Bread basket

Today was supposed to be a pelvic, transvaginal and urethral ultrasound. I was, understandably, bricking it.

Two minutes before needing to leave the house, I phoned Best Friend in a panic, feeling like I weighed half a tonne and was welded to the bed. By some miracle, he got me convinced to put on real trousers, pack a bag full of sensible medications and literature, go downstairs, and let Dearest shovel me into the car.

I arived at StJ, with Dearest, and got along to the near-empty ultrasound suite. They have refurbished huge chunks of the hospital, and this one was one of the departments they’d not quite reached yet, so it was nice seeing confirmation that the contrast between the “old” bits and the “new” bits really was as big as I thought. Not just newly-colour-coded walls, but also better signage, brighter, more diffuse and warmer lighting, more comfortable and flexible seating and more of what I’d call “passive entertainment” – Paintings on the walls, well-stocked fish tanks, facts about local history and wildlife. This particular waiting room had a couple of plastic chairs, a very sturdy vinyl sofa, and a notice saying “There were many educational posters in this ward which patients found distressing and frightening. The posters have now been moved to a staff-only area.”

Which was a shame, since I like the terrifying educational posters of all the worst things that can happen to a body. I especially like the skin ones, showing the full-thickness diagrams of different kinds of spots, insect bites and rashes, I don’t know why.

Anyway, we weren’t waiting for long, and I went into the usual semi-dark ultrasound room, and quickly necked a couple of diazepam to keep myself from going into messy spasms. I could see the transvaginal probe on the bench, and it didn’t look reassuring (Though in fairness to itself, it did look nicer than a speculum).

The technician got me to lie down on the bench, unzip my fly and roll up my shirt .

She asked if we were looking for a hormonal or a copper coil; The copper coil shows up much more brightly, since it’s got metal parts, so is easier to find. Sadly, we were looking for a hormonal coil, so this could have been a slightly longer process.

First shot was transabdominal, so she quickly lubed up my belly from navel to pubes (very courteously tucking a bit of blue paper into my boxers so as not to completely soak them in ultrasound goo) and started ultrasounding. One or two passes, very firmly, over the bottom third of my abdomen – Asking if I was all right, and keeping me well informed of what she was doing all the way (Including the amazing statement of “Oh, there’s a loop of bowel in the way, I’m just going to nudge it to one side for a minute…”), then pressing down quite hard onto the top of my pubic bone, to see behind it. Each time the machine took a “photo” I felt a fairly strong vibration, like from an amplifier, but that was all.

“Aha!” she said, turning the screen so that I could see it (She’d earlier had to point out to me that if I tensed up my abdominals to lean up and see the screen, I was pushing the wand away from what it needed to scan and defeating the object) “There’s your coil – And right where it’s meant to be as well.” She pointed out a pair of parallel lines on the screen, surprisingly fuzzier than I’d expected, and I was immediately, deliriously happy.

“I don’t need to do a transvaginal, it’s all where it’s supposed to be. I’ll send a letter to your doctor – It must have just been a bacterial infection from having it installed in the first place.”

I have never been so happy to waste a benzo. I dried off, thanked her profusely, and went to the toilets to change into some less-jellied underpants. All in all, the whole effort took less than fifteen minutes, wasn’t painful, was technically interesting to watch, the practitioner was pleasant and professional, and the news was good.

Why can’t all procedures be like that?

Next week is a doctor-heavy week (Medication review on the 3rd, then appointment with Dr L on the 5th) but before that I have my motorcyle CBT on Saturday, then the New Zealand v England test in Headingley on Sunday, and hopefully a night at Best Friend’s house some time around then too. So all is coming up roses at the moment.

Oh, and on the 13th I’m going up to the homelands to look at bikes with an old friend. Now, let me explain this friend; We met when I was working underage in a nightclub when I was 17 (He was 21, but I still IDed him, ironically), and us and our collection of dubious metallers and goths drank heavily every week together from then until I went to university. Upon my going to university, we met up every couple of months (with the key date being New Year, wherein we would all pile back to his best friend’s ground-floor flat overlooking the quayside and sleep in a pile in the living room, leaving one-by-one through the front window after sunrise then walking back across the river to go home) and then once a year, and then eventually (when I moved to japan) not at all. Our last communique had been not long after the earthquake – He’d been intending to visit me in Tokyo, but Japan running a skeleton service made it less immediately practical. So that was the last we heard of each other.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text out of the blue asking if I wanted a night out in the homeland. It had been sent on Saturday night, and I picked it up on Sunday morning, so I just laughed it off and replied with “Yeah, if I’d had more notice.” A couple of texts passed back and forth until he asked “Hang on – Which [Old Nickname] is this?” My response was “The [Old Nick] who lives in Leeds and you’ve not seen in half a dozen years.” Seconds after the I put down the phone, it rang, and i was greeted with a delighted “HOLY SHIT I thought I’d lost your number years ago – How’ve you been!”

We caught up, reminisced, and lo, we’re going for a night out on the lash in a few weeks. Despite all of our old haunts being long-gone, there’s the rumour of a new metal night starting up and one of our old pubs reopening. And then on Sunday, probably exhausted and carrying him through a hangover, we’re going bike shopping.

Predictably, probably, I’ve glossed over the EDS. I suspect he will assume that a life of hard work, hard drinking, hard knocks and hard luck has just caught up with me. But that’s a bridge to cross when I get to it.

4 thoughts on “Bread basket

  1. Oh I am glad that the hospital visit was successful. I love the story about the waiting room posters. When I have blood tests at the GP surgery, they sometimes have fluffy kitten posters tactfully placed in the patient’s eyeline (I never look at my arm when they are taking blood)!

    Do enjoy the cricket. But what are the ‘homelands’?

    • The Homelands are Tyneside 😀

      I like the idea of having visual interest at the patient’s eyeline – I’ve known a couple of booths in A+E where there’s posters on the ceiling, presumably for pelvic exams or just for people who can’t sit up. Thankfully never anything too saccharine, usually just nice landscapes or wildlife. The Local Trust is starting to seriously pretty-up their facilities – Lots of fresh paint and local history displays around the hospitals at the moment. The corridors on one of the wards at the LGI has had photography or drawing/painting installations by local artists for years now, and it does really lighten the place up.

  2. A sign like that would have just made me curious about what was on the posters that they’d put out the way. But then I remembered last time I had an ultrasound, in a suite in a smallish hospital that housed all the scanning facilities. There were loads of posters on every surface, warning folk against the dangers of having an X-ray when actually or potentially pregnant. Some of these were awfully emotive, with pictures of babies saying things like “You might not know I’m in here!” and “Please don’t hurt me, Mummy!” (for real, it was that bad).

    So I’m there having an ultrasound, and I’m thinking, “Well, this could be where someone learns they have an unwanted pregnancy and has to contemplate abortion, or finds they don’t have a much longed-for pregnancy, or discovered they’ve had a miscarriage or finds they’re infertile.” Hypothetical babies begging their mummies for mercy seemed pretty brutal in almost every scenario!

    Great news you’re okay, you don’t need any more poking about and that you’ve got back in touch with your old mate.

    • Oh god, I’ve seen those – In the old difficult-gynae ward at the same hospital, they had a load of “This is how you breastfeed” and “This is all the cute stuff you can buy for an adorable babby” and indeed “Please Mummy! Don’t hurt me!” x-ray posters. And three flatscreens (set up so you couldn’t really ignore them) showing a loop of “Baby TV” which was all adverts for formula and pictures of healthy newborns being snuggly and toddlers covered in paint playing with the family dog. And all I could think was “Well, I’m in here because they need to see if my pelvic floor is the cause of my back pain, but if I was in here and worrying about pregnancy at all, this would be making me feel terrible…”

      I wish that there was an official moratorium on putting baby-themed stuff in gynae wards (and, indeed, on putting so much flowery femininity in breast wards, since blokes with breast cancer are already really unlikely to feel comfortable in there) because it just plonks an awful narrative onto anyone waiting – Namely, that you’re there because you want children, that the only use for the vestibule is pushing babies out of it (and that any problems you have with it only need solving if you intend to do so) and that anything short of a healthy, blond, chubby-cheeked happy child is a failure.

      (The assumption that anyone with a uterus that’s had sex is probably pregnant, and that if pregnant they’re going to want to keep the pregnancy, bothers the hell out of me).

      And thank you 😀 Definitely looking forward to Good Things on the horizon now.

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