Thursday, 5 February 2009

Denise the Vet

'What are you doing today?' I ask Andy as he prepares to leave for work this morning. It's Thursday and my man is beginning to flag. He's got two and a half days before his holiday and it looks like they are going to be a very long two and half days.

'Consulting,' he sighs, the sigh denoting his distress at having to meet and converse with various people (mostly bonkers) all day and try to make sense of their explanations of the symptoms of their poorly pets. These generally run along the lines of 'Tyson's thingy is a bit wobbly and when he barks his doo-dah does a funny thing. Oh, and his number two's are, you know, thing.'

Andy is very patient. He keeps his consultation questions simple. 'So,' he'll say. 'By number two's, you mean poo's?' The client will either nod, nod and giggle because the vet just said 'poo', or shake their head and go into a deep explanation about what a number two refers to in their particular household. Andy might then say, 'Has Tyson eaten anything in the last 24 hours?' 'No,' the client will reply. 'Except his dinner last night.' 'So he has eaten something in the last 24 hours,' says Andy, surpressing a sigh. 'No,' says the client. 'Only his dinner.'

Now, I think vets could save themselves a lot of hassle if they re-interpret the meaning of 'consultation.' I suggest this to Andy. 'How about,' I say, 'that when a client arrives for a consultation, you get in quick with the first question? Like 'Do you think I should plant Jerusalem artichokes this year? ' Or 'Does this colour tunic suit me? I can usually wear blue but was wondering if a lighter shade might set off my eyes better.'

Andy looks at me. He's thinking, 'She's going a bit stir crazy in the house on her own with only the cats and chickens to talk to.'

I continue. 'Consultation works both ways, you know. And I reckon you could get away with it, bearing in mind how stressed you are at the moment. Don't worry that a client will go to Reception and say, 'That vet, Andy, asked me about whether I thought British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan. He didn't want to know a thing about Binkie's sore foot,' because Reception know you're a great guy and they'll say 'Oh, that Andy, he's such a wag! He's knows all about Binkie's sore foot. He just wanted to avoid getting involved in any circular and pointless discussions with you. It's part of his diagnostic genius.'

And then there's 'ops'. Not the green things you use to make beer, but 'operations' which is the other thing Andy could spend all day doing. He prefers ops because he doesn't have to talk to clients. Only nurses. And then only to say things like 'Can you push my glasses back up my nose?' or 'WATCH OUT, IT'S A GUSHER!' Andy sometimes consults one of his surgeon manuals the night before he's on 'ops' if he's facing a particularly tricky procedure. And I'll say, 'Tell me the problem. I'll help.' And he'll explain, in words of one syllable, the problem with the animal and I'll offer my own lay-person's diagnosis. I'm usually pretty close, if a little unorthodox. The one I'm most proud of is a 'kill-two-birds-with-one-stone' theory. Not literally, of course. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog. (Mrs Pumphrey was slightly startled when I nipped out a moment or two ago to spray her poor baldy bottom in an attempt to stop Mrs Slocombe plucking at the sparse remains of the bum fluggage that remains.)

This particular theory was developed when Andy worked in Liverpool. He had a 'lethargic dog' and a 'constipated cat' in one night when he was on duty. Of course, to me the solution was simple. 'Put the cat and dog in the same cage together,' I said. 'The dog'll perk up at the sight of the cat and chase it, thereby scaring the constipation out of it, the smell of which will stop the dog in its tracks giving you a window of opportunity to dive in and rescue the cat.'

Andy said he could see where I was coming from but he'd have to check the ethics of the siuation before he put it into practice.

My other theory regarding ops is that if ever a lady cat comes in for a Caesarian, Andy should bring all the kittens home for me. He's not so keen on this theory.

Thinking about alternative veterinary approaches has cheered me up no end. I think I might start writing a manual entitled 'Practical Solutions That You, the Vet, Might Never Have Thought of Before Now.'

Snappy title, eh?

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