Halloween just passed, but it’s not too late to talk about scary things. Like sheep. You think I’m kidding? Have you tried to handle a full-grown sheep?
I’m on Twitter now and then. Okay, multiple times a day. A woman on Twitter asked her friends to tell something unusual about themselves.
One woman responded, “I was the sheep dog my mother didn’t have. If Mom needed a specific sheep pulled from the flock, that was my job. Need a sheep caught for shearing, worming, check-ups? That was my gig. Need someone to hold on to a bucking, raging sheep? Me.”
“Wait,” I responded, “a bucking, raging sheep? Was this an exorcism?”
“Some sheep are very energetic and even aggressive. When I’d try to grab them, they’d leap three or four feet into the air, kicking and blatting.”
“Were rams the aggressive ones?” I asked. (In case you’ve forgotten your sheep nomenclature, rams are male and ewes are female.)
“Rams could be real jerks, but often they were more personable than ewes.”
“In that case, sheep bear an uncanny resemblance to humans.”
“We had one ram that made friends with our pony,” she said. “Every day the pony came trotting into the barn for her dinner, and the ram reared up and smacked her in the chest. Apparently, she was fine with this.”
“As long as the pony consented,” I said, “it’s all good. Got a story about a ewe?”
“When I was on crutches as a teen, one of our old ewes sensed weakness and backed me into a corner.”
This sounds like humans. Who hasn’t been backed into a corner by an old human ewe at a family reunion or funeral?
“Did the old ewe asking prying questions about when you were getting married,” I said, “or when you planned to get pregnant because you weren’t getting any younger? Or if you needed help getting a real job?”
“No, but I did have to use my crutch to ward her off.”
May that be a lesson to all of us: to avoid obnoxious questions at family reunions, feign injury and use crutches as a defensive weapon.
I needed more information on sheep, so I googled it. I learned sheep were used in the development of uterus transplants. Before surgeons attempted a uterus transplant in a human, they tried it on sheep. At the Sao Paulo School of Medicine, they used four healthy mature ewes. Each sheep was a donor and recipient. This is called autotransplant.
An autotransplant means moving organs or tissues from one part of the body to another part of the same body. An example of this procedure is called, in Latin, cardio sleevus, or wearing your heart on your sleeve. I have autotransplant surgery coming in December, but it does not involve my heart. I need a gum graft. I’ve had one before, so I know how lovely they are. If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph. The periodontist takes a little tiny piece of skin from the roof of my mouth and attaches it with lamb’s wool or catgut or guitar string (whatever is at hand) to my bottom gum. The goal is to reinforce my gum tissue so my teeth won’t fall out when I’m seventy.
Back to the sheep and their uteruses. If this is an autotransplant, does the surgeon move the sheep uterus from one part of her body to another?
“Ms. Ewe, we think your uterus would look lovely hanging from your ear. What do you think, ma’am?”
But wait. If they didn’t move the uterus to another part of the sheep’s body, and if they didn’t give it to another needy sheep, did they remove the uterus and then put it right back in?
“Okay, Ms. Ewe,” said the surgeon. “We took your uterus out just to see if we could do it. But that’s only half the job. Now we have to put it back. Hold tight for another hour. May I get you some grass to munch on? Wait – never mind. You’d better not eat during surgery.”
“Baaaa,” bleated the sheep. “Baaack, put my uterus baaaack, you human idiot. I may want to use it.”
“Welllll, it may not be in the best shape anymore. See, we passed it around the operating room and took pictures with it for Instagram. It’s not every day you see a sheep uterus.”
By the way, did I mention that as part of my infertility treatments twenty years ago, I got to see the inside of my uterus thanks to a scope? It’s pink. The uterus, not the scope. I got to see pictures of my colon, too, thanks to a colonoscopy. It’s also pink. Sorry, is that too much information?
I’m not sure how I feel about playing around with sheep uteruses. No wonder the female sheep are crankier than males.
“Baaaa,” said the lady sheep. “You don’t see them messing with rams’ reproductive organs, do ya?”
“No, ma’am,” I replied. “Since rams don’t have uteruses, they leave them alone. I’ll stand with you for female sheep rights. Sound good to you?”
So, humans, there’s your take-away for the day:
Don’t mess with me; I won’t mess with ewe.