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An Operation on a Frog
27/07

It was a quiet tropical day in the vet hospital. Not much to do, so I was chatting to the vet nurse out front, waiting for the phone to ring, something to happen. A car pulled up in the car park, and a lady came in with a small cardboard box.

“I’ve got a frog with a problem – I hope you’ll be able to help me with him. He’s a lovely frog, big and healthy, but he’s got stuck…” She opened up the box, and put it on the counter.”

“Won’t he jump out?” I asked.

“I don’t think there’s much danger of that,” She said, with a worried smile.

We crowded our heads around the box, and peered in. The frog was sitting there, green and shiny, looking quite content. He was sitting on a small round metal grating, the sort that sits in an outside drain. Round, and with slats across the  circle, with small gaps in between, maybe 5mm or wide.

“Look!”, she said. “You have to tip up the grate a bit, then you’ll see what I mean.”

She gently lifted up one side, and we could see that there was a part of the frog on the other side of the grating – his tummy was stuck through, as he had eaten something round and hard, about 1.5cm across. When he had squeezed through the narrow gap, woops!, the seed didn’t fit, and so he was stuck.

A silence settled into the room for a moment, as my mind gently boggled. How the hell was I going to deal with this?

“Well…” I thought out loud. “Maybe we could could go down to a workshop and get them to cut the side off, and then gently slide him off? – But no, that would mean that the metal got really hot, and there would be sharp ends, so that wouldn’t work.”

We all looked at each other, and then looked at the frog. He wasn’t fussed, just sitting there, happy as could be, glistening gently, quite relaxed.

“I think we will have to keep him in, and do a bit of surgery, remove the seed, and then stitch him back up. It’s the only possible way I can think of to help him get free,” I told the lady.

“Ok then,” she said. “Do let me know how he goes though!”

After she got back in the car and rolled off, we looked at each other with a bit of nervous anticipation. This was not the usual thing. I went off and delved into the library, trying to find out how to anaesthetise a frog. Nothing! So then I rang up a wildlife hospital, and got the low down. Because frogs have a very absorbent skin, we had to fill up a plastic bag with oxygen and gaseous anaesthetic, and pop him in. After a while he went all floppy, so we whipped him out. I incised through his skin, and then the stomach wall, and popped the seed out. As quickly as I could, I stitched up the stomach wall, and then his skin.

“Oh Dear,” I said to the nurse. “He’s gone an awful colour, I hope he pulls through this!”

The poor old fellow had slowly changed from a vibrant green to a dull, deadly greyish tone as my fingers danced as fast as they could. I got his sutures finally finished, then we popped him into a bag of pure oxygen for a little while. I sat there with him, anxiously watching, sending him some healing energy, holding space for him to recover from the shock of it all. Slowly, slowly, so slowly that I thought I might be imagining it, I could see the smallest change in his colour, like life slowly seeping into him again.

“Come and have a look,” I called out to the nurse. “Do you think he’s looking any better? I’ve been sitting here, and I don’t know if I’m fooling myself or not.”

After a good look, she said,”yes, he does look just a bit greener.”

Some more people came in, and I had to leave the frog in this box for a while to deal with their pet’s problems. When I went back an hour or so later, he was green gain. Not the beautiful, shiny, vibrant green of when he first came in, but green, alert, and looking so much better. We kept him in overnight, and by the next morning he was looking pretty good. We rang the lady, let her know, and set him free with all the other big fat green frogs out the back of the clinic.

Such a rewarding experience!

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