Bits and Bobs

Filed under: @ 11:04 am

Why You Should Spay Your Dog When She’s Young.

You should spay your dog when she’s young because otherwise your veterinarian won’t be half amputating the tips of her forefingers when she is trying to spay your dog.

Okay that’s a little bit of an exaggeration (no really?), I’m being a bit of a drama llama there,but dangitall, that HURTS!
The story is as follows.

Yesterday I spent TWO AND A HALF HOURS spaying a 72 pound 9 year old dog and removing three mammary tumors. On a 6 month old 72 pound dog the spay part of the surgery would have taken -maybe- half an hour. As it was….
There’s SO much fat in a mature dog’s abdomen and there’s SO much fat around the blood vessels that you need to ligate that you have two options.

Option the First:
You can dig around in the slippery abdomen with your slippery gloves (fat is very VERY slippery) while you try to excavate the blood vessels from the fat (making the surgical site that much more slippery) sufficiently that you don’t have to crank on your ligatures to be sure they’re tight enough to hold once you cut the tissue away. This means that you take the risk of traumatizing the blood vessels in the process which would make your surgical site slippery AND bloody. This takes a LOT of time. OR
Option the Second:
You can suck it up and ligate the blood vessels within their sheaths of fat. Which takes far less time and means less risk of immediate hemorrhage, but does mean that you have to use ENORMOUS suture material and you have to crank on your ligatures REALLY REALLY HARD to be sure that the fat and the blood vessels are compressed enough so that when you cut the tissue away the blood vessel won’t bleed. It also means that you have to ligate the blood vessel at least three times before you’re comfortable enough that all your ligatures won’t fail at once and your patient hemorrhage to death.
Most surgeons I know take the second option. It’s never a comfortable feeling to not be 100% certain of your ligatures, but it’s really the best option.

This is where semi-amputating my fingers comes in.
See I was flailing around in a slippery abdomen with my slippery gloves trying to ligate slippery blood vessels inside huge sheaths of slippery fat. I was using 0 suture material (the lower the number, the larger the diameter of the suture. 0 suture material is about a millimeter in diameter) and cranking REALLY hard on the tissue to be sure that my knots were tight. I was, it appears, wrapping the suture material around the first joint of both forefingers and pulling until my eyes popped.
I say that because when I finished with the surgery and finally pulled off my sweaty, slippery gloves, I found that suture material and glove had been pulled so tight at the inside surface of the first joint of my forefinger that suture material and glove had cut right into the skin.

You’ve all had a paper cut on a knuckle, right?
This is like that, only deeper.

A Multiplicity of Me.

I’ve known for years that there are four Margaret Hammonds living in the south end of King County. One is a plastic surgeon, one is a little old lady in a nursing home, and the other, who was also born in June of 1968, is a bad credit risk.
I know this because I was getting the plastic surgeon’s mail at work for a while.
I got a call from the little old lady’s nephew once.
And for about two months I was getting harassing phone calls at work from a collections agency who were trying to collect on a towing bill for the bad credit risk’s 1982 Subaru Legacy.
Now it appears that there either is a fifth one of me, or that one of the other three is a musician.
Yesterday I got a notice in the mail from the University of Washington’s School of Music. As an alumnus I am invited to the 2011 School of Music Piano Sale on the 25th through the 28th of this month.
Okay, I knew I was talented (pardon the vanity), but I never knew that I was capable enough to earn a degree in music from the UW in my sleep.
Sorry UW. I wouldn’t know what to do with a piano, save to dust it regularly, if I had one. And since I don’t dust very regularly, it’s probably not a good idea for me to have one.
One of the other Margaret Hammonds.


More reasons why my garden makes me happy……

Filed under: @ 4:29 pm

Random flowers.

I mean, I know I must have planted these poppies, but I don’t remember it at all. Aren’t they wonderful?

Intoxicating aromas.

SSSSNNNNFFFFTTTKKKK! Aaaah! Lily season is almost better than hyacinth season. More convenient, certainly, since the lilies stand 3-4 feet high and even the most exuberant hyacinth only hits 10 inches or so. I wish we had smell-o-vision attached to the blog.

Irrepressible growth.

For those without the reference, yes, that is a curcurbit vine (I believe a pumpkin) growing out of the access hatch of my worm bin.

And that? Well that’s just kinda everything. Beans and lavender and dahlias and more beans and gooseberries and loganberries and pumpkins and more beans and the hummingbird dive bombing me to get me away from the beans (and making goo goo eyes at the bright orange camera) and…..

And then there’s

Well, bees and butterflies.
You can sit in my garden, front or back, and if it’s quiet you can hear the garden buzzing. I like to think we’re doing our part to help prevent colony collapse. Maybe I’ll get into bee keeping one of these days. I love the idea of harvesting my own honey.

It’s by no means a tidy, well demarcated garden. But it smells good. And it’s full of bees and butterflies and grasshoppers and crickets and huge fat earthworms. And the hummingbirds like me.
Come on over and check it out.


I’m so glad to see this again!

Filed under: @ 6:07 pm

Andrew and I first saw this at an animation festival….in San Diego while we were on our honeymoon? In Honolulu when we were visiting Tony & Joan? Can’t remember where.

I can remember sitting there watching the cartoon and laughing until I cried. The song itself is charming and pretty danged funny.
The animation is inspired.

Thank god for You Tube (yes, this is safe for work).


Tuesdays with Auntie

Filed under: @ 5:52 pm

When Anastasia was -oh- four or so she asked Shawn where Beauford was.
Beauford, their greyhound, had died of complications of being exposed to blue-green algae at Greenlake and had been buried about 18 months previously.

Shawn told Anastasia that Beauford’s spirit was with his ancestors.
“No”, Anastasia responded “Where’s Beauford’s BODY?!”

Turns out she was asking because she wanted to go and dig up Beauford’s remains so she could have a dog skeleton and learn to be a veterinarian like Auntie Margaret. Beauford’s spirit, we were given to understand, would want Anastasia to have his skeleton so she could learn from it.

A four year old.
A four year old *girl*! 😯

This is a weird kid.
And she hasn’t gotten any notably less weird in the following 8 years.

So this year for Anastasia’s twelfth birthday Andrew and I gave her a certificate that entitles the bearer to an August’s worth of Tuesdays With Auntie.
August because on even months of the year I work the morning shift (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and whoever is working the morning shift spends Tuesdays in surgery.

Yes, I’m having my 12 year old niece watch me take dogs and cats apart and put them back together again.

Today, of course, was the first Tuesday in August.
Anastasia watched me spay a dog and remove its dewclaws. Afterwards we dissected the uterus and looked at the ovaries and the inside of the uterine horns.
Anastasia watched, and helped, me remove a lump off of the side of a cat’s neck. This one was a sweat provoking procedure because the lump was up close and personal with branches of the cat’s facial nerve and with his jugular vein. Shawn, I’m afraid your daughter was exposed to some *special* surgery words this morning. Anastasia helped in that she got to hold instruments that were attached to the lump so that the lump would stay out of my way while I was teasing it away from the cat’s jugular vein. I believe I may have nightmares about that (heh) bloody jugular vein. Ergh!
And my technician showed Anastasia how to clean dog teeth.
Anastasia also got an introduction to anesthesia protocols, placement of IV catheters and endotracheal tubes, and surgical monitoring and anesthesia recovery.

I may be reading into it, but it seems like Anastasia was in hog heaven (to put a veterinary metaphor to it). Next week, among other esoteric delights, we get to neuter a kitten that belongs to one of my assistants.

Some of you will be familiar with the fact that we had a housemate when I was about Anastasia’s age. Jane, the Troll That Lived In The Basement, was a wonderfully warping influence on me as an early teen. I’m glad to be able to continue the legacy and warp an early teen in my turn.

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