31 January, in the year of our Lord 2022 (part the First)
Up betimes, having all night a very poor sleep for some anxietie playing upon my mind, which was not for the Procedures themselfs, which I was to undergo today in the Hospitalle, but for what might be uncovered by them. It being a cold, dark winters morning, and no fresh candles to hand, fumbled with inadequate light in a drawer for clean undergarments, all tidied away amongst an assortment of old sachets, draw-string bags of herbs and pott pourees placed there by my late wife to freshen the linen, and these I put on, wishing to be well-dressed at all layers, though strangely now aware of a new discomfort in the nethers when I thought all settled with my antebiotick. Wriggled to try to better it but did not succeed and found it worse when I sat, so at breakfast stood to eat a little porrage and drink a little tea to swallow my Physick. After, read again the sheaf of informacion sent to me, to ascertain I had missed naught, which comprised The Nature of Cistoscopie and What To Expect (or Otherwise) from an Exceptionally Sound Examinacion, a booklet entitled St. Judes Hospitalle ~ Percepts & Precautions for the Covey Plague – in which is describ’d for the Benefitts of Patients and Sundry visiters the Preventitive Measures Taken and Safe Guards hereby put in Place for the Contaynment of the Spread of sub-Type B.1.1.529, a.k.a. the Ommercron Varyant, and a consent form which simply said ‘Sign Here ☞ ’.
Thus, garbed against the winters cold and with my dressing gown in my little bag, at 11 a-clock found I myselfe within the precincts of the ancient Hospitalle, on a cold stone corridor lit by a few guttering candles that afforded no heat, where sat awhile beneath a cold stone arch upon a cold stone bench, whose hard surface increased the new pain in the region of my perinium, and caused me to fret anew that I was cursed once more by the stone. By and by came from the shadows a stooped and hooded figure, garbed all in black, face invisible between black cowl and black mask, who seemed to find his way by feeling the pillars of the arches beside him, and stood before me.
‘Who is there?’ asks he.
‘My name is Pepys,’ say I. ‘I have an appointment at eleven for an Exceptionally Sound Examinacion.’
‘My name is Brother Renald. I am one of the kidney monks and I will be performing your examinacion today. Come.’
And so he led me further along the corridor, to a heavy wooden door on great iron hinges, where he seemed to feel with his finger tips for the latch. The room was larger than I expected, but with little more within than a pair of paynted statues, a chair, a bench, some candles and a curious instrument in the form of a slim black cone, set upon the floor. Each corner of the room vanished into shadows, as did the apex of its vault, where I sensed the presence of small bodies, hanging. The monk pushed back his hood, and now I saw that in his eyes was the whiteness of milk where should be the black depths of the pupil.
‘The candles are for your benefitte, Mr. Pepys,’ says he. ‘Now, perhaps you would be good enough to remove your tunic and waistcoat, loosen your belt, lift up your shirt and lie upon the bench on your left side.’
I having done as entreated, he took up his slender black cone and proceded to place the larger cyrcumference of this device upon my flank, whereupon I perceived that its slim flare narrowed to a delicate mechanism at the smaller end, and that this provided a close fit to the external Oriffice of his left ear. Thus positioned, he extracted from within his capaciose robe a tiny tuning fork, which he struck upon the bench and placed vibrating upon my hip bone, though I could hear no noyse from it. Thus alternately striking and placing he listened, moving his strange trumpet with methodickle intent across my flank whilst seeming to map in his mind what he heard. The same procedure now with the other side, until all seemed to satisfy him and I was bid dress.
‘I believe there to be a slight anomallie,’ says he, straightening to sum up, ‘posterior to the lower pole of the right kidney, perhaps arising from the corticle Structures of the kidney itself or possibly lying within the perinephric fat, more likely cystique than solid.’
‘I see,’ say I, deflated to take on board this unexpected finding.
‘There is something else,’ continues he. ‘It is beyond the confynes of my examination and I may be picking up some bat squeeks, but I sense a curiose space-occupying Lesion in the vicinitie of the perinæum. Does it pain you there?’
‘Since this very morning when I dressed,’ say I, further deflated and anxiose, ‘I have had a pain at the very site where Mr. Hollier the chyrurgeon cut me, if that is the position you mean.’
‘I will report my findings. You have another appointment later today, I believe?’
‘I do, at 1 a-clock. Thank you for your time,’ say I and then, while I tie my cravatt, I attempt to disguise my disquiet and venture, ‘May I ask who are these here?’
‘Ah,’ says he, seeming to follow my eyes, ‘they are fine statues, are they not? This is St. Vitalis of Assisi, the patron of our little order. The other is St. Henry the Exuberant,’ and here he permits himself a wry smile, ‘who is said to have suffered a chronic urinery infection from which he sadly died. Allow me to show you out.’ …