We set out going through the ops one by one on the board as we would usually do any morning of the week, allocating who is doing what and in what order. One of the other members of staff commented on the rat; oh that is easy, it’s just a lump removal! In this respect it was just a usual day on the theatre shift but little did I know it would become a hair raising situation. 

We set out on our last op of the morning and it was a rat mammary mass removal on the left most caudal mammary gland. Little did I know this would be having us holding our breath. We induced and made the first cut and everything was going really smoothly; the anaesthetic was going smoothly and the vet had just started to shell out the lump which seemed to be coming very easily.

Then BAM!!

Out of nowhere underneath the mass there was the biggest; juicest, most spine tingling vessel I had ever seen on a rat! I mean if that was a vein that needed a catheter placed all the nurses would be fighting over it like a pack of wild animals as if it was their last meal. When the vet was busy tying off the vessel I was getting the adrenaline and the Haemostem out juuuuuust in case. Don’t get me wrong – I was confident in the vet’s ability but if the vessel did start to bleed it would have been a stinker to stop so I thought I would be prepared.

As the vet had done her ligatures and was just about to cut she said ‘right are you ready?’ and my mind was racing and probably overthinking it with thoughts like;  should I be ready? What I am supposed to be ready for? Have I got anything to hand that she may need? OMG she already wants to cut? Is she crazy? So I just said to hang fire to make sure my patient had another observation done just before the cut was made so I could assist if needed.

So once I had done my observation I crossed my fingers and my toes, put my crossed fingers on my head, held my breath, my heart was racing, beads of sweat appearing and the vet elegantly cut through the vessel. We both kept staring at the vessel as if we couldn’t quite believe that not a single drop of blood was released from either of the clamped sites. I let out a massive sigh of relief and felt like I had just run a marathon it was a very tense 5 seconds which felt like a lifetime.

We both laughed at each other nervously as if to say well that was easier than we thought it was going to be. I had visions in my head that it was going to be like an emergency room in a hospital on TV with blood flying and me trying to scramble some drugs together quickly and being the butter fingers I am I would keep dropping everything and then I would need to scramble some help, all while the vet was so desperately trying to clamp and stem the bleeding as quickly as she could, but thankfully that wasn’t the case.

Once the lump was off we thought oh phew! It was all over and then when the vet removed the lump off the rat both our jaws dropped to the floor and we couldn’t believe what we were seeing! Under the lump was the femoral artery just sitting there perfectly happily pumping away, we both looked at each other and it was as if we could telepathically have a conversation with each other as we knew exactly what each other was thinking at the time.

This was one lucky rat!

Once everything was sutured up we recovered the rat and both laughed at each other and said yes it was indeed just a mass removal! Famous last words!