A month after graduating, our diarist, Jennifer Hall, has moved into her flat and started work as a large animal vet at St Davids Farm Practice, Exmouth
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‘Don't worry,’ our practice manager said as I left the office on my first Thursday, ‘on-call is usually quite quiet in the week.’
‘Yes,’ agreed my boss Tony, ‘you'd be really unlucky to get called out on a week night.’
So I relaxed and felt sorry for my friends who said they had had horrendous sleepless nights on-call. I drove to have dinner with the vet I was shadowing on-call and at about 9 pm, headed home, cheerily departing with ‘I'll see you in the morning then.’
But, not so . . . one heifer, torn while calving and a difficult calving later, I had survived my first night on-call.
Well, I thought, still brimming with adrenalin and excitement, if that was a bad on-call, then really I have nothing to worry about!
The following Tuesday, I once again left the office to go home; it was my second night on-call. The other new graduate vet, Chris, and Jenny, the vet I was on-call with this week, came round for dinner and a bit of a social. Jenny arrived at my flat armed with a big backpack and, before I'd even offered her a drink, she dived into the bathroom. She emerged in baggy tracksuit bottoms and jumper. My obviously shocked expression led her to explain her on-call protocol . . .
‘I have to get out of my uniform as soon as I get home – if I don't do that, you can guarantee I'll get called out. Oh, and also, you must remember the “q” word is banned for the whole evening.’
Puzzling over what the ‘q’ word could be, I said, ‘If that's your superstition, then since my last on-call didn't come until I'd showered and put on my PJs, I'm going to stay in my uniform!’
The evening continued, her in comfy clothes, me in whiffy overalls and Chris in civvies, chatting and joking. Time came for them to leave at about 11 pm and Jenny put her uniform back on to drive home (baggy tracksuit bottoms are not brilliantly suited to driving a Hilux). I waved them off and took a nice hot shower. PJs on, I decided to text my boyfriend ‘. . . been a quiet night so far, off to bed, night night xxx’.
I climbed into bed and, as I did so, I realised the error of my ways – not only had I used the ‘q’ word, but I'd taken my uniform off. Sure enough, the phone rang . . . and off I went to my first caesarean.