The Surgical Admissions Lounge

The Surgical Admissions Lounge might sound like a strange saloon bar where patrons can sit around and confess to having had surgery, but in fact it’s just the waiting room in the Tower Block at Treliske hospital, where I rolled up at seven thirty in the morning a couple of weeks ago. There were actually two Surgical Admissions Lounges, one male and one female, though I couldn’t really see the point, since the male lounge contained almost as many wives and mothers and girlfriends as it did male patients, and from what I could see through the window of the female lounge, there were a fair number of husbands and so on in there, too. The rooms were quite big, with chairs around the walls, so if they’d combined the two lounges into one there’d have been space for half a dozen beds in the other. I don’t know what the temperature was like in the female lounge, but the male lounge was decidedly chilly, and once I’d swapped my linen jacket for an unflattering hospital gown, I was cold.

Eventually, however, my turn came around, and I strolled down to the surgical unit for the anaesthetic and a telescope up my willie. And a laser. Surprisingly, the most painful part of the operation was the cannula going in to the back of my hand, and next thing I knew it was an hour and a half later, and I was in the recovery room telling the nurses how pretty they were. No more Surgical Admissions Lounge for me, I was taken up to the ward and given a cup of tea, which I instantly vomited into a cardboard bowl that looked like an inverted pork pie hat. My regurgitation prompted a nurse to give me an anti emetic (though I didn’t get another cup of tea to try it out on) and some pain relief (or ‘paracetamol’, as we lay people call it), even though I wasn’t actually in any pain. They weren’t quite so quick to bring me my overnight bag, which was presumably still in the Surgical Admissions Lounge, and I had to wait a couple of hours before I had anything to read. There’s only so much nurse-ogling you can do after an operation like that, so I was glad when my bag finally turned up.

However, while I was fossicking in my bag for a book, I managed to hoik the tube out of my cannula, squirting blood everywhere. It went all over the book, the contents of the bag, and my linen jacket, before I managed to hold my dripping hand over another of the cardboard pork pie hats, and page a healthcare assistant. We did manage to clean up most of the blood, though I did miss one spot on my jacket, which I didn’t discover until after I got home.
hospital2Dinner was supposed to be cottage pie, but it tasted overwhelmingly of some revolting dried herb. The ice cream had melted, so I ate that. A pretty young urologist came round to ask after me, so while the curtains were drawn I got her to take a picture of me for posterity. I slept reasonably well, considering I still had a balloon in my bladder and a plastic tube up my willie, leading to a bucket of blood on the floor.
Such good times couldn’t last forever. At six thirty next morning, a student nurse turned up, called me ‘darling’, which I found endearing, and announced that she was going to take the catheter out. Apparently, once I’d done three pees I could go home, so the sooner I started the better. She fondled my willie to line it up straight while the balloon was deflating, and then out came the catheter, accompanied by a sharp intake of breath on my part. If I’d been concentrating on what the student nurse was saying, instead of trying to breathe out, I might have remembered what she said about the loo. As it was, I ended up staggering along a darkened corridor, a cardboard urine bottle in one hand and my willie in the other, trying to read the signs on the doors. Trying to get into a room marked ‘Staff only’ conjured the student nurse back into existence, and she directed me to the loo.
I wished I hadn’t bothered. A dozen drops of what looked like red wine into the cardboard bottle, and I was forced to sit down with my head between my knees, hyperventilating. The pain was unimaginable, both from my willie and from somewhere inside, possibly my bladder. It eased a little after a few minutes, so that I could get back to my bed and lie in the foetal position for a while. The bad news was that the dozen drops wasn’t enough to count as one of my three pees.
However, during the morning, I did manage to do the other (extremely painful) two and a half pees, so after lunch, which was supposedly beef hotpot, but which appeared to be gristle (flavoured with the same unpleasant dried herb as the cottage pie of the night before), I was allowed home.
When my daughter picked me up, she asked me why I was walking like John Wayne, but otherwise everything was fine until the postoperative infection kicked in, and I ended up calling out the duty doctor in the small hours of the morning, with a temperature of 102. It made his day (or night). He said it was the highest he’d seen all week, and the test strip he dunked in my bright red urine came out positive for everything, as if a five year old had coloured it in.

12 thoughts on “The Surgical Admissions Lounge

  1. Where’s the rest of the story? What happens next? I know it’s your real life and you’re doing well now, but please hurry up with Part 2. As an American living in Britain, I am very interested in things related to the British medical community especially areas such as diagnosis and treatment.

  2. Know something of your predicament Francis, but didn’t have as much fun. Next time though, John Wayne style, you should strap your six shooter to your leg?, nobody would crack jokes about firing blanks then.. Makes a man feel impotent too.

  3. Francis, you’re not selling this whole ‘tube up the willie’ thing to me. I think I’ll pass on that. Hope you’re feeling better soon…..

  4. Pingback: Discreet male catheters | Francis Potts

  5. emmm well i had to read this, because my dad was going through a similar thing around the same time – but his was just a quick appointment to check bladder, and he never forgives them nor got over the pain of the balloon thing being blown up inside of him, despite being told his bladder was fine. And that photo of you in the gown reminds me of my dad earlier this year when he did unfortunately become a patient of that hospital (after falling and breaking hip aaagh)….so the place holds some very stressful memories for me, and your story has lightened those memories only slightly, with your humour and take on things. Trust you are all fully well now. Best to keep out of that place if one can. That’s my firm advice. (ps. I Did 2 full years of NHS Nurse Training 15 years ago, but didn’t go into 3rd year or complete the course).

  6. Your report from the theatre of war greatly appreciated, Francis.The NHS seems to be as enthusiastic as ever about segregation, despite the abolition of mixed wards, though I’d never heard of segregated waiting lounges before – St Michael’s patients are still experiencing the benefits of unsegregated waiting corridors. Treliske’s facilities theoretically might suit some Muslims, however, although your description of their unsegregated populations suggests that the whole divisive process is rather pointless. I went through a similar procedure about 15 years ago in Kingston Hospital without the benefits of a balloon (it wasn’t near Christmas at the time – was that significant?).

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