This was a big week for me - I decided to spay Darcy and Thursday was the big day. I really had mixed emotions going into this day but none of my anxiety revolved around the surgery itself. As odd as it seems, I found myself stressing about the little stuff and worried about her whining and crying in the cage all day. I wonder if my clients are more nervous about the surgical procedure and anesthesia or the cage??? I was completely confident in how the surgery would go and knew that I'd make sure she wasn't hurting but if she cried all day... how would I cope with that?
One of my dearest friends had a tiny chihuahua that needed to by spayed so we agreed to schedule Paprika and Darcy on the same day. We decided we could support each other as veterinarians and nervous (neurotic?) pet owners. They both are between 4 and 5 pounds so I went carefully to my calculations - how to create the perfect blend of sedation, pain control and anesthesia? Well, I suppose my fear of her crying in the cage won out because man did she sleep! I can honestly say that she felt no pain and had no stress while caged - I doubt she even knew she was in the cage! I was so happy that she was calm for her catheter placement, had perfect vitals during the procedure AND slept the day away peacefully after it was all said and done. The only evidence of the day is a shaved belly, 3 little stitches and a missed grooming appointment! Her usual Friday spa treatment was postponed until next week but she certainly isn't objecting to that!
I guess my confidence is restored. I'm so proud of my anesthetic safety, pain control protocol and staff training. I love the fact we can monitor EVERYTHING and keep the little ones warm while they are asleep. I know the results of lab tests and examinations and can tweak my protocol as a result. I KNOW that my clients "babies" are safe, sound and comfortable and that the day of spay or neuter is just a bump in the road. However I know that it may be a day full of worry, stress and fear. I was able to hold my girl before, during and after the surgery. I checked on her constantly and had lots of people helping me out. I never doubted she was OK. So I realize that we need to educate our clients about the procedure itself and the finer points of anesthetic safety but it wouldn't hurt to spend a little more time telling them about how much lovin' they get too! We cushion their heads, cover their tootsies and tell them over and over that it's going to be OK. We open up cans of yummy, stinky canned food and take them to potty. We pick out the perfect blanket, bed or towel for each one as they are waking up. I guess it's some kind of female coping mechanism for dealing with stress! Fuzzy, warm blankets and comfort food make everything better!
So Darcy has almost forgotten about that scary day and is being really good about not licking her sutures. She peed on my lap during the drive home because of all those wonderful hydrating fluids! She is 36 hours out and back to tormenting the cat. She ate all her dinner tonight and was chasing bugs in the yard (all time favorite game).
After an overall good experience I can say that I've really stepped up my game on brushing her teeth - lets put off that first dental cleaning for oh, 10 or 11 years!