Tag Archives: Veterinary

Scary

This week I spayed Dagny’s cat. She has asked several times before whether I would commit this terrifying act, but until now each query has been a false alarm. Not so this week when this cute, fluffy being arrived in the practice looking a little afraid… with her cat in a basket. But that was Friday, and as I like things neat and tidy we should return to the beginning.

I’ve worked four days this week, Tuesday through to Friday, and I confess that I have found it exhausting. Tuesday was particularly traumatic. I can only assume that on Monday they were short-staffed in terms of assistants because though for the clients everything was still running smoothly, from my point of view I arrived to chaos. There were four kits (I counted them!) in the sink waiting to be washed, dried and sterilised. There were no sterile kits in the cupboard. There was wet washing in the machine and dry washing in the tumble drier. Crazy. And of course my job as an assistant is to clear the backlog and ensure everything is in place so that the vets can perform their duties. Obviously I have to achieve this Herculean task invisibly, and sadly unlike Harry Potter, my cloak is faulty. And so it was that Dagny came upon me dithering in the autoclave room, trying urgently to get a sterile kit ready for the operation that had arrived at nine o’clock.

I was away on holiday for five weeks. Rather too long, I suspect, as my head still wasn’t quite back in its Norwegian groove. So much so that when Gerd told me it was a dog to be sterilised, I hadn’t picked up on the fact that in Norway, “sterilised” is only used for females. This then was a bitch spay. Not the much smaller castration I had been fondly imagining. So there she was. Dagny in full serious operation mode.

“What are you doing here Sarah? We need you in theatre. We need to get the dog onto Isofluorane.”

“I’m getting you a kit. You’ll need one.”

“There’s one in Magne’s room.”

There you go you see. Still so much I don’t know. My faulty cloak is slipping as Dagny disappears and I follow. Set up the anaesthetic machine. Turn on the oxygen generator. Connect the hoses and set the correct bag in place. Switch on the blood-gas and pulse monitor. Attach the mechanism that registers the breathing and measures the carbon dioxide levels. Then test the machine to make sure there are no leaks. Fine to do so with the oxygen on 0.2. I know this because Kari Anna told me. All the same as usual and now Magne has entered with the patient. We connect her up.

“Shouldn’t the oxygen be on 2?” I’m slightly surprised. It’s not like him to ask questions. The patient is on the border: close to needing 1.2 litres per second, just below the limit. I have her on 1. She definitely doesn’t need 2. To keep him happy I turn the knob slightly and now she’s on 1.2.

And then Dagny is there and the operation is underway and I realise that although everything is working fine, I haven’t printed off the form to record the gas levels. I’m swithering again. Do I leave the room to try to get one printed and leave the anaesthetic unattended or do I stay and monitor but not record? Happily Gerd passes the door at that moment and I rush out and ask her to print one. She’s busy though. it might take a few minutes. Dagny is speaking again. I brace myself. My performance this morning has not been faultless. She’s not unkind, but it can be difficult when everything is falling about your head and searching questions are asked.

“Did you check the anaesthetic machine this morning? Was the pressure stable?”

“Yes.” I’m on sure ground here at least. Perhaps she doesn’t understand that my fluster this morning has been caused by the fact that I am utterly aware of the consequences of not being thorough. I would not allow an operation using a faulty anaesthetic machine any more than I would allow them to go ahead with instruments which were not sterile.

“Are you sure? There wasn’t a leak. Did you have the oxygen switched off?” Still on relatively firm ground, though the 0.2 oxygen is a pulse in my head. Kari Anna said so but she isn’t here to defend me. I’m on my own.

“Well there was a small amount of leakage. I had the oxygen on 0.2. Kari Anna said that was okay.”

“Well we checked it yesterday and it was definitely leaking then. We can check it again at the end. If it’s leaking, the oxygen should be up at two.” She isn’t being mean, just practical, and yet I feel like a teenager caught in some act of defiance, faced with irrefutable proof of my guilt, even though I know I have done nothing wrong. Pah to my highly-disciplined, polite, British upbringing where nothing was direct and everything was couched in euphemism.

But I had checked that machine. I had. Everything had been normal: the same as all the other times I had used it and all those times it had functioned perfectly. Not only that but the bag is full now. I can see there is no leak. Despite my personal feelings of disquiet I stand my ground and the oxygen stays as it is. It’s not as if I’m not watching the monitors after all. And then the ultimate jab of the knife as my final weakness is uncovered.

“Do you have an anaesthetic form?” I quit my dithering and run.

The mood improves. Dagny is talking now about families, food, normal things. When the operation is over I check the anaesthetic machine instructions. The pressure check can be carried out with the oxygen up to 0.3. Feeling vindicated I rush out to find Dagny and tell her.

“Oh yes,” she says. “That was all explained. Magne told me that it was a different bag we checked yesterday. He saw you reaching far back on the shelf to get that one.” Magnific Magne riding to my aid again, even though I hadn’t exactly needed rescuing. The day progresses and chaos no longer reigns. Guro has told me she thinks I am efficient.

“I didn’t know you were in charge of the washing as well as everything else,” she says. So much work. All of it invisible. Until it is left undone and then everything falls apart. The life of a veterinary nurse or lay assistant. I had always helped them out when I saw they were busy, but never really understood what they might be going through.

Wednesday was a good day. It started with helping Jan-Arne to anaesthetise a parrot. Happily I had arrived to the relative tidiness I had left behind me by the end of Tuesday and therefore I had time to read up on bird anaesthesia. Just as well because I was undoubtedly rusty. The book was reassuring; Isofluorane was the drug of choice and that was the regime that had been proposed. In place of Gerd, Leah was there behind the front desk and generously she helped me set up the machine. The parrot didn’t like men apparently. I’m not sure it really approved of me either as I wrapped it in a towel and inserted its beak into the mask but there was not much it could do. It couldn’t have gone much better. Jan-Arne was able to drain the lump on the parrot’s face and clean it out and the bird was happily back in his cage, clicking and muttering to himself as we handed him back to his owner.

By Thursday everything was so much under control that I had time to clean down the cupboards and the walls in the consulting rooms. Goodness knows what Jan-Arne (or maybe it was Dagny) had been aiming at the bin in room A. I wiped it away, wondering whether anyone would ever notice and yet feeling good about doing it. Surely it must be reassuring for the clients when everything looks clean. To my delight, I won the “Weeks smile”. Two votes, only one of them written down. “To Sarah for her skills in clipping claws”. Oh yes, I’m a talented woman! And then Dagny told the room I would be spaying her cat tomorrow. “I’m going to be talking about this for days,” she said. “Everyone must know.” She should steady on, I thought. Otherwise I might have to start calling her Lovely Boss Lady, and that just wouldn’t have the same ring about it.

Friday morning arrived and I thought for a couple of hours that it just wasn’t going to happen. Then Dagny arrives looking glamorous as she does in her non-working clothes. The cat is glamorous too, with its basket all covered in bows. Actually it looks a little like Sophie, my cat from the UK, now residing with my mother whose cute photograph I included at the beginning of last week’s blog. Dagny’s cat is fluffier though, and much younger. “I’ll leave it up to you,” Dagny says. “I don’t want to hang over you.” And she disappears for a moment. I rush through and check with Marita for the dosage of the sedative in cats. I have it in my head for dogs now, but I haven’t anaesthetised so many cats. She and Jan-Arne help me. Thank goodness everyone is so patient with me this week. For some reason I have been asking for help all week and everyone has been fantastic. Seamlessly I return. As does Dagny. So much for leaving me to it.

And then the cat is on the table and I am gloved and capped. The scalpel blade is in place and suddenly everyone in the practice files into the room, fascinated by this incredible event. No pressure then! I start to cut. The hole is bigger than I intended but there’s no going back and happily as I cut through the peritoneum, the ovary pops into view, to audible amazement from the audience. It isn’t always so easy, but I try to look nonchalant, though I am given away slightly by my not-quite-steady hands.

“You don’t need to shake,” Dagny says with a laugh. She always knows just the right thing to say! Happily the operation goes smoothly and within a few minutes it’s all over. The room is empty again and after spraying the wound and applying some Mepore, slowly I begin to tidy the theatre and wash everything down. Well some things just never change.

And for those who can’t speak Norwegian, the banana featured at the top of the page says “Have a good day.” It was sitting on the table when I arrived on Friday and I couldn’t resist its smiling presence.

All the Wrong Words

Back to my normal two day week this week, and Tuesday was a good day. Irene’s working times had changed so that she was starting first thing in the morning with me. It was great to know, as I prepared theatre and assisted with the anaesthetics, that she was there for back-up, assisting the other vets and generally carrying out the other million little tasks that sometimes get pushed aside. Whenever I escaped from theatre I found her clearing and re-organising everything. I haven’t been able to find the scissors since, however this seems a small price to pay when everything looks so beautiful. Actually there is another downside to tidying things away. After Irene and I so carefully piled all the toilet rolls into boxes and put them in the cleaning cupboard a couple of weeks ago, someone else couldn’t find them. Assuming we had run out, a whole new enormous batch was ordered and now the clinic is swimming in them. Still, at least all our bottoms will be clean and shiny at all times and that is always important.

I’ve had two comments this week on my use of the Norwegian language and the first of them came on Tuesday. As I said, that day things were well under control. Free to pursue my aim of ensuring everything was perfect in the operating theatre, I felt I was entirely ready on Tuesday afternoon for the dog that was coming in for a major operation on its leg. The anaesthetic machine was on. I had investigated carefully and found the correct instruments, I had additional suture materials and extra swabs. I had pain-killers all worked out and drawn up, and I even had the gentamycin at the ready in case they wanted to use some antibiotics at the surgical site. Imagine my frustration then when Dagny looked through the window in the door and said, “Oh, there’s no cushion and pad.”

I confess I was annoyed at myself. All the complicated stuff complete and I had forgotten something utterly basic. I couldn’t help myself. ‘Unnskyld,’ I muttered as Dagny loaded herself up with the items and strode into theatre.

As she heard it, she turned round. ‘You shouldn’t say that,’ she said.

‘Um…. what?’

‘You don’t need to apologise. You’ve been busy all day.’ Ah! That old thing.

‘But I have to apologise all the time,’ I explained. ‘I’m British.’ She just laughed.

Thursday was an interesting day. For months there have been suggestions that I should start to consult, but frankly I’ve been putting it off. There’s something very freeing about not having ultimate responsibility for cases. I know when I became a vet, that was one of the hardest things to come to terms with. However Irene, in her new role as Scary Boss Lady Junior had decided that the appointments needed tidying up as well as the prep room, and so in order to allow for additional appointments, she made me my own list. Admittedly it had only two vaccinations on it but it’s a start.

And on Thursday afternoon, I had more feedback on my Norwegian usage, this time from Wivek. In my head, there is this enormous enthusiasm for helping people. And so when asked for assistance, instead of just saying ‘Yes,’ or ‘okay’, I often use the word ‘Sikker’. Now ‘Er du sikker?’ translates roughly as ‘Are you sure?’ and therefore, in my mind, when asked for help, I was enthusiastically agreeing. And so it was left to Wivek to very gently break it to me that when you say ‘Sikker’… it’s pretty much equivalent to rolling your eyes and saying ‘If I must.’ Obviously as I am beginning to see clients now, it is quite important that I don’t make such an error. But how excellent that for all this time I have been quite inadvertently rude to Dagny so often. And I wonder whether that is why Magne has so many little smiles when I agree to help him. I always thought it was just because he liked me. Still, from now on, at least I know the difference. And perhaps, so long as she doesn’t read this, I can go on saying it to Dagny for a while. And then I can have some little secret smiles of my own!

And finally, somehow or other, I managed to miss the fact that last week was Guro’s last before she went off on maternity leave. One of the sad things about not working on Fridays is that I don’t always realise when important things are happening. Anyway, I’ve missed you this week Guro, and I wish you all the best for the coming weeks and months.

Build

This week has been dominated by the construction of the new consulting room. The prep room has been unusable, partly due to dust, but more because of the noise. The crack of the nail gun causes immediate heart failure; I was only affected once or twice, but Jan-Arne died on several occasions. Marita also kicked the bucket in the dental room and I pointed out that in English this would be funny. For some reason, by the time I had explained that “kick the bucket” is an irreverent euphemism for dying, the hilarity was lost. Some things just don’t translate.

There has also been a rash of flank cat spays. Both Jan-Arne and Wivek had a go and the results looked very neat. As usual, the bubbling enthusiasm for trying new things is infectious. Scary Boss Lady’s cat, to my relief, was quite okay after last weeks operation, however Dagny, despite sharing the enthusiasm for new things, feels that except for nursing mothers, she will continue to use the traditional method as she can operate so quickly and cleanly already.

Somehow or other, I won the Smil again, partly because I had helped people with cat spays, but also for my anaesthetic skills on exotic pets and my apparent ability to hold onto cats that aren’t so very keen on being injected. I would love to feel I was an expert at cat-wrangling, however having seen British Veterinary nurses undertake this most dangerous of sports, I know that my skills are only a pale imitation of the real masters.

Irene spent Thursday defrosting the fridge in the kitchen. At some point, without me really noticing, an iceberg about the size of Mont Blanc had appeared in the left hand corner. So smooth and shiny was its surface that somehow I had believed it was an unusual curved part of the back wall, though what that says about my powers of fridge observation I’m not really sure. Still, armed only with a hairdryer and an enormous pile of incontinence pads, the intrepid Irene set forth to crush this enemy of refrigerator space. There was a moment of mystery half-way through when a small yellow Tupperware tub hove into view. After a few moments of frenzied hot-air, it was recovered but its content was sadly unidentifiable.

As I’ve said before, it’s never boring working at the clinic. Thursday afternoon was spent building some Ikea shelves. Dagny told me during lunch that she wanted my help. This sounded hilarious to me, because the Norwegian verb for assembling furniture is “skruer”. Again I tried some of my merry British wit by suggesting that after lunch I would be screwing with the boss, but nobody noticed. It actually fell to Leah and me to put the cabinet together and she is obviously very handy with a screwdriver. Sadly this is her last week for this summer, though she will be back at Christmas. Dagny commented during this process that I was always very quiet. I explained politely that while my brain was working, my mouth stood still, meaning that the translation process exacerbates my usual quietness, but someone else in the room (I think it was Jan-Arne, but I would be happy to be corrected) pointed out that the reason I was so quiet was because Dagny was always talking so much that I couldn’t get a word in. Of course the real reason, as I have probably said somewhere before, is that I like to live by the traditional maxim “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”. It’s definitely a good ploy when you are working in such a crazy environment.

Dagny preparing to spay a cat by the traditional Norwegian method.
Dagny preparing to spay a cat by the traditional Norwegian method.

Cute

The first thing I saw on Thursday morning when I got in was Dagny. Officially it was her day off, but she had received a message in the early hours of the morning about a whelping bitch, or more accurately, about a bitch that was not whelping, and by nine in the morning, Ninja’s owners had decided that she required some veterinary assistance. For the record, Ninja is a sweet little Chihuahua with big eyes, though when she arrived at the clinic, those big eyes looked definitely troubled. Not surprising because when Dagny carried out a vaginal examination, there was a puppy stuck in the passage.  Using plenty of lubricant, Dagny managed to draw the pup out into the world. Sadly despite all her efforts, the pup never started to breathe. An x-ray showed that there was another puppy, and by measuring its skull, Dagny estimated that it might still be born normally, and so instead of spending her time off relaxing, she stayed in the clinic while Ninja’s owners gave their pet some time to try to give birth naturally.

For me this could be only viewed as an opportunity. Thursday is the day that Irene has designated that the dental room and laboratory should be cleaned and maintenance carried out. I think everything in the lab is jogging along fine, but it was only recently I realised that there were weekly and monthly services to be carried out on the dental machine and that they weren’t being done. There is a sheet on the wall of the dental room that I hadn’t noticed, and on that sheet were daily and weekly spaces for initials. Leah had been doing the checks, but in the weeks since she left, the boxes have all remained blank, and when I checked with Irene, it transpired that she didn’t know either. Most of the time in between I have been distracted by other things, but now and then my imagination would go into overdrive as I pictured the whole dental machine seizing up through lack of oiling.

Dagny had tried to call the maintenance rep, but there was no reply and so  she suggested phoning Kari Anna, who is still on maternity leave. ‘After all,’ she said with a laugh, ‘It’s not as if she will have anything else better to do.’

This proved to be incorrect. Dagny held the phone away from her ear for a moment, and even I could hear the wails of the baby from across the room. Still, the dental machine is VERY important, and Kari Anna is VERY patient, so with her help, we managed to oil the handsets. All that was left then was to oil the compressors down in the bowels of the appliance, and so, by ten a.m., Dagny and I were crawling around on the floor of the dental room, pointing a handily discovered ultra-violet light into the guts of the machine.

There was a horrible moment when Dagny thought she had been pouring oil into the air-compressor itself, but happily, it did turn out to be the correct orifice (obviously it’s very important for a vet to get the right orifice).  Finally, the oil levels were back to the right place. As we finished, I pushed myself up from the floor and stretched. I fully expected Dagny to do the same, but for some reason, she was still on the floor.

‘I’m not sure if I should get up,’ she said. ‘This is my day off. Maybe I should just lie here.’  I offered to get her one of the cushions we use for patients, but she turned it down. She checked the time on her phone. ‘Actually,’ she said, ‘I should be at the gym,’ and before I knew what was happening, she had started to wave her feet around in the air.

I was taken away from all this excitement by Wivek. Her daughter had hurt herself at school, and as Wivek had run to work (what a healthy lot of people I work with) she had no car. I drove her to the school, but happily it transpired that the injury was not as serious as had originally been thought. I arrived back at the surgery to see Ninja and her owners taking a walk down the road and I assumed all was well, but when I went back in, I discovered that they were still waiting for pup number two to arrive.

She returned from her walk, and still was making no progress, and so finally Dagny and Ninja’s owners decided  it was time to go ahead with a Caesarean.  Dagny is a quick and decisive surgeon, and so within a very short time, the gorgeous little pup in the photo at the top of the page was born. It’s always lovely to see how all the staff gather round to help when there is a newborn to be revived. Somehow, even after years in practice, there is always something magical about the gift of birth.

Ninja still sleeping while her pup begins to explore.
Ninja still sleeping while her pup begins to explore.

 

 

 

 

Metzenbaum Meltdown

It’s been a week of instrument incidents this week, at least on Tuesday anyway. I didn’t sleep well on Monday night, and by nine o’clock on Tuesday morning, I confess I was wafting round the practice, trying to be all efficient. It wasn’t easy. Somehow the standard tasks of ensuring the rooms were well stocked with needles and syringes seemed unusually complicated. I thought I was finally getting into my stride though, as I emptied the instruments from the autoclave, put them away, and packed up a raft of new kits for sterilisation.

Irene came into the room at this point and started to chat. My brain being otherwise occupied (the routine tasks were taking up all of the limited space in my one cylinder brain) I looked at her vaguely and failed to answer to her satisfaction. She looked at me with narrowed eyes and her head on one side.

‘Are you tired this morning? You’re not usually this quiet. I went to a concert last night. I’m tired.’

I admitted that I wasn’t at my best. My inclination was to remain silent, but it seemed impolite. ‘What concert did you go to?’ I had to try to appear normal at least. She named a singer I had never heard of and I tried to carry on the discussion as I set up the autoclave to sterilise the instruments I had just packed.

The autoclave has something of a pre-set routine. When you first switch it on, it automatically says that the door is open, and the locking mechanism doesn’t work until the programs become available. So I meticulously emptied the outflow, ensured the distilled water was topped up and then, to pre-empt the frustrating period when the door won’t lock, I carefully pushed the door to and set the locking mechanism in place. With a sigh of relief that everything was beginning to settle down, I turned my back as the machine began to run through its program. Irene had continued chatting, but now she was looking at me with a very confused look in her eyes.

‘So what’s in the autoclave?’ she asked. I frowned at her for asking such a crazy question. Obviously the packs I had just set up so carefully, but her eyes weren’t looking at me. They were directed towards the neatly stacked rack with the kits all neatly packaged in their white paper parcels. I had just set the autoclave off on its hour long programme with nothing inside.

All day long, I seemed to be all fingers and thumbs. There had been a spell lately when it seemed I was unable to do the simplest task without dropping something on the floor, and on Tuesday the effect was magnified. Opening up some suture material while Dagny was operating, I thought that rather than risk handing it directly to her from the package, I would drop it on the instrument table. Of course, it flipped out of my hands and missed by several inches. Somehow, every needle I used became detached from the syringe. I spent so much time running in and out of theatre to get new ones that I began to worry that someone would comment. It was a relief therefore when Dagny, usually so efficient, managed to drop the straight scissors from her kit. I retrieved them and offered to get a new pair.

‘I’ll need some Metzenbaums anyway,’ she said ‘you can just get some of those and I can used the curved scissors for everything else.’ Metzenbaum scissors are long slim scissors designed to cut delicate tissue. I collected a pair from the instrument cupboard. Once again, Dagny being occupied with her operation, I decided to drop them directly onto the instrument table. I should have known better. They too slipped to the floor with a clatter that seemed so loud in the quiet operating room. Fortunately, Dagny was not in Scary mood (in fact, she has been so unscary lately, that if I didn’t know how much she loved her nickname, I might feel the need to change it) and she just laughed and asked if we had another pair. At this point, Magne, ever the gentleman obviously felt that he should join in with this game of throwing things on the floor and dropped the chuck-key of the drill. Really I didn’t feel so bad then. The final flourish occurred as Dagny was stitching up. As she went to set the scissors back on the table after cutting her suture material, she misjudged it and the last pair went toppling to the ground. She completed clipping the line of sutures using a scalpel blade. Obviously the idea of asking for yet another pair seemed too high a risk. After all, judging by earlier events, I probably would have stabbed her in the toe.

Thursday, thank goodness, was much more relaxed. Dagny’s sister-in-law brought in her lovely little dog (that’s him in the picture at the top of the page) to be castrated. In contrast to Tuesday, theatre was a hive of extreme efficiency. I’ve never seem Dagny operate so swiftly. So much so that I barely had time to stabilise the anaesthesia before it was time to switch the machine off. I spent the rest of the morning discussing some modification of the anaesthetic regimes with Wivek, who is thoroughly knowledgeable in this, as with so many other things. We want to be sure that the patients are as comfortable and as safe as possible during surgery, and so we are reviewing the analgesic (pain-relief) protocols. When all is said and done, however many times you throw your scissors on the floor, in a good veterinary practice the well-being of the animals always comes first.

The Eyes Have It

It’s been an interesting and busy week in the clinic. Dagny and Magne were both away on holiday, and what with working an extra day and with not being so intensively taken up in theatre, I felt a wonderful growth of teamwork with Wivek, Jan-Arne, and particularly Marita, with whom I spent more time this week than ever before. Given that we were two vets down, and the clinic was still busy, I was pressed into more directly clinical work than usual, and although it can be stressful at times, when things go well there is a huge satisfaction in meeting the challenges and knowing that you are making things better for the animals.

Of course, as soon as Scary Boss Lady and Magnanimous Magne, the ocular specialists were out of the picture, two of the cases that came in were eye problems. The first, a handsome spaniel who had been out for a long moorland trek the day before, arrived with a very sore looking eye. He was in so much discomfort that he wouldn’t even let me look at it and the first thing I had to do was sedate him. It was then quite hard to examine the cornea, because his eye rolled down as he got sleepier and so I asked Marita to come in and give me a hand. The cornea looked to be all clear, and it was at that moment, that Connie, a student who has been helping out for the past couple of weeks pointed out that there was actually a tiny splinter of wood stuck on the white part of the eye. I was tremendously glad of Magne’s special tiny eye instruments as we clipped a tiny hole in the conjunctiva and removed it. It was wonderful to see him yesterday for his check-up looking much more comfortable.

The second case, the gorgeous seven-week-old pup at the top of the page came in on Tuesday morning. He’d had some kind of accident with his mother, and his eye had completely prolapsed from its socket. He too was in a lot of pain, and needed a full anaesthetic before we could start to try to put his eye back into the right place. Again Marita and I worked as a team to place some stitches into his eyelids before carefully sliding everything back into position. The stitches in his eye have to stay in for two or three weeks and although everything went well, we will only know for sure how much damage has been done to his eye when the sutures are removed. Happily Dagny and Magne will be back by then.

Jan-Arne has been his usual crazy, endearing self. I love the way he takes his time and gets to know the patients really well and goes out of his way to make them feel at home. I went in at the end of one of his consultations on Tuesday to find him sitting cross-legged on the floor. When I worked in the emergency clinic in Scotland, I gradually got more and more idiosyncratic and often consulted sitting down on the floor at dog level and I think he is the first other vet I have seen doing the same. I also overheard him yesterday singing back at a German Shepherd who had been singing at him. It was a beautiful duet.

And somehow, though the quiet week I had anticipated with only two or three vets consulting didn’t emerge, I still found a few minutes on Tuesday to complete the first part of a project I am undertaking with Wivek to set up a consistent anaesthetic protocol for the practice to ensure that we are completely up to date with providing anaesthesia that is both safe and provides a high level of pain-relief for all our surgical patients. Of course, as I am in Norway, I thought that it would be a good idea to provide the poster I was creating about Gas Flow Rates in Norwegian. Having showed it to Irene, who assured me it was fine, I proudly printed it out and laminated it… and then went to show Wivek. How was I to know that the word that means flow when it is water and electricity doesn’t apply to gas? And of course my assumption that if you exchanged the “c” in “maintenance” to an “s” would turn it into a Norwegian word seemed logical enough at the time. And litre… apparently the Noregians prefer the American spelling. Ah well, after six years in Norway, I am probably one of the most proficient writers of Norglish that the world has ever seen, and that is something to be very proud of.

A Little Bit Crudie?

This week saw my return to work after three weeks off following my operation. I was delighted to be back. There is so much more humour at work than on the Jeremy Kyle Show. Having checked all the other rooms were stocked, I found myself in Magne’s, where as happens every now and then, he asked me a question about an English word he had come across.

‘What does crude mean?’ he asked.

I found myself wracking my brains over that one. It definitely depends on context. Crude oil and crude humour are rather different. Both imply that the things they describe are unrefined, but that word carries almost as many difficulties. We discussed crude oil (because that one was easy to explain) and of course, being me, I had also to try to explain crude humour. ‘A bit rude’ doesn’t really cover it. Finally I think I got through when I told him that farting jokes would be a good example.

Of course, none of this got us any further with translating his medical text. I asked him if he could clarify, but when he said ‘it said that the cells were crude or something,’ I was more confused than ever. Finally he found the text and it described the cell collection technique he had used as ‘a crude method for detecting oestrus’ so finally we were able to get to the bottom of it.  As ever though, Magne, when presented with a new word, and especially one attached to humour, was unable to drop the subject. He spent the rest of the morning asking me. ‘Is that a bit crudie?’ ‘Is this a bit crudie?’ Of course Scary Boss Lady then wanted to know what we were talking about. She asked me whether my humour in this blog was a bit crude, so I pointed out that mostly I wasn’t crude. I was just rude and mostly to her. She seemed happy with that.

Thursday morning’s computer check revealed that I had a patient coming in to see me at 9a.m. Lucy was to have her claws clipped under sedation. Her owner had asked to see me… the first time that has happened here. I was delighted, especially as Lucy is such a lovely dog.  It all went very well. My only failing was to forget to ask to photograph her before she went to sleep. She was just waking up when I took the photo at the top, but I think she’s gorgeous.

Despite being very happy to be back at work, there were some complications. I’m not supposed to lift anything for six weeks so I had to ask other people to do all my heavier tasks. Gerd carried the water distillation container, Marita carried the reagent box from the blood biochemistry analyser, Irene carried the big soap bottle and put away all the dog food. We have a new nurse as well who started on Monday, Jacqueline, and she helped too. She’s been in the practice before, and so she knows her way around. Really I was very well looked after. Despite all this, I found myself quite sore by lunchtime on Thursday. Realising this, Dagny sent me home. She keeps trying to pretend that she is only worried that I will take more time off, but really I can see through the disguise.  I was hugged by Marita and Jan-Arne too and Irene wished me ‘God bedring’ (Get well soon) before I left. Really it’s lovely to be back.

Wivipedia

Nicknames are strange things. Sometimes when you meet people, something just clicks. Scary Boss Lady and Magnificent Magne have had their names almost from the time I started working at Tu. At some point, even though I have never mentioned it in this blog, Jan-Arne has become The Whipping Boy in my head. Obviously this has all to do with the fact that I took my whip into work for Irene to use when he wasn’t calling his prescriptions through to the pharmacists and nothing at all kinky. After all, that would be a little bit crudie, and we have already established that I am rarely that. However, Wivek has very kindly outed herself this week with a new name. Marita came into the dental room to ask Wivek a technical question, and I was already there asking Wivek a technical question. Following a short and hilarious discussion about how everyone was always asking Wivek technical questions, she announced that from now on, she would be known as Wivipedia. If Scary Boss Lady is the tag we are using at the Christmas Party, then Wivek has surely earned herself a new tag as well.

I also finally caved in to the pressure bit the bullet this week and told Dagny that I would begin to work on Fridays after the New Year. As a veterinary surgeon rather than as an assistant. Oddly enough, after being so keen, she suddenly seems to be panicking about whether I will manage or not. I don’t really have any qualms on that front. After all, I’ve done it before  for years and years and at some point it did stop scaring me, and that confidence seems to have returned. The language barrier might cause a few problems, but so far when I’ve been left to it, it’s not as difficult as it seems when I’m thinking about it.

As it’s been a bit quiet this week, I have spent some time in other people’s consulting rooms (thanks Wivek and Jan-Arne for putting up with me) mangling their computer systems and generally muddling things up. It is interesting (though I can’t say it surprises me) that Wivek plays the computer system as if it is a Stradivarius violin, whilst I’m still plucking away on an ancient school instrument with a chipped veneer. The system is not at all instinctual. There are random buttons for all sorts of things scattered all over the screen, so to perform any particular function, you have to know where the correct button is. Even if you manage that, there is normally a pop-up box which asks if you want some modification. They are all in Norwegian, which would be fine if they said “Save” or “Are you sure?” Unfortunately they say things like “Are you treating this in reception with a new appointment and ten prescriptions?” or “Will you add some fishcakes to the filing system?” ( I suspect I may have got that slightly wrong, but that’s about how much sense they make for me) and so even when I triumphantly click on the correct function button, I end up confused again. Still, there are a few weeks to go before I have to go it alone, and even Jan-Arne tells me that Irene had to keep correcting things for him in the first few weeks, so maybe she can do the same for me.

This weeks picture features Marita as she is cleaning Luke’s teeth. Luke is a gorgeous little Pomeranian… with lovely clean teeth. Smile for the camera Luke!

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Ye Crowlin Ferlie

This week’s picture is of Daisy, a West Highland White terrier who came in yesterday morning to be inseminated. I have seen cows inseminated before, but never a bitch, so I was interested to watch Magnificent Magne as he took a swab to check if Daisy was ready, and looked at the sperm under the microscope to see whether the sample was healthy. Apparently both were good enough. Daisy’s mum used to come in for Magne to inseminate her as well, so her owner told me, so obviously it’s a successful technique. Hopefully in 63 days or so, there will be some more puppies as beautiful as she is.

The microscope in the practice does get very well used. Far more so than any practice I worked at in Scotland. I was very interested when Jan-Arne called me over to look through the lens a little later to show me a blood-sucking louse. For some bizarre reason, when he showed Irene, she said ‘Awwwwwww’. Obviously her idea of cute differs slightly from mine.  I wonder whether this extends to her taste in men.

On Thursday, Jan-Arne came in in his pyjamas again. He actually admitted this time that they were his pyjamas. Obviously an eleven a.m. start is too early for him. I went into the changing room a few minutes after he had left and found his trousers decorating the floor and his boots haphazardly strewn . This amused me, so I took Irene to see, then asked him if he thought we were his servants. I threatened to take a photo, and he rushed to tidy them away. ‘Otherwise my mother will say I’m just the same at home, and Steinar (his partner) will as well,’ he groaned.

Still, he made up for it easily by bringing in the biggest Suksess Cake I’ve ever seen. For those of you not in Norway, this is a delicious cake with an almondy base and a sweet creamy yellow topping. It’s definitely my favourite Norsk cake. When I asked Jan-Arne what the success was that we were celebrating, he replied that the success was getting the calories out of his house. A few of them are undoubtedly now in mine. Still it was worth it. And just in case that wasn’t enough, at the meeting yesterday, everyone was handed an advent calendar. It seems that Scary Boss Lady really is into Christmas.  It all looks veldig gøy. I wonder how many dogs will enjoy the tree.

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Tornado Tawse

It was Jacqueline’s turn to earn herself a new nickname this week. Irene and I were standing discussing something (something very important you understand, we would never stand around gossiping) when something whizzed past us so quickly that it was almost invisible. My eyes tried to follow, but the thing moved so rapidly that I wasn’t able to focus. Fortunately Irene’s younger eyes were more efficient.

‘It was Jacqueline,’ she said with a smile. ‘She’s just so fast all the time.’

I couldn’t help but grin. ‘That’s true,’ I said. ‘The only way you can tell if she’s been there, is because everything  is suddenly tidy.’

‘Yes,’ Irene agreed. ‘Everything sparkles after she’s whisked through.’ And so Tornado Tawse was born.

But by now there was a sad look on Irene’s face. ‘When do I get a nickname?’ she asked. ‘Nearly everyone else has one.’

‘What about Scary Boss Lady Junior?’ I said, but she shook her head.

‘It has to be something like Magne’s, you know, starting with the same letter.’

‘You mean something like Impetuous Irene?’ I said. She looked at me suspiciously.

‘What does Impetuous mean?’

I thought about that for a moment. I didn’t know the Norwegian. ‘Well, jumping into things without thinking about them. Kind of crazy and wild.’

At this point there was a disturbance of the air, and we realised that Jacqueline was hurtling past. ‘Hey Jacqueline,’ I called out. ‘What’s impetuous in Norwegian?’ (Jacqueline is Norwegian, born of British parents, so she is bilingual).

Jacqueline stopped, but after a moment’s thought, she admitted that she didn’t know either.

‘Why?’ she asked.

‘We’re trying to think of a nickname for Irene. Something starting with ‘i’,’ I said.

An evil grin spread over Jacqueline’s face. ‘Irritating?’ she offered. ‘Irrational?’

Irene’s eyes widened as she glared at Tornado Tawse. ‘How about Irresistible?’ she said. ‘Incredible? Inspiring?’ I was glad to see she was smiling again.

‘Actually,’ I said. ‘I think that Impestuous Irene, is my favourite.’

‘What does that mean?’ she asked.

‘Absolutely nothing,’ I replied. Personally I like it. It may be a made up word, but it definitely suits her.

Thursday was a whirlwind day. It started quietly, and I had time to clean both the dental room, and the lab before the first operation, which was a cat spay of Marita’s. It turned out to be rather a difficult one, as the chest was quite deep and the ovarian pedicles were tight and so I scrubbed up to hold everything out of the way so that she could tie them off safely. It all went very well.

After we had finished, I saw a beautiful English Setter going into Magne’s room, and something made me follow. There then followed an interesting history taking session between Magne and the owner, which I managed to follow almost in its entirety, despite the fact that both were speaking quite quickly. I also, to my pleasure, came up with the correct diagnosis. The pleasure was only related to my diagnostic prowess, however. From the owner and animal point of view, it wasn’t great news because the lovely dog was suffering from pyometra. For those who don’t know, pyometra is an infection within the uterus. In some cases this is obvious because pus is discharged, but in some cases the cervix is closed and there is an internal build-up, and that is particularly risky as there is a chance of rupture. Magne and I took the bitch through to the ultrasound machine, and Wivek came and confirmed the diagnosis and measured the size of the uterus, which was quite distended.

I was unsure whether Magne would have time to go ahead with the operation immediately. Dagny wasn’t there, and she normally assists, but as the dog was already sedated, it was better to go ahead. I considered offering to operate alone (with Jacqueline to monitor the anaesthetic) but as it is normal here for two vets to work together on such operations, I didn’t want to risk anything going wrong. I’ve done many such operations alone in Scotland, but they were quite a long time ago now.

Anyway, after only a short consultation with the owner, and with Gerd, Mellifluous Magne announced that he would go ahead with the operation. He asked me to get the patient prepared while he saw his last patient of the morning, so with Jacqueline’s help I put in a catheter, set up a drip and intubated her. Jaqueline had set up the anaesthetic machine, and very smoothly everything was set in place.

The operation went amazingly well. I repeated my actions of the cat spay, holding everything out of the way for Magne to tie off the ovarian pedicles, and the enormous uterus was removed safely. All that remained was for me to stitch up, and Magne seemed delighted with that too.

After lunch, I helped Marita with another cat spay. It’s an odd thing. Normally a bitch pyo would be a complicated operation, and a cat spay straightforward, but not on this day. Cat spay number two was very unusual. Again I scrubbed in as Marita was having difficulty locating the uterus, and between us, we eventually managed to find what seemed to be the left ovary, which looked cystic. Odder still though, there was no uterus attached. We called Dagny through, just to make sure, and for a moment, my heart was in my mouth. If she immediately pulled out a normal uterus, I was going to look rather stupid, however she only found the same thing as we had, so after a brief discussion, she told us to go ahead and remove the one ovary that we had found. It was very unusual. There had been no sign of a scar on the midline when we went in, and after the operation, we carefully felt the cat’s flank, but there didn’t seem to be a scar there either. Anyway, after I had sutured the second cat-spay, it was time to go home, and I collapsed into my car tired but happy after a very busy day.

It only remains to say that the Julebord (Christmas party) is tomorrow. Irene, Jacqueline and I are all getting together for a beauty session. Irene always looks stunning, so I’m relying on her to do me proud. Hopefully there will be some photos to share.