Confessions of the New Grad Street Fighter

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So often we read about vet stories with filters.

Well, we decided not to have them.

Being a new grad vet is like being a street fighter. Every day you’re just fighting.

Fighting to help patients, fighting to keep clients happy and fighting to keep it together so you can do it all again tomorrow.

Exciting times.

But it’s so much better when we get to hear what others have gone through or are going through.

So we decided to start sharing them.

I couldn’t ask anyone to tell their stories without starting it off with one of my own. Here goes nothing:

That One You Never Forget

It was 6pm and the others were leaving. I was on call and I knew there was something wrong.

All day I had a jack russell who had gotten into the rat bait at the family farm. I had given the vitamin K injection and put him on a drip but he still looked sick and pale. Only in the last fifteen minutes I noticed he seemed to be breathing harder.

By this time all the others had left but I took a chest radiograph myself and it was bad. There was pleural effusion and a lot of it. I managed to get a pcv by myself and it was lower than before. He was still haemorrhaging (followed by a few choice words).

I’ve never done a blood transfusion before. I saw it done once on a cat back at uni but there’s a difference between seeing and doing.

The thought that cut through the nerves was this dog is going to die if I don’t do something.

I grabbed Nelson and Couto and read through how to give a blood transfusion. There was a bag of whole blood in the fridge already. So lucky! The drip was already set up so I worked out all the calculations and set everything up and then I put the bag of whole blood on there and started.

I must have checked that dog’s heart every five minutes. He was having a hard time breathing now so I rolled the anaesthetic machine over to his cage and gave him fly by oxygen.

At about 1am I was running on fumes and adrenalin just monitoring the dog who looked like he was not going to make it every time I looked at him but I didn’t know what else I could do and being six hours away from the closest referral centre that never even crossed my mind. I skyped my girlfriend, at the time, who was in the UK. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it went something like this: dog…. Rat bait… dying….. bleeding in chest…… transfusion……never done this before…. breathing funny…. He’s still alive……. Don’t know if he’s getting worse….. I’m so tired….. I can’t leave him alone…. It was a good vomit of everything going on in my brain and I actually felt calmer afterwards. And for the first time thought I’m going to save this guy. I even managed to sleep for a few hours.

At 8am Rachael, one of the nurses, walked in and saw the treatment room had been hit with a cyclone with syringe wrappers, drugs, books, drip bags everywhere and the anaesthetic machine and probably a crazy, wide eyed, somewhat exhausted but relieved vet sitting in a chair, with stethoscope in hand, next to an alive dog!!

It had been three months since I started working as a vet and it was the first time I felt like I was making a real difference, my first real save. The one you never forget.

Simon Wai-Shing BVSc (Hons)

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