One of the most exciting events and unforgettable moments of third-year is the time when you get to perform your first live dog surgery. There are three members in each surgical team, one being the primary surgeon, another being the assistant surgeon, and the last one being the anesthetist. So far our team has performed two live dog surgeries and I haven’t been a primary surgeon yet. But next time it will be my turn.
Most of my classmates agree that being the anesthetist is the most challenging and terrifying job of the three. The anesthesia machine itself is intimidating enough, with many parts, buttons, and cords. The preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative medications are definitely something you don’t want to make mistakes on, and you do the calculation multiple times just to make sure you don’t kill the patient by a decimal point. Once the surgery gets started, you have to do all the monitoring every five minutes, check the fluid rate, adjust gas concentration, and you may need to “breathe” for your patients every now and then, detect any abnormalities on the ECG, and respond quick enough for any sort of emergency. The anesthetist is no doubt the busiest person during surgery, and there is so much responsibility for an anesthetist to take on.
Too much responsibility also means it’s easy to get frustrated because you may not be wrong only once. You may make multiple mistakes. You may not be fast enough in action. My first time as the anesthetist did not go very well. First, I tried a couple times but still could not get the catheter into the vein. When I finally got it in, it came out in the middle of surgery and I almost passed out, heartbroken, when I realized that. Our patient did not breathe well on his own so I had to “breathe” for him every three to five minutes, and I was praying I did not blow his lung while squeezing the reservoir bag.
You may be doing totally fine but you spontaneously get over-concerned during your first live dog surgery. As was said by our surgery professor, please don’t dislike surgery just because you don’t practice it enough. Practice makes perfect. We all have to do surgery, and I look forward to my first live dog surgery as the primary surgeon in the coming week.