Occasionally we read about people’s experiences in their local hospitals, and this email from Bevis Crumb in Durban cries out to be shared.
“As a keen sportsman, I’d been experiencing leg pains,” he wrote, “and went to the clinic for advice. The Doc told me ‘poor circulation, not enough oxygen getting through the arteries’, and assured me that a simple procedure – angioplasty – would do the trick. Sounded fine till I found out what an angioplasty is.”
According to Bevis, the procedure entails ‘going in’ through your groin, and down an artery with these long rod-like thingies. On encountering a narrowing, they inflate a balloon to widen it, and insert a metal tube (stent) to prevent it closing again.
“The rod in the artery somehow still felt palatable,” he continued, “but I couldn’t quite swallow the ‘going in’ through the groin bit. I may be different, but my groin seems to be oversupplied with nerve-endings, and is a very sensitive, never mind private area of my body.”
Having been assured it was a doddle though, Bevis duly checked into the clinic a few days later.
“I was given one of those backless gowns which exposes one’s buns to everyone, but this was just the beginning of the end of my dignity. After being brutally shaved, every passing nurse for the next hour had an intravenous drip they wanted to stick into me somewhere, and soon I was entangled in a jungle gym of rubber spaghetti.
“They also attached electrodes to my chest, perhaps to assure the Doc that I was still alive while he was operating. The only remaining item was a long floppy wire thermometer with a sensor at the end. Apparently this had to be precisely positioned in that gloomy groin area referred to by the Doc as ‘twixt wind and water’, but because it wasn’t fixed, it kept displacing itself.
“Apparently almost everyone in the hospital felt responsible for this wire to be in place, because I constantly had people I’d never seen before lifting my blankets and rummaging around my wedding vegetables without even smiling.
“Eventually I was wheeled down to the theatre where I met an entirely different gang of people wearing masks who also took a keen interest in my temperature.”
Oddly enough, the one thing Bevis truly dreaded, the operation, was totally missed because he was unconscious throughout. The nightmare started when he woke up.
“I surfaced to discover dozens of tubes emerging from every orifice, and I couldn’t move. I was dying to go for a pee, but the nurse – proudly holding up a plastic bag of orange liquid – assured me that ‘because you’ve got a catheter inserted well up into your bladder, you can sommer pee whenever you like’. The fact that a penis wasn’t designed to have things inserted into it seemed irrelevant to them.
“Fortunately, when the drugs kicked in I wasn’t hassled by the amount of passers-by who came to inspect my clean-shaven groin, or the groups of nurses and med students discussing who should reposition the thermometer.”
Anyway, after a night of drug-induced sleep he awoke to a matron with a moustache and some cheerful words.
“Good news,” she beamed, “Doc says the blood has clotted enough to pull the tubes out the arteries,” and she started yanking away at the pipes while Bevis held his breath hoping to die of asphyxiation. After his spell of fainting and resurfacing, she triumphantly held up a tangled mass of bloody tubes. “Bliksem!” she said in amazement, “they cram all this into one artery,” as he passed out for the umteenth time.
“It’s difficult to understand how I survived to relive every excruciating detail,” he continued. “Never again, I promised, thankful the horror was over.
“Unfortunately Doc arrived that afternoon with the news that because they’d only managed to do the right leg, they’d be doing the left tomorrow.
“But relax,” he crooned, “now you know what to expect, it’s always easier the second time around.”
“In a panic I tried to strangle myself with the thermometer wire but the nurse took it away.”
Well readers, since then I’m pleased to say his sporting days have returned and he’s back playing chess again.