Something very strange happened to me in the summer of 1975 for that was the time when I went voluntarily into hospital for an operation on my head and no-one told me why or explained anything at all about the procedure and to this day nearly 40 years later I still don’t know what they did, or for why.
And before you ask, no, I wasn’t abducted by aliens.
It all started some years earlier when, as a small kid I had a bad ear infection one christmas and during that period I took to cleaning out the gunge in my right hand ear’ole with on of my mothers hair clips, an instrument perfectly adept at keeping hair clipped to a womans head but also a wonderful tool for having a prod around in your ear with, unfortunately I was rather enthusiastic with my prodding and ended up with a huge rip in my eardrum which exists to this day.
Fast forward a few years to 1975 and I’m still troubled with a duff ear what with it not having an ear drum left in it – a hospital consultant showed me a diagram in my notes once where he had drawn what was left of my eardrum, I did a hell of a job on it is all I can say – and after several infections that year and several visits to the Leeds General Infirmary to have the ear cleaned and antibioticalised an old man doctor suggested that I “might want to come in and have it investigated”.
I thought no more of the comment until some months later in the summer of 75 I received a letter from the LGI inviting me to attend a clinic and not to eat for 12 hours beforehand and not to drive myself there either, I booked the day off work and took the bus to the Infirmary on the date.
Checking in at the day surgery unit I asked the nursing sister there if she could explain to me what was going to happen, “No” is all she said, she was just checking people in and had no notes on why I was there, I was told to go and sit down with some other people who looked really ill, one lad that I sat next to had his nose spread all over his face and so I guessed that he knew why he was here, unlike me.
Some time later I was invited to go into a small curtained cubicle and told to remove all of my clothing and put on “this” hospital gown which fastened with ribbons up the back, I asked the nurse again if she knew why I was here and what on earth were they going to do to me that involved being naked, she shrugged her shoulders, her job was only to tell people to take all of their clothes off and how to tie the ribbons up the back.
I lay on the trolley that they had provided and shortly thereafter a porter came in and wheeled me down a corridor, a public access corridor in the main hospital I may add so that I was wheeled prone past hundreds of members of the public on a trolley, naked other than for a thin cotton gown fastened up the back, people were laughing, I could tell, I asked the porter where I was going and he told me that he was taking me to the operating theatre, but for what reason he knew naught, he was just a porter after all.
Just before the anesthetist put a mask over my face I asked him too why I was here but he just shrugged his shoulders and gassed me to sleep…
Exactly one hour later I woke up in the same anesthetic room and on the bed next to me was the lad who had previously had a nose spread all over his face but who now had a nose that looked like a proper nose again, but he was obviously suffering somewhat, shouting incoherently at the nurses and struggling still under anesthetic to get off the bed, what with him being such a stroppy bugger I now understood how he’d broken his nose in the first place so while they coped with him I just lay there quietly wondering what the hell had happened, there was something inside my ear I could certainly feel that…
A few minute later a nurse informed an anesthetist that I was awake and he came and checked me and said I was good to go, I asked again what they had done but he just turned and started fighting the bloke with the repaired nose that was in severe danger of getting broken again.
I was wheeled off back to the cubicle where I’d left my clothes and given a cup of tea and told to get changed when I felt able to, I did, and then emerged to be told to sit down and wait for an ambulance to take me home – I asked the nursing sister what procedure they had done and why my ear was stuffed full of what felt like cotton wool, “Take the cotton wool out in two days time” is all she said.
A porter came and told me to sit in a wheelchair then pushed me out to one of those “patient transport” mini-buses that was full of old ladies who had been to the hospital that morning to have old ladies things done to them and as we drove the streets of Leeds dropping them off one at a time they gabbled on at each other incessantly explaining every little procedure that they had had done to themselves that morning – it appeared that everyone who attended the LGI that day had had a a full and detailed explanation – except me, who still had no clue – at one point one old lady tried to involve me in the conversation by asking what I had had done to me and they all turned and waited in expectation, “I don’t know” is all I could say and they all looked at me with that old lady stare that means you are a simpleton.
Hours later after all of the old ladies had been delivered to their own homes, I was dropped off at the kerbside outside my families bungalow and my mother came to the door with a cup of tea, sat me down in my fathers chair and fetched a slice of cake for me, she was lovely my mum, then she asked me what had happened.
“I don’t know, they didn’t say” is all I could tell her
I got a slap over the back of the head and called a bloody idiot for not asking.
Two days later I removed the cotton wool as instructed, it was caked in dried blood so clearly there had been some serious rummaging around in there but my hearing was no better than it had been and has never improved in that ear since, there was no follow-up appointment and even my own doctor does not know what they did.
I’m convinced that there is a radio device inside my head and they’ve been following me these past 40 years, one day they’ll probably release a boxed set of dvd’s of my life.
1970s prime time TV, don’t you just love it.