Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tuesday Tool: The Needle and the damage done, and the damage repaired.

Today's tool is the needle.

Every so often, we need to draw blood from our animals.  There's a couple of reasons for this.  One is biosecurity.  There are a number of infectious diseases that can be devastating to an operation that is trying to sell breeding stock, as we are.  The pathogens responsible for these diseases have in their bag of tricks ways of bamboozling the immune system; they can infect an animal for years, and yet the animal's immune system will not register their presence.  (One of the pathogens is a lentivirus, like AIDS; another is a relative of the tuberculosis bacillus--both of which are similarly hard for human immune systems to process.)  So, a critter could be infected at birth, and give rise to a couple of years' worth of offspring, and infect them, before you could be sure that they were infected.  So, it behooves us to periodically do blood tests on everybody.

Another reason for blood draws is to test for pregnancy.  We want to know whether our animals have been successfully bred, or whether they need to go and visit the boys again.  A blood test can tell you this within a month of breeding, well before the mom-to-be's start bulging.

At any rate, a blood draw is no big deal, mostly.  The tool of the day is a 20ga, 1" needle on a 12cc syringe.  My job in the process is to straddle the goat to immobilize her, and firmly but gently hold her head pointing slightly up and to the side.  The Real Doctor is getting quite good at feeling for the jugular vein, slipping the needle in, finding the lumen of the vein, and pulling out five or six cc's of blood.  The vein seals itself up nicely when she pulls out, and, just as I always got a lollipop for getting a shot, the goat goes away with a couple of peanuts.

All is mostly routine, and for a dozen of our goats all was routine.  However, there was one doe, Mizuki, who went all drama queen on us.  First she was totally squirmy, and would not agree to be held.  As soon as I could hold her somewhat still, and the Real Doctor started palpating her throat, she would scream, and scream loudly.  If we ignored the screaming and the Real Doctor could actually locate the vein, she would give a tremendous wrenching twist, or rear up on her hind legs, or somersault, or lash out with a hoof, or otherwise upset things--and we'd have to start all over again.

Three times, Mizuki reared up just as the Real Doctor was about to poke her.  Even though she's a Nigerian Dwarf doe, she's on the large end of the spectrum for her breed, and way overweight.  So, when she reared, it was with some power; it was enough to throw me over (and because of a wrist injury, I was choosing to roll onto my back rather than catch myself).  Three times she did this, interspersed with bouts of kicking and flailing.  I was getting kind of sore, the Real Doctor was getting kind of frustrated, and eventually, Mizuki was getting kind of tired.

After almost half an hour of this, Mizuki gave one mighty effort and reared up, and I was able to hold on to her as I was launched onto my backside.  There I was, on my back in the mucky straw, clamping a wheezing, upside-down seventy-pound goat to my chest.  The Real Doctor was able to slip in, find the right blood vessel, and slip out before Mizuki recovered herself enough to struggle.  I let her get up, gave her a peanut, and picked myself up.

Surveying the damage, I had a lot of scratches and stiffness.  There was evidence of one close call: a sharp hoof had punched a four-inch-long gash into my jeans, from the crotch seam to the inseam.  I had a nasty welt, but given the location of the tear, I was glad that was all that it was.

Which means that the tool of the day makes another appearance: the needle, but this time it's one used with thread.  I just got the jeans back from the seamstress, nicely patched and (I guess) more fashionable than new.  A few dollars of repairs have saved me $40 of jeans, so I'm happy.

And Mizuki?  Not reactive for any diseases, and pregnant.

No comments:

Post a Comment