Thursday, May 17, 2007

taking the piss

Only a few days to go before we set sail for New York city and I'm burdened with the lethargy that ensues when one is so close to two weeks away from the hustle bustle of this office. I also had yesterday off as I had an appointment at a hospital in Runcorn who were going to examine my troublesome knee and it t'was a day blighted with confusion and embarrassment, but mostly satisfaction as no matter what unpleasantness I ever get embroiled into, I can say to myself "It could be worse, at least I'm not in work". I could be captured by Al Queda forced to go on Iranian television and beg Allah for forgiveness, subjected to hours of horrendous, evil and tear educing pain and torture but the mere notion that if I'm not at work then any alternative is less depressing and would keep me going until the bitter end when my head is ritualistically prized from my head by a rusted Swiss Army Knife.

So considering the alternative, I made the most of it. One of my greatest skills is my ability to wait patiently. I've been a master of this for years, and providing I have a book or magazine I actually quite enjoy a good wait or queue. In fact noted to Lisa last night as I regaled the details of the events of my day, that I would be quite happy to travel on trains going no where in particular for hours on end and enjoy myself as long as I have a good book, some money for a tea or beer and my Mp3 player. She made some remark along the lines that this was one of the saddest things she ever heard.

The night before I was a little anxious over the details of getting to this facility as I was not particularly familiar with the town of Runcorn, so I ensured that I would give myself an extra thirty minutes in order to avoid the usual comical mistakes I make on trips such as these. It worked perfectly though- much to my surprise and delight- and I arrived with 30 minutes to spare, so I acquired a sausage sandwich from the canteen. I would like to note that I was ultimately unsatisfied with this sandwich as I was initially enticed by the prospect of a sausage bap or roll, alas I was informed that the baps (barms, bread buns, tea cakes whatever your preference is)on display hadn't yet defrosted, and all she could offer me was bread or toast.

Five minutes before my appointment I went over and introduced myself to the receptionist. She was an elderly lady with an unpleasant skin condition but she had a kind face. She told me I was to go through immediately.
I was told to sit in a long corridor with several doors with the names of the consultants/surgeons/doctor's on them. I noted they were all foreign names and it read like a UN dinner party. Whilst I pondered the demise of the British Medical system and smiled at the nurses as they walked past, I remembered my urine sample....

The information I was sent through the post had asked me to ask my local GP or pharmacist for a clear sample bottle and to bring it with me for my appointment and naturally I didn't make any endeavors to do so until the night before. Unbelievably, getting ones hands on a sample bottle proved a tad more difficult than I expected. Firstly, I ventured to the local pharmacists near to our old office and I was reliably informed that they were unable to sell me (sell me!!??) any as they've run out. They suggested I tried the doctors next door.
I did, but the voice on the intercom told me bluntly that they could only provide their patients with a bottle and as I wasn't on their books they wouldn’t be able to assist. They suggested I tried next door at the drug centre. These chaps were far more helpful and whilst one member of staff searched for an adequate bottle I made small talk about pigeons and their dialect and assured them that I wasn't a smack head but rather it was for my bloody knee. They laughed and said "sure it is..." in a jokey way.

I've had to give urine samples before so I knew what they looked like, but the bottle they gave to me was huge! It resembled a plastic jam jar and had a bright red lid the kind of thing a primary school child would use to mix his or her poster paint in. I was warned that it may be prudent to carry this container in a plastic bag as the lid wasn't too secure. I thanked them for their assistance and went on my way.

I'd decided that I would do my sample before I went to bed, so that it was fairly clear and not too smelly, after a couple of drinks the night before, your early morning dark yellow piss can smell a tad pungent like erm...pissy Sugar Puffs.

The whole journey I carried the Matchel (my man bag) with the utmost care and diligence so that the piss wouldn't leak. However, the frozen barms must have distracted me as I can now recall stupidly dropping my bag to the floor several times with care free abandon, so whilst sat outside the doctor’s office, remembering about the sample, feared the worse.

I picked up my bag and could feel it was slightly moist on the bottom. I cautiously opened it up knowing full what the inevitable outcome would be. It was wet through! I picked out the sample bottle in it Asda carrier bag and I could see the liquid squishing around noticing that the lid wasn’t shut properly. Eeeekkk! Literally the second that I realised the extent of this calamity, a door opened behind me and I heard my name being called.
I stood up, not sure if I should say something. I shut my bag and noticed liquid on the rubber covering of the chair I'd been sitting in.
I walked into the doctor's room in something of a daze and he stood up and thrust his hand out.
For a split second I recalled that episode of curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry refuses to shake someone's had after he sees them sneezing ("It was a DRY Sneeze!!") and I reluctantly shook hands with him. It was all very surreal, almost formulaic. I didn't have time to wipe my hands on my trousers or anything- it was one of those- everything-is-going-in-slow-motion type moments.
I took a seat, and tried to come to grips with this situation I had put myself in and panicked inwardly.
The doctor, a very nice man of Polish Nationality, wore a red Slyvester The Cat tie and asked me lots of questions about my knee but I found it very hard to concentrate on his words. A huge poster reminding staff to wash their hands at all time haunted from his office's wall.

After him poking and twisting my knee several times, he made his prognosis that not only was my cruciate ligament knackered but also the cartilage on the outside of the knee and he would recommend surgery, but he would need to do a MRI scan of my knee first. I was still fazed by the piss spillage. He also did seem too responsive, when I asked him if this qualified me for a disabled sticker.

I was escorted out of his room to another waiting room by the nurse. On route I asked her if there was a toilet nearby, and she assured me that there was one in the MRI waiting room.

I gave my name to the Australian receptionist who had one of those irritating accents that sounded like everything she said was a question and asked where the toilet was. She pointed out this door that was amongst all the chairs., of course it was a disabled toilet. I went in and locked the door behind me. I was very conscious that ever sound I made would be heard by the few people sat patiently only a few feet on the other side of the door so I very quietly tried to wash the inside of my bag, dispose of the sample and try and dry Mystic River; the book Lisa had leant to me (which is a jolly good read if your copy is piss soaked...c'mon I had to read something!). I remained in the toilet as long as I could without trying to raise any suspicions but eventually after stuffing the matchel with paper towels I had to sit with all the other bored looking patients.
I tried desperately to see if it smelled, and thank fuck that I decided to complete my sample the night before.

I wasn’t at all dispirited by this turn of events; it would be safe to say that it amused me greatly, and from that moment in I had a childish grin on my face.

The remainder of the day flew past, and aside from the obvious I had fun- well as much fun as someone can have as an outpatient. The MRI scan was not without it’s moments too but once more I have drifted into the realms of what ought to be a short sweet blog entry into a small essay/long boring ramble, but suffice to say that not only did I struggle to put on the gown they’d given me but I caused offence to the nurse who was operating the machine. I’m one hundred percent sure you’d have said the same thing as I did, i.e. respond with the words “piss off!” when offered headphones as the machine is extremely noisy whilst the thirty minute scan took place. Why this response, well when I asked her if there was any music being played through them (not expecting there to be) she said yes- “It’s The Feeling”, nuff said really.

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