This winning submission from our Experiences category was sent to us by Kathleen Crossman from the Atlantic Veterinary College. Thank you for sharing your story Kate!
Last summer I spent some time in an emergency veterinary hospital and became fascinated with the fast-paced cases and surgeries. My favorite experience was being on hand when a 4-year-old lab mix presented to the clinic with a laceration to his back. His owners told us he had been running through the woods and disappeared out of their sight; moments later, they heard a loud yelp, and he came running back to them like the hounds of hell were at his back. The superficial laceration spanned no longer than three inches and marked his back at the base of his neck. He was sedated to allow for further exploration and debridement of the wound, as he was very high energy and quite anxious. Upon physical exam I palpated a small firm mass along his spinal cord at the level of his hind limbs, and as we debrided the wound, we realized that the skin was quite loose, and it appeared that whatever had lacerated the poor dog had actually skimmed right along his back, slicing the subcutaneous tissue clear to his hind legs. As we incised the skin and retracted it, bits and pieces of wood and clumps of his hair were visualized, and the firm mass I had palpated turned out to be a solid piece of a branch! The three-inch laceration turned into a surgical incision that spanned his entire spinal cord:
We nicknamed our patient Arrowhead for the unique shape of his surgical incision. He recovered smoothly and was able to go home with his grateful owners the following day. Arrowhead became one of the patients I aided this summer that cemented my interest in emergency veterinary medicine.