We’re Halfway There

My lecturer spent almost the entire lecture with his arm firmly wedged up the rectum of an invisible horse. He made eye contact with each student as his hand groped around the imaginary intestines, delivering lecture content as he went.

“Normally, you’re going to be able to feel the base of that caecum over on the right hand side. It should be soft, and we shouldn’t be feeling tight taenial bands.”

His waving fingers pointed straight ahead, “There’s going to be small intestine here, no taenial bands. But if there’s a strangulating lesion Continue Reading!

Something to Ruminate Over

It sat in front of me like a giant empty potato sack – completely shapeless, and a uniform shade of boggy brown. My notes said that there would be four chambers: rumen, reticulum, omasum, abomasum. But when I looked between my brightly-coloured diagram and the deflated brown specimen, there was no resemblance whatsoever. And so with the familiar snap of rubber gloves, I began rummaging inside the great sack.

Somebody had made a large incision across the top, which meant I could hold up the edges and peer into the darkness. I really don’t have adjectives to describe the smell, but the internal surface was textured like AstroTurf, and divided into chambers by thick muscular bands. This must be the rumen.

The rumen was slimy and dark and difficult to navigate. I actually paused at one point to appreciate how every decision in my life had led to me groping around inside the preserved stomach of a dead cow. How utterly poetic. Continue Reading!

Raindrops on Roses, Diabetes in Kittens

If you Google hard enough, you’ll inevitably find that every day of the year is an awareness day for something or another. Most of these don’t concern me at all, but today does. Because today is:

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Yep, it’s an actual thing, and it was allocated to the 12th of October by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). You might be aware of pet obesity, you might not, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a huge problem that’s growing alarmingly – and it’s something I’m very passionate about. Here’s a few quick UK stats from PetPlan to drive home the point: Continue reading!

Variation on a Theme

“Ah, I think that’s the dorsal extensor branch of the suspensory ligament.” I confidently declared, using my pencil to point at a pale, ill-defined structure on the disembodied cow limb. In order to confirm my excellent anatomical knowledge, I referred to the answer sheet on the desk.

“Number 14… what? Apparently its the ‘abaxial dorsal extensor branch of the suspensory ligament to join the tendon of the medial belly of the common digital extensor muscle on digit three’… obviously…”

I made a note of the catchy name, and we moved on to a different specimen. I poked around for a while.

“If I pull on this tendon… yes, let me write that down. The lateral… digital… extens-”

“Elise, look out!”

I looked up just in time to see Continue reading!

Round Two

“Welcome, second-years!” is one of the most surreal sounds I’ve heard for quite some time. Like… you talkin’a me?

Yes, he was talkin’a me, because I’m a second year vet student. No longer bottom of the dogpile, I’m a tried-and-tested, officially-matriculated specimen with a year under my belt. But there was no time for speculation about how far I’d come, because on the Monday of Freshers’, all hands were on deck moving stuff from the car into my new flat, before leaving to buy more stuff for the flat, and then receiving and unpacking all of my belongings from storage… and putting them into the flat. Continue Reading!

Pig In A Poke

It was like moving into uni all over again, hefting great bags of stuff up the stairs to my room. Am I really only staying for five days? Crikey!

And this was my home for the week, at the agricultural college that had the pig unit:

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The farm manager turned to look at me, “This one’s yours. There’s another vet student here… this is Ana. Ana, Elise. The pig unit is round the corner, past the otters and meerkats, and then the third door on the left. Tomorrow is a 5am start, because the pigs are going to market, is that okay?”

When is that ever okay, man? No, I really don’t want to get up at half 4 on a Monday morning to send pigs to their deaths. Do you know how much of a morning person I am not? Continue Reading!

Till The Cows Come Home

There’s something oddly feminine about a cow.

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Maybe its the gentle eyes, with their long lashes, or the delicate placement of each hoof on the ground, or perhaps the soft blowing of her breath as she investigates your hands. Despite her size, sometimes she’s just such a lady.

And yet at exactly the same moment, she’s seven hundred kilos of bellowing, farting and crapping. Continue reading