Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So close yet so far

I feel as if this has been a previous blog title, but pish posh. 2 more days of class remain and 6 final exams stand between me and my tv! The semester has flown by, yet somehow I think these next 2 weeks could be laboriously slow and painful. I am slogging through to get to the end of half a year! I know it will feel amazing when its over, assuming I can advance onto next semester.

Overall life is fine. My brain and body are tired, but all my classmates feel the same way, and as I have mentioned before, there is solace in solidarity.

Some good news is that I was accepted into a RAVS trip this summer and will be going to Washington State to perform surgery in rural America. That is a slight exaggeration, but it should be an amazing experience. For more info check out

I am also investigating sumer lab animal programs at NIH and Cornell. I also got a regional leader position in the national VBMA. So, exciting things are in the works. I just have to make it less than 2 weeks and then I can rejuvenate and relax. Until then, it's time to study hard and finish strong (or just squeak by), while mantaining some sort of balance. No more 10.5 hour-straight library days for me this time. I am incorporating gym time at a minimum and possibly packing time for study breaks.

Wish me luck and good luck to all other vet students out there. Hang in there and it will be over soon. You may even be more knowledgeable in the end.

Monday, November 24, 2008

So much to do and laziness ensues

It is officially Thanksgiving break. The spa was lovely and the weekend was oh so lazy. Today is Monday and I am trying t kick it off with some productive work, but I really do not want to study. I would rather sleep. I have been able to sleep like a teenager again, for 10+ hours. It took everything I had to get up around 8:15 this morning and get cracking on some pharmacology index cards. And the whole time I thought, "I'd rather be in the bed."

Not sure how to get my motivation back, but the less I get done over break the worse finals will be. There are so many other tasks I'd rather do, such as holiday cards and looking for lab animal medicine externships. While those tasks can all wait until winter break, I mus find my mojo and gte back to the 2.5 week task at hand.

At least I still have a week to get cracking!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No news is good news

Last I wrote it was just November and now I encroach the long-awaited Thanksgiving break. I am excited to kick it off with a spa certificate and some friends in DC, but I will have to study during break if I want to hold strong and make it through finals.

It's hard to believe there is only 1.5 weeks of class left and soon fall semester second year could be behind me! As much as I wanted Thanksgiving, I now long for December 17 much more.

I have been MIA not due to exams, but due to some nagging virus that landed in my throat and has only after a week decided to maybe move onto other pastures. I hate being sick. I have not been to the gym in a week, my back hurts, and I feel like a fat slob. I am feeling well enough to go to yoga tonight and hopefully get back in the swing of the gym soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Halloween pictures to be posted soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It is finally November!

October has finally ended, and as second year vet student this is quite the milestone. No exams this week, just an itty bitty quiz and a 10 point bacteriology lab unknown. The worst is over until finals. It's time to catch up on classes and sleep.

I believe I made it through October okay, still awaiting one grade, which may be the low-point because I was too tired to study for small animal nutrition midterm. The anxiety over the clinical techniques exam kept me from sleeping much the night before, despite my love affair with melatonin. I fell asleep in the library twice and could not stay up late or wake up early to study. I could not absorb anything and was just worn down.

Anyway clinical techniques went well, albeit nerve-wracking for no reason.

Halloween was a blast. I realized how little fun I had had this semester, when I actually had fun dancing and partying, especially as Wonder Woman.

One more big exam before Thanksgiving break; I need to redeem myself on small animal nutrition next Friday.

With the election Tuesday and football game Thursday, it is a welcome relief to enter November in a less stressful mindset.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October will be over soon

I was completely wrong about the downhill slide, mentioned in the previous post. However, this week will be one of the toughest, but then it eases up until after Thanksgiving break (really, at least no more major exams). And the week ends with a great Halloween party. So it's work hard and play hard for one more week.

Last weekend Matt and I did enjoy the beautiful weather and hiked up to Angel's Rest in Parisburg, VA. The view was amazing and the hike very vertically challenging.

My outlook on school is the same, but this week I have my first ever oral exam. For our clinical techniques course we can be asked to demonstrate pretty much anything under a time constraint. The best thing to do would be to go in confidently, but my confidence isn't sure I can memorize all the different types of needles ad procedures by Tuesday. We also have a Small Animal Nutrition midterm Wednesday, then part 2 of the clinical techniques exam Thursday. Of course Friday ends with a pharmacology quiz.

Everyone is tired. I remember being mentally exhausted last year with only a few weeks to go until break, and wondering how I would muster the energy to make it through. I wonder the same thing again this year.

I hope this week goes by quickly and successfully, which will make the Friday celebration that much better. I have not dressed up for Halloween since college, but this year I decided it's about time. The vet school is hosting a joint party with the medical school, so it should make for a good time.

Details on my costume to follow...

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Outlook

Thanks to some excellent support from a professor and co-worker, I understand that no matter how impossible it may seem, I have to have some sort of life this semester. This weekend, despite a big Monday bacteriology exam I went to the soccer game, a movie and for a long walk/run on Sunday. And I am working through this week to get to a longer hike this Saturday. It's too beautiful here not to enjoy it and it was starting to get to me. And I felt refreshed instead of burnt out like I have felt these past few weeks.

I no longer care as much about grades, I am here to learn. Good grades feel good, but that's not why I am here. I will do all I can learn, pass, and be happier!

Hopefully I can keep this mentality up a little longer. After this week we are on the downhill of the semester. Day by day, week by week, Thanksgiving will be here!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

As I sit

This week I decided I am in a second year vet school depression, in which my life is not my own. I study for hours on end and it's not enough and all I want is a life again. The trees are changing and I cannot even hike to the mountaintop views. Fall will pass me by.

Along with my depression, I am very uneasy. My pharmacology midterm sits in my mailbox and I did not have time to go back to school tonight to get it. (Studied from 3 until 10:30 today, and nope not enough). So now I have to chose the best time for it to ruin my day tomorrow, Friday. To top it off, the professor wants to hold a review of the exam Friday at 5:30, can you think of a worse time? Guess there's no such thing as a weekend for a second year.

And to think, I wanted to go to the soccer game against Maryland tomorrow with my husband. Vet students should not have fun, they should never leave the building and should review their worst exam on Friday night!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Test Free Week

Some people get excited about tax-free shopping week. Vet students, however, get excited about test-free weeks. They equal anxiety free weeks. To top it off most day this week for me are half days with just 2-3 classes, plenty of time to study and work out. I am battling a cold so getting back into the workout groove may not go as planned.

Following last week's high stress, little sleep, this morning the classroom resembled an infirmary. Everyone was coughing, nose-blowing, throat-clearing etc. I felt like I was getting something last Friday but fought it off. Then on Sunday I ran a 5K, and a few hours later I felt like an allergy attack. Today it feels like it could be the vet school, post-cortisol cold.

So, since we have no exams this week, I am heading to bed with some theraflu, zicam, airborne to hopefully cut this bug off at the pass.

After this week, it's 2 tests per week for the rest of the month. I am slightly rejuvenated after a relaxing weekend (I only studied on Sunday and was so burnt out I didn't even feel guilty about it), but when I think of October I long for Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It feels like second year!

What a week. The pharmacology exam was a spitfire. I studied all weekend for it, including an intense 9-hour library session that only involved bathroom breaks. Was I well-prepared? No. Do I think I did well? Probably not. We were all so exhausted after that, but of course we had to study for a theriogenology exam on Friday. I had been studying for this all along and even though I felt prepared Friday morning, I was also quite challenged by this exam as well. Up until this week, while intense, second year was not much worse than first year. The material is more clinically relevant, and the labs involve live animals and clinical procedures, beyond memorization. This week, I studied harder than ever, and felt challenged beyond my comfort zone. I suppose this will be a positive attribute in the future. At the current moment, however, I feel tired, burnt out, and not in the mood for 2 more hours of theriogenology of the cow.

I don't know if I should let the brain rest or study even harder, although I don't think I can do the 9 hours straight again anytime soon.

Thank god it's Friday and next week involves no exams.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We can do this!

Today was the dreaded first bacteriology exam. Of course, my preemptive stress has me more concerned with the dreaded pharmacology midterm next week, that most 3rd year's remember as being a serious doozy. While many people thought bacteriology was horrible, there were enough questions to get some wrong and I have high hopes that achieved a B, which is fine by me! After the exam we had a short pathology lecture with Professor Sponenberg, who is sarcastic, weird, and funny. He took the extra time to give us a pep talk to remember the day we got accepted and keep that excitement and to know that minus a few exceptions look at the graduation wall and remember that the majority of us will make it. He promises that in the middle of 4th semester at some point we will actually be putting this stuff together and thinking like real veterinarians.

For some classmates this was a good pep talk following the exam. For me, it reminded me how excited I am to be in vet school; to be a part of this profession, to contribute to it and get back from it one day. It was the pep talk I need to know that pharmacology is doable and I will get to October 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas break!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is it winter break yet?

Despite the fact that it is only the 5th week of class, I am ready to live with Matt again. I am ready for winter break. I am getting tired of now I see him, now I don't. At the same time, I am more used to it and it is going much better than last year. This weekend he is off to Nebraska to cheer on the Hokies and see his family, which is great...for him. It also means it will be 10+ days until I see him again. Granted I have 3 exams and a quiz to pass between now and then, but that only makes me feel marginally better, or worse. One of my classmates says she just immerses in her studies when she misses her significant other, so I suppose I'll have to do the same.

This weekend was quiet and involved some good sleep and productive library time. Matt is studying for his LEED certification and I studied for bacteriology. It was quite productive. I look forward to studying with Matt again in a few weeks until he passes his exam.

We went for a nice run at Pandapas Pond, the September Blacksburg weather has been absolutely beautiful, which makes long library days a necessary crime.

Today when Matt left he looked at me and said, "just keep plugging and remember why you're here." I know I want to be a great veterinarian one day, but why does it have to hurt this much sometimes?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sometimes the Plan has to Change

I hate disappoint some inquiring readers, but details on the complimentary medicine class may have to wait until next year. I caved under the stress and dropped the class. I felt so much better after I did. I felt like I could breathe. This week was rough and I did not realize that in addition to all day Saturday and the 3 nights this week, the class was also meeting next Monday night. With a huge bacteriology exam looming, it didn't seem possible to lose half the weekend and Monday night and be prepared enough for bacteriology. I was so confused and really did not want to drop it. A friend suggested I talk to the assistant dean, and he put it in perspective. These are core classes versus an elective and if I am that stressed about it, I can take it next year or as CE credit as a practicing yet (here's hoping). While I know I am missing a great class I really did need the time. Although I have been studying for the pathology exam all semester, I still studied for 7 straight hours last night and probably did okay on the exam but definitely not an A. So, I needed the study time for path and I know I'll need it for bacteriology. while the class will be amazing, it was not worth that added stress right now.

Needless to say I was beat today and instead of having a productive FRiday afternoon at te library and the gym I went home for a nap, then to the gym (I love rowing class), but have not done much studying yet. I guess if I was this exhausted today I would have been more exhausted if I took the elective, so another positive of dropping it.

I would like to take this time to wish my best friend Roxy a happy 30th birthday. In the honor of life as a vet student, I cannot make it to celebrate her birthday with her. Oh the sacrifices we make just to be a veterinarian.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Comp Med- dropping like flies

So many classmates are dropping out of this class due to Pathology exam stress. I hope it does not bite me in the butt, but I am going to stay the course. As for complimentary medicine lectures (I had a question, yeah). It includes chiropractic, acupuncture and nutritive therapy in horse and dog and applying Chinese medicine with Western medicine.

More details to come, as I hope this class will be the reward for an exhausting week. It's only Tuesday.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's about to get ugly guys!

Ugly yes, yet possibly very rewarding. This week is the after-hours complementary medicine elective, which I have wanted to take since before I got into school and drooled over all the classes I could take. Because it's an elective it's Wed-Fri 6-8 pm and Saturday all day. This week is also the first big exam week. One pharmacology quiz tomorrow, clinical nutrtion final Wednesday and a huge nas cary path exam Friday. The next 2 weeks are only marginally better. To top it off my weekend next weekend will be shortened due to the elective class and I won't see Matt the following weekend because he is off to see the Hokies play Nebraska at Nebraska. Needless to say, the next few weeks will be rough academically and emotionally for me. But I am dealing.

This weekend was fun mainly because the VT Georgia Tech game was a great (close) game, and also a scorcher. So it may be a while before the next update, but hopefully positive thoughts will get me through. After these next 3 weeks, it does calm down a little and I'll be more acclimated to the world of intense exams by then (I hope).

I am upset though because I have done a pretty good job at staying on top of all my classes, yet it will all fall by the wayside this week studying for 3 exams and being in class until 8. C'est la vie!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Biding My Time

Despite a super fun bovine restrain lab last Friday, I have not written. Things are pretty good in vet school land, considering it's second year. But that is all about to change. I have not written because I am taking all the time I currently have to avoid the unavoidable horror that will start next week with 2 exams and a night class in complementary medicine. I have wanted to take complementary medicine since before I got accepted to school and would drool over the classes I could take.

Of course it couldn't be a worse week for 6-8 class Wednesday through Friday and Saturday 8-4. It interferes with studying for 2 major exams and my best friend's surprise 30th birthday Saturday. Such are the woes of a vet student.

Anyway back to last week. Last week went well and I am trying to be proactive and keep up on most classes, in order to make it through the rest of the semester with some success and some (not much) sleep. The first football game of the year was not a great showing for Tech, but a fun time for me sitting with my vet school friends this year. I am very excited for the game this weekend. It's not until 3:30pm, and we vet students are sooo excited we have the whole morning to study and soem time to tailgate!!

So this week I am enjoying the lower stress level because next week the real fun I know and love (hate) will begin!

Vet school notes: I really did love playing with cows last week and cannot wait for cow lab take 2 on Wednesday. I also joined the Equine club this year to get more horse experience. Tomorrow is the Royal Canin luncheon, which I hope will be a huge success.

Here's to week 3 of second year. Wake me up when it ends.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the US, Back to School, Back to Blacksburg

It has been a while since my last post and as you may be guessing it has been very busy! I had every intention of writing about London and my first day of school, but unfortunately it did not happen in time. So now I have to write about it all in one fell swoop!

The UK was excellent. I really missed it over there and it felt like home the second we landed. I had a great time running Matt all over London to see it all. We got a lot accomplished in only 3 days in London. I certainly felt my age, as my friend Gemma pointed out. Running around European cities, while one of my favorite activities, exhausted me! Kate and Joe's wedding in the Cotswold region was magnificent and it was a blast to have the study abroad family together again! everyone was as fun as I remember. Matt and I had fun at the Fringe in Edinburgh, and returned to London with one last day to spend with Gemma riding on the double deckers and seeing my best friend Petra.

We got back to the US jet-lagged and I was sad to have left. I vow to return for the 2012 olympics! But we slaved through the jet-lag and got ready to make the trip back to Blacksburg. The cats made it okay, but traffic made the trip long.

The vet school reunion at Rivermill was fun and we were all excited to be back. That lasted for me, until aroudn Thursday.

On Thursday I wondered how on earth will I get through this? The subjects are just as jammed packed, the material more complex, and yes I need to remember a lot of what I learned last year and no I did not review all summer:(

I decided I cannot and will not look far into the future and will go day by day week by week. I must remind myself how important this career is to me and that somehow I can do it. 90 people last year did and so can I. It will be an intense year though, and I have a lot of reviewing to do.

This weekend my sister and her husband came to visit. It was fun we visited Chateau Morisette Winery and the blue Ridge Parkway. They appreciated the beauty of the area as much as I do, which was so much to share. I won't see them again until Thanksgiving, which I hope comes quickly and by then I have more confidence that I will become a 3rd one day.

I have come a long way sincelast year in terms of confidence and questioning why I am here. I know I want to be a vet, I believe (somewhere) that I can become a vet, and where there is a will there is a way!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The End of Summer is Near...Too Near

My 1 week of freedom is over and boy did it fly by fast! I got back to the DC area last Monday and lounged a little. I brought back a box of anatomy and physiology notes, but did I have a second to look at any of it? The astounding answer is no! This worries me a little, but as many before me had warned me, everyone has the good intention, but no one ever actually studies over the summer. Guess it will be left to chance. I hope the whole BUN/creatinine thing comes back to me.

I spent my time over the week cleaning, seeing some friends, a little outlet shpping, packing, one emergency clinic tech shift, a lot of errands, and networking.

The networking was fun and went well. I caught up with Dr. Bernadette Dunham director of FDA's center for veterinary medicine (CVM for you acronym fans). She was great and shed some more light on a career in lab animal medicine. I started asking her about her work at the AVMA government relations division and instead of answering my questions, she worked her magic and made a call to them. Next thing I know I have an appointment Friday morning to visit the offices. I was very impressed and had a good time talking to the staff there. I hope to get enough time to write some essays and apply for the externship position for next summer.

Friday was a beautiful day in DC, just around 78, sunny and no humidity. I walked out of AVMA and onto GW's campus to see my economics professor, Professor Stekler. Our visit together was great. Next stop, Smithsonian. I saw the Jim Henson exhibit, wandered through the African art museum, and headed to the National Gallery to see the sculptures of Martin Puryear and the glorious beach photos of Richard Misrach. As if the day couldn't be better, I met Matt and friends at the sculpture garden for Friday jazz.

So my last days of freedom in the US were fun, although I could use another week to unwind and actually try to get back into the study rhythm. Tomorrow we leave for England and Scotland, very fun and exciting. Many things to go wrong as well, but hopefully we will have a great travel experience and a grand ole time!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summer Research Program Complete

Thankfully, flying to Lansing, Michigan went off without a hitch in both directions. The conference was very informative and got me very interested in lab animal and primate medicine careers. I met many vet students from different schools, and got a chance to meet up with some of the Pfizer student reps I had met the week before. The highlight of the conference was a pathology classic rock band, that played classic rock songs with veterinary pathology-based lyrics. It was very funny, and after some cocktails the dance floor was bumpin'!

The poster presentations were a little disappointing for me since most people there were more interested in the more clinical versus microbiological research posters. I did have 1 person seek me out based on the abstract, but he had detailed questions on the next part of the research that I did not have time to conduct.

But the conference presenters and seminars were very well done. While I was a little conferenced-out or overloaded from last week too, it was a great way to end my summer research exploration.

Now I have 1 week until I leave for the UK. While exciting, it means that the summer is almost over and I may not be ready for the marathon to begin. I am ready to learn more info, but there were so many other goals I wanted to accomplish this summer that may now have to be pushed into Christmas break. Of course I have next summer as well. And I have already begun thinking about next summer's plans...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Off To a Bumpy Start

My flight back was easily as ridiculous as the flight to New York. I was exhausted and my bag was missing this time. It's quite a sketchy story, but I stayed with a stranger from the plane in Roanoke last night. I did not have to drive back to Blacksburg at 2am and could see if my bag would arrive on the morning Roanoke flight. The story may not be blog appropriate.

I was completely distraught for most of the day, although going out to get some toothpaste and a phone charger and going to the gym gave me a little piece of mind and made the day more normal. Then as I am watching tv and relaxing, they called to let me know they are on their way with my bag! I thought it could be days, but it was less than 24 hours. Anyway, now I have some items to return, but it feels amazing to have my stuff back.

The last thing I want to do, however, is to get back on a plane in 3 days to Michigan. If I never see an airport again it will be too soon. The thought just makes me nauseous.

Tomorrow will be my last day of work. I am very excited because we are having a party after work, which is very nice of them to organize and should be great fun.

So Summer Part 2 has started with the traveling, and end of work. Looking back I had a pretty fun summer after all, despite the stress at the beginning and a short period of missing Matt in the middle.

Less than 1 month until school starts and while I am enjoying the freedom, I am starting to get excited for all that I will learn this upcoming year. Can you say nerd...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Paradigm Shift

Those that know Michelle Larsen (aka Rapp) know that NY runs in her blood. My VA license plate reads NYANKI as a protest to living in the South. I have never wavered to mention NY in the often-asked question where are you from?

Over the past 7 years I have happily lived outside of Washington DC, until last year when I moved to Blacksburg, which I also love. I have visited NY for work, pleasure, and to see friends and family. Up until recently I thought NYC is not the right place for me now, but maybe one day we will move there. My family has started infiltrating the DC area, which has made DC feel more like home than NY.

I would have to say these weird NY feelings began about 2 summers ago, when I organized a bachlorette party in NY for a best friend. We walked around Times Square and for the first time I felt like it wasn't my home anymore. It had changed too much, and I had changed as well. It hurt. Little did I know it was the start of this identity crisis.

My nephew said the more you are away the less you miss it. For me until 2 years ago the more I was away the more I missed it. This trip, however, was the first time I ever walked in my city and thought,"What the hell is so damn great?" I know as well as any New Yorker what makes the city great, so have my values changed? Have I found other places that offer different opportunities that perhaps mean more to me? Is it my ideas of the excess that turn me off to NY now?

Some answers:
  • I have never like NY summers.
  • I have changed in that I enjoy smiling at people and talking to people I don't know as a courtesy (I never thought I'd say that, but I was in the hotel elevator wanting so badly to say good morning, beautiful day out. I knew I'd get silence and a weird look so I refrained.)
  • I was very tired this trip and staying in midtown with more tourists per square feet than ever, videotaping the revolving door.
  • This is not home anymore, it's just where I grew up.
  • Everything was goddamn expensive!
Matt and I went to the East and West villages with less people and street fairs and time to explore. It was fun for a few minutes, but still not where I would choose to live anymore. We searched for a gallery that when we finally found it was closed on Saturdays. I looked for a great cheap, healthy restaurant on St. Marks that was no longer there.

I hate to think I have changed so much that I don't understand how a city that everyone finds so amazing is lost to me. I feel like traitor to my roots (and my license plate). On an episode of Sex in the City, Carrie has a date with her city. That episode always embodied how I felt about the city, but this entire week I wanted to be somewhere else.

I guess detaching from your hometown could be part of maturing and growing up. It's been a while since I have experieneced such a major paradigm shift. I also never thought in a million years I would feel numb to what was the only place on earth suitable to me for 21 years.

In some ways I am proud that I have lost the NY arrogance and appreciate how many special places there are in this country and the world. I can picture myself living in Portland or San Diego, but as I rode on the train yesterday (my reflection place in high school), I could no longer picture myself living in the big apple.

Pfizer Educational Alliance Conference 2008

The conference was well-run and informative. The presentations on the different drugs were a good review of some things I learned this past year and a good preview of pharmacology to come. I always enjoy meeting students at other schools and this was no exception. In fact, 4 people from this conference will be attending the NIH student conference next week at Michigan State.

I was impressed with the roles of the Specialty Hospital Liaison (SHL) that Pfizer has created. They are committed to an educational, not selling focus. I am excited to organize new events at VT over the next 2 years.

Staying in midtown was rough for me, however, It was convenient to meet up with friends for lunch and after hours, but too many tourists for my liking (more on this thought in the Paradigm shift entry).

Meeting the other SHL veterinarians and hearing their career paths was, yet another eye opener to the many opportunities available to veterinarians. It was fun to gain insight on the different opportunities Pfizer has for veterinarians. They made it clear they have an interest in us after we graduate. While an enormous company, the organization and people had me questioning how evil corporate pharmaceutical companies actually are. Of course this was probably a major objective of the meeting.

As for a Pfizer career I will continue to keep an open mind, and use their educational resources to bring great programs to my school. As usual, I look to leave a legacy at VMRCVM, and I hope I figure out just what that legacy is over the next 2 years, but I believe my role as a Pfizer student rep has a part in this goal.

Bad Day to Travel: July 23, 2008

July 23 was bad day to travel on the east coast. You have to love the thunderstorms in the summer. On my way to Roanoke airport I saw a car with a NY license plate and thought to myself, I wish I could get a ride with them. I hate flying these days, who doesn't? What I did not know was how much more I would hate flying a few hours later.

I got to the airport very early and killed time reading tabloids and finishing a book. As my plane was suppose to board a flight to Philly got grounded and all the passengers came back to the terminal. I thought to myself glad that isn't my plane...10 minutes later my flight to NY was cancelled.

I was rerouted to Charlotte. My new flight was to take off at 8 and arrive at 10pm, not quite 6:30 but not horrible. The flight to Charlotte had horrible turbulence. After arriving in Charlotte I quickly realized every flight to NY was delayed and my flight was now leaving at 9:40pm. I had about 5 hours to kill. The airport was noisy, crowded and I was miserable. As the evening progressed the gate changed 3 times. The sign at the gate read, flight doors will close 10 minutes prior to 9:50 departure. At 9:25pm no announcement had been made. By 10pm the flight had boarded and what do you know, the ground stop had been put back in place at LGA. Update to follow at 11pm.

At this point I just wanted to leave and try again tomorrow (most other flights had been cancelled already), but I was in Charlotte so that was not an option. At 11pm they announce an alternate route to fly west of the storm. But this requires more fuel and the plane is too heavy (well why even tell us?!). At 12 am as I am walking off the plane to stretch and see where my bag might be, the pilot says we have clearance. We take off sometime between 12 and 12:20 I fall asleep, jolted awake by horrific turbulence and the person next to me, also named Michelle, and I grab hands. We do eventually land in LGA around 1:45, and miraculously my bag is there and my hotel room still available. The concierge asks, would you like a wake up call. I think to myself that's in 4 hours, and decline the offer.

The next day I am only 1 hour late to the conference and find out someone was rerouted 4 times, my counterpart from NC State never made it, and there is a girl with sweats on because her luggage is lost. So other than sleep deprivation, there is comfort in solidarity.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Last Summer Weekend in Blacksburg Was a Blast!

After my last full week of research, a very fun weekend was well-deserved!

Saturday kicked off with the highly-anticipated Frank Beamer Ladies Football Clinic. It was quite a scene. Football players and coaches were treated like movie stars, women of all ages fawned over the great bodies of the players. The attendees were the biggest hokie fans I have ever seen. Almost everyone was decked out in VT gear from head to toe, yet everyone was shopping in the bookstore during breaks, despite the additional and plentiful giveaways of the event itself (2 free t-shirts, visor, car flag, books, etc).

It was quite the VT football experience. The clinic included:
  • Defensive and offensive demos by female volunteers and players
  • Watching films just like the players and coaches do.
  • Learning about the coaching and training schedule.
  • The lowdown scoop on the recruiting process.
  • A Q&A session with Coach Beamer himself.
  • An excellent strip tease from Tyrod Taylor, #17, and Sean Glennon
  • And many, many autograph opportunities.
Directly from the clinic we headed to Salem for an Avalanche game on a beautiful night. It was great fun people watching for jorts.

Sunday we finished painting the bathroom then headed to the New River Junction for some tubing. It was a great day for tubing and very relaxing.

Matt and I then headed directly to see Batman. The best Batman movie ever and possibly the best movie of the year. It did not disappoint at all.

This week is the much anticipated Pfizer Animal Health Conference for student representatives. I hope it will be fun and informative. I will also be seeing a good high school friend that I have not seen in years.

Here's to a fun, non-humid summer in Blacksburg that ended with a bang (and football players in their boxers...)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The End of the Line and My Rope

I found a note card the other day with a terrific quote: "When you think you've reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on tight." This is a great vet school motto, and today I had to go with it.

I only have 1 more real time-PCR to run and of course I have had to run it at least 3 times. Last night I tried to save a plate, and the seal broke. Today my data looked great, and then poof the file corrupted never to be open again. My student mentor is going to re-do it for me tomorrow, since "I am at the end of my rope." My student mentor is also at the end of her rope. She has spent the entire summer firming up her data, with the same experiment in triplicate week after week. While her trend is consistent, the amount of induction has varied to the point where half of her story may not be true. Since she is going to run my plate over tomorrow (hopefully successfully), I offered to help her organize her data using my special Microsoft Excel skills. We hope she can see 3 data sets that are close enough to go with. She is under extra pressure because our PI is leaving for a trip next week and wants this published by the end of the summer. Ahh life as a PhD student.

The good news is that there is a light that I can see and my poster is coming along nicely. I present my data on Friday to the lab and hope to complete my poster early next week before I party it up in my hometown of NYC on Pfizer's dime!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My First Catch

While very rainy, the 4th of July weekend was still fun. Matt and I did not embark on an adventurous bike ride this holiday (as we have the past 2 years). We opted to float down (up) the New River. Unfortunately, as Matt purchased a bathing suit, the rain started falling. Instead, we hung with friends as they brewed homemade strawberry wheat beer. Later that afternoon, the skies cleared and we headed to a nearby pond to fish. I used a rubber worm, which apparently never works, and caught my first fish. I had been fishing several times before unsuccessfully. This was a great little bass catch! I was excited and ready to fish for a while longer. The skies had a different plan though, and it began raining (again). After fishing and getting drenched, we enjoyed the American tradition of BBQ and fireworks. The Blacksburg fireworks were fun. Everyone there enjoyed the Landsharks Jimmy Buffet tribute band, which made for a great people watching opportunity.

Saturday we went to 1 year old birthday party in Charlotte for Matt's oldest friend. We also took some time to check out the Central and Noda neighborhoods with good shops and restaurants. I got a great black clutch and fell in love with a pricey Ann Sui dress.

Sunday was the moment I had been waiting for all summer: Wine Down the Music Trail Festival. It was fun, but would have been an all out blast. Alas, the rain struck again. Thankfully, the tasting tents sheltered us and the sun peeked for a few minutes. But once the skies opened the second time, it was a torrential downpour. The bands couldn't play, the grass started flooding, and all the drunk people sandwiched in the tent just stopped being fun. So we bought a few bottles of wine and headed out. The vibe was excellent and I hope to go next year, with better weather.

The highlight of the weekend was certainly my first catch, but a fun 4th nonetheless. I have 2 more full weeks of work and I am a little discouraged at my statistical state. I hope this week things can sort themselves out for my poster's sake. I'll just keep working hard and hope for the best. I know many other students may be in worse shape with no trend or data. It is difficult to accomplish such great feats in 6 weeks, so I am cutting myself some slack.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

One Tough Week For One Tough Girl

I worked extremely hard this week. Working virtually non-stop Monday from 6am-7pm and from 8-6 Tuesday through Thursday. I hit some experimental snags: RNA purities are still not consistently great, I ran out of stimulant in the middle of stimulating cells, and I realized, with the help of my PI, that the primer I was using for my most important gene has been a dud for the past few weeks . I was glad, however, that he thinks it's the primer and not me! In addition, my PhD student was out of the office the past 2 days, so I was wholly on my own to work hard, but not necessarily all that well. Today I sorted through my data trying to get it ready for my poster graphs. I still have many inconsistencies, such as the standard deviations aren't all that impressive. But, I haven't put it into graphs yet to look at the overall trend. The idea was to see which samples I should run again next week. After next week I am just going to use what data I have to work on my poster the following week. I will still have to run a handful of real-time PCRs again once my new primer comes in next week, so I really don't have much time left to keep repeating, unfortunately.

I do not know how people endure such frustration over 4-6 years. Ironically, I am almost relieved that this will end and I can go back to vet school. I will admit it has its' positive days when an experiment goes right, or a new trend is found. The worst part is repeating perpetually to get good consistent data, 3 separate times, for publication purposes. My mentor was hoping I would get there, but I am not so sure any longer.

Do not misinterpret! I am glad I had this experience. I have learned a tremendous amount about science, lab work, what goes into achieving a PhD, lab techniques, and important immunology related to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. I do believe, however, that my interest lies on the clinical side of things. Unless there is a career opportunity that requires a PhD that I just have to go after, I think this may be one path I avoid, at least for a while.

I am not sure biological research is my strong suit. Of course, I still have just under a month to change my mind.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back to the Grindstone

After a fairly relaxing weekend of hiking the AT and searching for a PBA-free water bottle, Monday was a rise and shine early day. Of course the day has not gone as planned. While treating my cells and late for a meeting, we realized I was out of stimulant. SO I hopefully have 2 sets of each cell type, but that is not clear. So, yes I will most likely be repeating again. Additionally my data from last week, was not consistent with previous trials. Ugh. Here I thought this would be my big push week and then it would be downhill. I suppose life is never like that. In the lab expect the unexpected no matter how much you planned. There are always things to forget or overlook. My PhD student mentor also let me organize my plates on my own, and I learned a lesson that I will not be repeating. The details are tedious, but my organization was not the most efficient in this case, also disappointing.

Here's hoping I get good results later this week. I will definitely be here late tonight!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Working my way into my comfort zone

Today I had an intriguing conversation with a fellow PhD student. We got to the heart of why I am currently stressed and why vet school is perpetually stressful. The reason happens to stem from the same reason I left my prior career in business. The only way to grow as a person is to enter a place outside of your comfort zone. I was very comfortable in finance, in fact, I was bored because it was too comfortable and I did not have a vision of the future that excited me. As a result, I submerged myself in this completely uncomfortable world of veterinary medicine. While it can take a long time to work up the learning curve into a comfort zone, most people, myself included, need small successes to help deal with the stress and frustration thrust upon them while in this uncomfortable place.
This summer I am currently outside of my vet school comfort zone, as well. I have doubts regarding whether or not I can achieve my summer goals successfully. This is the root of my stress. The only way to work out of it is to do the best I can, stay positive, and manage it through exercise and other outlets (blogging).

This theory fits together well with vet school. The entire time most students are out of their comfort zone. The small successes are tests. There is always another test to take, therefore, continuous stress as the student works into a comfort zone.

The only true light at the end of this tunnel is to appreciate the small successes, knowing that someday in the future comfort may occur again, and right beside it could lie boredom.

Come on and bore me!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Matt's Birthday weekend

This weekend was a mini marathon. Saturday morning we ran the Run for the Rainforest 5K race in Arlington, VA. I finished in 30 minutes and 19s and Matt finished in 26 minutes. He was 18 shy of finishing in the top 100. The winners ran the 5K in 15 minutes, amazing! It was fun, great weather, great cause, and I walked only a small portion of it.

After the race and some coffee, we headed to Lansdale PA to visit one of Matt's college friends, who just completed his MBA. It was a good time, but also an additional 6 hours in the car:(

Sunday we awoke fairly early to run errands and go out to breakfast at my current favorite place, First Watch cafe ( Then, we headed to the Washington Nationals game, where we broiled in the sun. We had fun checking out the stadium, despite the Nationals 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

It turned out to be a low key birthday for Matt, which is how he wanted it. My trip home, however, was horrible. It rained off and on, and the last hour I drove in the dark through sheets of rain. I was scared, could not see, and just prayed I'd get home safely. I was so thankful when I did get home after 4+ hours. I clearly was suppose to stay with Matt and the cats tonight. If I had thought about it beforehand I am sure I could have gone into work late, but I signed up to use our Real Time PCR machine in the morning and I need the data for my meeting with Dr. Li Tuesday so I was torn with what to do. Next Monday I may plan to drive in the am on Monday, I cannot do another horrid thunderstorm and well "tis the season!"

Dr. Li's Lab Week 4

Week 4 was an interesting and long week (even the morning radio DJs mentioned the longevity). It began with my more positive, relaxed attitude from the prior weekend. Matt was here for dinner Monday night, which was great. As he left, I went to the gym and back to lab, keeping me distracted from his departed.
Tuesday was a reading and result analysis day. Tuesday evening I went to my fabulous yoga class, ad then made enchiladas for some good girlfriend time.

Wednesday was my early 5:30am day. This is where the week got rough. The PhD student I am working with has another apprentice, an undergraduate. We were both there bright and early and as I was ready to start helping, I was informed that this week I was on my own. Now I am not a morning person and I was not expecting this, so it shocked my relaxed attitude. I explained that I did not feel ready to do this part on ym own yet, and she obliged. She also mentioned that Dr. Li expects me to be working independently now, especially beacuse of the undergraduate apprentice. I understood and took copious protocol notes to prepare for next week. The 3 of us working together was slow, and I wa slate for my amazing ethics training at 8 am at the vet school building.

When I got back to work later that day, I still felt abandoned and as if my PhD mentor was disappointed in me. For this week I worked almost completely alone and tried to be more asceptic and thorough. My RNA purities were excellent for my wild type cells, but not good enough for my IRAK-1 knockout cells. Not sure how I feel about this, was there a contamination in those, did I actually improve from last week-- those are the questions. I also was disappointed because I would be repeating this experiment again next week and this was my third try. It is becoming mundane repeating the same experiment over and over with little result.

So Thursday was sort of my "funk" day where I wallowed in self-pity and attempted motivation in reading articles. Friday I spoke with my mentor Dr. Li, told him my purity issues and showed him my results so far. He wasn't angry, disappointed at all. He was intrigued and excited for more results come Monday. He explained that a phenomena is showing itself and that we would be okay to show something on my poster for the conference.

I am not totally sure I believe him, or that I will not be completely rushing and overwhelmed through the process, but it made my week end on a brighter note. I also explained exactly how I felt to my PhD student mentor. She told me she thought I was ready for Wednesday, and knew Dr. Li would be pleased and understanding of my progress (or lack there of). She also complimented how far I have come. It felt good for us to discuss what happened and end the week upbeat!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekend Recap

This was Matt's second summer weekend in Blacksburg and it was a blast!

We kicked off the weekend with a yummy lunch at Gillie's and met friends for drinks and grub at the New Orleans style Boudreux roof top patio in the evening. I also had a wildlife ward page to attend to 2 baby starlings in great healht, albeit hungry. A friend of mine wa able t care for them and get them to rehaber the next day.

Saturday was a long day of errands. After some thunderstorms, we hit the community fish fry! All you can eat fish, fries, slaw, and homemade deserts for $7! Next stop the Sun Music Hall in Floyd for Contra Dancing! I had never been contradancing before, but I had a blast spinning, stomping and smiling! I cannot wait to do it again in the fall!

Sunday we gathered our fishing gear and bathing suits and headed to Gatewood Park and rented boats o their lake. My boat did not catch any fish (Matt must havebad karma) but the other boat of fisherman was quite successful with 6 catches, including catfish, sunnies, and tbd.

After some great water and sun time, we headed back tired. We got a wee lost in Pulaski, and had an interesting incident while asking for directions.

All in all a great weekend in the New River Valley.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Week 3 of NIH Research Fellowship Recap (&51st blog post)

After deciding to change my stressful perspective of this summer last weekend, this week went much smoother. By decreasing the pressure on myself to be a seasoned lab scientist in 2 weeks, I was able to learn and enjoy my work more. As for my real time PCR skills, they did in fact improve. My RNA purities were better than last week, yeah! I had time to work on my lab notebook and read many more journal articles, and review my immunology notes from school.

After 3 weeks of almost exclusive RNA work, the next few weeks have some different experiments lined up. We are going to repeat our Leptin and LPS inflammatory research with human cells now, which is an entirely different process than the mice macrophage work we had been using. I'll also learn how to do a Western Blot to measure protein expression and an arginase assay.

This upcoming week I hope to flesh out the topics for my poster. I also plan to keep my more relaxed, optimistic attitude toward lab science and I will certainly continue learning!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Week 2 of the PhD Program Recap

Research can be frustrating and stressful. That is this week's lesson. I conducted my first experiment on my own (with much hep from my PhD student) and of course my RNA purities were too low to run RT-PCR data. So now I have to wait until next week's macrophages are ready and try again. Apparently this happens to everyone on their first try. The problem is that the lab I am working in is getting ready to publish and the PI is very results oriented. So there is not much time for screw-ups like these. I ended the week feeling frustrated and useless; I felt like I was bringing the lab down.

After a relaxing, chill weekend with some errands, a few drinks, and some quality sleep I have a new attitude. I will try my best since everyone, including the PI, knows I am brand new. I can only do all that I can. I will not beat myself up for not getting results, and in the end everything will be fine. Perhaps I don't have a career in research or will not get published, but at least I tried something new and put my best foot forward.

My first Monday with my new attitude has gone well. The insulin tolerance testing on the new study mice went well this morning.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

PhD Student for the Summer

While the NIH Student Veterinary Research Program is suppose to teach vet students about a veterinary career in research, which it has, after my first official week in Dr. Liwu Li's Innate Immunity lab, I feel more like an overworked PhD student. The research project I am involved with, which I am still learning about, requires many Real-time PCR experiments. These are very tedious, require pipet precision ( I don't have), and have a multitude of steps. It is a miracle when the results come out correctly.

But each day I understand a little more, and I will surely benefit from this summer experience. Unfortunately, the vacation is over and my main focus is doing my best in the lab, no matter how many hours it requires.

Needless to say my summer projects may not stand a chance for a while, although I do need to dig out my immunology class notes from first semester.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Too many options, not a long enough life

I emailed thank you notes to all the veterinarians who took time out of their schedules to meet with us. They all have opportunities for vet students to get involved, ranging from helping with organic fish labeling (a subject of personal interest), pig-human animal modeling at the USDA, FDA current issues, lab animal medicine at the NIH.

All of these opportunities excite me! I also want to get more clinical experience next summer! I feel excited, invigorated, and overwhelmed! Is there a way to dabble in it all until I figure out which way I should go?

I asked Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Director for the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, to be my mentor and she accepted. I hope she can help me to sort all of this energy out. I need some focus!

I am sure I am jumping the gun, but it's hard when so many issues are close to the heart, challenging, and can pave an exciting career. Ahh the opposite of finance...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer Research Program Starts with a Bang

Monday May 19 was the first day of the NIH Summer Student Research Program that will occupy the majority of my summer. The first 2 days were in the DC metro area visiting with veterinarians working in alternative careers, most of which require a dual DVM/PHD degree.

We met with veterinarians working for the USDA, NIH, and FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. There are a wealth of opportunities in what appear to be very rewarding careers. Exposure to these different career paths was enlightening and at the same time daunting because so many aspects of the field excite me. My entire group listened in awe at these amazing careers and after each veterinarian finished we all looked at each other and said, "Now I want to do that!"

I am excited about my summer research project, and once the ethics training required by NIH is completed I will start the actual work after Memorial Day.

Friday, May 16, 2008

1 week out

It's hard to believe that over a week ago I finished my first year of vet school. I think I have caught up on sleep, cleaned up the house, and restarted my fitness program, all of which feels great. In fact, I could go for another week of lounging around. Unfortunately, my summer research position starts this Sunday night on my birthday May 18. :( Sunday night is a kickoff dinner and the itinerary for the week will be announced. Monday and Tuesday are spent visiting with veterinarians with alternative careers in research at the FDA, NIH, and academia. Tuesday afternoon/evening I head back to VT.

The apartment in Blacksburg also needs a good cleaning and organizational renewal. I suppose it's handy that I like to clean when I am upset or bored.

So my quality time with the house, cats and Matt is coming to an end. My 11 days off flew right past me. At least it will end with a birthday BBQ tomorrow night (please don't rain) and spending the day with Matt on our bikes (again, please don't rain).

Poor Garfield is still straining to pee, so I think I'll have to take him back with me when I go to my vet tech shift at the Hope Center tonight.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Impossible Happened

By some small miracle my first year of veterinary school has come to a close. While still awaiting the ill-fated parasitology grade, all the other classes I have passed.

The end of the year bash was a blast. I hadn't seen my classmates so happy and smiling since the day before spring break. As much as the past few weeks dragged on, it is truly hard to believe that the first year is done. They are not kidding when they say it goes by really quickly!

Anxiety for 2nd year will develop shortly, of course, but for now it's time to enjoy some summer freedom!

On a side note ironically the night before my urinary pathology exam, my cat Garfield came down with a lower urinary tract infection, which slightly dampened the celebration. He is at the trusted Hope Center clinic under excellent care, so I know he will be okay. I cannot wait to give him a big hug today when I get back into town.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May 7th never felt so far away

Well I know it can and will be worse, but right now it's just plain horrible. 3 finals back to back is grueling and everyone is exhausted, and all we get to do is go home and study. I haven't even had enough time to work out the past 2 days, so more of my stress is building up. I feel like crying, laughing, sleeping, running, and laying down helplessly. These are some of the longest, frustrating 3 days of my life (that may be a slight exaggeration).

It will either be a relief or a horror to have anatomy done tomorrow (20% of the exam is cumulative and I remember nothing), but having to study for 1 last exam will be excruciatingly painful indeed. At least that is the comparatively easiest final for the least % of the final grade as a consolation.

May 7 feels out of reach and it's 2 hours away from May 6...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

3 more exams left

With the worst exam of the entire first year behind me, I am poised for the next 3 exams. I hope to reconcile my parasitology grade with a stellar performance on the remaining 3 subjects.

One weekend left to study (not much else to do but pack), 4 more questionable nights of sleep, and 3 more school days remain.

Some friends and I relaxed with manicures and pedicures yesterday in honor of a birthday and the end of parasitology! It felt nice and it's really downhill from here.

Neurobiology on Monday, Anatomy on Tuesday and Pathology on Wednesday. It's hard to believe we are down to the very final days.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last Day of Class

While the past few weeks since spring break have been dragging along, it is hard to believe that today was the last official day of classes. While studying worms and protozoa for 5+ hours last night I had the realization, amidst boredom, that one week from last night I would be studying for my last exam of first year.

The funny thing about that is right now I don't exactly believe that it will actually be over. That for a few months my life will be my own. It does not seem possible that first year will be complete in less than 1 week.

While I hope its true, I feel there must be a catch. But to make the time go faster I will stop wondering how this could be ending and get to staudying some tapeworms.

And beware of gumball machines, they may contain pin worms. Pinworms are NEVER carried by or transmitted to humans by dogs and cats. DOGS and Cats DO NOT get pinworms!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

8 days to go...

With only 8 days of school left (11 until I am home) I have very mixed feelings today. Heathcliff and Garfield are about to make their journey back to Northern VA and the next time I see them I could have successfully completed my first year (fingers are crossed). There are 5 huge hurdles (exams) to cross in only 8 days, with parasitology being the largest burden to bear. I am nervous about exams, my summer plans, and as usual the unknown.

How will my summer decisions play out?
Will summer be fun or all hard work? Will I miss my cats and Matt all summer?
What will next year be like?

I know I cannot wait to be free for a few months, but change, while welcome, is a bit scary.

There is an uneasiness in the air. What just 1 week ago was excited anticipation to be finished with 1 year of vet school, is now stress, worry and oh my god Friday May 2 through Wednesday May 7 is going to be horrible! At least there are 89 of us in the same boat together. All worried, all excited, and all ready to have a life for a few months.

Quick and painful and then its summer...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Push Week is Over!

I could have studied more. As a vet student you can always argue that, but I believe that I passed my late week exams, and given the week and my motivation that is something I am proud of. It is a miracle, but we do not have an exam or quiz all next week. We actually have time to catch up and study for final exams.

Since spring break this semester has dragged on, but at some point it does actually have to end, right? For some reason today I feel it ending and I feel myself successfully completing this year. It is a bizarre feeling. Just one year ago I wondered can I do this? What will happen? And now I just have 2.5 weeks to go...

I am taking most of this weekend off to attend a wedding in Baltimore. I hope that having some fun and being a person for 2 days will motivate me for the next few weeks because I sure need some movtivation.

Despite having a final exam this morning, I have 2 more classes and a double lab on a Friday, ugh. But the weekend is almost here...I can smell it.

April 16- 1 year anniversary

What a rough day here in Blacksburg. Besides being burned out from school, this tragedy is all I have been able to think about this week. I spent the morning cleaning the apartment. Then I went for a run to clear my head. To sequester myself into studying I went to Panera Bread for the 6 hour marathon of parasitology and epidemiology. I used the free internet and violated the contract not to sit at tables larger than your party size or occupy tables for more than 30 minutes during peak times...oh well.

In the evening, I went with 2 good friends to the candlelight vigil on the drillfield. It was very powerful and emotionally heartwrenching. As the candle flame was passed around I felt a strong sense of unity. I wanted to use my flame to light everyone's candle. Then they read the names, and no one held back tears. The military bugles played in call and response, and the silence spoke for itself.

Last year when I was exicted to be accepted into vet school, all anyone wanted to discuss was April 16. As a result, I was emotionally in denial that such a horrible act could be committed in such a wonderful place. This year I ended the denial and mourned. I do not think the shock that this happened to such wonderful students with such potential will ever go away.

I will continue mourning, but I will not recede back into denial.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

2 1/2 weeks of classes left

This week is a tough week, the last tough week until finals. The one year anniversary of the April 16 tragedy is sandwiched in between 2 major exams and a pretty major quiz. What an emotional and stressful week it could be. But once it is done, no more exams until finals begin. We haven't had a week without 1 test since week 3, so it should feel good.

My drive weakens with each week, but I see the light and I cannot wait to be finished with first year and begin my summer.

Stay tuned for info on my summer research project and a recap of April 16 events in Blacksburg. I hope to make it to either the evening candlelight vigil or the morning ceremony. Since I have the day off, I want to remember the tragedy, but I also have 2 tests to study for Thursday and Friday, and some cleaning and packing to do for the weekend.

I will be packing for my "adopted" little brother, Ed's, wedding in Baltimore Saturday April 19. So exciting. I have watched him grow up from the kid on the couch always watching the Simpson's to a terrific person who is fun, caring, and has become a great friend to Matt as well. It will be fun to run into some high school friends/teachers and see Ed and Patti get married. I was there for the beginning of their relationship and it has been amazing to watch them both mature! Next weekend could be a nice break from studying, or it could make me yearn for summer more.

Oh how my friends and I want to become a "people with a life" again...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Exactly a month left of 1st year

The vet school open house was a fun time, and very weird to be on the other side of the coin greeting prospective students and selling merchandise. Before I began vet school, I was an open house junkie. I had been to 3 prior open houses as a prospective student. It was a lot less intimidating from this side.

Matt and I checked out the international street festival that was suppose to be outside, but due to weather was held inside the student center. Some performances were fun, others left a little to be desired, but the food was excellent. There were many ethnicities to choose from, so we sampled from South America, Asia, and the Middle East.

Last week, in terms of academics, went smoothly. This week is packed with 3 exams and next week is the same. Then we will have a short reprieve before finals, I cannot believe that...finals. Hopefully I make it without catching the nasty cold virus circulating the classroom. I have been mindful of my rest (when I can fall asleep that is), and drinking many fluids and tea.

This weekend is the community dog wash, which all first year students have to participate in. I have the 7:30-10:30 shift to get it over with while my sleeping beauty husband, well, sleeps.

My friends and I all dream of summer, as our momentum and motivation to keep going has started to wane.

Here's to one more month, albeit the hardest, of second semester first year.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back from Spring Break-The Ides of March

Well it's the height of March Madness, spring break has come and gone, and feels as if it never was and just 4.5 weeks of classes left before exams. I am definitely tired out. Studying is more of a chore right now than particularly enjoyable. And while only a few weeks remain, more than a few exams still lurk in the future unfortunately.

Coming back from spring was difficult for me. I couldn't the sleep the first few nights, not due to stress but to due to reacclimation I suppose. I plowed through and have been sleeping better since Matt aka sleeping beauty, go back to Blacksburg. So clearly, it had something psychological to do with leaving my "home" in Nova. I have no idea why 1 week caused an entire re-adjustment to occur, but it did.

The week ended with an exciting meeting with my mentor on my sumer research. He picked my brain on my interests to target with his research background. He is extremely nice and got me excited about working this summer with other grad students, state of the art equipment, and exposure to as many types of research techniques as possible, both cellular and animal research.

This week will be long (2 exams), but interesting with a replay of the NAVC elephant in the room conference tomorrow night with VA legislators and veterinarians to discuss the future of the profession with respect to salaries and student loans.

The week will end with a 5K on Saturday in support of cancer and the open house, that I had attended 3 times before I was a vet student and now I will be on the other side of the table. I plan to help with electron microscopy tours, club selling tables, and a housing fair for the incoming class.

So here's hoping for a good week. I am still back in transition so I will have to take it slow and day by day to make it through. May 7 cannot arrive soon enough!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break Bliss

While it isn't the most glamorous spring break, it has been a needed break from vet school. The week has flown by, with futile attempts to regain a social life, do some school work, clean my other home, and start on the spring yard work. Bits and pieces have been accomplished (as well as some quality reality tv viewing), but as always I am running out of time. It has been a treat to be home, trying out new recipes on my guinea pig husband, catching up on the outside world, and getting a full night's sleep every night.

Soon it will be nose to the grindstone once again, but with 5 weeks left I am beginning to smell the end of first year. I can anticipate how sweet it is going to taste.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In the thick of it now

It is week 8 of the semester and could not be further from the middle of the semester and one of the toughest weeks. We have a nutrition final tomorrow and the dreaded parasitology midterm on Friday, which terrifies pretty much the entire class, myself included. I studied pro actively and hard for the first quiz and received my lowest vet school grade so far, so I am trying my best and hoping it will be good enough for Friday.

Everyone is tired and more than ready for spring break. Only 1.5 weeks stand between spring break and school,but that entails 3 tests and 1 quiz:( Not included any catch-up work if we don't want to spend all of spring break studying (which I do not!)

I will cease blabbering and put my nose back into my books for a few more hours.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Time for an update

Before I sit down for a long night of studying for physiology test #2 on the endocrine system, I figured it was time for an update.

This weekend was very busy, but fun. Friday we had the day off to attend the VA Veterinary Medical Assoc. conference in Roanoke. The lectures were great, and to my surprise I was able to follow most of them. In the morning, I listened to the Chesapeake Cardiology Associates speak about different topics in cardiology. In the afternoon, Dr. Martin, the surgical legend here at VT, spoke about different surgical techniques. He presented using a lot of case photos and some of his work was truly miraculous. I have some learning to look forward to in the future!

I also got a chance to speak with some great vendors, from Fort Dodge, Pfizer, and Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). Dr. Dan Green from BI, as it is known, has some great ideas for the VBMA and I had a blast brainstorming with him. We discussed a job fair at VMRCVM and possible internships and 4th year rotations at their research facilities in Germany. Perhaps I may be a guinea pig...

Saturday night we checked out Floyd, VA for dinner at Oddfellas and then a concert by AARPunk. AARPunk is a band that includes 2 of my vet school professors, Dr. Bob and Dr. Klein. They rocked the crowd (which was great for people watching)!

Somehow I am plowing through the semester and I cannot wait for spring break, although my plans are still yet to be determined. They hinge on whether or not I get a lottery ticket for the Yankees game here at VT. My fingers are crossed and I have all my friends signing up. Hopefully Matt and I can also take a small 2-3 day trip away and I plan to get up to the DC area and try to be an active friend/family member for a short time.

I have not had a week without a test since week 2 ad this week is no exception with 2 tests.

Well that's a more detailed update than I usually have time for (let's just say I needed a break between Matt leaving and hitting the books tonight).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

5 weeks down

The past 2 weeks have been very exhausting, so entries have been few and far between. Matt chastised me today so I send a quick update.

I was selected to be the student rep for Pfizer Animal Health which is exciting. I believe 15 people applied for the position and it is one of the more high profile student rep positions. I should get to learn a lot and meet some great industry people over the next few years.

I have had 2 tests per week the past 2 weeks. I have a pathology exam this Wednesday and 2 exams the following week. It does not let up at all. At least 1 test a week until spring break (I cannot wait!).

I am fairly certain the parasitology quiz from the other day did not go too well (TBD). With all the pesticides to memorize and flies and ticks to keep straight I believe I messed up and entire short answer question of which there were only 3 total questions. I also went to lab after that horrible quiz only to find that the printing department gave us the wrong lab. I had spent 30 minutes of lab on the wrong assignment. That same night I came home slightly regrouped (after a run) and had to cram (of which I do not do well) for the anatomy of the eye test. It was also Valentine's Day and Matt could not be here. When I got home that evening to make matters worse a can of Fanta had exploded all over the fridge.

I pose the question, why when a day goes awry does it continue to go awry?

After a weekend of some sleep , study, and fun I feel a little better, but of coursed stressed about the upcoming 2 weeks and how I will get it all done. UGh.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Back in Full Swing

After the intimidation subsided and sleep deprivation began, I learned to love vet school again. Maybe it just took some good test scores to show me I can do this, but a lot of my anxiety and confidence issues have subsided...for now. On the other hand, I am exhausted, but enjoying vet school again.
I enjoyed meeting the veterinarian I will be working with from Royal Canin, as the Royal Canin student rep for my school. She has a lot of nutrition knowledge and has had an interesting career. I hope it's the start of a great mentorship.

In the back of my mind, I am pondering my summer plans. I am torn between a great research experience here in Blacksburg and working at the emergency center in Vienna, VA, coupled with a pathology janitor at the National Zoo part-time. While I would like to stay here for the summer, I would also love to be home enjoying DC as well and enjoying my garden, cats and our home. I hope the right decision pops out at me soon.

In the meantime, I am also thinking about a quick, cheap weekend trip over Spring break. A friend of mine mentioned a quick lighthouse tour for a few days which sounded fun, but most importantly I will be finishing my books from winter break!

My ah-ha moment of the week is the amazing impact nutrition has on the health and disease prevention in all mammals! It is truly amazing what can be treated and prevented just by managing nutrients in a diet.

Monday, January 28, 2008

It seems impossible, all over again!

Despite a successful first semester, vet school seems impossible again. The anxiety over the first test is back despite pro actively studying for almost every subject thus far. It's hard for me to believe it's humanly possibly to sleep, have a life, and actually stay on top of all the subjects I am taking simultaneously. I don't want to fall into the trap of studying test by test, but it seems hard to do anything else as the semester starts to gain head way. For some reason the "I am doing all I can do" attitude has lost its luster and all I feel is guilty when I spend a few hours away from my studies.

Hopefully getting through the next week and a half will boost my confidence yet again,but for now I am trying very hard to channel the anxiety.

This is also the first week of a true rotation on the new family schedule. It was still hard to see Matt leave tonight, but the weekend did feel much longer. I have a test to study for on Friday, so hopefully this week will fly by. The new 4 days a week with Matt should be much easier than the 2 days a week from last semester. I also pray he doesn't get exhausted by the driving.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

1st bad day is not so bad

This past Thursday I had a my first bad day of vet school for the semester. Nothing in particular happened. I just started to feel overwhelmed despite studying every night. Parasitology lab was quite chaotic and frustrating. Then I started to cook dinner for Matt, who was heading down, and realized I was missing a key ingredient after I had started cooking. The night ended with frustration over understanding the Vasa Recta's role in diluting the tubular fluid in the kidney.

Looking back this "bad" day wasn't half as hard to pull through as some bad days last semester during my transition. It does go to show that vet school is intense and I have to change even more to channel more positive energy and not let these things ruin my day. I have faith that over this weekend I will be master of the kidney!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

VBMA National Meeting Epiphany

While the cats all adjust to life in Blacksburg, I had a career-changing experience at the VBMA national conference at the NAVC meeting in Orlando. I met some amazing people, both students and veterinarians. I learned about curriculum's at other schools and how diverse they are. I learned about many of the challenges facing the industry today, but most importantly VBMA students were called together to work with industry leaders to focus on change for the future and the betterment of the veterinary profession.

I was very impressed with the caliber of students running the National VBMA and the respect the VBMA has commanded from industry leaders. It is exciting to be a part of an organization that will lead the evolution of the veterinary profession.

Thanks to some terrific sponsors, the conference had some terrific speakers, including Dr. Ernie Ward who spoke about fitting wellness practices into your life in order to be your best! I completely agree on this topic despite the crazy glances I received last semester when I went to the gym 3 times during a week of midterm exams. I believe in what Dr. Ward said, loved his energy level, and my chapter's VBMA hopes to have him speak on this topic further at our campus.

The last night of the conference BI sponsored a wonderful VIP banquet and Blue Man Group show at Universal Studios. Our ticket was also good for admission to one of the clubs. Th classy VBMA group chose Pat O'Brian's where we sang and danced to dueling piano players all night. A great way to end a life-changing weekend.

Although exhausted and already feeling the pressures of vet school (this happens all too fast), I hope this meeting will keep in perspective why I am here, and the impact I can have with the VBMA to shape my dream career.

Monday, January 14, 2008

1st Day Second Semester

Today was my first day of my second semester of vet school and it went well. It was good to be back. The classes seem very interesting so far. Today I had parasitology, epidemiology, physiology of the kidney (I know why your pee smells like coffee after you've had a cup of Joe) and Anatomy.

All 3 cats are now down here since Matt will be here typically for 4 nights now instead of 2. Heathcliff is super afraid of the digs, and Garfield is holding is own adjusting. Hopefully they will be like Isabelle soon. She loves it here. She is scared of the dogs but doesn't run under the bed all the time anymore. Poor kitties won't see Matt for 10 days now, since I am off to Orlando this weekend for a VBMA conference. That is one disadvantage about not taking the job down here. I hope that once we are in a regular rhythm the change will be much better than last semester. But for now its 10 days without my other half and not too much studying to do just yet.

Here's to another strong semester and hopefully happier times!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Back from the Orange Bowl

After managing to drive over 2000 miles to Miami and back, VT suffered a disappointing loss to KU. The trip was fun but not enough time in Savannah or Charleston. 2 beautiful cities we hope to return to.

It's hard to believe only 1 week left of the month long break before starting the second semester of vet school. While the break has been fun, it certainly was not long enough. I am looking forward to going back and learning more and beginning my new roles in the different organizations I am a part of.

My last week I plan to take it easy, treat myself to a facial and massage (courtesy of a great friend-Petra) and speak as a school ambassador to Oakton and Chantilly HS about veterinary career opportunities. My 6 shifts at the HOPE Center have concluded and were delightful. I even scrubbed into a exploratory gastronomy of a cat that ate a stuffed animal and observed a spleenectomy for the ages. The spleen was multi lobed and over a foot long. It weighed over 10 pounds!! It was great to be back in the clinic and see the great people that work there again.

I am nervous about next semester with the many changes taking place. Matt is still undecided about which job in Blacksburg to take and we do not know how the cats will do down there. I hope I didn't sign up for too many things and I hope I don't forget what I have learned thus far! (little studying was conducted over break)

Anyway reflecting on 2007 is amazing. I am so much closer to being a DVM than I was 1 year ago and it's hard to believe. I am very happy with the major life decisions I made and hope to continue down this path.