Monday, August 30, 2010

This is so full of TMI. You may want to look away.

Medical science has come a long way over the centuries, but there is one unsung hero of the medical world which is incredibly important and yet rarely thought of when we mention hospital technology:

The humble Bedpan. (Last chance; look away now if talk of bladders squicks you)

I was in the emergency on Thursday morning (I’m fine and will write more on that at a later date), and for a few hours was not allowed to leave the bed they had put me in. This was fine by me, I didn’t really feel like going anywhere at the time, except that I was busting to go to the toilet.

The nurse kindly got me a bedpan and some toilet paper, and told me that I just had to sit on it however I liked and Go! 
 This was not as easy as one might think*. 

Creepy Octopus. Don't snorkle immediately after an ECG.
First, you need to figure out just how full your bladder is, as this can determine the speed of the stream and, thus, the angle (I don’t know exactly how much control men have over their aim, but I have very little over mine). As the bedpan is asymmetrical, you then need to figure out which end to have in front of you (it’s shaped vaguely like a toilet bowl, but it’s not quite right). After that, you find a way of raising yourself onto it without pulling the IV out of your arm or any of the cables off the electrodes that are being used to monitor you (that thing is like a squid - I had a friggin' squid attached to me by sticky patches with press-studs!), thus setting off alarms and alerting the resuscitation team to what the device now thinks is a cardiac arrest and causing all sorts of mayhem, when all you want to do is pee...

Once you’re there, you then get to feel grateful that the doctor and nurse have the good grace to look away because your gown isn’t done up at the back and you had to remove your bra for the electrodes to go on, so you’re not only peeing in public on a bed into a bowl (both of which your mother thought she had trained you out of more than two decades ago), but you’re also flashing the room because you either cover yourself or you keep your gown and said electrodes from falling into your makeshift loo.

The end result is that you are bedraggled, half-naked, and relieving yourself in a way you would never have thought to be remotely civilised. On the other hand, your bladder is no longer screaming at you for letting it get to that state in the first place and not peeing before you left.

Moral of the story is: Always pee before you leave the house! Even if you’re leaving to go to the emergency ward.

*I actually drew a diagram, but thought it might be going a bit too far.


  1. You poor thing!
    Your drawing is excellent and I love it, especially because I have this weird thing about octopuses (yes it's a valid plural, shh) and squid are like octopuses and your drawing has a squid.

    Also your distress reminds me of...
    Hyperbole and a Half

  2. Why, thank you! I've only just figured out that I can draw, in even a loose sense of the word!

    Oh, I wish I had that skill for perspective drawing! :-p Might have made my diagram of aiming for the pot look a bit less grotesque and actually usable in this post ;-)