It is 3:00 am on a Saturday and I will be in the Equine Barn all night long, taking care of the hospitalized patients. This is a two-week rotation, with nights alternating among the equine barn, the livestock/large animal barn, and taking after-hours emergencies. It is not one of the popular rotations here at CSU, and I have been dreading it since I first received my schedule. Then I met my patients, and each hour I spend sitting up with these animals and their owners in the middle of the night becomes a little more meaningful.
One of my patients was a small ruminant with a bellyache, and I sat with her for hours one night just scratching and massaging her. When I stopped, she would gently bump me with her (fully horned) head to get more scratches.
Another patient was a horse who came in for an episode of colic. The only time he looked less than miserable was when we went outside for a ten-minute walk. Then, his head perked up and he stepped out, taking an interest in his surroundings again.
A young calf came in, looking bewildered and in pain from a broken bone. My job overnight was just to hold an ice pack to his injury every few hours, and he liked it so much he would relax into the cold pack.
I am really missing being able to sleep at night, but seeing a change in patients from just being present to take care of the little things make the long nights a little more bearable.