Saturday, July 4, 2015


This is my my final entry for this 'diary'.  I would like to thank my loyal readers for joining me in my very challenging journey of getting my Australasian, and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon qualification to practice veterinary profession.  

1 May 2015 graduation, finished the degree November 2014. The University of Adelaide DVM Class of 2014!

Queensland veterinary practitioner.

My New Zealand veterinary registration certificate.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Mountain of Treasure

It's almost sunset.

Extremely exhausted, he sat on the huge, jagged, wind sculptured, granite monolith that marked the summit of Monte Trésor.  Rogelio Pagoto breathed a sigh of relief as he gazed across the western horizon.  As seconds went by, the perfectly round midsummer, evening sun had been gradually hiding behind the distant, rugged hills.  With the priceless vista in front of him, all he wanted was to savour this moment!

"Finally!" he said.

The random patches of orange lichens covering the gigantic rock he was sitting on had turned golden--  as if glistening  against the final glow of the day.  Minutes later, darkness engulfed the mountain range!  Then Rogelio thought about his backpack- it was almost empty.  The three-day journey up to the peak had completely depleted all his provisions.  So as the unseen forest crickets started chirping, he felt another challenge he's facing right now.  Darkness... frigidity... starvation.

But there's something waiting for him! According to the legend, Monte Trésor promises brightness, warmth and abundance.  Rogelio believed all the tales that had been told about this mystic mountain so armed with faith, courage, and determination, he took the treacherous, less travelled trek and luckily conquered it. 

Troubled, he stayed lying on the rock for a few minutes blankly staring on the starless sky.  The night was pitch black. 

Rogelio finally decided to stand and as he laid his right hands flat on the supposedly lichen-carpeted granite surface, within the crevice, he surprisingly felt a small purse half-full of round, soft and smooth tiny balls.  His heart rate had risen, unusually beating stronger!  He quickly grabbed the purse believing that it might be the treasure that everyone had been searching for! 

As he was excitedly loosening up the purse's string, he suddenly spotted something that's glistening ten metres away!  Rogelio was on a serious dilemma because according to the legend, there were plenty of treasures interspersed within the moss-covered rock, scattered around the summit Monte Trésor.  The worthy recipient, however, could only possess ONE (and not both) to achieve happiness and success in life!  So now he had to choose- take the vintage purse he was holding or grab the one that's glittering at a distance.   

NOTE: 'Trésor' is a French word for treasure. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Almost there

I've been trying to write something on this page since yesterday afternoon but I couldn't even complete a sentence...

Knowing myself, it simply means I am very happy.  I don't, honestly, know why but updating this journal every time I feel really bad or sad is no sweat.  But when I'm happy, I could hardly finish a decent post for this diary.

Muck-up and dress-up day for our final day at uni, I tried to dress-up as an Australian farmer. 
Yesterday was the last day of classes at the university for school year 2014.  And for me and my DVM III classmates, it's not just another Friday that would mark the end of the week, nor another end of the semester or school year because yesterday was officially the conclusion of our veterinary education at the University of Adelaide!

It seems only like the other day when I decided to give up my job at the poultry farm so I could pursue my dream of becoming a qualified veterinarian in Australia.  I honestly thought that getting through this endeavour was only as simple as wearing a lab coat, a pair of scrubs and an overall.  Well, it definitely went way beyond that and it was not just an extra lovely stethoscope hanging around my neck or a name plate pinned on my clinic shirt...  there were daylong lectures that seemed to last like forever, endless tutorials and practical sessions that are actually too numerous to count!  [(Of course I don't want to mention those exams, online quizzes, twenty-six weeks of clinical placement and twenty-four weeks of clinical rotation.  Most importantly, I have forgotten all the arrogance that I have seen and all the embarrassments that I've felt for the past three years.)]

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my stay at the vet school.  I honestly have regrets of not updating this diary to document my stories as often as what I had originally planned.  As I slither though this 3-year DVM program I got too carried away as often as I literally dropped my jaw every time I got the chance to use every equipment in this world-class training facility.  Every time I found myself standing in the surgical skills theatre, diagnostic imaging suites, intensive care unit, necropsy and microscopy rooms or by simply monitoring and recovering our anaesthetised patient at the equine hospital, I would spare a moment to thank the Most Powerful up there for this learning opportunity that had never ever existed even in my wildest dreams before. 

What a ride!  The twists and turns of the challenges in this vet school were undoubtedly outweighed by all the experiences that I had- the skills developed with all the good veterinary medical science behind it, my immersion with the younger generation and culture, being taught by professors who authored a few textbooks, the friends I have met, and the list goes on...            

Time gallops, indeed!

Yes, it's over but let me defer the acknowledgement of those people and organisations who supported me through the years.  I will do that after I get through the Transition to the Veterinary Profession final examinations.  Nine days from now, in four consecutive days I will be sitting for two written, two oral and one objective structured clinical examinations that will absolutely be another terrifying but definitely a life-changing moment in my life.   

Fingers crossed.

The University of Adelaide DVM Class of 2014.  Can you find me?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014


A sculpture on a rubble, Port Adelaide, S.A.

His eyeballs were gradually drowning, he could feel it… then he simply just couldn’t hold it back, so it started to overflow.

Rogelio Pagoto quickly glanced over the rear-view mirror of his 1999 blue Toyota Starlet to check the traffic behind him.  The Horrocks Highway was empty so all he saw on that rounded and rectangular mirror was the reflection of his damp eyelashes, deeply injected sclera, and a tear drop that was uncontrollably flowing down the medial canthus of his left eye.

For quite a few kilometres now, he had been driving haphazardly.  He never did notice the violent gust and the wind-blown dust outside.  After a few years of losing the sensation for pain, it had all changed this afternoon; the emotional numbness seemed to have started to wane off as he felt his heart bursting out of his chest.  He released his right foot off the accelerator as he drove downhill; it was then when he caught the sight of that thick, heavy clouds hovering above the expanse of the flowering wheat field—perfectly concealing the splendor of the late afternoon, mid spring sun.

He must have been tired of hearing my prayers… I have been asking for this for ages now but He seemed to have been ignoring me,” he thought as he tightened his grip on the steering wheel.  The vehicle he was driving accelerated uphill, disregarding the 100 kph speed limit.

Yes, Rogelio was wondering why his prayer had remained unanswered.  He knew he was so blessed to have been enjoying all the comforts he had for quite a while but the divine intervention he’d been requesting for the sake of a loved one back home was, for so long, yet to be granted!  Even those countless votive candles he'd lit in the shrines and altars of the churches he had visited didn't work, the intercession just didn't happen.

With his Sony Nex-5 and his tripod in his backpack sitting on the passenger seat, he drove aimlessly through the Main North Road wishing to eventually find a great subject to photograph so he could, somehow, suppress the disturbing emotions he’d been bearing all day.  It started to drizzle so he had to turn his wiper on to mop the raindrop splatters off the windshield.  Using the back of his hand, he cleared that drip of a salty liquid off his left cheek, too.  

At the moment, he was certainly unsure whether to keep his faith or to give up his belief that one day it would all be worth the wait. 


Saturday, August 16, 2014


My classmate, Beshoy- very busy taking pictures of his histopathology slides.

I FINISHED OFF A PACKET of ten 500mg paracetamol tablets this week.  And I am extra thankful that at 5pm yesterday (Friday) I am still up and kicking! 

Yesterday was the last day of my Pathology and Diagnostic Services Rotation—and for the whole week since Monday, my rotation group-mates and I were required to do 4 case presentations and sit for a one-hour exit exam.  With an exam and a grand rounds presentation left for the final day, I was stressing out over the fear of failure.  On Thursday night, I just felt extremely exhausted—every square millimeter of my bones and flesh was aching, that I simply couldn’t believe to have completed the rotation and embraced Friday evening unscathed.

This morning I still feel the need of taking some more painkillers.  No regrets, it was my fault last night—I decided to celebrate the conclusion of my pathology rotation by gulping down some milliliters of Shiraz-Merlot-Sauvignon trio as well as gobbling up hundreds of grams of grilled lamb chops with a good friend Jordan.  So here I am having a bit of head and body aches yet enjoying the comfort of my humble yet well-heated room (while missing out the second day of the Barossa Gourmet Weekend). 

Don’t get me wrong; that rotation was the best that I had, so far.  I truly loved it!  Foremost and most importantly, the pathologists and the rest of the diagnostic ancillary services team had successfully created a very friendly atmosphere—which ended up to be a very good learning environment, and in building up my confidence on this field… unlike the other clinical rotations that I’ve done where arrogance and ego dominated the entire teaching process.  It’s so disappointing that I possess no power or no right to dispatch this message off to the other rotation coordinators.  Honestly, I stepped out of the lab, postmortem and microscopy rooms yesterday holding my pathology lecturers in high regard but my respect seemed to have plummeted for those who humiliated and treated me like a crap in medicine and surgery.  Well, they couldn’t blame me for that.

I know that out in the real world someday (I consider vet school as a not-so-real-world), I will be doing things that will surely remind me of the good old days in the lab, postmortem, tissue trimming and microscopy rooms.  But for now, it is time to take a break… no rib and brain cutters, no histopathology cassettes, no agar plates, no thermal cycler.  It’s time to pick my dusty stethoscope up and get ready for the Anaesthesia and Analgesia Rotation on Monday. 

Oh well, my Nex-5 is getting dusty, too… and my Instagram account has been screaming out for the past few days, as well.  


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Like a Corella

He hated this feeling so much… once again he was envious!
The morning was a bit chilly, but the sky was clear and the sun had been shining for more than a couple of hours now.  While walking away from the parking lot, he took a glance on his rusty Timex Expedition; it was twenty past eight.  It had been eight days since he started his clinical placement on this equine health centre.  Not very long… but he’d been through a lot of challenging situations.  He knew he was fortunate to have experienced a very competent standard of veterinary education—had been undergoing training with the supervision of highly-qualified equine specialists under the roof of this multi-million dollar worth horse hospital. 

But this experience wasn’t just pure elegance, appeal or modernity because behind the flashy walls of this newly built facility, there laid the tests and trials that, in his disbelief, far beyond the hardships every student could imagine!  Learning the complexities of every disease progression or regression and understanding the intricacies of case management and treatment—whether medical or surgical, were inevitable for a veterinary student like him.  Unfortunately for him, the most challenging task of all was on how to stay obedient and respectful amidst the arrogance of those highly-qualified professionals he was working with for more than a week now.  When drowned in humiliation, it wasn’t very easy to show humility, indeed!  

It was all part of the package,” he thought.  He knew he had dreams to fulfil so he had to set aside defiance to successfully cross the unstable bridge of apprenticeship.  After all, neither of these was due to his personal volition nor a reflection of the birth lines deeply engraved on the palms of his hands.  All these, he believed, had been happening for a good reason—all authored by the only mighty One up there.               

Suddenly, his thoughts were distracted by the squawking flock of corellas.  He looked up and saw those lovely white birds perching on the edge of the corrugated roof of the hospital building.  He took his Galaxay S4 out of his pocket and aimed the camera to capture a photograph but these cockatoos flew off and settled on the ground nearby.  These joyful birds started pecking on the ground as if taking up some grains, vocalised, and eventually flew away! 

He envied those corellas.  They are in the society where ambition and achievement don’t exist.  They don’t have clinical supervisors and pressures to deal with.  They don’t earn degrees or qualifications but they could obviously soar high—not trampled down and crushed but being looked up to.  They are not educated but they understand the virtue of setting their feet on the ground to enjoy what life had to offer down there.”     

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The crisp autumn breeze blowing from the south seemed to have been pricking deeper and deeper into his cheek as he was gazing across the western horizon.  Amidst the chilly gust of wind that had been filtering through his hooded jumper, the scene in front of him was, at that moment—priceless!  On the left, the Henley Beach Jetty was gradually turning into a mere silhouette as the lower brim of the perfectly rounded, orange-tinted, early evening sun started to touch the surface and eventually melted down the Gulf St. Vincent.

A small group of kids next to him was tossing and passing a colourful inflatable beach ball.  Then suddenly, they giggled with excitement.  Their noise had frightened a massive flock of hungry seagulls nearby—prompting them to fly off squawking until their discordant vocalisation muffled, overpowered by the sound of surf rushing on the shore. 

He was ‘alone’—sitting on a carpet of a relatively vast, well-maintained lawn next to the beach, while his friend was away for a short jog.  The blades of the grass were stabbing through his beach trousers but he had managed to ignore it while focusing to enjoy the 4D movie around him. 

There were fishermen on the jetty, and there was a couple sitting on one of the wooden benches… a busy Japanese photographer aiming at his subjects… a young family pushing an infant stroller… a group of sexy ladies finishing up their volleyball match…  Others were sipping coffee at the café across the road, while the rest had opted to start dining— undeliberately overlooking the beautiful sunset from the cozy restaurant by the street.

By the looks of it, it was, indeed, a piece of paradise!  But he was not convinced, for him it was temporary.  After sunset, he knew that it’d get darker and darker… and the lamp posts wouldn’t be enough to illuminate the beauty of this place.  The cafés and the restaurants would soon shut off, then each of these characters would finally head home. 

A huge volume of his lecture notes was waiting on his study desk... and he was certain that everybody on the beach, even the children, would have his or her own challenges to face soon after that lovely weekend would be over.