31 January, in the year of our Lord 2022 (part the Second)
(Warning: herein is contayned informacion of a lurid and unsavoury, but ultimately strangely compelling, medical Nature.)
…And so by 1 a-clock I find my way to a dank part of St. Judes Hospitalle where I hear the echo of constant dripping and water rushing behind the walls, for the hospitalle sits by the great pumping wheel of the City. I am met by a nurse with the overall shape and cheek colour of a shiny red apple straight from the tree. She beams up at me and in no time I am left to put on my dressing gown and splosh my way through a door marked This Way to the Scoap. The room is again dimly lit, but I am aware of the rosy-cheaked nurse, a businesslike nun in a fine wimple and a young man in operating theatre greens and mask. There are puddles everywhere and I notice the little nurse to be wearing galoshers and the young man bright yellow wellington boots; the nun I cannot ascertayne for her habit is voluminose, though she hath a wide gait and her knees rise high when she walks.
‘Good afternoon, Mr. Pepys,’ says he. ‘This is Sister Polyuria and I am the Registrar.’ (How marvellous! think I, relaxing a little. I am not in the hands of a mere consultant.) ‘We are the team who today will be inserting this enormose hosepipe up your tiny orifice into your innards, tipping in gallons of water from that huge cask on the stand there, taking a look around by means of this Heath-Robynson arrangement here, and secretly hoping to find some awesome bit of Pathology so I can practise emergencie pelvic surgery and tick another box in my Portfolio. Sister will position you on the table, and our novice, Glomerula, will be there for reassurance.’ He flashes a quick smile. ‘Ours, not yours.’
This is all happening a little more speedily than I imagined. I cast around to see what I must do next.
‘Mr. Pepys, you appear to be wearing your dressing gown over your ordinary winter clothes,’ says Sister, crossly.
‘I have taken off my coat,’ protest I, but she will not be swayed and clearly more layers must be removed.
‘You will need to take off your linen socks… (which I do)
‘…and your woollen stockings… (which I do)
‘…and your velvet breeches…’
‘Surely that is all?’ protest I.
‘Not quite,’ says she, sternly. ‘And now the cotton pantaloons.’ But then, before I can comply, ‘Mr. Pepys, what is that sticking out?’
I look down in alarm to my crotch.
‘That is my cataplasm,’ say I with relief, as I fish it out awkwardly from beneath the remaining layers, ‘applied four weeks ago on the instruction of my own doctor.’
‘You are supposed to change it daily,’ says she, taking it with disgust between finger and thumb.
‘And now the silken drawers.’
‘But they are all I have left on!’ cry I, reddening in my state of flummoxy. I look in vain at the others to see if I have misunderstood, but I have not.
‘The Snugjunk, Mr. Pepys. We do not have all day.’
And so I remove the garment that last hides my modestie, but, in the struggle and discomfiture of so doing before so many, to my great alarm something firm and spherical falls from between my thighs.
‘A-a-agh!’ squawk I, aghast, as I follow its trajecktory to the floor. My hands fly to my mouth in abject terror. ‘It has come to this! I am emasculated!’
‘Nonsense, Mr. Pepys. Everything appears present and correckt,’ says Sister, eyeing my Parts with disdain.
‘Then what is that?’ cry I in horror as she stoops to retrieve with distaste what has fell at my feet.
‘No doubt the lesion reported by Brother Renald, and the source of your day’s discomfort. It appears to be an old pomander. Now, lie upon the couch.’
And so, un-clothed and exposed from my waist down, I lie with my head upon a pillow and gaze at the ceiling while the Registrar sets about his work.
‘This will feel a little cold, and may sting — ’ (both of which are true) ‘ — and I will just need to take him…and hold him here — ’
At which point springs into my mind an improper image of la femme MacSporran, along with great alarm at its potential for embarrassment. But the little red-cheeked novice seems to read my mind, for she grasps my hand to reassure me.
‘Try to take your mind off matters by thinking of something relaxing, Mr. Pepys,’ burbles she. ‘Something you are looking forward to.’
‘Well, I am buying for myselfe a new coach,’ say I, thinking it relaxing enough.
‘Marvellous!’ cries she. ‘I can just see you with a great thrusting red Ferrari!’
‘That is not what I had in mind!’
‘Then imagine you are on holiday! In Paris beneath the Eiffel Tower! Or admiring the Washington Monument!’
‘I should prefer to imagine myself upon some sun-drenched beach with waves lapping the nearby shore.’
‘Ah, yes!’ cries she. ‘With high pressure pumping the mercury to the very top of the barometer!’
‘You are a novice, aren’t you?’ say I, drily, and then ‘Oh!’
‘We’re in!’ comes a cry from between my legs. ‘Sister, man the bucket!’ At which the nun climbs upon a stool and by means of a pulley hoists a great bucket up to the leaky barrel above her. Water sloshes everywhere as a clanking mechanism tips it so that the bucket’s contents top up the cask. As her skirts ride up I see she is wearing a pair of black flippers.
‘Now then, Mr. Pepys, if you wish to watch proceedings, all is revealed on the magick screen here.’ The Registrar indicates what seems to be a great convex mirror up and to my left, only what is visible upon it is no form of reflexion but what appears to be the distorted interior of a great wet pink balloon. He feels obliged to provide a guided tour.
‘These are the openings of the ureters — ’ (and I admit a resemblance to Dr. Scarborough’s dissection) ‘ — like the eyes of a snake.’
‘Sometimes,’ whispers the little novice confidentially, ‘we see them wink.’
‘Now I will turn the ’scope upon itself to examine the Neck of the bladder…and then, as I withdraw, we will see the orifice of the duct responsible for — ’
‘Yes, thank you very much. The narration more than suffices,’ say I.
‘But, wait, what have we here?’ He pauses and the image congeals. What we have here appears to me to be not only malevolent but huge, for it fills the entirety of the magick screen. I ask guardedly as to its nature.
‘It is a Lesion,’ says the Registrar knowledgeabubblie. ‘If you would be kind enough to keep very still, I shall make a sketch of it. I shall need to discuss it with the boss.’ (There is a Senior Registrar! think I with some comfort. The person who knows the most of all! And I am greateful once more to be in such hands.)
‘There,’ says he again at length. ‘Out!’ And the screen goes dark. ‘Now then, I am going to ask you to lie on your left-hand side. We need to examine the prostatae. You need not be alarmed. It is a digital examination.’
‘I know,’ say I, airily, for since the test drive of my new coach I am fully conversant with the subject and assume the Technologie, with its magick screen and little pictures, and its box with tiny lights, to be tucked out of sight. ‘How marvellously state-of-the-art!’
‘What??? — Oh!!!’ and I take a sharp in-breath.
‘Uh-huh…’ murmurs he, squinting at the ceiling as he executes the job at hand, ‘…just round here…’
‘…and a bit up here…’
‘…and around there…’
‘…and there we are, done!’
‘Sister, the sluice!’
There is the slapping of deliberate but ungainly splashy footsteps as she disappears from view, and then, with a great clanking of chains and an immense gurgle from a nearby drain, we are finished.
After a short while I am dressed again to meet the cold, and while Sister is busy with mop and bucket the Registrar summarises my Management Plan, which is to be as follows: viz. — that the amount of tumour poison in my blood is of a normal degree, so naught is necessary there; no stone is present, but he will discuss with colleagues the charcoal sketch he hath made, and that I am to expect a further appoyntment to have the depicted Lesion removed; that the nature of Brother Renald’s other findings be confirmed by magick ray etchings; and now if I have no questions that will be all for today.
‘Do you not wish to see my consent form?’ ask I as I button my coat.
‘Oh, God, they’re not using them now, are they?’ says he, and declines it. ‘But if you want to write to say you had a great time, I can put that in my Apraisall.’
After supper, to bed, though disturbed all night by nightmares of fighting my way out of a pink balloon before I drown.