Friday, 9 July 2010


Come in all shapes and sizes. 

There are big ones, little ones, fat ones, thin ones, irritating ones, arrogant ones, ones that sit on your chair, ones that criticise you, ones that know more than you and quite a lot that know very little, ones that make tea and bring biscuits and ones that don't.

By and large they are all pretty wiping the table.

Yesterday we had an appointment booked in for a chicken with diarrhoea. 

Because I know nothing about chickens I set the student the task of researching causes and treatments of diarrhoea in chickens. Away she went and buried her head in the books for well over an hour.

When the patient, 'Lady Gaga' finally arrived in a large cardboard box we were prepared.

'We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival and the student has been preparing for you all afternoon.' I told Mrs chicken owner. 'She's going to ask some questions.'

'Right.' Said the student removing a folded piece of paper from her pocket (while the patient remained cellotaped in the box). 'Is the diarrhoea brown, yellow or green?' She asked eagerly.

'It's sort of foamy yellow.' Replied the client.

'I have the diagnosis.' Said the student.' Salmonella!' She exclaimed happily.

'I think we should perhaps start with an examination before we get to a diagnosis.' I told her as I judged a look of horror in the clients face.

As a new graduate I remember the day I was presented with a snake. I spent twenty minutes taking a detailed history on husbandry whilst the owner continuously tried to interrupt. Only to find that what she had been trying to tell me was that the snake had died en route in the car.

Whilst there is much that can be learnt from a book there is so much that can only be learnt on the job and one thing you learn very early on is that a diagnosis is never as simple as a colour coded chart....