Monday, February 25, 2008

There’s a Chance They Named Their Library After Ian Hutton.

Woke up at 6:00 and headed off to Barnesville Elementary with Carolyn. The school looks remarkably like the elementary school next to Delta in State College. I Facebooked and helped Carolyn get set up for the day and I set off for the vets office at 10 of 8. The first half hour was incredibly awkward as all the vets came in—the secretary introduced me to everyone, but then they were all talking and pretty much ignored me. Christie (the main surgeon who I’m officially shadowing) was really nice, but then she was talking to everyone about a conference she had been at over the weekend at OSU, and everyone was bustling around and I really just felt like I was in the way. I asked the other main vet (I think her name was Sandra) if I should just go sit in the waiting room and read because I didn’t want to be in the way, but she and Christie both assured me that I wasn’t in the way and that the mornings are just crazy with everyone getting situated. Christie said the surgeries would get going in a minute, and they did—the first was an adorable (and rather high-strung) young dog named Brutus. Poor Brutus was being castrated, and you’d think he knew, the way he was whining! So Christie showed me how to anesthetize him and all the parts of the machine and how to insert the tracheal tube, and she said she would let me do that later on! While she was inserting the tube, she showed me how to pull out his tongue and “aim for the goal posts,” meaning put it in the trachea and not the esophagus. I noticed a little valve and asked if it was the epiglottis—she was very impressed with my vocabulary! Then Brutus got shaved and cleaned, and then WE CUT HIM OPEN!! It was so cool. I mean, it looked so easy! She just grabbed his ball and cut the skin and squeezed out the ball sac and then this long stringy thing, put clamps on it, cut it off and stitched it up! I monitored the his breathing and eye reflexes the whole time—meaning if I poked around his eye and he twitched it, he needed more drugs, so I would turn up the knob. We finished up and brought him out of the anesthesia by turning it off and rubbing him all over and talking to him (Christie says this helps them come out more quickly). Then we put him back in his cage on a nice soft towel and prepped for the next surgery—a spay and a de-clawing.

            Little Lily was up next, and this surgery was a bit more complex to set up because we all had to be much more sterile—I had to wear the “Lunch-Lady Hat”—because we were opening up her abdomen. Apparently cats have a reflex that dog’s don’t where when you the tracheal tube in, the close off their trachea, so Christie put some numbing drops in her mouth so she wouldn’t feel it going in.  After the tracheal tube went a kind of internal stethoscope so we could monitor her heart rate as well as her breathing. Christie said we could tell this cat was young and healthy and well loved because of the amount of subcutaneous fat—there sure was a lot of it! There was one part that looked especially tricky where she stuck her finger in the incision and felt around until she found a ligament that held the ovaries in place and had to break it by pulling on it with her finger. She said it really freaked her out at first, but then she got used to it and realized she wasn’t going to kill the cat. I asked her about a little blob I saw and she said it was purely vestigial so we could take it out. I asked her what it used to be used for, and again she was really impressed—she said I was probably the first intern who knows what vestigial means! Kudos to T. Tim.

            So we finished up with the spay and flipped her onto her side for the de-clawing. Apparently it’s one of the most painful procedures for cats—which makes sense since it’s not like Lily is going to walk on her stomach after her operation, but she is going to walk on her paws! Obviously…anyway for a de-clawing Christie exposes the whole claw and cuts away with a scalpel just in front of the bone. There is essentially no bleeding, but both paws get wrapped up in blue bandages and taped off so she looked like a boxer. It took her a little longer than Brutus to come out of anesthesia and once she was back in her cage she kept trying to walk around, but since her paws were all wrapped up she kept sliding around! She looked so pathetic and cute, but I felt bad for her. All of these animals get so traumatized by coming to the vet’s office, and it’s too bad they don’t understand that we’re helping them.

            So after that, the surgeries were done for the day and there weren’t a whole lot of clients, so I went down the block to Patrick’s to eat my lunch. The guy in there (potentially Patrick; owner, waiter, and chef) gave me some water and I said I had packed a lunch and I just needed somewhere warm to read my book. He was super nice and said that was just fine. A nice lady welcomed me to Barnesville and told me to enjoy my book. I did—I finished it. I know a bunch of ninth-graders didn’t like The Mysterious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but I must say—you guys are a bunch of twerps! That book is so good! Well, except for the dog dying (but that’s over in the very beginning, not like fucking Where the Red Fern Grows or Shiloh or Sounder where they make you fall in love with the dog and then they make it die. That is just so uncool.), and all of the math was confusing, but I figured it would be better if I didn’t try to do the math. So I didn’t. And it was great. I read in Patrick’s for a while, and then went to check in with Carolyn and let her know I was going to the library so she could pick me up there. The security sure was tight for a small-town elementary school! The doors were locked and I had to talk into a buzzer/com thing and say that I was there to speak with Carolyn Stanley. They let me in and I had to sign in and get a visitors pass, even though I only needed to be there for like five minutes! So I read in the library for a few hours and picked out some movies for tonight. There’s a few inches of snow and some freezing rain in the forecast for tonight, so Carolyn might have a snow day—I don’t need to go in until 12:00 (that’s when Christie gets in), so it would actually be good if she was home tomorrow. Man I wish I had my license!!!! Okay parents, stop saying I told you so.

There are three or four surgeries scheduled tomorrow, including a dental cleaning. Christie and I had a funny conversation today about dog breath (the patient for tomorrow apparently has “ass breath”), and Josh, a vet tech, and I talked about losing animals and how it takes some getting used to and it’s always sad, but after a while you just accept it as part of the job. All in all, a great day.


P.S. I wold put pictures of Brutus' balls up here, but I forgot the camera cord thing, and also it might be a bit embarrassing for him.