General Description: single focal lesion within the frontal lobe of the cerebrum, occupying approximately 20% of the organ. Raised, dark red, irregular in shape, turgid.

Morphologic Diagnosis: Severe, peracute, generalized frontal cerebral hemorrhage & infarct.

Clinical Diagnosis: Examinitis

Pathogenesis: informational volume overload, increased cerebral metabolic demand, inadequate tissue oxygenation, vascular occlusion, vascular rupture, infarct.

Clincal correlates: total brain meltdown.

Welcome to my first exam – Gross Pathology, otherwise known as describing dead things and trying to figure out how it caused the animal to land itself in the OVC Post Mortem Lab. Since I can only make up clinical cases to study and describe for so long, it’s often a strange procrastination tool to write about what is currently happening within ones’ own brain. It looks like a poor prognosis for the overworked organ inside my cranium.

In Phase Two, the year concludes with three weeks and about twenty-five hours of examinations. The only way to describe it is a mental marathon, and I feel as though my brain has not had nearly enough endurance training to finish.

After Gross Pathology, we have a Simulated Client Interview, an examination to test our clinical communication skills. It’s a bit of a mental break as far as sheer volume goes, but it is in itself a unique challenge. You have thirty minutes to interview a “client” about their animals’ medical concerns in a tiny room with a two-way mirror, with someone on the other side listening and marking you on your communication, listening and problem-solving skills. And, like any exam, there is always some surprise tidbit of information that leaves you scratching your head or wishing you could bang it against a wall. Some of the clients will scream at you, some of the clients will ask you to lie for them, some of them will sob and carry on for no apparent reason. The creators of these storylines claim it prepares us for real life, but I guess I’ve been lucky in my time with the McKee-Pownall Clientele in that I have never has situations quite like these and would like to keep it that way!

After getting through my interview without verbal abuse or the use of kleenex (which I think in vet school means you did okay), it was now time to prepare for the daunting task of POD. The course is called Principles of Disease, but is better known throughout the OVC community as POD, a three-letter acronym that strikes terror in the hearts of second year students. POD combines the subjects of histopathology, immunology, virology, toxicology, parasitology, bacteriology, and multiple other ‘ologies’ that it pains me to even think about. The course almost half of the weighting for the entire year of school, and it’s grand finale is three, 3-hour exams on back to back to back days. Needless to say, it’s the ‘treacherous mountain range’ section of the mental marathon. After day one, you feel like you’ve been through the ringer. After day two, it’s not funny anymore that you’ve never even heard of some of the diseases asked, let alone how it relates to chicken diarrhea. And by day three, you expel every ounce of mental strength left, hand it in and curl up in a fetal position, ready for a weeks’ hibernation.

Except that this marathon still has a week and a half and five exams still left before the finish. Time to recover what is left of my necrotic brain and get back to the books.

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