By Dr. Jay Merriam
One of the reasons for going on this visit was to familiarize myself with the Fondouk. Dr. Kay has begun to establish a referral base to local practitioners. She wants them to feel comfortable working on their regular clients and help them raise the standards of practice so they can earn a living and provide care to the many horses whose owners can afford quality services. She informed me a few weeks ago that I was the featured speaker at her seminar and that I had my choice of talking about colic or…. Colic! So I put away my slides of lameness and back pain and bought the ultimate colic presentation, The Glass Horse. It’s a 3-D wonder and with the sound off and Gigi translating it held the attention of over 20 vets and 6 students for 2 hours non-stop. It was well worth it to see them so interested and we had really good discussions. Then we moved to the courtyard and began a wet lab with me demonstrating NG tubes and rectals, and again Gigi translating full speed ahead. Teaching proper use of the NG tube is difficult enough in English, but we had a couple of sedated and reasonably well behaved mules in the stocks to work on. Poor things got poked and prodded for 2 more hours then the crowd slowly and with many fervent handshakes, hugs and “mercis” we were able to finish up. The students were enthusiastic and helpful. I’d already spent an hour before lunch (2pm) doing a joint lab on a deceased patient and this on top of a crazy morning of strange cases, prolonged lameness’s and an endless stream of people leading their mules in off the street to be seen. There were teeth to float, eyes to treat and did a lot of student supervision. Gigi is intent on giving the students a full education and responsibility while they’re here. They get more clinical work here than at any University clinic I know of. She wants to expand her
student efforts and with some structural changes it will happen.
We have another seminar of some sort tomorrow and then there are 4 Moroccan students coming to stay for 2 weeks. The emphasis now is on educating a new generation to move forward.
Now at the end of a long day we are talking business… Fondouk business. There is a lot more to running a “free” hospital than I ever imagined. The plus side is that you never
worry about whether the clients can pay, they can’t! And anything you want to do for a horse is supported by whatever supplies and facilities you have. Sometimes that makes a huge difference, sometimes not. Our little tetanus died overnight and we put down, much to the owners’ dismay, a 25 yr old mule with a fibro carcinoma of the face and jaw that I’d brought in a bottle of chemotherapy (cis-platin) from Boston, at great expense, because there was some hope it might help. Well, it was not even close, I took one look, did a quick exam and said we needed to euthanize. The owner was not only distraught, but needed us to buy the mule from him so he could replace him and continue feeding his family! Once we euthanized him, one of the students did a great dissection and revealed that not only was the tumor bigger and more invasive than we thought, it had eaten away most of his jaw and sinus and there would have been no way to eat even if it had been treatable. So life ends and goes on at the same time, he bought another mule (he’d said that if we killed his mule we’d kill his family”). The students involved are getting more of a real world look than they ever thought they would that’s for sure.
So tomorrow is a continuation of my now famous colic seminar, so I’m going to close and go into the Glass horse for a review of Abdominal Ultrasound (He’s not pregnant is most of what I know right now! ) but by morning I’ll be a pro!