Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Home for Christmas

For Christmas I got gig tickets, loads of socks (think Happy Socks with animals etc) and a Burchell’s Zebra skull...

Now I don’t know many people who had a zebra skull on their Christmas list but it’s exactly what I wanted and very #vetstudent.

I decorated my room over the summer and have started a gallery wall so he sits in the corner of my desk to complete that

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cologne Christmas Markets

A few months ago WizzAir started flying from Košice to Cologne for €9.99 each way. A few of us from uni booked to go for my birthday weekend and friends from home booked flights to meet us there.

We did the usual touristy stuff and visited all of the Christmas markets. They're all so busy and overpriced that you just find yourself shuffling round the whole thing in a crowd of people and don't actually buy anything, except copious amounts of mulled wine and cheese.

I went to Cologne years ago with school so wasn't aware of it at the time but they have a system where you go into a bar and they bring you a little 200ml beer. As you finish them they bring more and the waiter adds a tally to your bar mat so you know how many to pay for when you leave.
It's a neat concept and means you always have a fresh cold beer!

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...