Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Man or machine?

'I'd like to know what sort of profession you think you are working in if you expect to be able to have a lunch break!' My boss hurls the words with spite in my direction, across a crowded room of vets and other nurses.

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

Financial restraints.

'I'm afraid I can't admit Ginger for his neutering unless we treat his fleas first.' I tell Mrs 'no money' Smith.

'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'm just phoning to let you know my cat is not neglected, I got her for my sixth birthday.' Says a very irrate lady down the phone.

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

Too far?

I have just witnessed Heston Blumenthal the world renowned chef placing a chicken breast in an MRI machine to test how well the muscle fibres have been marinated by yogurt.

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

Damaged goods.

'I'm in a real state over this, it's really knocked the wind out of me.' My brand new boyfriend of two months explains.

'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

Immigrants and animals.

'What's the problem with Inca?' I ask the swarthy polish 'help' brandishing the tiny, beloved Norfolk terrier belonging to Mrs Russell-Parkes under his arm.

'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?'

'Don't know.'

'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

No place for a vet.

I don't enjoy getting out of bed in the early hours. Early morning flights and call outs to emergencies being the only exception.

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.