FIN.

And you all thought I was just going to leave you with that cliff hanger.

Yes folks, I did graduate.

After my last rotation (anesthesia at the University Hospital) we had half a week of capstone lectures in regulations, registrations, and related fun facts. Then it was a flurry of packing and traveling before graduation.

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Jessica and I helping prep decorations for Capstone week

I was lucky enough to FINALLY take my long awaited trip to the Great Barrier Reef for some diving. I stayed on a liveaboard and did several dives and had the absolute best time. This boat trip was essentially the first time I relaxed in…. potentially years? Our food was made for us, all we had to do was rinse the plates, then we would lounge around on the deck in our swimsuits all day before hopping back in for another dive. It was glorious.  I went with one of my best friends who was visiting Australia. We saw hundreds of fish, coral, turtles, sharks, and even cuttlefish!! There is no feeling quite like being underwater in this completely different world…. also, I love swimming upside-down 🙂

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Made some friends above the water too

 

I was blessed enough that my family and some very close family friends traveled to Australia for my graduation!

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The world needs to see this. (Fashion not planned)

We did a bit of touring around. Some sights my parents re-visited after their first trip in 2016, but I also tried to plan some new sites for them to see. We drove the Great Ocean Road again; it may have been my 6th or 7th time doing this road trip but its so gorgeous I could probably drive that road until the day I died and never get bored! Then I took them to the Grampians, a popular place for hiking in Victoria; we luckily ran into a lot of kangaroos, koalas, emus, and even echidnas here. And then we rounded out all the fun activities with another dive in the Melbourne area.

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Introducing my little bro to iced coffees (served in beer bottles!) at one of my favourite cafes.

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The final Laksa King dinner; this place has been our favourite restaurant in Melbourne and we tried to take as many visitors here as possible. 

THEN THE BIG DAY. GRADUATION. It was so hot I focused on not passing out and faking my body into thinking I wasn’t hypovolemic when crossing the stage. When people ask me how happy I was to graduate I just show them this picture:

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Trust my parents to bring about 5 different cameras to capture the moment. I felt like the paparazzi was following me, but I definitely wasn’t complaining. This was such a long-awaited day! After graduation, the rest of my days in Australia were spent packing, closing bank accounts, selling my belongings, and saying goodbye to people very dear to my heart.

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Goodbyes suck

Had to say goodbye to all my friends pets

Once back in Canada, in true Ileana-style I went to several job interviews ignoring my jetlag. Then came apartment searching and move day on a freezing Alberta winter weekend.

I’ve started working now as well. The learning curve is STEEP but I’m blessed with a great clinic and some fantastic mentors. And yes, I DO love it!  🙂

Thank you so much to everyone who has read, followed, and asked me about my blog over the last 4 years. It turned out to be a fantastic way to share my journey with family and the friends I have made all over the world. This post is more pictures than words, but that’s because pictures speak a thousand words and I don’t have near enough words to truly express what my time in Australia has meant to me.

Love & keep in touch,

Ileana

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KEEP CALM OR I WILL BOLUS THE PROPOFOL

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Propofol is a very commonly used drug in the veterinary world. We use it to help patients fall asleep before surgery.

My last rotation of the year was spent in the anesthesia department at the university hospital. This was a rotation that my whole group wished had been scheduled earlier in the year. We were taught lots of valuable information about drugs that would have been very helpful during our placements–but better late than never!

The anesthesia department at the hospital runs almost all of the anesthetic protocols for any procedure going on in the hospital–so this means cats, dogs, horses, and occasionally other fun animals!  An anesthetic protocol is required for any patient that needs to be asleep for a procedure– like taking an x-ray or having a surgery done.

Each student was required to be ‘primary’ on a case for the day and read their patient’s file and then develop an anesthetic plan that would appropriately match the patient’s diseases and procedure. This is complicated. Especially when your patient has multiple diseases and you can’t give them certain drugs.

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Jessica reading up on her patient’s medical history. There is a TV in our student lounge connected to one of the surgical suites. On this day, I sat & ate my lunch and watched a thoracotomy. 

After doing a physical exam on our patients, creating an anesthetic protocol, and preparing all our equipment and machines we would draw up our drugs into syringes. The first step is then administering a pre-medication drug to the patient to make them a little sleepy. After that we would collect our patient from the wards, bring them to the prep room and place an IV catheter in their vein. We also placed an endotracheal tube (so we can control their breathing), and finished prepping them for their surgery or procedure. During surgery we monitor the patient’s vital signs to make sure their heart is beating properly, they are breathing correctly, and other important things. Once the surgery is finished we are in charge of making sure the patient wakes up smoothly and safely.

One day I monitored an anesthetic for 7 hours, one of my wonderful group mates brought me food from home and the rest of the team tagged me out for a break 🙂

During some of the afternoons we had tutorials where we learned about different stages of the anesthetic protocols and could ask any questions we needed to.

We all had to take complete charge of a patient (with no help from supervisors and nurses) and we were assessed to make sure we could do everything appropriately and safely. My patient was in hospital for a toe amputation. Everything went smoothly!

Some of the patients that I created anesthetic protocols and monitored for were getting CT scans, MRIs, spays, foreign body removal surgeries, etc.

Unfortunately, this post can’t be too much longer without talking about a lot of fancy drug names and anesthetic equipment. I found it helpful to practice using new drugs and talk about protocols with the experts!  At the end of the 2 weeks…we were done! But actually, DONE! No more rotations 🙂 next step…. graduation!

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Last day of DVM4! We are in the prep-room in front of some of the anesthetic machines we had been using during our rotation. 

 

 

Cat: “I’m getting fixed?” … “Am I broken?”

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“Fixing” = De-sexing

We had a week of de-sexing rotation during the beginning of the year and a second week at the end of the year.  De-sexing means spaying & castrating (neutering) cats and dogs.  We completed this at a massive animal shelter in the city! This means we had to commute in on the train each day… which we somehow always struggled with. We seemed to end up with endless delayed trains, massive traffic jams, and absent parking spots.

On the Monday we had an induction in the upstairs tea room and talked about the layout of the days. Then we spent some time practicing different suture patterns and knots on the suture boards.

In the morning two of us would be the surgeons and two of us would be the anesthetists. The other two students were ‘floaters’ and stayed outside the surgical suite and were involved with patient care and recovery monitoring.  We switched roles in the afternoon. When we first got allocated our cases we had to go find the dogs and cats in different wards in the shelter. We would bring them to the veterinary room where we would do our physical exams, place IV catheters, and give them premedication drugs so they would start to get sleepy before their surgeries. The anesthetists would be calculating their drug doses for the patients and preparing the anesthetic machines. We also checked our patients from the day before and looked at their surgical incisions to make sure everything was healing alright!

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Our group standing outside the surgical suite which contained 2 surgery tables and 2 anesthetic machines for us to do simultaneous surgeries at. 

Being the surgeon was fun because I was often the only person scrubbed into the surgery—this meant I did everything by myself! Last year, when we did our first surgeries at the university hospital there was at least one other person scrubbed into the surgery and we had to share all different parts of it with each other. It was difficult to learn that way. One of my favorite things that we learned how to do on this rotation was pedicle ties on the ovaries of cat spays.  They are done on most cat spays at the shelter. I liked this technique because it is faster than a more traditional method and leaves less suture material inside the patient. I have now taught multiple vets on placements I’ve been to about how to do pedicle ties.

As the anesthetist it was good to practice our drug calculations and give intramuscular injections. It felt like a lot of my patients had issues with blood pressure during their surgeries so I learned a bit more about how to manage this issue.

On the Wednesday of the first week we received personalized feedback from the vet. This was really nice to actually speak to someone DURING a rotation about things we were doing well and other things we could improve on.

When I got the chance to do a dog spay I enjoyed performing Millers knots in a live patient instead of on a suture board. Practicing on suture boards is great, but its nothing like the real thing.

During our first week of de-sexing we took advantage of being in the city close to things to do–we had dinner one night at a fav location (Laksa King… I may have mentioned it before…) and then went to a comedy club.

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Please enjoy this very in focus and amazing photo of our group at Laksa King.

On the last day of the week we organized a group lunch with us and the surgeon and the nurse. On the first week we made rice paper rolls (second week was TACOS) and gave some quick presentations regarding shelter medicine. Jessica and I presented on olfactory enrichment for shelter animals.

On another day we braved the pouring rain and really windy conditions to walk to Mork chocolate for a snack before starting the long journey home on the delayed trains.  How dedicated are we?- we even stood outside in the rain until there was an empty table!

As an update, this is my second last rotation. Which means there is only 1 rotation left. AND THEN WHAT?! (plot twist: its graduation)

The classics.

General practice is where a large portion of vets will work after graduation. GP vets are capable of many things, but some of the most common appointments include health exams, vaccines, ear infections, skin problems, etc. We had 1 week of general practice rotation at the beginning of our 4th year and just finished a second week now, at the end of our year.

We spent one day each week at the university hospital with a specialist dermatologist who only saw skin patients. Skin issues can be so complicated! I am glad we got to spend 2 full days with the dermatologist only looking at this one body system (yes, the skin is a whole body system!). Skin issues can be complex and involve infections and allergies or other diseases. Often it can take lots of time and searching to find an answer to your pet’s problem! Most of the skin patients we saw ended up having allergies to things in the environment (like grasses, dust mites, etc) or food.

One patient we saw was presented to us because his toenails kept falling off. The dog was diagnosed with symmetric lupus onchodystrophy, which is a disease I have read about in my notes many times… however, the dermatologist said this is quite rare and he has only seen one case in his whole career!

We had quite a few vaccine appointments where we got to practice our physical exams, vaccine injections, history taking, and medical note writing.

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Not a picture from rotation. But I did just get to meet my friend’s new puppy on the weekend and gave him quick little exam! 

In my second week of GP I happened to be rostered on with the exotics vet for a couple days! This was pretty cool because instead of cats and dogs I saw lots of different kinds of patients like: rabbits, chickens, blue tongued skinks, bearded dragons, turtles, eclectus parrots, and cockatoos!  These are all animals that may need a vet at some point in their lives but we don’t get to see them very commonly.  We have some lectures on exotic animals but often, most of our learning is done day to day when the problems arise!

Some highlights included doing first health exams for nine (NINE) baby bunnies! They were all very cute… I mean, healthy. And fluffy… I mean, eating well…

I also enjoyed an appointment with a blue tongued skink with who had a suspected broken back! After a full exam I got to take x-rays of him to look at his spine. In the end, he was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease. We talked about changes his owner could make in his tank, diet, and gave him some pain medication!

Another very cool thing was having a patient (cockatoo) who was older than me! That hasn’t happened since I first started working in veterinary clinics when I was 17.

One day of the week we are rostered on to help with minor procedures. I helped monitor the anesthetic for Jess to do a cat castration. Then we had an aural hematoma repair (one of my favorite small animal appointments to do!). This is a condition in dogs where the skin of the ear fills up with blood. It can be very uncomfortable and swollen. At previous clinics I have worked at you can release the pressure and then suture something on to the ear so the area cannot fill up with blood again. I think it looks cutest when you suture buttons onto the ear. At uni however, I got to suture on little pieces of tubing.

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Buttons on the ear of a dog who has had an aural hematoma repair. https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/pet-dog-buttons-sewn-onto-14030456

General practice rotation flew by. Next up is our second week of desexing rotation at an animal shelter in the city.