While my plans for this blog are to describe my experiences in my final year of school, I still have one last round of finals to hurdle over before that can begin. Yesterday I had my final surgery of the school year, where I was assisting with a canine neutering. I've watched them before, but yesterday was the first time I was scrubbed-in and actually participating.
Thus far, I've actually performed 3 surgeries: a feline spay, and two canine spays. Last semester, as I was learning how the basics of surgery, my first procedure was with the feline (who I actually ended up adopting, but that's a story for a different day). However, at the end of the year, the final exam consists of a written portion and a practical portion. The worst part about the whole final was how the practical didn't contribute any points to your grade, but needed to be passed in order to pass the class. Considering how failing courses works in vet school (fail one and you have to repeat the entire year), all of my classmates were collectively pissing themselves during that practical final: one terrible screw-up would turn out to be a $25,000 mistake. To add more timber to the fire, when your group of 3 enters the surgery suite, you have to pull a little piece of paper out of a cup which has written on it your assigned position for the procedure; therefore, you better have your ass ready to do both surgery and anesthesia. I was the first in my group to pull a paper slip, only to open and read *BOOM* "surgeon". I could feel my knees buckle with anxiety knowing how the spay was going to be performed on a dog, not a cat. While the anatomy is relatively the same, it is still more difficult to spay a dog (if you want gross details, let me know).
So there I was, dog all prepped and draped in for surgery, myself all gowned and feeling like having a Tony Soprano-esque panic attack. My veterinary career and $25,000 was on the line for a procedure I've never done before....GG. Albeit, I am over dramatizing here; I assisted with a canine spay earlier that semester and watched a demonstration video a number of times, but there was nothing that can remove the anxiety from that situation. For any of you that know Murphy's Law, you know that if anything that can go wrong, will. While I did not experience every single complication possible, it was a terrifying experience. The dog was older and quite obese, both of which make the procedure extra troublesome. Again, I will spare the details, but I constantly had to acquire the help of a clinician because none of us were trained to deal with such a situation. With all that extra help needed, the thought of failure never once left my mind. In the end the procedure went fine with no excessive blood loss or complications besides frustration and the clinician pulled me aside and said to me, "I'll be completely honest with you Andrew. Aside from patients who have pathology in their abdomen, that dog is the absolute worst patient you will ever encounter, and you adapted well enough and kept your cool." He then proceeded to pass me with flying colors....and I proceeded to drink like a fiend later that night in celebration.
Looking back after now completing another canine spay this semester, I truly appreciated that experience during my final exam. This time, not only am I becoming more comfortable with my technique, but I had absolutely no anxiety during the procedure. I will note, however, that the school did not inform me of how my patient was owned by a food animal practitioner at the school. Had I known that in advance, it would've meant another trip down to anxiety-town. The practitioner in particular also refers to me in lecture as his "go-to guy" just because I answered a couple questions right during our first few lecture with him last year.
So to wrap up this semester, I have 4 exams and a paper till my ass can say goodbye to a lecture hall forever!