Guys is a large hospital, set in a number of buildings adjacent to London Bridge station. It is the specialist hospital in London for oncology and cancer. The oncology department is a bright, modern and spacious place on the first floor. There were a few women waiting but most were mature to elderly men of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities.
There was plenty of seating in the department so I managed to find myself somewhere where I could sit quietly and occupy myself with my phone.
“Those things have killed all conversation, I hate them!” An older gentleman announced loudly two seats away from me.
Well that did it. I put my phone away. I could have either been rude and ignored him but I sensed he wanted to talk so he now had my full attention. He reminded me of a character from a ‘carry on’ movie. Not that he looked particularly funny but he had a weathered crinkled face with thick rim glasses that somehow made me think of the sixties when with that twinkle in his eye he was quite the easy talker and definitely the ladies man.
We didn’t exchange names, he just drove straight in. Well, actually ploughed would be a better description.
“I’ve been coming her since Christmas last year and every time I come here they find something else wrong with me”
“Well what’s wrong” I said knowing full well I was taking the bait. Do fish ever see the big old hook attached to the juicy worm before they swallow? My phone was still vibrating away in my pocket in annoyance at being ignored.
“I am fu@@ed he said cheerfully. “I’ve had cancer in my prostate for a while then they opened me up and found some in my liver and other stuff and could not operate”
Sometimes you need to talk to someone worse off than yourself to appreciate where you are at. I wished I had just sat in another bank of seats because I didn’t want to talk but he had got me and reeled me in.
He proceeded to tell me about how he lives close and is in here most days. How he looks after his grandson, what his son does and what else he does with his day. I resolved to my fate and warmed up a little, he was alright. After about ten minutes he was called by one of the nurses and we said our goodbyes. I actually looked first around with a tinge of guilt before checking my phone and immersing myself back in that solitude land of the mobile.
I was called by a nurse and made my way over to her room. This was to be my first meeting with Consultant Paul Cathcart. Let’s call him Dr C. A good looking chiseled man (no don’t even get it twisted) in his mid to late forties, lives in Clapham Common area, two kids, three story house and he probably has a Brompton bike (Love Islanders – expensive, posh folding bicycle). If I have got more than half of all of those assumptions correct then I might just be opening up a ‘mystic Pete’ caravan at a seaside resort and make my fortune.
There were four of us in the room the nurse, a female student doctor whose name I forgot instantly after she told me (sorry but let’s say Dr A), myself and Dr C. The nurse left shortly afterwards. So Dr C explained about the team at Guys and what they do. He went into the PSA result and reiterated that the test on its own is not accurate enough and that we would now need to do a number of other tests to determine how bad the prostate really is. He asked me if there were any prostate issues in the family and I said I would ask my dad. I was beginning to think this is sweet, a simple and quick introduction and I would be home early and the rest of the evening. Nice!
Dr C then said “OK then, we just need to do a rectal examination”
Huh? I said to myself. I’m not sure if at that moment he noticed me getting paler in a split second. When the gazelle is grazing on that sweet, tasty piece of grass minding his own business only to glance up and see the smiling head of the lioness. I tried hard not to show it, I really did.
The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE).
CLEARLY ONE OF THE THREE OF US DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING!
I wondered if this was the reason why the surgery doctor was not upset with me over blowing up his switchboard trying to get this PSA result. I had to wonder if he was laughing his head off now and slapping his thigh over his tea and biscuits knowing what was coming my way.
“If you could take your trousers and underwear off for me and lie down on the bench, facing the wall and tucking your knees up to your chest please”. Dr C smiled. Some lionesses are also known to smile before dinner.
Now Bridget Jones had big knickers on in her misery. I had a perfectly usable pair of boxer shorts on with a small hole in one of the side seams. Like I said perfectly useable and durable just not catwalk friendly, oh and my socks were slightly mismatched – one had a green tip and the other orange. I couldn’t be asked to match them at 5.30am this morning.
Without realising it I had gone into superhuman mode. The slapping on the rubber gloves sounded like someone had taken a dustbin lid and just crashed it to the floor. The lubricant going onto the gloves sounded like an outside lido without the kids enjoying themselves.
He then came over. “Just try and relax your muscles”.
Yeah. Good luck with that one then.
Dr C puts his other hand on my hip to steady me or perhaps it’s a calming hand. Nope, it was neither. It turns out to be leverage.
So how to describe?
Well if you can find an alternative for the following please let me know and I will amend….
‘Soft black matter’ (me)
‘Hits immovable object’ (wall)
‘propelled by organic single digit cylinder engine’ (Dr C)
We could probably throw in somewhere that Dr C also momentarily turned into that stretch dude from the fantastic four.
Then twenty seconds later it was all over – well – ‘ish’
I took a deep breath. The first thing that came to my mind was that some guys actually like this!
“Do you mind if Dr A examines you as well?” I paused for a few seconds and then I actually said – and of course you would never say in an American prison – “The more the merrier”. That was my feeble attempt to try and lighten the mood. They both smiled.
“How much lubrication should I use?” Asked Dr A to Dr C.
“You don’t need any. There is still lots there” said Dr C.
Unfortunately, I could wholeheartedly concur.
I turned to her and said, “You know you have not even bought me dinner”. They both laughed.
Then something different happened. The smell of summer meadows wafted in, a harp was being plucked in the corner of the room, my feet were being gently massaged and a waiter was preparing a refreshing cocktail for me.
Then it was over.
“Can you feel the roughness on the right hand side?” Asked Dr C. Dr A nodded in agreement.
I was happy for them both.
Dr C said it was all over and to wipe myself with the towels on the side. After the fifth towel I realised that I had better stop or they would be thinking that I had had an accident. Unfortunately this was no ordinary lubricant this was some sort of industrial grade juice that they used on heavy machinery or goods vehicles. I wouldn’t say that I sat down back in the chair as it was more of a ‘squish’ and then a ‘squash’. This stuff had not finished with me yet. I looked around expecting to see an industrial container of lubricant with the London transport logo on it.
“Well Mr Ellis I could detect an abrasion on the right hand side of the prostate so we will need to run some more tests” announced Dr C.
“So I won’t need to be finger puppeted again then?” I enquired.
“You know I’ve never had it described like that before” Dr C smiled and then laughed.
“You can have that one” I added.
Yeah Sooty’s got nothing on me I thought to myself.
“If you see the receptionist outside they will arrange another appointment for you”.
I thanked the doctors, then with a couple of squishes Sooty turned and left the room.