I was admitted to the Hospital Universitario Virgen Las Nieves, Granada, on a Friday, five days after my heart decided to go on strike [see #14, most heart attacks happen on a Monday]. I had barely managed anything to eat and what did got barfed up soon after.
Apart from waking up for tests, examinations, checks and pills, I slept the sleep of the righteous all the way through to Saturday afternoon. When I woke up, I was starving.
“Can I have some food?” I said while miming holding a knife and fork and eating pretend steak and chips. The nurse smiled and nodded, “no”. “No” is Spanish for “no”.
Saturday supper? “No” became “si” and I fine dined on … wait for it … a tomato, a slice of cold chicken and a cup of water.
By Sunday lunch, life was good, well apart from the heart thing and a diet which Gandhi would have complained at. By dinner time, my belly was beginning to work.
I held on for the rest of Sunday but by Monday afternoon I was beginning to sweat. There was only one English speaking doctor.
“Err excuse me Doctor, I err … ha ha … well I need to go to the err … toilet”.
“Oh! you just say ‘pee pee’ okay?” he smiled and nodded.
“Well it’s a bit more err … interesting than that”.
“Ah! Okay, you say ‘caca’ he smiled and nodded.
“Caca!” I exclaimed, a little too loudly, “are you serious?”.
“Si, caca”, he smiled, nodded and left.
I was getting desperate, so I tried to climb out of bed to find the toilet but I pulled one of the wires off my chest and the monitor started flashing and whooping. It felt like half the hospital ran in and tackled me back to bed. That was bad enough but the lecture I got from the doctor was worse.
The ache in my belly was becoming urgent and finally I gave in, I called the nurse and whispered the magic word “caca”.
“Caca” she bellowed, there were people in the next ward who heard her, “si, no problem”, she shouted, smiled and left the room. A minute later she was back with what looked like a green towel inside a baking tray. She slipped it under the sheets and ran away. I swear she was laughing.
I am on a bed in the middle of a what can only be described as a petri dish, the front wall with door is glass. Everyone who passes by can look in, the nurses walk past, smile and nod, the cleaner smiles and nods, even the old Spanish bloke opposite smiles and nods.
It’s not the sort of thing philosophers contemplate but in order for me to do a “caca”, I felt I needed to be upright and have a certain sense of something called "privacy". My bed can go to 45º but the wires stop me from leaning forward, and with a continual stream of viewers, this “caca” thing was going to be tricky.
After a few manoeuvres it turns out you need to be an Olympic gymnast to successfully complete this mission. I raised myself up on my heels and took all the weight on my hands, while blindly gyrating my bottom over a baking tray.
After only 10 seconds my left arm gave up and I collapsed on to the tray, I attempted a swift recovery but alas, it was too late. I had a quick peek under the sheet and groaned. I had missed the tray by a country mile and now I had caca on my leg.
I tried another position but my arms were struggling, I sat down and now had caca squished on both buttocks. This incident was escalating out of control.
I mean, how hard can it be? I tried to reposition the baking tray, “Oh crap”, literally oh crap, it was all over my left hand and how the hell did it get on my elbow. I started to panic, I was balancing on my left heel and right hand, basically trying to levitate but by now I had caca up my back, and on both bed sheets.
The nurse came in and found me whimpering “caca, caca” while waving my caca hand randomly in her direction.
She smiled nodded and handed me two sheets of toilet roll, two sheets! Two bloody sheets, I needed the toilet paper mill on overtime. She had a quick look under the sheets and I could see by the colour draining from her face, it was bad.
She hit the button, the emergency caca team with full protective gear piled in and attacked me like I was a toxic spillage. I suppose I was a toxic spillage.
At this point, I sort of gave up, and slumped into a feeble resignation. Let them do what they wanted, I didn't care, my humiliation was total. As the nurses lifted and scrubbed my delicate pride, none too gently I might add, I thought ... "at least it can’t get any worse”.
With my bum, dangly bits and pride exposed to the world, my caca sheets were whipped out from under me at the exact moment the doors opened for visiting time.