Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Prolapse
Growing up, my brother and I filled the role of vet assistant to our Dad countless times, including whenever a prolapse needed put back together. Then, one spring my dad decided we each needed to actually fix a prolapse, rather than continue as assistance pushers, cautious stitchers (you don’t get reckless putting deep stitches in a cow that has your dad’s forearm still inside), and learners of exactly what to call a cow when she pushed one back out for a third time.
If you’ve ever experienced the joy of returning a weighty mass of inside out bovine parts back to their natural habitat, then holding them there and carefully stitching the exit hole shut while the cow attempts to push your arm off your shoulder, you can imagine our excitement.
Somehow, my brother was chosen to go first, with my Dad and I there to assist as needed. The first half of any prolapse experience was getting the cow in; she could be up to five miles from a corral. This horseback jaunt provided a bird’s eye view to study what was a classic, two-plus-day old prolapse. Semi-hard, with dirt and grass caked on the outside.
Upon getting her in, a spinal was administered, and a bucket of warm, soapy water with disinfectant was at hand for him to wash everything as well as possible. Then, the same bucket gained the cotton strings used to sew her up – one strung through the curved needle before starting.
After completing those steps, my brother proceeded to try shoving the necessary parts back inside the cow. It was a bugger, to say the least. He pushed and strained and worked and sweat and got peed on at least once. Finally, after a long battle, he got it back where it belonged, and managed to get three or four boluses and three or four stitches put in the cow before she shot everything back out. Hard won success.
Some time later, another prolapse occurred. This one fell to me. We got the cow in, and put her the chute. I gathered the necessary items, and managed to succeed at giving a spinal. That was always the worst part as a kid, for whatever reason.
I strung the first cotton string on the needle, cut a couple more the approximate length, and put the whole works in the bucket of soapy, disinfected water. Then I cleaned everything up on the cow, gave the initial push, and the entire prolapse went schlooooop right back inside the cow.
My poor brother’s jaw hit the floor. I do believe he would have dug it back out of her if given the chance. I added a couple boluses, stitched her up, and in under an hour we were on our way to another task.
I still laugh about this, and my brother still gives a chuckle that says it really isn’t that funny whenever I bring it up.
However, these days my brother doesn’t have to worry about prolapses very often as he primarily trucks for a living. Meanwhile, it took my husband about 30-seconds to dub me the head bovine spinal administrator, and helper of all things prolapse related when he heard about my experience in such matters. I still think it was my brother who told him…
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