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I am fully aware as I start to write today’s little potage de vie, that I will lose about 50% of my readership by the mid-way point.  I remember my dad telling me a similar tale and I had to beg him to stop.  (He didn’t, of course, but that’s just the way it is with dads.)  Although I know that the way I tell my little ‘stories’ often has a tendency to make things sound as if I have just made them up on the back of a particularly lurid acid trip, it is not the case – particularly so today.  The story I am about to relate is not only completely true, but relates back to a very old thread within this blog and whilst I cannot honestly claim that I have not embellished the facts in my own style – there is no point in putting profiteroles on the table if you can’t cover them in cream and sprinkles – they do, none-the-less remain ‘the truth’: buffed up perhaps, but not made up.

It is the time of year when the squirrels in the local park will take food from your hands and, should you not be quite quick enough in offering it to them, will think nothing of running up your leg and nipping your fingers by way of a reminder.  Food is at a premium and when it is available, they will do all that they can to get it and to hang on to it.  The sun was shining, the grandkids were happy and we were all enjoying our commune with sciurus nature when my phone rang.  Following on from my recent ultrasound scan (see ‘Mortal’ here) I had an appointment later that very afternoon to see a specialist at the hospital which had been rescheduled from a later date just the previous day, bringing it forward by forty-eight hours, and so, knowing the difficulties under which the health service is currently operating, I presumed they were calling me to postpone and reschedule out little chat in favour of a more convenient time – say sometime in 2025.  I was consequently happily surprised when the voice said “We have a cancellation.  Can you make it to the hospital for 2pm?”  It was noon.  I said “yes”, happy that I would be seen early and anticipating that my treatment, whatever it might be, would be thus expedited, e.g. pushed to the front of the queue.

At 2pm sharp I rocked up at the relevant department and was immediately ushered through to a small side room by a very pleasant uniformed nurse who sat me down and started to write down my details.  All I remember thinking at this stage was that she didn’t look like a consultant.  However, she put me at ease whilst cheerfully jotting down my answers, even laughing when she had to start again because of my inability to answer a simple question with anything approaching the right answer, and then quite out of the blue she asked me, “Have you ever had this procedure before?”  A little bell tinkled somewhere in the depths of my poor brain but, if cogs had begun to whirr at all, they were connected to nothing that in anyway helped me to process what she had just asked.
“Procedure?” I queried.
“Yes, procedure.”
“I didn’t know that I was having a procedure.”
“Oh yes,” she said, “you’re having a procedure.”
“What kind of procedure?”  I was aware that my voice had now lost all of its affected carefree tone.  There was a definite hint of strangled cat.
She sighed quietly and returned to her note-making.  “We’ll talk about it when I’ve finished the paperwork,” she said…

Now, I am not the kind of person who carries a medical dictionary between the ears, but the words ‘flexible cystoscopy’ managed to paint the kind of picture that it is hard to ignore.  I tried to explain that I had not come prepared for a ‘procedure’; that my wife was waiting for me outside and that I hadn’t discussed with anyone the need for it, but she smiled reassuringly and said, “We need to check for cancer.  And anyway, you’re next.  It will only take twenty minutes.”  All reasoned argument had departed: she had me at ‘cancer’.  She led me through to a little room occupied by two female nurses and a male doctor*.  I was instructed to “remove everything below the waist.  Put the gown on, but do not fasten it, and then put your shoes and socks back on.”  I saw how absurd I appeared.  How much did I really want to look like a complete berk whilst walking into what I now realised was to come?  “We don’t want you getting cold feet,” said the nurse.
“Believe me, I’ve already got ‘em.”

Of the actual ‘mechanics’ of what followed I can say little except that both of my ‘below stairs’ exits were used as entries – and I am not a fan.  The two nurses – who were exactly everything that a nurse should be – kept up a barrage of pleasant smalltalk, obviously designed to distract me from the awfulness of what was occurring, and it very nearly worked, but let’s be honest, you know that when a doctor says “This is going to sting,” it is never actually going to be better than expected.  Watching a high resolution television picture of your own interior probably has the edge on Eastenders, but little else.  I can only tell you that when, having finished what he was doing, the doctor said “Turn onto your side and pull your knees up to your chest,” it actually came as a relief.

I am immensely relieved to be able to report that whatever it was they hoped not to find, they duly did not find it and so discharged me from their care with the knowledge that there was no cancer, but that I would experience ‘some discomfort’ when urinating for a couple of days.  In fact the knowledge of the former just about made peeing nitric acid for the next forty-eight hours tolerable.

When I got home I read and re-read my letter but could find no pre-warning of the ‘procedure’ they had scheduled and I am left thinking that the whole thing – including the shifting timescale of the appointment – was just a very clever subterfuge to prevent me, the patient, from getting too nervous about what was to come because, if I’m honest, had I known what lay ahead, I might well have found myself at one with the squirrels: grasping everything in the vicinity of my nuts in both little paws and steadfastly refusing to let go. 

*I am uncertain of the etiquette involved here.  He may have been a ‘Mr’ rather than ‘Dr’, but whichever he was, in view of what he then did, I certainly hope that he held some form of medical qualification.

N.B. This post is merely a short record of my own naivety and is in no way intended as any criticism of the care I received, nor the people who delivered it.  Both were absolutely exemplary.  Thank you N.H.S!

29 thoughts on “Squirrels

  1. I came here for a lovely story about Squirrels, and now I leave disappointed. Please could we have some Squirrel based stories in your next blog that don’t lead into rectal examinations. I won’t be able to feed the squirrels in my garden now without thinking about you know what…..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have had a similar procedure and there was nothing fun about it for sure. I don’t think I’m squirrelly enough to tell about it as you have, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You win, I’ve tears of laughter from my black eyes. Love you for that my friend, but seriously, you win hands down in the “I had a bad day!” For even though a fire door fell on me (then the frame held it off of me) and then a couple of days later a six foot hand rail from above my head, fell onto my face, across the eyes and nose. I can tell you, you still win hands down. For having your exits used as entrances sounds much worse, much, much worse. {{{shudder}}} I’d ‘ave wanted to leg it!
    Still, we’re both gonna live and that’s gotta be a good thing. I’m fine. Your fine. It is another day.
    Thankfully, we can put it all down to experience. More tea vicar?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh boy. I’m not sure about that. I read about the door but I missed the hand rail. It sound’s horrific. I felt as though I had been ambushed. I was completely unaware of what was to come and came so close to fleeing. All for the best though in the end – literally. Hope you get better soon. (PS more tea vicar? Made me laugh out loud. Years since I heard that. Thanks for that 😊)


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