My First Surgery

4 Mar
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Me in my scrubs.

My vet tech training has been going slow. I am still working full time at the front desk (the practice manager is not letting me go easily), so I can only do my training one day a week. There is so much to learn, and it isn’t easy to do it once a week for five hours. I’m fairly comfortable running lab tests, and I am getting better at restraining animals, although cats still scare me, squirmy little bastards.

I meant to write this post weeks ago when I actually did assist in my first surgery, but as always, I’m way too busy. Four/Five hours of sleep a night has become the norm. Lots of coffee, lots of power-napping, I somehow get by.

Anywho, my very first surgery! Shit just got real. My first procedure was a neutering on an adorable French Bulldog. Of course, the first thing to do is to knock out the animal, which I’ve done many times since, and it’s fun. I’m usually restraining the animal, while another technician injects them with Ketamine and Valium. Animals, like humans, don’t enjoy having needles stuck into their veins. So I hold the animal in a tight grip. They squirm, make confused yelping noises, try to scratch/bite. Then, at last, the other technician hits the vein. The animal stops squirming, sits, lets the front paws slide forward. My grip is loosened, as the animal kind of looks around in a blissed-out stare.

“There you go,” Darryl, one of the other technicans likes to say. “Ket/Val is your friend, baby.”

The animal is out. We intubate and prep them for surgery. Anesthesia is a scary and delicate thing. All of the surgeries I assist in, I just stand there in cap and surgical mask, watching carefully, trying to not get in the way. Techs aren’t allowed to touch the pet during surgery. They’re more there to make sure the patient is okay and get the doctor sutures, collect biopsy samples, etc. I kept wanting to watch the deftness of the surgeon’s hands, see what he was doing, but I had to remind myself, that’s not my job.

During my first surgery, Dr. S kept asking me if I was okay. Was the blood making me woozy? Did I feel nauseous? He kept telling me to go sit down if I thought I was going to pass out. I actually felt fine. The only thing that was bothering me was breathing through the surgery mask, which sometimes feels smothering.

After the procedure, Dr. S also did a lacrimal duct flush, and while he did he asked me what I thought. I stood there talking to him for a moment, before I realized absentmindedly that there on the surgical table in front of me, among the surgical knives, scissors, sutures, were two tiny testicles. Once I realized they were there, it was hard to look away. It’s easy to use the euphemism “neuter.” But there were two excised testicles sitting in front of me. I can’t believe where my life has taken me.

It was a simple procedure, one of the most common ones done in veterinary medicine, and I really had no problem with it. Oh, but the mass excision of a bloody anal mass we did last Friday? I had to go sit down, put my head between my knees, and take many deep breaths.

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