Tuesday, 28 April 2009


I feel sorry for dogs because chocolate is poisonous to them.  

Imagine how smug Bentley, the family cocker spaniel was feeling when he managed to get at the fruits of the children's easter egg hunt only to find himself rushed down to the vets.

Soda crystal ingestion didn't work so he had some rather nasty 'apomorphine' which induces vomiting.  Whilst Bentley was bringing up chocolate milk shake all over the consulting room floor the five children waited anxiously outside. It was pretty clear he must have eaten all five eggs complete with wrappers.

Then he was offered some charcoal to help bind up any remaining poison, which unsurprisingly he refused to eat.

He looked thoroughly miserable by the time he had been decontaminated.

On the bright side consulting room three smelt a really nice chocolaty smell  for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Incompatible vet

Toby the Pekinese is growling at me.

'There, there.' His owner comforts him as she lifts him up onto the table.'I know it's not Simon.' She apologises to Toby as she glares at me.

Mmm..... It's going to be hard to give this one 100% when everyone in the room is against me.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Salon Supreme

Baldrick the cat is being dropped off for his 'dematt and groom'.

He is a longhaired Ginger cat who looks like he has been pulled through a hedge backwards.

He has to be sedated so we can clip all his knots out.

'Can you trim a bit less off this time.' The owner asks as he hands him to the nurse. 'Last time he came back looking like he'd been under a lawn mower.' 

'We'll do our best but there are so many knots we will probably need to cut them off with the clippers, perhaps if you groomed him more often it would not be so bad.'  The nurse replied curtly.

'Yes, well I'm quite sure a man must have done it last time. He looked terrible. I'd quite like a woman to do it this time.'

Ah yes, because female vets are so much more qualified at cutting hair.  Perhaps it should be on the syllabus at vetschool?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Double Murder

I committed my first last week.

Being called upon to dispatch/euthanase two animals in one visit is rather unusual.

The first animal is usually the very sick one, the much loved pet, the family favourite.

The second animal is quite often not sick but approaching old age, the least favourite or in other words an 'innocent bystander'.

This is the one I struggled with.

Despite being told by the owner that the second pet would surely not survive after the death of the first pet I knew deep down that the second pet would do quite nicely thank you very much and would most likely thrive after being promoted to the 'favourite pet' position.

While the owner was mourning the loss of the favourite pet, I was lamenting the loss of the better life the less favoured one might have had......

Friday, 17 April 2009


'How are things with you?' My friend asks on the phone.

'Fine.' I say.

But things are not fine.

According to the BVA website I am supposed to share my problem with friends and family.
But how can I tell her that I have been crying all afternoon.  That I feel sad, lonely, childless, husbandless, boyfriendless and have absolutely no 'work/life balance'.  

When there is nothing in the fridge after a long day I cry because there is no-one to look after me but me and right now I'm doing a pretty shit job.  

Depression is a dirty word and nobody talks about it, yet it is apparently very prevalent in the profession and according to the website I am four times more likely to top myself than a doctor or a dentist (and they are pretty high on the suicide list already).

The website says that there are many reasons that vets feel depressed, long hours, emotional stress due to the nature of the job, lack of recognition for hard work, social isolation.  

After I read this I feel much, much better because I was beginning to think I was the only nutcase out there and it's a relief to know that there are many hidden others like me.  It's also reassuring to know that a lot of the flare factors are beyond my control and not actually my fault.  I've been revising for exams and as a result I haven't been able to exercise or socialise, I've lost my stress outlet and I am sure this and the culmination of a hard week at work with little appreciation from management has tipped me over the edge.

Apparently my depression is mild and as long as it doesn't go on beyond two weeks I don't need to see my GP...I think two days is probably pretty safe!

I would recommend joining the BVA to any young vets out there, I didn't need to use the helpline BUT at least I know it's there.

And you know what I actually feel pretty cured now....oh lord perhaps that makes me 'Bipolar'.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Team work

Sometimes things can go from bad to worse very quickly.

At 1.40 pm today there was a tricky fracture repair on the operating table, a Greyhound having 50 % of the skin on it's hind limb returned to it's original position, a bulldog being prepared for surgery for a twisted stomach (GDV) and only twenty minutes to go before a fully booked consulting session, including a Daschund in a similar fix to the Bulldog due in at 1.50pm.

None of this was going to be completed in the next ten minutes.

At times like this team work is essential and I am very lucky to work with people who are willing to sacrifice their time off so that the rest of us are not left in a sea of dying bodies.

Somehow we made it through the day with the additional pyometra.....

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Bunny Banter

Students believe everything you say, sometimes quite literally.  It's wonderful.

Today a large Giant rabbit is brought in for vaccination.

'Cool, it's an Oswald!' I coo in delight.

The owner and I then exchange Giant Rabbit banter for ten minutes.

'So that's an 'Oswald'.  I've never seen one before.'  The student comments after they leave.

Some students are so cute I just want to eat them....

Monday, 13 April 2009


Last night I had supper with my friend and her parents, they have subbed her the flight over from Ireland because her boss cut her pay.

Her mobile phone goes at 10 pm.  It's the hospital.  They can't find a piece of equipment.

It's pretty obvious that behind the scenes she's the one that runs the show and they are lost without her. 

Her father laughs.  'Happens all the time.' He says, but he's not happy,

Sometimes being a vet just isn't fair and there will be times when only the ones very close to you will understand and share your load.  For those of us who are women this is especially true.

When I graduated the female graduates (even those at the top of the class) were the last to be offered jobs. We had to wait for every male in our year to obtain work before we even stood a chance at interview.

Discrepancies of pay and remote partnership prospects followed soon after.

Worse than this however is the undercurrent of psychological bullying from a few of our male counterparts.  The mild and subtle suggestion that we are just ever so slightly neurotic and on the edge of a meltdown.  Over use of the words 'calm down' and 'don't stress' or 'I'm surprised you coped with that situation, very unusual for you I would have thought you'd be climbing the walls.' 

The purpose of all this is to have us doubting our capabilities, particularly if they cannot compete with our clinical skills. Offering themselves as a calmer, more in control alternative to the slightly 'hormonally driven' woman and therefore an ideal candidate for management in comparison.

The frustration and anger I feel as a result of this subtle bullying must be kept hidden because it will only strengthen the case against the 'neurotic female'.  The only people I can turn to are my parents.

I'd be lost without them.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Tooth Fairy.

"She spat this out half an hour ago.' Mr Hastings hands me a folded piece of kitchen role.

In my experience it's best to get owners to unwrap parcels such as these because you never really know what might lurk inside.

I nod at him to proceed, under the kitchen role is a  plastic bag and under the bag is a tightly wrapped piece of foil.  

Inside lies not a Russian doll but a small tooth, split cleanly into two pieces.  There's something not quite right about this tooth but I can't quite put my finger on it.

I begin my search of Meg the Jack Russel terrier's mouth.  I start gently but before too long I am forced to embark on a Steve Irwin style wrestling campaign in order to visualise every last tooth.

'All present and correct.'  I tell Mr Hastings as a wipe the saliva from my hands.

'I can't imagine where it has come from.' He frowns.

Meanwhile his nine year old daughter offers me a wide toothless grin.

'I think I can.'  I reply.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Sixty and retired.

I knew Mr Edwards was sixty and retired because I phoned him at home at 3pm and he answered after just two rings.  

Any younger and he'd be at work, any older and we'd be talking at least seven rings, or worse, one of those moments where you are halfway through the answer machine message and you suddenly hear an elderly voice yelling 'Hello! hello! God damn I don't know how to switch the thing off!'

Two rings is someone who is definitely waiting for the phone to ring.  This is a major event in their day.

'Sophie's urine is dilute and her kidney parameters are up, I suspect she has mild kidney failure.' I tell him. 'I will get my colleague who examined Sophie today to phone you on Monday and discuss any dietary measures we should take.'

My colleague is on a half day and the old duffer wants the results for his Labrador's blood test today because when you are sixty 'patience is no longer a virtue'.

'So she's got kidney failure?' He repeats thus demonstrating to me that he still the ability to retain information.

'Mild, kidney failure.' I comment. 'Perhaps we can help with a special form of kidney diet.' I tell him.

'What makes you say mild?' He is testing me and letting me know the cogs are still whirring, Alzheimer's is still a long way off.

'Because the changes are mild.' I repeat pretty non-plused. 'So if you are interested in the diet phone my colleague on Monday.'

'Forgive me if I'm wrong, but didn't you just say that she would phone me.'  He's so sharp he ain't gonna be answering the door to any bogus prank callers, not for a long time....

'Fine I'll get her to call you.'  I sigh because this is not the main event of my day and I still have seven more calls to make.  

I leave a message for my colleague. 'Please can you phone Mr Edwards about Sophie, he's a bit high maintenance and slightly annoying.'  

Then I think better of it and delete the last little bit, after-all it's not his fault he's sixty and retired.  I replace it with:

'Please can you phone Mr Edwards, slightly annoying, retired and a bit like my/your Dad but fairly harmless.'

Thursday, 9 April 2009


In theory health and safety dictates that refreshments are supposed to be kept well away from clinical area.

Since we don't have hospital status we don't commit to these kind of rules and cups litter the workstations...everywhere.

Yesterday I learnt a very valuable lesson.

Cups of cold tea and canaries just don't mix......

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

There she blows....

'I don't want Emily in theatre, she is going to faint.' I tell the senior nurse.

Emily the fifteen year old work experience is tall, thin and of pale complexion.  She has been in the building for five minutes and has never seen an operation before, it's her first day.

'Well she's going to have to go in sooner or later.' The nurse tells me with a look on her face that says she clearly thinks I'm being mean. 

'I'm removing a spleen, I've been on call all weekend and I do not need to be distracted by a tumbling teenager, Emily needs to be broken in gently with an alternative task that is slightly less gory.'

The nurse defiantly hands Emily a gown and overboots and positions her in theatre dangerously close to my operating table.

Ten minutes later Emily is collapsing silently into the clinical waste bin, a small rustling sound is audible.  There are five other people in theatre, no-one notices but me and I'm the one removing a spleen.  

Emily is carried away as predicted, she's been in the building thirty minutes.

My God, I've been doing this job too damn long....

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Pregnancy.. the workplace.

What a minefield!

We have a foetus in our midst and what a calamity that has created.

There are yellow tape lines outside (the already lead lined) X-ray suite.

The foetus is kept at least 20 paces away from any anaesthetic, unless there is some good gossip to be had in which case 5 paces appears to be very acceptable.

No-one must upset the barer of the foetus.

I'm fairly sure that if I ever have a foetus on board it won't be getting such special treatment but now a precident has been set I'll be doing my best to make sure all is fair...

Despite the hysteria surrounding foetus protection protocol (that we have all been strictly adhering to), I was horrified to discover the mother of the foetus drawing up a syringe full of the most potent and dangerous hormone known to the human uterus (oxytocin) on a rather long needle to dispense to a farm client (a large cow size dose).

'Are you mad?!" I yelled at her.

She just shrugged and walked away.

Note to self, must remember rule number one next time: 'never upset the barer of the foetus.'

Saturday, 4 April 2009


Road traffic accident cats are nearly always young cats.

My theory is that if your cat makes it to the age of five, you are probably good for another ten years or so, in other words your cat is streetwise and a survivor by a process of natural selection.

Across the atlantic pet cats do not go outdoors, so whilst we in the UK are busy putting bones back together transatlantic vets are dispensing insulin and urinary tract advice to the owners of obese pets.  Am I right?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Caged animal.

The banging noise was becoming gradually louder in reception.

Finally, the source was located to the ladies toilet.

An elderly lady had apparently locked herself in.

A senior partner with a screwdriver was called upon. Whilst he was unscrewing she was rattling the door uncontrollably.

'Please remain calm.' He instructed her.  The rattling continued.

Meanwhile a middle aged man carrying a whicker cat basket appeared.  The occupant an elderly thin hyperthyroid cat was busy scratching frantically to get out.

'Not again mother.' He rolled his eyes. 'This is the second time she's locked herself in this week.'

Finally, released 'mother' scuttled through the door.

Her son was handed a pot of pills.

'This should help control the hyper-active, confused and unpredictable behaviour.'

Lets just hope he gave them to the cat....