FYI: I’m writing these to my TA, Gabby. Also the professor for this part of my stay is Dr. Tesecum, a (mostly) large-animal veterinarian.
July 16, 2012 (Monday):
Not much to write about today. All we really did was sit thru a whole bunch of lectures and practice our suturing skills. I learned a new type of knot, though, called the simple-interrupted knot; this brings me up to four total knots that I can perform (simple-continuous, simple-interrupted, horizontal mattress, and vertical mattress). It’s incredible that I’m not even a vet student yet, and I already know how to stitch an animal up. I really can’t wait to practice this in the field, but I sure am nervous about trying it out on live animals…I wonder how it compares to raw chicken?
The Simple-Interrupted Knot - each stitch uses a new piece of thread.
July 17, 2012 (Tuesday):
Today was our first day in the field! I feel that we got a lot done: two castrations (both a stallion and a bull), a bunch of physical exams, a lot of dewormings, and we even looked at a puppy who was suffering from ringworm and what looked like worm-belly (when the amount of worms in the stomach makes the belly stick out). It was pretty cool seeing exactly what a veterinarian has to do on a daily basis; I really enjoyed watching Dr. Tesecum perform all of the surgeries, even though I did not get the chance to help him today. Instead, I was able to inject a couple of dogs with Ivermectin (a deworming medication), as well as my horse Skywalker. There really wasn’t anything extra I thought could have been done. The only complaint I have is that I felt pretty lost when conducting the horse exam. Even with the lecture Barry gave on examinations, this was my first one and I was unsure about my method. After talking to Gabby (you!), I have a much better idea on how to tackle the examination, so thank you!! Hopefully I will be a lot faster next time, especially now that I know where to find the gastrointestinal sites. I am really excited to bring these experiences back home with me when applying to vet school.
Gabby - my TA. She and Barry (the other TA) taught me a lot these past four weeks.
Skywalker!! He is not too happy with me, poking him with needles and such...
We saved this iguana from a bunch of dogs - note the amputated leg.
July 18, 2012 (Wednesday):
I felt like a real farmer today, getting up at 5:30 am to go milk some cows! It was a pretty busy day; we each had two cows to milk in the morning, and then we travelled to another farm to castrate a horse named Tripod. This was the first time I ever witnessed a castration, and I even got a chance to take part in it! After Kelsey finished with all of the incisions, I came in and chopped the testicles off with a special device that first crushes and then cuts them…OUCH, I’m real glad those weren’t mine!! All in all, I really enjoyed everything we did today; I honestly have nothing that I disliked. Even giving those cattle their deworming injections was fun, especially the part where the ranch hands had to lasso them up (I need to practice my lassoing skills). And of course, what better way to end the day then with a couple of spays and a neuter? Working on the spay was pretty nerve-racking, especially when it came time to suture the dog up. Gabby (you!) really helped me out though, and I really appreciate the tips on how to lift the skin to help make the suture even on both sides of the incision. Obviously, there is a lot I still have to work on, but I am really grateful for this opportunity to practice so early on in my education. The only additional thing I wish I could have done today was to try and lasso a cow…sounds kind of fun, but probably pretty dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
Pre-dipping is important (in other words, keep the udders clean!)
Setting up the milker.
Clamping down the ovaries.
Take a look at that suture technique! Hey mom, I'm doing surgery!!!
July 19, 2012 (Thursday):
Today was a REALLY busy day. It started at the pig farm, castrating some boars…those had to be some of the biggest balls I’ve ever seen!! I didn’t really assist with the actual surgery this time, but I was responsible for holding some of the tools. While we were there, Dr. Tesecum also collected blood samples from the pigs to look for possible signs of Swine Fever. To me, the whole procedure looked really painful, but they didn’t seem to mind after it was all done. Either way, the whole process of collecting blood from these animals is pretty interesting…who would ever think to stick a needle in their eye? After that, we travelled to another farm to look at some cattle and some dogs. All of us had the lovely opportunity to remove a bunch of botflies, not only from the backs of these cows, but also from the vulva of one of the dogs. The whole procedure was pretty gross, but at least I learned how to search for botfly infestations. I was really lucky to get the one neuter that needed to be done at this farm; it was very similar to the castrations we were performing except that this time the animal was anesthetized and needed to be stitched up. Once again, I had the chance to practice my suturing technique, which still needs a lot of work. I have really enjoyed getting the chance to participate in so many different surgeries; it’s definitely one of my favorite parts about working under Dr. Tesecum. Obviously, there are some things that I do not enjoy, such as listening to the pigs squeal and removing bot flies, but it really is all part of the job. If there was anything I wish I could have done differently, it would be to practice drawing swine blood. It seems important to learn how to properly stick the needle in the eye without damaging it. Oh, and before I end this entry, I don’t want to forget about the foal we tried to save tonight! I had the chance to restrain this horse, while the others set up a catheter and administered some much-needed fluids. Poor thing, I hope it makes through the night!
No, this cow did not have a showdown against Treebeard or anything like that. This contraption actually keeps the cow from hurting itself against the barbed wires.
Dr. Tesecum showing us the "proper" way to restrain a bull.
The Ball Cruncher (OUCH)
The foal we tried to save.
July 20, 2012 (Friday):
Yo Gabby! I hope you found something nice to wear for your wedding. Honestly, today was a little bit more dry than usual. We didn’t get to do all that much: each horse needed a shot of Ivermectin/Vitamin B Complex and an oral deworming. We were able to administer both of these, but then Rubin gave out the tetanus and rabies vaccines. It was cool to practice administering needles to a horse IM, but it sort of paled in comparison to all of the other days. I wish we could have spayed/neutered the dogs at the farm as well…but with Dr. Tesecum not around, and the male dog full of adrenaline (he was running around all day), we decided not to knock him down. We are going back on Sunday, but I don’t think I will be going (I already made plans). Horseback riding afterwards was pretty sweet though! Looking over the land from the top of the hill was awesome! All in all, the trip was pretty long and uneventful, but needed to be done!
Yeah, they're still intact...for now. (I have to admit, this dog was stinking cute!)
Getting ready to deworm!
Typical donkey face.
Showing us how to put a horse in Dorsal Recumbency (fancy way to say "on its back").
July 21, 2012 (Saturday):
Instead of doing our normal weekend-like activities, the class was rounded up to work in a spay-and-neuter clinic for the day. This was something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I first heard about it. All day locals were bringing in their dogs and cats, asking us students to perform the exams, and administer the shots, and do the surgeries…I couldn’t believe how many animals there were! I literally felt like I was in a vet hospital, with all of the usual chaos that accompanies it. Even though I did not get to perform all that many surgeries myself (we had about 2 dozen helpers, all wanting to get the same experience as me), the quality of work I performed made up for that. I was proud to call myself a “doctor” today (I can dream right?), being able to take on one patient and stick with her from start-to-finish. The only thing I really did not like was not knowing what to do in between patients; there were always lines of clients wrapped around the room, yet there was no general order to them. With all of us constantly shifting roles, it did not take long for me to lose track of what patient needed what…I think I could use a secretary, hahaha. After a hard day’s work, and once we were sure that the last patient recovered from his dose of anesthesia, Dr. Tesecum’s brother invited a group of us to go zip-lining. Calico Jack’s has an awesome 9-line course filled with hydraulic platforms and long suspension bridges. It was thrilling to be able to look out at the countryside while traveling 45mph over its canopy. Towards the end, there was even a special canopy swing that hurtled you over the trees…of course I had to try that out, and I sure am glad that I did! What an awesome way to end the week!
At the Spay/Neuter Clinic.
My friend, Faye, watching over her patient.
Getting ready for the Canopy Swing.
Unfortunately I could not attach a video of this swing to my blog, but here's a link to it on Facebook (I cannot guarantee privacy settings will allow you to see it though):
NOTE: I might have used a slightly profane word as I started to fall, but the laughs do an effective job canceling it out.
Tomorrow’s another day!