This year has been an exercise in learning how to see, not only with my eyes but also with my hands and fingers. For those of you who have been following my journey thus far, you may be aware that this year featured our junior surgery labs. I have been able to complete my first canine neuter and spay, feline spay, sheep cesarean section, and bovine laparotomy and rumenotomy surgeries. In addition, being a livestock-emphasis student, I have had my fair share of rectal palpation experience both in cows and horses. Each of these experiences has taught me so much, however, one common denominator has helped me to advance my skills the most: the slow and steady process of training my hands to “see” what my eyes cannot.
At first, this concept felt so bizarre to me. But slowly, I began to realize just how valuable my hands could be to the diagnostic picture in front of me. As foreign as it felt at first, I needed to accept that I will not always be able to obtain a clear physical picture of each situation. Over time, I have grown more accustomed to trusting the “picture” that my sense of touch provides me. Whether I am locating an ovary within a dog’s abdomen, or palpating to stage a pregnancy in a cow, I am learning to let my hands be my guide.
I know that I am not yet a board certified surgeon or renowned herd health clinician, but I am embracing each opportunity as a learning process and I am slowly gaining confidence. Each new experience I have provides a training opportunity between my hands and my brain to translate what I feel into something that the brain can recognize and learn to “see.”