This post is in response to today’s WordPress daily one-word prompt: Test
So many things came to mind when I saw today’s prompt. I’ve taken a lot of tests in my life and there are a lot of memorable ones.
There was year #2 in vet school when I took a reproductive systems course. Interesting course to say the least and weekly labs involved going to the college’s farm and learning to rectally palpate mares and cows. This was necessary of course to determine the presence of an ovarian follicle and then staging of that follicle so that one could determine the ideal breeding time. And of course it was also done to diagnose a pregnancy. Rectal palpation involved donning a large plastic rectal palpation glove (or sleeve) that covered the entire arm to the shoulder. There were always clear bottles of lubricant to pour over the glove and sleeve once you got it on.
This was not always a pleasant task but I’ll spare you the gruesome details. It took this student a while to be able to even find the ovaries much less a tiny follicle on those ovaries. Remember, you’re feeling (or palpating) the reproductive tract through the rectal wall. It was a tad bit challenging to say the least. But we did it so much, that it got easier and easier and we liked the challenge.
One particularly warm and sunny day, and a day I will NEVER forget, the reproductive professor informed our little palpation lab group that we were to have a palpation test. He had us line up behind a palpation chute just outside the barn where a mare stood just waiting to be palpated by our eager group. Our instructions were simple. Palpate the mare and then verbally tell the instructor our findings. We were not to spend a lot of time inside the horse. The part of the chute the students were lined up in and standing in was elevated and narrow and I remember we had to squat down to reach the mare. I was not able to even find the ovaries on this particular mare and felt some pretty strong feelings of inadequacy when I began hearing my classmates one by one tell the instructor how big the ovarian follicle was, or what stage of pregnancy they thought the mare was in. My self-doubt came roaring in and I began to wonder if I had learned anything about reproductive palpation. When we had all finished, the professor had us all line up beside the chute and bend down to look at the underside of the horse we had just palpated. To our great shock and embarrassment, we learned we had all just palpated NOT a mare but a stallion! And not a one of us had noticed. I’m pretty sure there was some chiding before the professor walked off shaking his head with a sneering grin on his face. That was a lesson we didn’t soon forget! But my silent self berating disappeared and I found myself really grateful that I did NOT find ovaries on that horse! I left the farm that day feeling that maybe, just maybe, I HAD learned something that semester.