Sunday, 30 December 2007
'Is your cat sick?' I ask.
'No.' Comes the reply that releases me from any professional obligation in this particular case.
'Well I would suggest you phone the Cats Protection League.' I reply.
'But it's Sunday and they are closed.' She says rather hysterically.
'Well you can drop the cat with a friend today and phone them tomorrow.' I am tired she is wasting my time.
'Will they put her down?'
Personally I think her husband should start packing his bags but I am getting the sense that this weak and needy woman obviously can't survive life without him. In fact I suspect she can't take responsibility for anything in her life.
Cats like this are dumped with us every week. We have one in the cattery at present that has been there for two weeks because she kept trying to sleep in new baby's cot. We have been given no money to feed her, the assumption being we will do this for free. The previous owners have made no attempt to find her a home. She is in a small cage and gets no exercise because we do not have facilities to look after long term boarders.
I take a deep breath.
'Your cat is YOUR responsibility, this veterinary surgery is NOT a rescue centre. Your cat will have to stay with a friend today, or your husband will have to leave.'
This seems to do the trick. The crying stops and she mutters some thanks.
Personally I'd rather die than let someone come between me and my pets.
Perhaps that is why I am still single.
Thursday, 27 December 2007
But sometimes the consequences for animals are more serious, as I am quite sure the Labrador that had eaten a whole bar of dark chocolate Toblerone on Christmas day and was wired to a drip and being forced to eat charcoal this morning would agree if he could talk. Although, being a Labrador he seemed to quite like his charcoal and wasn't sure what all the fuss was about.
Chocolate is toxic for dogs, in small dogs it can be lethal. The darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is.
Christmas cake contains raisins which can cause kidney failure.
Turkey wish bones are just large enough to get wedged at the back of a cat's throat, removal is precarious under anesthesia and may result in asphyxiation.
This time of year is therefore full of Christmas cheer at the surgery.
But overindulgence is not just a Christmas pass time. The biggest killer of West Highland White terriers is the lamb bone. A lamb bone is just large enough to be swallowed but often too large to get to the stomach. It remains wedged in the oesophagus and can become impossible to remove and to put it bluntly if you can't swallow you can't live.
So it's important to remember therefore, that a vet is for life and not just for Christmas.
Sunday, 23 December 2007
No pressure then. The sixth request this week.
I am sweating again and my head is pounding but like all my colleagues I feel obligated to work through my illness provided I can still stand up, with short visits home to rest between consulting hours so I can still perform my night duties.
Healing is the last thing on my mind.
It also appears to be the last thing on many of my client's minds.
Whilst most people are emptying their freezers at this time of year, we are busy filling ours with the annual 'pre-Christmas clear out.' Unfortunately every euthanasia appears to bring about a new attack of sneezing and dripping to the extent that I am racing the distressed owners to the Kleenex box.
She had had vomiting and diarrhoea since 4 am that morning.
Friday, 21 December 2007
When I visit my doctor I always wear a clean pair of socks and have a freshly set of shaved legs.
I am not sure therefore by which set of professional visitation rules the young lady in the dressing gown and towel was operating under when she brought her cat in for a check up today.
Nor the woman who came in last week with her crazy spaniel and bare feet.
But it has to be said my all time favourite is the 'shirt open to the navel' popular with beer bellied men in their fifties who like to wear tattoos and carry decrepit Jack Russell terriers under their sweaty arm pits.
Where are Trinny and Susannah when you need them?
These crimes are however are also committed by the middle/upper classes, who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with filth.They feel it appropriate to wear their 'countryside march' attire into the surgery, complete with half the home counties on their wellies and a large proportion of it inside the barbed wire wound on their black Labradors limb. The mess of blood and mud they leave in their wake is extraordinary yet they never apologise.
One I can forgive on the basis of ignorance and lack of manners, the other is just plain disrespectful.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
The school has a lot of shiny, impressive new buildings and a glowing Ofsted report.
But it still smarts when I walk the corridors.
It smarts because they told me I should give up on my hopes and dreams. They told me I would fail.
I didn't give up because I have two wonderful supportive parents and a stubborn determination.
I didn't fail.
In contrast, I loved every second of my time at vet school.
I was sad to hear that the Royal College has recently issued a warning that if the facilities there are not improved then they will be closed down. Since funding comes from the University and not the college I am not sure how they will survive.
I like to think that it's not about the buildings, it's about the basics.
Like instilling confidence, ambition and compassion.
How unfortunate that these are the things upon which the success of an institution cannot be measured.
Not by the Royal College.
Not by Ofsted.
Friday, 14 December 2007
Since the Christmas party last weekend a new phenomenon has taken hold, namely 'facebook mania'. Quite frankly I am sick of it. The posting of yet more photographs of drunk colleagues necessitates a visit by every nurse and receptionist to the site during consulting hours, whilst on the phone and even when serving customers.
Not entirely professional.
For example, when Mrs Jones was leaning over the reception desk, typing her pin-number into the machine in order to pay for her puppies vaccinations I'm not entirely sure that she was expecting to see an image of one of the nurses holding a bottle of wine and an equine assistant's buttocks.
But who am I to judge, that's a matter for Big Brother.
It has quite possibly been made worse by the absence of one of the partners this week which strangely also coincided with the often late arrival of all prospective partnership candidates to the workplace and a slightly less than enthusiastic attitude to their work.
If only he knew.
But then again, maybe he does.
Sunday, 9 December 2007
1) A strong work ethic means women will be first to arrive in the work place and check on your pet's progress. They know you are worrying and waiting for their call.
2) They will always go the extra mile, they will never give up on your pet unless you have decided it is time to say goodbye.
3) If your pet is aggressive or difficult they will find a way round the teeth and claws with cunning and determination.
4) If your pet needs a bath or hand feeding they will ensure this is done, and failing this they will do it themselves.
5) They are very, very good at what they do.
Five reasons why being a woman vet is a huge disadvantage:
1) A strong work ethic doesn't get you a partnership. Sadly the vast majority of woman vets have to learn to 'Put up and shut up', there's no point in taking legal action on the basis of sexual discrimination, you'll never be employed again. You're going to be an assistant for the rest of your career because men are too foolish to even consider that women might have aspirations too.
2) Going the extra mile is stressful and exhausting. Women have to tolerate having their clinical judgement questioned and they are often chastised by their colleagues for being 'too thorough' or 'over the top'. No pet owner EVER complains about a vet being too thorough, in fact for an employer it is a highly profitable exercise but one that sadly often goes unrecognised.
3) There's nothing enjoyable about fearing for your life and a five day course of antibiotics.
4) Sometimes it's difficult finding the time to be a vet and a nurse rolled into one but women know that caring for your pet is not just about the big things, the little things are just as important.
5) It doesn't matter how good women are at their job, some female clients will still prefer to see a man.
So the next time your pet needs to visit the vet take my advice and ask for a woman, just don't expect to see her name above the practice door.
Not in this century.
Friday, 7 December 2007
1) I'm on benefits.
2) He bit the last vet.
3) He usually comes to see Martin. He loves Martin.
4) My wife gave me a list.
5) I've been doing some research on the internet.
6) You are the fourth different vet I've seen this week and he still isn't any better!
7) He's just peed up your consulting room door.
8) He's not been right for 4 months now and we are going on holiday tomorrow.
9) Are you the nurse?
10) I know I've only got one appointment but I've got three more dogs in the car and the receptionist said you wouldn't mind seeing them too.
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Perhaps I am releasing feline anger fueling pheremones.
Perhaps I am just unlucky.
One of my angry patients is very overweight, this makes the job doubly hard because I am having to grapple the equivalent of too aggressive cats in one body.
There are many feline subduing techniques a veterinarian has up their sleeve.
The first is a veterinary nurse who is bold and brave with lightening reactions or in other words, just plain stupid.
The second is the cat muzzle ( a bit like Darth Vader's mask), unreliable because the bastard cat of the Baskervilles usually manages to bite you while you are putting it on, failing that it will inevitably get you when you are taking it off.
The third is a large dose of ketamine. This is administered in a crush cage. A cage with a sliding wall that allows compression of the hissing and spitting feline foe so that the ketamine can be administered through the bars. You know if you've injected it in the right place, because they will let you know.
Sadly not all cats respond to ketamine, they get worse, much worse. No-one likes an agressive cat, less one that is 'on a trip'.
For these we reserve what is known in the trade as 'the lunchbox' in other words a large plastic box in which the cat is jammed and anaesthetic gas is piped in. The cat is usually 'cooked' or sufficiently subdued when the growling is no longer audible and can then be safely removed. Remove it too soon and it becomes a 'cat rocket' - which is exactly that, with claws and twice as dangerous.
I have used ketamine on three occasions and the lunchbox on two this week.
It is only Tuesday.
All these cats have the abbreviation 'DSH' on their notes.
This normally stands for 'Domestic Short Hair'.
This week I have given it a new meaning.
'Domestic Shit Head.'
Sunday, 2 December 2007
When I was fifteen, Sarah Towns, a nasty, pasty girl in my class told me that I should not make my stomach 'a graveyard for animals'.
So I made it a haven for all things Linda McCartney, soya and quorn.
It was around this time that two things happened, firstly I stopped growing and secondly I developed a vicious eczema. Sadly I have been this way ever since, a stumpy dwarf with poor skin but strong morals.
I did however continue to eat fish in order to keep my red cell count up.
Recently I spoke to a veterinary dermatologist who advised me that I might in fact be allergic to the mercury in fish. He looks at itchy West Highland White terriers all day, I trust his judgement implicitly.
So I decided to give up the fish but rather than face certain anemia I started eating meat again.
Today I attended a Sunday lunch for all my friends at the local pub, we had not seen one another for some time and it was great to catch up and hear about all the latest pregnancies and marriages.
When it was time to order, I quietly asked the waiter for the roast lamb.
There were gasps of shock and amazement, everyone then fell silent.
Oh lord, I had forgotten to tell them!
I suspect they would have been less surprised had I announced that I was having an illegitimate child.
Well I guess after all those years of having to make 'special meals' every time I came to visit they must have been pretty upset.
'How are you finding it?' One of them asked.
'Not as good as I remember.' I replied.
I should have said, 'It's a bit like when you haven't had sex for a long time, when you finally do, it's never as good as you imagined it was.'
Since they are all married with small children I suspect this would have been something they could have related too.
Monday, 26 November 2007
Other people's misery.
During the fifteen minute car trip I tune into 'David's late night love.'
'Maria has just been talking about how she suspects that her Dad is having an affair with her boyfriend and she doesn't know what to do.' David croons.
How wonderful someone definitely more miserable than me, Maria.
But I come into my own when I am working the weekend. If I have been grappling/caring for your pet all week long and there has been urine/diarrhoea involved. Do not expect a lie in on Saturday, because I will be phoning you at seven am for an update on your pets condition.
If I can't have a lie-in, then neither can you.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
I find this especially hard as my spelling is pretty dreadful ( my father has pointed out that the spell checker on my blog is sometimes faulty thus giving me away). My writing is also illegible and I just don't have the energy to go back and correct my typos.
Insurance forms are the worst, no sooner have you completed one, five more appear. There then follows a mile round trip to the copying machine, back to the monitor, then to the post machine (which normally requires wrestling into submission). Quite frankly it's exhausting.
The list of forms is endless, vaccination cards, Pets passports, referral letters.
Mrs Fuller made an appointment to have a certificate for Sophie her dog to be completed today.
A signature was required that pronounced Sophie fit to travel on a flight to the States.
'Where's Sophie?' I asked Mrs Fuller as she entered my room.
'Oh, you didn't need to see her did you?' She asked, rather surprised.
One less form to fill out.
Monday, 19 November 2007
I like to think that I was born this way and am therefore totally helpless against my affliction.
It is rather unfortunate that I chose to follow a career that has equipped me to understand the outcome of many human diseases. In other words I know the exact manner in which they will kill me.
Last week an email was circulated amongst rowing club members warning that a rower, somewhere on a river in the UK had contracted leptospirosis, a deadly waterborne disease.
We were advised to regularly wash hands and to avoid ingesting the river water.
Leptospirosis is a wiggly bacteria that swims about in rats urine and rivers. Every year it tries to kills one or two patients of mine. As a hypochondriac vet I go to extreme measures to cover every area of my body to avoid contact with these patients, I'm talking full chemical warfare cover with gloves, gowns and goggles.
So it was with some trepidation that I got back in a boat on the river.
Catastrophe struck midway through the outing when I was splashed on my face. I could feel the deadly river water trickling down toward my mouth but we were rowing at full speed and to stop would risk tipping the boat and an entire mouthful.
Thankfully fate intervened (or perhaps it was my grimaced expression) and the water diverted stage left via my cheek and exited from my chin.
As we approached the end of the outing, relief washed over me. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, wet, cold and dangerous but the stars were crisp, clear and beautiful, I thought to myself how lucky I was to be there.
As I glanced back down I came face to face with a large white swan, or in other words a H5N1 carrier.
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Friday, 16 November 2007
Sadly Rosie had been put to sleep one week previously.
'Don't suppose you know of any dogs going spare?' He asked.
With that he was led as fast as his legs would carry him out to the back of the surgery and promptly placed at the kennel door of a freshly repaired stray dog we have been unable to shift to a new home for over a week.
The stray (named Lucy) duly performed her best 'take me home number' by jumping up at his legs in excitement, thus choosing him as her new pet.
I have to admit it was actually quite touching.
He didn't stand a chance.
Five minutes later Mr Fletcher left the building with two dogs, one on a lead and the other tucked under his left arm in a small china urn.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
At least I know how those poor bastards in North Korea must feel, it's not easy living under constant surveillance.
I've started wondering just how deep the poison goes?
Am I in fact working for 'The Firm', like Tom Cruise in John Grisham's film?
Are there phone taps and large vans outside my door?
I'm half expecting to be bundled into the back of the X-ray van in the middle of the night on 'rendition' down to South Wales where veterinary ethics are somewhat more lacking and rules on interrogation may be more shaky.
What would Alf White make of it all?
I've had to cut back on non-essential Internet related activities at work, like dating and social networking but I figure shopping is still a goer. And, just in case reader number five is wondering, yes I can confirm I did in fact spend two hours on-line at the branch surgery searching for a wife for my giant rabbit last week. The tedium was killing me. It's amazing what you find if you type 'Giant rabbit' into the search engine. I thought I'd stumbled across a real bargain 'One barely used, good condition' until I read 'batteries not included'.
Which brings me to my next point, I'd just like to know how Belle Du Jour, the most famous blogger of our time manages to keep her identity secret? I'm very jealous.
Although if I were her I'd be a bit pissed off about one thing. Having spent all those years building up the mystique and reputation as the worlds most skilled and equally articulate seductress, I'd be pretty disappointed to discover I was being played by Billy Piper in the TV series. No offense Billy, but once you've done Dr Who you're about as titillating as a loaf of Hovis.
One things for sure, she certainly won't be playing me!
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
.......and another thing,
Well, what an exciting turn of events! For those of you who read my last blog I would suggest you go back and re-read the comments.
I am thrilled that my readership has just expanded from four to a grand total of five people!
Now not only mum, dad, someone in Australia (hello!) and Belgium but also my boss.
I am slightly disappointed I have lost my anonymity, not even my best friend has been told about my blog. I thought I'd been so careful, maybe it was the clever computer system the partners had installed. Worth the £150,000 they invested if it means they could track me down before I caused their entire empire to crumble....
Have no fear, I only blog from home now, so I won't be using up any of my precious lunch break and I certainly won't be telling anyone about it.
I suspect reader number five (as I will now refer to him) has been avidly logging in all week to check my response, I really have no idea where he finds the time with his busy work schedule and a £150,00 computer system to pay for but I guess he'll also be a bit more careful what he says in future, he never knows where it might end up being written about.
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
On monday I worked for twelve hours with a ten minute break. I had been on call all weekend.
Since my boss is reluctant to chair a meeting to discuss how working conditions might be improved I have asked whether it might be possible for, vets like all the other members of staff to be permitted a lunch break.
I leave the room too angry or upset to face him.
He calls me later that day.
'You obviously got quite upset earlier today.' He says as if I were being irrational, I am quite sure if he were brave enough he might have used the word 'pre-menstrual'.
Now the only pressing question I have is whether it's still relevant that I ran a rhythmic gymnsatics club when I was seventeen?
It's been a good few years since I updated my CV.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
'How much is that going to cost?' She asks whilst scratching her head.
'Five pounds.' I tell her.
The RSPCA charity are paying for the neutering so this is a bargain.
'I don't have it till Friday.'
'O.k.' I agree reluctantly.
'Friday in two weeks.' She adds.
'Fine.' I say curtly.
I shouldn't be angry, poor people are allowed to have children so maybe they should be allowed pets too.
I place Ginger back in his basket, well it's not his basket but one that has been borrowed from the surgery. There's barely room for him.
'Oh sorry, I brought his favourite new toy and his new bed we bought him to make him feel at home.' She grins.
'We've also got him a new bowl, collar and cat flap.'
No wonder there was no money left to treat his 'new friends'.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
I am not sure whether 'obtaining a cat when you are six years old' makes you exempt from neglect under the 'prevention of cruelty to animals act' but I decide to listen to her explanation.
'She's seventeen and has three week old kittens.' She continues.
She is upset that a client of mine who found her cat and presumed it to be a stray presented it to me for an examination on behalf of the RSPCA. After being reunited with her cat she has been given a copy of the report that I have written stating the condition of the cat.
'You say she's thin.' She fumes. 'Well now you know she's seventeen and not five as you incorrectly put in your report, perhaps you'll understand why she's thin!'
'It is unusual for a seventeen year old cat to not have been neutered so when I saw she had milk and recently given birth to kittens, I naturally assumed she was younger, it is impossible to age a cat from the teeth alone.'
'So you will agree that she's not thin for seventeen?'
'She is thin.' I stand firm.'Besides which she should be neutered and not having kittens at her age.'
'She never goes out.' She rants.
'I wonder then, how she managed to get pregnant, and how she should be found as a stray wondering onto someones doorstep.' I reply.
'She escaped.....twice.' She retorts.
'You also say she has a sacro-coccygeal luxation and requires tail amputation.' She continues to read from my report.
'Yes, she has a fractured tail.'
'My vets told me it was best left alone. I took her to see them about it six months ago after she'd gone missing for a few days and her tail had been damaged. '
I am now wondering just how often this 'house cat' is at home and my patience is wearing thin.
'And what does 'BS' stand for?' She asks.
'Blood sample.' I reply but what I really wanted to say was 'Bull shit.'
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
You may not know much about MRI, but it is used in hospitals to image the brain and other parts of the body that cannot be reached by X-rays. It is vital in the diagnosis of life threatening conditions like brain tumours. It relies upon expensive state of the art technology with limited availability and long waiting lists. If I were to refer one of my patients for a scan it would cost at least one thousand pounds and would be carried out by a specialist veterinary centre.
Which raises the question, would I refer a chicken for an MRI scan if it's life depended on it?
...only if I was planning on eating it later.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
'Over what?' I ask.
'My ex.' The two words that spell doom for our short lived relationship.
'Well I guess that's it for us then.' I reply. Perhaps for the best I am thinking, he never really liked the cats or made an effort to change his shirt.
'No, I'm having fun.' He says to my surprise.
He then spends the next twenty minutes encouraging me to console him over her. I shouldn't be surprised at his audacity, it's not his fault he's Australian.
When something is as damaged as this there is only one answer, buy a new one.
I'm having my highlights done on Tuesday.
Just a shame you can't tell people to do the same with their pets.
Saturday, 13 October 2007
'Vomits and shits.' He replies placing the dog on the table and immediately removing himself from it, taking a seat in the corner of the room.
'How long has she had vomits and shits for?'
'Should I phone Mrs Russell-Parkes?' I ask.
'She very busy.' He replies.
'Is she abroad?' Since she has so many holiday homes this could be very likely.
'No, shopping in Harrods.' He laughs and winks.
'Very busy then.' I smile.
Eventually I administer a cocktail of drugs to cover all eventualities.
The next patient is Horatio the Labrador. Horatio belongs to the owner of a 'diamond dynasty'. He is the only Labrador on our books that has travelled by private jet. He is accompanied by more Eastern European 'help'.
Horatio has a very, very sore eye, possibly glaucoma.
'How long has the eye been like this?' I ask the crucial question.
'Since tomorrow.' Comes the eager reply.
I sigh but remain patient, after all they are probably being exploited and if it wasn't for my 'immigrant' mother I wouldn't be here myself.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
Until this morning.
I set my alarm for 5 am (anything before this was impossible to comprehend.)
I headed down to the boathouse to experience my first early morning rowing session.
I was told by other rowers I was guaranteed an all day 'bloom and healthy glow' after training.
This was not the case.
I was astounded by the number of miserable looking people who were clambering into the boats. No doubt like me they were also wondering what they were doing in the pitch black in a boat wearing a head torch at 5.30 am in the wet and the cold.
This was not fun, it was torture. To be honest I didn't really care what the coach was telling me about my 'blade depth', partly because I couldn't actually see it and partly because I felt too exhausted.
More-over I did not 'glow' for the rest of the day. I yawned, I rubbed my eyes and I looked pale. There was absolutely no moment when I felt refreshed and invigorated.
A boat is no place for a vet at that time in the morning.
Quite frankly (and I never thought I'd say this) I'd far rather be doing a caesarian section.
Sunday, 30 September 2007
It was in desperate need.
The workers descended like bees. It took thirty minutes and three mafia type, Hungarian men in yellow marigolds to clean away the evidence of four years of neglect. Including several bales of hay that had left their mark on the inside of the boot (for the rabbit), hair from various dogs (deceased), leaves, mud, dust and various syringe cases.
My silver ford focus was sandwiched between two large black four by fours with tinted windows, a BMW and a sleek Audi.
The men worked in silence. I had the impression that should one of these cars contain a body in a bin liner in the boot they would have quietly cleaned it away for you for an extra twenty quid and not muttered a word.
A young boy brought my unrecognisable car back to me I paid him the fifteen pounds he had asked for and left him a rather generous five pound tip. He looked disappointed.
Maybe he was expecting me to pay in gold bullion or maybe next time I might clean it a bit before I go.
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
'You tell me yours first.' I reply.
'No you.' He insists.
'Ok,' I sigh. 'I was driving to the gym one evening and I wasn't even on call. I spotted a small ginger cat sitting on the pavement of a busy intersection and before I knew it he had sauntered into the road and been struck by two cars. Everyone started to pull over so I felt obligated to stop and do my duty. I got out of the car, my heart started racing as I realised that this would be my moment to shine. There were five people assembled around the injured cat. I stepped into the throng, paused, drew breath and announced, 'Don't worry everyone I'm a cat!'
Thirty minutes later he is still laughing. He is going to tell everyone in the office tomorrow.
His story involves a mistaken vowel at a debating competition when he was fifteen, not even in the same league of stupidity as a whole, ridiculous mistaken identity.
Had I known his, I would have made up another story.
I turn over on my pillow and decide that next time, he's definitely going first.
Friday, 14 September 2007
'Do you think it could be poison?' Mr Smith asks.
I wonder what part of my diagnosis he has not understood.
'No, very unlikely.' I say curtly.
'Only the next door neighbour doesn't like him barking during the day, do you think they could have thrown something over the fence and caused it?'
'Poisons don't tend to cause a temperature as high as 106 degrees unless they are accompanied by severe fitting.' I explain.
'Oh.' He seems disappointed.
'The good news is that his condition is treatable.'
'Right, and your sure it's not poison?'
In my experience the only time the owners are reluctant to consider poisoning is when their pets have actually been poisoned. Like the middle class couple who presented their swaying, elderly dog with 'suspected arthritis' after it had ingested marijuana their teenage son had been making into cookies whilst they were out. Eventually they shamefully admitted what had happened, treatment was administered and they returned home in their 'gangsta ride' (a grey Volvo estate.)
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Bobby Bridger is a ten year old overweight Springer Spaniel.
'Mr Bridger phoned, he wants you to organise a referral to get Bobby's other hip replaced and an arthroscopy for both his elbows.' The receptionist tells me.
I dutifully phone Mr Bridger's number but there is no reply.
'There's nobody there.' I tell the receptionist.
'Oh, I forgot to say. Mr Bridger said could you phone him after 6.30pm.'
'Any reason?' I ask.
'Yes, he says he will be out walking Bobby until then.'
I look at my watch, the time is 5 pm.
Not bad going for a bionic dog requiring a hip replacement.
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
'That's no problem, how can I help?' I respond as brightly as possible.
'Well as you know I am in the midst of a horrific divorce. My ex-husband who appears very charming on the outside is blackmailing me and bullying me into a settlement. As a consequence I am moving to London to get away from him and start again. I am taking my beloved Thomas with me.'
I remember Thomas, he is a large Persian with a constant frown. I also remember the husband, a quietly good looking man in his sixties with a large frown. Mrs Goldsmith well kept and neurotic, the cause of the frowning.
'My question is this,' At last she gets to the point. 'Do you think two large bowls of water would be sufficient?'
'Sufficient for what?' I ask puzzled.
'Well I know that animals can survive many days without food but I was wondering about water?'
'What do you mean?'
'Well if I die alone in my flat in London and nobody finds me for several days, do you think Thomas could survive with two bowls of water until they find him?'
Now I am wondering whether she has dialed the wrong number, surely she should be talking to the Samaritans?
'I don't think you are going to die Mrs Goldsmith.' I assure her.
'But just in case, would two be enough?'
'Probably.' I reply.
'Good, that is a relief. Well thank you so much for taking good care of Thomas for the last few years, I just hope I can find a vet as good as you in London.'
I put down the receiver, now I too am frowning.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Here is my own personal favourite that also happens to be true.
'English vet taking history from client in deepest darkest Wales.'
Vet: Has there been any changes in his urine?
Client: Well he still comes if I call him.
Thursday, 30 August 2007
My theory is that pet years have been invented by the petfood industry as a way of selling senior diet foods which is why I tend not to use them.
My parents are just turning sixty, the number of post it note reminders is steadily increasing on the kitchen cupboards. My father has a morbid fear of alzheimers.
I pointed out to him that it's ok to be forgetful as you get older, you really only need to worry when you can't remember who Paul is, or what a telephone is for.
Besides which in pet years he's only ten so there's plenty of time for more post-its yet.
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Sunday, 19 August 2007
A wet nose is not a diagnostic indicator of good health.
A dry nose is not a diagnostic indicator of bad health.
So please stop shoving your sweaty palms over your pet's nose (they won't appreciate it) and concentrate on something more useful, like gum colour.
Salmon pink gums = good/normal so stop panicking.
White/pale pink= shock/bleeding/badness and very big vet bill.
Yellow= Jaundice or leptospirosis (also known as viles disease, you can catch this so wash your hands now)
Cherry red= Carbon monoxide poisoning. (Do you have a headache? When was the boiler last serviced?)
Blue= Lack of oxygen, heart or lung disease, have you been ignoring your pet's coughing and general lethargy for the last three months?
Brick red= 'DIC' or Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, more commonly abbreviated by vets to 'Death Is Coming' or 'Dead In Kennel'. You get the picture, don't go buying any large bags of pet food.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
A tick is not a wart. A tick has legs a wart does not.
A wart is part of your pet therefore if you mistake the two and use a cigarette butt to 'kill' it your dog will scream and I will frown when you tell me what you have done and make you feel like a very bad pet owner. I will not phone the RSPCA unless you do it again.
In this country ticks will not paralyse your dog (that only happens in Australia)
A tick must be twisted with a tick hook to remove it, not pulled with a pair of your best tweezers or the head will be left behind and the tweezers will be ruined.
Frontline and Advantix apparently kill ticks....... no comment.
If you do leave the head in your dog will not die of septicemia, it will develop a small pea size lump that will go away in a few weeks. This is called a tick granuloma, it is not a tumour.
Most important of all, if you discover a tick on your dog or cat at 11pm at night you do not need to phone your veterinary surgery for advise. This is not a life threatening emergency. Your chat about application of Vaseline will not go down well while they are in the middle of dealing with a real emergency. So spare a thought for the owner of the pet they are trying to save and call back tomorrow.
Friday, 17 August 2007
One hour later I received the following text:
'Man's tie attached 2 hutch
door 2 hay rack impaled
through rabbit's mouth
and out through eye lid.
Field anaesthetic then
emergency transport of
patient with impaled rack
still in situ to base. Diploma
holding equine surgeon
required to wield 3 foot wire
cutters, patient stabilized..
.....her life saved, but where
were the TV cameras?'
I can't deny it, I wish I had been the one to go, after all it would have made a great blog!
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Here is the evidence:
1) On Saturday whilst brushing my teeth I was contemplating a cat that I had brought back from the brink of death six months previously. He was left with partial vision and I was wondering whether the owners had followed my advice about keeping him in doors. Two hours later he was rushed into the surgery, having been run over.
That pretty much answered my question.
2) Last night I dreamt I had pushed over a giant fir tree that stood in my colleagues garden. When I told her she said it was strange because she is in fact having a fir tree cut down this weekend and she was sure she hadn't told anyone at work.
I also dreamt that a client had died and left me nine thousand four hundred and fifty seven pounds.
I know I am supposed to use my new found 'psychic predictive' powers to help man kind but I have been mentally spending the money all day, on a conservatory.
Whilst I wait for the cheque I'm going to start playing the lottery.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Mrs Long has run over Mrs Brown's cat, Wizard. She has brought Wizard straight to the surgery for treatment.
I decide to admit Wizard for observation.
'I'll need to speak to Wizard's owner to let her know how he is doing.' I tell Mrs Long.
'She's on holiday at the moment.' She replies. 'In Poland for two weeks.'
'Are you looking after Wizard while she is away?' I ask.
'No, Mrs Slater at number thirty-three is, but she's at the hairdressers.'
'Well I will need Mrs Slater's phone number too then.'
'Fine, I'll also give you Mrs Brown's mother's number.' She adds helpfully.
'Where is she?' I ask aprehensively.
'In a home.' She pauses. 'In Poland.'
'Right.' I sigh. 'Just give me all of the numbers.'
Half an hour later the nurse comes to find me.
'I've got Mrs Brown's ex-husband on the phone, he wants to talk to you about Wizard.'
Doesn't anyone use a cattery any more when they go away?
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Friday, 10 August 2007
'Yes he needs an X-ray, I think he has broken his toe.' I tell them.
'He wasn't going fast when I threw the ball, are you sure it is broken?' Mr dog sitter asks.
'Yes, I can feel it crunching.' I tell them to emphasise the strength of my diagnosis.
'Will he be alright?'
'Yes he will be fine, he probably won't need sedating for the X-ray.' I re-assure them.
'I just don't like the thought of leaving him here.'
'He really won't mind.' I say firmly.
'Are you sure, we could stay with him?'
'Look, he comes here every day with his mum, he really will be fine.'
My patience is starting to wear thin, after-all it is not my fault that they have broken their daughter in laws dog whilst she is away on holiday, or that she happens to be our rather frightening head nurse.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
'What about the prawns?' I ask.
'Only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.'
'How much does he eat on a daily basis?' I ask sternly.
'Very little.' She replies.
'How much?' I persist.
'Well he has one of those tiny sachets at breakfast, one in the afternoon and one at bedtime, sometimes he gets some ham while I groom him.'
'What about biscuits?'
'They're down all the time.'
'I think you need to feed him half that amount.' I tell her.
'But it says he can have six sachets a day on the box and he's already eating half that.' She protests.
'He is not going to starve.' I say heaving him off the weighing scales. 'Besides which he is at increased risk of diabetes.'
'I've got diabetes.' She says laughing, her four chins wobbling.
'Please try.' I beg.
We squeeze the cat back into the box.
'I'd like you to book him in with a nurse in a month so he can be weighed.'
She lifts him off the table smiling.
'You've been such a good boy.' She croons at the cat as she leaves, 'When we get home mummy will cook you something really special for supper.'
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Friday, 3 August 2007
Rottweilers are not known for their ability to retrieve.
Today we had to examine a litter of one week old Rottweiler puppies with illegally docked tails.
Rottweilers have beautiful feathered tails.
The tails had been docked by a 'lay person'. They were infected and far too short the puppies may become incontinent when older.
The Royal College were contacted about the matter. They reported that they have seen an increasing number of these cases since the ban on docking but are unlikely to prosecute.
What was the point in the ban?
Tuesday, 31 July 2007
For those of you who are wondering, this is Stephen Gerrard.
A few years back he probably would have been named 'Fluffy' but since the rise of celebrity there comes a new era in pet names. Other footballing favourites (particularly amongst rabbits) are Beckham, Rooney and Giggsy (Gascoigne is now redundant as is Shearer).
Girls prefer to call their pets Gucci and Prada.
My favourites would have to be the duos. Particularly common amongst cats because most people get two together. 'Ant and Dec' and the recently revived 'Starsky and Hutch'. The only problem here is that when one is inevitably run over the other sounds a bit stupid on its own.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
'Well she's just not right.' Says Mr Jones frowning.
'No she's not right.' Adds Mrs Jones.
'In what way?'
'Well she just isn't right.'
'How long has this been going on?' I ask, hoping a different approach may help.
'She wasn't right last Tuesday, then she was OK, but she's definitely not right today.'
My examination of Rosie reveals nothing, I take a blood sample and then an X-ray which reveals what I want to know.
Turns out in the end it was all in the history, a swab left behind after a previous surgery at another vets, now that was definitely not right.
Monday, 23 July 2007
The council had decided to intervene on his behalf because they had reports that the dog had been swimming in the dirty water.
A 'family friend' said she doubted the owner would be able to answer the mobile phone she had given him and I should just pop round.
When I got to the house the elderly man did not seem that elderly just fragile and slightly confused. The house was pitiful, in fact I doubt it was a nice place to live even when dry.
'She's fine.' He protested, 'I take her for all her check ups.' He was obviously affronted that we had been called out.
'You are right, she is fine.' I told him.
In fact the dog seemed pretty well for a thirteen year old German Shepherd, her arthritis even appeared improved following the impromptu physio session.
The owner had lost his carpets, many of his possessions, heating and electricity but he had not lost his dignity. I was cross that the woman from the council had even suggested that the dog was in a 'bad way' and that the owner was unable to bring him to the surgery. In reality he hadn't wanted to bring his dog, because he knew she was fine.
I phoned the lady at sovereign council.
'The dog's fine.' I told her. 'The owner is more than capable of looking after her, but who is going to look after him?' I asked her.
She had no reply.
What kind of a society do we live in when the welfare of a dog is considered above that of the owner?
Saturday, 21 July 2007
They are the glamorous heals you used to love to wear on special occasions that don't match anything in your wardrobe any more. You can't bring yourself to throw them away just in case you might need them again one day.
As I sat perched precariously on the sofa, baby changing bag bursting to my left, drool soaked muslin dangerously close to my right, I knew I was that pair of shoes.
I could talk with expertise on organic baby food, infant cranial osteopathy and baby yoga to every parent at the barbecue. Not because I need or want to know but because friends who once used to laugh at my jokes now no longer listen when I speak, almost to the point of embarrassment. I have learned that the only way I can hope to engage their attention is through child related conversation.
There are a few other childless, husband less friends there like me but they are pre-occupied with becoming like them.
I just want to be happy with my lot, but I can't because like all people I want to fit somewhere and the pain of being on the periphery is often unbearable.
Sometimes I wish they would just throw me away.
A boy of around five who I have never seen before tugs my trousers.
'Can I have more cake?' He asks me earnestly.
I have no idea why he thinks I am in charge.
'Yes.' I tell him and he smiles.
'In fact you can eat cake until you feel sick.' I bend down and whisper in his ear 'But don't tell mummy.'
If my friends insist on keeping a barely used pair of killer heals in their wardrobe, then they are just going to have to live with the consequences.
Friday, 20 July 2007
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
He was frantic because he had been bitten by next door's dog (Mr Smithers, not Rupert although Rupert was the one who was wounded)
'Rupert needs an anaesthetic and some stitches, you will need to leave him with me.'
'So can it be done tomorrow?'
'No, we need to do it now.'
'Right, so will he die or anything?'
'Can I stay with him.'
'No you need to leave.'
'Will you call me when it's done?'
'So to clarify, you will call me?'
Rupert's minor operation was a success. The next day I had a message to phone the 'Big Boss'.
I was worried.
'Had a call from a Mr Smither's couldn't praise you enough.' The Big Boss tells me.
In a world devoid of appraisals, this made my day.
I just wonder what Mr Smithers would have thought had he known of Rupert's post-anaesthetic escape from his kennel and unsupervised tour of the practise, finally discovered munching on custard creams in the practise manager's office.
Thankfully I know the Big Boss would have found it hilarious.
Sunday, 15 July 2007
Lady X clutched her toothless, fourteen year old flea ridden terrier.
'Can I come back later?' Lady X asked when she was annoyed that she was not put at the front of the waiting list.
I wanted to say 'that would be a good idea because I am sure none of the other people in the waiting room would like their animals to catch fleas from yours.'
But instead I told her she should wait.
After all if they could put up with her dog's halitosis, surely she could tolerate theirs.
Friday, 13 July 2007
Iris was busy telling Vera 'It is essential to be relaxed with your puppy, Vera.'
'I'm a nurse, I know these things.' She confessed to me. 'If you are relaxed then the puppy will be relaxed and won't be so startled at the injection, I pride myself on always having been good at giving children painless injections.' She smiled.
The puppy didn't notice the injection I gave it one little bit. I suspect this had much to do with the large handful of dog biscuits I gave it whilst I administered the vaccine, rather than the good karma Iris was exuding.
'What wonderful technique you have!' Proclaimed Iris.
'I prefer to call it cunning.' I told her.
Thursday, 12 July 2007
My answer: ' I love being outdoors and active and have always wanted to row.'
Real answer: 'Because all my friends are married with children and I am a sad lonely Muppet who wants to meet a tall man who looks good in Lycra.'
Myself and another potential novice called Lucy are shown round the club by Katy who has been on the team for six months. I am pleased to note that Katy and Lucy are even shorter than me. (I am 5ft 3 and was concerned I might be mistaken for a cox.)
'Training starts 6.15pm on Thursdays, I know that might be a problem for you.' Katy tells me.
' I finish work at 6.30 pm on Thursdays, I'll try to get here as soon as I can.' I reply.
'Can't you clock off early?' Asks Lucy. I sense she is appalled at my lack of commitment and is trying to outdo me before we have even joined.
My answer : 'No, I am a vet.'
What I wanted to say : ' Listen you little bitch in the pin stripe suit with the big arse, I don't do flexi time because I am a 'professional', so you can cut the "I'm more committed than you" game.'
We try the rowing machines, Lucy wants to know why I am able to make my machine go faster than hers. She does weights and goes to the gym about fifty times a week and obviously feels that because I am slim and blonde I will be a weakling. Could it possibly be that I am better than her?
Katy tells Lucy that it is probably because I have longer legs.
For the first time in my life someone has told me I have long legs, I savour the moment.
'I think I might just be a real asset to your team.' I tell Katy.
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
I find it hard not to get disheartened when a patient fails to get better, particularly when I have made every effort but the diagnosis remains beyond my grasp.
I have also been juggling broken pets with visits to classrooms full of small children (this mornings preschool class thought they were all dogs, it felt like I was in a busy waiting room full of them barking at me.)
Yesterdays visit was very different. A class of ten year olds.
When I arrived the teacher was calling the register.
'Good afternoon Amy.' The teacher chanted.
'od.......ater,' Amy replied. But Amy could not articulate herself and continued to stutter.
Meanwhile Dennis started to scream and a weary looking classroom assistant removed him rather forcefully from the room.
Tanya was given a syringe full of medicine and Hailey refused to sit down on her chair.
These were not normal children.
I was very, very nervous. I had never encountered a child with autism, never mind a room full of them.
Initially they were wary too, staring at me like I was an object rather than a person.
Robert declared that he wanted to cut the head off the stuffed dog I had brought with me.
I ploughed on regardless, using the children as my assistants we performed a pretend operation on the toy dog they had named 'Harry'.
Amy was overjoyed at being given the task of taking Harry's pulse. Tony who was 'relatively normal', excelled in the role as veterinary surgeon although I was nervous at his handling of my surgical scissors. Tania beamed and hugged Harry with delight when he survived the anaesthetic and soon they were clamouring round me, eager to learn more and to each have a turn on the 'skeletoscope' .
'You will come again won't you?' Asked Amy in a perfectly clear voice.
'Of course I will.' I smiled.
I realise now that even when something appears broken beyond repair it's important to never give up hope. If you do, you might miss something wonderful.
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Every year this happens.
Tonnes of hair shed by canines and felines around the world.
For those clients who do not possess a Dyson this creates a problem, which subsequently becomes my problem.
They want me to tell them how to stop it.
'Is it hormones?' They ask.
'No it's nature.' I reply.
'Didn't happen last year.' They retort.
'We can test hormone levels, it will cost fifty pounds.' I tell them.
'I don't think it's hormones.' They continue 'What else could it be?'
So the questioning continues for quite some time......until now.
'Terrible thing this global warming.' I ponder seriously as if I am letting them in on a government secret. 'Vast increase in animals moulting all round the world' I frown.
A complete fabrication on my part.
But they love it, nodding in complete and utter agreement. They leave my room swiftly, completely satisfied with my explanation.
Global warming is the new 'cool' and they simply can't wait to tell people about my theory at their next dinner party.
Monday, 9 July 2007
Sunday, 8 July 2007
Sometimes it's better to just stick with something you know.
After reading the following advertisement in the Veterinary Times this week a career as a veterinary nurse just got a whole lot more appealing.
I have only one question,
'Would I have to wear a uniform like Super Nanny?'
Saturday, 7 July 2007
Today my prospectus from St George's postgraduate medical school finally arrived. Two months after I requested it and six weeks after I had overcome my guilt (little wonder there is such a shortage of doctors the NHS is forced to take on suicide bombers.)
During my period of guilt I would often look at old people in the supermarket and ask myself the question, 'Could I examine you naked?'
Then one day Mr Cox, a heavily overweight client of mine, who suffers with diabetes and arthritis puffs his way into my room with Ted, his equally overweight Springer Spaniel.
Mr Cox always sits down on the chair and Ted always insists on sitting deep between Mr Cox' bulging thighs.
As I am examining Ted's prostate, my head uncomfortably positioned on a level with Mr Cox' expansive groin, the question,
'Whose prostate would I rather be feeling?' Pops into my head.
This morning the prospectus went straight in the bin.