Being a Boy in JLRRA
SICK AS A PARROT — THE MEDICAL CENTRE
I never liked it when I went to the Medical Centre at Bramcote.
The first time I had to go was as a result of an accident in the barrack room. It was in our 4th or 5th week in Recruits Training. We were greasing out in preparation for the next big inspection. Two other lads and myself were moving one of the lockers and my hand got trapped against the wall. I yelped in agony but then, instead of moving the locker away, they shoved it right back.
I don’t mind telling you, the pain was immediate and excruciating; but instead of yelling out I just said:
I said it quite slowly and the other lads thought I was joking; but that was only up to the point they saw all the blood. They called our Section Sergeant in from the other room. He twigged the situation immediately and ordered me to go down to the Medical Centre.
As I was marching down the road, cradling my mashed digits, I started feeling nauseous and dizzy. When I reached the reception, I think I must have fainted. The next thing I knew, I was lying up on a gurney with one of the medics bandaging my hand. They gave me an hour or so to recover and then sent me back to carry on with the grease-out. My hand hurt like hell for the next fortnight and I kept getting picked up on drill for not clenching my hand properly.
The next time I visited the Medical Centre, a group of us had to report to the MO for a regular medical inspection. We had to strip off down to our shreddies while he poked and probed us in an undignified manner. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was never comfortable with these procedures.
Also, I didn’t much like the MO. He was quite elderly and was likely to ramble on about any old rubbish. One of the lads in my examination group was 50% of a pair of identical twins and the MO started wittering on about how cute twin girls were. Meanwhile, I am stood there, shivering in my underpants and hoping not to get an involuntary erection. God! Could you imagine if I did? It would be the end of the world. I would never live it down.
A couple of months later, after I had been posted to 40 Battery, I came down with appendicitis. I woke up one morning flat-out with stomach cramps. I wobbled out of my grovelling pit and had to dash to the toilets to be sick. I reported to the BONCO but he thought I was faking it. It was only when we paraded outside and I threw-up on the kerb that they believed me.
A couple of lads helped me down to the Medical Centre. The medic put me in one of the examination rooms and ordered me to strip off. When the MO came in, he conducted another one of those humiliating and undignified examinations. He poked his finger up and asked if it hurt more than usual.
What sort of question was that? If I hadn’t felt quite so ill I would have been outraged. I was 16 years old and had never been given a digital-rectal examination in my life before. I had nothing to compare it with.
In any event, they sent me down to Nuneaton General Hospital, where I went under general anaesthetic. I was pretty groggy when I came out of it and needed pain-killers to help with the post-operative abdominal pain.
It was three or four days before they let me come back up to Bramcote. They wouldn’t let me go until I had passed a motion. I swear to God, it was one of the most painful dumps I had ever taken.
I stayed on the ward in the Medical Centre for a couple of weeks and then they sent me home on leave.
The next time I had very much to do with the Medical Centre was in my mustering term. I think it is fair to say that I had pretty-well lost my way at this time. I had passed my trade training and other tests but had lost the plot. I started wandering down and complaining of vague, unspecific symptoms.
You might think I was swinging the lead; but there were no particular duties I was trying to evade. In any event, they weren’t particularly sympathetic. The RSM was there on the final occasion and chased me off the premises with a flea in my ear. I think that probably cured me of the Medical Centre for good.