later, I was covered in blood, ruminal fluid, feces, and saliva. I got to wear those scrubs all day long and bask in my wonderful smells. I also realized I need to start working out again if I'm going to be punching cows for 2 weeks.
2b. At the end of Day 2, I got to sample rumen contents from Brooke, the resident fistulated cow. We had an LDA come in from the dairy (left displaced abomasum) that needed the rumen juice. Kind of cool to see the full circle of things. Kind of weird to think that four years ago, working with cattle was the last thing I thought I'd ever be doing short of walking on the moon and running for president (although, the moon things sounds cool).
2c. A steer escaped in the middle of surgery and literally ran around with his rumen exposed. I can't say I've ever seen that before

3. Speaking of where I thought I'd be four years ago, I just went back to A-town to visit my undergrad. I seriously am in love that place - I met such awesome people and had a million hilarious memories that I'll never forget. Not to mention swimming and our team - really the best people on earth. The best part about visiting was that this was our first reunion weekend. At my school, they cluster the youngest classes, so I was with the classes of 2005 and 2006, along with my own, 2007. Not only did I get to see a lot of old friends and a handful of ex-hookups/boyfriends/god-knows-what-that-was sort of guys, I got to really spend time with SS and our friend Rory. I haven't laughed so hard in as long as I can remember and it felt wonderful. We shared a room in our old dorm and had a amazingly ridiculous weekend ... one that I'll never forget. Its incredible how quickly life can change when you least expect it, and how confusing and conflicting it can be. Life is weird...

4. I'm signing up for a half ironman in september. I don't know when I'll have time to train, I've swam all of two times in the past 6 months (even though I still think I'm pretty good), and I hate running in the heat. This bodes super well for training. But I'll do it anyway. Only a bunch of weirdo crazies do these races. I can't wait to be one of them (and by the way, its the Great Illini Challenge in September... now you can do it too!).

5. Too much to update. More soon. I decided I'm going to be a better writer/blogger... its therapeutic... and I think I probably need some sort of therapy right now.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Marathons... and CLINICS!

SO BUSY! SO MANY THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT! I have had more free time (relatively speaking) since clinics started, but I've been filling it with things other than sitting at the computer :) The last three years have been filled with hours upon hours of staring at a computer screen and I just haven't been able to bring myself to sit down at the computer and collect my thoughts. But here, on this rainy Sunday night while doing laundry/watching the Bulls game/organizing my life in clinics, I thought I would try to start writing again.

First off - I finished my first marathon! I'm a marathoner! I wasn't nearly as prepared as I should have been - I'm pretty convinced that my body is invincible and that I can "power through" just about anything. However, this would not be the case for 26.2 miles of running. I missed a few long runs when I was really sick before finals and crammed in a 20 miler in the middle of finals which nearly killed me... as in, it took 30 minutes to walk 3 or 4 blocks home after I was done running because my muscles were so tight. YIKES. Anyway, I ran the 5K the night before the marathon so that I could get the extra medals (I LOVE bling) and t-shirts - plus, it was the first year that they offered the "i-challenge" and I wanted to support it because I think it is such a neat idea. I ended up running with some friends who had trained for the 5K (they just started running this year) and I had a good time chatting with my other friend who ran with us just for fun - we held a pace that was about 3 and a half minutes slower than I would normally run a 5K, so it was awesome :) I rarely do fun runs with people, so it was a really great change!

Marathon morning started at 5 am with my traditional Thomas blueberry bagel (has to be Thomas!) and peanut butter and a banana. I loaded up my bag for my parents to hold on to with Gu gels, bananas, cliff bars, water, and powerade and headed out with Kyle. He was on call all day, but since the race was in town, he could be anywhere on the course and still be able to get back to school if needed! My parents and friend C met up with us before I wedged myself into the pack at the starting line. C was on a bike so that she really could go all over town to watch the race, which was an awesome idea. Our friend JW was meeting her with her bike too later on. I put my headphones on, started my running playlist and headed out once they started us. I put myself into the 4:00 pace group (wishful thinking) and started the long journey that would eventually end right where we started. I felt pretty good initially, legs felt strong, weather was cool and getting warmer, sun peeked out behind the clouds and thus started another beautiful Illinois marathon morning (every year has had perfect weather so far... *knock on wood*). Just before mile 5, we got to our house where my parents were with C, JW, and Kyle along with many awesome signs (JW's said, "It's not 26.2 miles, it's 10 water stops!"). I nearly ran into 30 people trying to cross to the other side of the road just to say hi :)

I continued on with the 4:00 group, seeing many friends and faculty from school along the way. One of the doctors at school always has a table outside her house with water and signs cheering for the vet-med runners - so cute and awesome, I look forward to seeing it :) Around mile 10, I felt a twinge in my right butt cheek... which happens sometimes when I run longer distances, and I usually slow down or stretch it out - but this was a race! I couldn't stop or slow down on purpose!

MISTAKE.

I approached the cut-off for the half-marathon course and marathon course around mile 11 or 12 - for a tenth of a second, I considered just doing the half-marathon... my butt was aching so badly and the thought of running 15 more miles was really depressing and ominous - but I couldn't. I wanted to be a marathoner, and damn it, I was going to turn into one that day.

I call miles 16-19 my "dark miles". At different times, I actually tried punching my butt cheek with my fist which was completely ineffective - and just my luck, my biker gang (C, JW, and Kyle) showed up at mile 18 as a surprise. I cannot share the pictures that they took of my face because I looked MISERABLE! HA! I shoved a banana down my throat and threw my ipod at them - because my brand new nano that I won in the raffle started skipping in the middle of songs! And then it started playing christmas carols in the middle of my running playlist... it was totally possessed and creeping me out. Once it started skipping during the Christmas songs, I just turned the stupid thing off - you can only listen to first line of "Frosty the snowman" so many times before you want to throw your ipod into the garbage. FAIL. I shuffled through the next few miles after my little dark period and finally, FINALLY, got to mile 23 where C joined me on the course and pushed me to finish the race. If not for her, I would not have broken 4:15 - she was totally awesome and a fantastic supporter. Thank God for friends like her. She ran with me all the way to the 26 mile mark where she branched off to head into the stadium from the spectator entrance and I ran into the stadium to the finish at the 50 yard line.

I DID IT! As soon as I crossed the line, a volunteer looked at me which a majorly concerned look on his face and asked if I was okay. Hell no, I wasn't okay, but I FINISHED! I could barely walk or put most of my body weight on my right leg because of my messed up butt, but at that point, I didn't care at all. I got my medals and water and just enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and the energy in the stadium. It is so neat to run races like this because everyone is encouraging everybody and supporting everybody and it is an all around amazing feeling. I found my family and friends right away and slowly made my way up the stadium steps to their spot. My people are amazing - I am so lucky to have such incredibly supportive parents (and brother, even though he was in Colorado and couldn't be there) and friends - I'm a very lucky, lucky girl. My final time was 4:14.41 and I'm pleased with that for my first marathon - and I know I can break 4:00 eventually. Plus, I beat Chris O'Donnell and Oprah Winfrey's marathon times, which was pretty much my goal anyway :)

On to clinics!
I started clinics on Monday in Orthopedic surgery and I LOVE it. I've had a few patients, one of which underwent surgery on Friday, which I got to scrub in on and close the incision myself (super awesome, and the resident said it looked great).

Oops, its movie time now that the Bulls WON - more on clinics soon!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It is official - We are 4th years!

Finals are over and we survived (so far)! We are still waiting on grades from our last 2 finals (radiology and large animal surgery) - but so far, so good. I may have a C in special small animal surgery (haven't calculated the final grade yet), but I'd be okay with a D as long as I get to be a fourth year!

Our white coat ceremony was very nice - it is weird to think that that will be the last time we are all together as a group for awhile. It is a little sad... I can't believe the last three school years have gone so quickly - I never fully appreciated it... or the people. I hope this year goes well - I also can't believe in just over a year, I will be a real veterinarian. How incredible is that?

Since I am off for A block, I have a lot of awesome things planned. Tomorrow, Kyle and I are working our last official Saturday morning before 4th year starts. After that, I'm headed to my family's house to meet mom for a wedding shower for a family friend. Then, we are headed to Chicago to meet A and E from Two Pitties. After all this time blogging and emailing and what not, I'm really excited to meet them and Ms. M and Mr. B! After everything they have done for us and for Shy/Khloe, it will be very neat to meet them in person.

Sunday is Easter and my brother will be home! We get to spend Easter together as a family! I am SO excited! I am also planning a mini egg hunt at our house at school as a surprise for KJ and the pups :)

Monday, I am meeting the pups that we are helping - I can't wait to meet them in person! After that, I'm headed to Minnesota to visit friends that I haven't seen in a LONG time - I'll be back Thursday, doing a cat spay on Friday, running a 5K on Friday and then... MARATHON SATURDAY! It is finally here! And it is close enough that I can check the weather forecast - for some reason, that always makes races real for me. They are predicting light showers and 56 degrees - I'm totally okay with that. If the light showers don't show up, I'll be more fine with that - I just don't like running in soggy shoes or socks!

So much going on! I'll update with a more in-depth post soon :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Last Go-Round

So it begins, our last finals week. EVER. We had our Critical Care exam yesterday, which seemed to go very well. I already had a great grade (her tests are very easy and straight forward) so I'm not worried. My issue right now is FOCUS. We have two finals tomorrow - Ruminant and Small Animal Surgery that I just started studying for.

Why didn't I do anything except organize my notes last night? I decided that it was now or never for my 20 mile run. I had looked up the forecast for Wednesday the night before and it predicted 60-65 degrees, partially sunny and only 5 mph winds. How could I pass that up? I was supposed to do the run on Sunday, but we were at a wedding in Michigan, so I only ended up doing 10 on Saturday through the golf course community that we were staying at. Which, by the way, was beautiful and I saw lots of white tailed deer, turkeys, and quails - very cool.

My 20 miler started out awesome - I was holding about 8:30-8:45 miles and I felt great. At mile 13ish, I hit a wall - and I also realized that my iPod was not calibrated for my NikePlus running thing to track mileage. My iTouch is calibrated, but its been having some issues - so I decided to try using my new Nano (won it in a raffle at school - AWESOME). I had created a beautiful 20 mile course for myself on mapmyrun.com - but when I got a little closer to home, I realized that I was about 2 miles off - Nano was telling me congratulations, I only had 5 miles to go - but I knew I had about 7. I also made the mistake of doing the last 4.5 miles in a loop around our house - I really wanted to just go home and forget about the rest of the run... but I waved good-bye to our street and continued on in what turned out to be the slowest 4 miles of my life. When I finished, I had about a 0.25 mile walk to the house - it was incredibly painful and I was so tired! When I got home, I stretched a bit, drank chocolate milk and gatorade, took a shower, and decided a nap was in order if I was going to attempt to study. When my alarm went off at 8 pm - I made the snap decision that i would "organize notes" and pretend like that counted toward studying!

I feel MUCH better today, not terribly sore which is amazing for how awful I felt last night. Sitting in the library is making my leg muscles cramp up, but I'm loving the fact that I got tan yesterday. Its nice not to look like pale vampire that never sees sunlight!

I can't believe this is the last time I'll have to study for finals. I also can't believe that we are done with class. Forever. I start clinics in less that one month - which seems insane to me since I feel like I still don't know much about veterinary medicine... but I suppose that will come through experience :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Vetscapades

Every year, all the students at my school gather for a night of "sharing our collective talents" complete with dinner and kegs. This past year, the administration took the beer privileges away - but we were not "prohibited" from BYOB (win!). A friend of mine that is really creative made a trailer for a movie - "Intussusception". It is a spoof of "Inception", but much more awesome. I starred in a 0.5 second clip in the movie - I am wearing a purple shirt - my friend JW and I are skipping away from the camera holding drinks, signifying the "outside" world - I guess you can compare us to Leo's children in Inception? I've got the link and the blooper reel listed below. I'm also including a link to the 4th year's skit, a parody of Cee-lo Green's "Fuck you" song. If you are offended by profanities, don't watch - but I promise you, it is amazing if you can catch most of the words! Our clin path prof and parasit prof, Dr. AB and Dr. AP, are the hosts every year and they are AWESOME. This year, in between skits, Dr. AB did a parody of Tom Petty's "Free Falling" - "Freemartin". Watch till the end - the whole school gets into it :)

Click on the links below to get to the YouTube videos and let me know what you think!

Intussusception

Intussusception Bloopers

Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You"

Freemartin.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shy and Saving New Dogs

Because of all the funds that were raised for Shy/Khloe's surgery, A from Two Pitties in the City found TWO pups this weekend that are really special and will be receiving the donated money. Go to her (and her husband's blog) and tell them how awesome they are for everything they have done these last four months to help Shy, to help me, and to help raise an incredible amount of money that is going to be used in a special way.

Read about them here.

Like my friend JH said, "This just seems so right. I know Shy is smiling down on you from heaven right now and probably wagging her tail too."

I hope she is! I know God has a reason for his ways and for why things happen - Shy wasn't meant for our world, but I know that she's up in heaven just having a blast - because all of you cared about her and cared about her story - TWO dogs will be helped that will make wonderful family members for some lucky people. I'm trying to find a way to get up to see them soon, so I'll keep you updated!

Stressed, Surgery.. and Naughty Dogs

I feel like I'm under a world of stress these upcoming two weeks. Today was our poultry final (thank God that class is over, hope we all passed). Wednesday is our Critical Care final. Friday is our Ruminant and Small Animal Surgery finals. Monday is our Radiology final and Tuesday is our Large Animal Surgery final. Tuesday afternoon is our white coat ceremony (which signifies our transition from a third-year-classroom-student into a fourth-year-clinical-rotation-almost-doctor), Sunday is Easter and Monday starts clinics!

YIKES SCHOOL.

Plus, we have a case presentation due, and ICU case to turn in, a handful of online quizzes due at random times, and surgery responsibilities this week and next week. PLUS, I am trying to catch up on emails and plan my visit for home in a couple of weeks and plan our trip this weekend for the wedding in Michigan (right before finals... GREAT).

Anyway, I had my third spay yesterday on a sweet beagle that reminds me of our 18 year old family dog, Gypsy. She is about 2, has clearly had puppies before and happened to be in heat. Surgery was very uneventful compared to my pregnancy surprise four weeks ago, which was nice, so I took it as another opportunity to better my surgical skills. I located the linea like a champ and found the left uterine horn on my first attempt.

The only odd thing to happen was bleeding from "external" structures - which was coming from outside of the body, such as the ovarian artery after the left ovary and uterine horn were exteriorized - so we just clamped the artery since we were removing the structure anyway. Our surgery tech walked by and asked if she was in heat (which she was) because of all the blood on the drapes and offered to bring more sponges, but we just replied "It looks MUCH worse than it actually is!" And it did - there was no blood in the abdominal gutters, no blood anywhere IN the abdominal cavity - we only used four gauze squares for the whole surgery, but it just looked like a mess on the drapes.

All-in-all, a successful surgery - patient woke up a little cold (98 degrees), but was conscious and wanting to move around after we tried to warm her with the heating blanket and towels, so her and I took a few laps around the surgery ward to increase her temperature. She said hello to a few groups and by the third go around, her temperature was 99.7 and increasing, so she got to go back to her run and sleep for the rest of the day.

I always breathe a sigh of relief when I check on my patient a few hours later and they are doing well. Then I check again a few hours after that... and again early the next morning, and so on. I just want to make sure my animal survives :)

I was on a high after finishing surgery and I studied for the rest of the morning and afternoon. KJ and I got lunch on campus (Chipotle for me and hot dogs for him) and we chatted for awhile, prolonging our break from studying for poultry. Around 5:30, I decided to go home to let the dogs out and feed the zoo. I get home and Jazz doesn't meet me at the door which is VERY strange. I see her trembling in fear on the couch... so I know she did something wrong. I see little black plastic remnants on the floor, which look like a plastic bag was ripped to shreds. I wondered what she had gotten into this time as I tried to read the writing on the plastic, but it looked to be written in German. I then happened to glance down the hallway and see a HUGE (20+ in diameter) pool of BLUE vomit with blue chunks. At that point, I saw a cardboard box sitting on the floor that was missed a corner (eaten by Jazz) which contained an opened bag of blue paintballs

Oh crap.

I immediately rushed over to her and checked her mucous membrane color and CRT (capillary refill time) - those indicate perfusion and oxygenation. She was pale, slightly tacky, and CRT = 2.5 to 3 seconds. Her abdomen was significantly distended and hard as a rock. I checked the cardboard box with paintballs again - the bag was mostly full, so she hadn't consumed that many of them. Plus, she had vomited - another good sign.

(What did I learn about paintball toxicity in toxicology? Didn't we just learn about this in critical care?)

So, I freaked out. I called the animal hospital immediately, talked to Dr. MD and she suggested I call Dr. SH, since she used to work at the ASCPA poison control - I couldn't get a hold of her, so I call my friend JA, who worked as poison control over the summer and is super smart - she told me that paintballs are an osmotic and cause hypernatremia along with other signs. Jazz and I jumped in the car and drove to the animal hospital where they calmed me down and gave subcutaneous fluids and ran electrolytes (specifically checking her sodium level).

At this point, Jazz had really perked up, her color was great, CRT less than 2 - so I relaxed a bit. Her electrolytes were normal and she handled the visit like a pro. I decided to study at home for the rest of the night to keep my eye on her (obviously, I wasn't about to leave her so she could try to kill herself again...) - but I lose massive focus when I study at home. I finished going through my poultry notes, typed up my surgery report and waiting for Kyle to call so I could pick him up (he was still studying at school, even though he offered to come with me to the animal hospital and all at - I didn't think it was necessary for both of us to lose out on an afternoon of studying, especially since I'd already studied more than him for the exam).

All in all, a very long, exhausting and stressful day.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Furball Pictures

New collar photo shoot!




Awkward Jazz.


The boys, doing their usual thing.

Exciting news! And more to come!

I applied for the Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Scholarship months ago, and today I found out that I was awarded it! It is for $2500, which will definitely go a long way! I was so bummed when the scholarship awards were distributed because I applied for a lot of them this year and didn't get anything. This definitely makes up for it!

Also, stay tuned for some very exciting news tomorrow at Two Pitties in the City.

I am slowly recovering from the nasty cold I've had for the past couple of weeks - I was able to run 6 miles (very slowly) on Tuesday and 9 miles (also kind of slowly) today. Since I am still recovering, I'm holding off on my long run until Sunday morning - they are calling for "54 degrees, cloudy, chance for rain", so I'll take my chances and cross my fingers that the rain holds out because 18 miles won't be fun in a downpour. I'll take a little light sprinkle though! I used to love rainy runs.

I'm also nursing a very mildly tweaked ankle from... tug-o-war. Yep, it is Vet Med Olympics time and KJ, our friend JW, and myself were our class's team captains for tug-o-war. Yesterday, we competed against each other within our respective classes and it was the longest, most difficult tug-o-war game I have ever experienced. EVER. It was minutes long - and my abs and back are killing me today. Plus, I rolled an ankle trying to dig into the grassy field during those tortuous minutes. We went up against the other classes and faculty today and won the "championship" - much easier than yesterday's match up, by the way - it just shows how awesome we are. I'm not competing in the other events - football, volleyball, softball, dodgeball, or basketball because I didn't want to hurt myself (I tend to overexert and injure myself quite frequently - I'm a huge klutz) and I ended up getting hurt in TUG-O-WAR! How ridiculous :) The culminating event of the week is the barcrawl on Saturday - it will definitely be great time!

Any other vet schools have fun events like this?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I think my fish finally died.

Marley, our dear clearance fish, has been "floating in limbo" for the last few months. So, we diagnosed him with a swim bladder problem with a secondary ick infection... I use the term "diagnose" very, very loosely :) He's been hanging vertically at the water line for a few months - but he'd occasionally eat and sometimes I'd find him swimming at the bottom, so I'm not entirely sure what his major malfunction was. Anyway, he stopped eating a long time ago, although I continued to pour food in the tank, semi-thinking that he might scour the bottom for food when we weren't home. The cats even lost interest in him since he pretty much quit swimming altogether. Every morning I tap on the tank to see if he flinches - he always does, so I know that he is alive. KJ and I considered "euthanizing" him... but 1. we thought it was weird because he is a fish, and 2. neither of us wanted to do it, and 3. we thought flushing him down the toliet was cruel, even in his half comatose state.

This morning, he was upside down floating at the bottom. I did my usual tap good morning - nothing. I did it again this afternoon - nothing. So, I officially call the day of death as today. RIP Marley, you were the greatest free fish we've ever had (the lady who sold us him at Meijer was too lazy to find out a price, so he officially became Marley, clearance fishie).

We're not too broken up about his passing - KJ just said, "oh yea?" when I told him I thought Marley had died. I tried to break it gently to the dogs and cats that one of their own had passed and I got a lot of blank stares, so I think they'll be okay. I think KJ wants more fish, maybe more than one at a time this time around, so the cats will be pretty pumped once they figure that out. After all, they didn't realize Marley was even there for the first year. Our animals aren't the brightest group of cats and dogs, but thats why I love them.

Also, Jazz's collar from Collar Mania came in the mail today - its a pink Burberry knock off pattern and SUPER CUTE, but I just put Revolution on them, so I'll take a picture once that dries :) I also need to order new tags, since her Boomerang collar tag won't fit on this new collar... I love buying new dog tags! I used to buy new ones every month from PetSmart, because Jazz loved to chew on metal when she was a pup (I told you they weren't bright animals...) and she was so flexible that she could chew on her own tags... Brilliant!

I also need to start looking for collars or something special for the dogs to wear in the wedding. We have a flower dog and canine ring bearer so they need to look GOOD! Any ideas?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cows, They're whats for Dinner.

I love steak. This makes it difficult to sit in ruminant health class. It makes me hungry - is that weird? Unless we are looking at weird pathology pictures, in which case I totally lose my appetite for beef and move on to sushi... because I'm always hungry for sushi. In fact, I'm just always hungry. Its the driving force behind my working out and running.

Speaking of cows - I completely forgot that we have a ruminant health exam on Friday. My lovely week after Spring Break was just ruined by this fact. We have a zillion small animal surgery quizzes due this week and next that I've been chipping away at - I try not to procrastinate when it comes to really simple things. That way, I feel like I am still doing "school" work, but it is sort of fun because I get to look up all the answers and watch TV at the same time. Everybody wins.

We also have our poultry final next week. In case you were wondering, this doesn't make me hungry for chicken because the pictures are really gross. How about I promise to NEVER treat a chicken, and maybe they'll just let me pass the class? In fact, I'll even offer to NEVER treat a cow in practice in exchange for letting me become a fourth year in a few weeks? I'm just not production medicine oriented. I look at animals as family members, as members of society. Cows, pigs, chickens, etc are not pets (usually). I get the realities associated with economics and production - but it is not in my interests to factor those issues into medical care. Randomly choosing animals to cull to monitor disease spread and things of that nature is just not my cup of tea. Mad props to those large animal students and vets - the USDA needs you! America needs you! The world needs you!

Plus, I just really love steak and we need those vets to make sure my steaks are all right for eating :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Welcome home Pittie smiles

I originally intended to spend a few days of spring break at home with my family. I planned on doing my 16 mile run on the trails that I used to frequent, but was super excited because I would get to explore many more of the trails with this extended distance. I planned on shopping at the outlet mall (I heart you, Vera Bradley - you are my version of a debilitating drug habit) and I planned on visiting this newly famous brewery, Two Brothers. I randomly discovered them at school and was happily surprised to find that they reside in my hometown... like down the street and around a corner.

What did I end up doing?

I took an adventure downtown on the train to meet some friends on the first day - I made the train by ONE MINUTE. I discovered my hair straightener was broken, took a minute to mourn, then realized that I was running late anyway. I then realized I needed money to park the car. I contemplated using the only bill I had (10 dollars) to pay for $1.25 parking, then decided I'd rather be late and drive to the city than do that, until I realized I had stolen 13 quarters from Kyle to pay for the parking meters at the gym. WIN. I dramatically swung into a spot, jumped out - and discovered that I am not a train conductor and I do not get the privilege of free parking. As I was putting money in the meter, I saw the train in the distance. So I ran and tried to play it cool as I approached the platform. I met my best friend from college at the train station for lunch since she works around the corner. When she had to leave, she walked me to Starbucks, as I was in great need of caffeine. Of course, there was no place to sit and read my new book, so I aimlessly wandered back to the train station and wasted 30 minutes waiting for one of my best college man friends to meet me to hang in the city. Since it was freezing out and I was completely inappropriately dressed for the 30 degree weather, we had coffee in the train station (I didn't know it was there earlier...) and then moved on to the train station bar. Thus, I successfully spent a complete afternoon in the train station, getting drunk on mocha lattes and miller lite. At this point, my throat started to burn and it was getting painful to talk, so I realized I might be getting sick.

That day, I learned that not only did I get to enjoy spring break, but my immune system was also going to enjoy spring break and take an extended vacation.

I did not get to enjoy a run on my trails... or any run for that matter. I didn't get to visit the brewery or go shopping. I did get to sit on the couch and watch quality shows like The Price is Right, Let's Make a Deal, The Newlywed Game, and the movie Knocked Up. Twice. I also attempted to be productive and work on some online surgery quizzed - since I was high on cold medicine, I'm a little scared to see what I put as the "correct answers" - but I'll worry about that later.

I broke free from the sickness haze this morning and attempted to drive home. Aside from almost plowing my car into the back of a tractor moving at 10 miles an hour (the semi in front of me maneuvered around it so quickly, I stared in shock and almost hit the tractor myself), I made it home in one piece and was greeted at the door by my handsome boy - not KJ, but my Benjamin Dog.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE pittie smiles? To some, they may appear ferocious - baring his teeth, moving his body in a crazy, haphazard fashion - but to me, they are smiles of the purest joy. It is the best way he knows how to show me how happy he is that I am returning home to him. He doesn't mind that I brought the beagle beast home with me, or that I am sick and dripping bodily fluids from my nose - he is satisfied by my mere presence. I laid on the couch to recover from my drive (since that was the most activity I'd done in days) and he laid next to me. I rubbed his big head until I started to fall asleep - he proceeded to talk pittie to me to tell me that I needed to keep petting him. He also kept rearranging himself to be as close to my face as physically possible. He's my good boy and a great friend :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Last Spring Break... EVER.

Thank you again for all of your support and emails. I appreciate all of your caring words, I'm saving the emails/comments for a scrapbook that I am making for my (eventual) veterinary career - a way to look back when things get tough and for me to know that I am making a difference out there, no matter how small. The winners of the raffle will be announced Friday and items will be sent out shortly after!

I heard this quote today that made me smile, "Pet owners want to know how much you care before they care how much you know." With my worries about not knowing enough when I graduate, I know that caring about my patients and clients won't be a problem. I may be short on relative clinical knowledge right out of school, but I will never be less than impressed with the strength of the human-animal bond and will do my part to strengthen that however possible.

I'm excited to "celebrate" spring break, but at the same time, I am excited to see the light at the end of tunnel, so to speak. Clinics are starting in exactly 1 month. Incredible! I never imagined the years would go by so quickly; the hundreds (thousands?) of hours spent studying seem so far away now - I'm so ready to get out there and make a career for myself - well, for ourselves really, KJ and I.

Speaking of spring break, KJ and I took engagement photos in Chicago yesterday. Our photograher is Amy Aiello, and she is incredibly artistic and talented - she has an amazing eye for great shots and made us look like rock stars. It was chilly and windy and my hair got a little crazy, but it was fun! Enjoy!









Friday, March 18, 2011

Thank you.

Thank you everyone, for your kind and caring words - I couldn't believe that when I checked my blog this morning, I had 19 comments - I really, really treasure the love that you showed her and all of us humans that were helping her. Everywhere in blogland, I have found tidbits about her, and I truly appreciate everyone for working so hard to spread the word about Shy Shy. Thanks A and E for all of your hard work - you were a light back in the day when I had no idea how to help Shy - and you have continued to be there to support and contribute however you could to help her. I made a list of the posts that I could find and shared them all with JH (my friend) and LU (JH's sister and Shy/Khloe's owner) - they were so touched to see how much she was loved by so many.

It seems cruel that the day after we reached our ChipIn goal for the surgery that she passed away. I had actually just talked to Dr. H (our ophthalmologist) about her appointment to check her retinas and make sure that she was still an eligible candidate and set up her surgery appointment. I came home 30 minutes later, and JH called me and told me what had happened. LU came home at lunch to let her out, and it looked like she was seizing on the couch and her gums and tongue were blue tinged. Thinking very quickly, LU gave her a bit of Karo syrup, thinking that she was having a hypoglycemic episode (related to diabetes). They took her to the ER right away, but it was just too late. I can't imagine how awful LU feels - but LU, it was not your fault and Shy/Khloe loved you so much. We all thank you for being there for her and giving her a wonderful place to live, even if just for a short time. You spoiled her like the princess she deserved to be, and I'm positive that her last month with you was the best month of her entire life. Is there a better way to go, knowing that you have a family and love by so many? I don't think so.

There must be a reason that her life was cut short and I'll hold on to the fact that she is up there in doggy heaven where she can see again and she doesn't need injections anymore. Maybe she can finally eat those tasty treats that she couldn't while here on earth. And maybe she will finally get to chase a cat... that seemed to be her life's ambition :)

As for the raffle and the ChipIn page, I will try to figure out if its possible to give the money back. The raffle ends today, so I will also be using an online radomizer (?) program to pick the winners of each item. For the money side - I'm not sure what else to do, unless we use the money to donate to a super awesome (or couple of super awesome) groups in Shy's name. That way her death and your amazing contributions will make a difference in the world. I don't have any in mind right now because I haven't had a lot of meaningful contact with rescue groups or animal-related organizations, but if we do that, I would like some sort of pit bull loving group. And hopefully one in Illinois, since that is where Shy came from.

By the way, KJ (I guess we know his name is Kyle now thanks to his post, ha ha) was very excited about writing his first blog post ever. He has been amazing, he is a wonderful, incredible man, and I am so lucky to have him in my life. Love you.