Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunshine and Smartness

Last week, my sweetie and I left Oregon for what we hoped would be sunny Florida. Let me tell you, Orlando in January is one hell of a weather crapshoot. One day it was 72—the next, 52. The day after that, 65 and raining. Did we mind? We did not. Because no matter what Orlando decided to throw at us—including righteous thunder and lightning—IT WAS WARMER THAN PORTLAND.

I wish I could say we spent five days lounging on beaches, but alas. #1, Orlando has no beaches. Anywhere. I looked. #2, we weren’t on vacation. Nope, we were headed for the North American Veterinary Conference, on a quest for continuing education.

Knowledge expands so fast in this profession, it feels like a full-time race just to keep up. A lot has changed since veterinary school (all the stuff we crammed into our heads, back in the day, that has since fallen by the is to weep, to weep). And it’s not slowing down, either. Veterinary medicine gallops along, and we have to gallop with it.

Which is why, every day for five days, we staggered our jet-lagged selves out of bed and into hotel meeting rooms, clutching coffees and nifty tote bags, ready to learn, re-learn, get updated, briefed, and brought up to speed. ABCs of Acid-Base Disorders. Common Canine Ocular Emergencies. Managing the Head Trauma Patient. Four hours of lecture in the mornings, three in the afternoons, and for the real diehards, another hour in the evening. (For the rest of us, there was the hotel bar.) Every hour of every day had at least three talks to choose from. How to pick between Canine Chronic Bronchitis: Confounding Issues, vs. Interstitial Lung Disease: What Does It Mean? Or, Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Your Questions Answered, vs. Let Your Fingers Do The Walking: How to Restrain and Examine Snakes? (OK, that one was easy; I don’t treat snakes.)

Five days of this, and I came away feeling quite smartified. And ready to seriously hurt the next person unwise enough to cut in front of me in line. Was I wearing an invisibility cloak, or what? I’m telling you, buddy—I’ve just spent the last two hours listening to Atopic Dermatitis: Developing a Management Plan, and you’ve put yourself between me and my SmartFood cheese popcorn. Woe betide.

One line I didn’t have to stand in? Believe it or not, the ladies’ room. When you’ve got a conference with six thousand veterinarians and seventeen hundred veterinary technicians—more than half of them women—you need serious restrooms. And the Gaylord Palms Hotel has ‘em. Not only enormous, but spotless too. I don’t normally wax poetic about ladies’ rooms, but I gotta hand it to the Gaylord—those folks GET IT.

Thirty-two hours of lectures later, we flew home, our brains resembling the best kind of sofa: comfortably overstuffed. The day after we got back, Portland received another sprinkling of snow, a dash of freezing rain. Sigh. But while we were gone, the crocuses buried in my outside pots started nudging up. They’re the first crack in winter’s grip…better for a winter-weary spirit (almost) than Florida sunshine.


Melissa Marsh said...

Y'know, I sometimes think I went into the wrong profession. Whenever my pets have a malady, I love treating them (one was a hot spot on my dog - since my OTHER dog had one and I took her to the vet, I caught this hot spot before it got bad enough to take him in - and I called a vet for advice!). But reading all those topics made my head spin. I think I'll stick with my writing. ;-)

Glad you got a little bit of sunshine, though. :-)

Christine Fletcher said...

The sunshine was definitely good. I played hooky one afternoon and sat out on a lounge chair, reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, trying to ignore the wind whipping through the courtyard. It was sunny, dang it, and I was going to enjoy it, even if I did still have to wear my jacket!

It's good you like treating your critters -- I don't like treating mine! I always end up feeling like the evil bad lady. Especially if nail trimming is involved. :)

Walter Rowntree said...

Yeah, I just got out of a room with a client who asked what the difference was between the liver and the kidney. Boy, did I tell her. But that's all information from 1988. Has that changed at all? What I really wanted to tell her about was the difference in how to cook the two, and how Americans overcook their liver and that's why people think it's so icky.

Sally said...

Common canine ocular emergencies? Dixie & I could give a little treatise on that! And what a FINE way to spend a sunny day - reading about Jamie & Claire! But I'm sure you & your smartified selves are happy to be back in chilly Portland - and the mutts & cats are happy too!

Christine Fletcher said...

Walter -- No, we still have it straight on liver and kidney (Whew! At least something I learned in vet school is still true.)

Sally, yeah, we're happy to be back. I'm never was very tolerant of crowds, and I'm even less so now. By the end of the first day, I seriously wondered how I was going to manage. It was very nice to get back to my little quiet house with my critters.