Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Well, things didn't go quite as planned the last few days but that's alright.  I drove to Tremont after school Saturday evening.  I went to start my car Sunday to head to Tremont church and my car wouldn't start.  Dead battery.  So, after church we got my car started and over to my uncle's shop.  I quick jumped in my aunt's car and drove down to Champaign to just barely make it to school in time at 4PM.  I was there til about 1AM then came home and slept.  Monday morning I drove back to Tremont and stayed there until this afternoon when I drove my car (with its new battery) back to Champaign so I can be at school in a little less than an hour.  Now I will be in Champaign the next four weeks or so with no planned travel.  I will finish off this week with 6 straight night shifts and then I will be done with my ER rotation.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday 7/25

Well, I've been keeping plenty busy here on ER!  However my animals have not been doing too well, fortunately it's not because of anything that I have done wrong.  Yesterday I was involved in the euthanasia of the husky I saw last Thursday on my neurology rotation.  My patient from Wednesday was also euthanized yesterday.  I also learned that my patient from Monday as well as my patient from last Friday on neurology were euthanized.  That's a lot of death but that's just how vet med goes sometimes. 

Today my patient was a......chicken!  Yup, we had a chicken present to our ER today for not walking well on its right foot.  We took a quick radiograph of its foot and it turns out it had dislocated the biggest toe on its foot.  So, we popped the toe back in place and put a splint and bandage on its toe and sent it on its way.  Don't believe I've ever been involved in anything like that before!

Tomorrow I am on day shift again so will be at school from 7AM until 4-6PM or so.  Then Sunday I switch to nights (I go in from 4PM-3AM or so) so I'm off Saturday evening and Sunday morning and early afternoon.  I plan to head to Tremont to be with my brother and see my Uncle Dale and Aunt Mare and their kids again.  Then I will be on nights all next week except for Monday night which is my day off this coming week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


This past weekend my brother and a couple friends came to Champaign for Invite-A-Friend.  They arrived around 4pm or so Saturday evening at my place.  That night we went to the Champaign County Fair's Demolition Derby.  None of us had ever seen a derby before so it was pretty fun.  Sunday we went to church and then to a pavilion for a potluck picnic.  A good time was had by all I believe.

Yesterday was the first day of my small animal emergency medicine rotation.  I got there a little before 7AM and didn't leave until about 830PM.  We were very busy the whole day.  I got to be involved in my first legitimate CPR on a cat who didn't end up making it so that was a new experience.  My main patient was a 14 year old cat with a head tilt and falling towards the left while walking, not eating, and lethargic.  He stayed in the ICU overnight last night and was to be transferred to Internal Medicine today.  Throughout the fourteen days of my ER rotation I only get two days off total and today was the first one.  I also have next Monday off as well.  So, it's going to be two weeks of lots of time spent at school.  Woohoo!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Done With Neuro

Today was my last day of my neurology rotation.  I had an awesome time on neurology and feel a lot more comfortable with neurological diseases.  I don't even have to go in this weekend at all which is going to be awesome! 

I am looking forward to having my brother and two friends come down to Champaign tomorrow until Sunday evening.  Champaign church is having Invite A Friend on Sunday so I invited some guys down for it.  It will be even better now that I don't have to be at school at all this weekend.

My next rotation starts this Monday.  I am moving on to small animal emergency medicine.  So I will be doing day and night shifts in the emergency room.  I start on days and switch to nights next Sunday (7/27).  Out of the 14 days of that rotation I get two days off, this coming Tuesday and the following Monday.  Each shift is 11 hours so as of right now I am scheduled to be at school for 66 hours/week for the next two weeks.  And, I'm paying to do this, not getting paid to do it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More Africa Pictures

Yes, I have a few more photos to post courtesy of others who were on the trip with me.  First, yet another update:

My little italian greyhound had an MRI and then had his spine tapped to get some cerebrospinal fluid.  Neither of these things showed much for abnormalities.  So, we believe he has what is referred to as Little White Shaker Syndrome.  It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks a part of the brain called the cerebellum.  The treatment is steroids so my little guy was just started on those tonight and hopefully he can go home tomorrow.  

I am looking forward to this weekend when my brother, and a couple friends (one from Oregon and one from Iowa) are going to be in Champaign with me.  

Now, here's the pictures:

Here I am sitting with a dog I had just spayed.  She had very fragile tissue and part of her tissue actually ripped before we got it out so her surgery took a little longer than normal

Patiently waiting while Dr. Hoenig cleans the surgery site so I can castrate this guy

Mike, myself and Nicki swimming in the African waterfall.  The red-haired girl in the front of the picture was not with us. The water was extremely cold but it was totally worth it.

Mary and I during the middle of a spay

Mike and I spaying away

The main bulk of our group one day after surgeries

Standing on the balcony of the first hotel

Sunday hike by to the waterfalls

It's hard to see in this picture but we were getting soaked by a heavy mist from the waterfall

Looking out over the Tanzanian countryside

Thought these little guys were pretty cute

Proof that dogs are handled differently in Tanzania compared to most dogs in the states

I had never castrated a cat before and so, on the last day of surgeries I finally had my chance!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Neuro Update

Wow, life is kind of crazy here in neurology land.  My dog that I talked about last week that had to have a second surgery did go home Saturday morning.  He still was unable to feel pain in his back feet and was unable to walk but he was able to feel when we pinched along his back just a little further back than earlier which was a small glimmer of hope.  I did receive word today that the owner emailed the neurology technician and said that he had peed on his own and had even wagged his tail so that is great news! 

Over the weekend we had two in-house patients in the ICU that we had to take care of every morning.  And man was it fun!  They both screamed very loudly every time you touched them and one of them tried to bite you.  Fortunately, the loudest screamer went home today and the screamer/biter is being a little bit better behaved and it's a good thing too; he is staying with us all week for physical therapy.

Later on this afternoon I became responsible for a one year old Italian Greyhound who presented to the ER Saturday for tremors.  He is shaking all over and it almost never stops.  I feel bad for the poor guy.  Tomorrow he will have an MRI and a spinal tap to pull some spinal fluid out so we can try to figure out what is going on with him and get him feeling better.

Sunday I spent the day (after dealing with ridiculous screaming dogs) in Congerville with Uncle Loren and Aunt Joan.  It was a nice break from thinking about school and neurology after the crazy week we had. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More Africa Pictures

I have a few more pictures from Africa that were taken by people other than me.  First, just a quick update, I have completed my first week of my neurology rotation.  It has been great, we are seeing quite a few patients, many of whom have required surgery.  My little dachshund went home this morning.  We are hoping that eventually he will start walking but only time will tell.  Right now we only have two patients in the hospital, both in the ICU.  Unfortunately, they are both major screamers and make a ton of racket whenever you try to do anything to them.  While neither one has actually bitten someone, they have both tried which is always fun.  When we were done working with them this morning, my ears were actually ringing a little bit because they are so loud.  Can't wait to do it all over again tomorrow morning!

Without further ado, here are some more pictures, in no particular order:

Climbing up a huge tree in the middle of the plains during the safari

Playing "Switzerland Memory" at the second hotel

Dr. Bennett and I on the safari

Nicki and myself both suturing at the same time.  This dog's uterus and ovaries were very fragile and ended up ripping so we had to make her incision a lot bigger, pull most of her guts out and find the stump of tissue that was left behind so we could tie it off to make it stop bleeding.  In an effort to cut down on the total surgery time, I closed the fat layer just under the skin while Nicki came behind me and sutured the skin closed

Here I have the famous "tick hemostats."  These hemostats were used daily as many of the dogs had a number of ticks in their ears and around their heads and necks.

Photo taken of us sitting on the edge of the rocks overlooking the Tanzania countryside during our hike on the Sunday between our two weeks of surgery

Changing the tire on our truck. This was flat tire #1 of 3 flat tires we had in about 1 1/12 days between our normal truck and the truck we took on the safari. 

Myself, Samwel (our safari guide), Dr. Bennett, and Dr. Hoenig.  My four classmates were sitting on a grate that was on top of the actual cab of the truck.  It looked extremely uncomfortable so I stayed down on the somewhat cushioned seats.

Dr. Hoenig and I looking out over the hippos in the pond

 Me spaying a dog

 Mike, Ani, me, Samwel, Dr. Bennet, and Dr. Hoenig on the safari

Mike and I hanging out by the pool at the resort

Dr. Bennett was demoted from board certified veterinary surgeon in the states to fluid pole on this particular day

This was from day 1 of surgery.  I was the anesthetist in this case and here I am checking the dog's jaw tone.  When a dog is sufficiently anesthetized, their jaw is pretty lax, when they start to get light, they begin to get more tone in their jaw

These are just a couple photos that show that I actually was involved in this trip.  Most of my photos didn't have me in it since I was taking them.  I enjoy looking back at them and remembering this awesome trip!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Today is my third day of neurology.  And it's been quite a week already!  I had an appointment Monday that was real easy, a cocker spaniel who had been on medication for seizures but who hadn't had a seizure for two years so we told the owner to stop the medication and see what happens.  That afternoon a dachshund came into ER with a painful back and unable to use his hind legs after falling on his back while trying to get up on the bed.  ER called for a neurology consult so we checked him out and felt like he had probably slipped a disc in his back.  At this point, it was decided that neurology would take over the case and I ended up with him as my patient.  We did a CT scan and it showed, that between his 11th and 12 thoracic vertebra a disc had ruptured and its contents were putting pressure on his spinal cord, thus making it so that he could not walk.  We went into surgery almost immediately (about 5PM Monday evening) and removed a little bit of bone and scooped out the material that was compressing the spinal cord.  However, he actually got a little worse after surgery in that he was no longer able to feel pain in his legs which he had been able to do before surgery.  After a day of not being able to feel pain, we ran another CT scan which showed that a large amount of blood had pooled at the surgery site and was compressing the spinal cord again.  So, within an hour or so, I will be going back into surgery with the dog (and the neurologist) and we will be re-opening his back and removing the blood to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord.  It should be an interesting surgery however it's too bad for the dog that we have to open up his back again.  We have had three surgeries already for slipped discs in dogs in the past three days.  It's been keeping us quite busy here in neurology!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I just got back yesterday from Africa and I have a ton of pictures and a lot of things to say so this is going to be one looooong post. Here goes:

We left Friday June 13th at 605AM, flying from Chicago to JFK in New York (2 hours).  Then we flew off to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (12 1/2 hours) before flying the last leg to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (5 1/2 hours) arriving around 3pm Saturday afternoon..  Once there, we took a cab from the airport to Tiffany Diamond Hotel in Dar es Salaam for the night.  It was here that we met up with Drs. Hoenig and Avery and had dinner with them Saturday evening.  Here are the pictures from that day:

Flying into Dubai, you can see the world's tallest building in this photo

I thought it was really neat how it was so much desert below when flying into Dubai

Starbucks coffee but written in Arabic (or some language like that)

Safely landed in Dar es Salaam, this is the airport

Our room in Dar es Salaam

The view from our room

Sunday morning after breakfast we drove the four hours or so to Morogoro, where we would be spending our first week.  We stayed at the Arc Hotel there for five nights.  

Our ride

The next few photos are some that I took while driving from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro

Police station

Entrance to the Arc Hotel

View from the balcony off of our room

 Lobby of the hotel

Once we got there, us five students decided to take a little walk along the road that the hotel was on

Soccer field near our hotel

A young man named Shadrach had a lot of neat things that we could buy just outside the front doors to the hotel.  Needless to say, he had a lot of business from us

Monday morning we actually had to drive two hours to the place that we were going to be doing our surgeries. The rest of the week it wasn't quite that long of a drive. We performed spays, castrations, and vaccinations/deworming for mostly dogs but did have a few cats come our way as well. 

The awesome view from our hotel in the morning

Each morning for the first week we stopped at the only vet school in Tanzania to pick up a few people and the supplies we needed.

Dr. Hoenig from our vet school is next to me and Dr. Bennett, the veterinary surgeon from Florida, is on the far right.  For students it is me, Ani, Mary, Mike, and Nicki

And here we are, welcome to our first surgery suite

They were waiting for us

This dog was one of a number of dogs that we saw that had TVT (transmissible venereal tumor).  It is a virus that is passed during mating that actually causes tumors to form on the genitals.  Dr. Bennett removed this one.

All done

The kids loved any interaction we gave them.  Here I am monitoring a dog that just got done with surgery as it wakes up.  Since it was down and quiet I let the kids use my stethoscope to listen to its heartbeat.  Most of the dogs we dealt with were not real used to people and some of them could be quite aggressive when we tried to give vaccines so we got good at giving them rapidly.

Saw this very large snail right outside our hotel

These are now pictures from Tuesday

Nicki waiting on a puppy to wake up from surgery

A fruit stand right near where we were doing surgeries

Mary and Peter playing in the sand



These little guys are recovering from surgery, normally you wouldn't be able to hold most of the dogs like this as they weren't that friendly

This dog's name was Saddam Hussein

So now I can say I have a picture of me and Saddam Hussein

This view never got old

Small animal surgery suite at the vet school, we took a short tour Wednesday after we were done.

Thursday and yet another picture of the view from our room

We worked right next to this church on Thursday

Many of the dogs had these wounds on their ears from the flies eating at their ears

Friday morning before surgeries we went and toured the Apopo detection rat training center.  It is here that rats are trained to detect land mines.  Once trained they are sent to countries like Cambodia where old land mines are still present.

The powder used in land mines is put in this egg.  When the rat correctly identifies a positive egg it is rewarded.

Rewarded with a banana in fact.

This millipede was found at the rat training facility.  There was also one that hung around near our room during the second week. They are quite large and really cool.

 Driving in Tanzania is crazy, almost reckless.  Here is are a couple pictures taken while we were stuck in traffic.

A couple more pictures taken while driving to our surgery area Friday

Friday's surgery area was way out on the side of a mountain, it took a lot of driving on extremely bumpy roads to get there.  We only did three spays but each one had complications so they all took awhile.

After our surgeries were done, we left Morogoro and headed to our hotel in Mikume.  Along the way you end up driving right through the middle of the national park which is home to a lot of wildlife.  These are pictures taken from the truck on the way to Mikume.

Saturday was our safari.  I took a ton of pictures, none of which bears much explanation so here they are:

Elephant skull

Hippo skull

Rhino skull


I thought these trees were neat

Juvenile male impalas fighting

Samwel was our tour guide, and a good one too!


Wildebeasts (and a giraffe butt)


Cape buffalo, they are supposedly very aggressive animals

A black-backed jackal

baby crocodile


Sunday we went hiking at Sanje Falls.  It was a very good workout and the falls and the view from the falls was amazing.

At the main area where you paid for your tour guide there were a ton of red colobus monkeys and baboons.  The baboons were essentially like squirrels in the US in that they were everywhere.

Red colobus monkeys


They loved our truck

At the base of the falls, seen in the last couple pictures, there was a pool of water coming from the falls.  Mike, Nicki, and I swam in it.  The water was freezing but like Nicki said, "How often do you get to swim in an African waterfall?"

On Monday of week 2 we worked right next to a school

On Tuesday we worked at an abandoned train station

On Monday, Ani had gotten bitten by some unknown bugs that made huge almost welt-like lesions on her face and arms.  Here she is hanging out icing them which ended up helping.  It was weird because she was the only one who got them, even though all five of us students and the two doctors were together all the time.

Wednesday was a very busy surgery day.  It was also the day that a puppy died in my arms most likely due to not being able to handle the anesthetic it was given. I was sitting with it after I castrated it and all the sudden I noticed that I couldn't hear the heart rate when I checked it.  I ended up doing CPR on it but it was too late.  It was the third of three dogs that died during our time in Tanzania.  

Here's a couple pictures of Tan-Swiss Lodge, our "home" for the second week


Friday was our last day of surgeries.  We actually went to two different spots.  The first one had a number of surgeries for us to do as well as many vaccinations.  Some of the dogs at this spot were actually used for hunting baboons. 

This cat was the only cat that I castrated.  Ani is watching it for me as it wakes up.

Warning: slightly gruesome pictures coming up
There were a couple dogs who had TVT at this spot as well.  This first one was removed by Dr. Muhairwa.

Dr. Muhairwa was our contact at the vet school in Tanzania.  He only came with us three out of the ten days. 

This next dog below also had TVT.  I asked Dr. Muhairwa if he wanted me to assist him to which he responded, "Do you want to do it?"  Of course I said yes so I got to learn how to remove TVT's thanks to him.  The poor dog was also getting spayed at the same time that I was learning how to remove her tumors.

In the afternoon we headed off to the second place of the day where we did one cat castration and vaccinated a number of dogs.  On the way we passed these rolling hills that I thought were really neat

Papaya tree

The light green vine in this picture is a passion fruit vine

As we were setting up, this passion fruit fell from the vine.  I opened it and ate it.  I am not a huge fan of passion fruit plain as it is quite sour and has a lot of seeds.

This is the entire crew after we were ready to leave: left ro right is me, Dr. Hoenig, James (the village official who brought us to our various spots during week 2), Anton (the technician who helped us every day), Nickson (a recent vet school graduate who helped us every day), Mike, Ani, Nicki, Dr. Muhairwa, Dr. Bennett, and Mary

 Just a few photos of our room in Mikume at Tan-Swiss Lodge

Friday night we stayed one last night in Mikume.  Then, Saturday we had a six hour drive back to Dar es Salaam where Drs. Hoenig and Bennett began their journey back to the states while us five students spent the night back at the Tiffany Diamond Hotel in Dar es Salaam.  Sunday morning we got up and, after breakfast, headed for the ferry to take us to Zanzibar.  We started walking down a ramp where we thought we were supposed to go when a couple guys came running up behind us, telling us we were going the wrong way and that ferry tickets were the opposite way.  They said they would bring us to get tickets.  Well, they ended up bringing us to some little shack thing and said we needed to go into the shack to get tickets.  After a little discussion Mary entered the shack.  I was a little wary as it seemed a little weird that no one else was there buying tickets or anything so I stepped in front of the door in case they tried to close the door with Mary inside by herself.  My classmates behind me were talking to another couple of the men, and based on their responses to my classmates questions, we ended up leaving. Just a little bit down the road from the shack was the legitimate ferry ticket office.  I'm not sure if it was a scam or what exactly it was, but we were all glad we didn't go any further with those random men.  Once we had our tickets we began boarding the ferry. The people getting on the ferry had absolutely no manners, pushing, shoving, and cutting in front of you in line whenever they could.  At one point, a man told his kid to cut in front of us at which point Nicki stuck out her arm and said, No way thereby blocking the kid from cutting us.  It was really crazy.  The ferry ride was fine, pretty relaxing.  Here's a couple pics from our ferry ride from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar.

Upon arriving at the port at Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar, we took a 45 minute taxi ride to Ocean Paradise Resort.  What we saw upon entering amazed us all.  It was much nicer than we even imagined!  In this first picture, looking out from the reception area, you can see the pool off to the right in the picture and then the Indian Ocean straight ahead.

These little birds are basket weavers.  They had built a number of nests in a few of the plants near the reception area

The pool was the largest pool I've ever seen. It even had a swim-up bar in it so you could swim up, sit on a seat in the pool at the bar and have a beverage.

The girls' first taste of the Indian Ocean.  It was delightfully warm.

In this picture you can see that there is a fence separating the chairs from the ocean.  There are a number of locals and Masai (a semi-nomadic tribe) people who have shops on the beach.  When you are on the ocean side of the fence, you are fair game for them to come up to and man oh man, they sure do come up to you.  It was kind of a pain really, they would come up all the time and want to sell you something or have you come to their shop.  They would also want to bring you on a jet ski, or bring you out to the reef when the tide was out, all for money.  The worst part of it was that sometimes, if you were just walking out to the reef yourself, they would just join you, point out a few things, and then at the end expect to be payed.  I told them at one point that if they wanted to be payed they needed to ask me ahead of time if I even wanted them with me, don't just join me and then expect me to pay you.  

The dinners at the resort were great.  They were buffet-style which is always a plus!  The first night was Italian night.  There was a lot of great pastas and other Italian foods.  I took a few pictures that night just to show the amount of food that was available.

The dessert bar on the left and fruit bar on the right.  The pineapple, papaya, mango, lychee fruit, bananas, etc were absolutely delicious. 

Main courses.  Just to the right of the picture was where you could pick your sauce and noodles and they would mix it up and heat it in a skillet for you


Sunday night, the resort had booked some of the guys from the group of Masai that live nearby to perform some of their traditional songs and dances for us.

The Masai are extremely good jumpers

Here are some pictures of Ani playing soccer with some of the locals and Masai boys.  You rarely saw local or Masai girls out on the beach

Thought this picture turned out cool

On Monday, Mike and I walked out to the reef.  It didn't take long for us to be joined by not one, not two, but three locals.  It was good that they were with us though because they could point out animals that we wouldn't have been able to see without them.

A sponge

Sea urchin

Looking back towards shore

A large sea urchin that apparently is poisonous

Sea cucumber

Some of the people actually farm seaweed so when the tide is out they go out and tend to their seaweed "pastures"


There were a ton of sea urchins so you had to be real careful where you stepped because you would be in a lot of pain if you stepped on one since their spikes are very hard


Looking back towards shore from the reef

We did befriend a few of the Masai guys, although they still kept telling us, "come to my shop."  The thing was all of their shops had pretty much the same stuff in them.

Mary bought this painting from Daniel.  He was a very nice, not pushy Masai guy

We will have to start calling him Masai Mike!

Some of the shops along the beach

I bought a drink from the resort that consisted of straight coconut juice.  They literally opened the very top of the coconut and inserted a straw.  It was okay, I wouldn't pay big money to get another one.

On Tuesday, Ani and I went back out to the reef because on Monday we weren't able to get to the starfish pool because the tide was coming back in already.

A sponge.  You will notice that this one is purple, sponges are able to spit out ink and this one was very actively spitting it out which got our hands all purple

Sea urchin

Sea cucumber

Another sea urchin


Sea spiders.  There were a bunch more on my left arm but that didn't quite make it into the picture

 Starfish pool.  When the water leaves the reef as the tide goes out, there are various small areas where the water stays.  In this one particular spot, there are a number of large starfish that reside here.

Looking back towards shore

That is the last of my pictures.  Monday night dinner was Swahili night and Tuesday night was Ocean Night. I wasn't super excited about Ocean Night since I'm not very big on seafood but they did luckily have some non-seafood items.  I did, however, try a new seafood that I had never had and actually didn't mind it: octopus.  It is very chewy and it's kind of weird because you can see the little "suckers" on the bottom of its legs as you put them into your mouth.  Wednesday morning we took a taxi at 815AM back to Stone Town.  There we bought our ferry tickets, again having to fend off would be line cutters, and got on the ferry which brought us back to Dar es Salaam.  We caught a taxi (not that hard when every other person there asks if you need a taxi) from the ferry station to the airport.  We flew from Dar es Salaam to Dubai again (5 hours) where we spent a very not-restful night in the airport.  9 1/2 hours later we boarded the plane and flew to Milan, Italy (6 1/2 hours) where we got off the plane, hung out for an hour and a half or so and then got back on the same plane for our 8 1/4 hour flight to New York where we landed around 630PM.  Upon landing in New York we found out that our New York to Chicago flight had been cancelled and the earliest flight they could give us was Saturday morning.  So, we decided to rent a car (we got one of the last ones available as everyone was renting cars due to the large amount of flights being cancelled) and left New York at 1130PM and arrived in Chicago at 12PM the next day.  By the time I finally got to Urbana, it was 330PM, meaning that I had been in traveling mode for about 63 hours!  Let's just say it was good to be done traveling!