What drives Dr. Preston’s drill?…

Dr. Chris Preston (BVSc (hons), MACVSc, FACVSc, DACVS) is the owner and director of Pet Emergency & Specialist Centre in Victoria (www.petemergency.com.au) and has been a specialist surgeon in private practice for over 20 years. In addition, he is a fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists and has numerous orthopaedic publications internationally which include topics on TPLO surgery, arthroscopy and hip replacements.

VetPrac got the chance to have a quick chat with Chris on the phone to find out what puts the spring in his step and the drive behind his drill.

Initially Dr. Preston thought he was going to be a horse surgeon when he started vet school.  Lucky for us that that didn’t happen!  What changed? Well, let’s just say that he wanted a different kind of challenge.  Chris said, “Being faced with the complexity of the skill set surgeons have in the small animal world, I wanted to get technically better at operating”.  Now looking back at his decision to change, he is happy with his choice.  Small animal surgery “constantly gets complicated and surgeons are always coming up with new procedures for hips, knees and elbows”.  Since scrubbing up as a surgical specialist, Chris too has contributed to this!

One of the newer procedures he’s talking about is knee replacements!  Although they are very common in the human world of medicine, they are pretty new to the animal kingdom. In saying that, Chris really enjoys them and so far he’s performed around 50 or more. One case that Dr. Preston was delighted to share with VetPrac involved a dog from Broom.  “His knees were so crippled that his gait was completely compromised” Chris states. The dog and his owner flew down to Melbourne specifically to seek out Dr. Preston’s expertise and two knee replacements later, the dog (and his owner) are strutting their stuff back at home…I guess you could say he put a spring in the dogs step as well.

This brings us to the next question…how does a specialist learn new procedures?  He learns from specialists of course!  In order to keep up to date, Dr. Preston personally trains alongside the inventor of the procedure so then he can then implement it into his own practice.  Chris states “I try and learn one new surgery a year”.

Dr. Preston has quite the busy schedule.  In the morning he consults, at lunch time he starts operating on a variety of cases, at about 5 p.m. he’s writing up records and usually is home for dinner!  He also somehow finds the time to oversee 6 veterinary students and those undergoing a residency program at his clinic, all of which are participating in clinical research studies and publishing articles with his help and guidance.  We can’t really understand where he finds the time to do so much, but he does, and he is good at it!  Chris states that he enjoys “the diversity of people and the absence of monetary discussion when teaching”.  To top it off he will be joining the VetPrac crew this June for the upcoming Soft tissue surgery of the Forelimb Joint Surgery Workshop!

Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself, Dr. Chris Preston…VetPrac couldn’t be happier to have you as part of the team.

Interviewed by Alena Felkai

Life in the fast lane

Sometimes life feels like I’m standing in front of one of those tennis ball dispensers without a racket. Am I the only one?
I woke up at 2 a.m. as usual to the unusual sound of silence in our home. The baby didn’t wake up, for the first time in months, for her usual middle of the night feed. I was ecstatic! But having been conditioned so well I was now stuck with nothing to do. And without the biological drain and hormonal influences on my sleep patterns which come after a baby feed – I was wired. And my brain was ticking.

Tossing and turning, my mind didn’t want to rest. And I was too physically tired from my previous day to want to actually do anything even as strenuous as read. So, I reached for my phone to mess about and thought to look up buying iPhone chargers (because I always misplace them) – and my device went dead…

I’m hoping some of you can relate. Or else my life is unique and everyone else has it together every day?

Annoyed – I made myself get up and do some work, it being 3 a.m. now and the perfect time to achieve everything. But sitting in front of the computer I was angry that I was the only person on the planet awake at this forsaken hour and started to rebel by looking at my desk and thinking how messy it was. I convinced myself I needed to write a list about everything in my life that needed to change right then and there. But my eyes were squinty in the light because they wanted to be closed… I was clearly in a rut, I couldn’t get out of. I got mad at myself. 

So I said “Self! Self – we simply cannot have this! We have to work together. My mind is awake, but my body asleep. What are we going to do about it?” And because I couldn’t find an answer, I pulled up a cushion. Sat on it with my legs crossed and waited for the answer to come. I told myself, “Self, we simply aren’t doing anything else until we have a plan”.

“This is great I thought! NOT! I wanted to sleep but my mind is racing. I want to use my mind to wear it out, but my body doesn’t want to work. HMPH… Each is rebelling against the other and nothings getting accomplished. Not even sleep! I sat and I sat and I sat…and then it happened… I found myself “sitting in the moment.” 

By sitting still – I was actually giving my mind something to focus on, because I wasn’t letting myself slouch or lie down, I was thinking about my posture and breathing. But by sitting still I was not active. I knew how to sit –  I sat all the time – often while watching TV – telling myself I am resting.
People talk about this “being in the moment thing” like it’s fun, good, pleasant. It’s not, you know? Not at first…It’s more like sitting next to a frustrated baby who doesn’t know whether to play with a toy or cry because she doesn’t know what to do with it. It’s quite confronting. It’s quite unsettling. And it’s quite scary. Because you never really know what to do – because the baby can’t communicate its needs. All you can do (and all you’re supposed to do according to the experts), is sit there – and not DO but BE. Be empathetic. Be there. And for someone who likes to DO, it’s the most aggravating thing on the planet. EVER.
Slowly my stream of consciousness slowed and my body relaxed. As I sat there, in the moment… just being… Slowly, the world and everything in it seemed softer, clearer, simpler… and I thought maybe I could lie down a little? Interestingly – it had been less than 10 minutes.

Of course, then I had the idea that I had to tell everyone about this discovery and got up to type this out so you too could benefit from my enlightenment because I’m a Doer… You know what they say? -“You can’t change acrow into an echidna or a lion into a dove.” So hopefully, maybe next time, I will head back to sleep… maybe 🙂

How High Achievers Succeed and Keep Succeeding is a six-week online workshop for professionals and para-professionals in the veterinary industry who want to change something in their life that is making them feel malaligned with their own sense of well-being. It could be work or personally related. It’s up to you. The workshop has been run with VetPrac repeatedly over the last year, led by Dr Cathy Warburton who is coming rapidly into wide acclaim for her work in positive change methods for our community. 

Participating will help you to identify your strengths, and recognise your achievements as well as demonstrating coping strategies when times are tough. Topics such as neuroplasticity, self-care, how to engage better are approached from an evidence-based science perspective, challenging what you think and giving you excellent foundations to build better relationships and define your goals for your life. 

Workshops have very few participants and require each person to take a journey of discovery and positive change in their life.  If you are interested please contact us or see the How High Achievers Succeed course brochure for more information.