After my cardiovascular surgery
Newspaper report: Rise in the number of patients on mixed sex wards
When Amoret and my daughter K arrived for that evening’s visit the conversation (such as I am able to contribute to conversations) turned to my bladder. Actually it was bound to come up as there were two disposable bed pans (empty) on my bed table existing boldly in their outwardly fragile states. We had a laugh because they looked like a pair shoes – a pair of cardboard shoes – a pair of clown cardboard shoes. I had to tell them the story of how I got to know them.
I was given this strange contraption early in my post-operation recovery. I felt the urge and tried to get up, couldn’t, tried again, and the nurse brought the cardboard shoe to me. She left me with it, as though we had been formally introduced. It wasn’t that hard to figure out: put it under the covers, insert private into hole, wee, shake it off, withdraw, take out from under the covers, and lay on bed table maintaining a horizontal level. Only problem is, if you’ve never used one, you need some understanding that the whole papier mâché device isn’t going to dissolve into a giant yellow wet spot on your bed.
After several hours in the ‘ready’ position and prompts from the nurse, I finally let it go.
It worked. And no complaints from the nurse that it fell apart when she got around the corner.
Later, many, many hours later, after I soiled a half dozen or so of the containers, I managed to use a walker to get to the real bathroom. I used a walker, not because Miss Trunchbull was there (she still has a role in this pantomime), but because I was unsteady.
When I finally got to the loo, I was greeted by the following sign:
Please be assured that this toilet or bathroom facility is not used by a member of the opposite sex.
P Miller Matron General Surgery
Delivering same sex accommodation DSSA”
The NHS was still concerned about same-sex wards and its promise to the government to keep things separate, but equal. (I lived under a variation of that theory in the 60’s Deep South of America)
Only one thing: Matron didn’t specify which ‘opposite’ sex hadn’t used that appliance. When I got there, the toilet seat was down.