This week I am driving my car (legally) with my wife, Nikki and Tessa on our way for a walk. Tessa is not a third person (illegal) but our dog. I only add this for any debut readers this week and the same reasoning applies to the words, ‘my wife’.
I am driving within the speed limit, which is not so easy since it is a wide road with a newly reduced maximum of 20mph and is heavily policed with all-seeing cameras.
My phone rings which is unusual because it usually just pings these days.
The call is not from a number stored in my phone which I am always mindful of.
Nikki answers the call and puts it on speaker.
“Can I speak with Mr Dominic Holland?”
This very much depends…
On who the person is and what they are selling. Most often it is people alerting me to a road traffic accident that I have been involved in but have no memory of. A sure sign of getting old because apparently I was injured in this accident – and presumably I would like to sue someone.
But in this instance, Nikki answers on my behalf.
‘I’m sorry but Dominic is driving at the moment. Can I help?’
“I need to speak with Mr Holland.”
‘Okay, but he’s driving…’
I am sufficiently intrigued now – and I throw out a general “hello” – so at least they know I’m present and not being held against my will.
“I’m calling from your GP’s Surgery…”
The name of our practise is used and it was said with a tinge of irritation – and this throws me a little.
‘Oh, right. Er, hello. I am Mr Holland.’
This is met by a frustrated silence. I might have even heard a bemused tut and a slight sigh?
“How can I help you?” The person finally asks.
This throws me even more.
Er… you called me. Hello!
‘I have no idea.’ I reply.
“Well, you called us.”
No I didn’t.
Fortunately, Nikki is on-hand to clear up this confusion. It transpires that Nikki has indeed called our surgery, worried about her husband’s frequent peeing at night. And requesting that someone draws a short straw and gets to feel my prostate gland.
And who am I to argue? I am married. I do as I am told. An appointment is set. The call ends and Nikki and I have a friendly chat about how such confusion can easily be avoided in future. I am not angry since my wife has the cast-iron defence of wanting to keep me alive – which I suppose is an achievement after so many years.
I go along for my appointment assuring myself that all is well and that everything is perfectly normal and routine. I have a stand-up piece on this very procedure but no one is laughing now – the punchline of which I might use to sign off this blog.
In the waiting room, there are no magazines to distract me. The appointments are running late which is fine by me. As I wait, it occurs to me how beholden we are to the people in white coats. That we do anything we are told… including staying in our homes for almost a year. Eat this, don’t eat that. Drink this. Swallow these…
It is all quite infantilising.
Eventually I am called in and I am asked a series of quick fire questions. I answer promptly and I am confident I have done well, although I am not given a score. It is explained to me that my blood samples must be taken before I am examined. I don’t know why and I don’t ask.
Apparently, I have good veins and this is a good thing.
Why, thank you very much, I want to say but I don’t.
The needle goes in easily. My blood quickly fills the tubes. I feel I am doing very well indeed.
Now I am asked if I am able to produce a urine sample.
Can I pee in to a bottle?
Always up for a challenge, I grab the tube with gusto.
Just you wait here.
Quickly I return, triumphant. I am almost proud of myself. Part of me hopes for a ‘well done’ or maybe even a treat like the dentist used to give me.
And then it is time for the examination.
“Take your trousers and pants down. Lie on the bed facing the wall with your knees under your chin…”
These are simple but terrifying words for a man to hear and I remind myself that I am here at the behest of my wife…
It is not said as a suggestion or an opening salvo. It is not a negotiation.
As instructed, I lie in wait and then it begins. My eyes widen. I am pleased now that I have already emptied my bladder and I understand the very specific order of things.
“Right, if you would like to sit up and get dressed.”
The examination is a success.
“That all felt completely normal to me.”
Speak for yourself, I want to say, but I don’t.
Of course, I am relieved.
Walking home, my phone rings which is unusual because it usually just pings…
It is Nikki. Frantic with worry – maybe she can’t find my will?
‘How did it go?’
‘Well the good news is that everything appears to be okay. But the bad news – is that me and the doctor are going for a pizza on Wednesday….’
(This joke works much better when it is not illegal for two consenting adults to go for a pizza)