Amy Ware is a veterinary nurse from the UK, and last year gained the opportunity to travel to the WVS centre in Thailand, courtesy of a bursary from Centaur Sevices. Her skills were invaluable in assisting the team at the ITC and our dog shelter. This is her blog…
Wednesday 8th November
So I have been here since Saturday evening and haven’t had a chance to write up any of my blog until now! The hospital is very busy and there is always something to do. I have also suffered quite badly with jet lag so I’ve been trying to get over that first!
The first day was introductions and some presentations which were mainly aimed at the vets. I am the only veterinary nurse on this course so I was initially a bit worried I wouldn’t fit in or be as accepted by the rest of my team. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I have been made to feel so welcome by everybody, from the others in my group to Fon, the head nurse at the house and of course all the vet team at the clinic.
The second day was much better and I was made to feel like a helpful member of the team. I carried out anaesthetics and helped the other nurses to prep for surgery. There are some massive differences with their general anaesthetics compared to what I am used to at home. For instance we always tube when giving propofol and we keep our animals on a cleaned surface or a towel on the table. Here, they use propofol boluses rather than an anesthetic machine and isoflurane to maintain anaesthesia. I was only aware of this being used for dogs suffering from severe uncontrollable seizures. I was a little anxious to do an anesthetic like this to start with but I have to say it has been quite eye-opening.
I think it is absolutely amazing how resourceful this place is with their charity status and limited funds. The dogs get excellent quality care and they are so well looked after and clearly loved. Although none of the nurses here are technically trained as nurses to the same degree as the UK, you can tell they are extremely compassionate and always make the dogs a priority. In my opinion they have the makings of excellent nurses even without the proper training.
Thursday 9th - Friday 10th November Again it has been extremely busy at the clinic and the vets are doing a great job teaching the students how to neuter. Every vet has a slightly different technique but obviously the concept is the same and I can see everyone is getting quicker and gaining confidence as the days go by. As the only nurse in the group I get to do mainly anaesthetics at the moment. I am looking forward to going to the shelter to mix it up a bit and also help the animals in a different way than I am at the moment.
The last couple of days I have helped with rounds where the vets and students go around and check and pain score the dogs neutered the previous day. They are all individually checked and their wounds and pain score assessed as to whether they can be released.
On Thursday evening we all went out to a Thai restaurant! I have never seen anything like it! We got our own little stove with a broth in a pot in the middle of it. We could literally cook whatever we wanted on it. The choices were astonishing with all the different types of meat in every flavour and marinade you can imagine! Loads of vegetables and leafy green stuff and of course, seafood! The prawns were enormous and absolutely delicious!
Saturday 11th - Sunday 12th November
It is now Saturday morning and we are all going into Chiang Mai later this afternoon. The vets all have to go into the clinic for some lectures and I get a lay in which is definitely much appreciated! It is hard work as you are on your feet a lot but the hard work is definitely paying off and I feel much appreciated and like I am helping make a difference to the team and the animals. The more I get to know the team the more I love them! Everyone is so friendly and they make me laugh every day! From sticking bits of tape to one another with Thai writing on as a little joke, to becoming very professional and knowing what to do when some dogs develop apnea or a low heart rate! They are all so cheeky and funny and to work in a clinic like this full time would be a dream! This weekend was the start of one of the best weekends of my entire life. When we had finished work on the Friday and Saturday afternoon, I and a few of the others from the group went into the centre of Chiang Mai. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. The temples were so intricately detailed and stunningly beautiful. I have never seen anything like it in my life! We also saw a few Buddhist Monks. They are easy to decipher as they wear bright orange robes. We also went to the night markets where I spent too much on all the bits and pieces they sell and also too much on the delicious street food!
The Sunday was also magical as we travelled an hour away from Chiang Mai to go and see elephants! We ensured it was a "no riding" sanctuary where the elephants are treated with respect and rescued rather than stolen. We also ensured they were not chained or beaten with hooks or forced to do "tricks". The elephant sanctuary was amazing and one of the best experiences of my life. We fed them sugar cane we chopped up ourselves and were allowed to touch them and bathe them in the river. It is a day I will never forget. Once back in Chiang Mai we ate at a restaurant (again amazing food!) and visited the Sunday night market. It was great fun and I would definitely recommend it. Another thing I would recommend is the coconuts!! They are delicious and so refreshing! They usually serve them with a spoon so you can eat the actual coconut inside after drinking the water!
13th - 17th November
This week was really enjoyable. I spent the majority of my time at the shelter looking after the dogs and meeting the volunteers who take time from their day to walk the dogs. It is so heartwarming to see the amount of help the team get with the dogs.
We saw a lot of appointments in the week I was there. Some were quite shocking, and others were fairly easy to treat, very similar to that seen in England when you have been in the nursing profession for five years. The care shown to the animals is amazing and being a charity, I find the scope of service very good.
The clinic is set out very well and you know within an hour where everything is and can get it to hand quickly. I did find it hard to find a pair of clippers though! Goodness knows where they went but I ended up having to use scissors on a very matted husky. Needless to say my hand was out of action for a good few hours after the task was complete!
I honestly cannot thank WVS enough for giving me this opportunity. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget, and I’ve had the best time of my life.