I have had my operation, and am now strapped up tighter than a very tight thing, in a cast that seems to have been laced with itching powder before they put it on my broken foot. Despite the operation on three metatarsals being very clearly highlighted as being on my left foot (someone even came and drew an arrow on my leg pointing at said foot, which didn't seem very scientific but is probably the best way to make sure), the usual medical high jinks were in view. "Operation on your foot, sir? Great – just strip off and put on these paper pants. Oh, and how about putting on a weird, backless dress?" I turned to Twitter for advice but all I got were nurses telling me the terrible things that they got up to once people like me were unconscious.
"We all like to get a photo of ourselves with your pants off," laughed one. Another claimed that I would be wheeled around the hospital on a special trolley so that everybody could see me in the paper pants. Twitter is not the place for a nervous patient. I tried to ask a serious question about why I had to wear paper pants for an operation on my foot. Could I not just wear my normal pants? Some people thought I was getting too obsessed with my pants, and told me so in no uncertain terms, but I'm continually perplexed as to why I end up in my pants (paper or not) whenever I go anywhere near anything medical.
I suppose if I was in that field it would definitely liven up my day. I'd have a big chart hidden away in the smoking room where all the staff would meet every morning before things got under way: "Right, thanks for coming, everybody. Just to let you know where we are on the board: Dr Jenkins, you managed to get 97 per cent of your patients to strip down to their pants yesterday. Exceptional work. Who refused?"
"I had a real tricky one – this chap came in and asked whether I could refer him to a specialist about a little scar on his cheek. Obviously, I told him to strip off, but we all know that faces are the tricky area when it comes to pants, and he simply declined."
"So what did you do? Didn't you try the old 'everything in the body is linked and I need a full assessment'? That normally works."
"Not with this one."
"Well, good work anyway. Now, Dr Pluff: you only got 5 per cent of your patients down to their pants. What the hell are you playing at?"
"I... I just don't see the point. It seems really silly."
"Silly? Of course it's bloody silly. It's bloody silly fun, and that's why we do it. We're doctors. We're into high jinks, getting drunk on pharmaceutical alcohol, and nicking legs from autopsies and putting them in patients' beds. It's what being a doctor is all about."
"Well, not for me. I don't like it."
"Then you won't last long in this game, Dr Pluff. Mark my words. Can I just congratulate Nurse Flaggart? She's got a wonderful shot of a patient's testicles that looked remarkably like the Chancellor of the Exchequer's face. I think, if there are no objections, we're going to make this the photo of the week."
Now I'm sitting at home (in my own pants) and working out ever more elaborate ways of getting things into my cast to alleviate the itch. Knitting needles are the old staple, but, weirdly, I don't knit, so I don't have any to hand. So far, I have tried chopsticks, a fork, a stick and a screwdriver. I think I have drawn blood, but it's difficult to tell. I'd go on Twitter to ask for advice but I'm pretty sure what the answer would be.