Our family have never been big on animals. Although both my parents had dogs when they were younger, full time jobs and living next door to a main road put a scupper on me and my sister having such luck. Goldfish and that was the limit we were told.
When the C bomb dropped, I decided to reduce my teaching hours. Part of this was health related and part because I wanted to do what I wanted to do. After much umm-ing and ahh-ing we decided to get a dog. What dog was the next question. I didn’t want a small yappy terrier type dog. We had lived next to one when I was a child and it scared the bejesus out of me and my sister. I didn’t want a puppy either. I wanted a fully developed, mature hound. I’m not sure how we chanced upon greyhounds, but we did.
A visit to a retired greyhound sanctuary was booked just to have a look. Word to the wise. You never visit an animal shelter for a look. Sookie was the first and only greyhound we walked. My husband, who had owned two rescue dogs previously and therefore an expert, decreed that she was the one.
Papers were signed, home visits conducted and in a couple of weeks we had a fully formed greyhound snoozing on our sofa. They don’t really warn you, but it’s a life changer. I can’t image what life was like before. She is so much part of our lives now. It would feel strange not to open a packet of cheese and not feel a nose by your elbow.
A programme that documents this love so well is Supervet. The Supervet in question is Mr Neil Fitzpatrick. There is no alter ego or costume change. It is just Neil Fitzpatrick. But he can do remarkable things. He can make legs where there are none in a whole range of animals. He screws, welds and hammers all manner of stuff together. He does all this in the wee small hours, after his surgery closes. It’s clear to see that it’s his passion. His life is the animals in his care. He lives and breathes them. It’s hard to say if he gets this passion from the animals or the owners. Possibly a mixture of the two.
Before I had Sookie, I never watched Supervet. I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. A dog is a dog at the end of the day. Since getting our hound, I watch now with enthusiasm and awe on what can be done. It makes you think that if such possibilities are available to our best friend, what wonders are there for all of us.
Melissa had used her organisational skills to the max and had arranged an appointment for me with Dr B and Mr Q, a plastic surgeon. My eye issue could now be sorted for once and for all. The allotted day and hour rolled around. Back in the lovely ENT waiting room and they were running late. My appointment was at four and we were well into Flog It. I wasn’t feeling optimistic.
At quarter to five, I was called through. Dr B and I exchanged niceties, twiddling our thumbs for the man of the moment to make his appearance. When he did arrive, it was a bit of a let-down. He snuck in without much fanfare.
What I’ve noticed during my cancer “journey” is that most health care professionals match their job descriptions. GP’s are often quite “general” because they know a little bit about everything. This means that they can be vague in certain scenarios. Junior doctors are eager to please. They don’t want to mess up. They take detailed histories and agonise over any decision. Registrars are smug. They know it all. What they don’t need are patients cluttering up their day. Consultants are a mixture of junior doctors and registrars, but in a milder form. Nurses are the glue that hold everything together. They are the warriors at the frontline implementing the various plans that are devised to make everything OK. As for surgeons, they are clear and precise. They are like the surgery that they perform. They don’t sugar coat anything. It’s a bit like talking to a scalpel, if that makes sense.
Mr Q was no exception. He was scanning my face and thinking of all manner of things. I explained that I wanted the left side of my face hoiking up.
“Oh yes… we can definitely do some hoiking…”
He outlined a whole range of possible procedures. I wasn’t really listening. They seemed to involve cuts on my smile line, cuts to the back of my head and at one point thigh muscles were mentioned. When he finished, he took out his phone.
“OK. I can see you in my clinic on 2nd May. Is that OK?”
I nodded feeling cock-a-hoop. Who cared that the 2nd May was the Tuesday after the May Day Bank Holiday when I would have had to rush back from North Wales from celebrating my Auntie Claire’s 80th birthday? Who cared that I also had a full day of teaching that day which would be a nightmare to cover, especially with exams in the offing? The man had a plan and that was all I cared about.