Next exam, Radiology and Imaging Diagnostics (Day 506)

Radiograph of pedis

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Pet Foods

Well with parasites out-of-the-way I can now focus on my main exams from the last semester. I am going be doing these over the next month as I start the summer semester as I think the summer exam period will be bad enough without any extra exams to do from last semester.

So now all I have remaining to do is Anatomy, Nutrition, Radiology and Imaging Diagnostics. I am choosing to do my radiology exam next as this is something I already know a bit about so will be easier to study for, and as I only have 5 days in which to do my studying the most sensible option.

I think I’ve spoken about some of what actually goes into this module previously, however it includes both radiography (x-rays) and ultrasound as well as a little bit of MRI and CT. Now basically from the 13 weeks of teaching we are supposed to know everything that could possible show up either on a x-ray or an ultrasound.

Being good at radiography basically means being good at anatomy, unless you know where things are and what they are supposed to look like you cannot read an image. And even more important is considering the entire image. I have heard rumours of a radiology professor who has a x-ray from a dog hit by a car which has caused many students to fail. This radiograph shows the dog as having obvious fractures in the pelvic region which attracts the student’s attention, however on looking closely the intestines are no longer in the abdomen. The dog has also suffered a diaphragmatic hernia (a hole in the diaphragm) with the intestines taking up space in the thorax and compromising the dogs breathing…

Now fractures are painful, and can look very nasty, however bones heal very slowly. However a dog that can’t breathe properly, is a dog that is an emergency as not breathing will kill very quickly.

The second part of the exam is ultrasound which is specifically difficult as it requires not only looking at the screen but a thorough understanding of anatomy and where the probe is on the body to be able to determine what the mess on the screen actually means. Positioning of the probe is crucial as being a cross-sectional image having the wrong rotation of the probe can mean that things are completely missed.

For now I am going back to my studying, at the moment I am reading up on contrast radiography which allows us to use special materials to improve the radiographic appearance of organs.

And I am still a vet student (Day 505)

Todays Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Webinars

Today I sat my final attempt at my parasitology credit for protozoa and actually passed. So for the next 6 months at least I remain a vet student. This is a big weight off my shoulders and I have recieved absolutely amazing support from my twitter followers. This afternoon I grabbed some sleep which is something that for the majority of this week I have skipped.

So today my paper felt a lot easier than previously, though I still managed to make some stupid mistakes such as confusing L. tropica for L.donovani. My lifecycle question this time was based on Cryptosporidium which is a form of protozoa that autoinfects itself with 20% of the oocysts (eggs) produced being thin walled and breaking before they are excreted from the body. My other questions included morphology and diseases which I did ok in. In total I got around 3 questions wrong including labelling the kinetoplast and axoneme the wrong way around.

Now that parasites is done though I am planning to sleep and then decide on my next exam to work on.

When vet school really gets scary, doubt… (Day 504)

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Webinars

Sometimes when people wonder if they are good enough, the ugly option may be to just find out. Yet when you start to think you are good enough, and then fail it can introduce doubt into your mind. This has happened to me with parasitology. Not once, but twice. Even after studying.

It’s frustrating to me, I can name all the anatomy, understand all the physiology, and the pathologic physiology that goes along with that. Yet I cannot answer some stupid questions about microscopic monsters. Why not? I do not know… Thats what scares me.

Its scary now because you only get 3 attempts to pass an exam here before they kick you out. Tomorrow at 1pm I am sitting my parasites credit for the third and final time, tomorrow I will find out if I am good enough.

Now I am going back to study.

Is it the understanding that is important? (Day 502)

When Slovakia Freezes

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pets Bureau

So I’ve been busy studying my protozoan parasites up, I actually booked my final attempt at this exam for Thursday afternoon at 1pm so now the make it or break it pressure is really setting in. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about what I believe are the two different types of learners in the world, those that learn by rote, and those that learn by understanding.

Now as it is easier to talk about rote I’ll start here, this is the type of learning where you blindly remember lists of things, answers to questions, or flow-charts or pictures. Its amazing for written exams as you can literally just write down word for word what you have memorised…

Sadly, my brain does not work like that, I find it annoying, I find it pretty useless actually as its meaningless information so it goes in and out in a single movement. Like for example in nutrition, I was presented with a table of pH’s for the horses digestive system – I can’t remember anything. Yet a few weeks back I was discussing colic with a Dr, and the conversation turned to nasogastric tube (a tube in a horses nose to its stomach) talking about the different colors, and testing the pH with litmus paper to tell where it came from. I remember that, it all suddenly made sense  If its highly acidic then it is coming from the stomach, where if it is more neutral/alkaline then it is coming from the small intestine.

Sometimes it is this that makes the difference, and this is where I think I failed with parasitology. I tried to learn it by rote as it made very little sense to me. This time I’ve gone back to basics, which has been very interesting as Google failed to find me much on schizogony, sporogony or gamogony. Understand these have turned useless lists or drawings of life cycles into stories, they’ve taken a list and made it into just 3 items – and then some differences within these items.

So with a little understanding I am no longer so lost, I am still nervous (it is my final attempt after all with my entire future in vet school riding on it) however I am extremely optimistic. Time to study some more!

On a final note, it appears winter is finally here, Saturday was so cold that I could not risk taking my gloves off to take photos when it was completely frozen (was -9 with wind chill taking it to around -24). Here’s a slight warmer (aka less windy) day…

When Slovakia Freezes

500 days of vet school in pictures – part 2 (Day 501)

Kitten with a case of the giggles

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

Well yesterday was my 500th day of vet school so I decided to share some of the never seen before photo’s from my massive collection over my 500 days as a vet student. Strangely I did not have space for them all so have decided to continue with this today. Sometimes being a vet student is difficult, and being able to look back at days like these simply make it all worthwhile…

Simply all creatures great and small…

All creatures great and small with a deer

A case of the giggles…Kitten with a case of the giggles

Monkeying around comes easy…Monkeying around

Somehow, its impossible not to play with kittens…Kitten playing

Rescued wild lynx…Rescued wild lynk in slovakia

A new study buddy…Stern Cats

Sometimes just a little helping hand is all that is needed…Chris feeding a foal

Somehow, I found confidence around horses….Chris making friends with a horse

A moment of reflection…A moment of reflection

And finally, it is time to rest….When a vet student rests

Now tomorrow’s post will be back to normal, I really do hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek into why being a vet student has become my life for the past 500 days, and hopefully the next 800 or so too!

500 days of vet school in pictures (Day 500)

Very cute stray kitten

Todays Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

Wow so today is rather special for me, it is 500 days since I sold everything I owned and moved to Slovakia to start my journey to become a vet. Since then there have been days where I’ve been amazed, days where I’ve cried, days where I’ve wondered if I was good enough and days where I pushed myself past my limits. I take a lot of photo’s, its a way that I use to learn stuff as I remember stuff better when I see it than read about it, however only a few of these make it onto my diary. Sometimes I judge it too gruesome (aka bloody) to post, sometimes its a patient, and sometimes they just do not relate to the days subject.

Today I am going share a few of these photo’s that never made it onto the diary (ok i’ve found too many so will do 10 today… and 10 tomorrow…)…

So in my 500 days as a vet student I’ve washed cats…

Drying a wet catMade friends with calves…
Making a new friendMet some extremely cute kittens…
Very cute kitten

Learnt a whole lot about horses… And am not so scared anymore…Chris's first time with a horse

Had a goat try to eat my coat…Coat eating goat

Looked inside a gos-hawks mouth…Inside a hawks mouth

Met some cute rescued stray kittens….Very cute stray kitten

Seen some very cute lambs…Lambs

Visited a pigeon show and seen some weird and wonder pigeons…Weird and wonderful pigeon

Met some very beautiful horses….Very cute horse

And with that I will continue tommorow….

One last attempt to achieve a memory for parasites (Day 499)

Veterinary parasites eimeria

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Pet Hair Remover

Well as promised here is today’s diary entry. For some reason I seem to struggle with parasites, I find the diseases they cause relatively easy, its just the species names, life cycles and vectors that just get so jumbled up in my brain that I am absolutely useless at them. Here is what I am talking about, and this is a pretty easy example to spot, I would guess that because of the size it is of the Eimeria spp. But everything else is just a jumble…

Veterinary parasites eimeriaSo today I turned to my twitter followers for help, with some amazing advice coming back at me. Sadly the way parasites is taught here is by the taxonomy. So we start with protozoa (single cell parasites) with the sarcomastigophora and work from there. It makes it difficult as different members of the same phylum have different hosts, different body systems and different vectors which to me just causes my mindjumble.

Especially when looking at textbooks such as standard parasitology textbook for vet students Veterinary Parasitology which is organised by species, then by body system. This means that for a single family I am jumping backwards and forwards over 5 – 10 different pages in different chapters of the book to get all the species information. Then there are other parasitology books, that seem to really lack when it comes to protozoa.

Now I understand that protozoa are important, they include the diseases such as african sleeping sickness, babesiosis, and the very well known one, malaria. I just wish that there was a single guide to learning all this in an easy way (just imagine protozoa for dummies).

However here are some of the ideas that I have got (and will be trying) from twitter (other than learning by body system/disease/species)

  • Turn it into a game called “build a life cycle” with flashcards (via @bokkaku)
  • Repeatedly shout expletives at my notes (via @TheCShaw1992)
  • Stick notes everywhere and anywhere (via @vetnursechirp)
  • Use mnemonics, colors, nicknames and bizzare associations (via @alexbriault)
  • Mindfulness meditation exercises to improve memory (via @CritterishUK)
  • Associations with pathology (via @DrJamieR_Vet)

So I guess I should get onto the really big kicker – I’ve got until the 31st January to pass this exam, have failed it twice already and only have 1 attempt remaining. Failing means that I fail this year…

Hours up, back to parasites I go!

Is it really 2 years already? (Day 498)

First snow at vet school in Slovakia

Today’s Diary Entry is Sponsored by Spikes World

Well today I got a shock, I went to calculate the number of days since I moved here and put in 2013 by accident. Realising this just brought it home that I have been in Slovakia for two Christmas’s, and next September a total of 2 years. In this time I have spent maybe 10 days back in the UK for BSAVA Congress and to speak with a sponsor in person. I am lucky in that I am so strongly independant, and doing something that I absolutely love as the time just simply flies by.

So no, not quite two years, but two Christmas’s. Last year was my very first white Christmas, in fact quite a lot of the winter was spent with snow on the ground and having to trek through it into classes. This year however has seen it snow just twice without settling – I am not sure what is going on with the weather however it does concern me a little.

First snow at vet school in Slovakia
My first snow here in Slovakia in Winter 2012!

So today I am sitting here thinking about how quickly the time has gone, last year in 2013 I took nearly 11,000 photo’s (yet just a few have made it onto my diary). However last semester I was really bad with updating my diary, I have been pushing myself extra hard with university, taking on addition responsibilities in addition to my studies, and starting the groundwork for my research project over the next 2 years. I have decided that instead of looking at the word count which is what I normally go by when writing in my diary I have decided that I will set myself a time limit. I will give myself 1 hour to write each day’s diary entry, and wherever it is at when that hour is up I will publish it.

I always try to be perfect, and I think sometimes it is better to do something rather than nothing and this is one of them cases. So hopefully you will have a lot more of a clue what I am doing each day, and I won’t feel so bad for being so quite! So until tommorow’s diary…

Why I think the energy companies need to frac off…

Fracking causes tap water to burn

Sometimes you can look at people, and wonder just what their problem is. However until you take the time to educate yourself in an issue you are in no position to judge. Now I’ve seen the news about fracking in the UK, along with the protests against it, personally I knew nothing so I didn’t see the problems so didn’t pay much attention. Until last night when this video popped up during a break from revising inflammation.

[youtube_sc url=”4ApZkNsXfJE” title=”Should%20your%20tap%20water%20burn%20like%20this?” modestbranding=”1″]

Now that is impressive, just what does it take to make your tap water go up in flames? In this case it was fracking… I knew that they used water under high pressure to crack the shale bed, I didn’t know that they pumped it full of a massive long list of the chemicals (poisons) that came up in Toxicology last semester such as glycol ethers (aka antifreeze which is highly fatal in pets). In fact some of these chemicals are so bad in laboratories you cannot put it down the drain, and instead have to pay loads of money for it to be disposed of by special companies.

Now being honest, its gotta be pretty much common sense that if you put something into a box, close that box, and come back ages later that the thing you put into it is still there. Now if the fracking cowboys put chemicals into the ground, only remove around a 1 third of them for disposal, it is logical that the remaining 66% remain in the ground to find its own way out. And with the entire objective being to create cracks as passages for the gas to be extracted these cracks also act as a distribution system for these highly dangerous chemicals.

Reading a little more I came across the Gasland documentary which looks at the problems in America caused by fracking, and Gasland 2 which looks at recent progress including the government coverup (oil companies pay for elections apparently) and how it has affected Australia as well. I honestly urge you to take a few hours to watch these (or at least the first one) and educate yourself on why we need to tell the energy companies to frac off!

Gasland Documentary 1 on Youtube

[youtube_sc url=”96AEzQYangE” title=”Gasland%20Documentary%20from%20Youtube” modestbranding=”1″ autohide=”1″]

Gasland Documentary 2 on Vimeo

Why I believe every horse owner should have horse insurance

A reason for horse insurance

Last Saturday I was about to sit down to dinner when my phone went off with a sms with two words, “colic surgery”, dreaded words to anyone that loves horses. Just 18 minutes later at around 5:30pm I was preparing the operating theatre for surgery, though the patient had yet to arrive. At 7:15pm the patient was walked into the theatre and anaesthetised, and at around 11:15pm the patient was moved to recovery. Through the night the duty doctor and I checked the patient every 30 minutes, and I left around 8:30am when someone arrived to relieve me.

Unlike the UK there is no pet insurance here in Slovakia. The university tries to help owners by only charging for the consumables used in the treatment and not for personnel time; however in a country where the average monthly wage is only around 400 euros the bill is still crippling. In the UK where everything is more expensive even this would be crippling to the average horse owner.

Vet student Chris working with horses

This is why I believe that horse insurance is an essential for any horse owner, and wish that it was available here. In fact every horse owner should have a minimum of at least public liability cover after Mirvahedy -V- Henley in 2003 set a precedent for the owner being liable for the actions of their horse even when they are not there. This cover protects the owner against the costs arising from any accidents involving their horse, especially important in the increasingly litigious society in the UK today.

Accidents happen and will always happen, especially where animals are concerned. Sometimes you leave them overnight to return to injuries in the morning, or you may be walking them across the yard on a dark evening when they spoke and run into something. Compared to the UK the UVM Kosice is pretty slow with maybe 1 or 2 equine patients a week, however it is a small community and talking to UK colleagues it is not uncommon for them to have 15 surgeries a day (yes I am slightly jealous!).

Earlier this year during the AWF conference in London a case scenario was presented with a person living opposite a field containing horses calling the vet to an injured horse but not knowing who the owner was. Not exactly uncommon, however presenting a great ethical dilemma as whilst the vet has to provide first aid they are duty bound to relieve suffering – this means that they have the power to request a police presence to authorise the euthanasia of an animal if the owner is not contactable. Equine veterinary treatment is expensive even with just the costs of consumables and medication, and without owners consent and a chance of getting paid a vet cannot afford to start treatment.

Now imagine if it was compulsory for horse insurance coverage, a vet in this situation wouldn’t have to worry about the cost of treatment, and if it was in the horse’s best interest be able to proceed to treat the animal. In fact it would be better even for the owner who wouldn’t have to weigh the cost of the treatment into their already difficult decision.

Now there are numerous options for insuring your horse, with many different discounts available such as horse insurance from EL who offer 25% off when buying online. Personally I always believe it is better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have.

Treating a foal after a accident overnight
Treating a foal after a accident overnight