At the end of my last surgery rotation of my clinical year, I can’t help but recall my very first surgery of veterinary school. It was a Grenadian stray dog named Sparky, oddly enough the name of my family dog from my childhood. And it was Valentine’s Day. And he had heartworms. And he was to be neutered. I really can’t combine those facts into anything cleverly meaningful, but it’s the combination that has lodged itself in my memory.
I confess to being rather nervous before my first surgery. Our patient was intubated and comfortable under general anesthesia. I was scrubbed in and gowned up and waiting for my classmate and assistant surgeon to finishing scrubbing and whatnot when one of the surgery professors came over to see how the surgical preparations were going. Now, I’m a rather large mammal kind of person but this surgery professor is a building of a human being. He is considerably taller than me (and most single story dwellings) and with colossal hands that at first glance would seem better suited to rending phone books in half than performing small animal surgery. Nonetheless he ties the tiniest, most perfect sutures I’ve ever seen.
So this professor walks over to the surgery table and says loudly, “This table is too low!” And before I could say, “No! Wait! The table is broken!” he loosened the handle on the table. And the table, with ol’ Sparky tied to it, suddenly drops about three feet.
Color me startled.
The professor says, “This table is broken!” With my eyes as wide as dinner plates, all I could manage to sputter was, “Yes. It’s broken.”
Sterile and gowned up, I couldn’t help as the professor and a few technicians lifted the table back into place and tightened the screws on the side of the “adjustable” surgical table. Our patient was completely fine and suffered no ill effects from his little drop. I, on the other hand, probably would’ve benefited from a few deep breaths from one of the oxygen lines. After that little incident, my anxiety was largely dispelled (or my body just ran out of catecholamines after spiking so high).
So this story doesn’t have any moral but it does have the perk of being fairly funny. It seemed like a total disaster, but it ended up just fine. Surgery went well, patient recovered wonderfully, and everybody had a happy Valentine’s Day.