I use the description “fat rat” endearingly because this animal was the first “patient” on which I performed an open heart surgery! I am incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to work with these animals in the quest to find answers to some of my lab’s experimental questions about reprogramming human cardiac cells post-infarction. I said a little prayer to myself while gowning up for this reason. Animal research, although often and regrettably cruel to the animals, has been vital to advancing every medical breakthrough in humans. Even so, I felt slightly emotionally attached to the rat since I had observed it in the care facility before, and we had been intending on euthanizing it anyways. 😦
The hours at the animal surgical suite flew by. I started pre-op at ~11:45am, and it was 3:00pm the next time I checked the clock. I think this is one of the reasons I’ve always thought surgery would work well as my future life’s passion–because I can remain focused and engaged while completely thrilled and mystified for hours at a time.
But it was also tiring. My neck started bothering me nearly two hours into the procedure, especially since I had to wear loupes to visualize the tiny anatomy and vasculature of the chest cavity. At several time points, I also looked away from the operating field for a few seconds, blinking hard to re-focus my vision and temporarily break my concentration. I’m in for one heck of a ride heading down this career path, and I’m grateful for more opportunities to learn about this fascinating field this summer!
Ok, but first coffee…