Saturday, 21 March 2020

Revision and COVID-19

Hello lovely people, I hope that you are all well in light of the current climate. No matter where you are in the world I am sure you have all been affect in some way by COVID-19. I want to wish you all the best from the UK, we are currently on lockdown all restaurants, pubs, cafes, cinemas, gyms, schools and leisure centres have been shut down, it is a crazy world we are living in the government have just released today that people really need to stop bulk buying as we have enough food and enough food in the supply chain. It is so horrid to see that some of the more vulnerable are going without the food they need from day to day. I am lucky enough to be able to help out and work at my mums doctors practice next week in order to try and alleviate some of the pressure on the practice. I hope you are all staying safe are listening to your governments guidelines to help protect everyone from this virus.

Some more on my revision, as of yet the Veterinary students at Bristol University don't know what will be happening their exams and assessments for the rest of the year. Hence I am revising and just waiting to here what is happening. It is frustrating that we don't know what is happening with the rest of our teaching for the year and whats going on with our exams but everyone on my cohort is in the same boat and we all just have to get on with revising the parts of the course that we have been taught and going with that.

This year I am trying a few different revision techniques, even though we are having an extended Easter holiday (5 weeks) I am working for 3 of those weeks, 2 of them will be in lambing which I technically don't have to go to however I believe that it would be very rude and unfair of me to not go and do the work that I have agreed to do for the Shepard. As I am working quite a bit I am having to be very organised and efficient with my revision. This year I have noted that I have struggled with retaining the amount of information that we are being taught especially in Animal Disease and in Neurology. Many people have suggested the easiest way to learn these units is to wrote learn them however this has never worked for me, I find it very difficult to bulk learn information I just can't retain that much in my brain at once so I am trying some new methods and here they are.

  1.  Writing my own questions and answers; I am doing this for some of my Animal Disease unit, I know that this is like wrote learning, however I am doing it because it will allow me to get my friends and family to test me and it will allow me to test myself easily and in a slightly different way to quizlet and the more conventional flashcards. 
  2.  I am making voice notes; I did this a little last year however this year I am trying to utilise it more efficiently and effectively and making sure that the voice notes are concise and that they make sense to me when I am listening back to them. 
  3.  Using 3D anatomy website; So I have found that this year that the website VIN has been super useful for my anatomy learning and animal management learning. I find it so much easier when I am able to see what I am learning about. 
  4.  Posters; Now I have always done this but this year rather than just writing everything onto a poster I want to try and plan them and make them contain enough information but be concise at the same time. So that hopefully I will be able to recap topics and remind myself of the necessary information quickly and simply when revising for my exams that may or may not be happening. 
These are the methods I am using at the moment, now I know that I haven't perfected the method that is best for me to revise either that or I'm just dumb.... (laughing emoji), I would love to hear the different ways that you are revising and what you find works best for you. I hope that you have all enjoyed reading this and I'll probably do a post about my lambing experience this year. Stay safe, wash your hands, and try keep the self distancing/ isolation this going. 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

University and Mental health

Hello lovely people, I know I've been really bad on posting here since starting university, I've been thinking about this recently and I think I've come up with a reason as to why I just haven't been finding the time to write on here.

At university my days are very uniform, I wake up often perpetually tired, I go to the gym and I then head straight into uni to start lectures or practical's. This year though we have the same contact hours as last year the content itself is rather more difficult as I personally find some of it quite dry and very tricky to learn. After lectures I go to the library or I go home to write up the lectures. In the gaps of the day I find time to eat. Now to me reading that back I am probably the worlds most boring person I don't really go out ever and I just live in my routine. I figure that people won't want to read about that, they don't want to read about a boring life of a struggling university student.

I would love to write posts about the things that we are learning and give you tips on how to learn and get through university but the truth is I'm still figuring all of this out. The content we get taught I spend time writing up and trying to understand however I don't feel like I could write a post about the content because I'm not going to lie but at the moment none of it is really motivating me and inspiring me to write. I don't feel like I am in the right place to be giving tips about how to study because though I passed all of my January exams, truth be told I making everything up as I go along.

University is hard, no one ever said it was going to be easy, my mental health sometimes spirals and then I'll have a good few days and something can trigger a spiral again. I just want everyone to know that there are other people going through this, you're not alone. I am currently consciously trying to work very hard on my mental health and my self worth. Self worth is something I have struggled with for a while, I can't tell you why because I myself don't know but I realise that I do try to always make others happy and ensure that others are happy even if it doesn't make me happy. I do sometimes make stands for myself like if I don't want to go out no one is going to make me go out, yes this makes me feel bad about myself because I'm letting people down however I have come to realise that often after nights out that's when I go into a really dark hole mentally so more often than not I try to avoid that from happening. I have definitely been treating myself more this year and about certain things I've been a lot more relaxed this year which I do really think has helped. There is still a very long way to go before I feel a good sense of self worth and before I feel like I am enough and I deserve certain thing, I'm working on it. I just want you reading this to know that if you are going through a period like this then that's okay, go speak to someone, talk to a friend or write it in a journal. I have recently downloaded the app 29k which I'm trying out, it's completely free and it is a load of courses and lessons about anxiety, self-confidence and wellbeing. I will try and keep updated on here as to how that's going.

A promise I am making to myself here, as cheesy as it sounds is to tell myself that I am worthy of friendship and love. In the past in friendships I have tried to just make sure the other person is happy and if they have done something that upsets be I have stayed quiet because who am I to say anything. But now I want to start taking a stand and telling people how I really feel, and I figure the true friends will listen and care about me and the people who aren't true well they can get out of my life for all I care. That sounds harsh and I know it will take a lot for me to say to someone something that they've done that makes me upset but it has to be done because I don't want to spend my life solely helping others and carry others burdens around and thinking that they shouldn't ever have to hear my burdens or my troubles.

Sorry this blog took rather a depressing turn, as you know I am always truthful on here about everything I think and feel. I will try to write on here before the end of the month. I hope you are all having a good 2020 and just remember to keep smiling and everything will be alright in the end.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Christmas Time

Hi lovely people, I hope that you are all well and are starting to feel festive on the lead up to Christmas. I know that since starting university this year my show on the blog has been abysmal, yes this has not been my priority this term. I have been concentrating on me and giving myself down time when my body needs it, I've been staying on top of work and just getting through the term because let me tell you the amount of content manages to blow my mind daily.

Over the Christmas holiday I will be trying to do 2 posts on here. I can't say what they will be on, lets just say I'm experiencing a bit of a writers block at the moment. My life isn't interesting as every day is the same I wake up early, go to the gym, go to uni, get work done, eat at some point and then sleep. Also because of how full on this term has been my head is constantly whirling with everything that we have been taught and are meant to know. I know it's a bad excuse.

I hope that you all have an amazing Christmas break and I will speak to you all soon. Remember to smile because you never know it could make someones day.   

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Personalised Drugs

Hello beautiful people, I hope you are all doing well. I know its been a long time since I put anything up on this page, turns out second year at vet school is quite tricky and overwhelming so I've been taking each day as it comes and trying not to get too stressed, at the end of the day my mental health will always come first. I hope you are having a lovely week and I just thought I'd pop on here to talk about some things we've learnt in lectures recently which I found super interesting as I did do a post on this topic a while ago called designer drugs I believe. So here goes I'm going to explain the basics behind the drugs and hopefully some of you will be able to follow along.

So T-cells make up a big part of our immune system. At school you may have been taught about T-killer cells which we call CD8+ t-cells and then you get T-helper cells which we call CD4+. this CD business is basically a protein on the T-cells that helps to determine its character and what cells it binds to. The cells T-cells bind to have MHC proteins on them which stands for Major Histocompatibility Complex. There are two classes of these MHCI and MHCII, it is these that the t-cell receptor site recognises during an immune reaction. CD8+ binds with MHCI which is found on any nucleated cell and CD4+ binds with MHCII which is found on antigen presenting cells (note that these can also be nucleated cells).
The genes to make MHC are linked and very complex on one specific chromosome in DNA. The location differs between species. These genes also encode for antigen presentation and processing.  Some of the reasons MCH are so good is because they’re polygenic and contain several different copies of MHCI and MHCII, they’re also polymorphic so many alleles of each gene in the population so greater combinations. Each individual express diff number of MHC antigens, the specific set of MHC expressed is called “tissue type” this is used when finding matches for organ transplantation. When looking at the genetics of MHC, a haplotype is taken from each mother and father and this makes a new combination, these combinations are much like the mendelian cross squares. This makes it very rare to have a tissue type match which is why graft rejection is still such a major issue. 
Only mature t-cells express a t-cell receptor with the CD 4 or 8 protein. The recognition of peptide-MHC involves both co-receptors, the TCR and CD bind to different sites on the MHC molecule so 1 MHC to both receptors, the TCR has pMHC recognition and CD4/8 enhances sensitivity. This binding isn’t dependent on a peptide being present as CD8/4 will bind without it and hence accelerate the TCR interaction with the peptide, the joining of CD8 isn’t enough to activate the t-cells are overcome the activation threshold just lower it, as MHCI doesn’t have a high enough affinity to the CD8. Once a T-cell has bound the two receptors onto the MHC then signals start to cascade which causes cytokines to be released which effectively kill the harmful pathogen in the body. 

The different type of T-helper cells. TH1 activates macrophages to kill intracell organisms and stimulated CD8 t-cells. TH2, helps B-cells differentiate to plasma cells to secrete Ab’s (antibodies). TH17 recruits’ neutrophils to infection sites. Remember CD4 are T-helper cells. The immune response can be polarized towards Th1 or Th2 which is called immune deviation. Each are mutually antagonistic and depend on the CD4 which is triggered. Th1 cells produce IFN (interferon) gamma which inhibits Th2 (cytotoxic cell mediated immunity. Th2 cells make IL-4 and IL-13 which inhibit Th1 cells this is humoral immunity (soluble antibody immunity). Incorrect deviation is thought to contribute to pathology e.g. a dog with leishmaniosis requires a strong Th1 polarization in order to control this protozoal infection. Failure leads to chronic multisystemic disease and death. 

All CD4 t-cells arise from common precursor, the wat antigen interacts with APCs determines cytokine prod by APCs. It is a variation of 3 signals that causes different effector functions of CD4 t-cells. 
Okay so there is some of the science, now I'm going to try and explain.When presented with an antigen initially you get natural antigens then you get in day 2-7 the T-independent antibody and finally 5-12 day you get the T-dependent antibody, this is the adaptive immune response and is slower to get going. As antigen conc decrease and the immune response matures and there is more of a selection for high affinity BCR (b-cell receptor) compared to low affinity BCRs. So only responses with high affinity BCRs have a response that persists.  
Monoclonal antibodies can be used for allergy test, therapeutic monoclonals like the treatment of cancer or blocking a viral infection. Monoclonal antibodies are made by injecting a mouse with an antigen, the mouse responds to numerous determinants and activates B-cells of the different epitopes. The spleen is then removed from the mouse, which contains some antigen-specific B-cells and not antigen-specific. They then get the myeloma (plasma cell) cell line ‘immortal’ as neoplastic so they will grow continuously in cell culture.  Then the spleen B-cells are mixed with the myeloma cells, PEG is added which causes cell fusion and the fusion allows the exchange of nuclear material to create immortal plasma cells that produce antibodies these cells are called hybridomas. HAT is then added which unfuses B-cells and they die along with any unbound myeloma cells. These are dilutes into single cell pots, then cloning happens and you get pots of monoclonal cells, these can be harvested but they’re mouse antibodies so have to be humanized or caninized.
There is also Adoptive T-cell therapy, which is a treatment used to help the immune system combat diseases like cancer and infections via viruses. T-cells are collected from a patient and grown in the lab. this increases the number of T-cells that are able to kill cancer cells or fight infections. there T-cells are given back to the patient to help the immune system fight disease. It is also called tumour infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, when injected into the tumour the t-cells help the body attack the diseased cells and has been described to 'melt' the tumour.
There is also a chance to develop T-cells that express cancer specific TCRs, which seems amazing, being able to produce a large amount of CD8 t-cells in a very short amount of time and increase the affinity of the TCR to the cancer cells, however in reality it is very tricky to identify a suitable MHCI restricted tumour rejection antigen, and to isolate tumour specific TCR.
There has been a huge breakthrough in checkpoint inhibitors. the T-cells within the immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment express many Co-inhibitory receptors these deliver a negative signal to the t-cells which prevents them from activating and destroying cancer cells, so monoclonal antibodies that block the inhibitory receptors have been developed and are being used to treat humans with metastatic melanomas. 

I hope you enjoyed that and you managed to follow along at least just a little bit. I am slowly getting into the swing of university and sports, I've decided to swim 2 times a week and gym 5 times a week plus sometimes trying to incorporate some gym classes. It's all a work in progress at the beginning of university this term I did really struggle with my mental health but I'm now focussing on the small positives each day. I hope you all continue to have an amazing week and just remember to smile because you never know it could make someone's day. I will post when I next feel like it, see you then! 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

We need more Vets

Hello everyone, I hope that you are all doing well. I apologise for not posting that much this summer, I've really been spending the time working on myself and becoming a better version of myself, hopefully some day getting to be the best version of myself. At the end of this week I'm heading back up to uni, I'm really looking forward to it because I feel like this year I can really enjoy myself and do what I love, I'm not having to figure out everything like I was having to do last year.

Anyway, so today I'm addressing the fact that the veterinary profession was put on the SOL (shortage occupancy list). So obviously this isn't good and with the UK currently muddling its way through Brexit nothing is really set in stone and if anything after Brexit the numbers of vets practicing in the UK could decrease further. I looked on the SOL and here is a list of the new roles added to it this year (2019).
  • All medical practitioner roles SOC code 2211
  • All Psychologist roles SOC code 2212
  • All veterinarian roles SOC code 2216
  • All medical radiographer roles SOC code 2217
  • All occupational therapist roles SOC code 2222
  • All speech and language therapist roles SOC code 2223
  • All nursing roles SOC code 2231
  • All social worker roles SOC code 2442
  • All paramedic roles SOC code 3213
All of these roles are vital and I hope that something can be done to try and remove these occupations from the list. There have been one or two articles that I've scanned over on BVA and VetTimes, about how we can try to combat this issue. The BVA have made a statement that training more vets won't be enough to solve this issue. They came up with a statement that sets out 50 recommendations it believes will help produce an inclusive and "future-proof" workforce. One major issue is cost, the student loans and government funding does not cover the cost of delivering one year of undergraduate veterinary degree, which is around £20,000. The number of students isn't capped and the government funding for veterinary education isn't calculated per capita. So this means that if a new vet school opens then the funding doesn't increase. So the BVA are calling for the government to change this and as more vet students are taken into uni for there to be extra funding per student in an undergraduate course.
Dr Dos Santos added: “We should look at the bigger picture and address issues at multiple points in the journey to becoming part of the veterinary workforce, including those that present after graduation.

“From widening participation schemes, communication of the diverse range of veterinary careers to the implementation of post-study work visas, there are many ways in which the BVA and other stakeholders can help maintain a gold standard while making sure we create a workforce that is capable, resilient and inclusive.”
If you would like to read the full article, it's n the vet times news page. I believe that this is and will continue to be a major issue for the veterinary profession in the UK until Brexit has gone through and the government has stabilised again. It would be nice to see extra funding for all medical degrees, we need more doctors, vets, therapists and so on but if there isn't the funding and support set up then these jobs will remain on the list. For me this issue is a big deal however once I graduate I want to relocate to Canada, it's a dream of mine that I will make a reality and I'm doing everything in my power to make happen. #
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and it has been insightful, I am going to aim to write a post every two weeks once I'm back at uni. I hope you all continue to has amazing weeks, remember to smile because you never know it could make someone's day :)

Wednesday, 28 August 2019


Hello lovely people I hope that you are all well and have all just had a wonderful long bank holiday weekend. On Sunday morning I returned from one of the most incredible weeks in Croatia. Now as you know I've done a few posts on mental health on this blog and a few recently and I am really trying to make the change in my life to improve my mental health. So here goes.

I had the most amazing week away, I travelled by myself and it was such a freeing experience I had no one else to worry about and it was so nice for myself to be my only priority as this is very rarely the case. I spent the whole week doing absolutely nothing which is you have read any of my post you will know is an absolute miracle. I felt so happy and so content. Yes I had my good and my bad days however I spent time during my week away to listen to the Chimp Paradox (audiobook). This is a truly wonderful book and helps you to understand you mind and the reasons behind how it works and why sometimes you can almost wake up and think why was I feeling that or behaving like that. I  think that in order for me to put this book to practice I will have to listen to it again and make more notes however it was a very useful book to listen to.

This year at uni I have also planned to make some big changes. First off NO ROWING, I did enjoy it this past year however I feel like it will be best for my mental health if I didn't continue. I still love the gym and keeping fit but now instead of competing my sights are set on helping others love what they do as well. So this year I am taking a swim teacher training course so that I can coach swimming which has been and will always be my first love and I'm so glad to be going back to it. If you read back in a previous blog I believe I explained all of the way I believe that swimming and sport helped shape the person I am today and I'd love to be able to help younger kids find a love for the sport. I am also hoping to take my pt level 2 certificate. This will allow me to potentially coach classes at the gym at uni and I'm hoping to start a HIIT circuit class for some of the girls on my course and grow it from there, I'll also have the possibility of taking some classes at the gym I go to at home during the holidays which will be so amazing to be able to be in a place I love so much and be able to be helping others. I have also promised myself 1 rest day a week I believe that this will help me to achieve my goals, with rowing there were no rest days and so I had it in my mind that this was the right way to go about it and to constantly train but I realise now that it is not. Now that I'll also have weekends I'll be able to relax and spend time going to see friends and also doing some work! I can't wait for this year and all it is going to bring to the table I want to develop myself as a coach and a student and a friend. I know that this year I have become cut off and very destructive in my mindset towards myself however this year I am going to do everything in my power to change this, I do admit that I need help as I've realised I can't fix everything by myself and learning to accept help from others is going to be good for me, I know I don't have to constantly be pleasing other and that I can do things for me that make me happy without answering to other people.

In other news I have a new puppy, now as a family we didn't want to buy a puppy we wanted to adopt preferably a GSP from Serbia however due to my parents working hours this became a near impossible task despite having owned a GSP for 17 years! So everyone welcome Luna into the family she's a little whippet 13 weeks old and she sleeps most of the day with the occasional crazy 30 mins, she's already established herself as a sofa dog but we adore her and just pray that training continues to go well.
I hope that you all have a wonderful rest of your week and don't forget to count your blessings and smile at others because you never know it could make their day.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Things I learnt at the Dairy

Hello lovely people I hope that you are all well and enjoying life right now wherever it's at. I have finally finished my placements for the summer which is such a relief, the final two weeks I spent on a dairy farm. I didn't manage to blog last week as I've just worked 13 days on the trot so this took a back seat. I just wanted to summarise on here what I learnt whilst I was at the dairy and the answers to some of the questions I asked the farmer.

  1. Cows are big and though 9/10 won't hurt you, it is scary when they run towards you and you have to make yourself look scary enough to make them change direction. This is something I still need to work on. 
  2. In the feed they have oats cut up for energy, soya and rape cut up and mixed for protein and then chopped straw for fibre but only if the silage that is being fed at the time is low in fibre. This all mixed together is called a ration, the cows also get cake in the parlour and depending on cows body condition at the time of year they are given salts and minerals. 
  3. I was of the belief that a high or low yield cow was just how much milk they produced and that was the same every year and stayed consistent. However I learnt that after a cow gives birth that's when they are high yield, then like a curve they start to produces less and when they are back in calf it continues to decrease and half way through pregnancy they will move to low yield. This is important because they get fed differently depending on where they are in the calving cycle. This is all automated by the collars the cows wear that tells the computer system how much the cow is producing then the sorting gate after milking puts the cows in different holding pens. 
  4. One of my questions was; How do you introduce heifers into the main herd? I asked this because during our lectures on cows this year I remember a big emphasis being put on this and how it can be stressful for heifers. The answer was not as much as what we learnt about this year however the farmer did say that after she had calved they get moved to the back shed and the calf is taken away almost as soon as it's had colostrum, in this shed she can hear the other cows coming in for milking and hear the noises of the parlour just and initially she is only milked once a day. They have all been in cubicles before and so that is no issue. Also there cows aren't kept inside all year long in the spring and summer they go out on the grass all day and at night. 
  5. What is a ration? it is given in kg per cow, the nutritionist will assume the amount eaten when grazing, then give the amount for silage and maze, after this they add in all the other bits as above and they equates to overall dry matter per cow and cost. That's normally only fed as an extra to the high yield cows as they need the extra energy to produce milk. 
  6. The difference between costing and benchmarking; costings= efficiency of farm no profit and benchmarking= comparing to other contemporaries based off factors. The reason it's hard to benchmark is because margin over purchased feed to compare which is normal depends on how much they grow, and some do a lot of grazing so margin per litre is higher as they don't have to buy in food, which is also why calving in spring time is more profitable. 
  7. This farm was aiming for more autumn calving I believe, and so from what I understood the average days in milk increases meaning that more stale cows peak in December and January meaning that now there's been a drop in litre per cow per day, so mixer needs to be added to food and more buffer to prevent the litres per cow per day from dropping. 
  8. When getting a heifer into calf for the first time you want to try and make sure that she calves at the beginning of the desired window of calving because each calving is just over a year ( the cycle) so by the 4th calf she'll still be in the desired window. This farm were aiming for autumn calving because the wanted better live weight sooner with calves which is easier to achieve when they are kept in a barn over winter. 
  9. Farmers are sometimes difficult to understand however once you get the hang of it you start to understand their otherwise foreign language. 
  10. It takes a whole lot of people and time to cover a load of crop in a silage press, it's very hot and humid on a silage press and so many layers go into the covering. 

So there it is what I learnt in my two weeks on a dairy farm, oh also it goes without saying the hours are stupidly long and the guys that work there are going 24:7 caring for the animals. I really enjoyed the placement however I am glad that I can now say it is over with and I can enjoy my summer a bit more. I hope you enjoyed reading that and I hope you have a wonderful week don't forget to smile at people because you never know it could make their day :)