But reality intrudes, as is its wont. In early August, the first-year students (officially, the OSU CVM Class of 2019) received from an admin person at the vet school an email with 15 attachments. First, that is just insane. The attachments refer to half a dozen different issues and the email is in clear violation of the first rule of emailing: keep the damned thing short and confined to one subject only. Second, why are they clogging up our inboxes with that nonsense? What about Dropbox? Why not link all that info to a web page and send us the address? And third, whoa--reality.
I think the excitement switch flipped when, triggered by that email, I registered for my fall classes then set up my calendar.
|A week in the life of a first-year vet student. More about the French class later.|
I reviewed the list of required and optional textbooks then did the requisite online price comparisons. I also emailed my "Big Sib" to ask her how optional was optional. The Big Sib is usually a second- or third-year student. They select their "Little Sib" based on a silly survey (example question: if you were stranded on a tropical island, what three things would you want with you? I answered: an eight-inch long fixed-blade knife, the complete works of Shakespeare, and dental floss). I've already purchased the three textbooks I'll be using this fall, and two of them are sitting on the worktable next to me.
One of the things I've learned from my work in the vet clinic this summer is the importance of the heart and the blood. When we monitor patients, the minimum data we collect includes heart rate, temperature, respiration rate, and capillary refill rate. Because I only see critical care patients, blood pressure monitoring is often included too. All of those things are directly linked to the heart and blood. We also collect blood, lots and lots of blood, and analyze it for an array of cell types, protein and ion concentrations, clotting rates, and so forth. While I've learned how to collect the blood and physical data and run the machines that do the analyses, I've not learned much about what it all means. I can see patterns and trends but I haven't had any physical context for them.
So, I picked up my physiology textbook and began to leaf through it. NINE chapters on the heart and circulation. Yep, that emphasis is consistent with what I'm seeing in the clinic. I've now read the first four heart/circulation chapters, taking notes, redrawing and re-annotating graphs. And even with those small steps, I'm already building a framework from which I can hang the patterns that I observe in the emergency patients. The physiology constrains cause and effect. It allows prediction and treatment. Wow. Science.
I'm closing this post with a picture of a blood sample from a dog with hyperlipidemia. Hyper means excess, lipid means fat, and -emia refers to blood. A 1 mL venous blood sample was placed in this small tube. The tube went into a centrifuge which spun the cells down to the bottom of the tube (the dark layer) and plasma up to the top (plasma is usually yellowish and clear). We extracted most of the plasma for a chemical analysis so it is missing from this picture. But what's cool about this picture is the layer of bacon fat at the top of the cells. Yes, bacon fat. Fats are lipids that are solid at room temperature. There is so much fat in this dog's blood that it forms its own layer in the tube. The dog was morbidly obese and rather revolting to handle, sort of like holding a balloon filled with cake batter. He also had pancreatitis. Acute? Chronic? Hard to say.
A discussion of the connection between hyperlipidemia and pancreatitis and obesity is not where I want to go with this blog, ever. I only want to emphasize that blood and the heart are pretty important things to understand if we want to treat disease in humans or animals.
Eight-inch long fixed-blade knife, the complete works of Shakespeare, and dental floss. Plus I'm sure that I will get through two more chapters on blood and the heart before classes start. Yeah, now I'm excited.