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Saturday, February 1, 2014

I nominate last week as "Best Week Ever"

I'm going to tell you about my AWESOME week.

Even though very little of it has to do with horses, or endurance.

As you may know (or guessed) I tend to keep this blog specific to a small portion of my life.  This isn't a diary or a journal or a "tell all" or a blog about vet school.  However, I like to think we have a deal.  Most of the time I stick to horses and endurance, but if SOMETHING REALLY COOL HAPPENS, I'll make sure that you, My Dear Reader, get to hear about it. Because after all, we are more than distant bloggers or blog readers - we are friends.

Fasten your seat belts (or rather grab your horn or OS shit strap) because HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!

1. Monday I had *my* spay surgery.  I was the surgeon (not the assistant or the anesthetist), so this was *mine*. I had visions (nightmares really) of a huge in heat pit bull bitch….but when I got there I had an adorable older boxer mix. Incredibly sweet and…..I had a feeling already spayed.

On my physical exam I could feel a ventral midline scar, which is VERY suggestive of a prior spay surgery. However, the shelter can't adopt them out unless they have proof of spay - which means since she didn't have a tattoo on that scar, she had to be opened up and checked for a reproductive tract.

Nope. No tract. I closed her back up.

Some body cared about this dog enough at one point to spay her. She was obviously a pet and was incredibly sweet. Her history indicated that she went into the shelter as a "stray". If anyone is looking for a sweet older boxer and is interested, she came from the Antioch animal shelter in California (crossing my fingers she already has already been adopted but I haven't checked).

I had mixed emotions.  It was harder to say there wasn't something there, than to grab the horn of the uterus and proceed with the procedure. So, in that way it was a good learning experience. I was able to reflect how much better I am with surgery now.  The cutting, the suturing, the anatomy identification.  Gowning and gloving, scrubbing, operating room prep……I am actually starting to feel like a doctor. I am a little disappointed that I didn't actually get to spay a dog (there are no replacement animals for this lab), and she went through an unnecessary surgery.  As I closed her up I put a little dot of tattoo ink on my incision so that she never has to be "re-spayed" again.

2. Tuesday I did a delivery and fetotomy lab. Now, unfortunately so much of what I did this week you are going to considered "really" cool, or is going to elicit the "EW!!!! don't tell me more, and please for the sake of everything decent don't post pics!" reaction. So, I'm going to walk the line between satisfying the curious readers while also keeping those readers in mind that have gentler sensibilities.

A note about any pictures posted in this blog for any school admin types that are poking around. These are NOT from the school and these are NOT any that I took (except for the dog spay picture above). As usual with ANY vetmed related pictures that I post, they are random pictures from the internet or from references. 

Now, where were we?  Fetotomy.

First I want to emphasize that a fetanomy is ONLY done on a dead fetus. If the calf can't be born vaginally and it is alive than we do a C-section. However, if the calf is dead and is either in a position that can't be corrected for normal birth, or has some sort of birth defect that makes it not possible to exit through the vaginal canal whole, then a fetonomy can be a better option than a C-section because it can be easier on the cow.

Cutting up a dead calf inside of a uterus safely is quite a skill. There are traditionally 6 cuts (but you don't often have to do them all to get the calf out) and it's quite challenging to get the equipment placed properly and to make the cuts so that there are absolutely no sharp edges of bone that could damage the uterus of the cow.

The combination technique, skill, and physics of the procedure - with the challenge of it all taking place hidden inside of a fake uterus/repro track - made it utterly fascinating. A piece of wire, threaded through  a "fetotomer", placed in just so slicing through just the right spot to create no sharp edges.

More information (videos!)

3. Now, if cutting up dead fetuses blindly with a wire is not your thing, how about fetal monsters? On Wednesday, in preparation for our C-section (on real live sheep! With live lambs!) we practiced our uterine suturing skills with uteruses (uteri?) purchased from the local slaughter house.

I chose a good looking one that had a large fetus in it and proceeded to make my cut.  And out flopped a acephalous lamb!!!!!!!

This is sorta what it looked like:

From this paper here.

Except *mine* had an orifice between the two ear looking things.

They let me grossly necropsy it and it was SO COOL.  Totally normal except where I got to where a head should be. Even the trachea was totally intact, all the way down to a fully formed epiglottis just hanging out at the end.

It sorta made up for my already spayed spay dog…….

Later on Wednesday I had another lab on regulatory medicine, which was cool but doesn't deserve it's own bullet point.  I practiced my ear tattooing, tag applying, cattle aging, intradermal injecting skills!!!!!

4. You might say that I've already had more fun than any one person deserves in one week and you would be right….but wait, there's MORE.

Time for the Ovine C-section!!!!!

Ever since I poked my head into a room as a first year and saw third years doing their sheep C-sections, it was the surgery I MOST LOOKED FORWARD TO. Sure, neutering and spaying is important, blah blah blah. But I couldn't wait until I got to do my C-section!!!!!!!!!!!  I was really afraid that this surgery was something that was going to be dropped in the new curriculum - but they kept it in the food animal stream, so I got to do a C-section!!!!!!

It was absolutely, totally awesome.  I've never had so many different body fluids dump onto me in such quick succession.

Peritoneal fluid WOOSH
Urine from ewe peeing on table WOOSH
Intrauterine/amnioic/allantoic fluids WOOSH
Blood all over my gloves
More Urine WOOSH


I'm really glad I wore my rubber boots.

Tried to find some videos/pics for you guys….but the only decent sheep one I found the guy wasn't wearing gloves (WTF?) and the goat one was good, but the goat was on it's back instead of it's side so not quite the same effect. So instead I'm posting some pictures (off the internet) and I'm still shaking my head at the no gloves in the pics - so apparently it wasn't just video guy.

Anyways. I'm sure you can use your imagination and imagine the WONDERFULNESS OF IT ALL.

Of course, our ewe was witchy and refused to bond with her lamb until the next morning and my job was made harder that night by worrying that the postpartum depressed mom was going to murder her baby and I was going to find carnage on my next (very frequent) barn checks.

I didn't get a lot of sleep.

Three or four hours to be exact.

Which was punctuated by nightmares that this was going to turn into a bottle baby and because these are range lambs they were going to make us keep the lamb at the hospital and I was going to have to bottle feed the*(&^%*&(* until weaning.

But every worked out fine, mom and baby went home this morning and by all accounts (my surgery partner had the checks last night and today) were doing very well together and all bonded etc.

5. And the fun wasn't done!  Friday was an awesome bovine embryo transfer lab. Your life isn't complete until you get to play with embryo's in a petri dish.  Oh sure, flushing the live cows was fun.  Practicing our stylet passing technique in the dead uteruses in a tray was interesting…..but staging and classifying embryos and sucking them into a pipet? Priceless.

6. We STILL haven't gotten to the end of the awesomeness that this week had to offer, although these last things are more personal accomplishment.

On my lunch hour Friday (yes, after staying up to the wee hours getting my lamb and ewe to come to some sort of agreement) I decided to run a 1 mile test. 

I havne't done so since Oct 30, 2012 where I ran a personal best of 7:42. It was the first and only time I had run a mile under 8 min.

Mile tests are an excellent way to monitor your fitness and so every once in a while I try to remember to schedule one of the miserable things (funny - I'm faster and more fit now but the mile test isn't any more fun than it was in high school…..) and it was on my list of "goals" for the month of January.  And because it was 1/31/14… was time to do it.

I used the jog out to the track (1.5 miles) as my warm up, trying to run very slowly so save my legs but hoping the long warm up would compensate for the fact I had forgotten my inhaler at home (I have exercise induced asthma that kicks in when I put in really big sprint efforts). I ignored the fact it was breezy (running in the wind sucks) and sunny (I had forgotten my sunglasses).

Got to the track and lined myself off.


I ran with no other plan than to run each lap as fast as I could.

Usually I have some sort of idea what time I'm "planning" for, and I do *some sort* of pacing from the beginning and run the whole thing at a fairly even pace/effort with a bit of a negative split near the end.

Sleep deprived, tears streaming from my eyes due to the wind and the glare, and a blood-like metallic taste in my mouth, I just RAN.

On my first lap I realized that my one minute sprint intervals had altered my perception of what was fast and what was reasonable for more than 1 minute. My tempo runs are minimum 3 miles and I had no idea what perceived effort I could maintain over a mile.

I hit my split button at the end of my first lap. I didn't even look. I started my second lap.

There was no way I could maintain this break neck speed. I was going to have to slow down.

I did. Just a tad.

My legs kept moving, my lungs kept breathing, and my arms kept pumping.

Surely I couldn't sustain this. Surely I would have to take a walk break. I was going too hard for being just into the second lap.

I was so focused on pushing forward I forgot to hit the split button between laps 2 and 3.

Lap 3 started and I was sure I was going to have to walk.  This was insane. I had failed. I had started too fast. I knew better. I had made the beginners mistake. It was OK.  That was what these tests were for. For learning.

I was 3/4 of the way through lap 3 and realized my legs were still moving and my lungs were breathing and my arms were still pumping.

I hit the split button as I started lap 4.

Maybe I could do this.

I pressed on.

There was no gallant kick to the finish.  Just a maintaining of speed.

I ran with snot and spit and tears running down my face, ignoring the high pole jumpers practicing in the adjacent lanes with their coaches, who were probably looking at the slow jogger putting in the pitiful effort and RAN.

I realized I was going to puke when I was almost finished with lap 4 and I could see the finish.

Three steps away from the line I started dry heaving.  I tossed my body over the line and hit the button.


I had no idea what time I had done it in.  Because of how I was using my chrono to track my warm up and mile splits and then my cool down jog back to school, it wasn't until I got to class and did the math that I realized what my time was.

So….not knowing how fast or slow I was, my face as bright as a cherry and my breathing ragged and wheezing I ran the 1.5 miles back to the vetoed campus.

I HAD to run back.  Otherwise I wouldn't make it back to school before my lunch hour was over.

My legs felt totally dead, my lungs as if I had inflated every single little corner in the effort.

I showered, went to class and reviewed my splits.

Lap 1: 1:32
Lap 2/3: 3:42 (1:51 average)
Lap 4: 1:49

Total 1 mile: 7:03


I just ran a seven minute mile.


Which is approximate twice as fast as any mile I ran in high school.

Which is 40 seconds faster than a year ago.

Which is 1 1/2 minutes faster than the one mile test I did right before I started adding HIIT to my workouts.

They say that sprinting is the best strength training a runner can do. Which boggles my mind because it's so cardio intense.  But apparently strength training = the recruitment of more muscle fibers to do the job and sprinting recruits enormous amounts of muscle fibers that are involved in running.  Which is what you do when you lift heavy weights.

I was reminded of this concept this morning. I'm SORE from running that mile. It was *just* a mile - but I'm more sore than some 10 milers I've done.  AND this mile was completely flat. I feel like I did squats or some sort of weight training, just because I did it fast.  I've got to remember not to take short distances lightly - they can be just as valuable as the longer distances if the intensity is right!

7. Horse related awesomeness. Of course there was horse related awesomeness this week as well. A night ride on Tig earlier in the week, and then a 50 minute 6 mile ride of walk/trot/canter SOLO on the trail this morning (that started out with mare naughtiness, but then she actually RELAXED and settled when I allowed her to canter and was lovely the rest of the ride). But since I regularly wax eloquently (or less than eloquently depending on my state of sleep deprivation) on Tig, Farley, riding, and the awesomeness of my equine related activities, that is all I will say on this subject for now.


  1. SO COOL. Especially the embryos for some reason.

  2. Yep something about embryos and pipettes is fascinating me :/ Not so much the various fluids mentioned though.

    7 Minute Mile!!! Woooot!

  3. Sounds like one hell of an awesome week all the way around! Loved your vet school stories!! So cool!

  4. Wow! Too bad about the already-spayed bitch but c'est la vie. Interesting about the tattoo ink.

  5. Ahh, ewes that want nothing to do with their lamb - they're so much fun! Had to deal with so many of those growing up - we grazed sheep for the freezing works (slaughter house) and would often get a truck load of "dry ewes" and often got a few lambs that would arrive... It didn't take much to work out why some of the ewes were in the cull mob!


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