Monday, January 26, 2009

the bug abates

So I made it to class today, and made it through most of the day. It seemed to go okay, although my stomach is still grumbly, and my intestines still cramp every now and again, and I still feel slightly nauseous pretty much all the time, but it seems to be getting much better. We have one class this afternoon which I haven't decided whether I'll make it to yet cause my stomach is getting grumbly again (it always seems to get worse in the afternoon). I'm so tired that I don't think there would be any point in going, especially because I missed the first part of the lecture that happened last week, so I'm thinking I'll nap and recover a bit more, and get some studying done when my stomach calms down. Tomorrow we've got an even longer day, so it's more important that I'm healthier tomorrow.

It actually surprised my how many of my classmates are sick. I know a number of people who had this bug the week before I did, and at least 4 or 5 people who have it now as well. Everyone's walking through class asking each other "how are you feeling?" constantly. Clearly we vet students need to work on the whole hand-washing bit.

So now on to happier things. Last night was Burns Night, which is a holiday in Scotland, celebrating Robert Burns, the great writer/poet. Despite the stomach bug (although I was actually feeling more okay last night than I am even now), and because my idols the Red Hot Chili Pipers were playing, my flatmates Miriam, Emily and I went to Glasgow for the "Burns Illuminated" festival. I've been trying to be more social with my flatmates this semester, which so far is going well. We left the flat as late as we could to get to Glasgow in time for the Pipers, who according to their website were going on at 6:30, and even after missing our train, we still managed to get there while the choir was still going. I was so excited to get there before they came on, because when we missed the 5:30 train, we had to get one a half an hour later, which meant we would get to Glasgow at around 6:50. When I found out they hadn't started yet, I got extremely excited, and I'm pretty sure the people around me were wondering what I was freaking out about.
As we got there the choir was finishing up, as was the light show, which they project onto the City Chambers building. Very pretty.
The Chili Pipers emerge in all of their awesomeness!
"Smoke on the Water - Thunderstruck - Upside down at Eden Court" medley, which is my favorite of all of the songs they do. Their fingers really fly over the pipes!
They were amaaaazing. I wish they had played more songs, but then again the festival wasn't really about them. Their energy was infectious, and had the whole crowd (even ones who didn't look like they knew who the RHCPs were) boucing and dancing. The most I could do was bob in place out of fear of upsetting my stomach, but on the inside I was jumping up and down and screaming. They played most of my favorite songs from the album, namely O, Flower of Scotland, the Hills of Argyl, and their amazing version of We Will Rock You/Eye of the Tiger. They also played a Burn's tune I didn't know, but other people seemed to know the words and sang along. They really are a great band to watch, cause it's so evident how much talent and control they need to play those bagpipes at that speed while running around stage.

There were some other acts too, some Scottish pop star (Michelle McMannus, I think, she was really good!), accompanied by some attractive men with guitars (the Fortunate Sons - check them out, they're awesome!) :) They sang some K.T. Tungstall, Johnny Cash, and Ray Charles, along with some more Scottish songs, and then the Fortunate Sons played a song by themselves (a Robert Burns tune), and then the whole thing ended with choreographed fireworks (set to some popular tunes) and some audience sing-a-longs which had the whole place singing ("Ye'll take the high road and / I'll take the low road / and I'll be in Scotland afore ye; / But me and my true love / will never meet again / on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond")
Michelle McMannus and the Fortunate Sons
The Fireworks!
More fireworks! For such a small-scale thing they were quite good!
Afterward I tried to get to meet the RHCPs, but once they took off their bright red kilts (cause it was freeeezing!) I couldn't tell who they were, cause they were interspersed with the crew, and I don't know them that well, yet. But I did speak briefly to the Fortunate Sons in the process, and they seemed really nice. Because of the cold we decided not to stick around and be total groupies. I figure I'll be going to an actual concert of theirs at some point, so maybe I'll try to meet them then. :)
We got a nice Scottish lady to take our picture in front of the Burns Statue.
Anyway, so after the people cleared out it started getting even colder, so Emily, Miriam and I walked around for a bit, looking for a cafe or something, but it seems nothing except bars and kebab shops were open, neither of which would be ideal for the state my stomach is in. So we went to the train station early, got apple ciders at a little stand there right before it closed, and hopped an earlier train home. When we got back to Edinburgh I insisted upon getting a cab, cause my stomach was hurting and it would be a cheap ride, so after a cab ride that was surely quicker, warmer and better than walking, we arrived back home and I went straight to bed before 11:30!

So, despite a horrible and depressing, sick and homesick week, it ended on a really really high note. And while I'm not sure standing out in the freezing cold last night did any favours for my health, it did wonders for my soul, which makes it completely worth it in my book.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Saga of the Stomach Bug

So this week has been surprisingly unfun. Not only was it the hardest, busiest week of classes we've had so far, but I missed ALL of it because of the stomach bug that's apparently been making its way around our class and around uni. Ick. I tried to make it to a practical on Wednesday, but ended up having to leave and sit in the "first aid chair" outside for the rest of the period.

Note to self: smell of formalin + upset stomach = bad news

Today I have been feeling better overall, in the sense that I have been to the doctor, and made it all the way there and back without dying. I had to sleep for about 2 hours after I got back to recupperate, but I made it. Mostly it's just the stairs at the end, they're horrible when you're ill! Anyway, so the doctor told me basically to keep resting and drinking fluids, and if I was still ill on Monday I should come see him again. Which of course means I would have to miss another day of class, but at least then I'd be probably given something to aid in my recovery. They're not big on drugs here.

Anyway on the way home I stopped at Sainsbury's and got some essentials, like PowerAde to keep me hydrated, grapes, oatmeal, and bananas, which all seem like fairly innocuous foods that I can keep down. The PowerAde immediately helped. I drank one and my headache went away, and I'm feeling much less nauseous. Woot.

I've heard from others in our class that this week was unfun in terms of classes too, but that doesn't mean I'm any less responsible for learning it all, which means once I get better it's going to be lots of catchup. I've so far been unable to concentrate on anything long enough to study, and end up just staring at the page for an hour before giving up. I'm thinking if I just hold off till I'm well it'll be much more productive, and for now I'll attempt to enjoy my enforced laziness. My Wii is all set up, but even that I haven't been able to stick with for very long without getting bored. Blah.

Maybe it's cause I'm sick, but I've also been feeling really homesick lately. Probably because whenever I was sick I'd always sit on the couch in the family room watching tv and my parents would keep me company and help me feel better and cook me delicious wholesome food that was sure to make me feel better. I miss being a kid, and thinking it was the greatest thing ever to miss a week of school, especially because it was so easy to make up the work. I love it here, but I constantly feel like there is no possible way I can ever learn the amount of material I'm expected to know, and I'm not used to "squeaking by," I'm used to excelling without really trying all that hard, and it's kind of a harsh reality that I can't do that anymore. Also, I love my friends here, but I miss the familiarity of home and the friends I went to college with, who know me better than I know myself, and I feel like I'm losing them because I never get to talk to them with the time difference. And most of all, I miss my mom. I know it's childish, but the only thing I really really need right now is a hug from my mom, and I'll never ever get that again, and it really really sucks...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby Coos!

Back again!

So this week has had exciting things so far. We have started the semester off with a barrage of classes, looking only to get more hectic as time goes on.

I returned to the 'Burgh on Saturday morning, and managed to lug my heavy suitcases up the multitude of steps, collapsed on my bed in my room and slept until around 5pm that evening, then got up for dinner, and just hung out until 11 when I promptly went to bed. Oddly enough, that seemed the right thing to do, because I experienced very little jet lag, and I couldn't even sleep past 10am the next morning. I went to brunch with Jeni at Cafe Grande, and then enjoyed the rest of the day just hanging out.

I also met my new flatmate, Emily, who is also from America (Utah!). It's a bit weird having a new flatmate, but she's quite nice, and it'll be nice to have another American around.

Anyhoo, so Monday classes began again with 3 classes on neuroanatomy, and another 2 on Tuesday. It was mostly basics, but still a useful review.

On Monday evening my section of the class had a practical about dairy calf husbandry, so we trekked out to Langhill farm to visit the newborn calves. They are ADORABLE. I wish I could be a baby calf vet and avoid the large cows altogether, but alas. The big ones were even beginning to grow on me, but perhaps that's because I was feeling benevolent towards them for producing such cute little animals. We were unfortunately not allowed to bring our cameras due to the risk of bringing home cryptosporidiosis spores (which is a nasty parasite that will leave you with severe diarrhea if you contract it). I imagine that at some point in my career I will come down with this, but hey as long as I can put it off I will.

But to make up for my lack of camera, I have collected, from various places around the internet (meaning these photos are NOT mine), some pictures of the cute furries that somewhat approximate what we saw at Langhill. Enjoy:
Mother and newborn
A bebe learning to stand.
A holstein calf sleeping after the trauma of birth
Baby cows are very inquisitive
Anyway, so those are some pictures of cuties. We mostly saw Holstein-Fresians, which are the usual dairy cow breed, but there was one Belgian Blue cross that was really cute too. What we did was learn about how to treat them when they're born, such as how to treat their naval and how much colostrum to give them (colostrum is the "first milk" the mother produces, which has extra nourishment; antibodies, because calves are born with no immunity of their own; and also stimulates the calf's first bowel movement). Then we learned how to hold them, halter them, restrain them for things like ear tagging, vaccinations, castration, and de-budding (removing the horn buds). It was very fun, and we enjoyed watching the calves frolicking around with each other in the pens, learning to use their legs and wobbling around. But it was also veeery cold, so I was all too happy to get back and enjoy a nice hot shower.

On Wednesday we had a few classes on pain, and another two looking at the "special sense organs," which include the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. We learned about how animals hear and see and everything. These classes were probably the most interesting so far, at least in my opinion. Wednesday afternoon we had off, so I went to my friend Kyle's to watch some old school Dr. Who, then went out to a pub for some bangers and mash (made of venison! yummy yummy!) and a Guinness.

Today we had classes on male genitalia all day, which put our class's maturity level to the test. The first teacher we had was a woman, so it seemed that our class would make it through with a minimum of giggling, but our teacher for the last class, which was on how to test a stallion (male horse) for breeding quality, was a guy, who kept cracking jokes the whole time about the various mechanisms used to get the stallion to "go," and he had us all in hysterics. For the sake of my younger readers, and for everyone else, I'll not put in what he said or joked about, but suffice it to say it was pretty hilarious.

Lastly we had a practical on spermatozoa, so we were looking at the things under a microscope all evening. It wasn't all that interesting, because all of us know what the little buggers look like by now, as that's covered in biology in most highschools. But we did learn how to assess their motility, and how to calculate a sperm count and things like that, which are important for determining breeding soundness in livestock animals (or dog breeders, for example).

So the last activity of the day was the unveiling of last semester's grades (insert scary music here). I wont tell you what I got, because it's none of anyone's business, but suffice it to say that I don't have to resit it, and I'm in good standing to pass at the end of the year. Yay!

Now, I am off to study, and start the semester off right!