Like shoving a marshmallow into a piggybank

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Like shoving a marshmallow into a piggybank

Dr. Bo Brock shares the harrowing tale of a veterinarian who battled a cow’s prolapsed uterus and won—but not without a little mud, sweat and swears.
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Feb 02, 2018

You may never look at a marshmallow the same way again. Sorry about that. (Shutterstock.com)The sight of a prolapsed uterus on a cow makes my back sore. You know how hard it is to get an inside-out, caruncle-covered uterus about half the size of a 50-gallon barrel back inside a cow. I often liken the experience to shoving a marshmallow into a piggybank.

Dr. Katy, a friend and fellow veterinarian, was on her way to a wedding when her cellphone rang. It was one of her good friends whose mother had just died, calling to ask a favor: One of the friend’s cows had delivered a baby and the uterus had prolapsed, so she needed Dr. Katy’s help. The problem had been spotted by a neighbor, as the friend was preparing for a funeral two counties away.

Dr. Katy has one vehicle—a pickup truck with a vet box on it—and she drives it everywhere (even to weddings). And, fortunately, she keeps a pair of coveralls in the truck for just such an emergency. Dr. Katy took the next right and headed to help the cow on a cool fall evening in West Virginia.  

A dress and high heels aren’t typical ranch attire, so upon arrival, Dr. Katy looked high and low for signs of human life before slipping out of her fancy duds and into her coveralls. Not seeing a soul, off came the dress and heels. But when she opened the compartment that normally housed the coveralls, she found nothing but a pair of shorts and a tank top. She’d forgotten that she’d taken the coveralls into the house to wash and hadn’t put them back.

No worries—one can replace a uterus in shorts and a tank top, no problem. It was a bit cold out, but this wouldn’t take long. Thank goodness her rubber boots were still in the truck. At least her feet would be warm and dry. 

Dr. Katy headed for the barn carrying a lariat rope and wearing a pair of baggy red shorts, a ribbed white tank top and a pair of oversized army-green rubber boots. Mist began to fall.

Once through the barn, Dr. Katy saw the poor cow resting on her side in the middle of a large muddy pen. She could see the giant uterus lying behind the cow and began plotting ways to poke it back in, but she first needed to get a closer look to determine what tools she’d have to pull from her truck.

Dr. Katy climbed over a six-foot pipe fence. The mud got deeper and stickier as she approached the three-foot electric fence. With her left foot firmly planted on the ground, she threw her right leg over the electrified wire and firmly planted it on safe ground on the other side. But when she put all of her weight on her right leg to lift her left, her right leg sank deeper into sloppy mud. This caused Dr. Katy’s entire body to lower so much that her “girl parts” came in contact with the electric wire.

Dr. Katy screamed and then jumped involuntarily, leaving her right boot stuck in the mud—with no foot in it. Finally she came to rest face-down in the mud. What followed was a string of cuss words and the realization that the mist had become rain. 

Any hopes of making it to the wedding on time were abandoned, but she thought she could still make the reception (after a quick run home for a shower) if she hurried. So Dr. Katy trudged across the pen with one boot and one muddy foot to look the cow over and determine the tools she’d need.

After her electrifying experience, Dr. Katy understandably wanted to take a different route back to the truck. She went all the way around to the other side of the barn, but when she got to the door leading into the barn, it was locked from the inside. So Dr. Katy had to retrace her steps and face the dang fence again.

As she cautiously placed her foot on the ground to go over the wire, it began to hail. She quickened her pace as the small ice pellets showered her face but was determined not to get shocked again. What she hadn’t anticipated was how much her shorts were sagging from getting soaked in the rain. Once again a shock sent her flying face down into the mud, this time with both feet naked.

With soaking clothes and frozen feet, Dr. Katy got the equipment she needed and went back to the cow’s side without meeting the electric wire again. By this point, the hail had given way to blowing snow.

The prolapse wasn’t going to be easily resolved. Dr. Katy would push one side of the massive uterus in and the other side would pop back out. Starting in the middle and trying to turn it right-side in wouldn’t work because her arm wasn’t long enough. The more she wrestled with the uterus, the bigger it seemed to get.

Dr. Katy went back to the truck and got some bandage material to try and wrap the thing tight enough that it would slide back in. No luck. An hour of extreme struggle had yielded only a mud-covered veterinarian and two tears in the uterus. 

Finally, in a moment of desperation, Dr. Katy decided to use her leg. It was already covered in mud (as was the entire uterus). Pushing her fanny deep into the slop, Dr. Katy placed one foot against the center of the giant uterus and bent her leg like she was about to push against the squat machine at the gym.

With this method, Dr. Katy felt the uterus gradually give way and start slipping back in to the cow, inch by inch. This taste of success gave her just enough energy to deliver another mighty shove. At last the uterus was back where it belonged—safe inside the cow, along with Dr. Katy’s right leg.

Dr. Katy was freezing, mud-caked and exhausted (and her leg was in a cow’s vagina), but she had won.

After cleaning out the cow and giving her the proper medicines to keep her comfortable and prevent infection, Dr. Katy hopped in her truck and gave me a call on her drive home. I haven’t stopped laughing since.

 

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.