Back to the Bone

It was back to the hospital yesterday for what is known as a Full Skeletal Survey. No secrets left I guess after all the body scans I have been through over the last three months.

I am beginning to feel like those airline passengers that have volunteered to go through the new security scans at airports where all your little secrets are exposed to sniggering security guards.

The hospital is an old friend now, a home from home in fact, well I suppose they must know me well and think when I walk in, oh he’s the guy with the left temporal lobe haemorrhage. I recogonised him from his fractured vertebrae and cute wink.

And that is just the woman in the gift shop.

It was back to my old friends in X-ray.

“Hi there Wolfgang, they say with that welcoming informal manner. What do you want X-rayed today then?”

“Oh, everything, please,” I answer like a child in a sweet shop. “I’m going for the whole lot today.”

“Oh , alright then,” they laugh. “We haven’t had many of them recently. Usually just a left leg or an arm but if you want the full treatment, take a seat over there.”

I wait just long enough to see all the other patients come and go. I try to hide my smugness, knowing that I am the only full skeletal survey of the day. These other guys are mere beginners, I think.

I feel less smug when the efficient, no-nonsense radiographer shows me to a changing room and passes me a garment made of material which was probably a remnant from some kitchen curtains circa 1974.

My instructions were clear.

“Take off your clothes, except for your underpants, shoes and socks and put this on. It is tied up at the back”.

“Oh and no necklaces” she added rather redundantly. She must have thought I was the necklace sort. Not just one necklace but several – she has got me wrong, I hope.

How does she know I am wearing underpants? I wondered.

Well, I was. Black if you have to know – luckily they matched my black socks and shoes and almost anything goes with the bright blue surgical smock with its riot of even brighter blue patterns. It was not a good look.

The problem of course was tying up the strings at the back with a fractured spine. I struggled, wriggled around a bit and decided not to bother.

Thank God I was wearing underpants.

Clothes safely in a carrier bag, I walked down a corridor, like a fashion model to the X-ray studio. I was overwhelmed by the glamour – so hi-tech except for the clock that had stopped at least eleven hours earlier.

They can photograph anything and everything in here.

And that is exactly what the radiologist did.

“Stand here.”

“Bend a bit that way.”

“Just turn your head further to the right.”

“Look up a bit.”

“Twist your bum round.”


Well I invented the last one but this was what it was like.

First my chest, then my head and then shoulders.

After that, she said I should lie on the bed and splay my legs.

Well, you can imagine what sort of shoot this was turning out to be.

I did as I was told.

“Feet together, knees stretched out to the side.”

Pelvis done.

“Lie on your side.”

“Knees pulled up.”

Hmmmm, Matron!

Then those cold hands pulled away my smock. She ran her fingers up and down my spine pushing me one way and then the other.

“I just need to get a better view,” she said unconvincingly.

Women today!

More flashing lights and by now I was more than ready for my close up. You can see how models get addicted to the excitement.

“That’s it.” came the voice. “Finished.”

Devastated that my time was out. Dejected, rejected from my starring role, I gave her my biggest smile and, amazingly, her stern face melted.

Maybe, she’ll book me again, I thought as I went back to my changing cubicle.

The world was a greyer place when I left that hospital. There I was just one of the crowd, walking through the rain with a sore back and a shattered dream.

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