Natalie Rupp, Clinic Day 5: Diriamba, Nicaragua, May, 2014

The last clinic day we had on the trip was in Diriamba. By this time, we were all pros at setting up the clinic, efficiently admitting patients for checks up and surgery, and recovery and discharge of the patients. I was paired with Justina as my surgery partner and we made a great team. The day before, Justina and I had dealt with an incredibly scared and fractious cat that bit her in the hand and scratched up my arms and hands. Going into today with some fresh battle scars, we were given a lot of puppies to do physical exams on. It was a great way to end the trip because who doesn’t like puppies?

Nicaragua2014_D5.1After the cat incident, the veterinarians sat us down to discuss how to handle a fractious animal and what may have been a better way to approach the situation instead of just carefully lifting the scared cat out of the box it was brought to us in. We learned that we should have put it in a squeeze cage to administer anesthetics easier and also cut down on handling of the animal. Another thing we were taught was a better method of placing a harness on a cat. Unfortunately we hadn’t gotten a harnessed placed well on the cat before it decided to try and bolt away while munching on our hands as it ran. It was great experience dealing with animals that were not used to being held. In fact, throughout this entire trip, I feel that this was the most significant thing I learned…how to restrain properly and approach scared animals. Without a doubt, this is a priceless gift to have!

On this last day, we did 21 surgeries, yet we were completely finished with the clinic and cleaned up at 4pm. This was amazing timing considering the last time we had gotten through 21 surgeries, we were still finishing up surgeries around 4pm. Everyone was working as a team so well and no one sat around waiting for others to finish. If someone wasn’t finished, the group would be pulling take home drugs, writing prescriptions and finishing discharges to help the unfinished pair get their patient out faster.

Diriamba was one of the smallest clinic spaces we had because it was all in one room. The intake area actually had to be set up outside to make more space since the schoolroom we were able to use was so small. This was tough with the wind but also inevitably helped keep the clinic quieter and less frantic because dogs were separated more. Each new setting we had to adapt to was tough but it just made us better at adapting to any situation we might be put in in the future. If I can stand in a surgery with long pants on, a facemask and surgical cap in 95 degrees and extreme humidity, I feel like I could handle any surgery site! What a great learning experience!

~Natalie Rupp