Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I suspect I really mean dualogue. What I have in mind is mimicing a duck. A calm, polite, co-operative conversation is going on on the surface and a frantic, angry, border-line unpublishable contra-flow is going on below; like a duck skimming smoothly across the top of a lake,while underneath, running, unseen, a being demented, to catch the last bus ever. For instance, to-day, at lunch time, I underwent some tests on my heart. They were deemed necessary after the flurry of heart overkill that took me to hospital a couple of months ago. An event which ended by distracting all the nurses in A and E. (See below for the Guru-effect). This was not a proceedure to which I was looking forward. I am rarely a happy bunny when arrangements are made for me that mean I have to skip lunch. Just because the practitioners are prepared to sacrifice their midday sustenance doesn't mean the patients are. But I duly presented myself and thus began the dualogue of which the title. Political correctness dictates staff should explain every move they/you authorise/make. "Remove all upper garments and put on the gown, tying at the back. That blue and white garment is the gown". Inner voice:" I've put on more gowns than you've had hot dinners, idiot". Outer voice: "Shall I leave my things here?" "Yes, except your bag, of course." i.v. "Actually, my bra is more valuable than my bag". o.v "Thank you Nurse." Head pops back in: "No, gown to the front on this occasion. I have to attach terminals to your chest." i.v. "Make your b....y mind up". o.v. "Thank you, Nurse". "I'm not Nurse. I'm the Radiographer". i.v. "I don't give a d..n who you are." o.v. "Oh! sorry. What about my trousers?" "You can leave them on. Elastic-waisted are they?" i.v. "No, they are certainly not elastic waisted. Do I look like the sort of woman who would wear elastic-waisted trousers. Leave me my last vestige of elegant womanhood you stupid radiographer." o.v. "No, they're not. They have buttons and a zip." "Well, we'll just roll them down then". Once in the operating theatre - in the non-invasive sense: the room where things will happen - every nut and bolt is explained. i.v. "Just get on with it. This is more information than I need to deal with. Yes, I have been fasting: why?" o.v. "Thank you. I understand. I'm fine, just a bit hungry. Oh, I see. No food in case the injection of dye makes me sick" i.v. "You infantilising nincompoop. I've had this sort of injection before. I'm not going to mess up your lovely white clinic." Three tries by junior radiographer, then senior, at placing a canula in a vein in one arm then the other. Doctor called. He manages to get it in to a vein in my hand. i.v. "At least look at me and greet me before your tear my hand to pieces, and where are your sterile gloves?". o.v. "Thank you very much", when he succeeds where others have palpably failed and left me sorissimo. (I do know that's not a word. Would you have left the 'e' in for greater clarity or put 'exceedingly sore'?) Anyway, there I am. The semicircle of magic machine is in front of me, I am taped in to a canula, my back is uncomfortable and the tourniquet is biting in to my wrist. "Everything alright?" i.v. " Why would it be, Stupid? Has anyone ever done this to you? Yes, I do remember the dye will make me feel hot. This will be the fourth time you have told me in the last three minutes. Trying to impress Sir?" o.v. "Fine, thank you."

She is right. The dye does make me feel hot and swirls round in places of more intimacy than I dreamt would have been involved. I am in and out of the machine like a cuckoo clock. Each time, I dutifully hold my breath and pray she remembers to tell me to breath normally in due course. Mostly, she does. To be fair, there is only one occasion when the breath-holding seems over long. "Alright?". i.v. " Must have as much breath control as a mezzo soprano. But it's not your business to assume that. What if I'd had the breath control of an angry infant? Hurray for me." o.v. "Fine thank you. What stage are we at?" " Nearly finished." Then a lot of step by step explanations about what will happen next, even to putting my clothes back on. i.v. "She means well; but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Shut up and get me out of here." o.v. "Thank you. That's very helpful."

But out of there she does get me. "You've done very well", she says, carrying my bag, my stick and my raincoat - how did that get in to the 'theatre'. i.v. "Done very well, have I? perhaps I'm a swan after all." o.v. "You made it very easy." Oh Dear, is nothing as it sounds in this world? See you before too long.

P.S. Before you label me economical with the truth, both the i.v and the o.v had its degree of verisimilitude; the i rather more than the o to be wholly honest.

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