OK, so ‘Clinging by my fingertips to what is left of my life…’ might seem a little over the top. But if you had just had the day I have, perhaps you would understand.
As I may have mentioned before I am due to have an operation to correct a hernia. At the moment I have a belly button that looks like there is someone inside me poking a stick outwards. It doesn’t hurt but if I wanted to take my already bronzed and magnificent body on to a beach, I would be, embarrassed. No amount of rippling stomach muscle hides the fact that I look like John Hurt in the original ‘Alien’. Without going into detail you know the bit I mean.
Anyway, such was my shame, I knew perfectly well, that I had to get something done. I needed a repair but unfortunately in going ahead I would have to reveal how the injury, took place.
Dear Reader, what I am about to write is to be kept between you and me. You have to promise to keep it to yourself.
I was in the bath reaching for the soap when something ‘twanged’. The pain was excruciating and lasted for at least thirty seconds.
[At this point I will give you a moment to finish laughing.]
Needless to say, it wasn’t funny and I’d like to say that, that was it. But worse was to come.
The hours passed and the pain subsided and the ‘bath incident’ was becoming just a horrible memory.
The next morning, was when I first saw ‘it’. Following my usual routine which includes studying myself in the mirror for ten minutes (all right 15). I looked and nearly fainted.
There, where my belly button used to be was….how can I put this? Where my belly button used to be was…a face. A face with a protruding nose and what looked like a malicious smile. It was hard to believe that this was once part of me. Once a finger-friendly space where I would harvest fluff on a once-a-week-basis had become my enemy. My own body was mocking me, making it very clear that I was no longer perfect. I was, to put it mildly I was…I was…disfigured. Something had to be done.
Today, I arrived for my pre-op. You know the one, where they ask questions like, ‘who are you?’, ‘how old are you?’, ‘have you any allergies? , ‘who won the world cup in 1953’?
(Talking of allergies I didn’t mention the deeply unpleasant reaction I have if approached by a horse. I figured that would be silly as I doubt there would be horses in the operating theatre. However, I do admit to being a little concerned that the surgeon might have been out riding with the hounds just before he set to work on my body but hey, I guess that’s a risk you have to take).
By this time I was a little bored but realised that these questions are designed to weed out those who are bonkers and get a kick from intrusive surgery, a sort of wheat from the chaff thing.
This was when things began to hot up. The very nice lady then proceeded to take blood. But what’s this…THREE PHIALS!? (Warning: Old Tony Hancock joke), that’s almost an armful. Things led quickly to what I guess this is the whole point of this diatribe. You need to know that I left that room feeling worse than when I went in.
It was the ECG that did it. I’d never had one before but was well aware of the procedure because I study the memsahib watching ‘Holby City’ and ‘Doctors’ on a regular basis. I was relaxed and calm even when the nice nurse told me not to talk (that’s not how it happens on the TV).
I will cut to the chase.
In case you are unaware it’s a very quick procedure, 2/3 mins at the most.
She looked at the paper read-out and frowned. Then she pressed a button and the machine hummed into life again to repeat the procedure. The frown again.
‘It could be nothing’ she said, trying to smile. ‘Sometimes the wires don’t attach themselves very well’. ‘I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about’. ‘Anyway, I’ll get a doctor to have a look at the read out’. And this was the killer… ‘If you don’t hear from me before the operation then presume everything is all right’.
Is this woman aware of who she is talking to? Does she understand that if there was a contest for the person most likely to die of Anxiety, I would be taking home the trophy?
My op takes place in a weeks time. There are seven days in which to worry if the phone will ring. I will not sleep tonight or any other night as I feel I really am, ‘Clinging by my fingertips to what is left of my life…’