A couple of weeks ago I had to have a medical for an insurance policy. One of these ones carried out by a nurse in the home. Of course doing it at my office would have been far too easy, so I had to go home in the middle of the day for this.
Sadly, on the first attempt the nurse failed to show up. I waited half an hour and watched a bit of breakfast TV. This cost me £40. Simply because the programme had a feature on cashmere jumpers and watching it made me buy one.
As I hadn't been proactive enough to take the nurse's phone number with me I had to travel back to my office to call her and shout. She was full of apologies and said she had got caught with her previous patient. I accepted her apology, though wondered exactly why she couldn't have called me to explain, then rescheduled the appointment for a second attempt. I even felt a bit guilty as she sounded extremely sorry and sheepish, a bit like a grovelling sheep.
On the day I came into work in the morning as usual then went home at about 10AM for the medical at 11. At 10.30 there I was, sitting absent mindedly in the empty house when my mobile rang, it was a number I didn't recognise. For that split second before I heard the voice I thought "please, please don't postpone this again". She didn't, but it was her on the phone:
"Ah Mr Diaspora" she said.
"It's D, the nurse here."
"Hello" said I, just waiting for the excuse.
"Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I am sitting in my car on your driveway at the moment" she said.
"Oh well I'll just open the door then". I responded rather cleverly, but wondered why the hell she hadn't just rung the doorbell like any normal person would have done.
"No, that's ok, the appointment's not until 11" she said.
What the bloody hell? I thought to myself. If you're early but don't want to come in then why have you rung me to tell me this? Maybe she expected me to take a cup of coffee out to her while she was waiting. Or tea even.
So I let her in, telling her that it was ok a bit early as I had come home especially for this.
After some formalities, name, date of birth, have you had any operations today, that kind of thing battle commenced. She was puzzled why I'd want to know her date of birth and what operations she had but I explained that I was just naturally curious and we got on with things.
Now the first thing she did was to open a lollipop sort of thing. A plastic stick with a rectangular plastic end. It was to take a saliva sample for an HIV test.
"Could you put this under your tongue for a couple of minutes, as if it's a thermometer?" she asked.
I did as instructed. It was easy. You'll possibly remember that I'm a drummer, I consider that my ability to multi task is quite good, even for a bloke. As a drummer I often have to try to get each of my 4 limbs to do different things, but the next bit phased me somewhat. She gave me a plastic cup and said:
"While you're doing that would you go and fill this cup for me?"
"Of course" I said and headed towards the tap.
"No, with urine" said Nursey.
"What, pee in it?"
"While I've got this thing in my mouth?", I asked.
"Yes", she said.
"Fucking hell", I thought to myself.
"Of course", I said to her.
Off I went to a bathroom.
Multi tasking, playing the drums, driving a manual car, dealing with employees and even handling my Sri Lankan Mother are all easy peasy lemon squeezy compared to peeing into a cup while trying to hold a piece of plastic under your tongue. There I was, trying to balance over the toilet fearing that my cup would overfloweth and breathing uncomfortably through my nose.
I don't know if any of you have ever had to pee into a cup before but it was my first time, some would say I should live a bit, but I'm ok with that. The thing that bewildered me was the volume issue. Would my average amount of wee be far more than one cup's worth or would I struggle to register on the scale, so to speak? Then what would happen if and when I filled the cup? Would my muscle control be good enough to enable me to stop and move the cup away, change my aim to the toilet and resume? Or would I make a mess everywhere and have to clear it up with the plastic thing still in my mouth, risking all kinds of health and safety issues.
The other potential problem was that I might get stage fright. I had drunk lots of fluid and not peed for an hour before but there was some serious pressure going on here and anything could happen.
Maybe other chaps would have just got on with it without a second thought but I had all these mixed up crazy thoughts going through my mind. I continued with the job in hand, somewhat literally. It was a fascinating journey.
The first hurdle to jump was that of how to actually do this operation. Do you (from a man's angle) insert willy into the cup and open the tap as such, moving the cup downwards as it fills up? Or should you just hold the cup below the organ and go for it, risking splashback and the like.
I went for option 2, my aim was true and the target was obliterated. After all the mental trauma it was actually quite easy. The potential disaster that could have occurred when the cup got filled to the maximum was neatly avoided because I ran out of ammunition at about the three quarters of a cup line. This surprised me. Like most men I am more than capable of standing at a urinal and peeing and wondering if I'll ever stop. Often it is as if someone has bunged another bladder inside me and filled that one too, all cunningly done without my knowledge. When we, as men, are standing there and time is ticking away it feels as it there are bucketloads of the stuff coming out. We think in terms of pints, not little plastic cups. But this time fortune favoured me and there was no Exxon Valdiz type of scenario.
At this point I realised that a more proactive approach would have been particularly beneficial here. I might be giving you information which you'll use to laugh at me in a cruel and vicious manner with but I'm going to do it anyhow. Just promise me that, if I bump into you in Colombo, London or anywhere really, you won't mention it.
You see, I was in my own home, in a dangerous and precarious situation, so I had decided to pee with my trousers down. It had seemed like a great idea to help gain easy access and range of movement. When I was standing there holding a cup of golden nectar, with a thing under my tongue and I had to dress myself, the idea wasn't so hot. After several acts of contortionism, which Bill Clinton himself would have been proud of, I got my jeans up and hadn't spilled a drop. Rhythmic Towers has a few bathrooms and this one has only one flat surface, called the floor. I now had to do up the button fly on my jeans with just one hand. Eventually I got there, only to be faced with the daunting task of having to wash my hands.
Some may say that my washing hands was wholly unnecessary, considering the fact that I was going to exit the bathroom carrying a cup of pee. If you're one of those then I would probably agree with you, it just didn't occur to me at the time. So a load more manoeuvering was done to get my hands washed and dried until I was ready to face the world.
I walked out of the bathroom and proudly presented Nursey with a lukewarm cup of pee and the swab thing from under my tongue. She took it and muttered a half hearted thank you. There was no "well done, are you a drummer?" or no "blimey most people don't manage that easily."
She dabbed a litmus paper thingy in the cup, looked at it for about half a second then said it was fine and gave the cup back to me. The cold hearted bitch! The very least I expected was a lollipop and some understanding words. Still, I resisted all temptation to keep it in the fridge and went off and emptied it.
The rest of the medical was easy. She weighed me, measured me and asked me about my knee ligament. She asked me how much exercise I do. I lied. That was it really.
About a week later I got a letter through to say all is fine and I'm insured for several squillion pounds. These things are good to know. At least that's what the wife said as she kindly fixed the brakes on my car for me.
So take it from me as a word of warning. If one of these nurse types knocks on your door to do a medical, be prepared for some serious coordination stuff.
Things could have been a lot worse. My brother pointed out I could so easily have misunderstood her and come back with a sperm sample.
Now that really would have been embarrassing.
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