Tag Archives: New Year

Confidence

Sunrise/sunset: Down all day.

It’s been a mixed sort of week. As there wasn’t so much to do here on the 26th and 27th of December, we drove around a good deal during the brief periods when it was light. Though the days are very short, what light there is has a wonderful luminous quality. Coupled with the landscape of Senja, it becomes difficult to know when to stop taking photographs.

I took Anna to the airport and Charlie to the bus on Tuesday. Both arrived home safely. Always a relief, particularly when travelling to somewhere outside Norway, as Anna was doing.

My return to work was abrupt. Anja phoned me on the afternoon of the 29th December. A difficult case that I had dealt with before (and which I believed was under control) has flared up again. I am frustrated not to be able to discuss it more. It comes down to a dispute, as do so many of our cases. And if I judge it wrong, then animals will suffer.

Though I’m not in the UK, I saw a lot about the recently on social media about another child who had been beaten and killed by her mother and partner. The press always goes to town on those cases and reports unquestioningly from all those related people who made reports that were ignored. The subtext is always that the social workers were stupid to ignore such clear evidence.

Though obviously the main grief is for the child, I have a degree of sympathy for those professionals involved. So many of the cases I investigate involve a judgement regarding who is telling the truth. If those reporting were always good people, then it wouldn’t be complicated. But through my work here, I am learning that it is rarely straightforward. Obviously there are those who mistreat their animals. But there are also vindictive people who use the authorities to make lives difficult for others. There are even occasions when those people send in their flying monkeys if they see that they have not been successful themselves. It really isn’t cut and dried that lots of reports mean that there is something seriously wrong.

And so it comes down to a judgement about who is telling the truth, bearing in mind that sometimes it might be both or neither, and that there can also be misunderstandings. I am lucky to have a supportive team around me. I had advice from Torkjell, the regional big boss, and he chatted to Hilde, despite the fact that she was on holiday. I feel fortunate to have had help.

Regardless of difficult cases, family life goes on. The pond in the middle of the town is frozen and a couple of days ago, someone came and cleared away some of the snow, making tracks for ice skating. John and Andrew went and bought some skates, and for the past couple of evenings, they have been out on the ice doing circuits.

Tracks on the pond for ice skating

And of course Triar also needs to go out. John and I took him out for a walk up on the ski slope a few days back. There was fog over the fjord, but as we drove upwards it cleared. It was another of those days when it was hard for me to keep going as the temptation to stop and take pictures was overwhelming.

Triar is wearing his winter boots.

I posted a picture of our kransekake on social media. It’s one of my favourite Norwegian deserts, chewy rings of almond flavoured deliciousness.

Kransekake with crackers and Norwegian flags

Usually, people say how lovely the photo is, but this time someone asked whether it was meant to look like a dalek. And now I’ve seen it, it’s impossible to unsee. Of course, the only thing to do with that kind of information is to embrace it. Next time, the crackers should be placed to point straight out in front, and if I’m feeling really keen, I will create a plunger out of chocolate to give the full effect.

Anyway, I hope that 2022 is a better year than 2021, and that wherever we find ourselves, we can find some brightness in the road ahead. Happy new year to you.

Icy New Year

Sunrise/sunset: Down all day.

We had a quiet start to 2021. Anna and Andrew flew off very early on the morning of the 31st to visit Charlie, so John and I saw in the new year with Triar and the guinea pigs. New year in Norway is celebrated with fireworks, so as midnight approached, John and I donned our hats and gloves and took our celebration outside. There was a satisfying throwback to summer and our trip to the north. We bought a folding gas ring back then: one of those neat purchases that are small enough to throw in the car. Now we found a new use for it as a table-top cooker to heat our gløg.

The fireworks over Senja were spectacular. Ten minutes of intense light and sound punctuating the winter darkness.

Other than the fireworks, the last week has been quiet. Though there is still no snow, there is plenty of ice. Though it has been above zero quite frequently, the pond in the middle of Finnsnes is frozen enough for the local children to use it as a skating rink.

Unfortunately, the same thing is true of some of our usual walks.

And so there has been a tendency to huddle indoors. I hope the snow returns soon. When it is so dark outside, having snow on the ground makes everything much brighter.

I will leave you with a couple of pictures of the moon over Senja. Though I haven’t been out much, my life is still filled with beauty.

Happy New Year to you all!

Holiday

Even after many years, I still greet Christmas and the New Year with a heightened sense of joy that I don’t have to work on either day. All round the world, many wonderful people in the emergency services give up those days to help others, and I send my good wishes to all my friends and colleagues who have been, and will be working over the holiday period this year. I expect when I return tomorrow, there may be a few Christmas related cases. It only takes a moment or two for a dog to eat something that he or she shouldn’t, and chocolate and raisins can be toxic for dogs, as well as the simple problem of too much turkey.

Last Tuesday, the day began as I walked through the prep-room on the way to change into my uniform.  Linus, (whose picture you can see at the top of the page) had been very ill and vomiting for a few days, and he was in a lot of pain and seemed utterly exhausted. His abdomen was so painful that Dagny had to sedate him to examine him properly, and when she did, she could feel something. Whatever it was, it wasn’t visible on the x-ray (some items show up clearly, but not all do) so the only way to help Linus was an exploratory operation. His owners were naturally very fearful. Linus is eleven years old and as the lump wasn’t visible on the x-rays, it could be anything from a peach-stone to a tumour.

As Dagny readied herself for surgery, I prepared Linus for the operation. The monitors attached, I was concerned to find that the oxygen levels in Linus’ blood were very low: not very surprising as I could see that his gums were pale, nothing like the fresh pink colour they are in a healthy dog. I turned the intravenous drip as fast as it would go, and kept the anaesthetic levels to a minimum as Dagny began to cut.

It didn’t take long for her to locate the lump, and it was immediately obvious that it was a foreign body and not a tumour. The gut was inflamed where whatever-it-was had already passed through. I opened up the set of special clamps and the  multiple packs of gauze I had ready and Dangy placed them around the gut to keep everything clean.

Pausing for a moment, she looked up and smiled. ‘What do you think?’ she asked. ‘I’m betting on a kongle!’ Kongle is Norwegian for pine cone. Her attention firmly back on her work , she cut carefully into the segment of intestine and drew out what proved indeed to be a section of pine cone. Poor Linus. No wonder it had been so painful.

From that point in the operation, it was obvious that things were improving. As Linus’ guts began to function again and the fluids from the drip got to work, his oxygen levels climbed from sixty-two right up into the high nineties, which is where they should be when everything is functioning well.

‘Would you mind just quickly going and telling his owners that it wasn’t a tumour?’ Dagny asked, as with the hole in the gut closed, she began to stitch the abdominal muscles. ‘They were so worried.’  As everything was stable, I was delighted to run through and tell them. What better Christmas present could there possibly be for me and them?

There are one or two things I find difficult about being an assistant. It’s not so easy for me to telephone owners and ask for an update, as I might do with one of my own patients. But I hope that the signs that I saw during that operation boded well for Linus and that he and his owners have had a wonderful Christmas together.

Merry Christmas everybody.

 

Trifling matters

It has struck me often, even before I started to write this blog, that my life is filled with small irrelevant detail. In fact one of the reasons I selected WordPress was that I knew that you could create fixed pages, and hopefully, over time I will be able to build up a site that people can look round, rather than depending upon a blog that should probably be updated more frequently than things happen in my life. I look in awe at those people who have weekly columns in newspapers and manage to come up with something original, or even better, funny on a regular basis. Worse still, the news is filled with its usual stories of seasonal lack of cheer. I should be feeling guilty at setting forth all this trivia, however on the grounds that guilt is an over-rated personal attribute, I shall just go ahead anyway.

This morning, I crawled out of bed at about half-past nine. Charlie has returned to work, and the only things I have to do involve dirty clothes, and combining foodstuffs into tasty formats. The former is (of course) deeply boring. The latter, I found I had little enthusiasm for, on the grounds that after several days of over-indulgence, I can’t actually imagine what it feels like to be genuinely hungry. Still, I have promised Charlie that there will be trifle at New Year, and so it was necessary to make some kind of sponge. Given that we really don’t need any more cakes right now, I decided that perhaps small buns were the way to go. Having assessed my ingredients, and with the knowledge that blueberry muffins are without doubt the best of the muffin-based food range, I decided to add some blueberry jam. Given as well, that I had leftover green and red marzipan in the fridge (chocolate log, you understand) I thought I would add pieces of that into the mix as well. As I stirred the resulting hideous purple mess, I found myself happily contemplating the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, I was the first person ever to combine these particular flavours together. Given that there is chocolate icing left over from the chocolate log as well, I suspect that the finished product will be really quite delicious. Obviously purple sponge, red, jelly, orange fruit, yellow custard and white cream will look quite garish when mixed together, but the good news is, that if I add sufficient sherry nobody will give a toss anyway.

Rather more soberly, I have to announce that I have completed the redraft of “Tomorrow” and so find myself at the beginning of another quest for a literary agent. I would like to think I am inured this time, to the inevitable six weeks of emptiness (well in my inbox at least, it is unlikely I will be dieting during this period) followed by the brick wall of generic rejection letters, but I know it’s still going to feel like shit. And as usual, the beginning has been beset by cock-ups. I have perused books and many websites on the subject of “how to hook your agent” and yet none of them have ever given the advice “Don’t start out with your most preferred agent because you will almost certainly make an arse of sending out your first draft”. This time it was quite spectacular. I had decided to try out a somewhat cheeky vibe, and was speculatively writing a lot of trash in the happy knowledge I would be able to edit extensively thereafter, when I inadvertently pressed “send”. I still don’t quite know how it happened, but I sat there in horror with the realisation that I could not retract a single word. Instead, pulling myself together, I began again from the point where I had left off, attempting a light-hearted thrust or two, in the hope that the poor sod on the receiving end would be amused. It was only after I had sent out the second e-mail that I realised that the document I had uploaded, which I thought was a docx document, was actually odt… a format that agent doesn’t accept. I can’t face writing again. I can only hope that he is in generous mood when he comes across the wonderful item.