There are some things you just can’t teach. A positive attitude is one of them. And when you’re on duty and called in for the second time in 3 days, you really start to rely on that positivity to keep you going through the interminable fog of exhaustion.
It’s 10 pm on a Monday night, and the resident and I are standing in an unbedded stall, watching diluted phenylephrine drip slowly through the IV catheter lines. Our Morgan horse has a displacement of his large colon, more specifically a nephrosplenic entrapment where his gas-filled colon moved up and over the spleen, lodging between the head of the spleen and the left kidney. If we cause his spleen to contract and shrink, then exercise him for a bit, then his colon may fall down off the spleen and move back into its normal location. But the caveat is that you have to make sure the horse can tolerate the elevated blood pressure and low heart rate caused by the phenylephrine—the last thing you want to do is make the horse faint!
So to pass the time, we began chatting. She reminisced about a gelding who had a nephrosplenic entrapment 6 times in one year, and who always happened to come in when she was on duty. The resident then talked about the memorable experience of jogging a flighty Thoroughbred with a nephrosplenic entrapment around the barns in the dark, after an alpaca had escaped her stall and was on the loose. During her internship, she assisted with zebra colics and a bear spay, and even girded herself to touch a tiger that was anesthetized for wound treatment. But my favorite story was that of a 3-legged gazelle owned by a lovely couple, who brought their colicking pet in the back of an SUV with foam pool noodles over his horns to prevent any accidental property damage.
Those light-hearted stories keep us in a good mood, even though we were fighting yawns while lunging him in the arena at 1 am. The Morgan’s colon was still displaced immediately after jogging, but when we rechecked an ultrasound and rectal exam a few hours later, the large colon was back where it’s supposed to be, and the left kidney and spleen were easily visible. The Morgan was quite happy to start eating again, and within a few days, he was back home.