adventures of beck

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Be brutally honest, does this pack suck?"

First of all, I have finally become useful. I can do things on my own, and this is the most awesome feeling. So, I started out cleaning the litter pans, like I always do. This is nice because I absolutely hate standing around being useless. Even though I know I'm working for free, I still can't stand to not be working. Actually, right as I walked in, doc handed me the leash of the dog he had just brought back, to get him on the table. I think I was a little too nice trying to get him on the scale. Doc finally looped the rope thing over his head and cinched it to the loop on the scale. It hadn't occurred to me to tie the dog to the scale for some reason, even though I've seen it done lots of times. I just figured the dog would start to listen to me. He probably would have, but efficiency has it's place, so next time I'll have to be quicker.

Next on the list of exciting-ness was helping Dr. R with a runny-babbit. This bunny was in to get castrated. I got to get him out of his crate for Dr. R, which was unsettling because ever since the flop-eared bunny that I found in our backyard BIT me, rabbits have always made me uneasy, and I'd just prefer to chase them with Kayak. But, since I am supposed to have experience with ALL creatures great and small, I cajoled the bunny into coming out without tasting me. I then got the bunny onto the table to be weighed. Now, no one manufactures muzzles for runny babbits, so when Dr. R was about to inject the bunny with anesthetic (which stings, remember,) he tells me to "watch out because he won't like this." Sweet. So without choking someone's precious pet, I have to also ensure the bunny doesn't pull a Monty-Python-And-The-Holy-Grail type move and become the Killer Rabbit. Luckily, this wabbit is black, not white, so I doubt he has killer tendencies. Then, I put the wabbit back into his cwate, where he would become vewy, vewy sweepy. And I said this. "Vewy vewy sweepy." Everyone found it hiwariwous. And they all started saying "wabbit."

So while the rabbit was going down for his castration-nap, I went to check on the more unusual surgery of the day. An old Chesapeake Bay Retriever was getting several tumors removed from his butt. Coined "butt-surgery dog" for obvious reasons, this was one very unhappy puppy. This was by far the bloodiest surgery I had witnessed, since unlike the leg surgery, butt surgery is all soft tissue, which is exceptionally vascular. The tumors were lumpy and of various sizes, and by the time Doc was done, the dog had become Franken-Butt, with stitches everywhere. Pooping was going to be painful while healing. The difficult part of this surgery was keeping the dog under. He used about 2 bottles of pentathol just to keep him from whining during surgery-which is a strong indicator that he was waking up, and was very light on anesthetic. For comparison's sake, a bottle of Pentathol would be enough to put your average dog to sleep forever. Most dogs I see use maybe 2-4 cc's throughout surgery, after the pre-anesthetic. This dog used more because 1) he was bigger 2) the surgery was more painful (more innervated area, move invasive) 3) the surgery took longer than your average neutering 4) he just reacts differently to anesthetic. The fourth reason was also indicated because he would start whining and waking up before he developed a blink reflex-which is typically an early indicator that the animal is getting light on anesthetic.

After I checked on Butt-Surgery-Dog (BSD,) I helped to prepare a cat for castration. After kitty was given his pre-anesthetic and was quite limp and out of it, the next step was to pluck the fur from his balls. (Guys, feel free to cringe.) Of course, kitty has just been given a big dose of pain meds, and isn't aware this is happening. The reason that kitties get plucked is because cat's balls are very small, and you're more likely to end up castrating him with the clippers before ever getting him onto the real operating table if you attempt to shave a cat's balls. The fur comes out pretty easily, easier than eyebrow hairs on humans, kind of in clumps. Then I clipped the cat's nails, which is shockingly easier than on a cat that has full use of his senses (and muscles.) I managed to get a hunk of nail in my eye, which was nice. After I turned kitty over to the docs/techs, I was sent to get a young chocolate lab for castration. He was so sweet, he reminded me a lot of my dog, Kayak, and even weighed the same, 60 lbs. I got him on the table and held him while he got his pre-anesthetic, and I was having a great time talking to him, scratching his head, rubbing his ears, and generally becoming rapidly attached to him. Then, he lost his anxious edge as the meds kicked in, and started licking my chin. Then he started to get dizzy from the meds. You can tell an animal is dizzy because they swing their heads from side to side. And then a rather curious thing began to happen: as the dog got dizzy, I got dizzy. I recognized that this was happening, and I realized that it was because I was really attached to this dog. So I stepped back mentally and started to talk to myself, still keeping my hands on the dog (so of course he didn't fall off the table as he went under.) I crouched down by his head, which always has the effect of stabilizing my own blood pressure. I started to think about the dog biologically instead of as my new buddy. This made the dizziness go away. Then I stood up and I was fine. The tech started a cath on the dog, and shaved him, and put his anesthetic syringe on his leg with tape. I carried the dog to the table (like carrying 60 lbs of liquid-really hard when dogs are limp.) We tied his paws down and the tech prepped him (cleaned the surgical area.) I pulled his tongue out and over to the side and checked his breathing. I hung around for his surgery, checking his breathing a lot, pushing anesthetic when the Dr told me to. After surgery, I cleaned up his incision, untied him, took out his cath (by myself!) and took him back to his cage (he was really really heavy and hard to hold.) Very cool.

I learned how to make tags for cages, and about pain medication. Owners can choose whether or not they want their pet to get pain meds. Pain meds typically cost between $10-$15. Though it has historically been thought that "animals do not feel pain/do not experience it the same way/need it to recover," this has been proven untrue. Animals experience pain the same way humans do, there is simply a communication disconnect between the species, and animals are exceptionally good at hiding pain, as this is a survival technique. I do not believe it is right to hold different standards for pain medication for animals than we do for humans. Having spoken recently to two individuals who are close to my heart who have experienced physical trauma and surgery, I know that injuries and post surgery are extremely excruciating. I also listened to an interview of a very knowledgeable veterinarian who explained some of the research on animal pain. I downloaded it as a pod-cast. Their stand was much the same as mine, but it was interesting to hear the history behind beliefs regarding pain in animals.

The title of the blog comes from a statement I made as I was learning how to pack surgical packs to be autoclaved. Packing these is difficult to learn, and requires dexterity and muscle memory. Effectively, you pack all the instruments that a vet will use during surgery, neatly, inside a cloth pack, that includes a drape, and gauze, and then sterilize the whole pack. Then, before a surgery, a doctor can open the entire affair and keep everything sterile. The key part is packing the pack TIGHTLY, so instruments cannot shift and the pack will not disentegrate in the autoclave- which uses water to sterilize. This would be bad.

Float shift was having issues today, someone didn't show up to work, so I cleaned the whole cat-room myself, which was awesome. I had fun petting the kitty-cat that loves to have her butt scratched, and does this funny thing where she sticks out her tongue and rolls her head back when I scratch her.

Great day.


Blogger Dooley said...

ok I'm reading this backwards, as in most recent to the ones I've missed, and I butt-surgery dog I apologize for laughing at you. Poor guy hope he feels better soon.

9:47 PM CDT


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