“I’ll take you to the grocery store, they have a whole new wall of lingerie!” and so it began. A new challenging life living in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, a 26 mile long sliver of an island off the coast of Belize. I am working as the Director of Veterinary Services for Saga Humane Society. This is a place where things that are quick and simple in the first world are almost always an ordeal. Where everything from buying groceries to practicing medicine can be both thrilling and frustrating depending on the day. No matter what the challenge, it’s always an interesting ride.
I have never considered myself a surgeon. Sure I am competent at surgery, but as I once explained to someone, there are a range of attitudes towards surgery among vets. I’ve always been somewhere in the middle, capable, but not thrilled. Moving here to do this job has changed that. Many of my greatest impacts to the animals of San Pedro have been surgical. Be it through my spay/neuter days to help control the population, or late night emergencies to save a life. Surgery is a consistent part of my life.
CAUTION GRAPHIC PHOTOS.
My very first after hours emergency…..a C-section. This female pit bull gave birth to 9 puppies at home early one morning but would not settle in for the rest of the day. Her owner called my technician and was very concerned. After a thorough physical exam revealed one puppy still left inside her, we proceeded to a late night surgery. Her remaining puppy was already deceased but saving this mother of many was a great relief! Her owner also allowed her to be spayed.
Olaf is a dog that some children brought in after he was run over by a golf cart (a common injury here, it’s the main form of transportation). He had wounds to both his front legs, with his tendons showing on the right carpus (wrist) along with hundreds of ticks.
After a week of bandages, antibiotics, and anti inflammatories the left leg healed and I was able to successfully surgically close the wound shown above.
Olaf made a great recovery.
Cuello (so named by myself as it is spanish for “neck”) was removed from a yard, with permission, by one of the shelter staff. His collar was so tight it was growing into his neck. He was clearly still being fed, but his owners were ignoring his obvious wound and suffering. The smell was, shall we say, potent. Soon the collar would have dug into his jugular causing him to bleed out. Luckily we were able to intervene.
Clipped and cleaned.
Following a week of medications and honey bandages, then surgery.
Cuello healed up!
Mango is a young cat that started to vomit and act lethargic on a Sunday morning. His mom grew concerned and contacted me. I too was worried and we met at the clinic. I could feel a firm abnormal area in Mango’s belly. Upon opening him up surgically I found that he had an uncommon problem, intestinal intussusception; his intestines were telescoping into themselves. This can happen due to underlying reasons such as diarrhea or parasites, but can also happen for reasons unknown. Without help he would die.
With the help of my excellent and only technician Ingrid, I removed the diseased section of gut and reattached the healthy sections.
Mango made a full recovery.
Every day has a new surgical challenge. I’m sure tomorrow will be no different!