Friday, March 7, 2008

The Last Day!

Today was a great last day! I made a cake last night, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. As I was leaving, I was carrying a large portion of uneaten cake, and Valerie was like, “Wait! The cake is leaving too? I didn’t get a piece!” I left a considerable chunk behind for anyone who hadn’t had any.

            In terms of surgeries, the day was fairly uneventful, but Christy’s adorable grandfather, Russell, brought in his 20-year-old dog, Topsy. Christy calls her Methuselah. Topsy had bad teeth that needed cleaning and a growth on her back right leg, but since she was so old, we did bloodwork before anything else. And the bloodwork produced some sad results—poor old Topsy has kidney failure. Russ got a bit teary and said, “Is that so,” when Christy broke the news. Apparently, this dog is his closest connection to his wife who died two years ago. Russ is the sweetest little old man you’ll ever meet. I wish I had a picture of him. He was Carolyn and D.R’s mailman for like 20 years.

            But we didn’t kill Topsy! I just wanted to put that out there now, in case you were worried this story had a sad ending. I mean, yes, Topsy will die soon, but not today! We gave her a local anesthetic (Lidocain) on her leg to cut off the little mass, and we didn’t do the dental, but instead gave her some special kidney food to prolong her already long life.

            While we were waiting for Topsy’s bloodwork, we did a cat neuter! It was really cool, and Christy told me not to blink because it’s so fast. No kidding—you just cut, pull out the ball, pull off some gubernaculum, snip the two blood vessels and tie them together. You don’t even have to sew up the incision! Then when Topsy left, we neutered a sweet orange dog from the pound. It had big dreadlocks in its tail, so we cut them off and brushed him and made him look pretty. The last one of the day was non-surgical—a beautiful beagle/hound mix that had been in a car accident and ripped out a toenail—just like Bonnie! When she was hit by a car, that was her only wound, too! This dog was not pleased to have Christy looking at it, and Terry was holding him very tight. Christy was clipping all of his nails, since there isn’t really anything we can do about the wounded one, and with each clip, his lips twitched. Valerie and I were talking to him in high-pitched voices, trying to distract him, and I could see the dog thinking, “Please don’t patronize me. I don’t like getting my nails clipped, and you idiots twittering at me is by no means making this experience more pleasant.”

            We said lots of goodbye’s and farewell’s and everyone was really nice and saying that I could come back anytime and hang out, and Christy said that in Ohio it’s legal for 1st year vet students to operate under supervision, and she offered to supervise me and even lend me her spare bedroom! She said she’d be happy to write me a really long recommendation for school, and that she’d send Westtown the review form as soon as possible. She’s so great. Everyone was! I just got a phone call from Dad saying they can’t pick me up until Monday, so maybe I’ll go into work tomorrow and Monday! I feel like I’ve made such a great connection for future reference. This has been good. Very good. Occasionally sad, always cute, and very rewarding.


Yesterday's News

So yesterday was what we would call a very normal, relaxed day. Nothing particularly exciting. In the morning there was a little baby black cocker spaniel with a possible urinary tract infection, so we had to make her pee. Christy says one of the great things about puppies is “you give them liquid—they pee.” It’s very true: we gave the little girl a cocktail of water and a kind of Pediasure for animals, and she whizzed like five minutes later.

            The day was made up of two spays and a dental. Ashley, a friend of Christy’s who is going to pharmacy school, stopped by for a while to see some surgeries. Up first was Star, a humongously fat yellow Labrador. People reading this who know Belle—think her, but bigger, fatter, and eight months old. Star’s owner is widowed, so we think Star is very much a companion dog, and it’s likely that her 70 lbs is due to a constantly filled food bowl and not a whole lot of exercise. A lot of times a dog adjusts to living a life of lethargy, ad instead of being antsy and cooped up, they just sleep all the time and are perfectly content—they just get really fat. So her spay was kind of funny because we had to cut through like an inch and a half of subcutaneous fat to find her uterus. I learned that you can tell if a dog is or ever has been in heat judging by the size and shape of the uterus. Star’s was kind of polyp-y, meaning she was probably just coming out of heat. Her spay went very smoothly in general—she almost woke up a few times, but never fully.

            So then, in a superb contrast, we spayed a quivering five pound Yorkie. Everything was pretty standard with her spay. The last job of the morning was a dental on a 12-year-old smooth fox terrier. Now, I don’t like to judge, and I strongly believe that it’s what is on the inside that counts, but smooth fix terriers may be one of the ugliest breeds I’ve ever heard of. Their heads are really small, they have big bug-eyes, they have scrawny little Chihuahua legs, and they tend to be fat. Not to discriminate or anything…

            Martha told me that a farmer was bringing his calf in for Marge to treat. So when it arrived, I went out to the trailer with Marge to observe a little large-animal treatment. I didn’t really do much more than hold a bag of electrolyte fluid over my head while Marge tried to shove a tube down the calf’s esophagus, but it was still interesting. I think I want to be a small animal vet. I mean, there’s something so much more impersonal about large animal—the little calf with e-coli we saw was just gonna be turned into beef someday, and it’s not like it has a name. To his owner, he’s nothing more than a commodity. Hm.

            So that was the day! Maggie (my 1st cousin once removed?) arrived at 9:30 last night, and we all stayed up chatting till 11:00. Maggie is so cool. I have to live with her in France for a few months—no really, she insisted! If/when I go to England, I’ll have to pay her a visit as well. Mmm, French cuisine! I’m getting ahead of myself again!


P.S The title of this entry is only clever if you know a lot about cat litter.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Winner Takes All

Yesterday was busy, I didn't have time to write! Got to work at 12:30, and the cages were nearly full. A lady had brought a load of shelter dogs that were spoken for and needed to be spayed and neutered. Up first was a spay/abort--a big german shepherd mix temporarily named Buttercup. Buttercup's belly was huge, but since she's a shelter dog, we didn't know how far along she was or even her age. As Terry and Josh shaved the dog, Christie said, "Okay guys, time to play Guess the Jelly Beans!" We all guessed how many puppies were inside the dog. I guessed 9, Christie 11, Josh 5, Terry 8. Christie had me put on sterile gloves for the first time. There's a special way to do it since you can't touch the outside with your hands, but I did it pretty well. So we opened her up and pulled out her uterus--which was HUGE. I mean, I thought that Beagle's was was nothing compared to this! So Christie pulled it out, but something was amiss--it was twisted around, and she thought she had gotten it all out, but there was more still! So once it was straightened out, Terry and I held it up so she could take it out. Once it was out, we carried it to the other operating table, the one over the sink, and broke it open to pull out the puppies. And here is where our story gets depressing. All of the puppies were alive and well. There were exactly 11, so Christie won, but then we had to euthanize all of them. We had done a few of them when Christie and I had the same thought. "Wait! What if we gave these puppies to Jasmine? She only has one puppy of her own, and plenty of milk and nipples to go round!" But Martha said the shelter would never agree to that. So we had to kill them all. Terry was like, "We are all going to hell." I took the puppies out of their uterine sacs and wiped off some of the mucus. I lined them up all facing the same way to take their picture, but they looked like the were doing the Cha-cha, so I re-arranged them. Once we were sure thy were all dead, I put them in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. All organs and viscera and things have to be frozen and then the special waste people come and pick it up once a month or so. So Christie won the bet, and the puppies all died.
We had several more surgeries to do. Up next was a little Jack Russell with no name who needed to be spayed. Christie discovered a heart murmur, so we had to call the shelter and see if they would spend another $20 on a safer anesthesia. While we waited to hear back from them, we put her back in her cage and moved on to the neuters. Two beautiful young shepherds were in the cages, one in the top cage, the other in the bottom. The space on their medical forms where their names should have been was simply labeled "Topcage" and "Bottomcage" respectively. So I decided they needed better names. I renamed Topcage Leaf, and Bottomcage became Skipper. Their neuters were different than others that I had seen because their balls were so tiny. Instead of pushing them up and cutting through, Christie cut directly into the scrotum. It's hard to describe--you sort of had to be there.
So then we did the little Jackie's spay, and pretty much the only extra-exciting thing to mention about that is that she started to wake up during the procedure! I had to adjust her anesthesia like 20 times because she kept getting too light or too deep. After her spay we took out a retained canine, meaning a baby tooth that never fell out even when the new one grew in. So that was the day. Very busy, full of joys (like Top an Bottom Cage) and sorrows (puppy killing).
Today I was home sick with the worst cramps of my life. I woke up at five thinking I had to pee, but then realized I was in an intense amount of pain. I didn't pack anything, but luckily Carolyn had some left over from when Angie was here. So that sucked. I was really mad when I woke up again at 6:30 to tell Carolyn I couldn't go to work. I'm sure I missed a cool procedure. Sleeping till 1:30 is only nice when you don't wake up in pain every half hour. I feel a bit better now after some tea and vitamins, but when I got up for lunch I could barely stand. They say this stuff is genetic. Thanks a lot, Mom!
Tomorrow is my second to last day at the office, and even being gone for a day was bad, so I'm not looking forward to leaving!
At 8:00 last night Carolyn and I left for Olney, and we performed several songs at their Collection at 8:30. It went really well and felt really great. Afterwards, I hung out with Clare and her friends. It was lovely.


Monday, March 3, 2008

This is Why Animals are Better than People

A very tense morning—I brought in a Dixie Chicks C.D because Christie really likes them and the radio doesn’t play any of their music, and it accidentally sparked a political/moral debate pitting Christie, Terry and I against Martha and Katie. It really sucks when you find out that people you like are Bible-thumping gun-slinging right-wingers. Christie and Terry and I kept trying to explain to Martha that it’s not like Vietnam—people who are against the war are not against the soldiers. Martha kept saying she understands that, but then she…well, she obviously doesn’t understand it. Christie's brother, Martha's son, is in Iraq, as is Katie's husband, and Christie said, "They are so gung-ho about the war now, but if my brother or Katie's husband was killed, they'd be against the war in a second." I don’t know, it’s all very hard to explain, but it was really frustrating listening to it all. They were all hating on Muslims. I wanted to say so badly that I have Muslim friends and that it is not in their doctrine to kill people, and that Christians have done tons of horribly violent things. They all think that Barack Obama is secretly Muslim and that even though he claims to be a Christian he must have been influenced by his radical Muslim father…whatever. All of this took place over the body of Snoopy, a loud little Beagle. He was getting neutered. And does he care about politics? Is he completely misinformed about the practices of Islam and inadvertently spreading hate around like a virus? No. He cares about being loved and fed and cared for. And if he has a problem, he lets us know as best as possible. And that is why animals are better. They don’t start wars or commit hate crimes or kill the environment or have values and so many thoughts. Humans are so smart they’re stupid. I think that sums it up pretty well. I think our biggest problem is that we have so many thoughts and beliefs. Like that John Mayer song… “Everyone believes in how they think it ought to be…we’re never gonna stop the war…we’re never gonna beat this if belief is what we’re fighting for.”

            Okay. I just had to get that out. There were many great things today too. A friendly wrinkly farmer brought in a little goat to be vaccinated, and I got to hold her and I named her Elizabeth. She was very sweet, and a few times she just burst out with a great, “Meeehhhhh!!!!” that sounded more like a little kid yelling than a goat.  So that was nice. And we spayed a cat with a tiny heart murmur named Cleo. Oh! And a friend of the Ralstons named Dusty brought in his dog Panama Red (yeah, the guy looked like he smoked some pot), a red-tick Coonhound. He was SO beautiful. I changed my mind about getting a Beagle. We should totally get a red-tick coonhound. But a girl—I like girl dogs better. So he brought him in and I helped him get him in a cage, and then he went back out to his truck and brought back the cutest little Beagle baby…named SLOOPY. He must have been stoned when he named her. But she was so cute and she got really excited and peed while he was holding her. But we put her in the cage with Red, who is two and a half years her senior and like 20 times bigger, but they’re BEST FRIENDS! It was so cute to watch—she would sit on his face or lie on his back and chew on his ears and he just took it. Whenever I went over to say hi to them Sloopy would jump up and down and stick her tongue through the bars and Red would just thump his tail and stand up and look at the little dog I swear one time he rolled his eyes. They were both in the be spayed and neutered, but they might go tomorrow.

            The next big deal of the day, after the debate of course, was Jasmine. Jasmine was a Beagle (it was a Beagle party today) who had gotten pregnant accidentally by a stray dog (this seems to happen a lot!) that was much bigger than she. She had been in labor since Friday night/Saturday morning, and four puppies had come out dead or died soon after birth. One was doing fine and making all sorts of noise, which is good. But poor Jasmine obviously had a pup stuck inside her. Her owner, who is also very pregnant, brought her in this morning—the poor dog was hunched over and straining with her tongue handing out. Sandy fished around in her and found the pup completely twisted around. She had to pull it out, and although Jasmine helped by pushing some, she mostly just cried. Her owner’s eyes were like dinner plates when she turned to me and said, “I really hope this doesn’t happen to me.” The whole experience reinforced my belief that bearing children is not for me.

            After the puppy came out, dead and twisted and smelly, we took some X-rays, and sure enough, the poor dog had another pup inside her. So we did a C-section/spay, and since the owner was more concerned about her dog than the puppies, she chose the cheaper anesthesia option that would most likely kill the remaining pup if it weren’t already dead. I get that—the puppies were an accident, and four had already died, so what were the chances this one was alive? And the other anesthesia would have been and extra $70. D.R came to pick me up, and Terry told him that I was about to see a very important surgery, so D.R said he would come back in an hour. So we opened up Jasmine’s abdomen, and he uterus was HUGE! I mean, I knew it would be big, but whoa…and what I thought was a puppy’s head turned out to be afterbirth. Then Christie pulled out the rest of the uterus and we saw the puppy. It was also huge, for a Beagle, but like I said, the stray dog (the dad) was apparently really big. This whole thing reminded me of Ginger being pregnant and us worrying about the babies being too big because Baker is such a giant.

            So Christie cut the uterus open and we took out the pup. Marge, the large animal vet, was there to help, and she and Terry took over the puppy. It had a strong heartbeat, and they started to get the mucus out of its throat as Christie worked on the uterus. When she first opened it, brown gunky fluid gushed out and went all over the floor and then the uterus hemorrhaged, so blood was going everywhere too! Terry had to grab the uterus with his bare hands and squeeze it so some of the bleeding would stop, and Christie worked to get the uterus out ASAP, because then the bleeding would stop. I have pictures of all the blood. I’m sure everyone will want to see them!

            So while Terry helped with the uterus, I took over the puppy. I rubbed it vigorously and shook it and patted it and sucked mucus out of its throat, and every once in a while it took a little breath, but the heartbeat continued to slow. So we pushed .1 of epi and Doxipram (I think that’s what it was called) to try ad get the heart going, and we could tell the little girl was trying to live, but the anesthesia for Jasmine had gotten into her system. After about an hour of rubbing and shaking and giving her oxygen and more drugs and trying to convince her to wake up, we finally gave in. Her heart had stopped. It was kind of weird—I wasn’t sad. She was so cute. I named her Leaf because her ears looked like little leaves, and I really wish she had lived, but I didn’t cry and it didn’t really make me sad. I just said, “Well, that one puppy is going to be really fat. He’s got ten nipples all to himself!” Jasmine’s nipples were actually really funny. They didn’t line up right. It was like this:

. . . . .

. . .. .

So that was the day. I can’t say if it was good or bad. It just was. And that’s how I ended up feeling about Leaf. It just was.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Velvet Chocolate Coffee and a Fiddle to Boot

Went out for an evening in Wheeling, WV. We first went to Rick and Sharon's place (some friends of Carolyn and D.R's) and then all went out to dinner at Super Buffet and then on to a great little concert. The concert was held coffee-house-style at Stifle Fine Arts Centre, a huge old mansion converted into a public art gallery and forum for everything from poetry readings to bluegrass to yoga and dance. The guys we saw perform (one of them was Peach, the leader of Big Bill'dup and the Let Downs) were awesome. Some guy named Zeke who is apparently an incredible mandolin player, couldn't come because he had a fever of 104, so yesterday Peach called this guy Greg and asked him to step in. And Greg was kick-ass. I mean really. He played the fiddle, tenor guitar, flute and clarinet, and sang really well too. I had a 50 cent cup of Chocolate velvet flavored coffee and Carolyn got some cookies. I brought my book, Sight Hound, which I am thoroughly enjoying and will most likely finish by tomorrow night.
Tomorrow afternoon I'm off to the Antique mall, maybe with Claire Gamble if we can get ahold of her. I'm bringing my camera and hoping to photo-document Barnesville.


Brute Force Trauma

The main event of the morning came in the form of a Shar-pei. The teenage owners (Siblings? Lovers?) brought him in last night hoping he could be seen, but Christie and I were doing an excruciating dental (I talked about this yesterday), so they had to leave the dog overnight. We were worried about getting him out of the cage since he was so aggressive yesterday, but Terry the Dog Whisperer just opened the cage and took him for a walk with no trouble! Joe had so much as walked by him yesterday and he growled. Sandy for some reason had told the owners they should do blood-work, but the dog was only four years old and healthy as a Shar-pei can be. Everyone was pretty annoyed with Sandy this morning because the dog was technically her patient, but she was gone all day at a vet hospital or something, so the work got left to Christie. So Terry and Jake (the Shar-pei) came back from their walk the best of buds, but then we had to draw a blood sample—and thank god Joe hadn’t gotten called out to a farm yet, because we couldn’t have done it without him. Jake was fine until Terry and Joe had to hold him. This dog hated being held, and we couldn’t fit him with a muzzle because his nose was too big and fat! So Terry got a rope around hi nose and Joe pinned him in between his legs and Josh stuck out the leg so Christie could draw the blood, and Jake snarled the whole time. Christie did it as fast as possible, and she got the blood, but she didn’t have time to give him a sedative, so they all went through the same process to give him some Acepromizine, a fast-acting sedative. After the sedative, Jake calmed down and snuggled with Terry in the waiting room while the blood-work went through. Of course, the blood-work came back completely normal, so we basically did all that for nothing and made the kids spend like $60. Anyway, then we had to really sedate him, enough to pick him up and put him on the table and intibate him. That went really smoothly, he didn’t even growl. Jake’s owners had said that he got in a fight with a stray dog on Wednesday, but once we had him shaved we could tell that something a bit more criminal may have occurred. Poor Jake certainly had bit marks on him from another dog—in addition to the huge slice marks on his hindquarters and tail that looked like they may have come from a shovel or spade. Either Jake was actually attacking the neighbor’s dog and the neighbor broke up the fight with a shovel, or Jake’s owners hit him. Either way, judging by the progression of the wound’s healing, it happened way longer than two days ago. Christie said owners lie about stuff all the time, and you can’t really say anything unless a dog seems like it’s being neglected or frequently abused. But sickos who do that don’t usually bring their dogs to the vet.

            After examining Jake, I don’t understand why anyone would ever own, buy or breed a Shar-pei. Natural selection is definitely trying to tell these dogs something: they can’t see, they can’t hear, they can barely breathe, and they’re prone to gross skin conditions that many people are allergic to all because of their weird foldy skin! I feel so bad for dogs like Bulldogs and pugs—it’s not their fault their bodies are deformed and tend to malfunction because humans wanted them to look a certain way.

            When Jake was finished, we did a dental on a sweet, nervous little Dachshund named Ginger. D.R came before we were finished since dealing with Jake basically took all morning. Oh, speaking of morning, we gave Lito his first wound-flushing and oral meds today. Carolyn did the oral meds herself and said he was fine; he just hated the taste. Christie told me today that it tastes like nail polish remover. I wondered briefly how she knew that, but I didn’t ask. It took all three of us to do the wound flushing, and I told Christie I couldn’t get the plastic syringe under his skin enough to get the solution into the hole, it just sort of washed over it, and she said she has had tons of abscess patients where she just sends them home with the oral meds. I think Sandy tends to over do it when it comes to treatment. Oh well. Lito was being so sweet today. His whole shoulder is still swollen, but he doesn’t seem to be in pain. I’m off to the antique mall tomorrow morning! It’s actually Friday right now, but I’m not posting this until Saturday. Sleepy!!!


P.S The title of this entry is a play on words, combing the terms “blunt force trauma” and “brute force.” It took a lot of brute force to deal with Jake, and he suffered some blunt force trauma along with his stab wounds. Poor stinky buddy. Man, did he smell.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

“The Youth in Asia? What About the Youth Here?”

A sad start to the day. Got in at 12:00, and the first patient was already being X-rayed—a sweet little dachshund with a long list of problems. At first no one could put a definitive answer on what was wrong with her. She had given birth to only one puppy last night (her owner is a breeder) and had been straining and lethargic since then. She didn’t have another puppy inside her, but she was seven years old and this was her sixth litter. Sometimes I really hate breeders. In human years, this dog was 49—too old to be having babies. Anyway, her blood work came back with extremely high glucose levels, indicating that she had either gestational diabetes or regular diabetes. It is treatable, but she was going to need 24-hour care over the next three days for a grand total of $3,000, so the owner decided to put her down. While everyone had been running around doing things, I had been holding her and watching her, so of course I had grown somewhat attached to her. I realized she would probably be put down, and she kept looking at me with these big sad eyes that just broke my heart. When Sandy got the needle out, I said, “I think I need to be elsewhere for this.” She understood, and Josh held her while they euthenized her. I cried a bit, but I kept it in pretty well and distracted myself by talking to all the other animals and checking their charts.

            I couldn’t mourn for long—up first was a cat named Tiggs that had jumped off a counter and got its tail stuck in a drawer so it was hanging by it…ouch. Christie told the owners that it didn’t really need to be amputated and that the stub on the end would come off soon and it would heal itself, but they wanted it off anyway. So we cut it off and sewed it back up. Tiggs looked really funny when he came out of anesthesia—he went all stiff and rigid and stuck his tongue out and held his tail out like a pole. Unfortunately for Tiggs, since his owners insisted the tail be amputated, he now has to wear an E-Collar for two weeks.

            There was a lot of commotion today with people coming in and animals with mysterious diseases like Lucy, the sweet little Beagle that passed a whole sock through her digestive system but was still throwing up every other day. Then Jake, a big Shar-pei with a big amount of ‘tude came in with a wound from a dogfight (he had never had any vaccinations, and his owners took him to a park to go sledding and play with other dogs…good plan!). And before that we got a call from Carolyn saying she needed to bring in Lito! D.R and I had noticed he was acting a little funny yesterday, but we figured it was just because he hates snow. Turns out he had a huge abscessed bite on his shoulder—probably from one of the dogs judging by the size. I didn’t see most of the procedure because I was holding open the mouth of a very unfortunate kitty named Caramel. Poor Caramel had to have all but one of his teeth pulled out. It was a long procedure, and just a little boring after a while. I could hear Lito screaming at Josh and Sandy as they cleaned his abscesses. I looked in on him when we were finally finished with the dental extractions, and Josh told me that Lito was completely sedated when he had screamed—his abscesses hurt so badly. So much was happening today I ended up staying till 6:45…and I hadn’t eaten since 11:30. Carolyn picked up both Lito and me and brought us home to a great meal of make-your-own-tacos. Well, Lito ate cat food. He’s living in the greenhouse until he’s all healed, and we have to give him oral liquid medication and flush out and medicate his puncture wounds twice a day. That’ll be fun for us all…

Yawn. Time for bed. Early start tomorrow!