Medical vignettes no. 3

deaddoginabasketRetired local doctor, Sandy Scott, continues his series on the joys and perils of being a GP.

She was a matriarch who had lived for most of her life in a small hamlet within the valley. Her husband had died early, but her two remaining middle aged children, both single, still lived at home and were still ruled by her iron will. This is more than can be said however for the marauding corgi which terrified the whole household, livestock included, except for her.

For many years she had suffered from severe leg ulcers. These were not improved by her insistence on sitting with her legs but a few feet from a roaring fire, quietly toasting the lower extremities. This state of affairs ,both Grace, our District Nurse, and I believed was a ploy to ensure that they never healed and would therefore guarantee a regular visit from the Nurse to dress them two or three times a week. I for my part was summoned when it was felt that treatment other than simple dressing was required.

The scenario played out was always the same regardless of who was visiting. The knock on the back door immediately provoked a cacophony of ferocious barking and scrabbling from the other side of the now well-worn door as though several hounds from the Grimpen Mire were housed within, anxious to tear out our throats.

This initial barking slowly subsided, only to be replaced by an explosion of colourful invective from the matriarch within, directed, we hoped, at the animal and not us. Eventually, an inner door was slammed and the reduced volume of barking indicated that the beast had been ejected and that it was now safe to enter and for business to take place.

Occasionally though the door was unsecured at which point this ferocious ball of smelly and overweight corgi would launch itself at the nearest pair of ankles resulting in a rapid often painful retreat to the kitchen before rabies was contracted and until the situation was once again contained.

Remember if you will that this scenario was repeated several times a week for many years until one morning when everything changed…….

It must be said that that at all times the aroma in the main salon, a combination of fat dog and leg ulcers was, to say the least, piquant.

On that morning, it was felt that a double visit by Grace and I was required. We approached the door with the usual trepidation and knocked. Silence. We waited, knocked again and then gingerly entered. We were met with an altogether different and peaceful scene though the aroma if anything was more intense.

The matriarch sat cooking her legs by the fire as usual while the dog for the first time lay peacefully in his basket fast asleep.

We went about our work quietly and when finished prepared to leave without disturbing the slumbering beast. Reaching the door, I turned to his mistress and in a whisper said,
”It’s wonderful to see the old chap asleep and content after so many years of anger,” to which she loudly retorted,

“ You silly b*****, he’s been dead three days!”

October-November 2019