Saturday, May 26, 2012

How the West... put me to the test

Spring semester breezed by and I came home with a head full of information, but still had some ridiculously clean, freakishly soft hands. I needed a few calluses to feel accomplished. I had the opportunity of a lifetime to shadow the Galena veterinarians while I was visiting my Grandparents in Illinois. BOY did I get my feet wet! Day one consisted of stepping in lots of cow patties and seeing a "simple squamous carcinoma" malignant tumor (that's scientific for the bad kind) on in a bull's penile shaft. Well, I thought, might as well go big or go home. They definitely go big out west.

Next stop, more cattle. This time Dr. S (the vet I was shadowing) took a calf with an injured eyeball, some surgical thread and needle, his arms, and stitched the eyelid shut right there in the comfort of it's own manure. It looked like something you would see in a Saw movie.. but with good intentions. I couldn't believe my eyes, or his! It was captivating and admirable as gorey as it sounds. The calf would be fine within a week. I hope someday I have the ability to make and carry out decisions with the poise (and balls) of Dr. S!

Our last visit was to a dairy farm who had a heifer with milk fever (Hypocalcemia: low serum calcium levels in the blood which leads to muscular spasms and eventually central nervous system failure). This was something that had to be treated before it was too late, so the pace picked up about 20 mph.

Dr. S had me hold "Betsy's" halter as he raced back to his truck to get his calcium gluconate solution. Not gonna lie, I'd never held a cow on a leash before (though it'd become routine later in life) and I was nervous! Hurry Dr.S... hurrry!!! Just then "Betsy" stirred- no, stirring is gentle, this wasn't. "Betsy" rolled over as a result of muscular spasms and I was going with her. Not wanting to let anyone down (including "Betsy") I held on tight to the rope, but it was no battle for 1,300 lbs.  The rope tore through my amoeba hands and I stumbled around but caught myself. To my embarrassment Dr.S saw the whole ordeal and asked if I was okay, seeming very concerned. To my further embarrassment, he examined my hands to see if they were fine. I'm sure by their babylike texture he could tell they weren't only fine but also brand-new.. and inexperienced.

 I shook it off and stayed focused on the task ahead and most important thing at the moment. "Betsy" was receiving her IV of Calcium and surely enough she began to regain strength and come alive! It truly was an instant miracle. I felt so proud just to be a small part of it. As she stood milk started squirting from her udders like geysers. Within seconds, she was up and moo-ing as if nothing had been wrong. The farmer thanked Dr. S.

As we drove off into the rolling hills of Galena, we talked about the life of a veterinarian. He was so wise I made sure not to say anything stupid and mostly just acted like a sponge and absorbed it all. He recommended James Herriot's books to me (which I now own and love). It was a day to remember.

The next two days of my shadow visits were filled with new animals, doctors, and procedures. I went with Dr. T to visit  the elderly Irma (no relation to my grandparents who share the same last name as her, I was let known!). She had a dog that had gotten itself into a tussle with the neighbor dogs. The dog was cleaned and bandaged up in no time and 30 year old Dr.T was hit on by 90 year old Irma who confessed to have been caught in the middle of reading her "sexy books". Dr.T apparently got her thinking about the books again.. that being said we took off as soon as possible and had some serious chuckles back in the truck.

And I quote Dr. T: "WHAT the heck?!?!?!"

We finished the day with some ultrasounds on pregnant mares which was really amazing to see. Dr.T mentioned to me afterwards that this was one of the most enjoyable tasks of a veterinarian.. helping new flames start vs. having to put out old ones.

My last day with the Galena vet's was at the practice with Dr.C. She did some dental work on an old Jack Russell Terrier who previously lost both eyes to ocular cancer. She also spayed a young golden retreiver as I watched closely at her flawless work. She also told me to read James Herriot's books and that they really remind you of what being a veterinarian is all about, because it can get really hard at times. That was the end of my three days of "Boot camp". I didn't pass out, hurt anyone, or lose interest. Success! I thanked all of the Vet's and headed back to my grandparent's cabin, my mind bursting from all of the new experience.

Close enough?

No comments:

Post a Comment