Sushi, Sightseeing & Sports
After lunch, we walked around Otaru and visited several shops. We tried some delicious chocolate desserts and green tea mochi. (Mochi is a gummy-like dessert, this particular mochi was coated in powdered green tea leaves.) The glass shops were incredible, although I felt like it was dangerous for me to enter – I am like a bull in a china shop. All around Otaru there are young guys who will pull you around in what looks like a small horse carriage for a handsome sum of money. All day we kept passing them on every corner and all day they kept winking at us and trying to get us to ride in their “carriage.” It was kind of funny how we got to the point of seeing one in the distance and making a definite point to NOT make eye contact with them!
On Sunday morning I woke up early to go to the large animal hospital with my host. Shoko is specializing in large animal veterinary medicine and has to go to the animal hospital early every day. Before we left, Shoko taught me how to make Onigiri, which is a ball of flavored rice shaped into a triangle. Chobi, her super friendly cat (see picture on left), almost stole one, but we rescued it before he devoured it! Along the way to the animal hospital, we also picked up Maria. At the animal hospital, we scrubbed up and were shown around the facility. We made two new friends: Shotaro and Yusuke, both of whom are also large animal veterinary students. We learned that each student has a case (animal) assigned to them that they must care for and treat in the hospital. Their year in school determines how difficult of a case they are assigned. We had the opportunity to palpate inside a cow’s rectum and feel its kidney, which felt abnormally small and hard. I also injected said cow with an IM shot (injection in the muscle).
After this, we headed to another part of the animal hospital – the infectious disease ward. We changed boots and put on more coveralls. Next, we watched as a professor and his students (Shoko included) sedated a calf with Xylazine and treated it for Mycoplasma. Sometimes communication is very difficult here so we did not understand the full reasoning behind their treatment. They sedated the calf, cleaned out its ears with antibiotics and steroids, and also collected the calf’s dripping snot in a small cup. When the solution running out of the ear became clear, they switched to the other ear. Mycoplasma is extremely common in Japan. It’s a unique small prokaryote that travels through the blood stream and collects in certain areas, causing inflation, swelling, infections (the middle ear is often a site of infection), and respiratory issues. Mycoplasma is easily spread through contact with nasal discharge. After the treatment was over (which Shoko later explained was an experiment), Maria gave the intravenous injection of Yohimbine to reverse the effects of the Xylazine and wake the calf up. Maria hit the vein, aspirated and injected like a pro! Within minutes the calf was standing back on its feet again. After the episode with the calf, we changed out of our work scrubs and ate our breakfast with Shotaro and Yusuke. Yusuke shared his Onigiri with us as well – it was so good! Onigiri can be flavored in many ways; Yusuke’s had a sweet taste and was very yummy.
Later that day, Maria and Rob joined in playing baseball with some Rakuno Gakuen vet students. Maria and Rob were on opposite teams and competed against each other. It was amazing how well the teams worked together with Maria and Rob despite the difference in native tongue! Rob had a great hit while batting, but Maria’s team still won the game! On the sideline, Megan and I cheered and began some new Japanese friendships.