Over the coming months each of our vets will be writing blogs, giving insights into some of our day to day jobs, interesting cases and funny encounters.
As I sit down to write what is the inaugural piece, a wave of nostalgia washes over me, as today marks my 2 year anniversary of moving to Wales and working at Arberth Vets. Instead of regaling you of what I have been up to this past week, I thought I would go over a couple of old cases that never fail to put a smile on my face.
One of the great pleasures of this job is that we get the opportunity to teach and mentor students on a regular basis. I am sure many of you have had the good fortune of meeting some of these eager beavers in recent times. There are many cases where these student have excelled themselves, but there is one in particular that comes to mind.
Having just finished our evening calls and heading back to the practice, myself and two students (Elsbeth and Lara), receive an emergency call from the clinic. One of our farmers had been on the phone as had just came across one of his new born calves in the field, on its back with blood jetting out of its umbilicus “like a water fountain”, he was understandably concerned. While we hastily made our way to the farm I quizzed the girls on what they thought was going on, what they would do and how they would do it, getting them into a state of readiness for whatever we would be presented with.
As we pulled onto the yard, the farmer had everything prepared for us, the calf had been moved to a nice clean shed with buckets of warm water at hand. it was pleasing to see these two aspiring vet students get stuck in right away. They examined the young animal, initially checking that the bleeding had stopped, before carrying a full examination. Together they informed me how they wanted to treat and manage this poorly calf, they delegated the jobs between each other and sprung right into action. It was an incredible feeling watching them save this young animal with such confidence and proficiency, neither having had much previous experience working with cattle. Many would have been daunted by the thought of gushing blood from an ever worsening calf, but not these two. We left the farmer giving him a guarded prognosis, as the young calf had lost quite a lot of blood, but were optimistic as it had made efforts to stand just as we were leaving.
A few weeks later I had found myself on the same farm to carry out some castrations and a few other jobs, the famer asks me if I would have a look at something for him, we headed across the yard and peer into a shed full of calves. “which one do you want me to look at”, he points out a light brown heifer calf that towers over the rest, “that’s the one that almost died, best calf I’ve got so far”. As I was leaving he asked if I would get in touch with the two girls to tell them that he said thank you, and to tell them they had done a good job. From a farmer this is high praise indeed, so I made sure to message both girls to pass that on. Things like that are fantastic for students, follow up on their cases is key for their development and progression, but more importantly it’s a fantastic reminder to them that they are good enough and capable enough to become great vets, a fact that sometimes gets eroded away at vet school as so much time is spent reading and learning about the theory behind everything, the practical side of veterinary medicine often feels like a daunting prospect.
The second case was yet another emergency, this time it was a young collie called Frost who came in to see Louisa, who was the on-call vet, late on a Saturday night. Frosts owners were very concerned as he had been vomiting and had become quite lethargic, thankfully they wasted no time and brought him straight away. Louisa examined Frost thoroughly and decided to take radiographs of his abdomen which revealed a bit of a surprise. A large spherical foreign body could be seen lodged in his Gastrointestinal tract. Louisa gave me a call to see if I could operate on Frost that night, it being St Patricks night, I told her she was lucky to find one of the few sober Irish men about.
By the time I arrived at the clinic, Louisa had the operating theatre all set up, we brought him straight through and began his operation. When we located the Foreign body, it had damaged quite a large section of intestine as it was trying to make its way along. Sadly due to the nature of the damage we had to remove this section of bowel (52 cm in total), and then suture the healthy edges back together. Frost recovered well from his operation and we were able to move him into recovery where he was placed on a drip and given extensive pain medication. Conforming to the typical surgeon stereotype, I disappeared shortly after finishing the operation, leaving all the hard work to Louisa. She diligently monitored him through the night, checking vital signs, checking his IV fluids and making sure his pain management was appropriate.
The following day I was very pleased to hear that Louisa had managed to get frost to take some liquid feed and drink a bit of water. From there he never looked back, 10 days later we were removing his stitches and he has been in amazing health since.
Frost was very luck his owners brought him in when they did, he was lucky that Louisa found the foreign object when she did and I suppose he was lucky I gave up alcohol for lent too.
This last one isn’t so much of a case, rather just a nice story. A friend of mine, Steph, messaged me saying that she had found a puppy and wondered if I could give him a look over. Of course no sane person would ever turn down the opportunity to play with a puppy, so I headed over stethoscope and microchip scanner in hand. Recently Steph, her sister Rachel and brother Mark opened up the very successful Pembrokeshire Wake Park near Martletwy, so not far from the practice. I gave the dog a good examination and apart from a minor urinary tract infection he was in great health. Unfortunately he had no microchip, so the guys asked around to see if anyone had lost him. When no-one was forthcoming, the siblings decided to adopt him as they had become very attached having already re-named him Dewi, he had also become great company for Bryn, their handsome collie. From there we micro-chipped and vaccinated the new addition and he has been settling into life brilliantly. I often pop into the wake park to visit Dewi, and if I’m honest I always leave feeling a little jealous, this lucky pup has well and truly landed on his paws as he has found an incredibly loving home in a little piece of paradise nestled away in the Pembrokeshire hills. I would whole heartedly recommend you pay Dewi and Bryn a visit up at the wake park, as you’ll receive a warm welcome not only from the dogs but also from Steph, Rachel and Mark. Their wake boarding experience has been receiving rave reviews, but if that’s not your thing, they make an incredible cup of coffee which you can enjoy in beautiful dog friendly surroundings.
As a vet I get asked all the time “what made you want to be a vet?”, which is quite a difficult question to answer, the decision was often made so long ago with multiple factors contributing to it. I often think the more important question is “what makes you want to keep working as a vet?” as this profession has a very high attritional rate, and is both a physical and emotional rollercoaster at time, where many vets leave the profession within their first five years. The cases I have spoken about above are very rewarding, but don’t occur every week, the ones we get the most joy from are the day to day cases were small interventions make huge differences, whether that’s paring out an abscess in a horses foot, treating a calf with pneumonia or helping a dog manage its weight. During my two years here, I have had so many rewarding cases and interactions with both the animals and their owners, it’s been a genuine pleasure and I hope to see many of you soon. Remember we are always on hand to give advice and help out with any problems or questions you have with your animals, it’s always better to give us a call rather than worry needlessly.