Saturday, January 13, 2018

Back at the PDSA

I've been back at the PDSA Seeing Practice before I head back to Uni and been having a great time. I've been going there for a couple of years now and love all the staff, they all have loads of experience which they are happy to share and are generally a nice bunch!

We seem to have loads of ex laps (exploratory laparotomy) this week. Dogs with suspected foreign bodies are admitted on fluids, X-rays done and then taken to theatre if required. I scrub in to be a human-bowel-clamp, closing off either side of the object as the surgeon cuts into the intestines. Then I get to practice my suturing and close the abdomen; I've not done much suturing since India so it took me a while to get my speed up! One of the vets commented on what an improvement she's seen in me over the last year which was really nice.
I also assisted in two fracture repairs at the start of the week, with the same vet I've done a few with before. I know the drill by how (no pun intended) so I can place a plate, drill, tap and screw it in, and actually be useful to the vet and ready with the next instruments we'll need.
All looked good in post-op xrays and a few days later at their check ups!

Later in the week they were a vet down due to illness so they had me doing consults and Pet MOT's. I call clients in to the consult room to do a clinical exam, take a history and any tests I think need performing like a minimum database bloods and urinalysis.
We had quite a few diabetic patients so I would check they are stable at home, take weight and a blood glucose before bringing in a vet to answer any questions and prescribe medications.

I took blood from a cat which looked like water, spun it to get a PCV and this was the result...

Finally on Friday we had a group of school children in who learn about the work vets and the charity do, then they learn how to gown and glove up. They come for a tour afterwards so while I was doing a lump removal I had an audience of children and wasn't sure if they were amazed or grossed out by all the blood!

You could almost set your watch by the 5 o'clock Pyo...
One of my consults finished her season two weeks ago, had a thick green discharge from her vulva and a temperature. I took her out the back to scan and we could see the Pyometra.
A vet came in to confirm, we put the dog on IV fluids and 30 minutes later she was on the surgery table having her infected uterus removed before we all went home for the weekend!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Eagle Hunting in Brno

Last year at Diakovce we met a group of Dutch falconers who we got on really well with and stayed in touch. They invited me and Leah to stay on after Opočno to join them for three days at a private hunt in Brno with their four Golden Eagles and a female Goshawk.
There was a bit of a hiccup leaving Opocno as the girls locked the key in their room and we had to leave at 5am for them to catch a train back to Kosice so I drove them the three hours to Brno while Leah stayed behind to get their luggage out of the room. We got everything sorted, found our hotel and perched the birds out in the gardens.

We were hunting on land around Brno airport and I've never seen so many hare in my life, the game was fantastic. Leah was flying a male Golden Eagle given to her by Bart, one of the Dutch guys.

They had a lot of slips on game as she got to grips with flying him and that evening they did some lure work by dragging a deer skin behind the truck - amazing to see!
On the second day together she caught a hare with him and once he was blooded (caught something) she was able to give him a name; Maximus.

Wes has been trying to catch Hare with his female Goshawk Elsa for two years but not had the opportunity. As there were so many hare in Brno and having flown hard for the past few weeks Elsa was at the perfect weight and fitness and had an amazing flight.
It's not a typical Gos flight so she obviously learnt how to catch it and it all paid off - Wes was delighted!

I really had the best time getting to know the guys and spending eight days with them I learnt so much about eagle falconry. The falconers so in touch with nature, know so much about the land and respect the quarry we're looking for. We saw loads of Roe Bucks (males) but didn't fly on those as they're out of season.

I was happy as they know I collect animal skulls so we found a complete Roe Deer female so I took her skull and cervical vertebrae. We also found a dead Buzzard underneath some electricity pylons which I've put in the freezer to process at a later date.
Four years ago I'd never seen an Eagle up close outside a zoo and now I've just spent eight days hunting with some of the finest eagle falconers in the world, helping make and fit equipment and handling the birds on a daily basis. I know it's cliché but I wouldn't change my life for the world.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

50th Opočno Falconry Meet

This week I travelled to Opočno in the Czech Republic with four friends for the 50th International Falconry Meet. We drove the seven hours from Košice on Wednesday afternoon, ready for registration and the first day of hunting on the Thursday.

The opening ceremony was held in the castle and amazing to see how many falconers and birds there were in attendance with 67 Golden Eagles and a whole lot more Falcons and Hawks on top of that.

It was great to catch up with friends we've made at previous falconry meets and to make new contacts.

We spent two days with the Golden Eagles and one day out with the hawks; Goshawks and Harris' Hawks.

Bart, a Dutch falconers and friend of ours, brought his new male eagle for the meet and on their first day out hunting together they caught a Roe Deer.
It was an awesome flight as the eagle locked onto the backend of the doe and she ran around a tree trying to get him off. He had several flights leading up to it but to hold on gives them confidence which is great for training young birds.

At the end of each day we had a ceremony to pay tribute to the game, a tradition which is still carried out with horns playing, a small fire and pine branches put into the mouths of the game.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Published in the Veterinary Times

A vet friend posted on my Facebook this week that my comments had been published in the Vet Times!

The article was about more possible vet schools opening in Keele and Harper Adams in the UK.
I commented on Twitter and the comments were published in the Vet Times...

People were commenting on the article saying there are already too many graduates. My point was that practices should value their graduates with salaries, benefits and support to keep them engaged and support specialist. So many vet graduates leave the profession within the first five years and there must be a reason for that...

If you can't read the comments it says;
"There are thousands of British students studying abroad who get no support - any incentive for them to work in the UK?
I know lots of British new graduates who have gone straight to Norway and Sweden for work-life balance and salaries double those offered in UK."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

First Day of 5th Year

...started with this pair of cuties
Diseases of Small Animals is a subject I've been looking forward to because I'm pretty confident in my practical skills, surgery, taking a history and clinical examination when doing consults but as I've not studied internal medicine I'll pass the information on to a vet who will suggest a diagnosis and treatment with owners.

A lot of it comes with case memory in that you see similar presentations and recall the treatment but I'm looking forward to understanding the various diseases to form a list of differential diagnoses and possible treatments.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Another two weeks seeing practice

I landed at Heathrow from Mumbai last Friday and went straight to a friends wedding in London. We had a really good weekend, lots of their family are Irish so it was a proper family wedding with lots of dancing aided by an open bar!

Back home and I was back at the PDSA for two weeks. I'd hoped to be able to do some neuter surgeries but the whole two weeks I was there we only had one bitch spay and lots of cats so I didn't get to do any this time but I still got lots of surgical experience.

Following the August Bank Holiday we had 24 inpatients so were busy treating those on top of the planned surgical cases.
Depending on the vet I am working with I'll often induce and intubate patients for procedures and then take x-rays with nurses, mass removals and start dentals - a vet will come in to do extractions or to evaluate x-rays etc.

We had a kitten come in with a broken femur so we took x-rays and I scrubbed in for the fracture repair.
The vet opened, located and aligned the break then I helped to drill the intraosseous pin and then close up, after taking further x-rays to check alignment.
This week I've done a lot of closing abdomens and wound stitch up's as we're short staffed due to holidays and maternity leave so while I'm closing the vet can get on with other surgeries.
It's great for me as I can practice my intradermals which I'm pretty confident doing now ...though they are much harder in thin cat skin!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Today I was mainly an astronaut

Dental anaesthesia means astronaut gear...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WVS Surgical Training Course

I've just completed the WVS Surgical Training Course at the ITC Ooty in India and can honestly say it's been one of the best experiences of my veterinary career so far.
The course was well structured, including everything I'd hoped to cover and more. By the end of the two weeks I'd done 8 dog castrates, 8 bitch spays and a scrotal ablation.

The ITC work under 'limited resources' in that they don't have access to a huge range of drugs and equipment we do in the UK. They have had anaesthesia available but only at one operative table so it's used for longer surgeries but neuters are done with Total Intra-Venous Anaesthesia. We have a protocol using 10 injectable drugs for anaesthesia and analgesia (pain relief).
At first it sounded daunting and we have to monitor patients much more closely under anaesthesia but the protocol was explained well and the lecture we had was great so I understand the drugs we use and why we used them. It also meant that we could use the protocol in individual animals should they need more pain relief or anaesthesia.

Even though they're under limited resources the staff they have are amazing, particularly Dr Vinay and "the boys". The boys are a bit like our nurses and technicians/VCA's in one. They catch the dogs for us to sedate then prep and scrub them for surgery as well as monitoring anaesthesia and prepping all our kits, surgery and much much more.
The care each and every dog receives is second to none, with constant monitoring throughout anaesthesia and recovery, we even had pulse oxymetry which some clinics I've been to back home don't have.

I've done a fair bit of work experience and assisting in surgery back in the UK but have always had a vet scrubbed in explaining the procedure, checking my ligatures and any bleeding.

At the start of the course we had vets scrubbed in to supervise but I'm now confidently doing dog castrates and bitch spays all by myself with no assistance, complete with intradermals.

Intradermal suturing is something I've never done before but as we are operating on free roaming dogs we want them recovered and returned back to where they came from as quickly as we can. Intradermals mean we don't need to take stitches out after a week.

During rounds the following morning we checked every dog giving them a wound score and pain score followed by pain relief and a rabies vaccination.
That also gave you the opportunity to check your tissue handling and intradermal technique and we could see how our wound scored improved over a few days.

During our first week the ITC neutered their 20,000th dog which is a huge achievement and shows the expertise and experience the staff have. We celebrated with a giant chocolate cake and dog 20,000 was given extra treats that evening.

Accommodation was in single sex dorms which were clean and better than I anticipated in that we had wifi and a flushing toilet! The food provided three times a day was amazing, all vegetarian and not too spicy as that could be added individually.

The cook definitely ramped up the spice slowly over the two weeks which we loved.
I would recommend the course to every vet student and new graduate wanting to gain confidence in soft tissue surgery.

I spent a further two weeks after the course travelling around India and found myself comparing everything to Ooty. While I fell in love with India, the cooler climate and calmer pace of life in Ooty suited me perfectly and I would love to return to the ITC in the future as a volunteer vet.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vaccinating Free Roaming Dogs with Mission Rabies

Another early morning as we left the ITC at 6am and headed an hour down the hill, all 36 hairpin bends, for a day of vaccinations.
While we have been vaccinating the dogs post-surgery against Rabies, this was the same project but a 6-in-1 vaccination against the most common diseases found in dogs.
We stopped at a hotel for breakfast and were served the most amazing dosas. Everyone has been understandably weary of where we eat, avoiding meat and salads, but this hotel looked really clean and the food was decent. We each had a huge dosa stuffed with spicy veg and potato served with a savoury coconut sauce, not typical breakfast food but soo good.

Once again we split into two groups and headed out with our trucks, supplies and "the boys" who catch the dogs for us.
We drove along a rural lane stopping at each house to see if they have dogs and offered free 6-in-1 vaccinations. The owners were very willing to have their dogs vaccinated as WVS have such a reputation in the area and have worked hard to educate people as to the importance.

Those with owners were generally contained in a yard or on a chain but many needed to be caught by the boys for us to vaccinate them.
The free roaming dogs were more of a challenge as they tended to hide once they saw us coming so the boys went in armed with butterfly nets and were super efficient as catching them; if it was left to me we'd still be waiting to catch the first one!
Between us we vaccinated 100 dogs which are all recorded in an app based database including the sex of the dog and whether they have been neutered by WVS by checking their ears for notches.

There were a couple of dogs which needed first aid treatment including one which had picked a fight with a wild pig and others needing veterinary attention will be picked up and brought to the ITC on Monday.

It was really nice to walk around villages to meet people and see the real India, things you wouldn't normally see as a tourist and an insight into how people live.
Lots of the boys live in the villages we visited so they are familiar with the area and people around them.

Back to the same hotel for lunch and then a trip to IPAN, a shelter ran by Ilona and Nigel for all sorts of animals from all over India, be they ex-circus animals, ex-racehorses or those with injuries needing care. They had dozens of horses, donkeys and goats plus over 20 horses at their home.
We were invited in for tea and saw photos of some of the work they've done which were amazing. They really have dedicated their entire lives to helping animals, the ITC and IPAN.

Unfortunately a horse they rescued a month ago had been very sick and died this morning of an obstructive colic.
We were able to see the post mortem and found a linear foreign body in the small colon which after removing was obviously plastic. The horses are often seen eating rubbish at the roadside and from skips so it must have accumulated and caused an impaction.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Week One at WVS ITC Ooty Complete

The first week of our surgical training course is over and it's been an amazing experience. It's been a hectic week but everyone here is so nice, staff and participants, so it's been a pleasure.
There is an on-site chef who cooks us all three meals a day and the food is soo good!

A typical day starts with breakfast at 8am then rounds at 8:30 before we start a day of surgery.
There are 10 of us so we're split into pairs, A and B, so while A is operating, B will be maintaining and monitoring total intravenous anaesthesia. The drugs protocol is already devised for us with ten drugs as standard to include anaesthetic, analgesia (pain relief), antibiotic, anti-parasitic and finally a rabies vaccination. We are able to add to this if we feel the dogs need it during or after surgery.
Surgery tends to finish between 4:30-5 when we will have a break then a lecture 6-7 before evening rounds and dinner at 8:30.

On Monday we started with lectures and a tour of the campus, then we observed demo surgeries to go through procedures and what's expected of us.

Tuesday morning we each performed a surgery each followed by an afternoon of anaesthesia lectures. Then from Wednesday we've each done two surgeries every day.

So far I've done four dog castrates and three bitch spays which have all gone well. Of course I've made a few mistakes with suture patterns etc but I'm learning so much!

Intradermal suturing has always looked fairly easy but it's actually really tricky. I've learnt to take my time and finally got the hang of it today - the vet said he was impressed but there's always room for improvement.

Standing all day and operating has ruined my back. I'm not sure if it's because of the table height or because I'm leaning over too much but I guess it's something you have to get used to and muscles will strengthen with use and experience.

Tonight we went out for dinner in Ooty which was really nice to get out of the campus and have a drink to relax with everyone. We spent the night talking about non-vet stuff which was a welcome change!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bangalore to Ooty

We planned to be up bright and early today but my body took that far too literally and I didn't sleep at all, not even five minutes. I spent most of the night watching Animal Planet and Nat Geo Wild as it was only those or BBC World which were in English; luckily for me!

At 5am when my alarm went off I had a Mynah bird sat outside my window mimicking noises so I made a coffee and sat at the window in my delusional state whistling as he mimicked me.

I requested an Uber which was outside in minutes, got to Fabians hotel to pick him up which was where all the fun started. The driver hadn't realised I booked a multi-stop trip to the airport and his taxi was screaming at us with thirst as it was completely empty. He called Uber requesting to cancel the trip as I sat in the back pretending to be oblivious and they said he had to complete the journey. The first petrol station we found was closed, the second had no fuel but third time lucky and we were on our way.
The journey should have cost 870 rupees but the app told him Total 60 rupees which was only to Fabians hotel! We have him 1000 and off we went.
We spotted a white girl sat alone who stood out with six suitcases and guessed she must be coming with us! Minutes later two of her friends joined us and then another two girls, including Lucy a new grad I know from Košice.

Along came a driver who collected five of us, strapped our cases onto the roof of his van and in we jumped - with no seatbelts.
The eight hour transfer went surprisingly fast with only one stop as we were kept entertained by crazy drivers around us, wildlife and the most amazing views as we climbed the hairpin bends into Ooty.
After arriving at the ITC Ooty we were shown our rooms; luckily for us boys we are in single sex rooms so we each pushed two beds together to made doubles and settled in.
The rooms are basic but clean and much better than I anticipated - we have a flushing toilet after having anticipated a squat toilet for months!

We were fed then I passed out and slept like a log the whole way through the night.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 1 in Bangalore

Day one in Bangalore mainly consisted of sleep and more sleep.

We had planned to meet at 1pm but eventually were up and ready for 5pm and went for a wonder around the city. I knew Indians loved to use their horns but during rush hour the noise was immense, it seems rather than using indicators they use their horns to let other drivers know where they are and where they're going.

We arrived at the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens and were greeted by a tour guide going by the name of Dave, a bit tired and worse for wear we just agreed to a half hour tour for 750 rupees. He took us around the gardens, explaining the history and stories behind each section then had us pose for photos at various points throughout.

Nearing the end us put all three of us on his little scooter and took us for a drive through the gardens. I chuckled the whole way round at the ridiculous situation, three grown men on a little scooter - and I'm not small! Judging by people faces as we went past they found it just as funny.
Once we finished we'd over-ran our half hour and he then said the price was per person so we each paid 1000 rupees which is about £11 so he got a good deal but it was worth it just for the scooter!

From there we went to Red Onion a restaurant Fabian had found online. We ordered a few starters and a main to share and honestly it could have fed a family of four. The restaurant was really clean and the waiters super-attentive but we were the only ones in there!
I'm chronically too hot which they must have seen and as the AC was broken they went and got a fan for us haha
We had so much food we got half of it to takeout which Fab had as midnight munchies.

I settled down for a cosy night with two of my best pals...

Friday, July 28, 2017

Arrived in India

It seems a lifetime ago since I booked the trip but as usual I left everything until the last minute, doing most of my shopping on my last day in the UK. We left the house only an hour late which is a personal best for me and the rest of the journey was plane sailing...

I flew from Heathrow to Bengaluru with British Airways and the service was fantastic. Terminal 5 was amazing right through from check in and security to boarding and the cabin crew were so nice!
I was sat in an emergency exit seat so had a member of crew sat facing me for take off, we somehow got on to chatting about dogs as her rescue Jack Russell had been to Fitzpatrick Referrals for full spinal surgery and that, unbeknownst to her, her parents had been feeding her chocolate buttons during recovery! Two years on she's doing amazingly well and I saw videos of her jumping and swimming like any little terrier.
Next thing I mentioned why I was going to India and they'd already heard about it as a friend of mine is BA cabin crew. Within minutes I'd been upgraded, had two double gin and tonics and I was living the dream!!

We arrived in Bengaluru at 5am. Customs took their time as usual, we had to queue twice but eventually got our stamps and we were in!

Hopped in a taxi to my hotel to be told I had to wait until 1pm to check in unless I paid ~£7 early check in fee.

Now time to sleep...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When life gives you lemons...

Late last summer I still had a lot of exams left to do and as time was running out I had to prioritise subjects and I did that based on how long they would take to study and what classes they allowed me to take from the next year. In the end it came down to Parasites so I didn't sit that exam and got all the others done.
My biggest piece of advise to anyone going through the same is to study hard for credit tests, get them done on time and use that revision for the final; carrying exams from winter to summer period is easy to do but it's even easier to run out of time.

This year has been one of the best yet as I'm resitting with some of my best friends and as we've been on a reduced timetable I really made the most of it!
Last semester I went to Krakow, attended two international falconry meets, my Dad came to visit for the first time, I had a week at home after the National Poultry Show where I saw practice with the PDSA then I really worked hard to smash out all my winter exams in a week so I had five weeks at home for Christmas and travelled to Iceland with my family.
At the start of this semester nine of my friends came out and we had a week skiing in the Tatras, I had another three weeks at home for Easter as I went to BSAVA Congress.
Congress was amazing, I learnt so much from the lectures and speaking to people in the exhibition and I also made contacts which will be great for the future. Later in the semester I went to another two exotics conferences in Slovakia and Romania where lots of similar topics came up so I feel like I'm learning useful information which we can really use in practice. I also took optional classes in Stomatology and Ultrasonography which will are things I'll use every week in the clinic.

I've never been massively academic so I study enough to pass but I work best under pressure and think I make up for it practically as I've done a lot of work experience and really try to gain as much as I can from it.
It bugs me as people are always saying 'Oh it's so easy for you 'cos you've done xyz' but the only way to learn is making contacts, booking placements and putting yourself forward! You'll always get rejections but keep writing those emails and eventually you'll get a placement. Last year I did 9 weeks in the vets, this year I've only done one so far but I have another 7 weeks booked.
I might not be book smart but I've really noticed, this year especially, when I'm learning a subject I try to relate it to a patient I've seen, the clinical signs it presented with and the treatment we gave which really helps me remember things. I loved studying Reproduction as I could relate it all back to lambing and what we used to do.
I've been on lots of the 5th year trips this semester so I have an idea of what to expect next year and can try to stay on top of learning ready for the big exams we have coming up.
This exam period has been pretty uneventful, I took three and a half weeks to study for Parasitology which seemed to go on forever! Studying for it was really tough, trying to learn the taxonomy for over 120 parasites, their life cycles, clinical signs, morphology and treatment... but once it came to the final, that went better than I had anticipated and they were really nice in the exam.

I head home for summer and have an exciting summer seeing practice for three weeks and I'll be in India for a month volunteering with WVS in the neuter clinic and vaccinating street dogs with Mission Rabies!

Friday, June 23, 2017

TEZWIC - Transylvanian Exotics, Zoo and Wildlife International Congress

Last week myself and four friends drove eight hours to Cluj Napoca in Romania for the first TEZWIC Congress.
The drive wasn't too bad as we stopped a few times en route, the only thing being we were in a car nearly as old as me which didn't have air con and Europe is experiencing a heat wave at the minute so it was windows down the whole way!
Following on from BSAVA and the Exotics Weekend I attended last month, I've realised what a great opportunity conferences like this are as I've learnt things we'll put into practice but also made contacts with people from all over the world.
There were people attending and speaking from Romania, Slovakia, France, Cambodia, South Africa and the Cayman Islands!

Norin Chai is a vet from Cambodia and now deputy director at Zoo Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris. He spoke to us about wildlife and zoo medicine, anaesthesia and analgesia but the most interesting of his lectures for me was the Endoscopy approach. It's amazing the things that can be done with an endoscope, from removing foreign bodies, to neutering by cutting the fallopian tubes in a baboon and surgically castrating a bullfrog!
I've always been interested in Endoscopy in practice but it's something I'd like to look at more, maybe as a thesis project.

Minh Huynh, another French vet, gave lectures on emergency care in raptors and avian diagnostic imaging which he explained really simple procedures that you can gain a lot from, but that I've never seen in practice so will definitely be trying those in the future.
He previously worked at Great Western Exotics and now in France and said now they only use CT or MRI in birds, they haven't done x-rays since 2008 and 2014 in the clinics!

Another thing I've been hearing a lot about recently is Capnography, not something I've seen used in clinics myself but that I'm really interested to learn more about.
The Exotics clinic at uni have just ordered a Capnograph so it will be nice to get used to using one and learning how to foresee potentially fatal anaesthetic complications before they would be noticed using other methods of monitoring.
Cluj Napoca was a really nice city and surprisingly different to Kosice. It was a much bigger city which seemed to have a younger population and more people who spoke English, though that could have been because we spent a lot of time around the university.
The restaurants we ate at were nice too, lots of independent restaurants rather than chains, with amazing food!
Overall we had an awesome time and we were made to feel really welcome by Gratzia and everyone at Team TEZWIC.
The quality of the lectures and the people giving them were great, everyone's English was amazing, particularly as I think myself and Sarah we're the only native speakers there. We'll definitely be back, hopefully with even more students from Kosice next year!