Friday, March 7, 2008

Animal House


I mention in my profile that I am a student. More specifically, I am a veterinary nursing student in my second to last semester. I had some wayward years after my post-high school college experience which ended with me receiving my bachelor of arts in theatre and moving to New York. At the age of 28 I realized that my bartending days were numbered and made the decision to go back to school, and here I am. This semester is by far the busiest one (which makes me wonder why I've decided to add a blog to my already overloaded agenda). I am an intern three days a week at a large 24 hour emergency animal hospital and a student the rest of the time, including Sundays. Since my world pretty much revolves around my internship and my veterinary program, I'm guessing it will turn up on this site every now and then. I've experienced a hell of a lot over the past month and a half that I've been there, I'm sure there is more to come.

1 vs. 100 pound German Shepherd

I'm holding the leash of an MTA police dog who would much rather make a break for the door every time it opens, me trailing behind him like a wind sock, than sit calmly and wait for the doctor to come examine his arthritic hind quarters. Did I mention he's an MTA police dog? Did I mention he's a German Shepherd weighing in close to one hundred pounds? Well, he is and he is and, even with his ailing legs, he's winning the tug-of-war. I'm not saying he was mean, he was actually a very nice dog, but he was trained to perform any number of tasks including drug sniffing, border patrolling, bomb sniffing, and tearing bad guys limb from limb.

The doctor finally arrives to examine Dog and asks to see him walk. Dog walks me back and forth in a frantic pace. Next she asks to have Dog on his side so she can manipulate his joints. This requests means that I am to wrestle him to his side and then continue to restrain him. I place one arm around his neck, grab his front legs with my free hand, say a little prayer to the god of muzzles and wrench his feet out from under him. It only takes a split second for Dog to catch on and start tossing his head and scrambling his feet around on the slick linoleum floor.

"You have to hold his head still!" says Dr. Obvious, to me.

Since I am aware of that fact but feel that it is in my best interest to let go rather than get pummeled, I let go. Dog rights himself on his feet shaking off his triumphant win as I sit back on my heels still holding his leash. The doctor is obviously exasperated at me for not being able to ease this struggling mass of fur and muscle to the floor and calls for back up. Two techs join us and we try again. Again Dog resists even with me on head duty, a male tech working the torso area and a female tech bringing up the rear. Dog twists free and down we all go with Dog's leash now wrapped around male tech's neck. We untangle and prepare for round three. In the end it takes myself, the two techs, and the doctor to hold him down, male tech sprawled across Dog's body with is own. I return Dog to his partner, Officer Can't-Say-Thank-You and return to the prep area pondering my shortcomings in MTA dog wrestling 101.

Some Pig

"The pig's here," someone says and half a dozen doctors and nurses, carrying ropes leads and slings head for the lobby. I can't wait to see what this is about. A short time later the nurses start returning to the treatment area. According to one, it's a pet potbellied pig. Cute, right? No, this pig bites, kicks, bucks and weighs in at 250 pounds. His name is Wilbur. He hasn't been eating for the past week and has been vomiting. I am happy to be just an intern at this moment in time.

"The pig's in ultrasound," comes the next report. Myself and a few others make a beeline for the room, already crowded with doctors and vet interns. Indeed, there is a pig in ultrasound. A moment later Wilbur is on his way to surgery prep so the head nurse can attempt to place a catheter in a vein that lies somewhere within the layers of fat. All in all, five people are working on Wilbur while another three, myself included, are circling him with our cell phones snapping pictures. My shift is over and I'm heading out the door as Wilbur rolls into surgery.

This is the stuff that makes all my student loans worthwhile.

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