Occupational Hazards

23 Feb

I love school, I really do. But I am really looking forward to being done, because I miss free time. I hardly have time anymore to write emails or call my friends or even to sit down and write a blog so people know what’s going on with me. For example, this is about the twentieth time I have sat down to write this block since January 30th. Each time I have managed to get a sentence or two down before I have to go do something else. I suppose I deserve it, though; I actually made the mistake of saying to one of my classmates that I had really expected this semester to be more stressful. It was a few days later when it started to hit me. Since then I have found myself still at school at 5 pm every day, even on days when my classes are over at 11 am. It doesn’t seem like we have a lot of homework this semester – I think we just have a lot of work, period.

January 30th was a horrible day – if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it was Friday the 13th. It was one of my first Friday morning surgery clinics. It was PALS lab day, too, which is when we bring some of the colony cats to a local hospital so human medical professionals can practice intubating (that is, putting a breathing tube into the cat’s trachea) because the cat’s throat is apparently similar in structure to a human baby. Except with fishier breath. One of the other groups in our clinic was assigned to a pretty little Siamese cross named Threads. While Sam was taking his temperature and listening to his heart, Threads suddenly tried to bite her in the face. I shouldn’t say “tried”, because he actually did bite her, but fortunately she reacted quickly and he didn’t do too much damage – just a couple of small scratches. The weird thing about it was that she had literally just finished saying what a sweet cat he was before he turned on her. While she was in the kitchen cleaning up the bite marks, he peed on the table and then just lay there purring like nothing had happened. Later, while I was helping another classmate get him ready for anesthesia, he decided my arm looked even tastier than Sam’s face, and sunk his teeth in. I must have screamed really loud, because people came running into the room from every direction. It hurt so badly and surprised me so much that I didn’t even realize he had scratched me, too. Naturally I went to the clinic next door right away, and they prescribed me some antibiotic pills roughly the size of Rhode Island, bandaged me up and sent me on my way. Three weeks later I have pretty much healed up, but I can still see the dots where his teeth were; I suppose I will probably have permanent scars there. It kind of looks like a snake bite, actually. I wonder if it would make me seem more rugged and exotic if I told people I was bitten by a snake instead of a cat? 🙂

To add injury to injury, I slipped in the driveway and sprained my ankle when coming home from work at 11:30 that night. Then the next day I picked up a document at work and somehow managed to give myself a paper cut on my right hand, right behind the fingernail of my index finger. Ouch. Hardly compares to a sprained ankle and being mauled by a cat, I know, but it was just one more thing to add to the list.

Last week as I was attempting to fall asleep (and failing) I had a sudden realization, almost the way House does when he’s talking to Wilson about random stuff. It occurred to me that everytime Threads has bitten (or tried to bite) someone, he has peed afterwards. Also before he bit them, most people had been petting or holding him near his lower back. So… I wondered to myself whether there might be some kind of connection between the peeing and the biting. So we collected a urine sample, and wouldn’t you know when I looked at it on the microscope, it was loaded with red blood cells. I couldn’t even count them all. When I tested it with the urine dipstick the “blood” square was even darker than the highest rating on the key. His urine was also full of crystals. Unfortunately, they’re not really the kind of crystals we can treat. So this poor guy will always be uncomfortable. 😦 Lucky for him, one of my fellow students is going to adopt him and bring him back to her parents’ farm to be a barn cat, because there aren’t too many people out there who would be willing to adopt a cat with chronic urinary problems and a penchant for biting without warning.

I have also decided that I need to get off my keister and start exercising again. So… I now have a workout buddy at school. Amy and I have agreed to nag each other… I mean, encourage each other to go to the Wellness Center and work out over lunch every day. This works out great because now we both feel more obligated to go because someone else is counting on us. Or at least that’s the idea. We started Wednesday, and so far have only missed one day. Okay, so there were only three days last week, but as the great sage MeatLoaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.

Now on the good news front – I have lined up an externship already! I am really excited about it, too; I think everyone at school and work is probably sick of hearing about it already, but I just can’t help it. This place is so cool! I learned about the clinic when I was at the Vet Conference in Florida last month, because I attended a lecture given by their head tech. They work exclusively with exotic animals – no dogs and cats at all. I will miss working with dogs and cats a little bit, but I’ve had three years of hands-on experience with them, and very little opportunity to work with exotics, so this will be really awesome. There are only two problems – (1) I won’t get paid, so money will be extremely tight this summer (I’m contemplating buying a lottery ticket to help fund the trip, but my luck is not that good so it probably won’t help), and (2) it’s in Indianapolis. Since the externship will be 6 weeks, Ian and the kids are not coming with me, and I don’t have any family in Indianapolis (at least not anyone I know). I’m really nervous about being so far away from everyone I know for such a long time, but it will be totally worth it. By the time I’ve finished my externship I will know how to do stuff that I might never learn at a clinic in Fargo. I just hope that when I get back home after 6 weeks away, everyone will say “we’re gald you’re back!” and not “oh are you back already?” 🙂

1 Comment

Posted by on February 23, 2009 in Uncategorized


One response to “Occupational Hazards

  1. nancy k

    February 24, 2009 at 9:56 am

    super awesome on the externship. ian and the kiddos will visit and i am sure the time will fly by!

    you are really cruising through school; yay you! 🙂


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