Meet October’s ‘Vet of the Month’ – Dr Carme Tordesillas-Olivar who is associated with Dubai-based The Veterinary Hospital (TVH).
A specialist in surgery Dr Carme has a GP Certificate in Small Animal Surgery, specialising in challenging wound management. “We get loads of such cases were. With patience and time, we’ve managed to re-grow or heal severe wounds,” she said. Her latest specialty is in ophthalmology after pursuing a master’s degree in ophthalmology in University Autonomous of Barcelona in 2019.
“Although surgery and ophthalmology are my biggest interests, I’d like to believe that I’ve gained enough experience and knowledge through internships and masters to be a bit of an all-around vet.”
Read other ‘Vet of the Month’ stories here.
Years of practice and specialisation
During her two years in Barcelona, Spain Dr Carme did a rotational internship in University of Barcelona where she attended cases of each specialty for one month each. This included surgery, anesthesia, critical care, internal medicine, ophthalmology, dermatology, orthopedic. “It was a wonderful experience that also challenged my skills and pushed me to do my best as we had students shadowing us and learning from us.”
“From 2010-14 I worked in the UK. For the first year, I did another internship in Northwest Surgeons in the UK that taught me a new way of working focused on surgery and critical care. After my internship I opened my own clinic in Liverpool that started with me and ended up being a successful three-vet clinic. Then I moved to the UAE and initially worked in Abu Dhabi from 2014 until 2016. After I’d my son Henry Roc, I moved to Dubai, and I’ve been happily working in The Veterinary Hospital since 2016.”
Who/what inspired you to become a veterinary doctor?
Dr Carme: Since I was three years old, I used to say that I want to become a vet. My family in Boltaña (a 1,000 people village in Aragon, Spain) had few farms that I loved to visit them and spend time with animals. My father who is a human doctor also inspired me greatly as I saw him really passionate about his profession.
What does your everyday life as a veterinarian look like?
Dr Carme: For me it’s all ups. I love my job; I love animals and I love medicine so coming to work isn’t a chore, it is a pleasure. The down is always the same – losing patients. I still cry after every single euthanasia. If I must add another down, it is little free time that we get to spend with our family. In my case its my six years old son Henry Roc and three years old Arabian Mau cat and of course friends. But saving lives is always rewarding. But mostly our challenges are when we exhaust all the available possibilities to heal a patient. We feel powerless and frustrated because the dog/cat is part of our TVH family, somebody’s best friend/fur-baby and we want to save them all.
What do you like the most about your job?
Dr Carme: The best part is interacting with our patients, most of them end up being like a part of me and I feel them very close to them. I’m bad at recognising the human mum/dad but I always remember the fur baby. The other great part of my job is the TVH team. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by an amazing group of people that care about our patients as if they belong to us.
What do you like the least about your job?
Dr Carme: Having to deal with death. I just want to save them all and I know that, in some cases, it is biologically impossible. Such as terminal cancer when chemotherapy stops working, terminal kidney failure when hospitalisation and medicines aren’t enough. But it is still hard to let animals go.
If you were not a veterinary doctor, what would you have chosen as a career path?
Dr Carme: Perhaps a human doctor! But I’m not sure as I’ve never been keen in studying human anatomy. In fact, my high school teachers convinced me to follow my dad’s footsteps and I almost got admitted into medical school. The day after I got the phone call of acceptance I panicked, and I called to reject it and accepted veterinary school. It was always my dream to become a vet. And if I wasn’t a vet maybe I’d have become a veterinary schoolteacher. I really can’t imagine being away from this vet world.
Over to your pet(s) now. Please tell us a bit about them.
Dr Carme: Taxi is my first child. He is a 15-year-old Jack Russell. I rescued him when he was nine months old. He was found in the motorway walking up and down for three days during summer. In Spain a lot of dogs would get abandoned prior to holidays. The police brought him to my clinic to be put to sleep because he was growling at people. I told them that I couldn’t do that. By then he was licking wet food from my hand, so they surrendered him to me. He did have aggressivity driven by fear but after 1.5 years of positive reinforcement and patience and love, he turned into an amazing fur baby. Taxi is still very active and even more since his cataract surgery last December. He has always been there for my family, helped us through tough moments. He is like a rocket walking/running all the time, but he is gentle when he needs to be. For example, he can walk between our feet but with my grandmother he is slow and careful, he is such a considerate soul.
Ranga is my youngest baby. He was rescued without skin in his tail due to an accident when he was three-four months old. I performed a surgery after which it took him three months to recover in the hospital. After taking care of him daily, I got very attached to him, and I decided to foster him. He was obviously destined to be a foster-fail and now he is a member of our family. Ranga is 3.5 years old now and he is the cutest ginger cat. He loves spending time in the garden, and he is a great hunter who keeps brining us presents 😉 Ranga is also very loving and very good at spotting when somebody needs a cuddle.
How would you describe a dog in one word?
Dr Carme: Family