Monday, 3 July 2017

A trip to the vets

   After many visits to watch human surgery it occurred to me that this was not the only form of surgery out there, that in fact much smaller work was being done every day just down the road to me. My local vet was very generous and allowed me to spend time backstage in his surgery watching operations and procedures on small animals and reptiles.
   I was immediately struck by how high tech but hands on it all was. The range of specialist equipment was remarkable; x-ray machine, mini lab, blood analysis,endoscopy facility etc. ,all in one space.In a hospital everything is on different floors and an appointment is needed for each one, here you walk in and your beloved pet is treated straight away.
   During surgery itself I found that the way a vet works is very similar to me working in my studio. He sat at a small table and without the advantage of a scrub nurse had to select and manage all of the tools himself. One patient was a beautiful dragon lizard with a damaged tail. The scales must not be spilt during stitching and care must be taken of the skin (some of which was partially shed revealing a beautiful hexagonal structure). The versatility of understanding different materials rang a chord with my own varied practise.
   A vet not only understands mammals but other species too.Reptiles are now a popular pet and have very specific requirements for their health which are very different to a mammals, even their breathing is different to ours. While we waited for the next patient other occupants were taken care of; canaries, terrapins and axolotls each again with very different environmental and dietary needs.It appears that my vet is also a keen gardener fond of tropical plants.The tiny garden around the surgery is packed with plants which again all have specific needs and all of them are taken care of.
   The multi life-form care at this practise was fascinating and all were there because of a passion to care for those that can not communicate their needs.As we went from the aviary via the palm trees to then feed the terrapins surrounded by trailing plants he explained that it was all there as much for his benefit as for the customers.His quality of life is improved by the green environment and the pet owners can see best practise for caring for non mammals. Combined with the very immediate attention and care the patients got and the direct access to all facilities I wondered how it would be if human medicine were more like this.
   The vets at this practise are independent and capable of performing complex operations but sadly they are a disappearing breed.Local vets are slowly being replaced by corporate 'chains' with less surgical experience referring work out to expensive specialists, supported by the growing pet insurance market. It is a word of warning for human medicine that when money takes over everyone suffers.

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