Thursday, July 12, 2012

Still alive.

So many things. 1. I graduated vet school. I am a doctor. 2. I've been working for 8 weeks now. I started the day after graduation. I worked 65+ hour weeks for the first 7 weeks. 3. I haven't been working out consistently due to foot injury... which was recently diagnosed as a "baby bunion". it also means marathon training was put on hold. 4. We moved to the country - I can't see any other houses from my house, just horses, deer, dogs, and cows. 5. I didn't have internet for 6 weeks after graduation. See #4. 6. I also didn't have a working phone for 6 weeks after graduation. See #4. 7. I still don't have cable. See #4. 8. I learned I need the internet to destress and be happy. Apparently I have a technological addiction. I also realized how much I stay in touch with friends and family via email/facebook - it was a little lonely there for awhile. But I'm back! I finally have a decently normal schedule (only 45-50 hours/week and a day off during the week!). I'll have lots of veterinary stories, lots of veterinary "firsts", and more blogs about training. I'm going to try to get back into triathlon this year, putting less pressure on my feet/knees. It also means I'll get to swim more, which is one of the great loves of my life. A mini vet summary of my first eight weeks: 1. diagnosed my first mast cell tumor via FNA 2. diagnosed horner's syndrome on an 8 yr old golden 3. euthanized my first patient (and a few more after that...) 4. palpated an abdominal mass on a recheck hyperthyroid cat appointment... GI lymphoma most likely. 5. diagnosed multiple hyperthyroid kitties 6. etc. etc. etc. learned lots. I'll be back :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tattoos... and the foundation for my belief system.

KJ has been talking about wanting to get a tattoo. He wants a half sleeve and his idea for it was actually inspired by our honeymoon. In Mexico, we learned a lot about the Mayan culture and about their religion and spirituality. He loved the idea of their version of the "tree of life". In the Mayan culture, they believe the world is made up of the heavens and the underworld, and linked together by a tree whose branches extend into the heavens and whose roots delve deep into the underworld, making the tree the center of the universe. When Mayans died, they believed that they entered the underworld through a cenote (very deep, water-filled caves that are interconnected - we went swimming in one on our honeymoon) and reborn into the sky world... or something along those lines.

His other idea involves some version of snake skin, with two separate scales colored red (for him and me). He is terrified of snakes and feels that by commemorating them into a tattoo, it will help him combat his fears.

I love the ideas for his tattoo and I want something equally inspiring and meaningful. The best I could come up with my favorite flower, Gerber daisies - which was also our wedding flower.

... and that is the best I could come up with.

So, I started thinking about quotes or single word inspirations, like "believe" or "dream" or "hope". It is cheesy, yes - but to have that constant, permanent reminder to be myself and believe in myself seems wonderful. I then changed gears to thinking of what word I would choose if I actually did it. "Believe" vs. "Dream". I'm not a dreamer - I set goals and I work to achieve those goals. I know myself and I guess that when I set my sights on something, I expect to get it - if I work for it and really want it. Maybe that makes me cocky, but I don't expect to be given any of it - I just set my sights on the final product and keep pushing until its mine. Swimming, softball, running, vet school, graduating college with honors, the past and present men in my life... I went after all of it, it didn't find me. And while I have some belief in fate, in the sense that things happen for a reason - I think we choose our own destinies and allow the things that could happen or were "meant" to happen, happen to us.

I guess the monkees had it right - I am a *believer*.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Emergency Situations

For my one and only off-campus rotation of the year, I got an externship at an animal hospital in the southwestern Chicago suburbs. It is a shelter based rotation, but the rescue itself operates out of an animal hospital. I've gotten quite a bit of spay/neuter experience (about 23 surgeries so far with two days left to go - my goal is to hit 30 total) as well as experience dealing with shelter illnesses - upper respiratory infections and intestinal parasites mainly.

What I want to share is what went on yesterday. First of all, I got the opportunity to assist with a TECABO (total ear canal ablation with bulla osteotomy) surgery. I chatted with the head practice partner about swimming, school, practice ownership, etc. It was a two and a half hour long procedure with about an hour of prep time, so we had ample opportunity to talk! Afterwards, I grabbed a quick lunch (it was 3:30 pm by the time we were done) and got my first surgery premedded. In the meantime, a hefty english bulldog had been brought into the hospital in respiratory distress. Apparently the owner had seen the dog breathing heavily early that morning. She went to work and returned to find her dog having a lot of trouble breathing, so she brought him into the nearest clinic (not her regular vet). He was immediately put on flow-by oxygen which helped his color tremendously. His temp was 103 when he was brought in and he was placed in the oxygen cage to relax. Unfortunately, his temp skyrocketed to 106 in a short amount of time and he was returned to the dental table for a cold bath, where his temp came down to 101. He started improving and began wanting to jump off the table. He was placed in a cage to see how he would do on room air, and at this point, I had just premedded my patient.

Three minutes later, he collapsed and stopped breathing. An ET tube was placed, he was re-started on oxygen. He had a heartbeat, so we moved him onto the surgery table close to ventilater and iso in case it was needed. A pink foam began dripping from the ET tube so we tilted the table and eventually picked him up and allowed it to drain from his lungs. At the same time, he was trying to vomit and up came about 2 cups of semi-digested kibble. Eventually he was put on iso and ventilator since he kept fighting the tube. There was no way he could breathe on his own with just flow by oxygen so this was temporary to keep him breathing to call the owners and decide on a next step. At this point, referral was the obvious choice - send him to an intensive care unit with a staff that could monitor him at all times.

As soon as Dr. E called the owner and explained what had happened, she began SCREAMING into the phone, and I quote, "YOU KILLED MY DOG, YOU KILLED MY DOG". When he told her he couldn't speak to her if she was screaming at him, she hung up the phone. She must have been waiting outisde, because she came immediately into the building screaming "YOU KILLED MY DOG" to the waiting room. After being put into an exam room, Dr. E went to speak with her and she began screaming AGAIN. No exaggerating, top of her lungs screaming... AND. POUNDING. THE. WALL. WITH. HER. FISTS.

(... are you kidding me? I don't care how distraught you are, that is no way to behave.)

Dr. E came right back out and Dr. S walked in (he is a partner of the practice) to reason with her. She then opens the exam room door that faces the waiting room and screams to them "THEY F***ING KILLED MY DOG". IN. FRONT. OF. CHILDREN.

When asked to stop or she'd have to leave because there were children present, she demanded that the children leave.

This continued for another 10 minutes, at which point the decision was made to take the dog to the specialty hospital. I drove and a tech and doctor sat in the backseat with propofol and an ambu bag with the dog. Fluids were hanging from my hanger hook and my cupholders held all the emergency drugs.

Of course, as soon as we were on our way, I realized I had NO gas. About 10 minutes from the hospital, I had to stop, run out of the car, pump 10 dollars as fast as I could and jump back in the car to get on our way. We only had a limited supply of propofol and we needed to get there. Plus, it was a 70 pound dog, so he needs a lot of propofol than a tiny dog!

About three miles from the hospital, we hit a standstill in traffic. An accident was about 10 blocks away and traffic had merged into a single lane directed by police officers. Dr. E said - "this better not take long or we are going to run out of propofol."


As I sat in the driver's seat shaking and praying for traffic to move its happy ass along, we finally began moving. We did make it and the dog was alive and pink when we dropped him off. After getting him settled, the owner tried to apologize, justifying her actions by saying this: "You just don't understand how much he means to me. You know I would marry him if I could."

You can't make this stuff up.

Today, the dog is still alive and on a ventilator still, so his prognosis isn't good... but we'll see what happens. It is out of our hands and hospital, so they can deal with the crazy if the dog doesn't make it.

Just a typical day in vet med.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The more you "know"...

Things I have "learned" or been told on this rotation that I plan on erasing from my brain as soon as I leave:

1. Doctors should not discuss the cost of anything with clients. They should only be associated with "caring for their animals" and not money.
2. Doctors do not clean cages. This is the job of techs, caretakers, and anyone else without a DVM after their name.
3. Cats do not need restraint. Instead of scruffing or really even touching them, you should kneel down, eye to eye with the cat, and blink slowly. This is what cats do in the wild to show that things are okay. They will magically stand still when you stick a needle in their jugular vein.
4. Primary care appointments should be scheduled hourly, or if really necessary, by the half hour. 15 minute appointments are not enough time to truly evaluate any animal and treat them... even if it is a perfectly healthy animal that only needs one vaccine.
5. An elderly animal that jumps from a counter and limps for a couple of days needs full sets of radiographs even if the limping has resolved and the cat is behaving perfectly normal and they made the appointment because of vomiting.

And I am SICK of people telling me that "your techs will do this and your techs will do that". I went to vet school so I can do my own bloodwork and do my own radiographs and do anal glands and have the ability and knowledge to do everything and anything. While I appreciate the work the CVTs do in the university setting (the hospital would be dead lost without them), if I have adequate time, I would like to do most of the so-called "tech" work. I think that is one fault (of many) of human medicine - the doctors are so far removed from the patient and removed from the costs of everything that they don't fully appreciate the whole picture. Veterinary medicine provides the whole picture - that is the beauty of our profession. I don't believe veterinarians are "above" the "mundane tech work" at all - in fact, you shoudn't be in vet school if you truly believe you are better than the techs and therefore shouldn't have to perform those basic skills EVER. I'm sorry if you disagree.

And I'm sorry for the rant, I just want to graduate and work in my small town veterinary practice for the next 30+ years with my husband.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

January 2012 running update & Ally update

I ran 100 miles in January to start off the first month of marathon training. The problem is, I haven't been great (or even very good) about cross training and that is part of the foundation for the training program, aside from running three days a week. I only missed three runs in total (2 tempo runs and 1 interval runs) so I have done all the long runs so far (yay me!). This weekend I am supposed to do 12, but I'm going to push for 14 and try to get a little ahead in the long runs so I can hopefully do two 20 milers before the marathon to build up some endurance.

On a side note, we decided we wouldn't be able to adopt Ally... but one of the volunteers that works with our rehab specialist is taking her! She is an older lady with no dogs and is very familiar with Ally and adores her. I hope Ally will have an awesome home with her!

As far as rotation go, I'm currently on primary care at our school... which is an incredibly poor example of primary care and completely unrealistic - the majority of primary care practices do not have specialists available for "consults" and are not able to sustain themselves strictly on a 1 appointment/hour schedule. Its craziness... oh, the stories I have... and its only been two days! I'll update soon with my very-nearly-useless experience here and the endless tidbits of "wisdom" I've picked up... FUN FUN FUN!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Are we ready for this?

And no Mom, this is not about children.

Our ex-foster girl, Ally, has had a tough little life so far. She was rescued by a kind, caring lady who found her walking on both carpi (wrists) with some incredibly flexed tendons. She hopped around like a little mongoose and was pretty adept at walking on two legs as well as four. She had a bilateral radial and ulnar osteotomy to correct her horribly curved bones and intensive physical therapy. When the left radial implant became infected, she had another surgery to remove it. Weeks later, the healing bone was fractured again and another surgery was performed. Immediately following the first surgery is when Kyle and I came into her life. We'd visit her in rehab and play gently with her. Through everything, she was mostly a wonderful, happy little dog, with some moments of sad depression sprinkled in.

She's been staying with our rehab specialist, who is also long-time friend of KJ's and his family and now my friend as well. She is a remarkable person and does wonders for the animals that come through her ward. She opened her heart to little Ally and has been caring for her since our wedding - she never expected to inherit Ally for the long term, but graciously and lovingly took her into her home during all of her recovery. The woman that originally adopted Ally had a lot on her plate, which is why Ally is been fostered since her first surgery.

Ally had recheck radiographs done on Monday - and she was pronounced HEALED. Kim sent us an email telling us the happy news and we were thrilled to know that Ally was finally given a second chance at a quality life.

Since I'm on the imaging rotation, I was perusing the rads that were taken this past Friday and saw Ally's name pop up. I immediately ran over to rehab to visit our girl and see how well she was doing. The first thing K (rehab specialist) said when she saw me was, "Ally's broken again".

I couldn't believe. I went back and opened both sets of rads and sure enough, the Monday rads looked great, while the rads taken four days later showed matching radial and ulnar fractures.


The surgeons think her bones are shot... she's had months and months to recover. She is going to get 8 more weeks of bandage changes and see how it goes. But if she isn't healed... she will most likely be a three legged dog. And K thinks she will be a terrible three legged dog since she isn't great on her front right leg. And her owner has finally had it - so Ally technically belongs to K now. And K also owns a Mastiff with two young, active kids. It's not a great environment for Ally. Our house really isn't either... but we're K's first choice for Ally's new home.

KJ and I both know the situation... but haven't sat down to talk about it yet. We both love her so much - but are we ready to take on such a special needs little girl? Can we manage three dogs and two cats? I just don't know... She is such a special little girl, a sweet tiny cuddle bug that loves people and adores other animals. But we are so busy and I'm not sure we can do her rehab and give her enough attention...

Thoughts? I know other people would be willing to love her and take her into their home... but I do have a strong attachment to her. I just never pictured us being her forever home. But life doesn't always follow our plans, and I guess that's what makes it exciting and wonderful...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When I grow up, I want to be an animal doctor.

The annual interview day at our school is almost upon us. Our school does it all in one day, in one neat little package - get in, get out, thanks for coming. When I applied, this was my last of four interviews. At that point, I was over the interview process and only wanted to know if I would be going to vet school (or not) the following year. I knew my Kansas state interview had gone well and I liked the school a lot. The only draw to Illinois was cost of tuition and being closer to home, not the actual school itself. I had heard a lot of negative things about the school and not a lot of positives...

I drove down that day - skipped the tour, skipped all of the informational meetings - almost like I didn't want to know what the school had to offer, because if I got accepted, I would be going because of cost. If I hated the school and got accepted to there AND another school, I knew I would have a tough time turning Illinois down, despite everything I hated about it. The state of blissful ignorance - we're well acquainted.

My interview was a blur. I remember nothing except that one girl was wearing something Cardinals related. I can't even tell you if it was a hat, a t-shirt - nothing. Years later, when my friends and I would talk about the interview process - they could remember everything - "oh yea, I had Dr. P, and that fourth year named Megan." What is wrong with me that my own interview day is a gaping black hole? Maybe it was my indifference, who knows.

What I do know is that I don't regret it. I met my husband here. That above everything means the world to me. In some small place in my heart, I'll always have a certain fondness for the school when I think about late night anatomy lab study sessions with KJ and my friends, cramming for exams in the cafe for 12 hours a day, rocking out to country music and "gangta rap" while cutting our anatomy animals, and having a ball (a lot of the time) in clinics. I have met a lot of amazing people in my four years here - and I'll be happy and honored to call them my colleagues in just a few months.

I've also been thinking about kids lately, or more so the "idea" of kids. Its going to be years before we jump on that train, but I love that our future kids are going to grow up at the animal hospital and be surrounded by animals their whole lives. Maybe they'll want to be vets someday, and maybe they won't - but either would be okay with me :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I run so I can eat.

Marathon training is underway. I'm glad my schedule for the rest of the year allows me to have time to train and have free time on top of it. Unfortunately, the temperature is about 10 degrees with icy rain... so I've been doing a lot of indoor, treadmill running. Today's run was 11 miles and I had the fortunate opportunity to watch nearly all of Legally Blonde and zone out for awhile. It was lovely.

Post-run, the husband "convinced me" to get Pancheros burritos for lunch... and frozen yogurt for dinner. That's love right there - he knows my weakness for americanized mexican food and love of freezing cold dessert in the dead of Illinois winter. Honestly, this is one - albeit small - reason that I exercise as much as I do. I love eating. I mean, love running too, but I really really love eating :)

I start my next block of imaging tomorrow - which means more time to read books! I'm on the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy now. So far in 2012, I also read Inheritance, the fourth book of the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini (awesome books). Then I read All My Patients Kick and Bite by Todd Wells - a cute, funny book written by a mixed animal vet about his most memorable patients. I just finished Dewey the Library Cat by Vicki Myron yesterday. I cried through the book, both from laughing and sadness. The way she depicted Dewey reminded my so much of my Quoddy cat, our rambunctious, trouble-making, sensitive, stubborn, snuggle loving-Maine Coon cat. I recommend all of the books if you are looking for light, easy reads.

More to come from my adventures on radiation vacation (aka diagnostic imaging).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Boards... I pass them.

I passed boards.

I passed boards.


(correction: WE PASSED BOARDS!)

It hasn't sunk in. At all. In fact, I woke up this morning and checked again to make sure. I *honestly* was scared I wouldn't pass. When you walk out of that exam, you are in a daze. Actually, half way through the exam you start to feel like you are in a fog. Then, a few hours later, when you try to talk about it - you only remember six questions. And you hope to God that your friends agree with your six answers.

I called my family last night to tell them and I know they are so proud of me and its an amazing feeling! I owe it all to them. I wouldn't be the person I am or have the accomplishments that I do - with school, sports, and life - without their endless support and encouragement to follow my dreams and do what I think is best for me - even when they don't always agree (aka turning down a full ride for a college I didn't think was right for me... even though six months later I admitted to my horrible mistake and transferred!). I love you mom, dad, and bro - you are my strength and my rock.

Four months from yesterday we will graduate as DVMs and be thrown into the real world. I'm terrified and excited. I updated facebook this morning to add my current/future employer - associate veterinarian, at your service!

Husband and I are headed to Chicago for a day trip to celebrate today - we have a lot to be thankful for :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The times they are a-changing...

... in more ways than one. I'm still alive. Fourth year tried to swallow me up and claim me as its own, but I'm rising above it. Take that fourth year. And our house just got robbed... but I'll get to that later. Take that robbers.

I've been living in a post-boards splendor for a month and a half now and it has been blissfully uneventful... other than the typical grind and headaches of rotations. I just came off of five weeks of internal medicine and am settling into 4 weeks of imaging.

Reality hit today when the NBVME released the NAVLE scores to the states that subscribe to the online portal system... 23 states get to check their scores online and unfortunately Illinois is behind the ball as always. We are sitting, patiently (or not so patiently) waiting... pacing... checking facebook/gmail/various websites for updates and trying to put the potentially life altering news out of our minds until we know for sure. If you do happen to fail, the world doesn't end. You get another chance in April and you still graduate and all is well in the world. I think the tricky part is getting back into the studying mindset for three months knowing that you didn't pass it the first time. Dear God, let me pass on the first try.

Since this year will bring a thousand changes in my life with graduation, moving, and starting my career, I thought it would be appropriate to start with some goals for my mental and physical health. I've been feeling a little depressed lately and I can't pinpoint the reason but recent events have made me uneasy and scared.

So, like I mentioned, our house got robbed. On Christmas night.


Now, I imagine some of your jaws have dropped and you are thinking "what kind of horrible human being robs a home on Christmas". I agree with you whole heartedly. It takes a certain type of asshole to break into a bedroom window of two poor veterinary students and steal almost everything of significant worth. Thank God nothing of sentimental value was taken and that we and our animals are safe.

We had taken both cars out to Kyle's parents farm (about 30 minutes away) and my parents and brother had come down on Christmas Eve afternoon and we all got to celebrate that night and Christmas morning (after we got home from work at eleven... yes, we worked all through the Christmas holiday). My family left around 1 and Kyle and I had more Christmas with his family. We left around 10 for home in separate cars and I headed to a friend's house to take care of their dog before heading home and Kyle went straight home. I got back about 20 minutes later and as soon as I pulled up, Kyle got out of the truck with Ben and came to my window. The first thing he says is, "Don't freak out, but we got robbed."

So I did what anyone would do. I punched the steering wheel repeatedly and cursed/screamed at the neighborhood. When I had finished my tantrum, he asked for my phone to call 911, since he phone had broken a few days before and we hadn't replaced it yet. Apparently, Kyle had walked in the house with Ben and saw the TV was missing. Of course, he thought the cat had knocked it over because he does that crap all the time. Then he noticed the PS3 (that I bought for his birthday four weeks before), Wii, and laptop were missing. He immediately grabbed Ben and sat in the truck parked at the end of the street with the doors locked until I came home.

The police arrived in three separate cars and had to "clear the house" just like they do in the movies. Guns drawn, they went through each room with flashlights to make sure no one was still in the house. Then we were allowed to come inside. Apparently they had taken out our window air conditioning unit and broken in through the bedroom window. They flipped the mattress and searched the nightstand/file cabinet - of which they found nothing because everything of importance is in my office. They went in my office, which happened to be filled floor to ceiling with shower/wedding gifts in boxes - but only took a single plastic bag, I assume to carry all of our stuff out of the house with. THANK GOD.

They must have grabbed everything they could in the living room and headed out the backdoor (which they left open, luckily the cats didn't go on any adventures that night). My laptop was sitting on the kitchen table, but they missed that.

All in all, it was terrifying and a huge invasion in our privacy. To think that strangers purposefully broke into our home and took our belongings makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and exposed.

The following day, we ventured out to the stores and priced out new TVs. Even though we had purchased our 32" less than a couple of years ago, we were able to buy a 37" that day for about as much as we had originally spent and a new playstation 3 (our insurance should be covering nearly everything). Later in the week, I went up to visit my family and we went shopping at Costco where we discovered a floor model that was 47" and only 20 dollars more than we had spent on the new TV. It was much better quality, 120 Hz, 1080p, wireless capabilities, 3D capabilities, etc - I bought it on the spot and returned our other one with no problem (thank you Best Buy). Its pretty awesome - way different than our little 32" - but it wasn't fun shopping for new stuff knowing WHY we were doing it.

Anyway. Lock your doors and windows. Get a guard dog. Or an alarm system. Your choice.


So about those goals - I have a bunch. Here they are:

1. Graduate.

2. Run in at least 3 races in 2012. Already training for the Illinois marathon April 28. Doing the Shamrock Shuffle in March. Possibly the Chicago marathon in October.

3. Lose 10-15 pounds. I gained back all the weight I lost over the summer for the wedding... its time to get back on track.

3b. Calorie counter. Joined and have been tracking my calorie intake... I'm not going to be a crazy person about it because I enjoy drinking and ice cream but to have some idea of the kind of nutrients I'm taking in on a daily basis. I just want to make sure I have enough protein, fiber, etc.

4. Learn to budget and manage my money. Joined and have been good about keeping up with it and checking which keeps me from spending more money.

5. Read for fun. I'm on my third book of the year so far. It helps that I am on a very laid back rotation right now, but I forget how much I miss reading. I have loads of books that are waiting to be opened.

Sorry for the long catch up. I'll be back to updating more regularly :)