Sunday, May 24, 2015

This week I was pooped on twice but that isn't covered in this post

The summer semester is here and that means more weekly journal updates of life as a veterinary assistant! Who's excited to hear more about poop?!

Also, just want to put a plug in for a new (to me) artist I've been listening to lately. Thank you, YouTube, for finally suggesting something good to listen to after months of poop:

Week 1: May 18-­24, 2015
The clinic I work in is Bayshore Animal Hospital, a small animal clinic offering general exams, surgery, and diagnostics including in house blood work, digital x­ray, and ultrasound. I am an assistant who does everything from checking client to running lab work. In order to gain as much experience as possible, I put my nose into everything, learning as much as I can through asking questions, observation, and by hands­on practice. Sometimes I fail. I get frustrated, I feel like I’m not cut out for this job, I fear I will never become a technician. Then I try again, and when I succeed, it gives me the confidence to move forward. Everyone has a bad day, and I’m learning that I can’t allow the failures to make me give up. 

This week I’ve been jumping whenever possible to practice my blood draws, especially for cephalic venipuncture. I feel fairly confident drawing from the jugular, but for some reason I have trouble with the front leg. The technicians are really helpful at guiding me with proper placement and don’t judge when I have to step away. I generally only give myself two tries with a dog and one with a cat because I don’t want to hurt the animals with too many failed attempts. One technician suggested I ask to practice on sedated patients so I can concentrate on technique without worrying about the animal struggling. I am also practicing my catheter placement. The other day, I was getting very frustrated because I could not place a catheter in a cephalic vein. I tried on two different dogs and I was getting frustrated. We had a patient that was having a vulvoplasty (a Great Dane), and even though the veins were large, I was having trouble positioning the catheter. The doctor showed me that I needed to enter the skin at a 30 degree angle and then level out into the vein. She said once I have a flash of blood, advance a little more and then push in the catheter while withdrawing the needle. She had watched me struggle and advised me to trust that I’m in the vein and not to second guess myself. With this in mind, I chose a vein and placed the catheter on the first try. It felt great to finally get it right and also to hear all the support and encouragement from my colleagues. I was a non­-scrubbed in assistant for the procedure in addition to the certified technician, which was exciting not only because I wanted the experience but also because I had not observed this surgery before. I try to observe any procedure I’m not familiar with so that I know how to assist the doctor in the future. After she was sedated, I placed the ET tube and hooked her up to the anesthesia machine. For the vulvoplasty, the patient was placed in sternal with her legs almost off the end of the table. Her tail was taped up out of the surgical field while I attached the leads, BP cuff, fluids, SpO2 monitor, and esophageal thermometer. A surgical laser was used and I was in charge of suctioning the smoke without contaminating the sterile field. I also retrieved anything the doctor needed while also monitoring the patient. It was a great experience and I look forward to assisting more surgeries! 

One of the things I love most about the clinic I work at is the staff’s devotion to patients, especially those that have been valued clients for years. Many of the staff members will go out of their way to deliver meds and pick up or drop off patients. One of our clients have taken their pets to us for years. As an elderly couple with a large dog, they pick him up and carry him if he were to have a seizure. On Friday morning, he collapsed seizuring and the owners called us for help. Without hesitation, a coworker and I climbed into my car and went to pick the old dog up. Later that day, a client called about his sick cat. He was advised to bring the cat in, but mentioned he would have to scrounge up enough money for a cab before he could. The doctor, wanting to help both the cat and the owner, asked the manager if someone could pick the cat up. So, my car became an ambulance again that day, and at the end of my shift, I brought the cat back home. Going the extra mile for an animal and owner in need reflects the best positive image on a clinic and its staff because it shows that our first priority are the patients regardless of the owner’s financial circumstances.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adventures in Cooking: Chicken Hearts

Today Roman and I were at the store debating on what to cook for dinner. As a joke, I started grabbing weird items off the shelves and asking his opinion. In the meats section, I held up a package of chicken hearts and smilingly asked, "What do you think, bud? Chicken hearts?" After getting over the initial disbelief that yes, there in fact were real chicken hearts in the package, he emphatically affirmed that yes, he wanted to eat them for dinner. Thinking that he was playing along, I put them back. A few seconds later he looked in the cart, and seeing that they weren't there, asked where they were.
"I thought we were playing, Roman. I'm not really making chicken hearts tonight."
Tears. No bullshit. He was so upset that he cried.
What could I do? As a mother I want my children to try new things, especially foods, and here was my 4 1/2 year old son begging me for chicken hearts. I couldn't quash his adventurous spirit.

So, I bought a package.

And the adventure began.

I've never cooked chicken hearts before (shocking, I know), so I had no idea how to proceed. Thank goodness for Google. I browsed different cooking sights for suggestions, filing good tips away while disregarding those that would not apply today (namely, those that involved grilling. Not possible on a wet, May day at the beach). All the while I tried not to allow visions of giant chicken hearts beating ever closer, growing to enormous sizes, and waiting to devour us all, to invade my subconscious. Honestly, I feared Bill Cosby had ruined the tiny organs for me indefinitely. Had I endangered my children? Was I adequately armed in case of attack? Thankfully, I remained calm enough to decide on a game plan for cooking the tiny, seemingly harmless, ex-blood-pumpers.

Since I had time, I decided to marinate the hearts in olive oil and chopped garlic. 

This was a new food for the kiddos, and new foods are met with suspicion and fear, so I had to have a few back-up side dishes that I knew the kids would eat so they wouldn't starve. 

The plan: sauteed chicken hearts with diced potatoes in bacon and couscous. And of course, wine for me!

I started with cooking the bacon and potato together since they would take the longest. Since I only had two slices of bacon, I also added a little butter to help the potatoes cook. And because you can never have enough fat. I seasoned with pepper and a little bit of salt.

The different colored potatoes looked and smelled delicious!

Then, I prepared the couscous as directed. It would only take 8 minutes total. After the potatoes and bacon were cooked, I used the leftover butter and grease to cook the hearts in. 

Mmmm...I love mixing dinner with science. 

The only extra seasoning I used was fresh ground salt and pepper. They might look a little intimidating, but it actually smelled pretty good!

The big moment: tasting. Evie was pretty unprepared since she wasn't at the store with us, so she met the plate with a mixture of disgust and disbelief. 

Roman was very excited to try, but Evie was less convinced. Still, she gave it a good bite, and declared, "YUCK!" Roman on the other hand...


I was very proud of my little minions for trying something new and weird. Honestly, they mostly tasted like dark meat chicken. 

Next time on adventures in cooking with the Metzgers: gizzards?