I am sat with my mother. I don't often sit with my mother but she had requested I do so. Normally I would grumble but I'm offering her support. I feel proud. I’m being a good son.
Today we are visiting Mr Colin Oscar Pee and he is going to have a little look up my mothers bottom. Hopefully it'll be a fleeting visit as I really don't want to be here longer than I need to. Mind you hospitals seem so much more fun when you're not actually the patient, especially when intrusive investigations are called for.
There are some clinics that offer the visitor a glimpse into the future, the gastro clinic is certainly one of those as a mixture of pensive pensioners sit perched on their slightly panicking posteriors. If getting old means endless days waiting to be ‘probed’ then I’d settle for an early death.
Like the majority of the elderly we have arrived significantly early, after all you just don't know what could delay you on a five minute drive to the hospital what with all those wards and corridors to navigate. If it hadn't been for the 'nil by mouth' I'm sure we would have brought a picnic.
When I see 'nil by mouth' I generally take that as an indication that I shouldn't put anything in my mouth let alone swallow it, however my mothers interpretation of this rule has been to have beef soup followed by a mug of bovril.
This poses two questions. Firstly how is that 'nil by mouth'? (clear liquids apparently), and who in their right mind follows beef soup with a mug of bovril? Wherever Colin goes today he is in for a surprise I shouldn't wonder.
The amount of pensioners staring at miniature watches makes it obvious that that Colin is running a little late, too many bottoms I would imagine and maybe he's just a little fed up of being a bottom man. All that training, seven years at least, and then it comes to this.
Finally my mother is called through. The smiling nurse advises me that I might as well go for a drink as they will be an hour at least, I however suspect it will be longer once they find a combination of bovril and beef that they weren’t expecting.
Just as I find my change I realise that my mother has left me with her coat and handbag. Do I leave it here? Should I take it with me and roam the canteen looking like a small time crook or worse just a man with very strange fashion sense. I choose to stay, I have my kindle after all and a tea would only make me want to wee. God! I’m not drinking in case I want to wee, I really have arrived in my rightful place amongst the infirm.
Before that thought grasped me I had started to feel very young and trendy amongst my fellow patients and their carers. I don't have a stick, my hearing is good and i'm using a phone instead of a pen and a crossword. One lady gets called. No response. Another call and still nothing. On the third attempt a lady jumps up with her stick 'oh you mean me!? I don't use that name!'
This means either the lady is a little mad and can't even recognise names she has previously had, or more worryingly she just decided that the nurse must be calling her despite it not being her name. In the land of Alzeimers the bearded, middle aged man is king.
As I look around I realise that there are also a few other sons about today nodding politely whilst clearly not listening to what their mothers are saying. We become aware of each other and I make a point of folding my mothers jacket up neatly and placing her handbag on top of it. ‘Hah’ I think to myself ‘your mothers probably wish they had a son like me!’ I feel certain I’m the best son. Maybe one of the nurses has a little medal I could have.
Time passes slowly and it seems that everyone else is returning from Colin and his assistants. Where is my mother? What are they doing in there?
One old lady returns from behind Colin’s door and slowly makes her way over to her husband. She looks like she needs to take care with every step and still appears slightly dazed. ‘Can we go home now!’ her husband barks as he heads first out of the door. I shake my head in disgust and look around for moral support. I find it. Our looks are full of contempt. How could anyone be so heartless.
Finally my mother appears. She seems jolly and as usual is quick to point out to the nurse with her that ‘this is my son’. This is a disaster as it means the poor lady has been subjected to my life story.
‘I’ve heard so much about you’ she says. Too much I shouldn’t wonder, and it’s bound to be that nurse I see when I’m next naked again in hospital. Typical.
Before I can ask if it went OK my mother proceeds to tell everyone about the contents of her insides. I shrink inside my jacket as she continues to regale her audience about Colins skills. Faces mix from confusion, sympathy and horror.
‘Can’t we just go home!’ I say rather too loudly for even my liking. The expressions show that I have now lost my place as ‘the best son’ and I have joined the other elderly husband as an uncaring carer.
As I leave I look to the nurse for my medal but none is forthcoming. Feeling a failure I look back to my fellow sons for some much needed camaraderie and support. They look at me with smiling, smug grins, their places in the ‘good son table’ now looking down on mine.
We leave and I hope we don't ever have to see Colin again.