A Postcard From: Anisha Kannambadi ’18

Name: Anisha Kannambadi
Class: 2018
Major: Philosophy
Hometown: Princeton Junction, N.J.

Internship Placement: Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital
Job Title: Vet Intern
Location: Swords, Dublin Co., Ireland

One of the three baby hedgehogs dropped off at the hospital.

At my internship, there’s a lot going on! There have been so many different animals and cases which arrive daily at the hospital and they are all so interesting! Some of them include acupunctures, ultrasounds, spays and neuters, splenectomies (one of the spleens weighed a whopping 2 kilos!), lumpectomies, and tumor removals. This past Friday, there had been a stray cat who had a broken femur, most likely a result of oncoming traffic, which needed to be set in place to begin the healing process. A surgeon from an outside group had come in to perform the surgery, placing pins and rods into the cats’ femur. I was able to catch some of it as I also worked with the other patients who needed to receive vaccinations and other smaller procedures.

Some of the animals which come in are your typical cats and dogs, but there have also been some rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, seagulls, pigeons, and even hedgehogs! I’ve had a lot of experience, in the past month, with interacting with the animals as they were being treated. Most resulted in full recoveries while others resulted in the implementation of different methods to achieve positive results. I still have another month to go, but I cannot wait to see and do more! I have been enjoying this opportunity to work with an amazing group of veterinarians and nurses who are all very positive and willing to have me involved in their practice.

I applied for this internship because I wanted to experience working with animals in a country outside of the U.S. I had been able to do so with animals in Nicaragua, but I wanted to also understand the differences and similarities between veterinary practices in underdeveloped countries versus developed countries. I also wanted to be able to practice techniques and skills that I had been fortunate enough to learn through my previous experiences working with animals, as well as gain new ones. I wanted to get to know the staff and personnel involved at the vet clinics, to gain a better understanding of what they do and any insight they have to offer. As a pet owner myself, interaction with clients and understanding their situation while helping them with their pets was very important to me. I also wanted to gain more life experience living in a country which was out of my comfort zone. Initially, I was a bit weary with the idea of working in Ireland. It is very different from the work environment in the U.S., but it is just as rigorous. I’ve been loving it!

Living in Swords, I have had to make a reasonable adjustment to my expectations and needs. As I was used to using cars and other methods of transport to take me to the places that I needed to go to back home, I needed to change that mindset and plan ahead to get from place to place. Public transport had been a bit of an issue in the beginning, as I had no clue of where to go or how to get to the places I wanted to see. After studying and memorizing the lay of the land (thanks GoogleMaps!) I felt more comfortable going from work to home and around city-center. I also managed to find a route to work which provided a nice scenic walk in the morning; it takes 40 minutes, but since I am not a morning person it gives me a chance to properly wake up before beginning the work day. I also had to get used to the society and family dynamic, which was pretty different from mine in the beginning. As the weeks passed by I realized that, while different, it was all so interesting and fun! I am still in the process of getting used to Irish sarcasm, but my host family is helping me with that!

Made my host family a “traditional” American breakfast: chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon! (Or streaky rashers, as they say here.)

One of the biggest challenges that I have had to face during my internship was loss. I knew coming into this practice that there would be some bad times along with the good, so I was prepared to face them. The first day of my internship was the first day that I had to face the loss of an animal. It was hard for me, but I had rationalized the situation in my head and was able to distance myself emotionally from what had to be done. I was pretty good at doing this for most of these instances; however, in the last couple of weeks it had been a bit harder.

A Jack Russel puppy after surgery (she was such a cutie!).

There were two situations which took a toll on me. The first was an older Dalmatian, about 13 years old, who had an enlarged spleen due to two huge tumors. There was a splenectomy scheduled for the Friday, and there was a 30 percent chance that he would not have made it through surgery. Thankfully he did, and I was able to watch a pretty cool and interesting surgery! However, during the recovery period, he was not doing well, and when I came in the following Monday, I was told that he had passed earlier that morning. I was a bit in shock, as I had just seen him a couple of days before and he seemed to be doing well. After taking a couple of minutes to recompose myself, I was able to continue with doing the tasks I was expected to do. It was hard, but I decided that I needed to have a different attitude towards the whole situation and think of the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.

The second situation was pretty recent. A Samoyed, 8 years old, had come in for not eating. He was diabetic and had a fever, so I was tasked with trying to hand-feed or syringe-feed him. During this time, I had created a pretty strong bond with him. While he still was not eating on his own, I had managed to syringe-feed him a bit of food and drink water. I had left to go home after getting him to eat one of the days and came back the next morning, only to find him gone. He had passed before I arrived, which was quite emotional for me. This time, there was less than 24 hours since I had seen him last and he seemed to be eating more willingly and responding to everything positively. This was the first time that I had cried due to the loss of one of our patients. I tried my best to manage through the day so that I could get home and just have a good cry. It was an emotional day for me, but like I did in the previous situation, I decided to focus on the positives and work on making those the priority in my mind.

While I have had different types of experiences in my internship, I had also had a chance to explore the country around me, going to Blarney Castle, Cork, Galway, and many other places.

Blarney Castle.

Walking down the streets of Galway.