Three weeks had passed since our hero had the surgery (* see note i for an explanation) – He was told that he had to prepare himself for a thorough body scan to check if the Cancer tumours (they called secondaries) were still active. This was procedure, but the chances of survival that the Consultant surgeon had given our hero was 80% against that the secondary tumours would have ceased their active growth. Further surgery may have been required and would have involved the total amputation of his pride and joy and most of his inners, to have any chance of survival…
..“I was walking around the ‘waiting’ rooms ideally looking at leaflets. I walked over to the nurses desk and asked my favourite nurse a question….”How come there is no advise for men, to the same depth as that for women, when it comes to cancer of the genital areas?” “I mean, when you look around the hospital all you see is breast cancer information and various charities holding meetings and free help, I’ve not seen one for men’s cancer, or encouragement to have regular scans or examinations, how come?” I was genuinely angry. “Calm down, I’ve got you in for your scan at three-o-clock” She said and followed up on my complaint. “Now what is it you want to discuss? Inequality? ” She said in a semi -confused way. Before I could retaliate she explained the finer aspects of her job.
“Well part of my job is to help you come to terms with having the operation and progressing so we can try and save you. You see men simply do not come to us early enough. They leave the problem so its always seems like its life or death. It’s we nurses that are the thin blue line that keep you here” Her kind eyes touched me as they had been doing for the last three weeks. “Men need educating in health matters, thats my point.” I said calming down a little. “ I’m scared Christina, this is the crunch point, if the tumours are still active, I can’t go through all this again, I would rather die.” I said in a tearful way.
I tried to control myself but I couldn’t. I cried like a child, my self control had deserted me. She hugged me to try to restore my composure but I pulled away, whilst thanking her.
I felt much better and went for another drink, I had been told I needed to drink 4 litres of water for examination. I had started my water input in good time and continued by easing the task on hand by pretending the ‘water’ was pints of beer. I was on my third ‘pint’ when Christina walked into my imaginary ‘bar’. “Come now, its time to go” She linked me and pulled my arm and hand hard into her side. She took me to the cross road of those terrible corridors and then directed me to the correct department. I walked slowly but purposely and arrived at my destination efficiently.
“You will be ok.” Said a voice reassuringly. The department seemed closed. I looked at the door and the window. I staggered about and realised that my beer fantasy had taken control and had a feelings associated with being drunk.
“Fuck it” I said out loud in the vain hope that someone may hear.
Someone did hear me. A mature woman dressed in white with a cute cap came through two swinging doors with a smile. “Mr Taylor?” she said calmly and with a slight turn of the head said, “Please come this way.” She held my hand and positioned me near a chair. “Register here and take a seat.” She handing me a form and a pen. “I’m getting much steadier now.” I surprised the nurse with my reason for the drunken like state I’d become. As I filled in the form I looked up and around and saw lots of pregnant women and some old folk.
How appropriate, I thought, probable life and potential death in one room. I sat slumped in the chair and occasionally took a swig from my imaginary ‘beer’ bottle. A small painting caught my eye. It was Poppy Fields by Monet.
An old lady was looking at me. Her eyes were saying why are you and what are you doing here? I must have looked a proper nutcase in my blue checked nightdress, a white knee length T-shirt, dirty white knee length stockings with black leather brogues and no trousers. This coupled with my imaginary intoxicated state with a hint of being slightly mental, it was hardly surprising the old dear stared at me.
I moved over and sat next to her. “Monet” I said to her and I pointed to the painting. She smiled at me and moved to another chair. ‘Oh my God’ I thought. I’ve turned into one of them loonies you see in hospital soaps on the TV. I laughed to myself at the absurdity. I looked around again and saw a pregnant woman running from a side door and straight to the door marked WC. My curious stare caught a white clad nurses attention. “It’s a scan ward, we ask the ladies to drink a lot of water so the scan is clear” she said perfectly on cue. “Have you had your specified amount?” she asked. “About eight pints up to now with three pints just before breakfast” I said quickly as a joke. “Have you relieved recently?” She asked. “Nope” I said heroically. “ you see the scan jell and scanning head, will put pressure on your bladder and you may need to hold your water, take deep breaths and it will be over soon.” The nurse advised me with a smile.
With that she guided me to the scanning room. I walked in and placed my imaginary beer on the side table. Two nurses guided me into position removing my clothes and smearing jelly over my testicles and stomach and the in-between areas. I smiled at the nurse who had a funky hair cut. However the scan person was a nice looking women, who was obviously intelligent and spoke to me using lots of technical words that meant nothing to me at all as she prepared her scanning tools. At that point Doctor Khan and his assistants walked in and took control. He nodded at me in recognition from the first bodily examination he gave me when I first arrived at the hospital. He wasted no time getting down to business. He instructed the operator, the nice looking intelligent one, to trace imaginary lines over my groin and stomach area.
He kept saying things like. “No go back, it’s there. I know, one is there, back, now forward a little, there it should be there.” This went on for a while, enough for the nurse to give me another cold jellying, but I maintained my bladder control with not a little effort. At one point I actually asked the nurse to pass me a drink to redirect my mind from my almost bursting bladder.
After a while, with much of chin rubbing, Doctor Khan went into a huddle with his team of the other doctors all of whom were examining several print outs from the machine. I raised myself and asked if I could dress. The nurse helped me in a very discreet and pleasant way. Doctor Khan approached me. “Mr Taylor, we have made a thorough exhaustive investigation but cannot find a single secondary tumour. Now I know they were there before your operation, we both felt them didn’t we…and I believed that one of the secondaries was of a sufficient size to become independent of the primary. But the thing is they have gone, vanished completely.”
He stopped and I looked at him trying to unravel what he was saying exactly.
Finally I said to him. “Well, don’t look so fucking sad about it” and laughed. He laughed out loud and with that everyone in the room also laughed. I said my farewells and thanked the scanning team and the Doctors team and then slowly walked back to ward occasionally sipping on my water. I was now stone cold sober and in a bit of daze.
“You have a job of work to do.” Said a familiar voice in my head…. the one I had heard before. Having shook the voice out of my mind I concentrated on my new reality. Finally after these many weeks, I really believed that I wasn’t going to die. I walked directly into the ward. Christina ran over to me. “We’ve heard the news.” Then gave me huge hug and a kiss on my cheek. She was overjoyed. We broke the hug and I looked into her eyes. “I need a piss, real bad” I said and with that hurried to the toilet and sat and relieved myself swiftly with a continual expulsion of water from my bladder and my eyes. I cried like a child but it was with joy in my heart. I gathered myself. I need a smoke, I said to myself. I walked keenly past the desk in the corridor and followed my familiar paths from the corridors to the outside.
I wasn’t part of this place anymore, I thought. I wandered out onto the path in total thankfulness and humility. I could now see everything so crisp and clear. A ladybird on a tree, the yellow and red of the spring flowers, everything was bright and alive, including me. It was amazing like the colours of a Vincent Van Gough painting. I looked up at the sky, marvelling at the colours that I could see in the clouds. I’m stoned by the beauty of the gift of life. I reasoned to explain the wonders that I saw and felt. I had decided I wanted to live and now I was blessed that I actually could. Not many people must experience this feeling in their middle fifties, it was special. I felt saved by some sort of miracle.
A new life, a fresh start, a second chance to have ago at making a difference, or at least to leave a clean sheet behind me. I pulled the packet of cigarettes from my dressing gown pocket and opened it. I looked at them and the building in the distance. I looked at the sky again and then crushed the cigs and the package in my hand and looked around for a disposal bin. One was directly in front of me and crushed the package again in my hand and casually threw it into the dustbin.
I looked around wide eyed, like a child. I found myself near a building seperated from the main hospital along a path I had not walked before. A young nurse appeared, she had red hair and a face to match. “Are you alright?” she asked. “I’m going to live.” I replied. I looked at her uniform it was light blue striped shirt, she wore black tights and black shoes. She had a name-tag and all those ‘nursey’ things like watches and plastic tubes and stuff. The name-tag read Katherine Jarvis. My new awareness of every detail continued to amaze me. “Oh!” she said and then then walked away from me before breaking out into a canter bak from whence she came.
I slowly walked back to the ward. It had been a long time since I felt so alive or this happy. ‘Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more’ I quoted Shakespeare’s Henry 4th to myself. But this time I will be much wiser and more humble and fearless. As I walked into the ward Christina (my favourite nurse) was in a side room. She looked anxious about something.
A man in a uniform was behind the door as I walked in. “The report has to follow the usual procedure in cases like…” He stopped talking when I walked in. He looked and spoke in a very hard and grumpy way. ”Hello.” I said but he ignored me. He decided to ‘vocalise his report again…“ The report is that a man has been around the grounds especially near ward ten”. Christina tapped my arm. “They are funny bunch them on ward ten, it’s a kids ward, what with all this publicity about paedophiles, its got them paranoid.” “But I was just looking at the sky.” Tears began to roll down my face as I realised the implication of his words.
The irony of the situation struck home, one moment clean and with a fresh start and within minutes my new life was blemished by the accusation of being a child molester. “Now, I’ve got to tell you” He started to say but I interrupted him. “But I was just told that I would live. I was only looking at the fucking sky.” I defended my integrity. Christina moved forwards and grabbed my arm.
“I’ll speak with them and explain” I shook my head in a hope that I would wake up from this nightmare ending to a miracle of survival. I smiled at the thought of a Greek tragedy. “Look, are you going to take this bollocking or not.” The man said and I bowed my head in compliance. Satisfied that he had done his job by telling me off, he pulled his pants up from his belt that his stomach hung over from. Straightened his cap and left. I should have filmed that I thought and considered the comical side of it all. In a moment my tears were drowned with a flood of amusement.
I looked open eyed at Christina and said to her smiling. “You just can’t get your fucking head on with some people, can you?” I said laughing. I turned and strolled to the empty ward with a fulfilling dignified glow in my heart. I sat and thought that I should tell Marianne about the good news. I ran from the ward and walked briskly down towards the pay phones by the maternity ward. I hurriedly dialled her number and waited seemingly forever. “It’s me” I said.
“Its all ok. No problems, job done, I’m clean, no worries, no cancer.”
She cried. Just then Christina came up from the side and kissed my cheek. “Bye” She mouthed to me. “Are you on the ward tomorrow?” I shouted whilst rapidly explaining to my wife that I had say good-bye to a very good friend.
“No, you are going home Wednesday, I’m back on duty Thursday” Christina shouted back to me and the she disappeared the way that only angels can….
to be continued.. Protos Loophole – Part Eight – “Protos becomes a real problem.”