“Can I go home now?”
“Not until you’ve been to the toilet.”
Hmm. I see no reason for the rule, but I agree to go right then and there. I’ve been at hospital since 7:30am for an operation on my right foot. I woke up hours ago. I’ve eaten my biscuit, I’ve drunk my cup of tea. I want to go home. The caution and level of supervision seems like overkill. If going to the toilet gets me home, then to the toilet I shall go.
The middle-aged nurse brings me a wheel-chair and in a hop and a lunge (the open gown exposing me to the rest of the ward), I’m in. She wheels me to the disabled toilet; a room almost the size of my flat. The door shuts behind us. I look at her. She looks at me.
Ah … she’s staying in here with me.
Me (smiling): I’m okay to go on my own.
The nurse: I need to be here with you … just in case you’re unstable. You’ve only got one working leg and the anaesthetic is still in your system.
Me: I’m fine, honestly. I’d be much more comfortable on my own. I promise not to lock the door if you just wait outside.
She reluctantly agrees and leaves the room. I swiftly lock the door. I always lock the toilet door; I simply can’t go if there’s the possibility of anyone entering.
Getting from the wheel-chair to the toilet proves difficult. I don’t know how to activate the brake so it skids away from me during the (inelegant) dismount. Getting back to the chair after using the toilet is even more challenging as the chair is now on the opposite side of the room. Bra-less, I hold a freedom loving boob in each hand, hop to the other side of the room and plonk myself in the runaway chair. My presence irritates the untamed beast and it skittles back, hitting the wall with a solid thud. For not the first time in my life, I’m grateful toilets don’t have CCTV.
I clumsily manoeuvre the chair to the door and unlock it. The nurse enters. Neither of us mention my lock-out or the noisy events that took place during it.
From the other end of the ward I hear a familiar Scottish voice at reception and smile. I look over at Colin and we wave at each other.
As he approaches his face is suddenly grave. With a worried expression, he squats down to my chair so we’re at the same height. He seems excessively focused.
Colin (quietly and calmly): Are you alright?
Me (smiling, exasperated): Yes! I’m absolutely fine. I don’t know why everyone’s so worried!
Colin (standing up and laughing): Oh Jesus. Well you look awful then! Truly awful. Between you and Miss Megan I could set up my own medical recovery centre. She’s hurt her paw and is being a total drama queen. (Megan is Colin’s dog).
I roll my eyes, smiling. The nurse wheels me to my bed, draws the curtain and leaves me to get dressed. I gracelessly struggle through the process of putting on my clothes and re-seating myself in the cantankerous chair. I poke my head out from the curtain to get the nurse’s attention and she brings Colin over. He takes the handlebars of the chair and pats me on the head.
Colin: Alright, come on my little Australian pea, time to get you home. Megan’s in the car and she wants to see you. (He promptly spins the chair around, banging my injured foot against an open door …).
Later that night I wake. The anaesthetic has worn off and I’m in pain. I may not have a sore paw but my mutilated pigeon toe is agony.