Monthly Archives: October 2008

Radiology Mid-Term

We had our radiology (x-ray) mid-term last week.  I think I did reasonably well, at least on the practical portion.  I’m not as confident about my performance on the evaluation of the x-rays and the other questions.  Our test was two pages – the first page was a checklist of things we needed to do on the practical portion and the second was questions about evaluating x-rays, positioning, technique, safety, and the like.

Before our test, I read through the checklist for the practical portion to see what exactly she was going to watch for and to remind myself of any little details I may have otherwise forgotten.  This sheet had to be handed to our instructor when we did our practical portion so she could check off whether or not we did each step.  To start, each of us had to draw (as in take a piece of paper out of a cup, not as in sketch with a pencil) a “view” (body part and position).  We then had to take an x-ray of whichever body part and view we drew.   I drew the lateral elbow, which made me a bit nervous (lateral means the image is taken with the animal on its side, as opposed to on its back or stomach).  I was hoping for a view I was more confident with, such as lateral chest.  Oh, well.  I did the best I could and I think I remembered my procedures pretty well.  I just couldn’t remember if the elbow was considered an extremity or part of the shoulder girdle for purposes of x-ray technique.  I finally determined (mostly hoped, actually) it should be considered an extremity, though I paused to think again before I actually shot the x-ray.

Whether or not the body part is considered an extremity is important for determing settings on the x-ray machine.  Shooting (taking a picture of) an extremity requires you to place the x-ray cassette between the x-ray table and the patient.  For most other body part, you to put the x-ray cassette in a tray below the table.  The location of the cassette determines the position of the x-ray tube (the part that produces the x-rays) and the settings used.

Developing the x-ray I took was a cake walk.  It’s a relatively simple process: make sure the regular lights are off and red lights are one, remove the film from the cassette, stick the corner in the photo-imprinter and expose it so it will be permanently identified, stick the film in the developing machine, then re-load the cassette.   After the image is done processing, in about three minutes, it will spit out your x-ray.  It’s peachy.

When I reviewed the practical portion with my instructor, she pointed out two things I missed: labeling which leg I was x-raying and measuring incorrectly.  While prepping, I had actually pulled out the little lead “R”, but I forgot to actually put it on the cassette.  When I measured the dog’s leg before taking the x-ray (to determine what settings to use), I measured the left leg then took a picture of the right leg.  Oops.  In this case, it ended up not mattering, but if I had a dog with a very swollen right elbow and adjusted my exposure settings for the non-swollen left elbow, I could have ended up needing to re-take the x-ray.

The “book smarts” portion of the test wasn’t too difficult but there were a few things I wasn’t confident about.  One question asked for the boundaries for a particular view – which body parts we needed to make sure we could see to ensure we had the entire body part of interest in there and the others were about technique.  There are a few different ways to change the quality of an x-ray and I’m still having trouble determining which setting needs to be adjusted when.  I’m not entirely confident that I did well on the technique evaluation portion.  There are two (well, three, but for purposes of technique we talk about two) settings you can adjust to alter your technique.  One setting adjusts how many x-rays the machine produces and the other adjust how fast they go.  The trick is determining which one needs to be adjusted if your x-ray doesn’t turn out as well as you needed it to.  It’s becoming more clear to me, but I still need some more practice evaluating x-rays and determining what should be changed to improve them.

I’m anxious to see how I did on the test.  I will get my grade next Friday, unless I remember to e-mail my instructor before then, in which case I’ll have it sooner.  Unless I completely screwed up on my technique evaluation, I don’t expect that I will get anything lower than a B (though I’m hoping for an A of some sort).  We shall see…

An just for fun, here’s an x-ray of an anteater I found while browsing xrays on flickr tonight (and I thought my Collie had a long nose!).  The round object you see around the anteater’s nose on the left side of the image is the mask for administering anesthesia and oxygen.  The white object above the nose is a lead marker used to identify which side or part of the animal was x-rayed, since you can’t tell which side is which when looking at an x-ray.

Image sources: ten safe frogs & lhooq38

Quiet Time at Work, Studying Abroad, Family Visits

It’s quiet at work right now.  All the children are back in school, it’s mid-week, and it’s chilly and rainy.  I had less than a half-dozen dogs at work today.  Nobody came in this afternoon, nobody went home, save for one dog that was in for a groom.  Last weekend was expected to be busy since the local schools had a four-day weekend, but it was rather underwhelming.  We had fewer than 30 dogs, which is really not a lot for school holiday.  I was hoping for at least 50, but no such luck.  People just aren’t going as many places.  The quiet time at work is nice in some ways, but can also make for some rather long days.  It gives us a chance to get some extra cleaning done, but there’s only so much of that to go around.

With all my quiet time at work today, I was able to do some research on schools.  After I finish my tech degree, I want to go finish up my bachelor’s degree that I started back in 2001.  I only have a year left, if that (depending on how many credits I need to take from whatever school I transfer to).  I sent inquiry e-mails out to three schools.  Two of those schools offer programs for studying abroad.  I would love, love, love to be able to go abroad for a bit.  One of the schools offers month-long sessions for studying abroad.  We might be able to swing that.  I know I couldn’t do a full semester, but there’s a small chance I could do a month.  When I was in college part one, one of the instructors did a trip to Australia with a group of students.  I really wanted to go, but just didn’t have the money.  If I do get to go this time around, I’d like to go to New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, England, somewhere else in Europe, or possibly Russia.  South America would be neat too.

In school part two news, well, there isn’t much news.  We have our first test in radiology lab on Friday.  I don’t feel ready for it, but I’m getting together with a classmate tomorrow night and we’ll do some review.  We also have two assignments due for Small Animal Medicine II and need to study some Microbiology.  I know I have a test or two in my lectures this week, but I don’t remember which classes.  We had our mid-term in Small Animal Medicine II last week.  I wasn’t sure how well I’d do, since I really wasn’t feeling well and could remember almost nothing in Microbiology Lab that morning, but I ended up with 48/50.  Guess I didn’t do so badly after all!  Microbiology last week was difficult, mostly because of the aforementioned not feeling well.  Our assignments weren’t complex or anything new, I just couldn’t remember anything.  Fortunately, I have a fantastic friend in the class and she helped me through when I got stuck.

That’s the latest around here as far as school and work goes.  My sister and adorable niece just finished a two-week visit back here.  It was absolutely wonderful to see them.  My niece is getting big.  She smiles now, can roll on to her side, and has just started tracking movement with her eyes.  She’s pretty adorable.  As always, I enjoyed the time I had with my sister.  I wish we’d have been able to see more of each other.  I ended up being sick for part of her visit (fortunately it was mostly during the part where she was off visiting her in-laws and friends that don’t live near me), which cut into a bit of our time together, as well as my plans to head out of town for the weekend.  I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to move back here relatively soon.  We had a few years where we didn’t get along, but we get along great now (most of the time) and never seem to get enough time together.

What’s new with you?  Have you studied abroad?  Where did you go?  Did you like it?  I’d love to hear about it!

Photos from kangotraveler and BlueGoa.

Five Tips for Reducing Laundry Costs

As I mentioned before, we recently moved.  While there are lots of up-sides to our move, there are a few downsides.  One is moving further away from my parents, and thus, their washer and dryer and our “free use” washer and dryer.  (Lest you think I only visit my parents for the free laundry, let me assure you I don’t!  I love going up there each week to spend time with my family, get out of the city, help in the garden, etc.  Free laundry was a perk of going up there each week.)  When we lived at our old place, we rarely did laundry in the apartment’s washers and dryers, which saved us a fair amount of money.  Now that we live further away, we’ll have to do more laundry in the apartment’s washers and dryers and I’ve been trying to come up with more ways to save money on laundry.  Laundry is also more expensive here than it was at our last place, thus adding to my desire for creative solutions.  Here are some tips I’ve used in the past and plan to start using:

1) Combine two wash loads in to one dryer load.  At our previous place, the dryers could easily handle one-and-a-half or two washer loads, depending on clothing type, thus saving us the cost of one dryer load.

2) Skip the dryers and use drying racks.  Now that we have a larger apartment with more room to set up drying racks, I’m going to look in to getting one or two more.  There are a wide variety of designs and many of them fold up for easy storage.  Here’s a great article that has pictures of more varieties of drying racks than you could ever imagine.  If there are a few articles of clothing you need for work the next day, do one dryer load and hang up the rest.  I tend to send the larger, heavier items to the dryer and save the drying racks for smaller items, like socks and underwear, so I can fit more items on the rack.

3) See if you can use a friend or family member’s washer and dryer.  Consider offering something in return for the use of the washer and dryer.  Cook the person a meal, do a bit of cleaning while your clothes wash, take their pet for a walk, or offer some other service or item you’re good at.

3) Have fewer clothes.  Much easier said than done (at least for me!), but having fewer clothes means fewer clothes to wear, which means less laundry to wash.  Within reason, of course.  If you get rid of too many clothes, you’ll just be doing mini-loads of laundry every other day!  That’s no good either…

4) Wear clothes more than once.  In my mind, everyone already does this, but I understand that reality maybe different, so I’m adding this one to the list.  If you only wore that sweatshirt for a few hours while you watched TV, it can certainly be worn again.  This may work well for work clothes, too, depending on your job.  I work at a kennel and while my clothes don’t stay the cleanest, I can usually get a couple days of wear out of them before they’re too dirty for me to look presentable while I’m running the office.  No point in putting on a clean pair of pants just so they can get muddy five minutes after I arrive at work!

5) Make your own laundry detergent.  This doesn’t help reduce your weekly washer/dryer costs, but it can still save you money.  Making your own detergent is fairly simple and doesn’t take much time.  You’ll need three ingredients: washing soda (not baking soda), borax, and bar soap (any regular bar soap, soap flakes, Fels Naptha, Zote, etc.).  Side note: Zote soap can also be used as catfish bait.  Mix equal parts of each and you’re done.  Use one or two spoonfuls.  If you prefer a liquid laundry detergent, check Trent’s step-by-step guide over at The Simple Dollar.  In the three or so years that we’ve made our own laundry detergent, we’ve bought two boxes each of borax and washing soda.  I’ve also used liquid detergent here and there if I find it on sale or ended up at my parents’ without my laundry detergent.  I’ve found Zote Soap, Fels Naptha, the washing soda, and the borax at local grocery stores.  With the exception of the Zote, all the items were in the laundry/cleaners section.  Zote soap is in the ethnic section, although I have seen it in the laundry section of some Wal-Marts.

Those are some of the techniques I use to try and save money on laundry.  Do you use other tricks that I didn’t mention here?  Let me know – I’d love to hear about them!

It Must Be Almost Time for Mid-Terms

I tutor at school and up until last week, I’d only had two or three people come in for extra help. This last week, I’ve had half-a-dozen people contact me for help with assorted topics. Mid-terms are in a week-and-a-half. Everyone must be panicking about their tests. I certainly don’t mind the extra tutoring – I really enjoy tutoring.

Lab math – i.e. drug dose calculations – is what I get asked to help with the most. I think people freak out when they see math. It trips a lot of people up because it seems confusing at first, but it’s not a particularly difficult thing. If I sit down with them, go over the problems step-by-step, and walk them through a few practice problems, they usually catch on pretty quickly. Sometimes all it takes is me showing an alternate way of solving the problems. There are so many different ways to solve these problems and I try to find a way that makes sense to the student so they can master these calculations. Being proficient at drug dosage calculation is critical to doing well in classes and later, as a tech.

If you’re in school and having trouble with a particular subject, don’t be afraid to get help. Instructors and tutors are happy to help you out (good ones are, anyway). Your tuition money helps pay for those services, so make the most of that money you’re spending and get help if you need it!

Seven Things About Me

A while back, Nate over at CF Husband posted a “Seven Things” post and said, “Feel free to post you own 7 Things list on your own blog…I give you permission to steal from my genius…”   So I’m stealing from his genius and copying his post idea.

1) I love goats.  I raised goats for about eight years when I was growing up and the only reason I stopped was because I left for college.  When Husband and I can manage it, we’re moving out of the city, getting a farm, and I’ll be getting goats again.  The first goats I had were pet goats, then I had dairy goats.  Alpines are my favorite breed.

2) I hate politics.  Perhaps if there was less name-calling, finger-pointing, and bashing I’d be slightly more interested in them, but not likely.  It’s really not my thing.

3) I’m a military brat.  My dad spent thirty-some years in the Air Guard (or is it Air Force?  I’m forever mixing those two up, even though I’ve been told the differences many times).

4) I don’t like red pens.  My mom used to use them to mark my papers or mark papers I’d get at conferences or seminars (thus wrecking the new, organized look and feel of the papers I had in my folder).  I hated that.

5) My first experience driving a vehicle (that wasn’t a tractor or 4-wheeler) consisted of my dad telling me to get in the truck (I got in the passenger’s side and he told me to get in the driver’s seat), telling me to turn the key, how to put it in drive, and where he’d meet me (we were in a hayfield, not on a road).  I told him I was not interested in driving.  He told me I could do it and walked off.  I drove.  In retrospect, that was probably a good way for him to do it, because if we had waited for me to decide I was ready to drive, well, we’d have been waiting a long time.

6) I do not feel old enough to be managing a kennel, writing reference letters for people (I was recently asked to write a couple of reference letters for one of my employees), to be an aunt, or to have been married for as long as I have been.  I’m just not old enough for all that.

7) Going to an environmental college really “rubbed off” on me (and my husband).  If you compare us to my family (not sure about husband’s family in this instance), you can see major differences in our actions and thoughts regarding sustainability and being “green”.  My sister thinks much less “green” than we do, too.  It’s sort of interesting.

Some Perspective For a Rough Day

Today was a really, really crummy day at work.  There was lots of stress involved and I had to deal with some unpleasant stuff.  It’s all been taken care of now, which I’m very thankful for.  I really didn’t want it hanging over me  when I went to bed tonight.  At any rate, I was sitting here trying to unwind and found this post at Gather Little By Little.  I felt better after reading that.  Yes, I had to deal with some really not-fun stuff at work today, but even with all that, I’m still incredibly blessed.  The husband and I never have to worry about whether or not we’ll be able to buy food, we can always pay our bills (much as we hate doing so sometimes!), we have  a place to live, we both have jobs, and we are blessed with fantastic friends and family.  If you’re having a tough day, week, or month, try sitting down and thinking about what you do have – if you have a roof over your head, food to eat every day, and can pay your bills, you have a lot more than so, so, so many people in this world.  Be thankful for it.