by Barry B. Burtis D.V. M.
A Friend Indeed
Binky was feeling a bit anxious and unsettled. Her usually constantly wagging tail, a metronome of enthusiasm, had slowed to a barely perceptible quiver. It is just past 8 a.m. and already she has had a ride in the car. Her people have been acting very strange. They forgot to give her the usual bedtime treat last night and then this morning, for goodness gracious, they had not even offered her breakfast. That sure had never happened before! They gave her lots of attention during the car ride, though. They held and patted her, talked to her in reassuring tones and gave her a big hug and cuddle in the parking lot. The receptionist offered a cheery good morning to them all when they entered the waiting room and said something about a spay operation. Then, after completing some paperwork at the reception desk, her people said a final goodbye and then, my goodness - they left her! And Binky was sure she had detected a note of concern and worry in those words of farewell. Wow, she had been to the animal hospital before, but those trips had been nothing like this. It all really seemed quite terrifying, in fact.
Binky sure was grateful, however, for one small mercy in all this turmoil. The young woman who took her from her mom's arms was very kind and gentle. She called her by name and talked calmly to Binky as she carried her back to the treatment area and weighed her. Binky hardly even felt the tiny needle prick given quickly and expertly by her new friend. Even though she started to feel a bit sleepy, Binky felt good to be back in the arms of this person again, as she was carried to a nearby room and carefully lifted into a cage. Her friend placed Binky's security blanket from home and her favourite toy, right beside her. Binky felt quite certain that despite all the unusual things that were happening, it couldn't be too bad a place when there was such a friendly, caring person nearby.
Peter was also in the animal hospital that morning. He had not had to miss breakfast though, and, in fact, he was nibbling on a stalk of his favourite Timothy hay as he was lifted out his cage for his early morning car ride. His routine after arrival had been much the same as Binky's. However, now, Peter didn't know a thing. He had no idea what was happening. His long ears lay limp, his pink nose barely twitching. He was sound asleep, deep in a surgical plane of anesthesia, lying on the operating table, about to be neutered. Binky's new found friend was there, as well. Now she was devoting all her time and attention to Peter, as his anesthetist. She carefully monitored his body temperature, heart rate and breathing. She adjusted, as necessary, the level of the anesthetic drug he was inhaling with each breath, to maintain the correct depth of sleep. She made sure the hot air blanket surrounding and cushioning Peter kept him toasty and warm throughout the surgery. She had laid out the sterilized surgical packs on the instrument table before the operation and she had all the post-operative medications ready to give Peter just before he awakened. She wanted him to be awake and hopping just as soon as the surgeon finished and she wanted his medicines, on board, to make sure Peter's recovery was smooth and painless. Had Peter been aware of what was happening, he sure would have wanted to have a person like Binky's friend at his side at such a critical time in his life.
Garfield certainly was not feeling his usual self. He was experiencing some very uncomfortable stinging in his private parts when he went to the washroom. Despite his constant licking down in that area, he just could not make things feel right. He felt as if he needed to be in the litterbox all the time. Even though, after all his straining, he was passing only a drop or two of urine, when he squatted to urinate, it still felt as if there was more to come. He tried to take his mind off his problem with food, but gosh, nothing seemed make the feeling go away for long. His housemates had noticed his different behaviour and had arranged an afternoon visit to the animal hospital. After his examination, he was taken back to the treatment room to have a urine sample collected, and with whom did he cross paths? You guessed it, Binky's friend. Same friendly greeting, same calm manner, same reassuring words, she offered him. She firmly, yet gently restrained him as a urine sample was collected. Then as Garfield tried not to worry about the results of the test, Binky's friend began the laboratory analysis of the sample. Chemical reagent tests were performed, the specific gravity of the urine was measured and the sample centrifuged to prepare it for further testing. Urine sediment from the centrifuged sample was placed on a microscope slide and special stains applied. Under a microscope, Binky's friend looked for blood cells or bacteria that would indicate an infection, for mineral crystals that could pose potentially life-threatening conditions and for evidence of tissue cells that line the urinary tract. This kind of data would be of crucial importance in determining the cause of Garfield's problem and proper treatments to give him. With all this riding on the outcome of those tests, Garfield wanted only the best on the eyepiece end of the microscope.
This friend of Binky, and Peter and Garfield is, of course, a veterinary technician and what she did for them, was only a part of her busy day. She does this for the many pets she cares for, every day. October 12-18, 2003 is National Veterinary Technician Week in Canada. Binky, Peter and Garfield and all their people hope that you think about your pet's Vet Tech at this time and tell them thanks, when you get the chance, for who they are and what they do.