My first week at the clinic

Trip Start Jan 11, 2011
Trip End Jul 01, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , Nelson,
Monday, January 17, 2011

Hi Everyone!

I'm sorry that it has been so long since my last entry. I just finished my first week at the vet clinic, and it has been an experience. It has had its ups and downs but as I sit here writing this entry for all of you at the end of the week, I remember more good things than not-so-good things. There have been a lot of firsts this week, and I am stepping out of my comfort zone which I don't think I have really ever done before. But I am so glad that I have the opportunity to do it now, because it is really allowing me to learn a lot about myself!
This week in general has been unusually slow at the clinic (according to the staff) mostly because almost half of the vet staff is on holiday including Jeff, the vet that invited me over for the internship. Monday morning then was slightly awkward because I didn't really know how much the other vets and nurses knew about me and for what I was walking around the clinic. That made me pretty uncomfortable because I didn't want to hover over anyone's shoulder but I also didn't want to give the impression that I didn't want to learn. And for some reason I felt it very difficult to simply speak to the vets because I always felt like they were busy and I didn't want to interupt. So this was the first of the firsts for me. I realize now that I have never really been in a situation where the people around know nothing about me or where I am coming from. I have always gone into a situation where at least one person knew my background or had at least heard of where I was coming from. But here in New Zealand, no one knows anything about Mount Holyoke College or about the vet clinic at which I worked previously. At first, the idea of having to start all over again, to make a name for myself was frightening and frustrating. I was frustrated coming home on Monday. But my awesome friends and family and warned me that not everything was going to be perfect. As I went to sleep Monday night, I just kept remembering what they had told me and tried my hardest to go into the clinic Tuesday morning with a bright smile. And Tuesday was a better day. I still didn't talk to the vets all that much but I did have a chance to observe a castration and a dental procedure. I also got the chance to sit in on a few of the consults. The consult procedure is very different here compared to what I'm used to in the States from my experience in MA. Vet techs hardly ever go in with the vets because the owners hold their own animals while the vet checks out the animal. I realize now that this situation would never occur in the States because of liability. Which is sad, because the pets that I have seen in NZ are much more calm with the vet, I think mostly because they are in the comfort of their owner's arms. Of course if the animal does get stressed, a vet tech is called in, but otherwise it is just the vet and the owners in the consult room. This makes it a bit hard and awkward for me to observe consults but I fill my time with other things and am still learning a lot. My jobs for the most part consist of cleaning but also towards the end of the week, the vet techs have showed me how to run a lot of the tests (ie blood or urine), the clean-up procedure after an animal has left from surgery, updating patient records on the computer, and other odd and end jobs. Learning some of the little jobs has really helped because I feel like I have a purpose and don't have to constantly ask someone what I should be doing. That was the hardest part of Monday.
Also on Wednesday, I had a chance to go the large animal clinic which is at a different location. I had a chance to help take x-rays and see two internal ultrasounds of mares. One scan was to find out if one of the mares was ready to conceive, and the other scan was to actually see if the mare was pregnant. The vet that I worked with at the large animal clinic was really willing to teach, which made it super interesting. He showed me the follicle that was forming in the one mare and how big it should be when he would administer a drug that would force the mare to release the follicle and egg. He showed me the heart beat of a 27-day old horse fetus in the other mare! It was absolutely the most amazing thing I have seen (right up there with the beating heart of a chick from Bio 200)! :) Going out to work with the large animals on Wednesday was a lot of fun and very interesting but this situation also made me nervous. I have always felt like I have wanted to be a large animal vet but until now I have only ever worked with my own horse (which is very different from working with horses in general). When I first got to the large animal clinic, I was nervous that it wouldn't be what I have always expected. I was afraid that I wouldn't really like working with large animals which is what I have worked towards for such a long time. And at first, I didn't feel overwhelmed with excitement but after seeing more and more, I really started to enjoy myself. I still haven't convinced myself that I can work with all large animals, but I am getting more comfortable with the unknown and giving things a try knowing that I might fail. I've never really pushed myself to do things that I had know idea if I would like it or succeed. Shit, it's scary! But, again I went home Wednesday evening with a smile on my face (maybe a forced smile at times but a smile).
Then came Thursday, the day that I had to drive to work! AHHHH! I got a ride with Sonja in the beginning of the week but she leaves work early on Thursdays. So I drove a little white Toyota truck that I don't think has been serviced in quite some time. Sonja rode in with me to work and rode her bike home. So here again was another out of my comfort zone experience! Sonja ended up having to back the truck out of the drive way because it was a pretty steep hill but I made it to work in one piece and so did Sonja and the truck! :) It is a manual truck so I am shifting with my left hand which I think is the hardest part. With other drivers in front of me, it isn't hard to stay on the correct side of the rode. I drove home then all by myself and it went really well. I even backed into the drive way (so that getting out is a bit easier hopefully--> thank you Dad for that very useful skill)! Later that night, though, I went for a nice long walk down to the beach (which was stunning), and I am still more comfortable walking then driving around here. :)
That brings us, then, to today (Friday). It was much busier today at the small animal clinic. I met another vet, Brenda, who was very nice (everyone is so nice). I observed a cat spey, another dental, and a guinea tooth filing procedure. The cat spey was interesting and sad as the cat was pregnant. There are scans that can tell the vet if the animal is pregnant before surgery but the owners wanted the spey to happen even if the cat was pregnant. There were four fetuses taken out estimated to be around 5 weeks old. It was sad knowing that the fetuses would never become kittens. But I did have the opportunity to cut into the placenta to see one of the fetus. It was fully formed but just had to grow. I could see the eye and the tail. Development I think is one of the most amazing processes on Earth! AMAZING!!!! Today, in general, was the best day of the week, not just because it was busier with surgeries, but also because I was making people laugh. I am starting to feel like myself around the staff. I am joking, able to complete tasks on my own, and ask questions more comfortably.
I felt pretty discouraged at the beginning of the week. In just a little over a week of being here in NZ I have realized some pretty big things about myself and who I really am. There are some things about myself that I am not proud of like the only thing that I really feel confident about and can say that I am truly good at is studying. That's right, studying! A true nerd. At first I was really embarrassed and bummed by this but now I am so excited to try new things to change that statement. And what better place to try new things than NZ!!!! :) And also I lack confidence when put into new situations. I want to have more confidence in myself (without getting a big head). Having to show people who I really am is making me realize who I really am. I'm going with it and am excited to make myself who I really want to be.
So my first step is to go camping! Tomorrow I leave for Golden Bay for an overnight. Sonja and Brendon invited me, and everyone here speaks of Golden Bay as a magical place so here I go...
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Hannah on

What a great chance to reinvent yourself! Don't be afraid to push yourself and take on the identity you want to become. After all no one there knows you so you can be as confident and colorful as you want! I can't imagine shifting with my left hand!! Must be so strange but after your monster truck with little Toyota is a piece of cake! How's driving on the wrong side of the road?

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