HOLMSEY: Oh – the humiliation!

I had to go for ‘tests’ last week, including urine and blood samples. There are no free on-street parking spaces near the surgery, so it cost me £2.10.

Creeping into my 6th decade, inevitably I have various (minor) health issues now, boasting three tablets daily! My blood pressure, urine and various other things need checking every
three months or so. One noticeable side effect of ageing and those drugs seems to be the need to ‘go’ more often. Thanks to a combination of bad genes, lack of meaningful exercise and the volume of food consumed, my blood pressure is something of a lost cause. The tablet I originally took no longer does the trick, so they prescribed an extra one too. So far at least, that combo is successfully preventing the sort of life-changing stroke my mother and father endured. Worryingly, the combo barely keeps me below the BP numbers at which the NHS website suggests I ‘seek immediate medical attention’!

Bearing in mind the high cost of visiting the doctor, I collected the sample pot 10 minutes before the appointment time. You’re supposed to collect it the day before, and presumably fill it in the privacy of your own home. They come from reception with a tick box form, and I knew I’d have to write on both – but forgot to take a pen. I rarely leave the house these days without forgetting something, often two things! Why do people still carry pens, what practical use are they? Pen-less, I popped over to the newsagent and bought a permanent marker. This took precious time, but at least I made good use of the council’s extortionate parking fee.

Some weeks ago, I was working at a mainland crematorium. I’d arrived nice and early, so took the opportunity to use their loo while I had the chance. I was smartly dressed of course and did what I needed to do before washing my hands. As I turned on the unfamiliar tap, the water literally exploded under great pressure, drenching me around waist height. The front of my trousers and the tops of my legs were completely saturated. Frankly, it looked like I’d had an accident and wet myself. I’m on good terms with the crematorium manager, so went to complain about the ridiculously high water pressure. He found my embarrassment highly amusing – “the stain of shame” was mentioned. Despite being wet, l had to proceed with the funeral and felt obliged to tell the mourners what had happened. Better that than them thinking they’d hired an incontinent funeral director. Perhaps it was a welcome distraction, but they too found my predicament highly amusing.

Anyway, back at the doctor’s surgery, pot in hand, now with just minutes to spare before the appointment, I hurried to their immaculate loo – to do what needed to be done. Has anyone ever told you how to provide a urine sample – practically? If you attempt to fill the tiny pot before you’ve begun relieving yourself in the usual way, the flow pressure has the potential for spillage.

If you leave it until near the end of the natural process, there’s the risk of no flow at all; you may not capture anything. Is this any easier for women? Please let me know.

I won’t explain in too much detail what happened next, but if you’re ever in a similar position, I think it’s best to wait until you’re nearly finished before filling that tiny pot. Once I’d dried the floor, walls, seat and bowl, I rinsed the pot in clean fresh water before discreetly popping it into the surgery letterbox. Miraculously, I managed to keep my trousers dry.