You may have noticed that I have recently broken with tradition and am not replying to every single comment I receive. I always felt that if someone was kind enough to go to all the trouble to comment (and in so doing make a remarkable public admission to having actually read a post of mine), the least I could do was have the courtesy to acknowledge them. Of course, I am fortunate (?) not to have a zillion followers like a certain Affable Gay Welsh Raconteur I could mention (who acknowledges his commentators not so much with courtesy as a curtsy) so my burden is light compared to his, especially as he is a prolific poster. And it is because I am now posting little and often that made me ask myself, why spend time replying to all the comments when any matters arising can be addressed in the next day's post? The truth of the matter, I suspect, is that having too much time on one's hands can lead to quite an alarming lethargy. That, coupled with ever changing goalposts and the resultant uncertainty is, I fear, starting to tell on my usual bonne humeur. To mine own ears, my repartee is beginning to sound crass.
Yesterday I went over to the Royal Free clutching my documents. My driver told me that he had been instructed to deliver me to the surgical ward. As usual this information, as so much of the information I was receiving lately, was at odds with my understanding. As far as I was concerned, I was on my way to the dressings clinic where I was to allow no one, under any circumstances, to redress my wound without the presence of NB, the Lady Surgeon Registrar who would assess the viability of a skin graft. Being a very decent chap from Jamaica, he did not argue with me (as I suspect those communist white drivers of the ambulance the other day who, returning me from the Royal Free after surgery refused to stop for a MacDonald's would have done) and accompanied me to where I wanted to go and not where some ill informed shiny arse thought I should go.
Now the appointment letter the Royal Free had given me clearly stated that NB (so written on the form) was to be present at the dressing change. NB had been kind enough to warn me that she would be busy doing trauma so I should prepare myself for a long wait. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, when the receptionist informed me that my appointment was for eleven. Eleven came and went. A young lady, also from Jamaica, sat down next to me (because I looked normal and did not smell, she confessed to me later with charming frankness and breath-taking naivety) and we passed the time in enjoyable conversation. She was a game girl and our chatter became unbelievably un PC and went not unnoticed but we got away with it by convincing everyone who cared to object that we were man and wife so could they kindly wind their necks in. Janet Thomas was her name and, she wittily observed, it was fortunate that men did not take their surnames from their wives as had we been married, I would be Thomas Thomas. You have to understand, we were very bored. We were busy discussing the impediments to us marrying but the possibility of us voluntarily enjoying conjugal rights anyway when at 1pm my name was called and I was taken into a bay.
I was introduced to a very bemused NB who asked me to explain why her presence was considered necessary.
'Easy,' I said, 'because it isn't.'
I had no idea whose NB this was but it certainly wasn't mine. I had been waiting four hours for the wrong NB. Once they realised that the NB I wanted was the rather attractive slim Lady Surgeon Registrar they agreed with me that perhaps I should return to my seat and resume 'waiting mode.' Happily, Janet was still there but I had lost the comfy chair next to her so had to sit opposite her, an extra distance that required us to raise our voices bringing even more people within shocked audible range.
At four, the Lady Surgeon Registrar arrived and the nurse, an ex exotic dancer from Malta who had worked the Far Eastern tourist spots (believe it or not, she told me. I did), removed the dressing.
'Those muscles really do have the appearance and texture of freshly skinned duck's breasts, don't they?' I enquired of the registrar. She and her colleague agreed my muscles looked healthy.
'You recall,' I said, 'how murky the liquid was in the vac pump reservoir last time we met?' I indicated the vac pump, 'look at it now, it resembles a fine rose and, as I am sure you will appreciate as much as a connoisseur of fine wine, colour and bouquet are good indicators of quality.'
Happily, she and her colleague concurred, my wound was good to go so scheduled me for surgery today. Demonstrating extraordinary consideration for the mental and physical welfare of her patient, she told me not to bother coming over to the Royal Free until midday and that, by all means, I could enjoy an early breakfast.
So. I sit here, replete after my light breakfast of porridge, four slices of toast and marmalade, a bowl of cornflakes, a Twix I had bought in the hospital tuck shop on my way back yesterday, all washed down with several mugs of tea and coffee, writing this.
Sadly, the good surgeon could not tell me if there was sufficient space on my left thigh to 'harvest' enough skin for the graft but she promised she would try to keep all injury confined to the same leg. At least she promised not to skin my arse so that's something.
Right, I shall go and scrub up and climb into fresh waiting clothes and let you know as soon as I can how it all went. I am hopeful she will let me take my video camera into theatre.
By the way, I wonder if the surgeons know I am weighing myself after every theatre trip?