There was nothing for it but to for me to dash up to Amanda's house in the other camp, calm Matewis whom Andre had placed into a travel cage, and set up an operating table.
Matewis, still quite calm when I first arrived at Amanda's house just before 2pm
Fortunately Amanda's dining table is near a window which shed plenty of light, so I threw a towel over it, set out the disinfectant, cotton wool, the Identipet MicroChip and two inoculations.
Would I make a good theater nurse, or what!
By 2.20 the vet had not yet arrived and Matewis was starting to rebel at being caged for so long. He meowed and rolled around and around in the cage, pawing the wire door.
Let me outta here!
At 2.30 the vet phoned me. He was at the mine entrance so I explained to him how to get to Amanda's house. I was relieved to see him at the door a few minutes later!
He placed his medical kit on the table, complimenting me on preparing the area for him! (So far, so good as a vet's assistant!) Then he asked what exactly the cat needed to have to done to it. I explained that Matewis needed to be neutered, he needed to have his MicroChip inserted and he needed his vaccinations. He recognized the vaccinations from doing my cats in January, but when I showed him the MicroChip syringe (a huge contraption) he looked very puzzled. The more I told him that he'd inserted Ginger and Ambrose' MicroChips in his **Mwanza office**, the more confused he became. Eventually I said, the cat has to have this implanted in his body so that one day when he is taken to South Africa, this is checked by a State Vet at the OR Tambo Airport before being permitted into the country. He still looked as if my explanation was as clear as mud. (I often find it quite difficult to communicate effectively with English-speaking Tanzanians compared to when I have to speak Swahili to make myself understood) Just then I had a brainwave: I said, the little chip is like a grain of rice (here I used the Swahili word for rice: mchele). His face lit up and he said he knew what to do!
Dr Mawaluko with his well-stocked medical kit
The doctor told me to fill a bowl with water, and add two caps of disinfectant. I placed this to the back of the table. I donned my surgical glove and Dr Mawaluko told me to bring the cat to the table. Once I had hold of Matewis by the neck (which is not at all painful and makes the cat limp) the doctor injected the anesthetic. Next he told me he was injecting the cat with atropine to regulate the heartbeat. As we watched, Matewis became droopy, started purring and his breathing was regular. Soon he became limp, and although his eyes were open, he was definitely "under".
As he now knew what to do with the MicroChip, Dr Mawaluko inserted the needle in between the cat's shoulder blades and pressed the syringe. The chip entered the cat's body with an audible "plip". We both whooped with excitment and gave each other a gloved high-five!
Next he filled a syringe with a local anesthetic. He told me that the Animal Welfare Law of Tanzania states that no animal should feel pain while being operated on. He then asked me to lift the cat's tail and injected the local several times into the spot which he was going to cut.
He then told me to dip a wad of gauze (cotton wool is apparently a no-no) into the water and swab the area to be cut. He shaved the place clean of hair and proceeded with the - er - procedure!
Within a few minutes the first part was complete and he took hold of the open skin and flesh with small forceps which he handed to me. He told me to hold it while he inserted cat-gut. He handed me a small scissors, told me to use the point to pinch the end of the gut. He then guided me through a series of embroidery-like stitches until I had "sewn up" the wound. The second part also only took a few minutes and this time, the vet told me to suture the wound without his guidance. Eek! But I managed.
Next he told me to really wash the wound area clean. He inspected the area and that because there was no blood/bleeding, he declared the operation a total success! I then dabbed Podine onto the wound with instructions from the vet to do this every second day for a week.
Dr Mawaluko injected Matewis with the anti-rabies vaccine but asked me if I would inject the other, four-in-one vaccine, in a weeks' time. Apparently it's not advisable to inoculate an animal while it's had anesthetic. (Louise has promised to hold Matewis for me while I inject him - watch this space!)
The vet told me to move the cat into a comfortable position - I left him in the middle of the table which was the safest place - and to tidy up the operating theater! (That doctor sure knows how to give orders, LOL!) He did say that I am now a fully-qualified veterinary assistant! BTW, Amanda has promised to print a certificate to that effect for me in South Africa!
Once he'd entered the batch number and type of vaccine into Matewis' booklet, he signed and stamped it. After I'd paid Dr Mawaluko, he mounted his motorcycle and with a wave, rode off out of the camp!
He phoned me at 7.00 that night to enquire about Matewis. Grant and I had just returned from visiting him (and Andre) and could report that, although he'd not regained full consciousness yet, he was blinking his eyes and flicking his tail. Andre told us he came around fully at about 9.00, had a bite to eat and fell asleep on his cushion next to his master's bed!
While I was in Shinyanga on Wednesday morning, Dr Mawaluko phoned me again to find out how the cat was. And again that evening. Now that's what I call a wonderful bedside manner, don't you agree!
**Note: I've placed an asterix (**) further up in the post. If you click on the link which takes you to the post in October where I had Ginger and Ambrose MicroChipped in Mwanza, you will see that I kept referring to the vet as Dr Igungu. Because I'd seen the name above the surgery door, I thought it was our vet's name. However, when he visited me in January to vaccinate our three cats, he told me his name was Dr Mawaluko.
I hope you've all had a great week!