I’ve said before that while I do love veterinary school and want to be a veterinarian, I’ve usually considered it my “day job.” For the first three or so years of veterinary school my real passion was writing, and that is what I spent most of my time outside of class on. During my first year of veterinary school I formed a writing crew, taught myself how to write scripts, learned about the television writing industry, and tried to revive one of my biggest sources of inspiration growing up, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
It deserved it.
After that proposal was rejected, I spent my second year at veterinary school preparing a new show: Continuum (now entitled The Ripple Effect). My writing partner Ed and I spent months outlining a pilot episode, writing said script, coming up with a season plan, and trying to find someone to pick the show up. That didn’t really work either.
During year three, I started turning The Ripple Effect into a novel. Each of the thirteen planned episodes was essentially turned into a chapter, and I tried to spend each Sunday writing one of these chapters. I of course got distracted and busy some weeks, but I’ve managed to get 10 chapters and 65,000 words finished.
I took a few weeks off from writing for my first vacation during my clinical rotations in vet school. I figured I would quickly wrap up my novel’s last three chapters and epilogue when I got back. Unfortunately, three things prevented this from happening.
The first is that writing is a perishable skill and it is very hard to get back in the groove when you take a long step away from it. I’ve tried to write my next chapter a handful of times since coming back to school a month ago and it’s always been a disaster.
The second issue is that after working 55 + hour weeks, it’s hard to do any work outside of school. I just want to relax with my friends and watch bad movies.
The final issue is that I’ve fallen back in love with veterinary medicine. I certainly never (completely) hated vet school during my first three years, and there were short stretches where I would push the writing aside and focus solely on learning how to heal animals, but for the most part it was my secondary focus. But ever since my vacation ended a month ago, I’ve become obsessed with vet med.
I’ve already written about why I loved Primary Care (my first rotation after vacation) so much. Last week I switched over to my six week large animal rotation. Here at MSU our large animal rotation is divided into three separate 2-week subrotations: Internal Medicine, Surgery, and whatever the official name is for working at a dairy farm.
Also known as the “covered in cow poop” rotation.
I thought I would hate this rotation. I’ve always been solely interested in small animals. Aside from ponies at a petting zoo, I never even saw a live horse until vet school.
Wait, those things are real? I thought they mythical were like unicorns or centaurs!
My first day on large animal sucked because I spent the whole time worrying and being negative. Plus, whenever I’m threatened with getting a case (i.e. actually getting the opportunity to learn and practice medicine), I worry about all the paperwork that goes along with it. It makes me not want to do anything. But on Tuesday I tried to go in with a new attitude and make the best of things. I ended up meeting the nicest horse in the world (I’ll call her Princess) who showed me equines aren’t so bad.
She presented for colic and being too adorable.
When we weren’t learning things in rounds, my friend Danielle and I spent most of our day braiding Princess’ hair, brushing her, and walking her around so she could eat some grass. Princess in turn spent her day struggling to eat as much grass as she could, nuzzling against me, and staring deeply into my eyes. When Princess was finally deemed healthy enough to go home, it took five people to shove her onto her trailer because (I assume) she didn’t want to leave us.
I’d assumed that working in the large animal clinic meant getting pooped on, dealing with insane horse owners…
We’re going to call horses’ wrists their knees because we have to be different!
…feeling like an idiot for not knowing anything about horses, and getting kicked to death. Instead, I got to work with two veterinarians who love teaching and helped me learn about equine medicine. I dealt with a ton of different animals, including a potbellied pig who ate a dog bed, a colicy llama, a newborn cria, and a bunch of different horses. I quickly realized that most of my basic vet school knowledge applied to both large and small animals, so I was able to rather easily understand the different diseases I was working with. And best of all, like on Primary Care, I was treated like a burgeoning doctor. I came up with treatment plans, administered medications, got to analyze radiographs, and was even allowed to euthanize my patient myself.
The best day of the week was on Friday. I started the morning by giving my patient his usual treatments, then I discovered that his owners decided to euthanize him. As I said above, the doctor let me do the procedure myself. Soon after, the clinic got a call that a down foal was coming in. We didn’t know what to expect, so we had a crash cart and triage area set up.
In reality, the foal was able to walk in itself and we did a pretty basic physical exam on it and the mare. But in my head, we were in full Grey’s Anatomy mode with plane’s crashing and ferries exploding all around us.
How does this happen every week for them? Not once have two trucks full of breeder puppies collided in front of our hospital filling our emergency wards with the screams of burning neonates. Not even once.
What I’m trying to say is that emergency medicine just makes me happy. There’s no time to worry about paperwork or how long it will take to do your nightly treatments; it’s just pure medicine. I’ve always considered doing an Emergency and Critical Care residency in the back of my mind, but I’m starting to think about it more seriously. I’ll wait and see how I like my actual emergency rotation in December first, but for now it really excites me.
I’m going to keep trying to write my book’s final chapters on Sundays during this rotation, but I don’t have the highest hopes. What stinks is that if I don’t get this done over the next five weeks, I won’t have much opportunity until early next year. In August I need to start hardcore studying for the NAVLE (veterinary board exam) which I’ll take in either late November or December.
I guess I’ll just keep trucking along and try to take solace in the fact that I already have one book finished and for sale (even if it is self-published) and that I’ll probably have more time after I graduate before I’ll lose most of my free time to having kids.