Running Wild

Park it like it’s hot. 


I love living in Richmond. I really do.

HOW EVER. There are two things I’m not appreciating so much.

         1. It is humid as all hell.

And 2. Parallel parking (aka how I’m the only one good at it)

I can’t really do much about the humidity other than whine, cry, and complain about it.

Parallel parking here is kind of ridiculous and I don’t ever curse as much as I do when I’m trying to find an open spot. So, in the spirit of city living, I have created a simple steps by step guide to finding a parking spot in RVA.

1. Drive to your destination.

2. Briefly scout the area for open spots.

3. Circle the block once.

4. Curse.

5. Circle the block again.

6. Curse.

7. Curse some more because you realize that every car on your street is spaced out taking up 1.5 spots.

8. Drive down the street a little ways.

9. Make a U-turn.

10. Find an open spot on the opposite side of the street which you were just on.

11. Curse.

12. Make another U-turn.

13. Find the spot you saw.

14. Realize it looked a lot wider from the other side of the street.

15. Curse.

16. Drive down the street a little ways.

17. Finally find an open spot but it looks a little small but you say “Why not?” Because you’ve been saying that a lot these days and you squeeze your little blue Chevy between two other cars.

18. Get out and inspect your park job.

19. Self five because you totally just rocked that park job.

20. Walk to your destination. 

21. Find a spot that just opened up directly in front of your destination.

22. Curse.

I wish you all the best of luck in all your future parallel parking endeavors.


You can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the girl.


I don’t keep it a secret that I don’t like big cities.

Or any city for that matter.

I like the idea of them. I appreciate cities in the sense that I like looking at postcards of the Chicago skyline that someone else took. That’s as far as my appreciation for cities goes, and I promise it does not venture out beyond that. Granted, Chicago is huge compared to other cities, but it really doesn’t matter: I. Hate. Cities.

> Drove through Milwaukee – cried.

> Drove through Seattle – cried.

> Lived within 45 miles of Chicago for my entire life – tried my best to avoid it as much as possible.

So for the past 3 months whenever someone asked me why I picked Richmond, VA as my first stop on my journey of independence… my response was always a very flip “well, why not?”

Now, after being here for a week (truly on my own for the first time in 23 years), I’m starting to see the validity in that question.

See, I never meant to actually live in the city of Richmond. I thought I could find a small apartment in the surrounding suburbs somewhere. However when I called around, there were no vacancies anywhere until October. I doubt my parents would be very pleased with me if I remained unemployed for another 3 months. Also I would go absolutely stir crazy and I’m POSITIVE my mother would block my number after the umpteen millionth time I called because I was bored and wanted her to come home and entertain me.

Therefore with the urgency of needing to move out pronto, I found the apartment of all apartments (“it’s actually a 2-flat” – dad) near downtown Richmond. Really it’s pretty perfect. I have my own room, my own bathroom, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and a roommate who travels around the country for about 75% of the time.

It’s perfect… except that it’s in a city.

I won’t lie, I have used the Olympics as an excuse to not leave the house. With the exception of needing groceries, cause you know – food, I have stayed in my little humble abode on Monument Avenue. And so far I’ve been totally fine with my agoraphobic self… until today.

My agoraphobic self and I had a little conversation this morning and we came to an understanding that I needed to leave the house; I mean 2 -flat.

I promise I’m not crazy.. but I was getting there.

I scoured the internet to see what I could do today that would get me out of the comfort zone I’ve created for myself, and settled on Maymont Mansion and Nature Center.

It was actually pretty cool. I took a tour of some old guy’s (James Dooley) really old mansion, and saw river otters. AND I rewarded myself with a Maymont pin to add to my collection. I sort of got lost coming home, but I made it back in one piece. Parallel parking wasn’t too bad either.

Maybe cities are growing on me……. nah.


Dear Mom, Dad, Hannah, & Tim


Five years ago as I was packing up my room to head off to my first semester of college, Dad gave me a flash drive that held all the music that I grew up listening to. And I listened to that playlist on repeat for that entire first semester. Somedays I go to Spotify and play Angry Eyes by Loggins and Melissa just for the heck of it. So much has changed in the past five years, but one thing that hasn’t is the music we listen to. My whole life, you all have given me everything I have ever needed and I can’t thank any of you enough for all your unconditional love and support. I could never ask for better people to grow up with, learn from, or be loved by. I might be moving across the country, but home will always be where my heart is – with all of you.

To thank you, (as a start), I’ve put together a playlist of songs that in my opinion best summarize the past five years of our lives. Playlist is on your Spotify account titled “Cheers”. Some songs you’ve heard 10,000 times. Some you’ve heard but not for a long time. And others, this will be the first time. Either way, these are all great songs by great artists that embody the great heart of this family (Tim included).



  1. All parties must be present in order to listen to this playlist. That includes Mom, Dad, Hannah, Tim, Maddy, and Lainey.
  2. Find a night when no one has to work the next day. This playlist is a little over 2 hours long and I’m betting you won’t start it until after dinner – which knowing you guys won’t be until about 8:30 or even 9 depending on how much fun you guys are having while making dinner.
  3. Pick a night when it’s gorgeous outside. You’re going to want to sit on the deck while you listen.
  4. Side note: Someone bring some tissues for Mom. She’s going to need them (spoiler: I did NOT include What a Wonderful World specifically because I wasn’t sure she could handle it along with all the other songs that might make her cry. Love you, Mom!)
  5. Also, sorry dad, there’s no Chris Stapleton on this playlist. I think we all know that if I included him, you would probably switch the playlist over to ALL Chris Stapleton.
  6. NO PEEKING. That means no looking ahead to see what’s next! I have no way of knowing if you will or won’t, but I’m trusting you. However, you MAY look at the current song that’s playing.
  7. Try your best not to replay songs. Only replay the best ones… you’ll know which ones they are. I promise.
  8. Listen to all the songs ENTIRELY. Don’t skip around, you’ll regret it. Don’t mess with the order and don’t interject any of your own songs (Queueing is NOT allowed). Also make sure the playlist is not on shuffle.
  9. I recommend playing a game of “up and down” while you listen, let me know who wins; my bets are on Hannah.

So mix your Manhattans, pour your tequila shots, uncork that 3rd bottle of wine… this is going to be a long night.


Moving Day


“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…”

This is it – the day I’ve been waiting for. Today is the day I move to Virginia.

I graduated college. I passed my board exam. I got a job, and now I’m off on my next great adventure. I have no idea what’s ahead of me (other than an extremely long drive). I just know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I only know that I’m supposed to move to Virginia, I’m supposed to help animals, I’m supposed to help people, I’m supposed to put one foot in front of the other.

There’s so much that I’m leaving behind. My parents, for one, have done nothing but love and support me through every big idea I’ve ever had regardless if that idea lasted longer than a minute or 18 months or longer. They’ve stuck by me through hospitals, and school, and losing my way, and finding it again. They’ve been there through everything and there’s no way I’d be able to make this move without them.

(To Mom & Dad -) I know, although proud, you’re sad I’m leaving. But I will remind you over and over again to not be sad about anything I do; this is who you raised me to be.

Then there’s my best friend who I have shared all my secrets with first, before I shared them with anyone else if I shared them at all – my sister.

(To Hannah -) So much has changed these past few years, both for us and between us. Break ups, new relationships, hospitals, car crashes, birthdays, etc. But what hasn’t changed, nor will it ever, is that you are my sister, my best friend (yes, you share this title with Lainey – get over it), my heart, my everything. So much has been going on with both of us: your work overload and my studying and moving. And I’m sorry all that has gotten in the way of our relationship. I’m sorry I forget sometimes to tell you I love you because I assume you already know it. I do love you, and I can’t say enough how proud I am of you and what you’ve done this year with your new endeavor as a entrepreneur. Your business is going to take off, just you wait.

I am also leaving behind my four-legged furry friends Maddy, Lainey, &  also Tim (who is a two-legged person). And although I’ll miss all of them so much, I know they’re in good hands.

(To Tim -) 1. Do right by her, 2. It’s a trap.

Yes, I’m leaving behind my home and those I love. But I’ll be back. This isn’t forever, this is just my next adventure.

So, the car is all packed.

My mountain is waiting.

Better get on my way.

uncropped blue ridge parkway

A diamond taking shape.



I have been home for all of 2 weeks and I’m already incredibly homesick for Virginia. I miss the WCV and all of the friends I made there (even those who left before I did). I know it will be soon enough before I am back in the state (physically, emotionally, and mentally) where I know I belong.

So I will not use this post to whine about how I am not in Virginia because I really am grateful to be back here in the good ol’ flatlands of Illinois with my family – honest! Instead I am going to talk about a man who, 2 weeks ago, was my teacher and mentor and is now no longer considered either as I have since graduated.

This man’s name is Dr. Eric Bergsten and he is one of the vets who taught at my school. He’s a pretty awesome guy; I owe him a ton of gratitude for all that he’s done for me. He wrote me one of the 3 letters of recommendations I needed to get into the WCV externship (thank you!). He spoke very highly of me when the place I used him as a reference called him inquiring about me (thank you!!). And he also was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from.

Dr. Bergsten deserves a special thank you from me for reasons I can only explain in the thank you letter I sent to him today:

May 16, 2016

Dear Dr. Bergsten,

First off I just wanted to say thank you so much for the past year and a half. I learned so much from all of the teachers at Fox College, however I believe I learned the most about patient care and animal compassion from you.

Almost a year ago I was having a tough time in my personal life and I was considering either dropping from the program indefinitely or at least postponing my education for a bit. I thought I had made my decision: I planned on finishing the term and then I would drop. I had made up my mind; that is until I went to one of your last lectures for the term.

The class you were teaching was “Emergency Medicine for Small Companion Animals”. In general that class was tough for me. Between the personal problems I was facing at home and memorizing all the potential toxicities for dogs and cats as well as studying various protocols for different emergency cases, I’ll be honest I struggled quite a bit as I’m sure many of my fellow classmates did as well. No matter the class nor the topic though, you always gave us all the information we required to prepare us for our future patients (and clients) regardless of the difficulty of the content. I thank you for never “sugar coating” the real world of working in a clinic setting.

I digress to the reason I stayed in the vet tech program: your last lecture that had been about different animal abuse cases you’ve seen throughout your many years in practice.  You showed us some pretty gruesome pictures and you shared some even worse, unbelievable stories. The one that truly sunk in, however, and pulled at my heart strings was the case of the dog who was hit over the head with a shovel. That was such a chilling story and it was just as difficult to hear as I’m sure it was for you to recount. But I thank you for sharing that story with us on that day when I needed to hear it the most.

For the first time in many grueling months of long lectures and nonstop studying, I felt, for lack of a better word: needed. After hearing about what those animals had gone through at the hands of humans who were not so much as worthy of their loyalty nor their kindness, I finally started feeling the way I did during my very first term at Fox College. I realized that no matter the difficulties I was facing in my personal life, there was an animal in the world that needed an advocate, a voice, a friend. And after listening to you speak of just a small handful of those who needed someone to stand up on their behalves, I promised myself from that moment on I was going to do my best to speak for those who cannot – just as you have done for your entire career. Thank God for people like you and for every other doctor and technician at the Vet Tech Institute at Fox College.

To summarize, within a 45 minute lecture period and without saying anything more than what was necessary, you captivated the attention of 42 veterinary technician students and taught them an unforgettable lesson in both practice and in life: above all other trials we may face, be an advocate to those whom have no voice. That lesson alone is what helped me put one foot in front of the other that day and each day thereafter and vow to be as loyal and as kind as the companions we share this earth with.

Part of our job in this field is to humanely say farewell to those who cannot or will not fight anymore. Although that is something I will never fully be prepared for and I know will never sit quite right with me, I think that is exactly how I am supposed to feel. And I know that it is both the burden and responsibility we all share as professionals in the veterinary field, for we have each taken an oath “to alleviate animal suffering… conscientiously and with sensitivity”.

Dr. Bergsten, you did an amazing job preparing us for our futures as veterinary technicians and I can only hope that eventually in the course of both my career and each of my fellow classmates’ in cohort 11DV14 that we take shape into the diamonds you saw we could be 18 months ago.

I’ve recently come back from a job interview from a small animal hospital near Richmond, Virginia. I heard from the Drs. whom were interviewing me that you had some very kind words to say about me when they called you. That interview went extremely well and providing I pass the VTNE in July I could potentially have a job waiting for me in the state of our nation’s capital.

I cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve given me. Not just for the wonderful reference for the job in Richmond, but for also teaching me, encouraging individual thought process on case studies, instilling in me a sense of curiosity and joy for learning, and uncovering a deep mantle of compassion and empathy to which continues to push me forward with each passing day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
All the best,

Libby Wickwire

Thanks for everything, Dr. B – Cheers!

The Penny War.


There’s 15 days left of my externship. There’s 23 days until I graduate. Damn time moves fast. I mean, not any faster than one second at a time. But still… it feels like it flew by. Sometimes I’ll sit and zone out for a few minutes and I’ll think about how I got here. It’s been a very long and crazy 18 months. But I think I’m ready for the next chapter – whatever that may be.

These past two days have been incredibly long. The vet staff has been getting out consistently at 5:00PM every night but the rehabbers have been staying until at least 6:30PM. So the past two nights I decided to stay late and help them. And I’m so glad I did because night after chopping up fruits and vegetables, sweeping, and mopping for the rehab staff – I learned how to tube feed baby opossums. They’re so adorable oh my goodness. They would totally fit in my pocket…
Once all the babies were fed we finally left the center at 7:00PM. But our work was not done yet. Instead of going home we drove to a park with a box of 3 bunnies and released them into a forest. Sometimes my job is really hard. We euthanize so many animals it’s really hard to stomach sometimes. I’ve been here for almost 7 weeks and I’ve stopped going into the radiology room to help with intake animals because most of the time animals who go in there for an exam don’t come out alive. Most of the time the animals we get are too far gone to save. Their wounds are usually old and necrosing, or they are very neurologic and can’t walk, stand, or see. Most of the time we are their final stop.
Even though it makes my days longer, working with the rehab staff helps me end my days on a good note. It sucks going home knowing the last patient you saw of the day didn’t make it. There’s just something truly remarkable about releasing an animal back into it’s habitat, or even feeding a baby opossum and helping it grow up to be released. That’s the feeling I like going home with – like I’m doing more good than harm.

I know that I’ve said over and over again how much I love this house and these people. But let me just give one more example of how awesome it has been living here.
One night a few of us were in the front living room playing video games. Jena had gone to the bathroom and when she came back she told us that there was a penny taped to the ceiling. Maggie, Ky, and I all kind of brushed it off like she was crazy and continued to play video games. Later Ky went to the bathroom and came back and said that Jena was crazy there was no penny. Thirty seconds later Maggie and I each got a text from Ky saying that she stole the penny! I feel like it was much funnier when it happened… but the story’s not over yet.
A couple days later Ky found a penny taped to the ceiling over her bed. And thus the start of the penny war had begun. We then taped a penny over Jena’s bed and for about a week we all went back and forth between Jena and Ky’s beds taping pennies to their ceilings.
Then yesterday I came home, dropped my stuff off on my bed, and for some reason I felt like I had to look up. Sure enough, there was a penny taped to the ceiling over my bed. I ran over to Maggie’s room to see if she had one too – she didn’t. I needed to get some pay back here but I didn’t know what. I started with trying to tape another penny over Jena’s bed. And as you all know I am pretty damn short. So I went out to the living room where the rest of the house (minus Jena, Ky, and Maggie) was sitting eating dinner and watching TV, and tried to enlist the help of some taller people.
I told them the story of the penny war. I think they found it funny? Mostly they just thought I was crazy and pretty much wouldn’t help me move the dresser and climb on top of it to tape a penny to the ceiling. Rude, right??
Not sure what to do next I did the only thing I could think of: I called Maggie. And good thing I did because her idea was brilliant. She told me to tape a penny to the ceiling of everyone’s bed in the house. I got everyone – including Karen who sleeps on the bottom of a bunk bed; all except for Elise. She was watching a movie and wouldn’t leave her room. Damn her.
When Maggie got home I told her I needed her to lure Elise out of her room so I could tape the penny to her ceiling. Also I was exhausted from working 11 hours that day and the sole reason I was still awake was to finish taping pennies to everyone’s ceiling. Elise was the last one and after that I was going to bed.
Maggie knocked on Elise’s door, poked her head in and said one of the most for sure ways to get Elise out of her room: “Hey, do you want to play a drinking game?”
At first I was super grateful to have Elise out of her room and I accomplished my goal for the night. YAY! But then I felt obligated to play the game with the rest of the house so it didn’t look suspicious. Three beers and 2 hours later, I regret nothing.
Once the game was over we all went to bed… sort of. I heard Maggie laughing and saying something about a penny so I went to check out what was going on. Elise had found her penny. At first she was super confused, but then accepted it and walked away with it. She came back a minute later and said “There. Now someone else can find the penny.”
And thus begins penny war II.
Game on.

Belated post since we don’t have internet at the house.


I have definitely become attached to these people. I love every single one of them. They’re family. I haven’t known any of them for more than a month, but I know I’d do anything for them.
A couple of days ago one of them left to go home since their externship is done. And this weekend 2 more of them are leaving. I know we’ll keep in touch and I’m sure I’ll see them again someday, but this is still incredibly hard. Goodbyes are always hard.
Last night we all went out as one last hoorah. We went to a cider house and then after that we went to a brewery. And when we got home we played drinking games. I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun. Yesterday was absolutely perfect from the moment I woke up to the second I fell asleep and I wish I could play it over again.
I’m usually very articulate and can describe things really well. But I don’t know how to put this week into words, but I’m going to try:

Monday: We got a new person in the house. Sam. He’s great. He loves basketball almost as much as I do and I wish he had been here 2 weeks ago to watch the games with me. The only bad thing is that he went to UW Madison… pesky badgers. But he’s still great.

Tuesday: We got another new person in the house. Jenna. She’s freaking awesome. She fit in perfectly right away.

Wednesday: We went on a hike up a mountain. Both the climb and the view at the top were literally breathtaking. I’ll tell you, there’s absolutely nothing better than sitting at the top of a mountain watching the sunset and drinking an Angry Orchard with 8 of your closest friends.

Thursday: This day was actually my “Friday”. My weeks are off by a day because I get Fridays and Saturdays off. Half the house went out to Blue Mountain Brewery. Honestly I just wanted to get a refill on my growler but then other people tagged along and it became an actual dinner instead of just an alcohol run. So I refilled my growler AND had dinner with friends. Unfortunately this was Jessica’s last day at the house. After dinner she left. I pretty much attacked her with a hug in the parking lot. I can’t even explain how this happened but now there’s this ongoing joke in the house that you’re only allowed to leave if you’re cut up and stuffed in a pizza box. Our humor is weird and I love it.

Friday: (My Saturday). Kylee and I woke up and cleaned the kitchen since it was starting to get really gross. Also the only things on our counter are alcohol and citrus. I tried to clean up a bit and make it look like we didn’t just drink all the time – no such luck. I’ve decided I’m okay with our obvious stash of alcohol. It says we have fun. After we cleaned the kitchen we went to the Shenandoah National Park and hiked 6 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I’ve officially decided that one day I’m going to come back and do the whole thing. (note to self – bring sunscreen next time). When everyone else got home from work we all went to the cider house and Devils Backbone Brewery and preceded to have one of the best nights of my life with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.
Oh! Also at some point this week we got another new person… Shannon. But she doesn’t live with us so I don’t really know when she got here. But she’s great and fits in perfectly. She came out with us last night too.
Basically last night I got super drunk and told every single person in the house that I loved them.. at least 3 times each. Which I absolutely do.
And now It’s my Sunday (but actually it’s Saturday) and I’m super hung over and writing this blog post.
It’s true what they say: Your 20’s are meant for the moments you’ll never remember and the people you’ll never forget. I will surely never forget these people.

Running with conviction


I don’t know what it is lately, but the homesickness is definitely starting to hit me hard. Mostly I miss my dog. Which sounds lame, but I really don’t care. She’s perfect and I miss her.
College basketball season is nearly over so my life is starting to get back on schedule. I started running again yesterday – did a 5k through the woods. It was really nice, I felt free almost. Today I tried to run the same route but my head wasn’t in it. Half way through I just stopped. Too many thoughts crowding my adrenaline. I couldn’t concentrate on my breathing much less my route. They say nothing kills your run faster than a blister. Which I totally agree with; if you don’t have the right shoes you’re kinda screwed. But to be honest, there’s nothing worse than your head not being in the game. My heart and my limbs want to keep pushing forward but my head is dragging its heels.
Sure you can tell yourself “mind over matter” but it doesn’t mean a thing if your mind is 500 miles away from the path in front of you. It’s so frustrating. I guess I’ll take tomorrow off and try again the day after. If anything that’ll help my runner’s knee that’s starting to present in my right leg.
The center is good; same old, same old. Haven’t gotten any cases that are super crazy or interesting lately. Yesterday we got a snapping turtle that weighed about 15kg. It was shot in the head and had major skull fractures so we euthanized it. Today we flight tested an american crow. It’s x-rays looked great and it was eating everything we offered. But the problem was that it wouldn’t fly. Today was the 5th day that it was non-flighted with a bilateral wing droop. At that point there wasn’t much we could do for it. You can’t help something that has no fight in it and won’t try. So we euthanized it.
We probably euthanize some animal or multiple animals everyday. It gets really sad some days. For example, when we’re brought a litter of cottontail rabbits that are under 50g. They’re completely healthy infant rabbits, but because they’re under 50g we know they won’t survive in our care. We could give them medication, fluids, warm shelter, and feed them every 4 hours and it still wouldn’t be comparable to what their mother could offer them. Even after all that, they’d still only have a 20% chance of survival. So we don’t have another choice but to euthanize them. Those days are some of the hardest. They don’t happen every day, but they’re still difficult. I’ve learned so much in the past month. But the hardest lesson to learn was that no matter how much supportive care you give to something, it can still die on you.
We try to do everything we can to rehabilitate animals to go back into their natural habitat. But sometimes there’s just nothing we can do. It’s hard, but we turn our attention to those we can help, and somehow that makes what we do worth it.

Now I’m about to talk about something that may shock everyone who’s close to me: God.
As I’ve said before, my friend Maggie did the 11 in 11 world race last year. Last night we stayed up until 4am talking about her trip and God and religion. The way she talks about her experience and her journey and her relationship with God is kind of mesmerizing to listen to. I’m almost jealous that I didn’t grow up with strong faith like the way she did. I’ve never once mentioned any of this to anyone. I mean, I’ve always respected religion and those who are devoted and all that. But I’ve always just sat on the side lines while everyone else believed and I just kept my thoughts to myself (even the incomplete, confused ones).
I decided a really long time ago that religion just wasn’t for me. I can’t say I’m atheist nor agnostic. I don’t deny He exists and I don’t deny the ability to believe in Him. It’s more confusion than anything else.
I do believe that the world would be in complete ruin if people didn’t have faith in a higher power. Society would literally collapse on itself if religion wasn’t present in our world today. I believe that having faith in something greater than yourself is essential, no matter what you believe in.
I also believe that my Nana watches over me. Where else would she be doing that if not Heaven?
Many of you know I spent some time in the hospital a few years ago. It was a really rough time for me and being so sick and helpless for so long really did a number on my mental health. I’m a lot better now but I still have days where all I want to do is lay in bed and stare at the ceiling for the next 12+ hours. Those are the days when whatever faith I have in God is truly tested. For a long time post hospital I was really angry. Everyone told me that everything happens for a reason. Well shoot. I almost died on the operating table. Except I didn’t. Someone tell me what was the reason for that? Why am I still here? What reason do I have for being here?
Make no mistake, I do not regret anything in my life. I know how blessed I am for the things I have and the people who love me. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to figure out my reason for being on this earth. And that journey of self discovery is one I know I have to take alone. No one can answer that question for me.
I can’t talk to God the way that Maggie does or pray for things the way my sister does. Maybe I will some day, but right now the only way I can feel or hear Him at all is when I’m running.
I’m not going to start going to church every Sunday. I may go every once in a while and see how it goes. For now though my mind is wide open and I’m just looking for answers. I told you guys I wasn’t the same girl who left IL a month ago. This place is changing me. These people are changing me. My story is definitely taking a turn that I didn’t see coming. But don’t worry – I’ll always be that headstrong person with big goals and no fear.

No medical terms, no bullshit, just life


Since I’ve been out here, I have to admit I haven’t really been all that homesick. Sure I miss my parents and my sister and my dogs and everything, but I’m never sitting around wishing that I was with them. I’m taking that as a sign I’m growing up.

However, tonight my parents are coming to visit. And I am beyond excited.

I was raised by two of the most supportive parents in the world. There’s no way I would have had half the courage to do what I’m doing if it wasn’t for them. Between long talks on Saturday afternoons in the craft room with my mom, and invaluable advice from my dad around the bonfire while we keep drinking long after the rest of the world has gone to sleep, I’ve been given the gift of unconditional love and support.

Over the past 23 years they have taught me to be brave, and honest, and to work hard, and stay humble. But not just that. They have also taught me that one of the most important things in life is who you share it with. In other words, surround yourself with good people.

So far I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that – at least out here I have. It’s only been a month and I already consider my housemates as family. I can’t remember the last time I had this big of a connection with someone who wasn’t related to me. Maybe it’s because we all work at the same place and have multiple common interests. Regardless, this place has very quickly become a place I can call “home” and it will be extremely hard to leave it and even harder to leave these wonderful people. But I know we’ll always stay in touch, or at least try to.

These people are in my life for a reason – they’re important. They are changing my story in the best way possible. I took this externship because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience something new. I wanted to be brave and take a risk. I wanted to become a better technician, friend, person. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not coming back to Illinois the same person as I was when I left it. And after I graduate I can’t promise I will stay. I know there’s so much more out there in the world that I want to be a part of. So much more that I want to see and do. And right now, it’s something I need to do on my own. I have my parents to thank for raising me to be so independent.

It’s not just the mountains that are calling; it’s the rivers, and the valleys, and the deserts, and everything in between.

I don’t want to settle for a simple life, for I am not a simple person.



Case Study: 16-0116


For school I have to write up a case study once a week on a patient at the center. This week I chose patient 16-0116: An Eastern American Toad. I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool things so far but this case was definitely my favorite to be a part of so I thought I’d share it.

Signalment: Eastern American Toad, adult, sex undetermined

History: Public citizen was gardening and accidentally injured toad with pruners.

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Chief Complaint: Loss of deep pain and motor function in right distal forelimb, exposure of distal articular surface of humerus, superficial laceration over right mid-dorsolateral back, open luxation of right elbow.

Clinical Signs: Right forelimb dragging along below the elbow without any obvious movement of the digits. No deep pain response and no motor function in the distal right forelimb. Right forelimb digits swollen.

Diagnostics: Two dorsoventral views were taken with the right forelimb laid caudal and then laid in normal cranial position. The technique was slightly underexposed with a grainy appearance to the image and loss of fine detail. The positioning is diagnostic, though the caudal portion of the frog is not straight in one view. Both radiographs show a luxation at the right elbow joint.

Diagnosis: Loss of deep pain and motor function in right distal forelimb, superficial laceration over right mid-dorsolateral back, open luxation of right elbow.

Treatment: Pain medication and antibiotics due to exposure of distal articular surface of humerus. Amputation of right distal forelimb necessary.



Prognosis: Guarded to fair

Patient outcome: Patient was taken to surgery two days post admittance. Surgery was successful. However, patient was euthanized during recovery post-op since patient remained non-responsive despite epinephrine administration and assisted ventilation. Euthasol administered intracoelomic.

Extern reflection: First of all I have to say how impressed I was with the public citizen who brought in the toad. I don’t know many people who would transport a toad to a wildlife hospital. I think most people would feel bad about accidentally snipping them with a pair of gardening shears, but probably would just let nature take its course. Second, I am both honored and impressed with the care given to this toad by everyone involved with this case.

The day of surgery we began inducing the patient around 2:05 pm EST. Amphibians can be somewhat difficult to induce. This is by no means anything like inducing a dog or cat. You can’t just premed them with sedatives and analgesics (pain medication). Well, you can but it’s not the preferred method. All the vet staff on the case read up on different methods to induce amphibians. The night before surgery I was reading several articles relating to amphibian anesthesia since I was to be the primary anesthetist on the case.

The thing with amphibians is that their skin absorbs everything. Although they do have lungs, they also use their skin as part of their respiratory system. After reading about several different ways to induce an amphibian patient, we all decided to induce our toad patient via topical anesthetic. We used a mixture of 1.5 mL of distilled water, 3.5 mL of lubricant, and 3 mL of isoflurane and applied the mixture to the patient’s dorsum (back).

Initially we applied a very low dose of anesthetic, careful not to cause anesthetic toxicity. The problem we encountered, however, was our patient would not stay sedated long enough to begin the surgery. Every time we adequately sedated the toad, he would wake up just as I finished prepping the right forelimb for surgery causing the surgical site to become unsterile. Finally after several hours of going back and forth trying to sedate the patient, we decided to apply the highest dose of anesthetic and immediately begin the surgery. At this point my “scrub” became more of a “drip chorhexidine on the surgical site and flush with saline three times” – which was really not ideal but time wasn’t on our side.

The surgery went great. Patient’s heart rate remained steady through most of the procedure, only increasing during the amputation itself. My main problem as being the anesthetist on this case was that I had almost no way of monitoring the patient’s respiratory rate. This is REALLY not ideal in any surgery since the first sign your patient is too deep is their respiratory rate will decrease. The only thing I had to go on was the doppler to monitor the heart rate, which like I said remained mostly steady. Everything we read prior to surgery was that intubation should be reserved for large amphibians only. And since our little toad was only 30.2 grams, we decided against intubation.

For two hours post surgery I monitored the patient’s recovery. Part of my job as being a tech (my favorite part) is providing animals with good nursing care. We are the ones who make sure the patient wakes up and feels comfortable. It’s our job to report any signs of pain to the veterinarian on the case. So I did my job and I sat by my patient the whole time, while intermittently dousing the patient with Reptile Ringers solution and Saline to A. keep the patient moist and hydrated, and B. to flush the isoflurane from their system. The heart rate remained at a steady 60 bpm, increasing slightly every so often. At one point the toad opened its eyes and mouth. I took this as a sign we were on the right path to recovery. However, that was the last sign of recovery I observed.

The other weird thing with amphibians is that their heart will continue to beat after they’ve died. This was a growing fear as we reached the first hour mark of recovery. Around 6:00 pm we decided to take a chance and intubate the patient. We used a size 1 cole tube (a non-cuffed endotracheal tube) which fit perfectly in the patient’s trachea. This was when we realized we should have intubated the patient from the start. After ventilating the patient with an Ambu bag for 15 minutes we administered an intramuscular injection of diluted epinephrine. As I was handling the patient, I realized some of the limbs were becoming stiff. The patient was going into rigor mortis – meaning that our patient had been dead for a couple hours.

Euthasol was administered via intracoelomic to stop the heart and time of death was called at 7:20 pm.

The total time spent on this case from time of initial attempt of induction to time of death was 6 hours. Our clinic closes at 5:00 pm and I did not leave the hospital until 8:00 pm. The lengths that we went to for this toad was remarkable. We did everything we could to keep this toad alive and to make sure the if or when they woke up, they would have a good enough quality of life to be released back into its natural habitat – the sole goal of our clinic.

To most people ventilating a toad with an Ambu bag may seem extraneous and a bit ridiculous. But what kind of wildlife clinic would we be if we didn’t treat every animal with the same respect?  Just because they’re lower on the food chain doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same respect as a cat or dog. We appreciate the circle of life and we understand how it works. But we will still do our best to give every animal a fair shot at survival. It is not up to us to decide who lives and who dies. We are given the daunting task of deciding whether an animal is able to be saved or should be euthanized. But if there’s any chance of survival we will do everything we can to help our patients get there. Sometimes though, we have to euthanize because we know that sometimes there’s nothing we can do. Sometimes nature has already taken its course when the patients arrive at our clinic. It is definitely hard, but at the same time it’s rewarding to be able to rehabilitate an animal and release them back into the wild. And it’s an amazing feeling to know that you did everything you could to help something as little as an Eastern American Toad.


NOTE: if anyone has any questions about the case or the procedure I would be happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge. If I don’t know the answer, I will direct the question to the vet.