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Monday, January 30, 2012

We Experience Finnish Vets (a 2fer post)

Let me just get it out there: we're fine.  Ted's fine.  No legs were damaged to achieve this blog entry!  (although you might not want to read much further if you have a delicate tummy.)

As some of you know, Ted's tum started acting up again a little over a week ago, so I put him on a pretty disciplined version of the old "tummy cure all": 2-day fast, back to eating with little meals of white rice, and gradually over c. 10-12 days getting him to his usual diet.  Well, by yesterday I was feeding  1/2 normal food, 1/2 rice in the usual amounts, and everything seemed to be going fine; the only possible weirdness was that he didn't poop all day, but when they're living on so much rice, that's not particularly odd.

Then, this morning my complacency was ruined.  Lots of poop this morning and, while not as bad as it had been a little over a week ago, not representative of Ted "Iron Gut" Edwards.  Ugh.  Having to take him out 3 times in 5 hours when it was less than 12 degrees out.  Double ugh.  Having to take him out when the snow is condensing to ice.  Triple ugh.  You get the idea.

I called the vet and was shocked that they could get us in at 1 pm.

Well, about 12:15 I started off.  It wasn't that the vet (HauMau) was that far (it's only in Kamppi, c. 2 tram stops away), but I wasn't sure how long it would take us to walk there.  You see, since Ted's leg was okay, I figured I'd use the walk (maybe 3/4 of a mile each way) as his big walk for that day and a test of the ice grips I had for my snowboots.  So we went chugging down the road between the beach and the tram route to Kamppi.

When we get to the vet's office, it reminded me a lot of the hospitals here: it has everything, but they don't waste money on all the flash and dash Americans seem to expect.  HauMau is supposed to be one of the posh vets in town, and it looked much like my vet in the SC suburbs except that it wasn't as spacious.  If you knew where to look, though, you saw the signs of a place that had it together.  Yet another example of Americans spending WAY too much on the superficial aspects of care.

In any case, the receptionist logged us in quickly, weighed Ted (he's EXACTLY at the weight he was when he left SC even with the exercise and more muscle mass--yippee!), and put us in an exam room.  No wait and all handled in lovely English.  (I continue to remain grateful that the Finns are SO gracious when it comes to speaking English.  I KNOW few people who aren't Finns speak Finnish, but it's their kindness in switching into a foreign language that I really appreciate.)

There we hung out for a while.  Ted, funnily enough, was calmer than he was at home; I say "funnily enough" because the walls in our exam room didn't go up to the ceiling all the way, so we could hear noise from other rooms and the waiting room.  It wasn't loud, the room was perfectly fine, and we didn't have long to wait.

Then I had an aging moment, when my vet walked in and I realized that I could ALMOST be her mother.  Agh.  But she was really pleasant (Dr. Pihlman on the HauMau site, if you're curious; click the HauMau link above, go to "henkilökunta," and you'll see a link with her name.  She got her degree last year and is the youngest member of the practice) and gave Ted a REALLY thorough going-over.  The great news there is that everything, including his leg, checked out normally, and she told me that I was doing just what I should do for his tendinitis.  She went over the medical records my vet had sent over and actually prescribed something I'd heard works better for digestive issues than the amoxicillin that I'd used when he had this 2 years ago at home.  Nicely for me, too, she gave me something that's supposed to help bind him up pretty quickly, so if I'm lucky, tonight should be my last night with potential wake-ups.  (If not, I'm supposed to go back.)  Best of all, she wrote the instructions and record in Finnish AND English, so I'm not sitting there with Google Translate.  She and I both laughed about my experience doing that with the pneumonia medicine!!

Okay, so I now I have a Finnish vet.  While I can't say that I really WANTED one, I'm really happy with the kid I have :-)--and that she's part of a practice with vets who have multiple board certifications and have been practicing for 30 years. :-)

Then the bad news: the visit and medicine was c. 100 Euros.  Ugh.  Well, in that area US and Finnish vets are about comparable, which must explain why everyone here keeps telling me how incredibly expensive Finnish vets are. :-)  It's worth it, though.

In any case, I bundled back up, and Ted & I walked home, 2 hours total with the walk & everything.  He's now woofing at the guys cleaning the snow off the roof while I type this.  Then it will be aspirin for me and an attempt to get some of my OWN work done, especially since I may have to stay here tomorrow if his tum doesn't make it through the night (and, if that's the case, I'll be worried and won't concentrate well on writing anyway).


Oh, as for the ice cleats ...  useless ... absolutely friggin' useless ....  absolutely, incredibly, amazingly, friggin' useless ... :-)  That translates as ... well, I was about to write "useless" again, but you get the idea.

Seriously, on the way there, I slipped them over my boots and tightened the strap over my arch; when I did that the stitching on one of the straps tore.  Well, that ticked me off since it was my FIRST time wearing them, but the strap was long enough that I could still make it work.  I hooked them back on--a bit of a pain--and we headed off.

On the way there they worked wellish.  I say that because I really did feel much more secure on snow and ice and could walk faster, but I achieved that effect as much by having my steps forcibly changed than by the cleats themselves.  Basically, because of the way they were constructed, they forced me to walk in the flat-footed way that all the Finns recommend for the ice and packed snow.  When I did that, I had good grip, although I was still too much of a chicken to walk too fast or to swing my steps a bit.  Unfortunately, though, whenever I hit a place where the ice was patchy with bare, moist cement or stone, then they weren't any better than my snowboots; in fact, they felt a bit more precarious.  They are cleats, after all.

Verdict by the time I reached HauMau: worth putting up with when the snow packs to ice and during the thaw-frost cycles, but not worth the hassle downtown and when there's 2 cm or more of loosish snow on the ground.

As Ted and I head back from HauMau, I slipped them back on.  I figured this would be my big test since the shopping block right near my tram stop is pack ice, and I have to walk through that to get to the Towers.  Now to appreciate what happens you have to have a sense of how these ice cleats look and fit.  My ice cleats were--note the past tense--thick rubber straps with 1/3" metal spikes embedded on the straps.  The idea is that you put your boot's toe through an opening on the rubber (a 1/4" rubber "strap" goes over the top of your toes if it fits correctly, and mine did), then you stretch the cleat the length of your boot's bottom, and hook another rubber loop up over the heel part of your boot.  Many just stop there, but one of the things I liked about these was they had an additional velcro & metal strap that went over the top of your arch.  This strap hooked onto the rubber with metal clamps; they worked great, but the stitching attaching the velcro strap to the metal clamp is what gave on one of them when I first put them on.  Still, I could fit the strap through the rubber opening, so no harm, no foul.

Now the story can begin again.

Well, about 2 blocks from HauMau the front strap that comes up over the toe on my right boot comes off.  Ugh.  I reach down and pull it back up.  About 30 steps later, it's off again.  Same adjustment, but this time I make sure that thing is well over my toes.  About 30 steps later, here we go again.  Same adjustment, same result.  Now here I am with this rubber thing flopping around on my feet as I'm trying to walk on packed snow/ice.  Like that's useful!  In any case, after SIX attempts to adjust it, I tore the things off in disgust and resumed the foot-binding shuffle back to the Towers.

And, yes, we made it through the icy block by the shops with very, very careful steps.

That was a waste of 11 Euros!!  Next time I'm in town I'm stopping at the sporting goods store near campus and getting ones that REALLY work.

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