Even though I don't always show it, I love you!! Happy Mother's Day on the interwebz for all the world to see.
Reflection Part 4--Most Memorable Patients
Last time I shared Part 3 of the Reflections series (read part 1 and part 2 here) which ended with a photo of the young Bengal tiger I was fortunate enough to work with during my time at UF. He was certainly one of my most memorable cases for just being what he was. How many people get to work with tigers? I consider myself truly lucky to have had so many amazing experiences. I'd like to share a few more from University of FL Vet School:
There was the pet cougar(I do not recommend keeping wild animals as pets!!) who stayed in ICU overnight. She was under a constant sedative IV drip for pain and to keep her from eating us. Apparently she was someone's pet and actually slept in bed with the owner. Due to the fact that she was a cougar she stayed under sedation and closely monitored for her safety (and ours). The coolest thing about working with the big cats (even though this one was sedated and the tiger was essentially a baby and used to human interaction) is that they are exactly like house cats.
They are playful, vindictive, sweet, true hunters, and you really want to stay on their good side! The tongues of tiger and cougar felt just like one from a house cat. They are beautiful and dangerous animals. The slightly frightening part of this case was that the wildlife department at the university came in to transfer her to us and update us on her case also brought a dart gun that we were to use in case the cougar awoke unexpectedly. They explained how to use it, locked the syringe/darts in our controlled substance machine, and left us for the night. It went perfectly--what a cool experience!
I briefly assisted cleaning and medicating a great horned owl's wing injury. I applied the medication as the student gently restrained the owl. A deer was brought in by two young men after they saw her injured on the side of the road. They dropped her off with wildlife emergency and went back to look for her fawn while we examined her. Wildlife department requested help from ICU and I got to go down there to help sedate the doe and place an IV catheter.
We had a wallaby hospitalized in ICU for a few days. That was really interesting as they were using canine plasma and several other infusions. He was pretty sick initially but when he was more aware he was just very shy. We had to do blood work on him frequently and monitor his vitals. He had surgery so we were trying to keep his temperature up which is why he is covered up with blankets and a warm air heater.
Finally one of the most touching cases was a middle aged couple who were traveling through Florida saw a large young dog get hit by two different cars (who didn't bother to stop). They stopped and were able to carefully lift him and carry him to their car. He ended up at UF on emergency and have fractured pelvis as well as a few other fractures in addition to head trauma. He needed thousands of dollars in surgery and care. The couple had fallen in love with the sweet pup and decided to pay for his treatment AND adopt him. Such a great ending to a sad beginning!
It's cases like this one that makes my job so worth all the sad and frustrating times.
On another note: we got back from Denver, CO last week and had SUCH an amazing time! I definitely want to go back (I'd love to move there!!) to visit--it was amazing to see all my close friends. <3 Next post I will share our trip to Colorado :)
I’m taking a break from my series called “Reflection” (See Part 1 and Part 2) which is literally me reflecting on the last 13 years of my career as a veterinary technician (basically the beginning of my career to current). Sometimes remembering certain things can be overwhelming or even tiresome. I try to let go of some of the bitterness I still feel toward some situations but writing about it tends to bring those feelings back. AND since I’ve been dealing with headaches and just general “run down-ness” I decided to give you guys more of an update with the current rather than the next installment of “Reflection.”
Luckily for all of us at the clinic, our boss is taking a few days off—which means we all get a little extra time off also. Our manager scheduled it so we each have at least two days off in a row (or more!). I’m actually watching their pets as I type. <3
We’ve been slowing upgrading our apartment—it feels nice to have our own furniture that we bought. It’s nothing expensive but it all matches and we picked it out. All we’ve ever had was hand-me-downs (and they were all awesome!) but there is something different about picking out and purchasing your own stuff. Now we need a cover for our love sac (giant awesome bean bag couch/bed) and a few shelves to help us organize the rest of our belongings.
As part of my valentines day gifts David arranged to get us park hopper passes for Disney—particularly so we can go to Animal Kingdom. We may go Sunday :) I usually dislike zoo and don’t visit them but Animal Kingdom and Miami Zoo are the absolute shit. Miami Zoo is wicked cheap and an incredible experience—“cage free” zoo!!
We will also be visiting Colorado in three weeks! I’ve never visited anywhere in the US for fun. I’ve always been dragged around by family to visit family. Thanks to David’s family I’ve been able to travel to Cancun, Mexico and The Bahamas. Those are the only places I have traveled—it may be a lot to some but I’ve always wanted to visit places and see their natural beauty and other “must see” sights. I have two best friends out there and their lovely significant others and I am so freaking excited to visit them and explore Denver and Ft. Collins. They will be trying to convince us to move there, hehe. If you live in or near those areas in Colorado hit me up on facebook or twitter and maybe we can all meet up for drinks or coffee while we are wandering around Colorado. I’m so ready to see some mountains and National Park and just the awesomeness that is in the west of the US. I can’t wait to see you guys!! Tanya, Myke, Leashy, Seth, Bryan, Lily, Nette. <3 You guys are my family! <3
Luckily David’s time off was approved so he can come with me and all our pets will be staying at the clinic boarding kennel. That’s the only place I know that can handle all four of them and their behaviors and medical issues. The whole herd is too much for one person unless they are skilled in medicating animals and pet mischief. My fellow techs are professionals and they love my little hooligans.
Upcoming Changes: my blog is suffering because of my lack of routine but with these few extra days off and then vacation coming up I’m planning some slight changes to the design, but nothing big. The other change is my etsy shop—I’m currently researching recycled metals (sterling silver) and acquiring some beach glass and other natural beauties. Maybe some pretty little stones from Rocky Moutain national park! I’ll let you know :)
In the meantime you can check out the new additions to my shop. A few pieces I have made in the past I am re-offering for purchase.
I’m still trying to figure out how to design my own logo, even though I want to support small business I really can’t afford to pay a graphic designer.
So I just found out today that Google announced several features and services that they are closing. Apparently there have been 70 services closed from the start of their “Spring Cleaning” which began in 2011. One that affects many of us is Google Reader—well maybe it doesn’t affect us but at least the good majority of us know what Google Reader is. The reader will no longer be available as of July 1st—I saw this on bloglovin, the blog reader that I prefer. So I encourage you all to follow me on bloglovin, or whatever reader you prefer. Make sure you import all your favorite blogs to your new reader. Bloglovin has some instructions on how to do so. They are awesome!
So, follow The Craftafarian on bloglovin (please? hehe, only if you want to!)
PS—I am NOT being paid or compensated for this post. I just LOVE bloglovin.
I’ve been awful about blogging and writing anything lately. However, I have been keeping a notebook/journal/doodle thing. I jot down ideas, thoughts, drawings, whatever. I date each page when I start a new one. I keep changing up the color pen to keep me feeling creative. Anyway, if you remember the last post I did—about the beginning of my career in veterinary medicine. I will pick up right after Part 1.
There were so many other things that happened, but that was the only death on my watch. My friend Myke and I could make you laugh and cringe in disgust at some of the things we experienced. I heard other stories later from staff that remained after I left—they didn’t stay long. I try not to dwell on it much, its quite upsetting. I was already stressed out from working for Dr. D so when he cut my hours, I handed him my resignation letter—effective immediately. I already was on the job search and had an offer as a personal assistant to a couple of realtors. Just as I was starting the new job my friend and I had a falling out and I moved into a duplex with some friends. I started dating one of my roommates—as I had a crush on him before I moved in. I was on the rebound after dating one guy on and off for several years—and he was there for me. After a long time of searching and applying I finally landed a job at a local veterinary clinic. (I actually had a job interview to work for Dixie Stampede as a rider but I wasn’t able to get a ride out there *sad times*)
I worked at the clinic for about 6 weeks. I was having trouble sleeping and my boyfriend (at the time) had a friend that was over often with a drug problem—he would come and crash at our place after arguing with his fiancé (not that we didn’t get a little wild back then). When I was hired I was told they would teach me to do the things I didn’t know. At my first review I scored a D because I wasn’t excelling as they had expected. I told them I wasn’t being trained. Finally one day I was called by the manager. She stated that she was going to talk to me that day but I wasn’t there (it was my day off). She said I didn’t seem happy and it wasn’t working out so if I could please come by tomorrow to drop off my key and pick up my final check. I was crushed. That’s the first time and only time I’ve ever been fired. I was so devastated—I thought that maybe this wasn’t for me. I took a job at the local publix as cashier. I figured what the hell, might as well earn some money while looking for a better job or just work there while I went to school.
I didn’t last long. I grew tired of staying hours after my scheduled time. Tired of the monotonous scanning of barcodes and weighing vegetables. So very tired of being exhausted every week and paychecks that weren’t worth it. I found a job for the local specialty clinic on careerbuilder.com and literally like 15 minutes after applying I received a call from the hospital manager. After two interviews (one was a working interview) I was hired as Vet Assistant/Treatment Tech. I originally applied for position of tech but after speaking with the manager I told her I wasn’t comfortable doing the job without training—but once trained I knew I could. They hired me with the knowledge that they could use my practically anywhere. And they did. I was used the most as “cat whisperer”, as I was really good at restraining and calming pets, particularly cats. This was especially important during chemotherapy as movement could cause the injection to come out of the vein. I often helped in chemotherapy with our patients, in ultrasound restraining patients, I was able to encourage sick cats and dogs to eat, I did treatments while the other techs were busy in procedures, I took appointments a few times, but the most interesting part was when they asked me to take over physical therapy once a week.
Every friday I did physical therapy exercises with a few dogs and then the underwater treadmill. It was amazing to watch animals rebuild strength or maintain severe arthritis. The best part was Lucky (I think that was his name). He was a little dachshund that was unable to walk when I started working with him. The most special thing about him was he exclusively saw me. The other patients sometimes came on friday when they couldn’t make their regular visit or at least they had already been evaluated by the physical therapy assistant (all of our instructions came from the orthopedic surgeons, there wasn’t an actual physical therapist). So Lucky came only once a week and it was recommended at least twice a week for results. He came in unable to walk and I watched him go from needing total assistance to being able to support himself and almost walk completely unaided. It was absolutely amazing.
I worked there for almost 2 years and learned so much. We had many joyful times and many heartbreaks. That’s the curse of working with animals. We will almost always outlive our pets. It was so refreshing to finally be somewhere that had the same medical ethics as me and didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. They thanked each of us everyday and I loved working there. I only left because I was finally accepted into University of Florida and my dream of becoming a veterinarian had been delayed too long already (the story of school is also an epic one, I’ve had one hell of a time just trying to work on my bachelors. That will be for another time).
This photo is Lucky and I our last day together. It sucked because he didn’t care for the person taking over my job. I have several other photos from my last day. Special patients that were still hanging in there, goofy coworkers, and all the doctors. I remember him the most because he was MY patient. I used to have video of him walking without support for several steps. Just amazing.
The next step of my journey was that of acceptance into the school I had been dreaming/planning to attend since I was a little girl. Once I was accepted and knew I would be moving up there I informed the doctors at the specialty hospital and they told me to apply to the vet school. I wasn’t sure if I was qualified but I was assured that I could do it and I would be great. I applied for any veterinary technician position within the small animal hospital but I would work in large animal if trained. I went up for my interview and to apartment search. The interview was a success and I was offered a job working the middle shift (without veterinarian supervision—except by phone call or if they came in) in the small animal ICU and critical care. The job was a huge promotion for me and came with a nice raise from my current salary. I decided to room with a friend for a few months before deciding on my own place up there. A month or so before the move my boyfriend and I broke up and I ended up moving in with friends for those few weeks—I also dated a few people and found the guy I’m dating now (and have been for almost 6 years).
This is the Spring of 2007 and I am about 22 years old. I have been in veterinary medicine for approximately 8 years. The fun has just begun.
Last week Jen was down in St. Pete visiting with family and she invited me to come out to a local bar for a mini meet up. David and I drove down from Orlando area after I got off work. It was awesome finally meeting and getting to chat. Jen, myself, my boyfriend David, a reader Tom, and Anwar (he was working there) got to meet. She asked me a few questions about my career as a vet tech and it inspired me to reflect on some of the things I’ve experienced so far in veterinary medicine.
Please know that my situation isn’t typical. I’m 27 years old (my birthday is in July) and I have been working in veterinary medicine for almost 14 years. I started volunteering at my family pet’s veterinary clinic when I was about 12 years old. My family told me that I always wanted to be a vet since I knew what one was. My mom wanted me to get some experience so I would have an advantage over other students so she asked if I could volunteer. I was always mature for my age so at 12 they let me walk the dogs in the kennel and even watch surgery. I volunteered every summer after that.
I remember when I was 14 and got the call from Doc (Dr. S)—she asked me if I would like to have a job! I was ecstatic. I had already been working for a year on the weekends with the company that offered clowns, face painting, balloons, pony, and horse rides. For an animal lover I was in heaven. I also loved being able to be out of the house weekday and weekends as it was a more legitimate reason than hanging out with friends or boyfriends. I worked a few hours every afternoon after school and in the summer I worked more. When I was old enough to work full time I did. I worked there until the summer after I graduated from high school. I started in the kennel, began assisting in surgery, and then began educating clients about pet care, vaccinations, preventatives. I learned to draw blood, place catheters, clean teeth, take radiographs and so much more. I learned a strong sense of medical ethics and standards—Dr. S was an amazing and passionate vet who clearly loved her profession. I learned that we are in this for the animals and people who love them. I experienced life and death, shared happiness and sadness with clients. I loved spending time at the little clinic. The vet had several dogs that I got to take care of as if there were my own. One dog named Bob was my favorite—when I was 17 my parents went to NJ to visit family and I stayed home because I needed to work, Bob came and stayed with me for the week so I had some protection. He slept on my bed with me and I was sad when I had to return him but I would see him at work everyday. The year I left for college Bob was sick and even though I no longer worked there Dr. S called me. He ended up having stomach cancer and treatment would have only prolonged the inevitable and would have been tough for him. Dr. S decided it was kindest to euthanize him and asked if I would like to be there. I drove out to her home and hugged him and kissed his nose. He was one of the best dogs I’ve ever known. He had been there with me through break ups, issues at home, happy times, and it I could have taken him with me to college I would have. I held his paw as we cried and gave him the injection. He fell asleep and just didn’t wake up. I had a mixed CD in the car that afternoon and now anytime I hear Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional or the theme song from Donnie Darko I relive those feelings to a minor degree. Even now there’s a knot in my throat and I’m beginning to feel sad.
When I moved to UCF area for college I thought I would just get a job at a restaurant but I hated the food industry and missed working with animals. I searched for a job at a vet clinic but at only 18 no one wanted to hire me. I had almost 5 years of experience but no one would give me a chance because I looked so young. I finally was offered a position bathing dogs at a vet clinic. I ended up taking a big pay cut but I wanted to work with animals. I should have known from the beginning that this wasn’t a good environment but it was the only place in town that would give me a chance. Within weeks of starting I became head technician as the entire staff quit. The doctor had a horrible bedside manner with clients and didn’t really appear to like animals. He constantly made odd demeaning or vaguely (sometimes not so vaguely) sexual comments to the staff. I was young and determined to make a name for myself in veterinary medicine. I considered it a speed bump in my journey—I knew I wouldn’t be there long. The only saving grace were the few good people that filtered through the clinic for employment and one beautiful but neglected bird. Raspy or Rasputin was a beautiful, sweet, and free spirited Catalina macaw. He was owned by Dr. D but he began living at the clinic shortly after I started working there. No one liked him. He was loud and aggressive. I was determined that he just needed some love. Seriously that’s all he wanted. I started with a leather glove so in case he did decide to attack me but soon I was able to hold him on my arm without concern and eventually he would sit on shoulder and nuzzle my cheek. I feel such regret to this day that he is still there, but what could I do? He wasn’t mine, I couldn’t very well steal him (as much as I wanted to). He was Dr. D’s only pet (which is so freaking weird) and only became so because his previous owner couldn’t pay the bill and decided to abandon Raspy. I miss him to this day. I have a feather of his that I always kept. He probably wouldn’t know me now, but if there was a way to adopt him I would.
I was only there for about a year and a half but it was long enough. The hospital had such a high turn over rate and the staff that was there when I started warned me. I should have quit after I lost my first patient. I was doing a dental cleaning on a sweet golden retriever whose owner would tip us every time she had a bath and every major holiday she would give us each a gift card to borders. Her name was Sunny. I noticed that her she stopped breathing and her color wasn’t good. I called the doctor and other staff. He didn’t give us any instructions. Thankfully the other tech who had returned (she was there when I first started) to work knew CPR from her assistant classes and told me what to do. We didn’t have an airway because at this particular clinic they did not intubate (my previous clinic we always intubated!)—the only thing Dr. D tried to do was intubate Sunny. When he was unable he just stood there watching us. L gave Sunny chest compressions while I gave her breaths. (Knowing what I know now—Dr. D did not tell us to give her any epinephrine or atropine or anything! I don’t know why.) Sunny’s color began to turn pink—we were getting her back--but suddenly I guess Dr. D had decided that we tried long enough when he heard the front door chime. He told L she needed to go up front and take care of the customers. He told us we needed to stop CPR. That dog should not have died. When I was sure she was gone I went up front and sobbed in L’s arms. I came to that hospital with higher medical and ethical standards than the owner—in 5 years I never lost a patient, but it wasn’t the fact that we lost a life. What bothered me most was that it he didn’t seem to care. What I experienced was awful but what I heard after I left was even worse. If you ever questioned Dr. D he would always counter that we didn’t go to vet school so what did we know. Real mature.
Ha. I stayed there too long.
Next up is my second short hiatus from veterinary medicine. I left the profession three times for just a few weeks or months at a time and kept trying other things but nothing was as satisfying. At this point we are about 6 years into my career—I’m about 20 years old here.