Saturday, February 26, 2011

Will the Real Vet School Please Stand Up?

Before the start of 4th year, the clinical year of vet school at Virginia-Maryland, I heard horror stories of never sleeping, the pager going off in the middle of the night, etc. While I have had a few days or a week here and there of being stuck at the hospital and away from my bed and family, in reality it hasn't been too bad. There were maybe 3-4 nights where I was at school dealing with critical patients or emergency duty until the wee hours of the morning, 1-2 AM at worst. However, this week, the true vet school "horror story" reared its ugly head.

I was on call for anesthesia and due to an 8-hour shunt surgery case earlier in the day, the rest of the surgical cases were late into the OR for the rest of the day. My assigned case rolled into the operating room around 4PM, and for reasons that will go unmentioned, finished at 8:45 PM. The recovery went well, and I headed home for a bowl of cereal and some zzz's. Around 1:36 AM my cell phone rang. A colic (the second of my anesthesia rotation) needs to go to surgery. Luckily, or not, I was sent home around 4 AM to sleep for 2 hours until morning rounds, with the hope I would compete my case for the next day and be released home to finish my sleep.

Murphy's law continued to be in effect that day. We rolled the kitty into the MRI only to find the special MRI-compatible, recently serviced anesthesia machine was leaking some Isoflourane gas. Awesome. 2 hours later the MRI scan began. I was sent home promptly after the case was completed, however, I never got a lunch break and actually got home at 4PM, not very early after all.

On the bright side, I survived and performed better than I thought possible on only two 2 hour sessions of sleep. In fact, I was proud of myself for making it through, despite feeling like a cloud of bad luck was over my head for 36 hours. In addition, I still absolutely love my anesthesia rotation. I am extremely excited to be off the entire weekend. I have found it amazing that while the hospital has seen 4 colics in the past year, 2 have occurred when I am on call in the past 2 weeks. Dropping a horse is exciting, it's just not where I see my career headed, especially when I know first-hand now that colics really do occur in the middle of the night. But if life has taught me anything, it is that you never know where it will take you.

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