The Yorkshire Vet: A slow journey back to work and bad jokes for Julian Norton

My recovery from the nasty knee injury was going well. Almost every day there was progress, although some days brought steps backwards too. I tried to focus on the positives. The incision bisecting my knee was of epic proportions but healing nicely.I’d taken most of the skin staples out myself. After the required rest period, during which I wasn’t supposed to do anything, I had set about the rehab and physio like an Olympic training plan, several hours each day.The satisfaction of moving my foot forwards by just four inches was immense. I’d made adaptions to my rowing machine at home using a modified skateboard so I could row with one leg, my stiff leg rolling backwards and forwards in time. But the flexibility and mobility, as well as strength, was still lacking and would be for some time.

The journey back to work was always going to be slow. In fact, for me, recovery had never taken so long. Unable to drive, but increasingly adept with my crutches, my plan was to walk there.

Normally it’s a short and pleasant route, which Anne often undertakes on her bike in summertime. Occasionally, on a Sunday if I’m checking a patient or a follow-up from a weekend case, I’ll walk over to the surgery.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The lack of a car doesn’t usually fit in well if you have emergencies and walking to work would definitely never have been possible in my days of mixed practice. Like Eric Twinge (aka Bananaman) I was ever alert to the call for action. The idea of arriving at work without my trusty vehicle – its boot jam-packed with drugs and equipment – was unimaginable. Today’s slow journey on foot was painstaking but I made it eventually. How much use I would be when I got there remained to be seen.

Julian Norton, the Yorkshire Vet.Julian Norton, the Yorkshire Vet.
Julian Norton, the Yorkshire Vet.

My plan was to answer the phones (they never stop ringing), follow up some cases I had lost contact with and ferret through some minor computer glitches, trying to smooth out those issues no one ever gets around to sorting. I felt sure I could manage a few consults too.

Apart from one operation to remove a dog’s anal gland, which is performed sitting down (with the surgeon’s face just inches from the dog’s backside), I was doubtful that I would be able to do any surgery. Moving slowly and in a cumbersome fashion does not lend itself to efficient practice. I dreaded the prospect of having to examine a larger patient on the floor – something I do frequently. Goodness knows how many more months it will be before I can kneel down.

Anne was already there, cracking on with the list of ops. My injury had left her, more than most, overworked. I felt bad. She was calculating the dose of sedative for an extremely overweight patient.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Should I use a lower dose, based on the dog’s correct weight?” she pondered. It’s a common question. Another patient and its owner waited, patiently, to be seen. They had arrived very early. We double checked the time of the appointment to make sure we hadn’t made an error.

“Oh, I know we are early,” said the owner of the golden retriever. “But we always walk. Since she’s been on a diet and lost a lot of weight, the walk takes much less time. I think we’re 20 minutes early today!”

I immediately started making jokes about “wait” watchers as opposed to “weightwatchers”, which nobody found funny. My return to work, at least in this regard, was clearly premature.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.