July 2006: This version is slightly edited, but it´s too dry. A complete rewrite – my first – is on the cards. Gosh.
OK. This took place at a time when I couldn't speak and used an ABC board or the fabulous footboard that Tig made and My Left Foot to communicate. I was fed and watered by injections into the tube in my stomach. A few changes have been made, mainly to names, for the sake of fiction.
The only sensation you get with a catheter inserted is when the bag's full; it's similar to a normal need-to-urinate tingle, except that it comes on much more quickly. The bag's usually changed before it fills up; the few times mine has reached capacity I've been able to get someone to deal with it sharpish.
It's the middle of October. On the few occasions I see the outside world, through the windows of the gym or the end of the ward, it's coloured by a sullen grey light.
Anna and Academic Ben are here and I keep getting the full-bag sensation although it's half empty. It makes me grimace and sit forward with curled toes but it's manageable; Ben and Anna leave, concerned, and Jacob puts me to bed. The feeling gradually worsens and rears up more frequently, making my legs shake against Primer's footboard and my arms curl up. I release strangled moans through clenched teeth.
During a break in the spasms Prince injects me with two hundred mil of water and a carton of banana Enrich. The next seizure is so sudden and violent, my stomach squeezes it straight up my aesophagus and out of my mouth. It doesn't even feel like throwing up. Prince raises me into a sitting position and cleans up the yellow mess.
As the spasms intensify I try to piss; I'd rather wet the bed than deal with this sensation. The moans turn to quiet childlike screams, of confusion more than pain; I don't know what's going on and I just want it to stop. My feet churn the sheets and Horrible comes to tell me they've called a doctor so I can calm down now, as if I'm seeking attention. Fuck you, I mouth at her.
Some time around midnight the doctor finally arrives and she's absolutely fucking gorgeous.
So now I know, the last part of me to die: The libido. A lascivious little green Lincoln imp, rubbing his hands together and leering out of the back of my psyche. I'm shuddering all over, completely out of control with no idea what's going on and the rest of my brain can't believe this green bastard crawling out of the wreckage, going Aye aye ! Look at that ! and pulling my face into a mutton-headed grin. Excuse the mixed-up imagery but the inside of my head's a mess.
What the imp sees is a Vargas girl, just flown in on the nose of a Consolidated Liberator. Red curls and full lips; a lower-maintenance Rita Hayworth. No transparent negligee or Bakelite telephone, though; a hairy green jumper with a neck only a touch narrower than her shoulders. The ID card and stethoscope slung round her neck look incongruous, like fancy dress props. I don’t like the jumper much but the imp admires the breasts underneath, their upward curve reminding him of...platypus’ beaks ?
She's TASTE, heh heh.
You might be dying. Stop pissing around.
Yeah but look...
She probably likes blokes who can walk and talk and such. Ones that don't have tape over one lens of their glasses and banana puke down their front.
You never know, she's a doctor, she's probably all compassionate and that.
She's probably married. To another woman...
Lezzers ! Brilliant ! Maybe she...
AS ARE YOU. We...I. As am I. Now SHUT the FUCK UP you green prick, she's talking.
The imp retreats into a sulk.
I nod, the stupid grin still stretched across my face.
"I'm Dr. Gorgeous," she introduces herself. "So you've been having spasms. Where's the pain ?"
NOT EXACTLY...I begin. "Hang on," she interrupts, "slow down."
OK SORRY NOT EXACTLY PAINFUL BUT VERY UNCOMFORTABLE
"Not really painful but uncomfortable ?"
Another nod; she replies with two yellow rubber gloved thumbs up.
"OK, where's the discomfort then ?"
The imp perks up.
"In your penis ?"
Thank fuck, the stupid expression has left my face. "Let's have a look, then," says Dr. Gorgeous.
The imp is now hopping from foot to foot, one hand extended with its thumb raised, the other wanking furiously; meanwhile my genitals are trying to become internal organs. I form a wobbly bridge and Dr. G pulls my shorts down; she contemplates the Least Impressive Tackle in East London.
"Does this hurt ?" she asks, somewhat rhetorically, pressing on my bladder.
"And here ? Should be a bit more sensitive."
"So that's more uncomfortable than here ?"
"That's what I expected," she says, looking satisfied. Good. Her confidence is encouraging. She gives her verdict.
"I have no idea what's wrong. All I can think is that you have a bladder infection; I'm going to prescribe some antibiotics."
Oh. She pulls my shorts back up, says 'bye and buggers off. The Lincoln Imp and I watch her leave.
In the wee small hours the spasms are back and my screams and rattles are keeping Derek awake. The splints on my hands are digging into my throat; a nurse with a grade three cut takes them off. Prince fans my face with a magazine. "I think your catheter might be blocked," he suggests, and disappears into the storeroom. The short-haired nurse holds my hand, which occasionally clenches; I manage to suppress the vocal noise but my feet still judder against the footboard. There's a smell of bananas.
Prince returns with a couple of sealed packs; breaking them open he fits a T-junction between the neck of my urine bag and its tube, then plugs one of the big, blunt feed syringes into it. He pulls on the plunger; it doesn't move and I don't feel a thing. We look at each other, exchanging absolutely no information. Prince returns his attention to the syringe and heaves on the plunger. With a loud tock the seal breaks and it comes out; again, I don't feel anything. Fortunately my bladder doesn't implode and prolapse out of the end of my dick or anything. Apparently the catheter's completely blocked.
Prince is about to live up to his name. He looks at the tube exiting the end of my penis. "I'm taking that out," he announces, "Take a deep breath."
Not an option. I can, however, and do, clench my teeth.
Actually it doesn't hurt much. The catheter tube is slim and smooth, but fuck me, it's long ! About eighteen inches, unpleasantly slick and red at the end. I can account for the first few but the rest must have been curled up in my bladder, now eager to empty itself, which I manage to communicate.
"Hold on," says Prince, running off to the sluice and returning with a urine bottle, which he puts in place.
And so I have a slash for the first time in nearly three months. The relief...the relief is...I'm lost for adjectives. It's incredible. The result looks like bad homebrew, cloudy with a few fuzzy blobs drifting around in it; frankly I don't care.