I hate hospitals. I am the world’s worst patient. It’s not that I’m squeamish – I can handle blood and guts, but only if they belong to somebody else. My doctor has diagnosed me with significant ‘white coat syndrome’. By that, I assume he doesn’t mean that there’s a significant risk that the men in white coats will be here to cart me away. No, I see a white coat and my instinct is to run as far as possible in the opposite direction. Probably straight into the path of an oncoming truck, knowing me.
So I had to go for a kidney scan. The last one didn’t go too well. The letter sent from the hospital clearly stated to “drink 2 litres of water at least 2 hours before your appointment time”. It should have added on the end “if you have a bladder like that of an elephant”. I duly complied, then wished I hadn’t.
The road leading to the hospital was littered with speed bumps, randomly scattered at various heights to ensure that each one caught you and your exceedingly full bladder completely by surprise.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I had to sit in the ultrasound department along with a queue of other full-bladdered people. In a row, outside the toilet. Seriously – who planned that? It was like some form of cruel torture, our eyes bulging as we scanned the toilet door, bladders fit to burst. Yet nobody moved. What amazing willpower we had; either that or we were all terrified of the nurse marching up and down the corridor, clipboard in hand ready to slap anybody who stepped over the toilet threshold.
After what seemed like an eternity, my name was called and I staggered behind the nurse as she led me into a darkened room. It was in that room that I discovered something about myself: I have a new ticklish spot. Well 2 to be precise, one on each side of my waist which just happen to be exactly where the radiographer needed to prod me to scan each kidney. Bingo! Each time the poor man thrust the transducer probe into my side, my leg shot up uncontrollably, my knee connecting with his body on several occasions. I didn’t realise that being a radiographer was such a dangerous occupation. Neither did he, judging by the lack of humour he exhibited. I lost count of the amount of times he barked at me to “please try and keep still!” I was giggling too much – no mean feat with an exceedingly full bladder. By the end of the scan, I wasn’t the only one staggering out of the darkened room, although I was the only one with a smirk on my face.
Then it was decided that I needed a repeat scan. Deep joy. Proud as I was of my immense bladder control at the last scan, I decided to go for the more sensible option and drink less beforehand. Joining the queue by-the-toilet-but-not-FOR-the-toilet, was less painful. In fact I almost felt a little smug that my bladder wasn’t as pin-poppingly full as those of the other cross-legged people waiting.
As I entered the consultation room, I noticed that it was a different radiographer: a pleasant young man who seemed to be pressing his palms against the walls in the corner of the room. Clearly news of my killer karate kick action had spread.
He approached me warily with the words, “This might hurt a little.” Huh?
He placed the probe not on the side of my waist, but on my lower rib. Then he pressed down. Hard. As I winced, he said, “I’m sorry, it will be uncomfortable.” Of course it was uncomfortable! He might as well have grabbed a large mallet and smashed my lower ribs to smithereens – there, that would have given him a perfect view of my kidney! Alternatively I could have given him a pair of drumsticks and he could have serenaded me with a tune of ‘nick nack paddywack’ on my ribcage.
The scan didn’t take long. Maybe that was due to my furrowed brow and clenched teeth. Who knows? “Well,” he said with a very big smile, “that all looks perfectly normal!” We breathed a collective sigh of relief: me that I had the all clear; him that he could put away the armour plating and never see me again. Well not for another year anyway.
So what did I learn from this little episode?
- Speed bumps and full bladders don’t mix
- I can get quite violent when I’m being tickled
- Radiographers aren’t generally into kick boxing
- Sometimes it’s necessary to break a rib or 2 to check if a patient’s kidneys are healthy
Oh, and a final note to self: when using the ladies’ toilets after having crossed your legs for a couple of hours, don’t choose the cubicle next to the hand dryer. No matter how desperate you are to empty your bladder, it’s highly embarrassing when someone dries their hands, and the rush of air blows under the cubicle door and wafts your frock up over your head.