Just before Christmas, I detected blood in my urine. ‘Detected?’ It was pink as strawberry blancmange. It only happened the once and didn’t happen again. Still, take no chances I thought. My GP took a similar view. Within a week, I was in Neville Hall hospital having it investigated.
It’s a nice euphemism that, ‘having it investigated.’ The reality was a camera pushed up my urinary tract. I watched as it approached, my eyes flitting from the doctor’s eyes – they looked sympathetic – down to something the size of a small a bicyle pump. ‘That’s not going to fit in,’ I wanted to scream. Instead, I shut my eyes quickly and winced. When I opened them again, I was able to see my bladder and kidneys on the big screen.
It was like a NASA probe investigating Mars, at least that's what the specialist said in a chatty, warm hearted kind of way, like he was talking about ‘Voyager’ and not my insides. ‘Look,’ he said, drawing my attention to veins on a dim pink terrain, ‘just like Martian canals’. What was he talking about? My kidneys and bladder and God knows what else were being violated by a hideous, metallic snake, my insides actually shuddering. He detected a faint shadow but assured me it was almost certain the pressure of an enlarged prostate doing a bit of empire building. All very Star War-ish. Still, again taking no chances, I was referred to the Royal Gwent Hospital for a biopsy, and shortly after Christmas my appointment came through.
This involved something considerably bigger than a bicycle pump but I was mercifully anaethetised by an injection via the spine. ‘You’ll like this,’ he murmured, ‘a nice tingly glow.’ And it was true - like a magic spell had been cast over my legs. Fairy Dust. A moment later, to all intents and purposes, they had vanished. I could see them, but they were no longer there. I was dead from the waist down. ‘Now,’ he murmured, ‘do you want to see what’s happening? If you don’t, I can give you something else.’
Was the man mad?
‘Give me all you got,’ I said. ‘All you’ve got’.
‘It will make you calm and sleepy.’
And it did.
They erected a dark green screen, a surgical Berlin wall, separating the living from the dead. Over it, I could see masked and capped heads bobbing up and down but felt nothing. They could have been building the Hoover Dam, the Great Wall of China, building a new motorway. There could have been road cones and warning lights all the way up to my bladder. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Quantum nothingness behind the green screen.
And then it was over.
Before I knew it, I was trolley-boarded back on to my hospital bed, where I had to wait five hours for my legs to return. That was fine but for the fact that I’d been put back slightly askew and was in no position to straighten myself. I could have called the nurses but a sense of humiliation trumped common sense.
My legs did come back…and so did everything else. I looked down at it with quiet pride. You’ve been to hell and back, buddy; knew too, there would be no Purple Heart or Victoria Cross. Just the results due in a few weeks.