Curve Balls and Lemonade


For a while now, I have been experiencing excruciating pain in areas of the male anatomy that should not feel pain under any circumstances. It comes and goes, it isn’t a hernia, it isn’t an STD, it doesn’t seem to be cancer (thank God!), the quacks have poked and prodded a great deal and have a long list of things that it isn’t, but none of them (until today) have managed to work out what it IS.

That all changed this weekend just gone. After another painful week and calls to my GP in Portland (I had moved there last year after the Doctors in Hertfordshire had let me down one too many times) who said “as you’re 100 miles away go to a walk-in clinic near where you’re staying” .. I ended up in Watford General at their walk-in centre.

I had only been there 30 minutes when they came out to me and said “your test results are back, you need to go to A&E immediately. They then walked me past a 3+ hour queue and straight into a queue of ambulance drivers waiting to deposit patients in A&E” (December 2022, vast portions of the NHS were on strike and ambulances were taking over an hour sometimes much longer, to hand over their charges).

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Elbert Hubbard

Within another 45 minutes I was being assessed by several nurses in A&E and they took yet more fluids, blood pressure readings, and more. And there I waited for 11 hours whilst they normalised my levels. They then said I needed a CT scan, but that would be another 6 hours or so – after some negotiation, I convinced them to let me walk the 500m to my home so I could get some sleep and I promised to return just as soon as they could slot me in for a CT scan (which was just after noon) – it was 4am when they let me escape, so I at least managed a little sleep in my own bed – with the aid of pain killers prescribed by the attending physician.

Back I wandered at noon, and proceeded to climb into the CT scanner – odd that when I looked up I saw it was one of the ones that we supply parts for at my new job at! (we supply the loadbalancer which takes the HL7 image traffic and routes it to various back end databases – basically haproxy on steroids).

I then had to wait another 2-3 hours to see a specialist who diagnosed kidney stones … one of which is over 2cm (20mm) in size. It needs to come out, not immediately … “We can do it tomorrow” (this was now Saturday evening, I had originally walked in at 5pm Friday night).

They proceeded to admitted me, and prep’d me for surgery – Nil By Mouth from 2 am. Surgery should be first thing, 11am at the latest, they said. Great .. but I have to pick my mum up from the airport in a little over 24 hours … “No, you won’t be able to drive for at least 2 days after the General Anaesthetic”. Christmas was looking more and more complicated by the hour.

After a relatively good night on a ward (they have improved somewhat since I was last in Watford General probably 10 years earlier) the proposed time for my surgery came and went, I started to wonder if I had been forgotten about, as did the nurses. They found the surgeon, a urologist and an anesthesiologist (sounds like the pre-cursor to a joke!) who surrounded me in my bed, and said they probably couldn’t operate today after all – but if necessary, they could fit a stent to drain the affected area – which would maybe buy me 3 months but would mess up my quality of life. After a short discussion, we agreed that painkillers and rest were just as good, and they would reschedule me as an outpatient early in the New Year.

My 11 hours in A&E had now turned into 3 while days, and I hadn’t actually been operated on .. but at least we (hopefully) now know what is causing the pain (akin to stabbing red hot pokers). I’m discharged by 5pm and wander home – where I then sleep for 2 days!

Subsequently, I have been given dates of Jan 3rd (more tests), Jan 17th (surgery – cancelled) and now Jan 31st for surgery. Fingers crossed this actually happens and I can start to heal and be ready for the sailing season that it just around the corner!

So, watch this space for more updates!

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