Pots and Pans

On the hottest day of the year I mounted the 8.17 to London Bridge. My feet froze with the trains air conditioning. I walked out of the train station. The Shard shimmered in the sunlight. I asked an armed policeman where Guys Hospital was. Clutching his rifle he said he had been seconded from Heathrow and didn’t have a clue love. We both stepped onto the escalator. We both looked ahead and their in Giant sized letters nailed to a brick wall the legend that is GUYS HOSPITAL screamed. The copper and I exchanged glances.
I stepped off the staircase and walked past a Sainbury Local, into main reception. Up to the fourth floor in the Tower Block. Past a Costa Coffee, and another one selling junk that were just the ticket if you were visiting a hospital, not far to walk in case the heart gave out or you had a diabetic hypo.
I entered the breath testing room, there was one nurse and us patients.
A woman who looked like a Russian vamp. Short skirt, tiny vest, bubbly hair and a lap top.
A neat woman, French pleat, knees together, reading a kindle.
Accompanying his wife was a geezer in a polo shirt with one earbud in. He left the other for his wife who was finishing her summer novel. The pastel paperback cover matched her summer frock.
Opposite a cabbie from Lewisham with his fulsome wife who was on her smart phone.
A Philippine female on a computer designing dresses.
And a black student who looked like my daughter.
There was a sign on the wall that encouraged us to talk to the other VISITORS, but only if the visitor was willing to talk. None of us did, well not until the three hours came to an end.
The one nurse took us behind blue curtains and taught us how to hold the breathing bag, take two full breaths – to practice in case we hyperventilated – release the breathe slowly, then really exhale until the lungs were empty. Pinch the white plastic tube and push in the blue stopper. I dropped my stopper twice. The one nurse had to get me a clean one.
She took each one of us, in half hourly intervals, behind the curtain. She then tested each bag for hydrogen, methane and whatever else was necessary.
I had my bank card and train ticket. I hadn’t brought a book, laptop or ipod. The magazines were so old Sharon Osbourne still looked normal. 9.46 was my first test. And then at half hourly intervals. I watched the clock. Slept. Watched the clock. Wandered around. Counted the minutes. Breathed. Calculated the remaining hours. Read the literature they had given us. One page full of hand drawn stools. Not the three legged variety. We had all been given a laxative drink when we arrived. Should any one of us require the facilities we then had to tick the picture that corresponded to our expulsion. Only the neat woman left the room. On her return she ticked the appropriate illustration. The rest of us looked away to preserve her modesty.
By 12.15 I was ready to eat my own eyeballs. My hydrogen levels were low indicating some kind of diabetic cock up. I started talking to the cabbie from Lewisham. He was amenable to chat. He had been suffering from gut ache for twenty five years, had watched two of his doctors die and was onto his third gastroenterologist who still hadn’t diagnosed his condition. My 7th and 8th breath test revealed that my hydrogen levels were actually normal.
I had finished my breathing test. I shook hands with the cabbie who said in time honoured lingo.
‘Be lucky.’
The black kid shouted ‘Bye mum.’
I left the hospital at 1.00. I had not been allowed to eat since 9.00 o’clock the night before. 16 hours without food. I was starving.
Nipped into Sainsbury and bought a green drink and a tub of edamame beans with a ginger dressing. For one whole month I had cut onions, garlic, dairy, wheat, sugar and practically everything else out of my diet so the test wouldn’t be compromised. I hadn’t read the info properly – typical – I had deprived myself of any meaningful taste for four weeks. I had only needed to do it the day before. I had also brushed my teeth and used hydrogen peroxide to clean my gums. The instructions had said no mouthwash. I’d missed that bit. When we arrived we were all given a very strong mouthwash. After one minute we had to spit it into the sink in the full glare of the other VISITORS. My hydrogen peroxide hadn’t ruined anything. The only possible problem was my regular intake of KAFIR. A probiotic. Home made courtesy of Elaine and David. The one nurse was slightly concerned but in the event it didn’t disturb the tests.
I got to London Bridge at 1.05. The 1.07 to Tunbridge Wells arrived at 1.08 and I was home by 2.00.
The results will arrive Gawd knows when. I have to rearrange a radio active mashed potato test, an aorta test and a consultant visit for November and then I’m shoving all the letters from the NHS where the sun don’t shine.
After a year of unbelievable nonsense I’ve come out the other side. My wardrobe is three sizes too big, and that’s the contents not the wooden structure itself. My hair is as long as Farrah Fawcett Majors was, when she was alive. My wedding ring fits again. My collar bones have made an appearance and my spectacles slip off my little nose. I know what I should and shouldn’t eat. I know what I should and shouldn’t drink. And I have made friends with Epsom salts and 20 minute baths. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to walk. To read. To dance. To sing. To Yoga. To write.
Feel weird writing that cos what if ?
What if they never know what caused it ?
What if my guts get like the cabbies in Lewisham ?
What if I can never eat chips again ?
What if I can never drink coffee again ?
What if ?
Can’t be going down that route.
As George bernard Shaw said; ‘If if’s and an’s were pots and pans there’d be no need for tinkers’
I think I understand what he was saying, anyway good old Georgie cant be wrong can he?

4 thoughts on “Pots and Pans”

  1. Hello Jenni,
    So delighted that you are feeling a lot better and on the road to recovery.
    onwards and upwards from her, well done.
    Love & Hugs

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