Looking back on it, it was pretty cool. But at the beginning of the procedure, I was very upset that two rats were killed so that their nerves could be "donors" for the allograft rats. I know that it was in the name of science and there are five trillion other rats out there, it just made me sad because I don't like to harm animals. For this part of the day, I mostly didn't watch and tried not to faint. Boy, I felt like a wimp.
Once the icky part of the sacrificing was over, the real work began - as controls, a few rats had their nerves cut and then the donor nerves from the sacrificed were put in place as an allograft, which is known to work well. Then, the remaining rats had their nerves severed and instead a magnesium conduit was placed to see if it would stimulate better nerve regrowth. Once I got over the fact that they were all being sliced open, it was actually pretty cool to see the surgeon doing his work. It actually wasn't as bloody as I expected it to be, and it was amazing how the surgeon knew exactly where to cut so that he could find the proper nerve in the rats' legs. During this process I had the task of writing down the times of the various steps in the procedure - when the rat was anesthetized, when it was dissected, when it was sutured, etc. I'm glad I had something to do, because I was able to take my mind off the goriness of it all. I'm glad that these guys, on whom the experiment was being performed, get to live a little longer. Hopefully I won't be around when they get sacrificed.
At least from today I learned a little bit about myself. One, I actually found surgery interesting which surprised me. I'm surprised that there really wasn't that much blood and that I was able to watch the surgeon cut the leg open and place the conduits. That being said, however, I know that I could never be the person to sacrifice a rat. Even if they just die by falling asleep essentially, I don't think I can do it. Hopefully I'll never have to!