Wednesday, 28 April 2010


We were discussing the best way to deal with the large dog recovering in critical care, he was to big to fit comfortably in the kennel and should we put him on the mattress when he had a reputation for a bit of a bad temper when the fire alarm went off.
I mumbled “Who is making toast can’t they do it without burning it”
An auxiliary said nervously it isn’t Wednesday test day what’s happening. True to form we all ignored it. The phone went, for a change someone was free enough to answer it instead of all of us swearing at it. They put the phone down and said "It isn’t a drill we have a fire in reception we have to evacuate…and leave the animals bags and everything".

This was what everyone who works with animals dreads. In human hospitals they evacuate patients in animal ones they leave them. Small surgeries maybe they could grab the patients as they often only have a couple but we have to many. If we started to collect them we would get side tracked and it could end up a disaster. I grabbed my bag which was on the side. A vet ran into dog kennels and brought out her dog and we all walked out. Praying like hell that it wouldn’t spread, the fire doors would hold long enough if it did and that the fire brigade would get the hell there FAST. The building is huge and with luck it would be confined to the reception.

I was one of the last out and as l came out some one said “oh you will know”
I looked up. “huh?”
The question was continued “Who was on duty are we all out?”
“How the hell should l know we are mid change over some have gone all l know is we have no new ones in as we are heading to evening shift”

I looked at the door worrying and made a decision. Walking over to the head vet l said.
“The oxygen is turned on if it spreads and hits those pipes it will feed it l am going back in to turn the oxygen off at the taps is that ok”
“Yes ok” Had l been told no l would have hesitated but l was given a green light.
So l broke every rule in the book and hoped that l would not risk some fireman’s life if it went sour but l was worried about those oxygen lines.
I went back in the lights were out and the oxygen room was black a pitch. I turned all 4 cylinders off and then got the hell out of there. Smoke was filling the space and my heart rate went up by about 300 however l just walked calmly out and back to the car park.

Once out there l stood with the others a couple of minutes then realised we still had the cars parked in the way. Mine was by the building, l got mine calling to folks to get them shifted as they would need the space for the tenders. A couple couldn’t be moved as keys were still inside the building.

Some people were turning up for appointments but were stopped. A couple of owners had turned up and were understandably upset about the animals being left in, it was not what we wanted either.
What we really needed was the fire brigade. I know time stretches but they were taking a hell of a long time. Pops and bangs and flashes were coming out of reception and fuse boxes and smoke was snaking up through the roof. Occasional sirens could be heard but none that sounded like they were getting closer and heading to help us they just faded away.

Finally the long awaited sound reached us and grew steadily. Number 1 engine arrived followed closely by number 2. Anyone who says the police take a long time has not waited outside a burning vet’s with animals inside waiting for the fire brigade it is not just a long time it is eons.
The guys headed into the building and as they seemed to be relaxed about everything l decided that things were under control and l wanted some photos. I moved closer to them snapping.
The rabble (workmates) were worried and yelling at me about what was l doing and to get back. As usual l ignored them and just moved closer. If l was a problem l had no doubt the men in helmets would let me know. The rabble behind could chorus all they wanted. Knowing me of old the shouts died down to mutterings. I ended up leaning against the entrance railing it was obvious it was safe there.
The fire alarm was still screaming away and l ended up having to nip across the car park at a helmeted men’s request to get the bosses to find someone who knew the code. Bloody thing was giving everyone a head ache.

As it all seemed to be under control after about 15 minutes l asked if l could get back in to check animals. This was granted; at this point the vet with the recovering big dog came over and asked if he could go back in as well. We borrowed a flashlight from the helmeted men and went into the building while they continued checking all over the 2 floors for anything that had spread. I assume as we were allowed back in though they were not too concerned. I think everyone else was held back though.

The electric was out and emergency generator had not cut in so it was pitch black as there are no windows. We went to critical care ward the recovering dog was lying by the door and like an elephant to shift, he just couldn’t see any reason to shift just cause we wanted him to but eventually got the message. I shone the torch round and we did a check on the patients then l left the vet in critical ward in the dark and did a round of all other patients, most were having a sleep and no animals were stressed by the smell of smoke.

After about 10minutes the emergency lights came on and the rest of the staff filtered in. Kennels with cats and some critical animals were pushed out of the building. Other cats were placed in cat carriers. Larger dogs were walked out by firemen who were briefed on how to walk a dog while holding a drip bag.
I wish l had got the picture of the day. A big fireman carrying a small bulldog puppy out like a baby looking down and cooing to him, the bulldog looking up at him wondering who the heck had the cheek to wake him up even if it was for a nice cuddle. He had been fast asleep when l checked him oblivious of the drama going on around him.

Once all the animals were out we started to collect all we would need to decamp for an unknown time to a branch surgery. A couple of owners collected their pets that were discharged in the car park. The collection van ferried those inpatients that were to stay in to the branch. It also ran equipment, drugs, drips, kits, bedding, animal food and anything else we could think of.
By 19:00 we were settling into a cramped space in the new building and the patients who were staying in were settled into new kennels. Several new emergencies arrived they needed minor ops and these were done asap and collected the same night to keep kennels and rooms free for major emergencies as we were so limited. 2 Consult rooms had to be pressed into use as walk in kennels for big dogs.
One charity client who was rang to collect their dog said “We’ll do it tomorrow we are holding a party” and turned their phone off. This left us fuming as the op had been done with agreement they would come as soon as called, that was the only unpleasant marring though.

We spent 2 nights at the branch. On the Friday l went over to the main surgery as we were sick of sending requests and getting a bit of what we wanted. I rolled in to a picnic taking place. ¾ of the staff were there tiding the building up and taking advantage to give it all a deep clean. My mission went on hold while l ate 2 HUGE pieces of pizza and felt ill l never learn eyes and stomach!!

The electricians managed to get us a big generator and patched through so we could move “home”. The main incoming cable needs replacing and the fuse board has been rebuilt. So for the foreseeable future it is generator goodness knows when UU will get their act in gear to get the main incoming supply sorted but l understand it is a fairly major job.

Work got us a choice of a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates as a thank you. It may not seem like a lot but it was great that we had been remembered, the old boss (now retired) would not have done anything as a thank you.

Friday, 23 April 2010

It's Only an Arm

I decided on this blog after reading Coldsteelrains post about his parachute jump to raise money for Combat Stress and his other blog post and Donation page link then his tweet about this oh good grief. It got me wondering why someone with 1000 jumps could not use her other hand for her reserve.

My other half celebrated 30years skydiving last year. As usual l missed the party due to work but l digress. About 8 years ago he was in a formation that funnelled, in other words it fell apart. The lass who happened to be holding hub’s arm grabbed harder instead of letting go, she went over his head still holding his arm and pulled it out of it’s socket.

He said he had that “opps” moment and decided that as his arm was waving at everyone with no control he had better get his reserve out which he did when he got to normal opening altitude. Like many skydivers he hates the canopy ride looks on it like a taxi ride, the fun is before so do not open till you reach opening altitude.

I was reading and glanced up to see if l could spot his canopy. I never bother watching so am never sure which is him, if l am not doing l get no enjoyment watching others doing and enjoying. A good book is more fun.

I saw a reserve and it looked like hubs jumpsuit colour. I scanned looking for a floating main and couldn’t so hoped someone had spotted it but no jumpers were pealing off following a different path as they do when they follow a main to save a fellow jumper a couple of £1000 so l wondered if he had a total mal. I sighed and went over to greet him landing. A few other jumpers came running over. Being a worried wife l was thinking of cost of main and freebag (called that due to action not free of cost), cost of various other bits of hardware and also reserve repack I have my priorities right.

By now hub had landed next to the pit (a gravel circle the closer to the centre the more points you get in accuracy competitions) and folded flat onto the ground near me. At least l did not have to go far. I grabbed the reserve and helped collapse it and pulled it round to him holding his arm.
It is dislocated he said don’t touch me help me get this lot off (equipment) I looked down at him, all my wifey sympathy bubbled up.
“Well thank fuck you put the new French doors in during the week cause god knows when you will get round to it now”
“I am more worried about work he said l am off in a week” At this point he worked away at sea but they let him go as he said he could do the work one armed with a helper.
I let the other jumpers get his equipment off.
The co owner of the centre arrived holding a mug of tea for him. Hang on said hub let me get this lot off. Eventually he sat up and held out his hand for the mug.
“Sorry mate” said his friend “l was thirsty and it looked good l drank it”
“Got an ambo coming” said the CCI walking over with a big cheesy grin.
“WHATTT don’t be stupid l am not going in it what did you waste a call for? Someone else will need it more than me we can go when l get home go cancel it”
As he started to argue the nee naww men turned up.
Hub started to apologise to them for wasting the call. They were fine and said that as they would have taken him 180 deg. to a hospital about 10miles the other way to where we were going agreed it was stupid to go with them it wasn’t like he was dying. They suggested we stop at Lancaster if needed or go to the local a & e when we got home.
Much to hubs disgust they got a mug of tea each and one even accepted a slice of cake as well while he remained dry they agreed with my veto on drinks in case of ga….. lifes tough.

As it turned out l decided on Lancaster A & E l was tired of his moaning at bumps in the road and grey pallor. Despite his muttering just bloody go home. Once there they did try and relocate it with heavy sedation but it was no use his screams echoed through the department.
“We have almost given him the total amount of morphine and midazalam for his size we can said a worried Dr to me and he won’t go down to sleep properly”
Wifey sympathy once more hit high speed “Whack in all you can then just give a bloody good go and ignore his screams, you won’t have to put up with his moaning if he needs a GA” l said.
The Dr looked at me like l had 2 heads but l just glared back, he sighed shook his head and walked back.
Still no luck he needed surgery. I once more short circuited his options taking his clothes when l left to stop him catching a train the next day while l was at work and he was stuck till l collected him later. I knew him of old and he would stagger out post surgery after discharging himself half dead to get back as he hates hospitals.

The final kicker was the next day when the surgeon sought him out to chat skydiving and said. “Well you did a good job one bitch of an arm to replace and anyhow what’s someone your age doing falling out of aero planes” He did apologise for the age crack when told firmly that hub was having fun.

On showing him the article on the female skydiver hub asked same as l did what is an experienced person doing that they can not use their other arm they have got 2 and only one was damaged he also muttered smugly l landed next to the pit.

Hub in a 36way last year

Monday, 19 April 2010

Maluka Honey Foot

We had a lovely young dog about 6moths old 30kg a cross breed brought in. He had his foot injured in an RTA. He was a stray and in with us until healed and rehomed or reclaimed
I was on the night he came in. He was very nervous but sweet. I popped him onto the table and set about cleaning his foot, l also placed an iv and fluids.

Before l started to clean l took photos but couldn’t get photos between the toes as they were too sore to open. Also placed a paper ruler around the feet to try and show the size of the swelling, it did not come out to well on the photos but worked enough.
He was good as gold for his first foot dressing just laying there, with one person holding him, while l cleaned, dried and dressed it. The foot was very swollen and there was a nasty wound on the outer aspect of the medial toe and the vet was not sure if the toe would need amputation. The top of the foot also had sores and in between the digits as well, these wounds were deep up into the toe creases.

Because he was a bit wriggly the honey went everywhere, well it seemed to but eventually the foot was dressed, honey was cleaned off all of us and he was placed in a kennel with duvet food and water after some jabs of pain killer, anti-inflammatory and antibiotics.
I was on duty for his first few days and we hit it off from the start. In fact l was the only one he seemed to be happy with and l always got great sloppy kisses. He kennel guarded but allowed me to go in and get him out.

He was to have dressing changes daily for the first 3 days then in theory every 3 days but the problem was when l was off he got the taste for the honey. The little “sod” had learnt how to somehow crush his buster collar, push his foot close enough and suck the toe end out then eat the inner dressing.
This means that he has at times had up to 3 dressing changes in a day. At times things went well and it was 24hrs between dressings. The problem was we use maluka honey dressings which is brilliant for wounds somehow he got the end of the dressing off one day so of course once he tasted it he knew exactly where to find the yummy taste. Buster collars only helped so much and he was on the biggest usable size/neck/head, any bigger they almsot fell down his body the collar neck was so big.

Dressing changes were always amazing as he just lay there while he was changed. The helper never had to do anything other than try and keep his tail from whisking up to hard and waggling his bum and then his leg. Once his dressing was off was a bit more work as he wanted to lick his foot for more honey.

One morning I found yet another bare toed foot peeking out at me at 05:00 and as l was alone no vet (gone to bed) no auxiliary (gone home) 2nd nurse (gone home) l did some cussing, got the dressing materials and set to dressing the foot on my own. If it did not work then l would buzz the vet to get his carcass out of his bed and come and help but l decided to see how things went first.

Up till now he had always had 2 people doing the dressing changes, a holder and a wound dresser. I grabbed a front and back leg and pull pushed his 30kg down he flopped happily on his side on his duvet. We made sure he had a duvet as despite being a monumental pain in the arse eating his dressings he was everyone’s favourite. He didn’t kennel guard any more and just wanted loads of loving.
Once he was flat l pinned his neck till he got the message and lay still, l also muttered endearments to him on what l would do if he moved, which he ignored after the first couple of comments.
I cut the old dressing off with a scalpel and had to get very firm as he tried to grab my hand, not ideal with a sharp scalpel blade in it. He lay back and sulked, trying the big “poor unloved me” look, this time it didn’t work due to the situation.

I threw the blade back out the kennel as far as l could then got the old dressing off. By mistake l dropped it by me. “Shark teeth” saw a possible source of honey and while the back end obeyed my command to lay flat the top side lifted and made a grab. A short tug of war and unhooking bandages trapped round teeth the dirty dressing joined the scalpel as far away as possible.
Another firm push and this time l placed my right leg firmly on his neck to hold him down. He figured play time and rolled to try and eat my foot, another tussle and he lay sulking planning his next move.

I unwrapped the new dressings and felt his body tense, glaring at him and muttered some more rude words so he lay back staring at the dressing pack. Watching out of the corner of my eye l saw his look change to "yup there came the tube of honey it just had to be all for me".
A rather stern comment from me and a threat of clubbing him to death with a soggy bread roll (my ultimate threat) brought obedience. Actually it was more the fact l grabbed his head mid lunge and held it back flat on the duvet that got through to him.

I cleaned and dried the foot and threw the cleaning swabs and drying cotton wool l had used well away from him. Then l got the dressing on, he was a bit ticklish with the foot but did lie still. As soon as l was done he leapt up and tried to grab all the dressing material he could while l fought to remove it. Bloody dog what part of “drop it you useless ************” did he not understand? Thank goodness the scalpel was far away. And yes he got lots of cuddles and some doggie treats for being almost so well behaved despite a few lapses.

After about 3 weeks of steady dressing changes the foot was hugely improved, he still had his toe and was awaiting his new home.
When we had a quiet spell at night one of us would go and get him out to have a play with us in the medical prep area, he would then go exploring. Listening to our “oy out of there” and looking back over his shoulder trying to decide if he should go into the animal ward or laundry room or wherever he was being ordered out of if is really worth going in. Curiosity won about 50% of the time, he would come belting out trying to look innocent when he heard us heading for him to haul him out.
Animal food kitchen was a special favourite as that is where the treats are and he knew that someone is going to get him something and if he plays the cute card right lot’s of something’s.

The dressing continued but he was getting wrigglier, first photos he hurt to much to move but as wounds healed he wriggled and with a camera phone it ended up blurred however the photos give an idea of the healing going on. The timings on the photos are approximate in weeks.

(if anyone has problems seeing the photos please let me know my photos seem to be playing up on some computers)

Original wound's on admit

Size of damaged foot compared to normal one, on the normal one the paper wraps back under itself, on the damaged one the ends do not meet

Week 2 wounds on pads healing and also top of foot

Week 2 main wound granulating nicely

Week 3 wounds between toes clear and able to open toes

Main wound week 3

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Parachute Hangup

Found this in one of hubs skydiving books. A famous story of how back in the 70's a student in UK had a hang up in a cessna. His deployed his reserve to early before he was free and while he was still attached to the plane the photo is from the top of the photo downwards:

Reserve parachute
Student (black dot in middle)

Click on the photo a couple of times to enlarge it and read the full story.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Alternative Door

The following happened a time ago and had us all laughing in disbelief. The little bitch was a sweetie totally unharmed by the night’s proceedings and took it all in her stride.

The owner had gone down to the pub and taken his dog with him. He had had more drink than was good for put it bluntly he was totally pissed, from here it is surmising but:
Unable to work his front door key when he got home he took the next logical step.
He smashed the lounge window. Not sure how he did this as windows are meant to have safety glass.
Once the way was clear he threw the dog into the lounge, lets face it if she climbed in she may have cut herself.

The police and ambulance were called to take him away where he was treated to we are told “rather severe hand and arm wounds” before he had shiny new bracelets decorating his wrists.
The little bitch was collected and spent the night with us in a comfy bed. Actually she had a duvet folded into 4 and was lost in the middle of it snuggled down with a big bowl of food and water by the bed for refreshments.

The real problem with the above situation was that the drunk gentleman smashed in the lounge window of the house he used to live in. We did wonder if that was also the reason his key did not work?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Tortoise Cruelty Case

This post is not for the squeamish. It is upsetting l know because l am still upset and angry and l deal with death every day but this is for me a very personal death.

I was doing an anaesthetic a couple of nights ago when the locum vet came in and asked for advice on how to put a tortoise to sleep. She had one in that needed doing asap and was worried as they are so difficult to deal with.

The owners thought it very funny when they described how they threw it to their dog to play with and how it ripped into it and vomited up the part it had swallowed of the tortoise a few minutes after swallowing it.
The vet is reporting it but l think it may not get prosecuted due to the fact the owners took it to the vet and how do you prove other than they found it funny and admitted to doing it do you prove it was deliberate.
Time has proved me correct they said almost those words, l know certainly the local rspca attitude it is very hard to get them to do anything, the animal collection officers do try but the higher up the tree the less help you get. Playing devils advocate how would you prove it they would deny it but even so it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

I said if she got one of the other nurses to take over my job l would sort it for her and show her how to pith it. She sent in the spare nurse and l went off to look for some tools, a hammer and sharp longish object/s.

There are only about 3 recommended ways to kill a tortoise but only really one works and if you use the others you should always pith them to make sure as they can shunt blood supply from parts of their body and survive long periods anoxia (without oxygen) cutting off the head is not a way as they can survive for a long time l saw article that said up to an hour. The following is actually the recommended BSAVA method adapted*

First the tortoise was given a very big dose of ketamine. Then *placed in a small anaesthetic chamber (plastic tupperware box with pipe into it that the anaesthetic tubing attaches to. He was in this for about 15 minutes to attempt to help relax him. This may or may not have worked due to my comments on surviving without oxygen,and could well just have been the ketamine kicking in but all means to help are utilised.
When l took him out l hated to do it but still had to pull his head out of his shell but he was by now a lot more lax and did not have much resistance. I got the vet to hold his head.
Then the needle was placed on the top of his skull above the brain stem and driven in l then opted for a slightly larger but very sharp dental drill (unused) which l again hit into the brain stem with my makeshift hammer (an orthopaedic tool) several times to totally destroy it.
The feeling is awful as you crunch through bone and feel and hear it splinter knowing it is driving into the brain along with whatever you are using (needle/drill head).
*Although BSAVA just say once the vet who showed me said to do it several times to make sure.
*I then stood for about 20 mins watching for any signs of life and getting others to check as well. With a tortoise or turtle l stand and look really look hard for any signs of life and gently pull limbs to see if any with draw reflex. In this case it means looking at horrendous injuries. Again this is not part of the standard advice but l want to make sure the poor creature is really dead.

Normally we put an animal down with a clean needle and after the owners goodbyes you then go back and take care of it fast as no reason to stop and stare.

You can see the major injury with the ripped off shell, what does not show up is the damage to the internal section of the body. Underneath the shell is puncture wounds. The skirt where the shell flares out from the body is fractured like a wobbly tooth and lifts up in sections. Smaller holes are in the upper shell as well, some can be seen.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Killer Korma

I gave the prep table a quick wipe and threw a couple of incontinence sheets over it. I then placed on it a 4 pint bottle of milk, a tub of mayonnaise, a tub of natural yogurt and a large roll of blue paper (used to clean kennels etc)
Pushed a chair up and checked the “table to mouth ratio” was correct and the table did not need to go up or down. Finally sat and read my book while l waited for the microwave in the food prep to ping on my chicken korma curry.

It may seem an odd table setting but given the slum that passes for a staff room l have been eating my shift meals off the medical prep table for the last 10 years, when l have had time to eat. If you swabbed the staff room and swabbed the prep table l know what would be cleaner. And anyhow it had a couple of clean kennel incontinence sheets over it.

At the ping l went and pulled my korma curry out of the microwave trying not to burn my fingers as l peeled the plastic off the top.
Then sitting down l plonked a couple of huge spoons of mayo on my korma and swirled it in.
Carefully l took a bite. My face went red, sweat broke out on me, tears started to track down my face my mouth shrivelled in pain and my taste buds screamed as the hot spice hit them. I was determined to crack this curry eating though.
I grabbed the bottle of milk and took a healthy slug like an alcoholic downing his most desperate drink of the day.
A wipe of the face and another bit of blue roll for quick nose blow as the sweat caused my nose to run with fluid as well as my skin and eyes.
Wincing at the thought of all that curry heat still to go l chucked a couple of large spoons of natural yogurt onto my korma and swirled that in with the mayonnaise to try and kill the hot spice.

Another bite and another glugggggg of milk.. a very long one and more blue roll, more mayo. I had a very white looking korma that was going cold with all the condiments but still very spicy. It was surrounded by a small sea of discarded blue roll. And a red faced tear and sweat sniffing human (me) was bent over it.

By now my helpful co-workers were in stitches at my discomfort at what they claimed was so mild it was a stew not a curry. I glared at them and the vet informs me that it is better than watching tv watching me trying to eat what he sneeringly calls a meat stew. Ok so don’t call my korma a curry, but it is bloody spicy.

10 minutes later with sweat pouring off my bright red face, almost all of the milk downed in desperate gulps l reach the end of my spicy chicken korma.
My helpful “voices of advice” aka co-workers push off to do something useful. I throw my empty korma container, table cloths (incontinence sheets) and sea of blue roll into the bin, take one last gulp of milk and go off to look for some constructive work.
Sitting down relaxing on a dinner break while my mouth is burning and my taste buds are singed is not much of a break. Things are improving though l ate the whole lot tonight. I may bring in a tub of butter with my next meal, l hear that’s good for killing spices.

I will be at it again the following night (work time permitting) trying to get myself used to curry because l think by not eating spicy dishes l am loosing out on something. If l ever get the hang of curry’s and spice l may just discover what l am missing out on.
For the moment all l can figure l am missing is my taste buds and an unburnt mouth. I am hoping after all this hell l am not wrong about missing out on something yummy…am l?

I have been on my korma curry experiment for about a year and a half now at home and work. Sometimes l can eat the whole lot provided it is always drowned in mayo, the yogurt doesn't help much. I have found the best way is to get 2 pieces of bread thick with butter and slap as much korma n mayo in the middle as l can and have a “korma sandwich”. When that is eaten I then eat any chunks of chicken left and avoid the rest of the curry.

I remembered a post l did on curry a couple of years ago for those who have not read it l decided to recycle it in the best tradition of saving the environment.
Curry Contest