It has been a week of big operations. On Tuesday, Dagny removed some of the largest anal-sacs that I have seen, from a dog. She uses a technique which involves filling the glands with a plastic fluid, which hardens almost immediately, allowing the surgeon to ensure that all of the tissue is removed. So much plastic went in that I wouldn’t have been entirely surprised if it started to come out of the dog’s mouth, but she was finally satisfied that they were full, and it was time for me to prepare the dog for theatre. Once she and the dog were gowned and draped, she set to, carefully clipping away and excising the diseased tissues. Towards the end of the op, as she gazed into the gaping cavity she had created, she commented, ‘This dog has a hole in its bottom as big as a cathedral.’
Quick as a flash as it burst into my brain, I shouted out. ‘Oh, so the dog has a holy bottom’. My outburst of wit was met with the kind of indifference that makes you peer down at your body to check if you have been rendered invisible. My hands were still there, so it seemed I was still present. They hadn’t understood obviously, but so pleased was I with my lightning bolt that I was unable to leave it.’You know, Cathedral… Holy… you know….’ My voice petered out as I realised that actually they didn’t. Maybe I should just give up on this untranslatable humour thing.
The other major operation was on Thursday, and it was big in every sense of the word. A beautiful young great dane had been smitten with a horrendous uterine infection, and so she was coming in to be spayed. It was serious surgery, and complicated by the fact that there were some abnormalities in the uterus, but Wivek and Magne worked away patiently and carefully to remove the organ safely. Wivek, it turns out, for all her quietness, has a wicked sense of humour. She suggested to Magne, that while we were inside the dog’s abdomen, we should do a gastropexy (attaching the stomach to the body wall to prevent gastric torsion – a life threatening condition in deep-chested dogs). The conversation then wandered off into complications that I couldn’t follow, and as so often when that occurs, I just carried on with the tasks at hand, oblivious to the discussion going on around me. Suddenly I caught the words ‘Sarah ALWAYS does that.’ Startled I looked around. Wivek was grinning at me. ‘So it’s true what you wrote in your blog then. So long as I don’t mention your name, I can just talk about you all I like!’
And later on, I was reminded of the reasons I should never, ever attempt any climbing. I have written before about the overfilled paper bin and its dancing challenges and as you know, I haven’t ever nerved myself to undertake the leap of faith required. Late in the afternoon, standing beside the overflowing bin in the glowing sunshine, I realised that here was my chance. The opportunity had arrived for me to practice my Bin Dance without an audience. Taking my courage in both hands, I grabbed a wooden pallet from the side wall and leaned it against the enormous blue bin.
When Irene had set out, she had eschewed the use of any kind of steps, choosing to take a flying leap upwards and scale the monster without assistance, but I, being cautious, decided to climb up more sedately. My first mistake was to pull the bin away from the wall before I started. Not such a good idea because as I clambered awkwardly up the pallet, the bin started to roll away towards the wall. Slithering upwards as fast as I could, I pulled myself onto the top of the precarious cardboard mountain and stood up… and hit my head on the air-conditioning unit. It had been moved along the wall when the new room was being built and was stealthily overhanging the bin, just waiting for some mug to come along.
Manoeuvring carefully, I lifted my head again, more circumspect now I was aware of the overhead hazard, and did my best to tramp down the burgeoning piles of cardboard. Despite my best efforts, I was making little impression and the stacks were still above the top as I began my cautious descent. I reached gingerly over the edge and lined my foot up with the thick central board of the pallet. After all, I didn’t want to break the thinner wooden rungs. As I edged over the rim and the pallet took my weight again, the bin made a final lurch backwards and hit the wall… and the lid came crashing down, engulfing the top half of my body. A final indignity: the bin was trying to swallow me. Elbowing the heavy plastic upwards, I finally swung myself back down to the ground and brushed myself off before heading back inside. I think that perhaps it is important to realise that unlike these hardy Norwegians, I’m just not made for climbing.