Almost a Vet Tech - Part 1
At the end of my second last year of high school, I started giving serious thought to what I would do after school was finished. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The one thing I did know was that I wanted to continue my education. I wanted and needed to learn more. I also needed to look at my options and then narrow down the field.
I went to the school guidance counselor, who convinced me to take an aptitude test to determine my interests and abilities. I took the test and waited a few weeks for the results to come back. I must have missed checking the box for sex (female) because the top recommendation was that I should become a priest. That wasn’t an option. First of all, I wasn’t Catholic. Second of all, the Catholic church doesn’t allow women to be priests, then or now. I think the next recommendations were counselor and teacher. Neither of those appealed to me at the time.
I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. No one in my family had ever gone to college or university. Post-secondary education wasn’t on the radar. So, there was no one to guide me, give me advice, or answer my questions. And this was back in the day, before computers and the internet. My access to information was limited.
So I asked myself, “What do you enjoy?” I enjoyed being with animals, so I considered becoming a veterinary technician. I wasn’t sure of what the profession entailed, so I read whatever I could find. Surgery....hmmmm. I didn’t know if I could handle assisting in surgery, or even watching it, for that matter. There was only one way to find out. I made an appointment with a local veterinarian to observe a surgery. I needed to know if I had the stomach for it, since it was a part of the job.
The big day arrived. The dog to be spayed was already anesthetized when I arrived. The veterinarian wanted to discuss a potential problem with me. He said that if I felt light-headed or nauseous during the procedure and thought I was going to faint, I needed to lean my back against the wall, bend my knees, and slide down the wall. He made it clear that he wasn’t telling me this because I was a girl. He explained that he had a guy in to observe a surgery. The guy fainted, and on his way down, hit his head on the doorknob. I agreed to follow his advice.
He proceeded with the surgery. At first, I did my best to be quiet and respectful, listening to everything he said. He would gently pull some parts out, safely of course, and explain to me what it was and what its function was. I was fascinated. Eventually, my innate curiosity got the better of me. Questions started pouring out of my mouth.
And then he said, “I need you to move your head out of the way. I can’t do surgery unless I can see what I’m doing.” I was so enthralled with peering into the incision, I was leaning over the patient. I hadn't realized my head was blocking his view. I straightened up, took a step back, and apologized. He completed the surgery, I thanked him and went on my way.
Okay, good. I could handle surgery. I wasn’t queasy about the sight of the scalpel making the incision, the blood, or the stitches being sewn into flesh. I was one step closer to my intended goal. Next, apply to a college that had a veterinary technician program.
Next post: Almost a Vet Tech - Part 2
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Debra J. Bilton: Author, blogger, lover of animals & nature, martial artist & sensei (teacher), Buddhist.