It all started with a phone call at about 7am, as I was heading out to feed the horses.
The small animal soft tissue surgeon was calling to ask if I could come in early to sleep a cat. Since I was already on my way to school, I just skipped my early morning caffeine run to make it to school within fifteen minutes. When I arrived at school the first year anesthesia resident was getting everything set up to anesthetize the cat. She told me she had prepared everything and that we were ready to go, and then we ran all the stuff over to the feline ICU. Before getting started on the cat, she turned to me and asked, “Are you a large animal person or a small animal person?” I told her I was a large animal person but that I do like small animals. She asked if I had ever intubated a cat, and I said I wasn’t sure but I thought I had at some point over the last four years. She then asked if it would hurt my feelings if she intubated the cat, because she wasn’t confident in my abilities. I told her yes, it would kind of hurt my feelings. She stopped what she was doing and looked at me and said, “Are you freaking serious?” I told her yes, because I wanted to practice and learn how to do it well. That is what I’m in school for after all. She and I kind of had a stare down for a minute, and then she told me she would give me one chance to do it correctly. I intubated it relatively easily on the first try.
When we hooked the cat the the anesthesia machine, I turned the oxygen on but it wasn’t flowing. The resident yelled at me to turn the tank on and I was so flustered that I just immediately turned the handle. The O2 flow was still wide open, so we hit the cat with a ton of pressure on its lungs (which can make them burst). I saw what was happening and wrenched the bag off of the machine to give it an outlet, meanwhile the resident was traumatically extubating the cat. I intubated the cat again and it still went just as easily, and then we hooked him back up to the machine. We started breathing for the cat, and a couple minutes later noticed the breaths were getting a little high on the pressure gauge. Then the resident yelled at me AGAIN, because the popoff valve was closed (the popoff keeps the pressure from building up in the system and popping the animal’s lungs). At this point I was totally infuriated, because she was getting so mad at me when she had explicitly told me that she had everything ready to go. Having everything ready to go includes having checked the machine, not only for leaks but also to ensure that it is properly set up. Obviously she hadn’t done that. The cat didn’t sleep especially well, and I was really glad to have it behind us. At that point I thought the worst was over.
When I was finished in surgery and recovery, I checked my phone messages because I knew my phone had been ringing in surgery. I had a message from the large animal front desk letting me know that I had a delivery. I got excited, thinking it was maybe something from my boyfriend. When I called them back, they said that there had been a delivery for me, some sort of box on an 18-wheeler. I was really excited then, because I knew it had to be my vet box. Remember this?
The company hadn’t told me when exactly it was going to be shipped in, so I was pretty surprised to get the call. The front desk ladies then told me that they hadn’t been sure why the delivery man was there (he wasn’t actually supposed to go to the front desk but to central receiving where they keep the forklifts) but that they had told him that he couldn’t leave the box there. Since they couldn’t get ahold of me because I was in surgery, the delivery man had decided to head back to his distribution center, a few hours away.
I freaked out.
The shipping on the box alone was $720 since it came all the way from New York, and I was terrified that we were going to lose that money and have to pay even more to have it shipped back. I immediately dropped everything and sprinted for the front of the large animal hospital. Luckily the guy hadn’t left yet, I got him pointed in the right direction, and we got the box unloaded. It was terrifying!
I headed through the large animal hospital on my way back to small animal, to ask a couple of the technicians if they wouldn’t mind helping me move my vet box into my car when they had a minute. It weighs 275lbs, so I was going to need some help to get it in there. They agreed, and I ran back to anesthetize my next patient.
My second patient was a CT scan followed by a TECABO (total ear canal ablation/bulla osteotomy). The CT showed a horrible ear infection, which we knew about ahead of time, and also some lytic lesions in the tympanic bulla indicative of some sort of neoplastic or intensely infective process. The decision to do the TECABO was made, and we headed to surgery. The dog was under anesthesia for a little over three hours, and towards the end of the procedure I started stressing out again.
Central receiving closes at 5pm, and they were leaving my vet box out on the loading dock for me. All the technicians also leave around 5pm, so I was worried that they were all going to be gone and I wouldn’t be able to load the box. On top of that, the on call anesthesia students are supposed to take over cases continuing past 5pm, especially if there is nothing else going on. As 5pm approached, the technicians in my surgery kept asking if my classmates were coming to relieve me. I said I didn’t know but I hoped so. 5pm came and went, with the technicians telling me that my classmates were sitting in the rounds room doing nothing while I was stuck in surgery. I was getting more and more infuriated. They all knew that I needed to go take care of my box, and to my knowledge they were just sitting around doing nothing, preparing to go home. I knew who the on call students were, and I got a text from the primary saying she was still with a case and would be there ASAP. I let her know that was fine, she was obviously working so there was no need for her to rush. The secondary student, to my mind, had no excuse. He has also been the type of student over the past three weeks who does just the bare minimum to get by. I was crazy furious.
When we rolled into recovery, he came sauntering in and asked if I wanted some help. At this point what I really wanted was to tear him a new one. I was blatantly rude to him, saying “I thought you were supposed to relieve me at 5 o’clock?” He got all pissy and stormed out. I continued to recover my patient, finally handing him over to the primary student at about 5:30-5:45pm. When I talked to the other students on my rotation, it turned out that they had been truly busy right around 5pm, the technicians had just told me incorrectly. I felt terrible for being so rude.
I went and found my classmate and apologized, telling him I was really sorry for being rude and that I had been incorrectly informed. I explained how rough my day had been and apologized as well as I knew how for being so rude to him. He accepted my apology but I think he’s still pretty pissed, so the rest of the rotation may not be much fun :(
Hopefully we can all chalk it up to a terrible day and can move on from this.
After finally running out of school, I raced to large animal and caught a technician on his way out the door who helped me move the vet box into my SUV. We had a few scary moments trying to finagle it in, but we finally did it and it fits!!!
I was super excited! It’s almost like I’m a real vet!
So to end things today on a high note from this extra long, extra angst-y post, here are a few pictures from my week so far.
Baby horse, after I pulled her loose baby teeth with my bare hands :)
My friends and I, out at the bar last weekend. Why I thought it would be hot to dress like a man I have no idea.
My super adorable patient from yesterday! He was a little scared :(
And post-op! He got some bows with his bandage :D
Have a good evening everyone, and hopefully a happier day tomorrow!