I can think back to the first spay surgery that I ever did. It took me more than an hour, and I was sweating bullets the entire time. I think my knees were numb by the end of it, and I was beyond happy to put down the instruments and take the gown off to go sit down. Fast forward to now, and things have changed dramatically for the better. My spay surgeries are regularly down to 20 minutes or less time, and I can handle a difficult older or fat dog spay with confidence. My closures used to be acceptable at best, and now I find myself looking upon them with pride and noticing how symmetrical they have become before my very eyes. It is amazing how things change over time with practice and new experiences.
I recently had a patient with a large mammary tumor that the owners elected to have removed. It came on very fast and seemed to have grown alarmingly every time I saw the cat. I was hesitant to perform the surgery at first, as I had never removed a tumor this invasive before. After preoperative blood work, surgical planning, and radiographs, I was ready to flex my surgical brain and take this mass off.
The surgery itself was uneventful. The mass was large but was not as invasive as I had thought. Large vessels got ligated, lymph nodes were removed, and the large mass was taken off for good to be submitted to the lab. I was worried about the potential dead space in the surgical site, so I closed it up nice and tight with some tacking sutures. I could not believe how quickly the patient recovered, and I was even more thrilled to see the patient interested in food in the evening. At a recheck, everything was looking surprisingly well! I could not believe it. It is just one more example of a new experience that resulted in me gaining confidence. If I keep trying new things and learning along the way, I think I will be able to do more and more complex surgeries on my own in time. It really just takes patience, practice, and some nerve to try something new while trusting my skills to keep the procedure safe for the patient.