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Catching up! - Catherine Fischer [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Catherine Fischer

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Catching up! [Aug. 1st, 2004|02:04 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |busybusy]
[music |Soiridh Leis, by Baka Beyond, from The Journey Between]

OK, deep breath…I’m in the pause right before finals, and so much has happened in my life I only have time for a brief summary! Here it comes (cue Godzilla monster movie noises)…

First and foremost, to all of you who have waited patiently, sent me your courage and well-wishes: IT IS BENIGN. A fibroadenoma. Of course, the radiologist/ultrasonographer turned me into a human pincushion in the process of obtaining the biopsy…my poor right breast is still deeply bruised, discolored. Ouchie. I brought slides to the veterinary clinical pathologist on campus, in addition to submitting them to the human clinical pathologist in Basseterre – he confirmed it. And I was able to finally heave a great sigh of relief and move on!

Dengue fever (“Breakbone fever”) has reared its ugly head once again – it’s been a wet year, and the mosquito population has been out of control. Two of my classmates contracted it – said that the only thing they were able to do was take the pain meds and anti-inflammatories and pass out, and the undulant fever has lasted almost a month. I am so immensely grateful that mosquitoes generally don’t like me! Must leave a bad taste in their mouths…

My last live animal surgery lab was the spay/neuter clinic – I spayed a classmate’s kitten (NO PRESSURE!). Cecilia (yes, I had the song stuck in my head for a couple of weeks) was BARELY over the 2 kg minimum weight cutoff, which was scary…scarier still when she blew every vein, as we were attempting to catheterize her. Stephanie, my surgery partner, stuck her twice – actually got the catheter in the second time, then little miss thang wiggled and the vein blew. At this point, our board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Bonnie Wright, took over – and still the hematomas kept forming, practically immediately. We stuck her 20 times – no exaggeration. Finally, down to the very last port, we put in a jugular catheter which held for the duration of surgery. Whew! Then it was over to me: I was the primary surgeon. And while the prep time had taken over an hour, the surgery took 45 minutes – it went seamlessly, and I knew the surgery perfectly. It was exhilarating – victory! Of course, little miss thang woke up very quickly, and woke up as cats are wont to do: ready to eat the world. GRRRRRRROWWWWWWL HISS! Pulled out her catheter instantly, and formed – you guessed it – a massive hematoma on her neck, because she wouldn’t let us put a pressure bandage on it. But Gia, her mom (my classmate), was so grateful everything went well that she cried, which felt great. I had put in an intradermal suture, as I worried about Gia keeping Cecilia in an E-collar – sure enough, the single simple interrupted suture I put in was pulled out immediately. Glad I did the intradermal, which has no external knot, and dissolves on its own as the wound heals! Cecilia healed up quickly, and is romping like a monster with all her new toys. Yay! I’m planning on making a tiny trophy with the words “hematoma queen” on it for Gia.

Then, week before last, I finally got to do the cadaver lab – I of course chose the most demanding surgery (ambitious bitch that I am – the night before the lab I was ready to kick myself). I was primary surgeon on the femoral head ostectomy (FHO) – this is a salvage procedure performed to correct for egregious arthritis in the hips or trauma to the hip joint when the animal is lame from the pain and either the client cannot afford a total hip replacement (and other surgeries aren’t indicated) or the animal is small enough that it would do well on a simple scar joint. The surgical approach to the hip is complex – there are a lot of muscles that cross the hip, which hold it in the socket, and each of which had to be incised or carefully retracted in order to reach the joint capsule. I went over and over the anatomy, but still felt nervous when I entered the lab…I suppose that was only natural, considering how intimidated I’ve been by this class, by this professor. But it went great! I got through the skin, had to do a lot of undermining to get through all the fat this dog had over the hip, but then…there was the anatomy, just exactly the way it looked in the books! I was really excited, and was identifying the circumflex femoral vessels (my landmark for the junction between the femoral head and the acetabular cup – the socket) just as Dr. Spackman walked up. “Very good,” she said. “They’re very clear in this dog.” And walked off. What a lovely change to have her walk up as I was experiencing a victory, instead of a problem! My lab partners did great on their surgeries, too – Elise did an extracapsular repair of the cranial cruciate ligament (the ligament that always blows in the knee of larger-breed dogs and human football players), and Stephanie did a vertical ear canal resection (for ears that have been so continuously infected they’ve become overgrown with nasty lumpy skin – saves the dog future ear infections, which cause misery…and frequently deafness). My grade, as usual, was conservative – Spackman doesn’t award points easily in those labs. But I was mostly satisfied, and felt great about the learning experience. Last week we got to practice repairing fractures with a plastic bone set – I love orthopedics. It was really fun.

My relationship with Brent is endlessly amazing, and progressing astonishingly quickly. My head is still spinning…gods, he’s good for me. We share so many passions – music, art, literature, biology, travel, adventure, veterinary medicine, and all the myriad wonders of the world – there isn’t enough time every evening, when our work is done, to discuss it all…I haven’t slept properly in a month. I am lulled to sleep in his arms every night by the shush of the sea, and wake to sunrise over the Atlantic ocean, streaming in his window. Life is so full of joy, so full of beauty…and endless romance, the kind I’ve dreamed of for decades and never found. In fact, some of the very things I’ve always daydreamed someone would say or do have been the things Brent has dreamed of saying or doing for years…and does. He takes my breath away. I’ve written up particulars in a separate entry, but am not ready to release it…yet. I am listening to my instincts, and they’re crowing in victory. Everyone on campus has approached him to tell him to take good care of me. This astounds me. Delights me. I never would have guessed I had so many well-wishers. Everyone on campus has approached me to tell me what a wonderful person Brent is. This surprises me not at all, but has really surprised him. Suddenly, I feel surrounded by family. I am not looking forward to leaving in December.

Dave’s visit has been a hell of a journey, too – so much going on in my newly re-established life that I’ve hardly had any time for study, which will kill me next week in finals. Oh well – I think I’m done with the overachievers club. I would like a more well-rounded existence again. The first weekend Dave was here, the 6th semesters put on the scavenger hunt for the 7th semesters – this is an unofficial Ross tradition, and involves a whole lot of wildness, drinking, and stupidity. I will be putting up photos on my downloads page! Lordy, the things we made them do…at least it wasn’t OUR station where they had to ejaculate a dog! (Heh – vet student humor. Yes, we will need to be able to do this in clinics!) We just made them crawl through an obstacle course in the sand after swimming out to a buoy in the sea, drinking heavily and getting coated in vegetable oil, then took incriminating photos! Dave had a great time, and took a million photos, but got pretty sunburned…took him a few days to feel like going back out in the sun. Poor Dave…6th semester is a really demanding one, and he mostly ended up sitting in my classes with me, wandering around campus, or taking care of my apartment for me – which he did generously and graciously. He came to the awards ceremony and End of Semester Party (EOSP) with Brent and I – must have felt like a third wheel, despite any efforts I made to the contrary. And then he ended up waiting for me to take him back home to the apartment after he tired out – Brent, as a member of the Student Government Association, had the 1-2 a.m. shift watching the door. The timing was doubly rotten – not just in the lead-up to final exams, but in the initial throes of new love…I wouldn’t have chosen such, especially not with his current emotional landscape being what it is. But we all of us made the best of it…which has mostly left me feeling like I was neither a good girlfriend to Brent, a good student for myself, nor a particularly supportive friend to either Dave or Dana, who’s gotten entirely neglected for weeks. Unsatisfying! I also discovered that trying to integrate someone from my past life into my veterinary medicine-saturated life down here is VERY difficult – I mean, I eat, sleep, drink, BREATHE medicine (and school politics) down here…my life is fully-formed. When I travel to the States, I’m able to pick up the threads of where I left off, mostly, but down here is a very different story. Dave got a taste of what my life is like (although he never really saw me buckle down and get any work done – I’ve been BAD this semester, and with everything else going on, studies ended up getting the short stick). I think he understood, but it wasn’t the visit either of us was envisioning, I think. More on this later.

My phone line has been down for a week (after the lightning storm). I need to get the paper produced this weekend (i.e. today). Urk. My email program won’t send email out over Brent’s cable connection. Still haven’t figured out why, yet. Can’t switch DSL to this house until I’m in residence, as switching DSL entails switching the entire phone line (yes, it’s a St. Kitts thing). Am experiencing technical difficulty! Feh.

Brent’s cat Buster is being slowly deprived of the out-of-doors. At first, we just started locking him either in or out at night, after Buster dropped the 4th or 5th live mouse on us in bed. (“I think there’s a mouse in the bed,” Brent tells me at 3 a.m., one morning early in the course of our relationship. I have slept for half an hour at this point. “Why in the world would you think that, Brent?” I ask him. “Because I think Buster just dropped it on me,” he says. Then pulls back the covers, exposing the mouse, which instantly runs right over me. I screamed like a grandma. Nasty little beast soiled all kinds of things before we caught it and flung it over the balcony the next morning.) One evening during the course of the rodent rodeo, I had put the effort in to make Brent a nice dinner, which we were enjoying immensely. “Mmmm,” Brent says, smiling at me. I smile back. “Is that a rat?” I ask, nonchalantly. He looks. The rat (closely pursued by Buster) runs under the stove. “Yes, I believe it is,” Brent answers me. We put our forks down. Brent pulls out the stove. Neither of us thinks to close the bedroom door. Guess where the rat runs, as soon as the stove is pulled out! We run after it, making dismayed noises; Buster, filled with glee, joins us. We chase the rat into the closet, at which point it just…disappears. 45 minutes of searching later, I apologize to Brent – I have to study for my exam the next day. “Buster, you’re killing me!” he says. He starts searching everything stored under the bed, moving all the stuff on the bookshelves, shaking down all the clothes in the closet. I feel bad as I close the door on him. Half an hour later, Brent comes out of the bedroom with a box. Shakes it. Something goes “thump thump” inside. “On top of the closet,” he says. “It CLIMBED.” We both shudder. Brent goes outside to dump it over the wall. Thank the gods neither of us has died from Hantavirus. Pet rodents: very cute, if wretchedly smelly. Wild rodents: filthy vermin that contaminate everything they can get into. Poor Leonie just had to take everything out of the shed because mice chewed through the wire screens and got in – ruined everything. Brent and I have gotten good at the “rodent fling” – grab the offending rodent by the tail, wind up, and fling over the balcony. Tell the obscenely smug cat to bugger off. I think the decision to make Buster an indoor cat again (or lock him out during daylight, in at night) was made easier for Brent after Buster the Destroyer brought in the TWO baby birds (we watched the little bastard climb the tree where the nest was and bring the whole thing down). They could fly, but couldn’t yet perch. The desperate parent kept flying around where the nest lay, destroyed…it was awful. They were bananaquits, too – one of my favorite little birds down here. We’ll have to chicken-wire the screens when I move Dante and Lucien in here in August, to keep Buster from chewing out more screens and letting the Boys outside. Joy.

Last week, driving to school from Brent’s, a 3-car accident happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Thankfully, I had left enough following distance, and was able to stop without slamming on the brakes. Someone was turning into Mattingley Heights, where I was about to go, to feed my cats; they didn’t see the car in the opposing lane, driving WAY too fast. BANG! The driver who was speeding egregiously opened the door, bleeding, then fell out of the car, unconscious. In the other car, a small child was wailing (broken leg, I heard later). They don’t have seatbelt laws here. I had to beg all the cow-like onlookers to move their cars so I could get into Mattingley Heights to use the phone to call the police/ambulance. They weren’t offering to help, weren’t trying to leave the area, weren’t doing anything but rubbernecking. Human tendencies really frustrate me! I heard later that everyone was injured, but lived. I’m really glad. Still, it’s probably too much to hope to think that the speeder will slow down, or the woman with the child will be more careful with seatbelts…the driving down here is the worst I have ever, ever seen.

Last night was the 7th semester banquet – a big party the outbound semester throws, and invites their friends to celebrate with them. This was my original class. I cannot believe I won’t be following in their footsteps around campus! (I can’t believe I’ll be in 7th semester!) I watched the slide show, remembering these people in 1st and 2nd semester, seeing how much they’ve changed, how there are fewer of them now (my class has inherited a bunch of them, and some of them are gone entirely), thinking of my own slide show next semester, the images I have of classmates, and they have of me. So much to say, to try to sum up the complex process of growth we’ve all undergone here…the complex relationships we’ve all developed with each other, half-unwilling family, half friends through hell and high water, bickering siblings, a few couples that have found each other and will remain together (several marriages have come out of the group), understanding in the face of an overwhelming and inexplicable life-altering experience, support and succor, competitors and colleagues. A picture is worth a thousand words…I’ll have to choose my images carefully. I have a lot to say to these people.
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Comments:
From: countmockula
2004-08-01 10:30 pm (UTC)

Cats

So, Lucien and Dante are such grown-up boys that they're moving on their own? Or did you just indicate that you're moving in with Brent? 'Cause that kinda slipped by real quick-like . . .
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[User Picture]From: copper9lives
2004-08-02 04:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Cats

Well, I should've known better than to try to put anything over on you! Uh, yeah... kinda let that slip, didn't I? Something about being sung to sleep every night by the sea, and woken to dawn over the ocean (not to mention being treated like a queen every waking moment I spend with Brent) makes me not want to be in that tiny, cramped, dark, cave-like apartment anymore. Brent's current housemate is moving out (she's finished here), and I'm over here ALL THE TIME anyhow, and my poor boys aren't seeing a heck of a lot of me -- just at feeding times. It just made sense, and everything lined up perfectly... opportunity, waiting for me to notice. I noticed. And couldn't resist. (And Brent was only too happy to twist my arm.)

I'm trying really hard not to look at my life logically right now. Alarm bells should be screaming all over my logical mind. INSTINCT, however, is lit up bright enough to be seen from space: THIS IS THE PLACE. YOU HAVE ARRIVED. My logical mind talked me into overlooking the difficulties that eventually killed my marriage, months before my wedding, assuming that two logical people could work out such trivial difficulties as diametrically opposed life-views. My instincts harbored deep (and fiercely repressed) doubts. Kevin spent no time whatsoever thinking about it, unless I brought it up, but his scorn of my most deeply-held beliefs scarred me. This relationship is a very different beast, quite a bit more mutual, and has inspired more confidence than I have possessed (in myself, in my decisions) in a very, very long time. Possibly ever. The tide moves. I move with it. And it has been unspeakably good.

I'm moving in 3 weeks.
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