Wednesday, 23 June 2010

World Cup Fever.

'Oh hello there I am phoning from the vets. My client has just had her cat put to sleep, she's very upset and would like to bring her straight up to your pet crematorium. Will that be ok?' I ask.

'Well tell her she'll have to be quick.' The man from the crematorium replies sounding a bit peeved. 'We are switching the furnaces off at 2pm today and kick off is at three so we'll be shut before then.'

'Thank you for being so sensitive to her needs, I'll tell her to come straight away.' I say sweetly.

It would appear that even the furnaces stop for England when they are playing in the world cup.

But us vets are not immune to the addiction. I installed a small TV in the vets office and appointments were made mainly through half time.

Twenty minutes into the game my colleague stormed into the office.

'Can you believe a lady has just brought her guinea pig and her eight year old boy to the surgery?!' She ranted. 'Does she not realise the poor child will be bullied mercilessly for missing the football?'

Yep, world cup fever has infected us all....

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

One Trick Pony.

'Then the 4 mm screw goes in the 3.5 mm hole and you have to make sure you tap it first, you might need a 10.1 mm hole or maybe a decompression, compression, dynamic compression plate, make sure you prebend it.' Says the lecturer wearing glasses and trousers that are too short for him.

I thought orthopaedics would be my thing, after all I am marvellous at DIY and own a healthy tool kit.

But heres the worst part, I can actually feel those words bouncing off my forehead and leaving dents in it because they just won't go in. I have booked myself on an orthopaedics course to prove I am not a one trick pony and the only words that are bouncing around on the inside of my head are 'Boring, boring, boring.'

At the end of the second day I am clock watching. I hate the brutality of it all, even though I am not performing the procedure on a live animal it all feels a bit gory and un-natural. 

'I can't drill a hole in the bone.' I tell the ankle swinging lecturer as I grow exasperated whilst performing a 'tibial crest transposition.'

'That's because you have the drill in reverse.'  He tells me.

That was the moment when I actually finally learnt something. I learnt that I am never going to be good at orthopaedics.  

Why do I love internal medicine so much? 

I don't come from a medical background but my mother passed on a love for crime fiction which encouraged an enjoyment of problem solving and conspiracy, CSI fans will understand. My father taught me how to become better at source analysis for my history exam. 'When you look at an old picture, don't just try to see what it tells you, but look for what it doesn't tell you.'  So the seeds were sewn a long time ago.

I love medicine because it is varied and intricate, because it follows the rules but also breaks the rules. It is unpredictable and challenging and there's no better feeling than solving a difficult puzzle- it is like an episode of 'House' but without the walking stick.

An orthopaedic surgeon would argue that a challenging fracture represents a difficult puzzle- but I think its safer  all round if LittleVet just sticks to putting up shelves….

Monday, 14 June 2010

History taking.

'What can I do for Maisey today?' I ask Mrs Brown, the owner of an obese middle aged Retriever that waddles into my consulting room wagging her tail.

'She's a bit off.' She replies as she takes off her grey rain coat and slumps into my chair, clearly she intends to be here some time. Maisey settles down at her feet.

'How do you mean?'

'Just sort of off, you know, just off.'

'Is she depressed or quiet?' I ask.

'No.' She says shrugging her shoulders.

'Has she had any vomiting or diarrhoea?' I try to ascertain the specifics.


"Any coughing or sneezing?'


'Any change in appetite or drinking?'


'Weight loss?' Although I feel it unlikely given Maisey's girth.


'Any symptoms at all?'

'No. Just, you know, a bit off.'


'But she has been sick quite a lot now I come to think of it.'

Finally something I can work with...

'How long has been sick for?' I ask enthusiastic about my new lead.

She removes her hat and gloves. Looks down at Maisey who is now asleep.

'Oh, just a while.' She replies.

I wish the people who taught me that history taking is the most important part of the examination could be here now....