The Hooded Flaw

A number of new faces have appeared in the clinic in recent days. Jenny is working with us for the summer and (unlike me) she can work in reception. She’s always ready with a smile, and (fortunately for me) yesterday morning she was ready with some Voltarol when I arrived at work with a searing pain in my sacro-iliac joint. Relief all round, me for the pain, and everyone else because they didn’t have to put up with me being grumpy all day!

Leah has worked in the practice before as a nurse and is studying to be a vet. It was a proud moment when I entered theatre on Tuesday and found Jan-Arne teaching her the McGurk Method of cat castration. I did spend some time yesterday trying to convince Wivek that is what the technique should properly be called so that when it spreads throughout Norway (carried by emissaries such as Leah) I will become famous. Sadly she didn’t seem convinced.

In addition Marita, tall and blonde from the North of Norway is the new vet who will be covering for Guro when she goes on maternity leave in a few weeks time so it all seems very organised. I found extra-instruments in with standard operating kits, a bin-liner in the bucket used for draining water from the autoclave and three black bin bags in the paper-bin (down to a new night cleaner apparently – just making her presence felt) which I found strangely reassuring. It’s nice not to be the newest person!

Whilst I am not regularly consulting yet, I have begun to do a number of operations. Despite my experience (for a while in the UK, I locum’d in a practice where the main part of my job was as a soft-tissue surgeon) it is still a relief when I hear that things have worked out. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to suture a bite wound which had failed to heal and was worsening. In my alternative life as a superhero lay assistant, I have spent a great deal of time searching cupboards to find out where things are and where things should be put away and in my exploration, I had spied what I thought was a Penrose drain (soft rubber tubing that allows fluids that might prevent healing to drain away) lurking amongst a tumble of stomach tubes. To my delight I found I was correct and I was able to rescue the drain from it’s dark corner and slide it into boiling water to sterilise it. I have always had a love of Penrose drains as I have had very good success with them in the past, but of course this was the first time I had tried it in Norway and it obviously was not routine practice at the clinic. To my delight Jan-Arne told me yesterday that he had taken the final stitches out and the wound had healed well. Bounding towards the list of things-to-be-ordered with a happy cry of “I’m going to order some Penrose Drains now” I was stopped in my tracks By Wivek. “They’ve already been ordered,” she said quietly as ever, and not long afterwards, she happily held up some new packs. Just bring on those dirty wounds!

Back to my favourite topic of food and drink. I was sitting having lunch with Guro on Tuesday when Jan-Arne appeared and grabbed a carton of Biola (a sweet fruity yogurt drink) from the fridge. Watching him with interest, I asked “Aren’t you supposed to be on a low carb diet?”. He shrugged and grinned sheepishly. “Yes but just this otherwise,” he said. Then throwing back his head, he took a large gulp straight from the carton and closed his eyes blissfully before announcing, “It just tastes so good.” Still walking forwards, he was suddenly arrested by something on the carton and with a cry of disgust, he strode over and tossed it in the bin. “It was out of date,” he said in horror as Guro and I just burst out laughing. A little later in the laboratory, I noticed a cola bottle filled with yellow fluid. It’s amazing what owners will use to submit their pets’ urine samples to us. Goodness knows how their persuaded their dog to pee into a bottle, but happily when I checked the expiry date, I discovered that there was still plenty of time to go, so if you are thirsty next week Jan-Arne, you know that that the content of that bottle is safe to drink!

Finally, before I consign myself to my holiday fate, I must mention hoodies, or more precisely hoods. It struck me a while back that it was quite unfair that all of the women in the practice have to wear surgical caps whenever we enter the operating theatre, whilst Jan-Arne’s beard is allowed unfettered access. Now it seems I have found the perfect answer in a Small Animal Surgery book. In a picture entitled “facial hair and sideburns should be covered with a hood” there is the most fantastic picture of 1970s man, all kitted out with enormous glasses and the most amazing blue paper hood. I just can’t wait to see Dagny again so that I can show her. After all, Norway is famed for its sexual equality. It wouldn’t do for the practice to let the side down.

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