In Which I have to Speak Norwegian.

So it’s been an exciting week for me on two fronts. Firstly on Monday, I was lucky enough to spend a day out with Åsulf from the large animal practice, and second, I am now officially employed by Tu Dyreklinikk as a Veterinary Surgeon and not as an assistant. Of course, the terminology might be confusing to those who work in veterinary practice in the UK, because there my official title was always “Veterinary Assistant” because that is the normal term for vets who are not partners. Anyway, I feel very proud of my new role.

Mostly the transition has gone smoothly. I have handled consultations before at times when things have been especially busy, or clients have arrived unexpectedly, so it wasn’t wholly new. But like most people I find any kind of change comes with a degree of uncertainty. My mind was distracted doing my assistant work in the morning (I start consulting at twelve) as I contemplated the cases I was to see later. Indeed I had a particularly embarrassing moment when I started to shave a dog’s leg for a cruciate operation. Unfortunately, with my head wrapping itself around the potential complications of a male dog who had blood in his urine, I started to shave the dog’s hip instead of the knee. It suddenly came to me, about two clipper strokes in, when the damage to the coat was so great that there was no way to hide it. I contemplated just shaving a massive area off to try to cover the error, but it would have been obvious, and so I had to crawl red-faced to Dagny and tell her. Happily she just laughed, although she did toy with me evilly when she came through by suggesting that I had shaved up the wrong leg. I was very restrained though. Even after she carefully aimed a spurting artery at me in a later operation, I refrained from trying to drop sharp scissors into her toes.

One of the conditions of my change of employment is that I am strictly to speak Norwegian at work from now on. Although I had started out well, I had fallen into the easy habit of speaking English most of the time with my colleagues, although to clients I have always tried to stick with Norwegian unless they have indicated that they want me to do otherwise. Naturally though, Dagny’s is very concerned that the practice’s clients are satisfied with my performance, and therefore she did spend some time with a very serious look on her face urging me to always speak Norwegian to the clients.

On Tuesday then, my appointment list was full. Happily my first client was Kari-Anna, the nurse who is on maternity leave, and her dog was in for a blood test, so that was pretty much stress-free, as was my next case which was a cat with a cut on its neck whose owner had left it for examination, so there was no owner, no history to take, and until the owner returned, no discussion at all. It fell therefore, that my first genuine official client was the owner of a dog that had been in a fight and had a wound over its eye.

Gerd brought the owner and patient through, and as I led the them into the consulting room, the owner said to me

“It’s okay if you would rather speak English.’

With Dagny’s dire warnings about language still ringing in my head, I replied in Norwegian that it was quite alright, and if it was easier for her, that would be fine. She started to laugh,

*I’m actually from Scotland,’ she announced, and after that we got on like a house on fire. I really hope that she will ask to see me if she comes back in.

Thursday was a little less busy than Tuesday. Today’s photo is of Trøffen, who came in to have a cyst removed from his head. Wivek was operating, and she called me through to the consulting room before she started to check with me whether I felt that she would be able to bring the skin together on his head if we removed the rather large lump. Trøffen is only eleven and a half though, and the cyst had already been emptied and had refilled, so there was a risk in leaving it as it might have become bigger. She decided to go ahead, and as you can see, she has done a beautiful neat job. Trøffen is a really lovely cat. Indeed I’m finding great pleasure in working with so many cats. Both Jan-Arne and Magne prefer dogs, and so I like to help out wherever possible. Magne was really impressed with me yesterday, when having easily taken a blood sample from a patient that has not always been wholly compliant, I also managed to give it a worming tablet. I guess I’ve always been fortunate, as most cats seem to like me as much as I like them.

The day out with Åsulf though was a revelation. It was utterly delightful from start to finish, even though the first visit was to a pig farm, and because of the way pigs smell and squeal, they have never been my favourite patients. I was very impressed though with Åsulf’s injection technique. He made it look easy, when experience has taught me that really it isn’t. As we went around, checking calves, examining cows (and yes, I did have my hand up a few cow’s bottoms) I felt completely at home. It just seemed so natural, and I really felt I could just slide right back into that way of life. It’s very different from small animal practice. And for the first time, I found I had very little difficulty with the language. For the first time, I felt that at some point in the future, it might not be impossible for me to work with production animals again. Anyway, for the moment I will continue with improving my Norwegian, and maybe I will ask Jan-Arne if I can go out with him again one Monday, as he now works there one day a week. Who knows. I might even be able to teach him something.

 

 

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