2012, 1.5 years after my first externship in the US, I came back to visit the so called „best veterinary university“ of the world.
From my last visits I had already learnt that everything is bigger in the US, the cars, the streets, the buildings, and still I was again surprised in which trucks the people brought there horses. I probably wouldn’t even be able to pay for the gas to bring my horse to the clinic.
This time I was living in a nice house that belong to a funny couple. I got the contact from the university. The woman in the house was a singer and the boyfriend, I honestly forgot what he did for a living, but they where quite living in the moment and trying new jobs now and there.
It was nice to have housemates that actually spent time with me. In Washington State my flatmate was always studying and only spent time with me when we went to the gym or used the kitchen at the same time. And still there was much time that I spent alone, went running or watched movies on my notebook, cause the students I met at the university had the study the whole time for their final exams.
This time I spent my whole 4 months in the equine clinic. First in internal medicine and then in emergency and surgery.
We were a few students and everyone got there patients, depending on how many horses were staying in the clinic.
While I was listening to the medical rounds in Washington State, this time I already had to hold them myself. Every morning I had to be in the clinic in time to get my patients ready (give them there medications) and learn there history. So I knew why they were here, which medications they were on and what the upcoming treatment plan was.
Students in UC were allowed to give medications, assist in treatments and even do conductive anesthesia.
You stayed with your patients pretty much the whole day, so you went to surgery with them, waited until they woke up and brought them back to there stall and when there was free time you could watch the surgeries and treatments of other patients.
UC Davis was the first time I euthanized a horse and also the first time I realized how some people think about their horse. One lady came in because she wanted us to euthanize her horse, which she said was a cripple. We examined the horse and found out that the only thing wrong with it was the owner who couldn’t ride. We also found out that the only reason she wanted to euthanize it was to get the money back from the insurance who had there last day of “paying in case the horse dies” the next day. Of course we refused to put an healthy horse down and I once more realized how wrong this world can be.
I always tried to save money when I was a student so in 4 weeks I only needed 80$ for food. How I did this? Well I always ate home, bought a lot of potatoes (the cheapest food you can get) and cooked a lot of food. The most expensive food I bought were vegan sausages and I used them very cautious.
Another way to save money is to walk or use a bike. Public transportation can be very expensive and at least you have a reason to move your body when you walk or bike. In Australia I walked 1,5 hours from the hostel where I stayed in to the clinic where I did my externship.
For my flight I used the money that I got from my university. When you do externships abroad they give you some amount of money, depending if you are doing the externship inside of Europe or outside and depending on how many weeks you go. I got a few hundred euros that were enough for the flight and a little bit of the rent I had to pay.
The externship at UC Davis was for free but they also didn’t pay you money for your work. In fact is you stayed there longer than a few weeks you had to pay around 700$ per week. In Austria we study for free, so the idea of paying for an externship (expect for wildlife externships) seemed quite unfair so I was very cautious to not get over the free amount is time.
Even when everybody has to learn, there are some events you can count on. While I was in Washington State there was the Super Bowl and while I was in UC Davis it was Halloween. So it was nice to meet the people outside of the university, relaxed and drunk and not thinking about Vet stuff for a few hours.
What to see around UC Davis
When you have a weekend off at the university, it’s nice to go to the Muir Woods. My housemate and I took her car and I payed for the gas and we did the trip to this wonderful National Park.
We also had to treat our patients at night, so when I had a patient that needed medications at night I took my bike and rode from the house to the university. So one night I was there with another student and treated my horse and she locked the box behind me and went home. Both of us didn’t realize that in the quarantine stalls, where my horse was staying, you could just slip your hands through the bars and open the doors from inside because instead of bars it had small little grids. My phone had no network in these barns so I couldn’t call anyone. It was 3am in the morning. So I shouted as loud as I could but no one was in the stable during this time of the night. When I realized that I had to wait a few hours until the next treatment was on the plan and someone would check the horses, I looked at the door again. The door had a lower and an upper part and if I jumped over the lower part and was lucky I could reach the doorknob. I just hoped that my patient wouldn’t get aggressive when I started jumping in its stall and tried my luck. I am not the tallest person and there was nothing I could step on, but at the third jump I was able to reach the knob, opened the door and was able to sleep in my bed instead of the stable.
As I told you before I was quite alone during my externship. My house mates and student friends were nice but had not much time. After my trip to UC Davis I was taking a plane to Mexico and after that to Colombia, before I went back to the US and then back home. So I was quite stressed for my last day at the university. I had a patients with and unknown disease and on the last day I should present it in the morning rounds, which made me very nervous.
So the last night before my last day at the university I was sitting in the living room and watching a movie about a girl with an heart disease. I was relaxed, the house mates were in there bed room and I was lying on the sofa and watching the movie. Suddenly I noticed allodromy, which was nothing unusual for me. My heart always had extrasystoles now and then so I kept watching the movie. After a while my palms started sweating and the allodromy got worse, even painful. And then the pain started spreading into my arms. I got up and went to the bedroom of my housemates “Hey Amy? Do you have a moment?” On the way I had the feeling that I couldn’t breath anymore and my lungs didn’t get enough oxygen. While she got out of her room I got my stethoscope from my room and when I listened to my heart there wasn’t one regular beat anymore, it was just beating like crazy, stopping, beating slowly and then fast again. “I think I am having a heart attack” was the only thing I could say. She looked at me and ran to get her boyfriend. “We are taking the car to the emergency!” She said. “It’s faster than to call them.” Before I got into the car I left a message for my ex boyfriend and a note on Facebook saying I am going to the emergency. I was sure my heart was finally failing. The only positive thing I noticed was that I still could walk. My housemate stepped on the gas and every time there was a red traffic light I thought “that’s it, we are not gonna make it”. I got calm. I thought “it’s okay, it’s okay, there will be an after” and I was glad my family didn’t see my dying, that I was some where far away.
When we got into the emergency they treated me right away but found nothing. “It was an panic attack” the doctor told me. I was kind of relieved but also scared cause I didn’t believe them and was afraid there were missing something. So we got back home and the next day all I did was lying in bed. I was even afraid to go to the toilet cause I didn’t want my heart to get stressed again. The day after I felt better. I planned my tour to San Francisco and was sitting in front of my computer when my lips suddenly got numb. And after this my tongue. We went back to the hospital and again they didn’t find anything. The only thing I got was a 3000$ bill a few months later (which almost gave me another panic attack).
It took a few weeks for my allodromy to stop again. Normally I feel it like once a week,but during the next days I had like 40 a day. I tried to relax, told myself that I was fine, told myself that I CAN breath and it got less and less ever day.
Still I realized what stress can do to us and how important it is to live your life to the fullest cause you never know what the next day will bring.