Friday, 31 July 2009

The Maggoty Cat

It is not often we get a maggoty cat it happens about 2 or 3 times a year, usually maggots are rabbit based. In this case the cat “Monty” had gone missing and been found about 4 days later when he dragged himself back and was found in the garden.

Monty had been hit by a car there was head injuries and as it was hot enough for flies they had gone straight to the wounds. Monty had a fractured lower jaw so was unable to groom himself and anyway did not feel up to it.

I am not up on how long different maggot species take to hatch but apart from the tiny yellow dots attached to Monty’s coat a lot had hatched and made their way into the wounds to start eating. It was all the more upsetting because cat’s are generally fastidious in how clean they keep themselves.

Monty needed a general anaesthetic so that we could x-ray him. It is never easy to get decent x-rays of an animal due to their shape unless it is a lateral (lying on their side) it requires troughs to support them on their backs, ties to straighten or hold their legs, foam pads to support under their legs and often tape to hold the legs in more difficult positions.

Under anaesthetic we were able to pick the maggots out of the wounds and clip off all the eggs. Maggots are pretty difficult to kill. If there are not many l tend to squash them, if lot’s l put them into a bowl with some Ivomec in.

Monty had a fractured femur, he got away quite lightly usually cats who have been hit by a car suffer from a fractured pelvis as well as other bones. The surgeon placed an external fixator on/into the leg. These are well tolerated by animals.

Monty had another common cat problem a fractured mandibular symphysis (join in his lower jaw) and this was wired post his x-rays. The lower jaw of cat is not one solid piece but 2 parts joined in the middle with a bit of cartilage. Trauma can break this bond. Wire is fed under the tongue and around the jaw. I found some photos on the net that explain the procedure.
Usually unless there is other facial trauma cats are back eating within a day or 2 of the procedure. In about 4 weeks the the cat is given another ga and the wire removed.
Monty was fairly good about eating but did need syringe feeding to supplement his own intake.

He was discharged after 4 days to attend outpatients for checks, dressing’s changes and a couple of admits for anaesthetics to have various bits of iron removed until he was back to normal. He was scared of going out of the garden but appeared otherwise happy with life.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

July Braai 09

Well l survived July Braai by Wednesday when we got back people were already pulling in people were pretty much ensconced by Thursday night so the gate will need to be manned from earlier next year. The official braai runs fri/sat/sun most people going home sunday but this time a large amount stayed.
I much preferred Beechwood as a venue, lots more trees and separate areas, noisy party field, quieter mid field and silence end or POTS field. There were a few problems. One was the water the showers were on the incoming water main section and siphoned it all the rest of the camp got a trickle so the camp owner is putting in a new water main. The new shower and toilet block, half built will be online and from what l understand new power points in the main field. We need to have parking organised better as well and the usual organisational items that appeared as “oh if we did/have…” One idea for next year we are going to have those grabbers for litter. If not l am on strike.

We had a few small scale sellers of clothes, food and DVD’s and some lovely artwork for auction all of which went down well they are all regular club members. Friday and Saturday there was a pig roast to provide a nice hot snack which proved very popular.
There was up to 1500 people there did not sure how many and the place was packed with tents and caravans. Next year l am not moving from my planned spot. We were asked to move sideways to a different part of the area we were in and ended up being very cramped in our section next year l am parking by the road and planting the wheels so deep into the ground we won’t shift without a pull that should sort things.
I only made it to POTS once it was too far to hop but when l saw it on the Friday it looked ok space wise. I had crutched down to do gate duty but when l got there it was fully manned on the gate so l went back and did bar ticket sales.

The bar was the best yet in layout. We had one marquee which was the bar, with a nicely constructed bar as opposed to the “bodge jobs” that have served for the last 20 years, then 3 new large marquees joined on with a stage in the middle section at the back, so a very big area under cover and it made a hell of a difference.
Due to my ankle and crutches every time l stood up to do everything l was met with a barrage of and what do you think you are doing??? SIT. So as l felt guilty not doing enough l did 2 ticket selling stints for bar drinks about 13hours each. I also got up very early cleaned the marquee and bar and restocked fridges. By the time anyone arrived and had a go at me l had at least done something constructive.
The bar sold out of beer and spirits on Friday and Saturday nights and needed total restock, the total was 26 barrels of beer and god knows how much spirit.

There was a small memorial service on Sunday afternoon a new idea and organised by one of the club members. The idea was just a quiet good bye to those who have passed on. Pretty much everyone who was left at the camp attended.
Neil from Msasa Video piped the service in. A few words were said, names of those who were being remembered read out and we all had our quiet memories of all mentioned or not who have passed over the years, it ended with a reading of ”At the going down of the sun…” while Neil piped it out quietly as he moved away. A very moving ceremony, many a silent tear was shed.
I hope that it becomes a yearly event and people can bring pictures of those who they want to remember and pin them on the board. Even if names are not mentioned it is just a lovely memorial and quiet unwind time.

We were very lucky with the weather we had mixed on Thursday but sun on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was mixed, Monday take down day was very wet but at least it was not during the event. As we were about 20 miles from the parachute centre and the weather passed over us l was an outlying weather station for the parachute club.

Our camper hemmed in on all sides

The main party field early in the morning

Selling Dry Goods

Chill time during the day in the marquees sales tables and a music session

The bar and marquees at night

The last bits of the bar being taken down

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Hole lot of Trouble

Saturday morning l decided to do heavy work as opposed to the paperwork. We loaded the van with all sorts and the 3 big marquees.
Got to the party field and l held Wib’s while l got out the van. Next thing Tony (the driver) said l yelped and folded he said all he could see was me trying to save Wib’s from bring hurt as we disappeared from view he ran round. My foot had gone straight down a hole hidden by grass.
I lay for a few minutes things swirling and feeling sick made him move my ankle so l could "know" it wasn't broken, don't ask where the logic is l was too sore to think.
I would add l had shoes on and the only time l get into a problem and hurt myself is with shoes on they are dangerous.

The marquee group dropped me back at the camper to get Wib’s bed and water bowl and then at the cabin to do paperwork that l had tried to avoid. Matching guest passes, tickets for drinks, braai packs, boerewors packs (type of South African sausage), and putting them into envelopes with members names on and what was in each envelope which are handed out during booking in. This was started at 9am and ended at about 19:00 to put it in polite terms it is a sod of a job.

My foot swelled and got discoloured but by my reckoning not to badly. l soaked it in a bowl of water and ice. Great this for someone who microwaves salads and ice cream as l hate the cold so much.
I was upset that l missed walking the marquee over we left up post POTS l was looking forward to that.
Later on l managed to hobble back to party field and helped put up the other 3 newly bought marquees and got in trouble for not resting, but l felt guilty not working as l went there to work.
That afternoon back to do paperwork and then join hub at the van for dinner, he arrived back from the parachute centre which is fairly close. A friend gave me a bandage and hub wrapped my ankle with that.

Sunday just sat and talked to friends and took it easy. The bulk of the work was done. The lads were building the bar, others went home during the day, we came home Sunday evening and are meeting back Wednesday.

Monday l had hub drop me at A & E about 7am so l could get the ankle x-rayed and prove to my Mum who was already in major panic over the thing it was just badly strained. A & E was nice and quiet as expected at that time. The nurse practitioner was worried about blood flow but l pointed out that pressing and getting 5mins of white until the blood flows back is normal for me, she wheeled me off for an x-ray not believing me.

I get so envious at human radiography, l realise not all is easy but pretty much none of the veterinary is easy unless the animal is comatose and lying on its side. Other than that they need a GA or very deep sedation.
Back to wait for the xr to be delivered and then wheeled back to a bay, this time the nurse prac. Checked both my feet and finally realised that l was right both feet had big white depression spots waiting for blood to get back to them......eventually and were cold.
After a good look at the xr and a poke and twisting from her with whimpers from me the decision was a severe strain and a pair of crutches with instructions to stay off it. So a few days rest before braai then there is lots of work to do.
These elbow crutches are not easy to use still l am getting the hang of them just what a start to July braai week can not believe it.

Friday, 17 July 2009

A Wind Up

Well l am off for the weekend l will probably be back Monday for 2 days then off again till the following Monday so not deserted life just having a break. It is the Rhodie/Zim groups big yearly bash about 1000+ people expected. This weekend is put up and next weekend is the braai.

So l will be back just not sure of when over the next week. In the mean time a bit more about Tenerife Zoo.


Back in Tenerife and l was at Tenerife Zoo having a quiet amble around when l stopped to chat to the 4 Macaws. They were put out daily under a small thatch covered shade and the visitors could stroke them, feed them and take a chance on having fingers ripped off if the birds felt in the mood.
Have to admit l do not recall hearing they had ever ripped a finger off just that being a parrot they are perverse enough to do it if they take a want to.

I had a pocket of peanuts and was standing there chatting and feeding peanuts to them when one started to itch his head on my hand. I should have guessed there was something up as the others stood back almost whistling in innocence. Without warning the setup was sprung my head rubbing friend leant forward and grabbed the side of my watch and ripped the winder out. I stared in disbelief. That huge beak and my tiny winder from my lovely almost new only 6month old sekonda waterproof watch.

The bloody bird added insult to injury by playing with it in his beak. He rotated it like a redneck chewing on a toothpick, stuck it gently upright under his tongue and moved it round delicately. Pushed it flat and lent to his feed bowl took a sunflower seed out, shredded the skin and ate the seed. Pushed the winder out at me and cackled.
Went back to playing and took it out in his claws daring me to reach for it and making the evil heavy duty beak somehow prominent without trying. Ate some more food and shoved the winder back. Then ate food and held the winder under his tongue.
I tried blackmail, l tried to swop some nuts for the winder. He got the nuts l did not get the winder. His cohorts and dodgy macaw friends sat in smug silence watching this interplay nibbling on the odd treat from the food bowls and delicately scratching their heads as the mood took them.

Finally after 5mins l gave up and after a good swear went to walk away. With a harsh grawwk the bird delicately spat the winder out into the sand and gazed at me with the look that said “got you bitch now go grovel at my feet and look for your bloody winder”

I took the watch in for repair and it was, Tenerife fashion. I have the winder back in the hole, can not change the time, nor is it waterproof. I did use the watch for another couple of years getting into confusion at time changes till my own body clock readjusted. Now the battery is dead and the watch sits gathering dust in my draw till l get it repaired, one day.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Real VN's

In UK there is a great misconception about qualified veterinary nurses and student veterinary nurse’s that does tend to grate on us. On average it is thought we cuddle animals all day and clean up after them. I have put up some of the going on to clear up the misconception but decided to put up a bit more information on exams, wages and life.

Well we do a lot of cleaning up but as to cuddling animals all day. We do have contact with them but “spending the day cuddling animals” is not on the cards if you want to care for them properly.
Inpatients need temperatures, pulses, respirations checked, kennel’s cleaned, body functions monitored, medications given, walked or physiotherapy carried out.
Surgical interventions to assist with or carry out, veterinary nurses often do radiography, some qualified and vn's are able to do basic surgery so long as no body cavity is entered. Often nurses are in charge of wound care, the vets sorting medication but the nurses doing the cleaning and dressing, vets are generally useless at bandaging.
VN’s do dental scaling but unless the tooth is hanging out are not permitted to extract.
Veterinary nurses are the anaesthetists for the vet and at times scrub in as assistants usually to hold pull or do whatever is required by the vet. We carry out lab work, and basic vein puncture for various tests or to place iv catheters.
If we are on nurse clinics that means wound checks and redresses, discharges, post op checks, pre op admits, dental, diabetic, renal, geriatric, general animal care for many species, diet clinics, anal gland express, nail clips on and on.
Add to that in smaller veterinary practices we are also cleaners and receptionists. Being a qualified or student vn is not a role to be taken lightly.

For this the average wage for a qualified veterinary nurse is £12-16k/year. Some referral practices offer up to about £20k but that is very rare.
Nights and weekends are often worked and only tiny retainers paid. One practice l have heard of pays their nurses £1.50/night to be on call, that is only if work is carried out. They have to live in over the practice to check patients overnight and be available for the vets if called to assist and are expected to work a full day after a night shift. The night shift covers a full week. This is not unusual in the veterinary world, hence the value of emergency clinics staff are dedicated to that shift not exhausted. Not counting the fact that someone is observing the animals full time not popping down every so often.

There are several routes to becoming a qualified veterinary nurse the newest is the degree route via a university. There is also EVN (Equine Veterinary Nurse) qualifications for those who want to specialise in horses.
The standard EVN and VN course is in house training with either day or block release to a collage. The certificate is a bog standard NVQ 2 and 3 which is quite frankly a joke and a very sore point with l think all of us.

Veterinary nursing is the ONLY NVQ that is only passed based on written and practical exams. Work and learning far exceeds what is involved in any other NVQ exams.
Below is a summary of the present syllabus there are also sections on dealing with exotics in all the sections below not just cats and dogs but rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, birds etc.

Year one is written exams 2 papers in the morning and 2 in the afternoon over a day covering the year’s course:
Relationships and accountability in veterinary nursing practice
Health and Safety in veterinary nursing practice
Applied functional anatomy
Maintaining animal health
Essential veterinary nursing skills
Nursing support in the provision of veterinary services

Year two is a day of written exams 2 papers in the morning and 2 in the afternoon and a further half day of practical exams.
Application of veterinary nursing care
Practice and principles of diagnostics
Laboratory practice
Diagnostic imaging
Pharmacology and pharmacy support
Surgical theatre practice

If in more than 2 of practicals the sets are failed then a total re-sit is required. If you fail less then you can re-sit the failed practices. Failed written exams mean resitting the failed papers. Only 3 re-sits are allowed and then special dispensation is required.

We also have a portfolio of cases to be produced. On all areas, surgical, medical, behavioural, exotics, h and s, client care etc. I was unlucky enough to be in the first year of the new portfolio setup back in ‘98 time. Before that it was a little green book that got sigend every so often… bliss! And l had to go and miss it.
Since we did the first portfolio they have cut the portfolio by about 40% as apparently it was to complex and to much work when working full time, we managed it!

One of the huge points of anger is that we go through all that yet anyone stacking shelves in the supermarket one day can go and do any of those jobs and with only a brief update from someone in the practice and they and vets call them veterinary nurses.
In other words your pet goes in for even a routine operation and the person doing the anaesthetic can be first day on the job.
The "powers that be" say that the vet is in charge and keeping an eye on things, but as the vet is nose deep inside the pet they are not monitoring the patient.
All the work we do any untrained person is allowed to do and again call themselves a veterinary nurse. No matter what information they are giving out no one has monitored it to know if it is right or not.
This is all permitted as it is said there is not enough qualified vet nurses, but due to all to often appalling wages and often bad treatment from employers many do not stay long and there is a high turnover. Those that are good employers generally keep their staff for years.

You should always check who will be doing your pets anaesthesia and care or gives you advice. Are they fully qualified and listed or just auxiliaries the practice or they call “veterinary nurses”. These are often very experienced people but all too many are not, more importantly though they have no formal training.

There is a move to make qualified veterinary nurses into registered RVN. The idea is that you are then responsible for your mistakes, as a qualified listed vn the vet carries the can.
If someone qualified after 2003 then it is automatic and no choice to get an r. Those of use who qualified before 2003 have a choice of listed or rvn. I have told rcvs that l have no intention of becoming an rvn because l do not trust a vet not to try and shaft me over his mistakes and l know that l will be a scapegoat and do not believe l will get a fair hearing. Many vets are great and l trust them implicitly, but I had a vet try and shaft me several years ago hence my distrust after being burned once.
A registered vn is also meant to have a min of 45hrs CPD over 3 years. Some practices pay towards this many do not and for us locums we pay our own. A day’s cpd averages £150+ so on our wages this is not that simple. There is some cheaper evening or now as rare as hens teeth free cpd.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Chalk and Cheese

Chalk and cheese refers not to names but temperaments.

We had a small cross breed Jack Russell size in for a stitch up. Pre op we had to use a double dose of domitor to get near him (a very strong sedative) We managed to then muzzle him and drip him. When we anaesthetised him his blink reflex went and his bite stayed ... crazy situation!!.

Post op we put him in an incubator for recovery, he was so evil when he came round that we couldn't get near him, to the degree that walking into critical care had him attacking the perspex to get to us. He had to be moved to a proper kennel as the incubator was only temporary and we needed it for other patients. We had to anaesthetise him to move him over, luckily he had a drip on so we put the propoflo down that.

He had been on a 24hr critical sheet but needless to say the only stats he was going to have done were injections through his drip line and visual checks... "yup, he's alive"

As he is only about a year old he is going to be recommended to a behaviourist. We often have nasty dogs in but this one was unreal.

We had another cross breed in that had a blood transfusion he was so critical on thursday. Friday it was a like playing with a ball in a tumble dryer sorting him. All he wanted to do was play. I swear he kept wetting his bed so we had to change it and he got a cuddle and game.

Doing his stats was "fun" he kept trying to wrap his paws round the stethoscope and yank it off or stick his head up and pull it out off my ears. No point feeling for a pulse he was to fat and bouncy.

When the door was opened he would jump in and out of his kennel only taking 2 steps to tease then sitting down and grinning at you as he got a big reaction ie vetnurse yelling stop and grabbing at him. He was attached to a drip and so to far would pull it out, however he knew the exact length and stayed within range.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Out of Control

Had a situation the other evening when we left seeing my dad at the care home of how people do not train their dogs or know how to read their body language.

As we came out the carer’s were going home. One of them walked out part way across the car park with us when a guy sitting on the fence let a big chocolate lab go. He was about a year or two old and came hurtling across towards her all legs, lolling tongue and overweight happiness. Somehow chocolate labs seem to specialise in this behaviour.

We all stopped as he did take up rather a lot of room. He had a quick hello with the carer then bounced off her and ran to me. I said hi and he ran off bounced off the guy on the fence and came bounding over to me again. I managed to take his weight as he whammed into me. I tried to grab his lead but was unable to as he was so bouncy.
Off he went again on another round.
His owners watching and making no attempt to stop him l was worried he may see my mum standing behind me, she is in her 80’s and an onslaught from this elephant was going to mean trouble. He was not nasty just very heavy and stupid.

He headed for me again, l watched him like a hawk and l saw his body change, l had not taken my eyes off him so assume my mum moved. His thoughts were as open as a cloudless sky ”Ohhh a new friend ohhh gonna play with her!”…
He started to go wide around me to get to her and l flung myself at the dog, grabbed his dog lead and spun round with his weight and kept going arse over elbow as he pulled me over. I spralled in a rather undignified mess in the middle of the car park but held on and managed to stop him. This took his mind off my mum and he assumed we would have a game instead so he bounced back to me.
Finally the carer made a move and took him from me, mumbled a sorry and she, boyfriend and overexcited dog left.

I had a word with management the next day and they tried to say that they had nothing to do with the car park. I made my point that had the dog hit my mum at his speed and weight she would have been in hospital. Had there been a child or other person scared of dogs again who knows what situation would have arisen. I stressed the dog was nice just stupid, very overweight and not under control he did not have a nasty bone in him. Just learn to control the dog. The nurse said she would try and find the carer and have a word whether she did or not l don’t know.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Backs and Lifting.

I have just done 3 nights and last night went and scrunched my back. We had a collapsed dog in she is about 40kg. She was lying on the floor in prep where she lay down when she was brought down the back. I managed to get her onto a nice big duvet on my own. I dragged her to critical care ward while she looked a bit like a queen gazing at one of her minions pulling her carriage.
The locum vet helped me to lift the duvet about 2 foot off the floor to slide dog and duvet into the kennel and l felt and think heard a sort of rippy tear sound and instant agony just above my hip. I managed to push the duvet in without dropping it and gasped at one of the other nurses to push the patient in properly. I couldn't believe it l have done this manoeuvre hundreds of times before with no trouble.

I staggered to a chair and collapsed, after a couple of minutes l thought l better get some pain killer in me so managed to stagger to my bag and get a couple of ibuprofen then back to collapse into the chair. After about 5minutes of pouring sweat and feeling faint l remembered l was due to put another lot of eye drops into a cats eyes. I went to icu and gasped at the change over nurse's what needed doing. The pair of them looked at me like l was from planet zog and one said for gods sake sit down. Yup l will do when l can hoist myself from the door post and know l won't fall over, luckily the chair was close.

After about 20minutes sitting l stood up to move, well stagger hunched up as l didn't want to seize up. The about to go off duty nurse said that l had some colour back. Apparently when l staggered into icu about the eye drops l was black eyed my skin was past pale and had a yellow tinge to it and l was pouring sweat great no wonder she thought l was about to kark it on the floor.

The vet went from laughing at me to worried at her description and told me to put ice packs on it then sit back down and asked if l wanted him to get me a coffee or anything else, he was very sweet still, l owe him for laughing at me l shall plot revenge.
Great ice packs l hate the cold, l microwave salads now you want me to wear ice packs. Things settled down during the evening. I refused to be booted home and just did not pick up anything bigger than a cat. I also tried to avoid doing patients in bottom kennels.
I did do the ditzy bulldog. He was so bouncy and fun for a bulldog it was quite a shock, normally they are very staid and sober. He was happy to jump in and out of his kennel when told to as l had to clean his bed.

I went out to triage a collapsed cat and my bloody ice pack slid down my trousers while l was talking, l backed away holding the cat box trying to look dignified and managed to get the ice pack leg into the consult room as the ice pack slid out all the way.

I will be rethinking my lifting for the next few days/weeks, ie wont be lifting anything heavier than a cat for the foreseeable future while things settle, continue working and take my ibuprofen think that is really the only thing to do.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Hearts and Autopsies

I am at my favourite vets Mike Martins Heart Referral for 3 days. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The worst part has been the heat, as much as l like hot l hate the stickyness.

The only problem with the here at the moment is that the bedroom is on the 3rd floor and all the heat has gone straight up and set up a home in the bedroom, l have the wondows open but the heat is holding tight screaming "no chance l aint going out there l like it here".

I have suddenly realised that there is sound on 2 of the computers so it has widened my options of reading and internet to listening to podcasts on the bbc, and looking at various freeview programmes. I had a look at the new channel4 programme that l missed on Monday night, autopsies on various large mammals that have died. Inside Natures Giants amazing, but l kept feeling sorry for the elephant keeper who l am sure was told what was going to happen and all l could think of was how upset he would probably be at her being an item for a tv programme.

Wibs had her heart scanned yesterday to see how it is doing. Great news is that the preassure is down slightly it was 4 and now it is down to an average of 3.5 so the kamagra is working.
She is still on her Asprin but l cut her from 1 1/4 2xs a day to 1. She put her back out (again) and a vet friend said put her up to 1 1/2 tablets 2xs a day for a few days she had a bad stomach reaction within 2 doses and ended up not having any for several days while the D+ settled down. It took such a small amount to tip her over l decided to cut her down slightly.

I buy her kamagra online 24/100mg tablets are £28. I decided to see how much the genuine viagra would cost and nearly fell off my pearch. 16/100mg tablets are between £230 to £290. She is staying on Kamagra. I crush the Viagra into some doggie chocs rollthem into a sausage and cut them into 8. So long as l wipe a bit of butter onto the doggie choc she eats them.
For those of you who are puzzled by the above and why Wibble would be on Kamagra (generic Viagra) this will explain

I was having a read of one of Mikes human heart magazines today and an article caught my eye. A study is beinng carried out for the best treatment for Myocardial infarction The first english patient to be signed up was done so by an ambulanceman.
Wow what a job it had to have been dreamed up by experts. I don't envy the ambulance crews having to get the people to agree.

Ahh well l am going to sign off and try and have a sleep if l can without cooking.