I remember helping out in the local veterinary clinic, in my gap year between college and university, and wondering how the veterinary surgeons got anything done during an operation.
Whenever I sat in on an operation I would find myself continually looking at the animal’s face, wondering what it was like at home, what sort of family it belonged to, etc. I never understood how a vet could be detached enough to just look at one specific body part for hours on end without even stealing the occasional glance at the pet.And then the same thing happened to me. I had an anatomy based practical class this afternoon, where we were mainly focused on the abdominal cavity. The class went very well, I learnt a lot and left the session with confidence. And then I suddenly realised that I was incapable of describing the dog I had only moments ago been working on. I’d gone a whole two hours and not looked at it’s face once.
And so it got me thinking – how had this happened? I don’t remember any specific point where I had become so desensitized as to not be preoccupied by a dead or anaesthetized animal on the table. Nor do I remember the transition up to this crucial moment.
All I can assume is it’s something that happens naturally when exposed to anything, frequently over a certain period of time. It just came as a shock to me to grasp that to become that detached doesn’t take any amount of hard work or commitment. In fact it occurs without any warning, without any planning even.
I understand that this detachment is what allows a surgeon (of any species) to get the job done quickly and efficiently, but to reach this point myself was a bit confusing. I didn’t know whether to be proud that I had acquired this considered professional approach or sad that I no longer stop to consider the animal’s life outside of the faculty.
But whatever the reason, it’s probably for the best. If it helps me to become a better vet, then I’m sure I can deal with it!