On Monday, although nervous, I was more certain than previously of what to expect. I knew that I would have to spend a lot of time standing around and not doing much, but I also realised the reasons for this and the inability for there to be anything for me to do as a completely unqualified school girl. However, although there would be waiting to do, my patience would be rewarded.
Luckily I didn’t have to wait long. There was a long list of operations to be done and I could see the importance of careful organisation and planning. There were two cat spays, a cat castrate and a dental. These had to be positioned so that the time available was used most successfully. When considering this there are some factors which come into account. This includes the length due to complexity of the operation, but most importantly, the time the pre-meds and general anaesthetic could be administered. In most animals the pre-meds are given about half and hour before the operation when a general anaesthetic will be given. The pre-medications are sedative drugs used to calm the animal and make it easier for it to be handled whilst being injected with anaesthetic. This means that the nurses must be informed as to the time for the specific animal to have its pre-meds, determined by its weight. When choosing the order of Monday’s operations, the vet chose to do the cat castrate first and the dental last with the spays in the middle.
As a castrate is a relatively simple operation so it is done in the prep room rather than the theatre and is very quick. Unfortunately, the cat which was being operated on, did not stay calm as it should under sedative. After much wriggling and scratching, the attempt was given up to inject a peripheral vein with anaesthetic and gas had to be resorted to. At this point I had to leave the room so that there was no chance of the gas affecting me. Once the cat was unconscious the procedure was carried out as normal. But I learnt that with gas, the anaesthetic is more likely to be unsuccessful and the cat will almost certainly wake up sooner than normal.
The morning continued as I watched two cat spays and the struggles of the young vet to stitch it as neatly as possible. Furthermore, I listened with interest to the vets discussing the advantages and disadvantages of using different suture threads to tie off the ovarian blood vessels. They were arguing out whether catgut or vicryl was easiest and most effective.
Finally on Monday, I watched a dog have a dental, it was explained to me the process of tartar build up. It begins as plaque which is a deposit of bacteria from all the food we eat. Plaque can be very easily removed through brushing, or products such as specially designed dental chews. However, the constant build up of plaque results in tartar. This is damaging, causing gum disease and bad breath. Tartar can be not so easily removed, it has to be chipped off with metal instruments and causes many teeth to rot and therefore have to be removed. The dog I watched had about five teeth removed as I observed the use of a chart naming the teeth so they would have a record of what had been done. The vet explained to me that it was impossible to know until the tartar was chipped away what damage the teeth would be in. Dentals are very hard to predict because of this and the one I watched took longer than I expected it would.
After a busy morning, I could see the need to keep on top of organisation and work, never underestimating what would come up.