Rachael Speare, AVC 2020, traveled to Nain and Natuashish in 2019 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing.
This photo is from the last surgery day in Natuashish. It’s showing myself and my teammate Heather Chandler working on a spay on a sweet little dog named Rocks. Heather and I had both performed a couple of spays on this rotation, but they had been with the assistance of a clinician. For this procedure, Heather and I were given the chance to perform the full spay together without a clinician at our side the whole time. This opportunity gave us the chance to apply all the skills and techniques we had learned in the past couple of weeks and apply it to this surgery.
At first, we struggled to find the uterus with our spay-hook but when we finally did it became clear why our efforts had failed. Rocks had a pyometra, which is an infection of the reproductive tract where the uterus becomes filled with pus and quite large in diameter, too large for our hook to snag. A pyometra can quickly become an emergency situation and the only way to truly save Rocks would be to perform a spay. Neither of us had encountered a pyometra before, so this was a new experience that added a few extra steps to our routine spay procedure. We worked through the whole process by talking through our next steps with one another, while Bryan, our other teammate handled the anesthesia and our surgery playlist. Instead of feeling scared to do a pyometra surgery I felt confident and supported by my classmates right by my side.
Accomplishing this procedure together felt like a culmination of all we had learned over the past couple weeks in both surgery and teamwork skills. It was so rewarding to accomplish this surgery together and I couldn’t have asked for a better co-surgeon and anesthetist to reach that milestone with me. Moreover, it was rewarding to know we had been in the right place at the right time to reach Rocks and help her feel better again.