Friday, March 21, 2008

My First Admittance to Hospital.

Subtitle: Brought Down to Earth with a Thump.


In my youth visits to the hospital were either grudging attendances on sick kin or occasional visits to A&E. One time I enthusiastically picked up and eraser thrown at me by a work-mate then as I stood found myself lifting a cast-iron engine block mounting cube (a lump of metal you bolt an engine block to on a surface table for marking out or measurement – it takes two people to lift it) with my head underneath one of the mounting studs, which subsequently slid down. I noted the lump of scalp on the end of the stud, slapped a hand over my forehead and fled to the toilets where, in the mirror, I was greeted by the sight of a flap of my scalp lifting on each pulse of blood.

In recent years my visits to hospital have become more frequent and come to involve death; you get older and more people you know get seriously ill and sometimes die. Like Alan Wood in the dedication in Cowl, and like my father last year. However, I’ve never needed to go beyond A&E for a problem of my own.

Last Friday I thought to myself damn, my bottom is sore, and wondered if I was paying the penalty of my drink-sodden lifestyle with piles. Over the weekend the pain in my arse grew, unrelieved by haemorrhoid cream, but I managed, much to my surprise, to get an appointment with the doctor’s on Monday. To be fair the doctor was probably misled by my mention of piles and probably, having to deal with dim patients was why he asked me three times if I’d had them before (I hadn’t) and if there was any blood (there wasn’t). He also didn’t get to inspect matters too closely since, after his first attempt, he had to peel me off the ceiling. He prescribed a cream, but it didn’t do any good.

Now here’s where the bottom humour starts to wane as soreness turns to pain and then PAIN. After a day in bed I got to see another doctor on an emergency basis. He tried the anal-inspection routine then after digging my fingernails out of the wall came to a conclusion: pain like that was probably due to an infection, probably an abscess. He prescribed strong painkillers and antibiotics and, if things weren’t getting any better within 48 hours I would have to go to hospital where, under general anaesthetic, they would probably have to open drain and pack the abscess.

The pain killers kicked in for a while, at least enabling me to get out of the car, but thereafter it seemed I might just as well have been eating Smarties. You know the expression ‘writhing in pain’? … well I certainly do now, only I was writhing the top half of my body and my feet because any movement of my middle section resulted in an invisible demon shoving a soldering iron up my arse. I was making noises too – little grunts and groans were escaping no matter how much I clenched my teeth. Coughing was to be avoided at all costs, because the demon swapped his soldering iron for a red-hot poker at that point. I spent a night like this, seeing every hour on the clock.

In the morning Caroline called up the second doctor who immediately referred me to hospital. Just a case of getting there. I could no longer sit in the passenger seat so lay down in the back then upon arrival walked from the car park with the alacrity of a 100-year-old. After signing in at A&E where I was referred a long wait ensued, during which I was unable to sit down. Next an assessment nurse saw me and was sensible enough to forego bottom inspections and admitted me. I have to wonder if her job is to increase efficiency or slow down the admission procedures, just to keep things within those government targets.

After a further long wait during which I stood supporting myself on the arms of two chairs I was taken into a cubical to be checked over by a junior surgical doctor. This involved her asking me numerous questions, delivering homilies about my smoking straight out of the New Labour Book of Truth, then she proceeded to part my buttocks and subsequently remove my hands from her throat. I jest, of course, but right then I wanted a pump-action shotgun beside me: “You touch this without giving me drugs and I spray your head over that wall!”

Some of the next bit comes second hand, because I can’t really remember much of it. I ended up on my side on a bed, behind A&E, Caroline departed and I was wheeled down to a ward. Despite my pleas to allow myself to sort myself out a nurse had to be helpful, then backed off when her tugging on the under sheet pulled on one buttock and I shrieked. Another nurse, aware that I wasn’t having a little joke about how much this was hurting, helped me change into a gown, confining that help to pulling off my socks and shifting my pants and joggers out of the way. Now came the wait for surgery, obviously nil-by mouth. I lay there listening to the moaning and whining all around me. The guys either side were in to have various limbs lopped off whilst those in the beds opposite had recently lost large portions of their insides. I felt a bit of a fraud, but the demon was still there with his soldering iron and I was venturing into delirium territory with the electric bed nearby sounding like rain on the roof and everything seeming a bit weird, a bit out-of-kilter.

Pain is no fun at all, but neither is the discomfort of lying in one position for hours on end so, despite this stirring the wannabe electrician demon into action, I had to move to relieve aching back, neck, buttocks and dead arms. At about 9.30 in the evening I did this again and noted that the demon must have been taking a tea break. Then I realised something was cold and wet and reached down to find a couple of slimy buttocks. Managing to shift myself I saw brown and pink plasma soaking the under sheet. I called over the nurse who changed things for me and I was actually able to stand beside the bed while this was being done. He then put down some nappies on the bed for me to lie on, and I was able to lie on my back for the first time in three days.

No surgery that evening – too busy – so I was able to eat a sandwich and have a cup of tea. I was told I would be able to have breakfast and something to drink, but nothing more afterwards because I would probably go under the knife that afternoon. Sometime after midnight I fell asleep until about six in the morning whereupon I found that someone had dumped a cupful of strawberry sauce and custard underneath me. I got rid of the soaked nappy in a surgical waste bin and grabbed another gown. When it came to being washed I used the ward shower. I ate breakfast, felt a lot better, and began to question whether surgery under general anaesthetic was a good idea now, but it was difficult to find anyone who had a clue about what was going on.

Finally one I assumed to be the consultant, with his train of juniors in tow, turned up. One of the juniors (the politically-correct anti-smoker) checked me over. She used rather more caution with my buttocks this time, which was a bit stable door. The diagnosis was that nature was taking its course and I was done there. No surgery. All I needed was a dressing on my bum and the needle taken out of my arm, which took six hours to get accomplished…

My impression: a lot of competent dedicated people running around working their butts off, along with the usual slackers you’ll find anywhere. But mainly it was an impression of disorganization, people doing the jobs they knew but phased by anything that fell outside of that, buck passing and ‘not my responsibility’. All the signs of crap management, which is odd, since under Labour the NHS is now oversupplied with managers.

I wonder what they do?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well I am glad you are better. I hope you used the time wisely and got some quality prose written.

I thought for a second you were looking for an excuse to get out of going to the pub on the 5th.

Anal pain is not to be trifled with.

Neil M

Bob Lock said...

Don't look a gift horse in the bum, Neal. At least you made it out alive and hopefully without a dose of MRSA or C Difficle. And just think, if you did have the operation you could quite easily be singing castrato now, stranger things have happened, like the poor sod in Llanelli Hospital here not so long ago who went in to have a diseased kidney removed. They took the healthy one out and left the knackered one in, he died shortly afterwards.
NHS? The vet who treats my dog could show them a thing or two, and I kid you not...

Rasselas said...

That sounds horrific, Neal. I'm sorry.

Mark Croucher said...

Phew you had me scared there as I started to read that. I thought you were going to unvail a horrible story of some seriousness. Trust how relieved I was that it was just "another" arsehole causing you some discomfort and grief. Very pleased that you are better and felt the need to share so graphically with us your anal medical condition.

I understand it is normal to return from some Greek islands with this type of problem after a protracted stay. Mykonos is it your place?

Neal Asher said...

Neil, writing was the last thing on my mind at the time - be like me telling you to get a move on with fixing those floorboards while a saw your foot off.

Bob, I hope I have managed to avoid MRSA, but there's still time yet for it to develop. Considering those in the beds either side of me I did wonder if I should mark my legs 'not to be removed'.

rasselas, it was horrific.

mark, on April the 5th I shall be bringing along a gas-powered soldering iron to deliver a few salutary lessons. Be prepared.

DanyelLawson said...

Sorry to hear that you went through all that. Hope you feel better. You may want to check out a few episodes of You Are What You Eat to get some tips on how to improve your diet and save yourself from any future problems.

You should submit yourself to appear on the show. I would look forward to watching Gillian McKeefe giving you what for over your diet.

Neal Asher said...

Nothing wrong with what I eat, Danyel. Having been brought up on home grown veg I eat very healthily.

The reality about an abscess like this? Well, it wasn't actually inside my dirt box but outside it and, according to one nurse, the problem is simply a man thing: hairy bum. They're usually caused by ingrowing hairs. Any women out there might like to know that they can suffer a similar problem if they like shaving off their pubes.

Danyel said...

My mistake.

vaudeviewsgalor said...

how do you avoid that? ass waxing...maybe? helpful hints would be great. i own some hair down there..i meant here.

fleetofworlds said...

What a ghastly tale, Neal. As a martyr to the old chalfonts I sympathise, although your plight sounds an order of magnitude worse. Glad to hear (possibility late onset MRSA notwithstanding) that you are on the road to recovery.

Chris said...

since under Labour the NHS is now oversupplied with managers.

I have been informed that there is a building in South Wales that is staffed only by "managers"... and no-one knows what they do.

Glad to hear that you're at least recovering Neal. I can imagine that this demon of yours with the red-hot poker will meet a rather grisly end in a forthcoming story...

Kirby Uber said...

you know, neal i had a pilonidal cyst removed a few years back, which sounds on par with your experience. mine was followed up by horrid staph infection, 3 weeks out of work, and huge weight loss.

the pain was immaculate.

i think i still have the inflatable plastic ring i had to sit on for a month after returning to work.

i did however, briefly consider starting a controlled staph infection clinic for weight loss. 30 - 40 pound inside of a month. like magic, that is. magic, of course, with freakish agony.

Good Times

or, not really, at all.

Neal Asher said...

Reading the link, Kirby, it all seems very very familiar. I was warned in the hospital that it might come back. I'm really looking forwards to that.

Kirby Uber said...

yes, i was told the same, and that eventuality remains on my top ten list of things i'd substitute being fist fucked by a bear for...

and i don't mean a hairy gay man. i mean a bear. with claws.

Olaf T. Hairy said...

As a fellow hairy arse you have my sympathy.

I had a pylonidal sinus removed about 4 years ago. I didn't suffer like you until I discovered a small unhealing leaking hole at the bottom of my spine.

A visit to the doc lead to a frightening search on the internet with some post op pics that looked like gunshot wounds.

In my case the cyst had crawled up towards my tail bone rather than tunnelling in so I ended up with a large open wound that looked like I'd bee hit on the arse by an axe. It has to be left open to heal too. I couldn't sit properly for 3 months.

They're caused by a little bit of hair (probably from a haircut rather than your butt) that gets into a follicle. The scales on a hair work like barbs and it can only move in one direction. Then it causes the infection which bursts to form the sinus.

Aka jeep drivers bum.

Get well soon Neal!

PS - bath in salty water and do it regularly (i.e. esp after a shit) it stops infections getting in.

Neal Asher said...

So yours could come back even after being operated on? Shit.

Olaf said...

No mate. My cyst (the boil on your arse) burst before it got bad enough to go to the Doc. I went later when it became a sinus.

But lots of people get repeats of them. I know one guy who has had 4 ops.

I just make sure I always clean me arse crack well to get any fragments of hair out. And extra carefully after a haircut.

Neal Asher said...

Sorry, Olaf, that previous comment from me was for Kirby.

Interesting what you were saying about the hair. I usually cut my own hair with one of those Wahl things prior to having a shower, but since I don't have anything on while doing it, the cut hairs are probably dropping straight down my butt crack.

Kirby Uber said...

In my case the cyst had crawled up towards my tail bone rather than tunnelling in so I ended up with a large open wound that looked like I'd bee hit on the arse by an axe. It has to be left open to heal too. I couldn't sit properly for 3 months.

yup. i had an open wound as well. *huge* i re-call thinking there was no way i could maintain so a huge hole in my body and live.

but i have to stress, the weight loss. brilliant.

neal: yeah even after the operation there is a chance, though way way lower, than just treating with antibiotics. way lower.

and the weight loss...