Wednesday, 6 June 2012
A Not-Quite Disaster
Weekday mornings have taken on a sort of ‘samey’ look lately, and around about 9.30am you will find me, horizontal, de-bagged, and bashful, on the bed of Linear Accelerator 09 in Cheltenham Hospital, on the off-chance that it might give my prostate cancer a good kicking
I wasn’t going to bother you with this, but word has reached me of the existence of a bizarre sub-culture with an unsavoury interest in harrowing tales of medical misfortune, so who am I to disappoint ? Play it right and it could be a whole new writing genre.
Anyway, the routine for each day is pretty boring, scarcely more exciting than Formula One or Gridiron football, and requires me to present myself, pre-equipped with a “comfortably full bladder,” in the Radiotherapy treatment room, where two or three young ladies are waiting to arrange my de-bagged person appropriately, if indecorously, on the bed of the machine.
The ladies are caring and pleasant, and I feel great sympathy for them, obliged as they are to witness an endless procession of withered, elderly, and in many cases, redundant, male genitalia. This is a visual experience which they apparently endure with cheerful stoicism, but which must play havoc with their appetites, and I would wager that few, if any of them, ever eat sausages.
The treatment should be a without incident, but, as I have found to my cost, there are pitfalls for the elderly male with ambitions towards incontinency. A “comfortably full bladder” can obviously only remain so for a finite period, so a fifteen minute delay in my treatment the other day, meant that the water I had drunk to fulfil my “comfortably full” obligation, had done the tour and was now queuing at the exit, clamouring frantically to be let out. Unfortunately, by the time I realised disaster might be imminent, I was already debagged, horizontal, and indecorously arranged on the machine.
The Radiotherapy treatment cycle takes only three or four minutes, but three or four minutes in the life of a seriously panicking bladder might as well be forever. I stared, terrified, at the ceiling, unable to shuffle my backside for fear of compromising my indecorous arrangement, and wretchedly aware that my Personal Equipment, camouflaged beneath paper towelling, was ready, should I have a momentary lapse of concentration, to open fire on the ceiling with all the force of a French water-cannon at a riot. Concentration in this situation also involves prayer, and as the machine moved around me I prayed, earnestly, respectfully and with sincere assurances to whoever might be listening. that I would be kind, caring and completely sinless for the remainder of my days.
My prayers, of course, were answered, but even as I put my shoes on and rearranged my trousers, I had to balance haste with precision of movement to avoid disaster. I gave the ladies a hurried “Goodbye,” and moved carefully down the corridor to the loo, neither knowing nor caring if they’d noticed I hadn’t stopped to tie my shoe laces.
Seven sessions down, thirty to go. What next I wonder?