Last night we had a thunder storm. It was so loud and resounding, but nice at the same time. We got another downpour this morning. As we ate breakfast I enjoyed so much the clatter of the fat rain drops on the tin roof, the sound of the water creating puddles, and smacking the huge jungle leaves this way and that. At the edge of the roof, where the water rolls down, it looked like a waterfall.
We went to the college today. We were all hiding under our umbrellas, but as we walked on campus, I figured it was ridicules’ to be hiding like that from such glorious rain. From one part, the leaves kept hitting my umbrella, which I could have dealt with. On the other part, when I took down the umbrella and felt a sprinkle a little on the heavy side hit me, I loved it. We were no longer under a thunderstorm, but a sweet rain.
Lecture was on reproduction and artificial insemination since that is what we will be focusing on this week. Lecture made me awfully sleepy after the first couple of hours. I was desperate to keep myself awake and not be rude to Dr. Eduardo or Dr. Kirsten by falling asleep. We had lunch in town. I had a very good smoked ham salad. Then I went to buy lace tennis. I found some super cute white and yellow tennis in the third store we went into.
Coming back to the lodge meant working on our presentation for this Friday. I worked on it for a couple of hours; Cora is working on it now. Lesson of the day – sometimes rain can breathe a new breath into you, so don’t avoid it at all costs.
Today we did the ATM tour. ATM stands for Actun Tunichil Muknal. On our way to the cave it began to rain which made me kind of sad, but it cleared up. Then the car started malfunctioning. Soon it went to a complete halt. The guide was able to turn it back on, but it only drove on for a couple of meters more. I was so glad that I could see a building not far from where the car went completely off. If it would have stopped in the middle of the jungle I would have been worried. Anyway, we all walked on to the building which turned out to be where our tickets were going to get checked anyway. We waited here for a while and met a couple of parrots on the premises. We then hitchhiked with another group that was headed to the ATM cave as well. We hiked for like half an hour in the middle of the jungle, crossing the river several times, until we came to the entrance of the cave. I’m glad I had a live jacket on. For what the tour guide said was the first ½ kilometer of the tour, we were in water. Whenever actual swimming was required I pretty much floated to where I needed to get. I also decided to take these Velcro strap on shoes which are pretty comfortable, but turned out to be disastrous for the trip. They kept on coming undone. Delayna had a very good idea about how I could tie them. That worked well, but I still felt like a dork. We climbed and hiked on these huge boulders inside the cave. Inside the cave, it was like Carlsbad Caverns, only a thousand times better. There were so many crystals that shined when you put the light of your helmet on them. We squeezed through tiny openings and jumped from rock to rock. Oh it was marvelous. And everything was pitch black so you really depended on your helmet light to see. In the water, we saw some shrimp and catfish, and other little fishes too. On dry land, we saw the underworld. When we climbed to the top of a ledge, we all took off our shoes and continued the hike in socks. Then we got to the main chamber. We had to step on only the ridges of the pools. In these pools, there were numerous potteries left behind by the early Mayan civilization. In one of the pools, not only were there pottery remains, there were also human remains. There was a skull of which the guide identified belonged to a middle aged man. Some bones were scattered around as well. Again, I was bait for a sacrifice. J From this chamber we climbed onto some other boulders which led to a ladder. The ladder took us to another chamber, but this chamber was fenced off. Unlike the first chamber where the human remains were in danger of being stepped on by a careless tourist, the second chamber was better protected. Upon reaching the top of the ladder you are greeted by who the guide referred to as Princess. I don’t think she was a real princess, but it sounded exciting. Anyway, her whole skeleton was pretty much intact with the exception of her missing rib cage. It was such a Kodak moment. From here, we repeated the whole tour, but backwards to get back to our world. Again we hiked back to the car (another car had been provided to us while we were in the cave). It was so weird. I didn’t feel tired at the end of it, but for the first time while I have been here, I briefly slept in the car ride on the way to the lodge. Most of us slept actually which is a huge surprise since all the roads here are rocky and extremely bumpy. Once at the lodge, it was nice to lay back and read for a little bit before dinner. I have to read to complete trilogy of “The Hunger Games”. Lesson of the day – lace tennis are a must in this country.
This morning was all about spay and neuter. We went to an animal shelter where they fix all the animals they get involved with. Today, I think 17 were scheduled to be fixed. On dogs, the anesthesia is injected IV. In cats, it is injected intramuscular. We all got to help with several surgeries each. At first, I think we all second guessed or tried to be too careful with what we were doing. But we got the motion of things. I was excited when I was able to do an IV injection. Turns out I got the needle in the vain at first, then as I pushed the anesthesia in, I also pushed the needle in. Some of the anesthesia ended up going into the muscle instead which meant it took a little longer for my patient to drop, but in the end she did. Neuters are a lot more hands on for us than spays because we don’t go fishing for the ovaries, one of the doctors has to do that. Neuters are pretty much, well they are called, a closed castration. You remove the testicles just like in bulls, but you do it through a notch at the pelvic area. We did get to see two abortions. The first was a dog who no-one had any idea before of her pregnancy. When Dr. Eduardo was fishing for the ovaries, he was surprised at the size of them. As he took the ovaries out, 9 puppies where in the uterine horns. The spay was completed so it was pretty much an abortion and spay in one. The next abortion was in a cat. The owner had no idea, but Dr. Eduardo and his assistants felt the kittens before he made the incision. Again, he made the notch and looked for the uterine horns. Cora ended up getting splashed with amniotic fluid as the bag was burst. There were 4 kittens in the horns. After the spay, we were all allowed to open the individual baggies that held each kitten. I cut it open and was amazed that at about 2 weeks of pregnancy, the kittens were noticeably kittens. They had paws, and a tail, and a nose, everything was recognizable. I also saw the umbilical cord, although now that I think about it, I have never seen a belly button on a cat or dog before. Where does it connect to? I will have to ask Dr. Eduardo. Once the spays and neuters were complete, we got to meet another patient by the name of Prince Hairy. He is an adorable little dog who has TBT, a sexually transmitted disease. This disease is a cancerous tumor that grows at the inside tip of the penis in males and inside the uterus and out the vulva in females. Prince Hairy has gone through 5 chemotherapy treatments and still has the disease. He will get one more treatment and if that doesn’t finish off the remaining tumor, he will probably be put down. It is a slow and painful death if he is left to live out the rest of his days. On our way back to the lodge, we stopped by a farm in front of the race track. A female horse had hives. For dinner we went into own. I have to admit that once we were walking on the road I was a little apprehensive about how good of an idea it was for a group of girls to be walking the streets of Belize at late hours. But we were actually alright. We all stayed together and the town was all lit by stores. When we finished eating, Roxanne put all our left-over’s together in a bag to give to stray dogs as we walked back to the lodge. Lesson for the day – always carry a flashlight with me.
We started the morning by going back to Whistling Ducks to check up on Molly after her spay. Turns out she had gone to hide after we left and removed all the stitches. Dr. Eduardo went in and re-stitched her up, but used a different stitch this time. He sewed her up from inside the muscle (not the same stitch we learned yesterday) so that no matter if she bit at it again, she would not be able to remove the stitches again. We then headed to another farm that raises race horses. The horses we saw were two half Appaloosas and two Arabians. The Arabian male was gorgeous. When the owner took him out he told us all to back off, then was surprised he was behaving. Apparently he is normally a feisty one. So we got back in partners and did a physical examination on them. Dr. Kirsten then floated their teeth. Dr. Eduardo and Dr. Kirsten asked us if we wanted to try floating teeth. I didn’t want to hurt the horses so I opted not to. After the horses, we were supposed to go horseback riding for two hours, but Dr. Eduardo got an emergency call. We all followed him into the Traditional Mennonite community where everyone drives buggies, has home-made clothes, and have a long beard. I wanted a picture of them very badly, but it would have been rude. Anyway, in this community there were two cows that needed veterinary care. One had a vaginal prolapse. Dr. Eduardo cleaned the uterus, pushed it back into her body, sewed her up, and gave her a vitamin shoot. Apparently just as long as the uterus in inside the body, the swelling will go down on its own. After this we went back to Barton Creek but this time we went from behind. Cora, Delayna, and I went with Dr. Kirsten on the way to the creek on this really cool wooden bridge over the river that shook when you jumped on it. Cora jumped, no one else did. Anyway, there was a cabin and hammocks and a rope swing over the water where everyone was jumping from. The water was pretty shallow and Delayna and I spent most of our time there trying to catch a fish with a bag again. We still have no pet while we stay here. Now if Cora and I could only come up with a topic for our presentation next week. Lesson of the day – a plastic bag and some corn chips are not enough to catch fish.
To begin the day we went to a farm out in the middle of nowhere. Well after such a long trip to get to the middle of nowhere, we all had to go to the ladies room very badly. All we had was nature’s room. It was such a trip to take turns going to “nature’s room” in the middle of the jungle. Meanwhile, the farm owners were off herding all the cattle into a large pen that connected to a shoot were we would be able to vaccinate the cows. There were a total of 250 head of cattle. About 170 were tagged at the ear. These were our targets, the untagged ones would have to wait for the other group to get around to do it. When we first started vaccinating the cattle many of us were breaking the needles. The skin was so hard to penetrate that I thought it was going to be a long day. However, we soon got the hang of things. It almost seemed like we had set up more of an assembly line for poking and pressing than vaccinating in a shoot. Every once in a while one of the calves needed to be castrated. We each got the chance to castrate a calve. We cut the tip of the scrotum, took out the testicles, pulled back excess ligaments, and cut off the testicles. When I worked on my calve, he suddenly started bleeding a lot after I had crushed the vessels. Dr. Eduardo had to close off the vessels with zip ties to prevent further bleeding. I felt terrible because I thought that maybe I hadn’t crushed the vessels hard enough and that’s why he had bled. Dr Eduardo said that was not it. That the age of the animal, the heat, and a number of other factors can cause the blood to become very thin, therefore allowing excess bleeding. We also gilded a horse. The horse though, as to be put on anesthesia unlike the cattle and we closed off the blood vessels with zip ties to prevent bleeding instead of just crushing the vessels closed. The herding dogs were happy because they got to eat a lot of testicles today. After a calve was castrated, we would go back to vaccinating. We were injecting the cattle with Ivermectin as a de-wormer and Vitamin B. While in the shoot, one cow got her horns stuck in the wood of the shoot. She pulled off hard and her horn yanked right out. She is going to slaughter in a couple of days. They can’t leave her like that because she will end up dying of blood loss. After several hours of vaccinating, the farm owners started chopping off the tips of some green smooth coconuts. We all drank out of the coconuts the clear/slightly white water inside them. Then the owners cut open the coconuts and the herding dogs had at the meat of the fruit. When we finally finished after what seemed like forever but was actually only about 4-5 hours long, we went for lunch and a dip at a river nearby. Putting on a one-piece swimsuit in the jungle is difficult. Delayna and I really wanted to catch a fish, but to no avail. We then decided to join the wildlife group at the biology lab to practice different methods of suturing on un-cooked chicken. There is this one stitch that you can’t even see from over the skin because you do it in between the muscle. I liked that one the best. Then we got back to the lodge and we all huddled in Jennifer’s room to look at a tiny baby gecko. It was very cute. Lesson for the day, I need a two piece swimsuit.
We headed off to the “Whistling Duck’s Pond” again this morning. Since we couldn’t spay Molly yesterday because of the heat (she would metabolize the anesthetics a lot faster), we did it today early in the morning. Cora got the chance to help Dr. Eduardo with the surgery today. Not far into the surgery Molly began to wake up. She is an obese dog and with the heat, she was metabolizing way too fast. Dr. Eduardo was pulling on her ovaries when she suddenly started whimpering, all the dogs around started howling and growling. More anesthetics were rushed into her. They took several seconds to kick in again though. How terrible. After that I clipped Happy’s nails and checked her stitches from yesterday. She peed on the spot when she saw me approach her. I think she knew I had messed with her spay the day before. After the spay, we went to another farm to de-worm and give B-Vitamins to some goats and five cattle. The goats got a subcutaneous shot which was easy considering the animals can be held still for a while. However, the big goats weren’t being carried; they were on a rope from around their necks. One kept on moving so the handler tightened his grip. You could just suddenly see the goat’s eyes kind of pop out. The handler let go of the goat and the goat just dropped on the ground. It was nearly strangled to death, but then the handler pumped the goat’s stomach while another man opened the mouth. This brought the goat back. The cattle were a lot harder than the goats. We did intramuscular vaccines on these. I bent the needle once and squirted some of the medication out the second time (the needle just bounced back from the skin). We then moved on to yet another farm where we worked with sheep. The sheep were also de-wormed but theirs was oral. It was fun seeing the sheep run around as they were being chased for their medication. Then two male sheep were castrated. The surgeries were very quick and I was surprised to hear no sound of pain from the animals even without anesthesia. Once the surgeries were done, they walked kind of funny into the pack again. There is this huge moth by our water outside. It is red with black, the size of my hand. Lesson of the day, stab hard at a cow for a vaccine or you won’t be able to puncture.
I decided to wear a romper today seeing as we pretty much have planned out our weekends and all of them are something in the jungle and today was going to be a lecture day. Well we get to lecture and Dr. Eduardo looks at us all like “why aren’t you ready to go out to the field?” After lecture and lunch we came back to the lodge to change into scrubs and get our medical supplies. So we get to the first farm we were going to be working at. There were two female dogs that needed to be spayed. Dr. Eduardo asked if any of us had our gloves on. I rushed to put mine on. It was so exciting. He choked the first ovary and I did the second. He then cut of the ovaries and uterus. After the surgery was complete he showed me how to do a simple stitch. He did the first two and I did the rest. We were done with my first spay in no time. She was up and running after a couple of hours. After that we went to the stables at the farm and we did a physical examination on some foals and their mothers. We were in groups of two, each group working with our own pair of horses. It was quite something to listen to their harts, lungs, GI tracks, examine their teeth and the rest that comes with it. When de-worming time came, my partner Chelsea (from Maine) did that. We were pretty much done with class for the day but Dr. Eduardo asked us if we wanted to go to another house to check a call he received for a cat. When we reached the house the old lady was wearing tiny shorts and a spaghetti strap shirt. The men were in towels. That was weird, but let’s get back to the cat. We entered the house to find the cat twitching on the floor. He was in the final rabies stage, at paralysis. He was foaming at the mouth and the eyes were dilated. Dr. Eduardo had to put him down. At first everyone in the household said that none of them had been scratched or bitten or had touched the saliva of the cat. Then suddenly they all started “remembering” scratches. The lady even asked that if she didn’t go get the rabies shots, how long she would have to live. She said it is probably her natural way of dying. Well if she wants to die from a paralysis in five days, we can’t stop her. Lesson for the day, five shots are better than death.