The Year of Words: Day 307 - How things change.


Today's words as part of the downhill slope of the year of words are indicative of why I like language (most of the time). The remainder of the time I stare at it knowingly over a pair of imagined horn-rimmed glasses.

Today's archaic word is a great example of both Scottish and Midlands dialects. Interestingly although the word exists in both (the Midlands version cited here) the meanings are entirely different. The Scotts version, also a verb, meaning to work hard for a living.

Musing - To Mull Over

Keeping with the spirit of words, today will contain a fair bit of mulling over. A uniquely British verb meaning to think through before deciding a course of action.

So what is there to mull over? Well, let's just say I'm less than fully impressed with the post operative handover and service from a vets that I've been with for over twenty years and spent a considerable time choosing. So, I'll be reflecting on what happened yesterday but I feel to quote Duke Ellington that thing's ain't what they used to be.

I joined the practice in the late 1990s after a fairly lengthy selection process locally. They were a two site private practice with a good reputation and obvious and genuine care for the animals they treated and their owners. Four of my dogs have been treated there with good care and professionalism. The practiee was sold to a muti-national veterinary concern around 18 months ago and is now part of that group, perhaps that has caused the change?


The surgeon who performed the operation was excellent briefing and debriefing me about the operation and the care he recommended. However, he was an outsourced surgeon visiting my vets and using their facilities.

The medication and pain relief was carefully considered by him and he clearly got to know Taz before the surgery. So far, so good.

Post surgery he rang and told me Taz should be ready about 6.45 which would be confirmed by the practice. That confirmation call never happened so I turned up for 6.45pm as advised.

To say the receptionist was rude is an understatement. There was no consideration that you're picking up a dog after non-trivial surgery and might be somewhat concerned.

Having spent some time before agreeing direct insurance payment with the practice manager the receptionist started with 'sit there so you'll need to pay for this now'. A very good evening to you to Gerry. Good evening Tom, good evening Barbara.

After explaining the in place agreement she read her notes with - Oh yes. Well you have to pay the excess now anyway. Your policy says ... (an apology might have gone down well but like the Millenium bug we're still waiting). I repeated the agreed approach of billing direct post procedure. "Well one way or another it's got to be paid" I'm told and invited to pay the fixed excess now with an additional £10 admin fee - not a great start and gave the distinct impression of the cash being the driver and over-riding consideration.

Five minutes or so later a vet I know had been working for ten hours (he was there when I dropped Taz off in the morning) called me through. He was clearly pretty shattered and as a result I spotted three issues with the consultation.


1. Whilst a proficient recently qualified vet I'm sure, he'd not dealt with Taz at all and clearly hadn't had an effective handover from those looking after him during the afternoon.

'It's been a long day' he said aware I suspect that it showed.

2. The post care notes were pointed at 'I expect you've seen those you can take it home if you want' - this had more of the sense of a copy of the Metro being handed out by Oval tube station than post operative care notes. I had in fact been provided with the notes by post by the operating surgeon, but I'm not sure that's entirely the point.

3. The buster collar promised in the notes didn't materialise, Taz came out with no collar or cone to prevent him getting to the dressing applied to his leg, I had already purchased a collar expecting a cone of shame, but had I not at 7,15pm it would have been a bit late trying to secure one I suspect. Not the level of care I had anticipated.

4. Taz was ignoring his dressing because he had just been given an opiate pain killer and was groggy to the point of immobility in the car once we got home. I have to question whether he was fit for release. No assistance or guidance on getting a post operative dog into a car without damaging the newly operated leg was offered. Having been given instructions by the surgeon that no slippery surfaces or steps should be tackled for four to six weeks, the vet proposed bringing a post operative sedated dog across their lino floor and down four steps rather than out of the rear of the premises and side gate where hard surfaces and no steps were involved. I needed to point this out and to his credit the vet acknowledged this 'wasn't a bad idea'.

Taz was handed over at the gate but both vet and nurse had gone before he'd made it to the car. It felt very much like something being thrown over the fence for me to catch.

5. The medication treatment list provided by the vet split four medications over a page break making the final medication very easy to miss. It was a standard template form and clearly hadn't been checked. This could have been addressed - thankfully I'm switched on, I hope all owners are as alert to this issue.

6. The vets medication list didn't match the surgeon's medication list needing to be corrected with the dosage/frequency being wrong on one medication and the duration missing on a second.


The very act of writing this down here has helped with some clarity and recognition of what strikes me as some unacceptable experiences.

However, I'm aware I'm not in my usual condition of calm being rather concerned about a recovering dog. I would be most interested to hear whether it's just me and I've lost some perspective over the treatment Taz (and I) got or whether others feel this is a cause for comment and/or complaint?

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