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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Wee Story

This is written in the spirit of Clive James’s Unreliable Memoirs. If you don’t know what that means, then the short answer is that it is not entirely true, but the bits you would least expect to be so probably are.

As a hospital outpatient it’s amazing how quickly you have to adapt to the public exposure of things you regarded as extremely private all your life before. Let me exemplify:
   When you arrive for a chemo session, you never quite know what will happen. Last time, the room was full of patients at various stages of their day’s treatment. As soon as I arrived, I was told a ‘specimen’ from me was required.
   ‘But I went to the bathroom just before I got here!’ [I live 5 minutes from the hospital.] ‘I don’t have the ummm ammunition right now.’
   ‘No matter, you can manage it, people always do.’
   I look around the room.
   ‘Anyone want to volunteer to help?’ I say, waving the container hopefully.
   There are no volunteers. A vaguely amused but threatening look from the administrator leaves no doubt that third party contributions, however generous, would not be welcome.
   ‘Go on, in there and do your best,’ the nurse wheedles with that commanding tone and presence of those who have dealt with many a urinary recalcitrant before.
   ‘If I do, it will be more or less pure coffee,’ I tell her. ‘99% caffeine, 1% humiliation.’
   She grins cheerfully and spurns the remark.
   ‘I just need one drop!’
   She shames me into submission.
   So I go in to the bathroom, receptacle in hand. People with tubes taped to their wrists cheer and offer faint words of inspiration. Never in my life have I felt so urinarily challenged. My bladder has shrunk suddenly to the size of a very small pea [hah!]
   I wonder if I just put in a teaspoonful of water from the tap and hope that a minuscule amount of DNA surviving the sterilisation process from the last supplier will do the trick, but I abandon the H2O option. Let’s face it, the idea’s not going to work on any level, is it? Considering that the effectiveness of a $5800 shot of Avastin depends on the accuracy of the result, tampering with the evidence isn’t a great strategy.
   But… I can do this. I stand there with the tap running a little, the tap making that hissy sort of sound cats make when riled up, thinking of gushing fountains, and streams of mountain water chuckling over river pebbles.
   The miracle occurs. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak! I return and face an expectant audience, waving the receptacle triumphantly and doing a public inspection. ‘Want to see? There’s a good thimbleful in there. And top quality after all’. No-one seems to want to verify the fact.
   ‘Sit down in that chair on the end, Mr Wright,’ says the boss lady, ‘and we’ll go look for a vein now.’  
   In the back of my mind I think, ‘at the university I’ve been Dr Wright for 30 years. But here, I’m just another aging bloke handing over a pathetic sample of baby-boomer piddle in front of a full audience!’ 

[If you'd like to read the next story, here it is. That First Seizure]

1 comment:

  1. How good is it to get a comment on my very first blog story! Most memorable for me is the giant billy-cart they made and the description of the sort of dunny we were all too familiar with.

    I also loved Milligan's work but found especially appealing his nonsense poems. One of them I taught my Gr 4 pupils in those old days when I was a schoolteacher. It was about Fred Fernackerpan and if I tried hard enough I could probably recite it myself.

    Oh wait - it's online in a score of places so I'll appropriate it:

    I am a mystery fellow,
    I'm Fred Fernackerpan,
    I wear one sock that's yellow
    The other dipped in jam.
    I walk about the countryside
    I walk about the town,
    Sometimes with my trousers up
    And sometimes with them down;
    And when they were up they were up
    And when they were down they were down
    And when they were only half way up
    He was arrested.

    Spike Milligan

    This is why Spike Milligan is or was so great.


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