Off Day = Bear Surgery Day

It’s been a week since I gave training for police officers during my off day. I thought this week I could finally relax and have some me-time for one whole day but apparently I was wrong. One of the bears at our rescue center was badly injured and needed immediate treatment. So how could I say no when a bear was in great pain?

Thanks God the storm had stopped the night before so we could start the surgery in a sunny morning. It had been a while since I last did field surgery. Even though field surgery is not an ideal situation for surgery because of the lack of cleanliness and sterility, but I kind of missed it. I like the whole process is shone by the sun instead of surgery lamp. I like when the cool breeze blows instead of air conditioner. I enjoy the view of grass and trees and flowers in the background instead of cold surgery room wall. Overall, I feel more relaxed when I do surgery in the field than in the surgery room.

outdoor bear surgery

I’m not going into the details of the surgery. Long story short, the bear was darted successfully but it took a second anaesthetic dose to knock her down completely because I underestimated her body weight (Dear bear, it’s a compliment. I think you are slim but sorry, the truth is painful, you are fatter than I thought).

Once everything was set, I examined the wounds carefully. Her right hand was not too bad. There was only one cut that needed a few stitches. I examined her left paw and inhaled deeply. One of her fingers was exposed and I could see broken bone sticking out. I said sorry to the bear because I had to amputate the finger. I imagined the whole nasty process of debridement and amputation that I had to do, and silently asked myself, “Why did I become a wildlife vet?”

Dorsal part of the bear's paw. Trust me you don't wanna see the ventral part.

Ventral part of the bear’s paw. Trust me you don’t wanna see the dorsal part.

During the whole process two people almost passed out. One almost fainted because he saw blood and flesh and bone. The other one felt dizzy because it had passed our lunch time but the surgery was still ongoing. I was hungry and tired too, but of course I couldn’t stop halfway. Again, at that point I asked myself “Why did I become a vet?”

As I was bandaging the bear’s paws, I felt so relieved and happy at the same time that I had saved this bear today. As I saw the bear waking up from her deep sleep, I smiled to myself and answered my own question “Because I want to see the animals healthy and happy.”

bitey surgery

Another off day is gone as I’m typing this post, but I’m glad that I lost it for a good cause. Get well soon my dear Bitey. Now that you’re awake it’s time for me to sleep.

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