Monthly Archives: June 2008

Pictures from Hematology Lab

Work is getting crazy-busy now (lots of people leaving for the Fourth of July and summer vacations), plus I had a test in hematology lecture this week, which has left me little time for extra activities like writing.  Since I haven’t written lately, I thought I’d share some pictures from hematology lab a few weeks ago.

An eosinophil

The giant purple and pink cell is an eosinophil, which is a type of white blood cell. The rest of the cells are red blood cells.

A neutrophil

The big cell here is a neutrophil, another type of white blood cell.  Neutrophils are the most common white blood cells seen in dogs.


The three cells at the end of the pointer are platelets.  Platelets aren’t always that easy to see.  Sometimes they stain very pale.  They can vary quite a lot in size, too.

Lots of neutrophils

All the purple splotches and shapes are neutrophils (or rather, the nuclei of neutrophils – you can’t see their cytoplasm in this picture).  It is not normal to see that many neuts together.  My classmate who had this slide said she counted 34 neuts in one field of view! There are a few platelets in the lower right-hand quadrant of the field of the view. You can’t easily tell from this picture (unless you’re a hematology expert), but the patient this blood came from was extremely anemic and very sick.

Nucleated Red Blood Cell

The deep, dark purple cell in a nucleated red blood cell.  It’s an immature form of a red blood cell.  Seeing a lot of these on a blood smear isn’t normal.  If you do see a lot, it means the patient may have a problem where it doesn’t have enough mature red blood cells.  Since there aren’t enough mature red blood cells, the body starts kicking immature ones out in to the bloodstream to try to compensate for the lack of mature red blood cells. The pale cluster of cells in the upper right is a group of platelets.

That’s all for tonight.  Enjoy!


Weekly links: Hot weather edition

I took The Collie outside this morning at 10 and it was already rather toasty out there – 76 degrees with a heat index of 78. Looks like today may be our hottest (or at least most uncomfortable) yet. Tuesday is usually “Collie Park Day” (Husband and I take The Collie to the off-leash park) but it might be a little too hot for that today. Or perhaps we’ll go and just let her have a swim in the pond. If it’s hot where you are and you’ve decided today is a good “stay inside” day, here are some interesting and/or useful links for you to check out.

Over at BlogHer, greenlagirl has a post about some really cool “green” notebooks. I use both sides of the paper as often as possible but never thought of putting it together in a notebook like this.

In a newsletter-from-a-big-company I received this week, they had a link to an article about wine, how it’s made, wine tasting, etc. When Husband and I go out to eat, I often think having a glass of wine with dinner sounds like a great idea, but I never know what kind to order, what tastes I will like, etc. Enter this article. I haven’t read through all the pages of it yet, but thus far I’ve learned quite a bit about wine terminology and what it means. There’s so much more to learn though (isn’t there always?). Someday, I’d like to go to a wine tasting event.

Ron over at The Wisdom Journal has a great story about how easy it is to acquire debt when we’re young and what the consequences of that can be. We’ve all seen the lists and reasons why you shouldn’t use credit cards (unless you pay them off every month) and why we should save money, but Ron has taken those lists and put them in a story that makes it much easier to see and understand why we should be careful with our money and what happens if we’re not.

Trent over at The Simple Dollar posted a review of Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check, a book about money, lending money, and how money can cause issues between family and friends. Reading about others’ thoughts on lending money to family always interests me. Husband and I have been on both the giving and receiving ends of loans between family members and I’m happy to say that they have all gone well. We have a brother and sisters that occasionally find themselves in a pinch and we like to help them out if at all possible, because we’ve been in similar situations (can anyone says “expensive vet bills for The Collie”?) and are grateful for the help we received at those times. When we do loan out the money, we view it as giving a gift, even if the family member intends to pay it back. That way, if we never get it back or don’t get it back on schedule we’re not “out” anything. Of course, we both have to agree on a) lending the money in the first place and b) the particular amount before we’ll lend it out.

J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly has a neat article about subscribing to a Craigslist search via RSS feed. There’s nothing in particular I’m searching for right now, but I will have to keep this in mind for when I am looking for that special something.

Evil HR Lady has answered a question about dealing with employees who report a problem co-worker, yet want to stay anonymous. Since I manage such a small group of people (under 10), I run into this issue sometimes. Everyone at my kennel knows who worked before them, so if Joe is in trouble for something, he can quickly determine that it must have been Allie that talked to me because Allie worked just after him and would have been the one to notice the issue. Fortunately, I have an excellent group of people (seriously, they’re awesome) that doesn’t usually worry about such things, which makes my job much easier than it could be.

That’s all for now. Until then, stay cool and enjoy the warm weather!

Stay tuned and a few pictures of The Collie

Stay tuned.  I have some posts planned and have been editing some pictures to upload.  I’ve been sick this week, so between work and school, I haven’t been doing a whole lot else.  I have the next two days off, though, and I’m hoping to get at least a little bit of time to work on this blog.  Until then, here are a couple pictures of The Collie.  Enjoy!

The Collie keeps a close watch for any crumbs that may fall to the floor.

A close-up of The Collie’s left ear. Her right ear stands straight up (as you can see in the above picture).

What I’ve Learned in Hematology Lab

We had our first proficiency (i.e. test) in hematology lab last Friday. As I was reviewing for the test, I realized I’ve really learned a lot in the six weeks we’ve had class. Up until this semester, most of what has been taught in my classes has been review for me. Sure I learned tidbits here and there, but as a whole, the material was not new to me. Most of what I’ve learned in hematology has been new. In all my clinic volunteering, I learned very little about making blood smears and running CBCs because the blood work was sent out to a lab (one clinic had an in-house blood work machine, but I didn’t do much with it). In previous semesters, I’ve walked out of class happy that class was out. When hem lab gets out, I’m happy class is over, but it’s because my brain is full and I have a headache (from the microscope work), not because I’ve been bored for the last two hours. It’s a good change.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned in the last six weeks:

  • How to make a good blood smear (which I could not do for the life of me when I took my test)
  • How to stain aforementioned smear (this was review from my biology classes in college)
  • How to test the PCV (packed cell volume, or percentage of red blood cells) and total protein
  • How to perform a WBC (white blood cell) estimate
  • What normal red blood cells should look, what the different abnormally shaped ones are called, and about other abnormalities (side note: my favorite is named the “Howell Jolly Body”. I found one in a blood smear two weeks ago! It looks like a little purple spot on the red blood cell.)
  • How to perform a WBC differential. This involves looking at 100 WBCs and determining which of the five types of WBC it is.
  • How to perform a platelet estimate. If you have a crummy microscope, the platelets can be really difficult to see.
  • How to perform an actual WBC count. This is cool. You follow some very precise steps that involve mixing a specific amount of blood with a lysing solution, let it sit awhile, carefully load it onto a precisely calibrated slide that has your $3 glass coverslip on it, and then count the little circles that are in the grid that’s printed on the slide. Pretty cool, eh? What I haven’t figured out is how WBC nuclei can be so oddly and differently shaped on the differential yet all look like perfect little circles on the actual count.
  • How to take all the numbers I get and multiply them with specific other numbers to get the appropriate platelet estimate, WBC estimate, actual WBC count, and absolute numbers.
  • Which microscope power and settings to use to be able to see all these cells.

That’s a lot of stuff to learn in two hours and forty minutes a week after only six weeks. We don’t just have to know the procedures and the math, we have to be able to perform them and perform them well. If our numbers (for our actual and estimated WBC counts, platelet estimates, differential, etc.) aren’t within a certain percentage of our instructor’s we lose points. I’m anxious to see how I did with my numbers. I’ll find out Friday (which is when I have my first pharmacology lab proficiency).

What is a “Frugal Vet Tech (Student)”?

I’m a non-traditional veterinary technician student. Most of my classmates are just out of high school. I’m not. Some of them are just getting engaged and have most things paid for by their parents. I’m married, have been for four years, and we are paying for (most) everything on our own. We make enough money to pay our bills and even have a little fun, but we’re not swimming in money. I’m forever looking for ways to spend less while still having fun and without eating ramen noodles five days a week. Husband and I both have student loan debt and credit cards that we’re working hard at paying off. I work as the manager of a boarding kennel and Husband is a meteorologist (weather man – and no you won’t see him on TV). We have no children as of yet. We have a Collie and some fish and will someday have lots more critters.

So that’s what a “Frugal Vet Tech (Student)” is (or at least what this one is). What does a person like me write about? Here’s what I’m planning to focus the majority of my posts on:

1. Being a vet tech student. Stories about class, assignments, homework, classmates, and what I’m learning in school. When I’m done with school (sometime in 2009), I’ll add stories related to working as a tech.

2. Being a kennel manager. Working in the pet industry means there’s never a lack of interesting stories to tell.

3. Being frugal. Husband and I are on a mission to pay down our debt, yet still have fun in the process.

4. Living life. Anything else related to life.

Sound fun? It’s not always fun, but it’s usually never boring. Just watch – you’ll see!