Vet Surgeon Steve Jones
My First Blog. “No two days are the same.”
When I was first asked to write about a few of my cases I thought it would be easy. The problem came in choosing which ones over the past 42 years. There have been a lot of interesting and touching cases over the years, and a few amusing moments.
There was a German Sheppard called Max, not the world’s nicest dog by a long stretch. Over the years Max and I had had a few altercations in the consulting room, usually resulting in blood loss (mine). Late one summer evening I received a phone call from Max’s owner. He had been hit by a train while he was being exercised on a foot path alongside the railway line. I drove over and eventually found them as the light was failing. Together we managed to carry an unconscious Max about a mile and a half back to the car park and transported him back to surgery.
His owner had taken him along the path as it was rarely used and gave Max a chance to have a good run. He has spotted something on the other side of the rail track and chased across after it, directly in front of the fairly slow moving good trains. His owner has tried to call him back and he had stopped on the track. The wheel of the train had hit him just behind the shoulder. He had been knocked clear by the impact but then, in true Max fashion, he struggled to his feet and attacked another of the wheels.
Once we got him into the light at the surgery and carried out a proper examination the extent of his injuries became apparent. His shoulder blade was badly fractured, as was the upper part of his humerus. He had multiple rib fractures resulting in a flail chest and a punctured lung. His retaliation has resulted in his lower jaw being crushed and several fractures of his upper jaw and the bone below his eye socket.
It looked like the end of the road for Max but his owner was insistent we tried to save him. After an all night surgery we managed to protect his airway and stabilise his chest and extract the rib fragment which had damaged his lung. His leg was splinted and a feeding tube fitting.
He proved a tough character and began to rally. Over the next couple of weeks he had further operations to repair his shoulder blade and humerus, and his facial fractures were repaired. This left us with a crushed lower jaw to sort out. He couldn’t be tube fed forever.
On one side we were able to salvage enough bone to build a slightly short jaw with some teeth, the other side we managed to construct a frame using bone pins and plates to link the remaining bone at the angle of his jaw to the side we had reconstructed. Within two months of his horrific accident he was walking on his damaged leg, with a bit of a limp he never really lost, and was eating softened food from his dish.
He came into surgery for his 3 month check up and demonstrated how well his jaw reconstruction was working. As I wiped the blood from my arm I admit to muttering about gratitude!
Sometimes pets manage to embarrass their owners. One that came to mind was Charlie. Charlie was an African Grey Parrot who belonged to one of the local ministers. His owner was renowned for hellfire and damnation sermons and would take to task anyone he heard swearing anywhere,often leaving them red faced after his tirade on the evils of foul language.
Charlie suffered from misalignment of his beak and came in periodically to have it, and his claws, trimmed. He wasn’t the easiest bird to handle so we would put Charlie and his owner into one room while we carried on with consults in another. One occasion is took the owner some time to catch him, there had been an awful lot of clattering and banging coming from the room. It turned out that Charlie had managed to escape and had been flying around the room. He was an accomplished talker and the minister would proudly, tell people how quickly he could pick up phrases repeated to him. As he was waiting at the desk to pay his bill the minister’s face was becoming redder and redder as Charlie chanted “Come here ya silly bugger, Come here ya silly bugger”. Amongst a bustling waiting room it was amazing how fast that story spread around the village.
Some of the pets I’ve treated have made me think that not only people should qualify for the Darwin awards. The first orthopaedic procedure I carried out on my own, was pinning a femoral fracture on the newly acquired guard dog at a local transport cafe. He’d broken his leg chasing (and catching) a truck that was parking. A few days after I’d removed his stitches I got a call that he’d chased (and caught) another truck and was now very lame on his opposite leg. X ray revealed a fracture of the radius and ulna which we repaired with a plaster. About a fortnight later, another call came in, he’d done it again, this time breaking his tibia on the other hind leg. I plastered it but after care was carried out with his new owner, a long way from any traffic.
Another case was Rex, a Rottweiler who was a really friendly dog with people and other dogs but hated cats with a passion. His owners had a new patio installed and replaced the window with a patio door. The neighbour’s cat walked across the new patio and Rex spotted it. He went through the glass of one of the patio doors to try and chase it. I spent most of the afternoon repairing his wounds while his owners got an emergency glazier to repair the damage. He was still quite dozy when he was picked up and apparently went to sleep when he got home. I got a call later that evening; the neighbour’s cat had walked across the new patio…….
As I read through this I noticed that I’d use “we” as much as “I”. It isn’t a royal “we”. For any of us in this profession to do a good job we need the support of our teams, we probably don’t thank them as much as they deserve.
Thank you for reading.