As you can see by the photos, this was an indescribably amazing first day. This is what I wrote at the end of the day:
I honestly feel as though I am floating on a cloud or in a dream…I cannot believe that it has barely been 2 days here and I have already been lucky enough to contribute hands-on participation in a surgical procedure. Prior to this trip, my experience with suturing had only been a single class day in my senior year of high school which involved nothing more than a synthetic skin pad. On top of my lack of significant suture experience, there is something even bigger that I lacked prior to this adventure: tangible reassurance in my capability to pursue a veterinary career. Being 19 years old, I have spent the last 11 years of my life being motivated to pursue this career by solely my passions and self-confidence. A major reason that I chose to attend this study abroad trip was so that I could sort of reassure myself that a career in veterinary medicine is right for me. I constantly remind myself that my intense, aching compassion for animals would always motivate me to do the most that I can to help them, but I still hoped to find that I am naturally capable to do the veterinary work that I feel the need to do. While we practiced suturing on the chicken legs today, I was surprised by my abilities to observe how to do the procedures and execute them cautiously and confidently. I surprised myself even more when I felt a genuine rush of excitement when we were told that we may be using our suturing skills on live patients. This may sound completely ridiculous considering that I am a pre-veterinary student, but once again, my main motivation for my career choice is my desire to gain the maximum amount of skills and knowledge to enable me to efficiently help as many animals as I can in my lifetime. It was honestly such a relief when I felt that rush of excitement because it helped me to realize that it is highly likely that my passion is not only for helping animals in any way, but also to experience giving them surgeries and medical treatments and watching them heal because of it. My wake-up call did not end there, though; when my group exited the suturing practice room and entered the room with the real-deal, I surprised myself yet again by being antsy and annoying enough to hop right behind the table to get as close as I could to the dog’s hind where the spaying procedure would be taking place. My biggest fear was that I would wince at the sight of the surgery or even feel queasy, but I found myself feeling extremely curious and excited instead. When Dr. T pulled out some of her rubbery internal organs, I had no problem with pulling them taut while he cut them. I also shocked myself by being okay with being the first student to suture the incision. When I began my suture, I did not feel that nervous but my hands were a bit shaky because I could not believe that it was really happening. I think that I got a bit too caught up in my disbelief and excitement because my mind fogged a bit and I began to make some silly mistakes, such as not pulling the skin hard enough with the tweezers. despite my stupid mistakes, I found myself surprised again by my instinctual thoughts and capabilities because I did not let myself get embarrassed or flustered as I would in most other situations – I instead listened to the doctors and carefully fixed my mistake and asked them if my repair was correct. Once I completed my suture, I reflected on how I felt and handled it and was honestly pretty shocked…I did not feel nearly as nervous or unconfident as I had visualized myself to feel during my first surgical/medical veterinary experience. I am just so grateful for how this day played out because it taught me more about myself and my abilities than all of the cumulative dreaming and research I have done in the past 11 years of my life has taught me. I cannot believe that it was the very first class day and I already feel this way. Over the next 2 weeks, I think I am going to continue to be really happy with what I learn about myself and being a veterinarian.