16 december 2019
All original writing
2014, 2015, 2016,
2017, 2018, 2019
3. THE PIPING OUT OF THE CATHETER
It was mid to late August 2018. At last the day had arrived. Bottle of water for flushing, check. Box of tissues in case of accidents, check. Stock of dubious questions to disorientate the nurses, check. Right, into battle.
Hello, my name is Gill. She said that, not me. "Just come with me into my little room." I bet you say that to all the virile young men. (Yes she'd probably heard that dozens of times but would feel disappointed not to hear it again today.) Lie down on this bed (Ditto). "Now, how are your bowels?" Having a wonderful time. Hope yours are too. "Have you been this morning?" Yes, thanks. Why do you ask? "Well sometimes when you remove a catheter, the sensation causes the bowels to empty." She made sure I was lying centrally on a pile of absorbent pads and took one pace backwards.
When you take it out, can I have it? Her face told me that she hadn't heard that one before. "I haven't heard that one before" her face said slightly before her mouth said it. "NO you can't" she said with a smile. Why not? I've reserved a special display cabinet for it on my toilet wall. "Well . . . (this wasn't in the script) . . . er . . . it's an infection risk (that should do it). You never know where it's been." On the contrary, I know exactly where it's been and will have the scars, both physical and mental for ever more . . . .
In a very pleasant yet firm way, she'd made up her mind and since she was in charge, nothing would change it. Ah well.
"What did you do for a living then?" My answer caused everything to fall into place. I wasn't a weirdo then. Well not her version of one. "You ask some strange questions." That's exactly what I did for a living. Then answered them . . .
This figure approached me with a syringe -
(When they first insert it -
Dr Foley's Fiendish Device:
The syringe went in, the sterile water was withdrawn (about 10 ml), a second try made sure it was all out, and with one bound the catheter was free -
I may have imagined that last bit.
It gently came free and slid slowly out, gripping its familiar urethra like a child saying goodbye to its mother. You could see the tears (rhymes with shears not lairs). How did it feel? Like a minor disembowelling -
Quickly on with the man-
After lots of unnatural drinking, I completed the task, with photographs to prove it. Number one was pinkish with floating debris, 160ml, number two was comfortingly pale yellow with no floaters, 240ml.
"OK you can come to my little room again. Don't drink tea for a few days and especially not coffee (Starbucks instantly withdrew their NHS sponsorship). They irritate." I know what she means about Starbucks. I had a final spanner to throw in her works. When you gave me the bowl marked Number 2 I had a sudden semi-
That was the end of the hospital scene. On the way home other things happened to make my day complete.
"Would you like us to take you out for lunch? Dave, the kids and the dog are canoeing down from Exeter Quay and we could meet in the Double Locks -
First things first. Toilet. First time. Should I stand up or sit down? Let's live dangerously and stand up. The only one free was a children's one so it was low down. First to happen was a drop of blood on the one area that no flush could possibly reach. Do you remember seeing two of the Red Arrows performing a roll manoeuvre while spiralling upwards leaving red white and blue twisting smoke trails? Well the smoke represented my stream, except that it was going roughly downwards, across, more random and more widely spread. No, actually, an unrestrained hose pipe thrashing around at the free end is a better analogy. I hurriedly washed my hands and left.
The new IKEA was very interesting and roomy, in both senses, and also had the uncanny knack (how do they do this?) of making my bladder loom large in my field of vision. I think I need to go again. Sat down this time -
The family had canoed to the pub and got there, dry as a bone, before us. Had a pint ( . . . er . . ) and a good meal. The dog intently studied the waitress taking finished plates back to the kitchen and, typically and expertly, caught and swallowed a stray chip before it hit the floor. I went to the loo and all was right with the world.
On the way back to Exmouth, the traffic suddenly ground to a halt. It ground to a halt for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, blue flashing lights appeared, rushed past us then ground to a halt. A few cars turned round and drove back the other way. The bladder started to tap me on the shoulder . . . We would normally have been home by now.
Eventually we inched forward and found they'd closed the road. (The hospital had obviously phoned ahead again.) We turned off, along with others, through Exeter-
There's a local service station up ahead. Yes, let's try for that. More queues. I know let's just forget societal norms and take that relatively empty lane to the Park and Ride car park. It's quite big, leafy, unpopulated and private-
We and the Sat-
And the remaining unused catheter night bag? I'll hang it on the end of the bed. You never know, might get a surprise at Xmas.