Embarrassing Bodies

I can’t believe what I’m doing. I really can’t. There’s a part of me that is completely and utterly freaking out. All I want to do is to get out of this situation. Right now. But I also know that I need to do this.

That’s right”, coos the nurse to me. We’re in a large toilet. In a Urology department. In a hospital. This is a TWOC clinic.

Yes, I had to Google that too. It stands for Trial Without Catheter. My bladder is retaining. It happens sometimes. I’m used to an uncomfortable bladder. But this is something else. So, the nurse is teaching me to self-catheterise.

“Slide back on the toilet seat. Spread your legs. That’s it.”

Can I watch?” the trainee nurse asks eagerly.

Well, she needs to learn somehow! I nod in agreement.

So, both nurses are watching me intently, as I slide back on the toilet, legs akimbo, my backside hanging over the edge of the seat, showing off what most of us naturally tries very hard to keep private, right into their faces, and trying to insert the little catheterising stick into my urethra. Finding it clearly takes a bit of skilful prodding in a very awkward position.

I’m quite literally dying of embarrassment.

But after the agony of two days with a pint of liquid in my bladder my body couldn’t dispose of, of not being able to sleep because of the pain and anxiety, of desperate 3am phone calls for help, of five hours at A&E on Saturday night, of blood in the trickles of wee I could manage, of three days with the catheter bag tied to my leg, I’m desperate to just go home and forget about my ordeal.

So, I embrace the challenge with determination and whatever spunk I have left in me.

Not much is left. All this is just days after my fourth operation. One of the more complicated ones. A laparoscopy to remove endometriosis nodules and adhesions that bound my vagina, uterus, and my bowel together as well as to drain cysts that keep growing and flourishing on my ovaries.

As I’m leaning back, I get to understand first-hand what those cushions in the disabled toilets are for.

And I wonder why nobody had ever told me about this darker side of being ill, and being operated on.

Maybe they were too embarrassed.

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