Sunday, January 26, 2014

A day in the life ...

I have one more week to finish up my schoolwork for the next session of equine massage school.  I just have to write my case studies and a book report so it should be doable.  Especially because I don't have to work this coming week.  Yikes though.

Wednesday I spent the day shadowing my vet on her rounds.  It ended up being a longer day than I expected but it was really interesting - well, to me at least.  We saw a couple horses who needed their teeth done, did a lameness evaluation, some vaccines, did an acupuncture session, checked out a horse who'd just come across the mountains and was covered in ticks and responded to an emergency where a horse had ripped his lip and nose open and they were concerned he might need sutures.  And one horse needed his sheeth cleaned.

When I was a kid I was very squeamish and would gag at the drop of a hat and feel woozy at the sight of mild injuries, so I have tried very hard to become less squeamish and it's working to a certain degree.  I'm still pretty far on the "squeamish" side of the continuum, but can hold my own a little better.  I definitely do much better with animal injuries than human injuries.  I wasn't worried about this particular day because I knew if it was a horrible injury (severed limb or horse had to be put down) I could stay in the truck at worst.  But I also stayed to watch my vet stitch up a pretty henious injury on a horse at my old boarding barn - where the horse's hoof was practically hanging off from such a bad cut - so I knew I'd be fine.

I was actually fine with the emergency and was impressed at how the wound looked pretty bad when we walked in and once the vet was done cleaning it looked far less disturbing.  The horse didn't need stitches, but had to be sedated so my vet could clean the wound and she had to put a lidocane shot directly into the wound so she could cut away some pieces of skin that were still hanging off and would just die anyway and might trap debris in the wound if they stayed on.  I felt bad for the horse because I was sure getting a shot in the wound hurt, but having had plenty of my own painful injuries and getting through them it wasn't too upsetting because I knew it would pass and he'd feel better soon and would be grateful for the lidocane taking away the feeling. 

What actually got me for some reason was cleaning the horse's sheeth.  My vet had a glove on literally up past her elbow and was pulling off all this slimy, goopy black stuff, and I was trying to control my desire to cringe, when she turned to me and said, "It's also important to get out these beans, the smegma and goo can gather up into this little clump and make it painful near the urethra," and reached her hand toward me covered with dripping black goo and a hard piece of goopy white stuff on her fingertip.  I actually put my hand up to my throat and had to swallow quickly to keep myself from gagging.  But I laughed it off and said, "Yeah, I think I'll leave it to you to clean my horse's sheath."

The ticks were kind of gross but more in an amusing way.  Although I forgot to ask my vet if when a horse has that many ticks are they at risk for anemia or anything like that?  The owner had originally taken a shedding blade to the horse when he arrived which she felt bad about because it took off a bunch of tick butts and left a bunch of heads in and she was (as I would be) concerned that the heads could cause an infection.  My vet said that if they did get infected it would just cause something like a pimple, and they would be able to pop it and the heads would come out and they could just treat any infection from there.  She went through and pulled out some of the dead bodies (the owner had treated with a natural powder remedy that kills the ticks but then you still have to pull them out) and told the owner she was on the right track and continue what she was doing and keep her (my vet) posted.  Then she found a live one, carefully pulled it out and held it up to show to me and said, "Look at this - see they start waving their legs all around when you pull them out and they bring a little skin with them.  Creepy, huh?"  And I have to admit I did have an 8-year old moment of thinking, "How cool and gross!"  But then I made the mistake of pulling out one of the dead ones with my fingers (this why the vet uses tweezers) and it squished in my hand and got blood and goop on my fingers.  And I had to quickly excuse myself to go wash my hands and remind myself to keep my hands to myself the rest of the day.

Obviously, I won't be doing any veterinary work as an equine massage therapist, but it helped a lot to watch the lameness exam and talk about that and I did some palpations on the horse and was able to ask my vet if she agreed with what I had assessed.  She's so nice, she really didn't need to go through all that extra work of explaining things to me and talking about everything so I'm not sure she realizes how cool it was for me and how much I appreciated it.  It was also good to talk about the issues of being in a profession like that where you go to work on-site and learning how to deal with different personalities and situations.  The sites we visited ranged from older and very casual to very high-end and fancy.  And despite how many different barns there are in different disciplines everyone seems to know everyone - there are only a few large veterinarian practices on the Eastside that seem to be the vets of performance horses (my vet's practice is one of them) so people talk and I'll have to be very careful to always be positive.  There is one guy with a big practice who I can't stand (rightfully so - he is a rude, arrogant guy and I know of a barn where he is banned for setting foot on their property).  But I can't let that opinion of mine be known at all because it would only hurt my professional practice and my integrity.

For someone like me who just blurts out what I think and feel most of the time this will be a challenge and growing experience for me.  One of my fellow teachers, Miss C. is really good at being professional and "playing her cards close to her chest"  so I've started to observe how she deals with public and am trying to emulate that and work on being polite and gracious in all situations with the public and colleagues no matter how rude they might be.  My other co-worker, Miss T. said she thought it would be freeing to be able to just say whatever you think but I said there are definitely situations where it bites you in the ass.  So, I made a joke (which is not completely a joke) that I'm going to work on "channeling my inner-Miss C." in professional situations.  I think this is going to be good for me to rise to this challenge of being more discrete in certain areas of my life.

And we got a new Fjord at pony school.  The owner heard about this guy over in Eastern WA and his family needed a retirement home for him and liked the idea of the school.  The tween/teen volunteers were so excited when they arrived yesterday and there was a crowd of kids circling the trailer.  I kept them back as far as I could and tried to keep them from jumping up and down and squealing as much as I could.  He is adorable! He looks a lot like Geir but his face is a lot smaller and more delicate, he's lighter and he has a few white patches.  He was so calm, he got out of the trailer and sighed and looked around and seemed ok with his new surroundings.  The owner led him around and let him look at the surroundings and then put him in a separate paddock where he seemed completely at ease and spent a lot of time looking at all the ponies in the paddocks across the walking path.  When I walked by with Geir, Geir saw him out of the corner of his eye, his head flew up and he started pulling really hard to go see him.  So, I let him go over to him, they touched noses (probably a bad idea because he hasn't had his vet check yet but the people who brought him are apparently very responsible, caring owners - he's not one of the owner's many rescues) ... anyway, they wiggled all over and rubbed noses, then squealed and both jumped like they wanted to play.  They're going to best friends, I can already tell.

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