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10 August 2011

Coffins, Tapeworms And Surgery

We had a vet visit. There’s nothing noteworthy about that unless you know that they had to fly 1,500 kilometres (as the raven flies) to get here. This was only the second vet visit to Ittoqqortoormiit, on business, in five years. They made their rounds and I made an appointment. I had dogs to be examined for minor ailments and medicines were ordered. During conversation the vets mentioned to me that the dogs of Ittoqqortoormiit appeared to be the healthiest, biggest and best cared for in the whole of Greenland. Heady praise indeed and it had to be shared so I made a point of mentioning it to friends here. The news brought lots of smiles.

Now I had peace of mind that all continued to be well with my dogs.  The dogs set back to relax and enjoy summer, sniffing the air as melting snow finally gave way to bare ground and different smells. I like to think that there were plenty of dreams of fresh snow and new adventures.


The first supply ship of 2011 was two weeks late because its slow and awkward passage was prolonged by masses of sea ice along Greenland’s east coast.


The ship anchored offshore and the supply containers were lowered on to a barge with a shallow draft. Fitted on the backs of trucks were cleverly designed hydraulic frames that lifted the containers off the barge before being driven ashore and distributed accordingly.


The rich and varied assortment of goodies and essentials brought ashore included, of all things, coffins.


After two days of kerfuffle getting its cargo ashore the ship blew its departure whistle, lifted its anchor with a chain that clattered loud enough to wake the dead and set sail. I was running at the time but I am sure that I wasn’t alone in inwardly thanking the crew and their captain for bringing us yet another year of supplies.

Work continued and I had jobs to do that included worming my dogs, to rid them of possible tapeworms and ascarids (roundworms).


It wasn’t a relaxing time. I still had the metal plate in my hand and the doctor was making noises about removing it. I finally relented after he reassured me that without mistake the screwdriver needed to remove the screws had been delivered. Injected with a local anaesthetic, and at ease, I settled back with my hand already sliced open, listening to the Ramones on my headset and enjoying the show as the doctor, with scalpel and screwdriver, set about what had to be done.

At this juncture it has to be said that I have a sense of humour that is based on the puerile, the insensitive and the uncouth.  So when the doctor said to me that the screwdriver was the wrong one and that the operation could not be completed I laughed out loud in appreciation of what a great joke that was. The room fell heavy with tension when everyone looked at my face realising he wasn’t kidding.

As I lay there, with my bloody gaping hand and with the inkling it was going to feel a little sore later on, I could not help but feel really bad for the doctor. He was not to blame because as far as I know those who had implanted the bloody fixture in the first place were the ones who sent him the tools for the removal job.

Suffice to say my hand was stitched back up and we discussed a future appointment. There wasn’t much laughing by this stage.

For more information about Gary and his dogs go to www.garyrolfe.com

1 comment:

  1. Glad you didn't send the good doctor home in one of those shiny new coffins xx

    ReplyDelete