Another Unexpected Loss (Week 2)

Week’s Itinerary: LA Digestive Exam 1, Radiology Quiz # 2 & 3, Surgery and Quiz #2 regarding Feline Neutering

As you may remember, back in January we lost a vet student by the name of Zachary Cowart from Class of 2017.  On Wednesday of this week, we sadly lost another student from Class of 2018.  Here is a message from the Dean:

It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that we have lost a treasured member of our CVM community.  Sina Shayegan, class of 2018, passed away Wednesday August 27 of unknown cause.  Sina is from Cumming Georgia.  His family is understandably in shock from this tragic loss.  I ask that you keep Sina and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. 


Here is the Dean and Sina Shayegan during Class of 2018 White Coat Ceremony in August

He will be greatly missed by all his classmates here at the vet school.  I pray that his family will receive comfort during their time of grief.

On the academic front, professors bombarded 3rd years with quizzes and exams this week.  The first quiz was on radiology, which focused on bone diseases that affect young, large-breed dogs.  For example,  Panosteitis is a common cause of lameness, mostly in young  German shepherds. Fortunately, it usually goes away when they mature. We also were tested on Osteochondrosis (OC) and Osteochondritis dessicans (OCD), conditions that cause pain in the shoulders, elbows, tarsus (heel area), and stifle (knee area) of large and giant breeds. We had to identify X-rays for other diseases as well.

The second quiz focused on diseases of the axial skeleton, which consists of the skull and spine of an animal.  So far, the format for all the radiology quizzes has been the same: we’re shown 10 X-rays we have already seen and discussed during lab and asked multiple-choice questions about them. I managed to do very well in both quizzes this week, so I am very thankful.

Neutering my cat for surgery class was a fun experience.  Here are the surgical procedures:

A closed castration was performed on the right testicle.  The right testicle was incised ventrodorsally and the spermatic cord was tied off with a single throw.  The scrotum was left open.

 An open castration was performed on the left testicle.  Using the blade, the testicle was incised ventrodorsally.  The testicle was pushed through the opening.  Then another ventrodorsal incision was made through the parietal tunic covering the testicle and the testicle was pushed through the incision.  After the testicle was free from the scrotum and the tunic, a hemostat was used to pull the ligament of the tail of the epididymis from the epididymis.  A hemostat was used to pull the epididymis away from the testicle and remaining spermatic cord.  Two square knots were created by tying the epididymis to the remaining spermatic cord.  After ligation was complete, the spermatic cord was incised at its distal end and the stub was placed back within the scrotum.  Excess tunic was also transected and removed.  The surgical opening in the skin was left open.

The LA (large animal) Digestive Exam 1 was challenging, but I was ready to conquer it.  The test consisted of 20 multiple-choice questions, 10 written by each of our two professors. One professor’s section much harder than the other’s, but I still managed to get an A.  I was so excited that I called my parents to let them know how well I am doing so far.

Now, I promised I would share with you how Dragon Con went this weekend.  I had a BLAST.  It was a huge costume party of nerds — plus people-watchers like me who’d come to observe tens of thousands of people dressed up like characters from science fiction and fantasy. It was hard to move around sometimes because the five hotels hosting the conference were so crowded.  My friend (who goes every year) said this was the largest, most crowded Dragon Con ever held.  It was a very enjoyable experience regardless. It was funny to be waiting in line for food between a centurion from the movie “300” and some strange alien from Star Wars.





It felt so surreal walking past costumes like this


I got the wonderful opportunity of taking a picture with a character from my favorite childhood movie, (Rufio in ”Hook”).  RIP Robin Williams.






Through Him,


 1 Samuel 16:7

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”




Starting off Strong (Week 1)

Week’s Itinerary: Radiology Quiz #1 and Surgery Quiz #1

During a typical new semester, I am already feeling behind on my class work after two days.

But not this time when I felt very organized and efficient during the first week.  I was able to look at the lecture notes before hearing the professor teach, and I am soaking up new information.  I’m not sure how long this will last but I like it.

Demand peaked on Wednesday when we had two quizzes.  The first radiology quiz for the semester was not difficult at all.  It was based on our first three lectures and on the lab assignment we worked on as teams (we were allowed to choose our own groups).  We were shown 10 X-rays we had already seen and discussed during lab and asked multiple-choice questions about them.  I got an A, which is a fantastic way to begin a new school year.  Here’ a goofy cartoon:



The second quiz for the week was for surgery.  This turned out to not to be hard, even though we weren’t entirely sure what the first quiz of the semester would cover.  The professor wanted us to review old information related to surgeries we performed on piglets last spring semester.  So we were asked about proper hygiene and etiquette techniques, when to change our anesthetic equipment, what is wrong with a surgical site projected on screen, and so forth.  We wrote short answers individually and then answered the questions again with our group members. The professor surprised us by saying that she would use higher of the two.  This an unexpected bonus was a treasure to my eyes.

I promise you the weeks will get more exciting as the semester continues.  Next weekend, after my first surgery and large animal digestive exam, I will be going with a friend to “DragonCon” in Downtown Atlanta. If you don’t already know, this is a conference that celebrates the fantasy worlds of video games, sci-fi movies, and anime.  Stay tuned for pictures.


Through Him,


Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”


The Worst of Summer 2014

Highlight: Surviving a Pit Bull Attack

In late July of this year, I took a few days off to visit my parents in the Marietta neighborhood where I grew up.  One Sunday afternoon, I was looking forward to my familiar, neighborhood jogging routine when all of a sudden I saw a loose and huge white Pit Bull running towards me.  There was no fence – visible or invisible – between us as he was barreling straight for me.


This is not the dog that attacked me, but it is a friendlier-looking version of him

I didn’t run because I knew that would provoke him more, and he was way too fast to even try, so I just stood my ground.   When he got closer, I could see that his ears were cropped, and I later found out that he had spent his earlier years in a dog-fighting kennel.

I was able to dodge his first lunge, and he lost his balance for a few seconds. But he righted himself and lunged a second time, hitting me full in the chest.  When the weight of the dog hit and his teeth pierced my skin, the fact that I’m a veterinarian in training made no difference. I was as terrified as anyone else.

Fortunately, his owners saw everything, ran to me, and thrust themselves between me and the dog.  If the owners weren’t there, it could have turned out WAY worse, but I truly feel so blessed that God protected me during that scary experience.  The owners were horrified and they paid for everything.  They paid for my visit to a nearby urgent care center and bought me a new phone, because my old one shattered during the attack.  As parents of a one-year old child, they also made the painful decision to put the dog down, and the last I heard he was impounded.  I was only at the urgent care center for a couple of hours just to clean up my minor injuries and check for any possible infection.  So I am just fine, no worries 🙂  Now, 4 weeks later, I’m almost healed.

It’s funny how being in vet school has changed my perceptions of human medicine. The procedures used to clean my wound made me wish I was being treated by a veterinarian instead of a human doctor.  Usually when an animal comes in with a bite wound, the veterinarian squirts a syringe of sterile saline solution into the lesion to clean it out thoroughly.   Punctures are usually left open to allow drainage.  The emergency doctor who worked on me did not clean my wound that way.  She wiped the skin surface off, put it in a few stitches and covered it with a loose dressing.  I was a little skeptical with her methods, but they must have been sufficient because I don’t have an infection.  I’m grateful for that.

In the future, I will be carrying a pocket knife and pepper spray whenever I run, walk to my car, skip and whistle to my next class . . .  I want to be protected at all times.  Another friend who is a runner gave me a tip that is supposed to defuse a dog attack.  If a dog is coming at you, try to run backwards while still facing it.  This supposedly confuses the dog and causes it to stop.  Weird, I know.  And not tested by me (fortunately).

After hearing how traumatized I was by this experience, people have asked me if I think pit bulls should be kept as pets.  The owners of the dog that mauled me did the best they could to rehabilitate an animal who had spent his first two years in a violent situation that rewards aggression.  I don’t rule out pit bulls as being pets, but it can be very difficult to revive the gentle side of a dog who has survived such an environment.  Just know that they are very territorial animals, that fences are a good thing, and that owners need to have fool-proof commands for stopping chases before they start.  Right now, my feeling is that I will handle pit bulls in clinical situations only if they are muzzled.  After what I experienced, I am not playing around with that breed.

Through Him,


Romans 1:17

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The Best of Summer

For what may be the last time in my working life, I could have chosen to do absolutely nothing this past summer. For those of us studying to be doctors, whether our patients will be human or animal, the summer after our second year of school is famous as the last unstructured summer for the foreseeable future. Maybe ever.  But instead of sleeping in and playing video games, I took advantage of my free summer in a different way. I signed up for the Georgia Veterinary Scholars Program (GVSP), an amazing program that provides an introduction to the high-energy space where veterinary and human medicine intersect in biomedical research. From May until August, I was part of a group of 15 vet students, two from Tuskegee, one from Grenada, and the rest from UGA .  We were assigned to work with top scientists in their labs, we visited other labs and research facilities, and at the end of the summer, we all traveled to Cornell University to present the results of our research project.  Here is the website for GVSP:

My project focused on using stem cells to regenerate bone after a fracture. We were trying to find out what is really going on in the “Fracture Putty” (an experimented gel containing the stem cells) that we use to heal weight and non-weight bearing fractures in mice, sheep, and hopefully humans in the future.  We know the putty helps heal broken bones, but we are not sure exactly how it works.  We also know the stem cells secrete bone morphogenetic proteins, which we call BMP-2 in the lab. And we know that this protein is an osteoinducer, a signal that recruits some of the patients own stem cells to the fracture site and turns them into bone cells.  But we were not sure whether the stem cells in the gel itself were also turning into bone cells.

Below is a picture taken by researchers in the “Regeneration Bioscience Center” here at UGA before I arrived this summer.  The red circle marks where the “Fracture Putty” was injected into a mouse’s thigh muscle 14 days before the image was made.  Clearly some bone is forming, which a fascinating discovery to me.

fracture putty

Figure 1 : 2.6 x 10^6 human umbilical MSC were transduced with 10 MOI of BMP2 lentivirus and injected into the left leg of NOD/SCID female immunocompromised mice. Right leg was used as a non-injected control and mouse was x-rayed after 14 days. (January 2014)

At the end of the summer, the results I hoped to see came up inconclusive.  But it is perfectly fine because I do not feel upset or have any feeling of worrying, which is what I struggle with during school time.  The truth about research is that most experiments don’t work, and people who choose a life of biomedical research must deal with disappointment over and over again.  This summer, God is blessing me right now because I am seeing myself slowly conquering the feeling of worrying.  So, although my results came out inconclusive, I still feel like I have just been through a victory.

The big finale for the GVSP is a trip to Cornell University to present our posters at a national research symposium hosted by Merial, a major veterinary drug maker, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Over 200 research students from across the country presented for 4 days at Cornell.

I honestly felt a little nervous presenting my work.  Guys, as a singer, I have performed in front of thousands of people at concerts- and I admit I still get nervous to this day.   But this was different, standing before an audience as a scientist, not a singer.  Now I’ve experienced two different species of stage fright, thanks to GVSP. And I can tell you that Ithaca, New York, home of Cornell University, lives up to its bumper sticker: “Ithaca is Gorges.”


Cornell’s beautiful gorges


Here’s me in front of my poster

Through Him,


Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”