Sunday, March 9, 2014

I was wrong; She is a Trooper not a meal.

Yesterday, my daughters and I went to the BYU-Idaho Center to play futsal (indoor soccer) and basketball.  We've been doing this early morning before school, but today was Saturday, so we slept in a bit.  Our Saturday plans included gym time, chores, Kamryn's friend's party, planting kale and spinach and then swimming at the BYUI pool in the afternoon.  Our day's plans changed when we came back from the gym around 9:00 am and David told me that something had attacked one of our hens.  It could have been a dog or a hawk, but Oreo had a bad wound.

I immediately thought, "Okay, let's slaughter her and go pick up a few baby chicks."  David's tender heart was working a different plan in his brain.  He removed Oreo from the hen house so that Pumpkin wouldn't peck at her wound.  As I was leading my daughters in chores, David was turning our laundry room into a level 3 trauma center.  As he trimmed away feathers, he could see the wound was much worse that we imagined.
With the chores completed, we were heading out for a birthday present for Kamryn's friend and David asked us to get some antibiotic from the C-A-L Ranch store.
$35.00 for some antibiotic wound care!!!  This took me several minutes to wrap my head around.  I finally decided it was way too much money, but left my phone at home so I couldn't break the news to David.  I bought the pricey stuff, but held tightly to that receipt.  I was sure that once I returned home, David would agree that it was too much money to be spent on a hen and I would get to go back to the Cowboy store to make a product return.
Not so.
Apparently, Dr. David had decided that Oreo also needed stitches.
I thought, "Okay this is crazy.  I need to put a stop to this."
But I looked into David's eyes and then at the wound.  Oreo had lost so much skin in the attack.  I wish we would have taken photos, but it was rather gross, so "you're welcome for no photos".  The wound was circular across her chest and neck.  You could see her breast tissue and organs covered by thin tissue, but NO SKIN or Feathers.  The diameter was between 4 and 5 inches in length.
I got the fishing line and a needle to pass over to David.  This was his deal; I wanted to wash my hands of the insanity.
David pointed to a bucket of wheat for me to pull up and sit on so we could begin the procedure.  I told him my feelings about putting her out of her misery.  She couldn't eat or sit down.  She just stood there in the box staring at us.  He suggested that she wasn't miserable, she had recently calmed down after being in shock for a few hours.  He also encouraged me to take this opportunity to practice the imaginary skills that I had learned from watching Grey's Anatomy.  Hmmmm.  I still did not think there was enough skin on the edges to connect this huge circle.  I was not convinced that our efforts would bring any success, but my the love in my husband's eyes pushed me forward.
We need to try.  His eyes were so loving and pleading.
I suggested we pray first.
I said the prayer.  I was so doubtful as I began the prayer, but in discussing the problem with my Father, I felt comfort and confidence.
David had already cleaned and sanitized the wound, so I began stitching.  At first we took turns, but after 3 stitches and a knot, I took over.  My eyesight is better than David's and I was in a better position as David had the bird in a towel on his lap with its talons toward him and the wound and head closer to me.  Let me be completely honest, mostly, I took over because of my doctor drama TV experience.  I really like to pretend that I'm a surgeon.  I lost count of the stitches and knots after 22 stitches.  It was thrilling.  The skin is amazing.  It stretched so well and closed the huge circle left by the hawk/dog attack.  I put in at least 35 stitches and it took over 90 minutes.  I was exhausted.  It was intense.

Kamryn and Emerson, dressed in swim suits, patiently watched over my shoulder for most of it. They really wanted to get to the swimming pool. I was pretty focused on what I was doing, but I remember thinking how grateful I am that I am not a surgeon in real life.  I love to walk to school with them and walk home right afterwards.  I am never on call or stuck in a surgery (well, except for rare poultry emergencies).  I can be a mom first and a teacher while they are in their own classrooms.

David encouraged Oreo and me throughout the stitches.  Oreo watched most of the procedure, but at times closed her eyes and rested.  Only twice did she make a fuss and try to wiggle free.  David and I now feel confident that we could clean and stitch up any of our kids if we are camping or far from real doctors.  It was a great experience and Oreo is doing really well.  She's eating now and has been calm and comfortable laying down, sitting or standing for the past 22 hours.


  1. Hope she heals nicely! How brave of you to do the stitching, I don't think I could have. I tend to get queasy simply from removing a sliver that's a little hard to get to.


  2. You get kudos for your first surgery! You also deserve kudos for your story telling ability. Love to read your blog.

  3. Loved this post, Dr. Oliphant. :-)