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Gladder without my bladder

A day in hospital presents a spectrum of experiences

Recently, a bunch of stones had the gall to take residence in my bladder. Mistaking the occasional aches in the belly to excessive telly viewing, particularly a certain rabid TV newscaster, I carried on with life, till a routine health check revealed the presence of unwelcome tenants in my insides.

The ultrasound technician held up a strange picture showing tiny spots in the abdomen. There are stones in your bladder, ma’m, see? But don’t worry, we can remove all the stones. Along with your bladder. You will soon have relief.” I was a bit stunned.

Just for comic relief, I decided to name the biggest stone Mick Jagger.

Walking through the clinic’s corridors, I suddenly paid deep attention to posters of smiling working women showing how easy and fun surgery had become. One could now check in, take out an organ, wear a business suit, and be off to a conference the next day. Hmmm. I had one coming up. No big deal, maybe I could have a key-hole surgery one day, and deliver a keynote address the next…

Before I could say “Out, damned spots!”, like Shakespeare, I was in a hospital gown. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the ignominy of wearing this apparel will know it morally covers little more than a band-aid. It is a backless, buttonless, shameless piece of green wrap with two holes to put the arms through. True, there are some fastening strips that come together, but they frequently fall apart, much like some of today’s marriages.

A charming nurse first strips you down completely, and helps you wear this back-full-open thing the correct way. Apparently, international hospital laws make it mandatory to wear this all-body-access garment to facilitate doctors, even if you’ve come in just to attend to a small mishap on your elbow.

Anyway, I was now ready for some pre-op prepping. The hospital hairdresser arrived to braid my hair into two pigtails. I looked like a cover-girl. The cover of an Enid Blyton book, I mean.

A bunch of pals, worried sick about me, rushed to the hospital just then to wish me luck. Perhaps they wanted to lighten the mood, because this was some of their banter: “We hope they leave no stone unturned to make this operation a success, ha ha!” Or this one: “Good! You are getting rid of your vile duct. I mean bile duct!” and so on… With friends like these, who needs enemas?

I was then strapped down on a stretcher, and wheeled away into a lift. I felt I was in a Bollywood drama, with faithful friends and family running alongside, but it was too late to make changes in my will…

Then I could see them no more. With so much of drama, no wonder they call it the operation theatre. I next recall a smiling nurse saying, “Small prick, ok?”

I remember a smiling anaesthetist closing my mouth with something soft. Suddenly I panicked. I remembered something important. “Wait! I forgot to take a selfie! Where is my phone! I have to tell 478 friends around the world in one shot that I am about to have a very crucial oper…” But by then I was already gone.

The next thing I remember was being back in my room, with all my family peering at me with a range of expressions taken straight out the emoji gallery on my iPad. Many had the one with the winky-smiley face. Oh no, they wanted to cheer me up again.

“I know how you feel now. I recently had a hysterectomy — I was so glad when the operation was ova…” said a witty relative. When I signalled silently to the nurse for the throwing-up bowl, they assumed wrongly that it was the usual post-operative nausea. Ah well…

Even though the hospital gown had done its evil duty, other things followed to shred me of the last vestiges of dignity. By now a concerned boss and a bunch of office colleagues had arrived. In their exalted presence, happy nurses frequently popped in to enquire about the emission of gases and movement of bowels (which apparently are the greatest signs that any operation is a success) while my face turned the exact shade of green of my hospital gown. Every gas emission is very good, said my nurse. I wondered later if that was the exact moment my boss granted me extra leave till I was fully okay…

Later a visiting aunt went off determinedly to question why they hadn’t yet given me the removed bunch of stones in a glass jar to take home. I turned a further shade of green.

However, after some palliative drips had entered my being, a euphoric sense of wellness set in. A team of leading doctors came by to check on my progress. I was beginning to feel like a guest star in a Grey’s Anatomy episode. I gushed at them for making me healthy. They pronounced me fit, and said the head nurse would soon come to tell me all about the discharge from hospital.

I winced. Oh no, Doctor, I don’t at all want the discharge, especially not in a bottle. I don’t even want to see those stones ever in my life, I pleaded.

Fortunately, no one in the room laughed.

indubee8@yahoo.co.in









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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:41:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Gladder-without-my-bladder/article14496005.ece

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