I was rushed into A&E after I had spoken to my GP who recognised symptoms of something called Cauda Equina, a dangerous spinal injury which risks paralysis the longer it is left. I was taken to a cubicle. A male doctor introduced himself, had a brief chat about the symptoms, he was pretty convinced my symptoms indicated Cauda Equina, which meant I would have some tests there first, while they arranged for me be taken by ambulance on blue lights to a specialist hospital for spinal surgery straight away. I went into sheer panic and my head was all over the place as they told me of the tests they needed to do - full bladder scan followed by empty bladder scan, rectal exam, MRI, neurological and others. The first was to be the rectal exam and he went to ask a female nurse to come in and act as chaperone but I heard her say she was busy, but then I heard a deep voice outside my cubicle say to her “oh I’ll do it” and a huge man in a nurses dress appeared through the curtain, and stood at the side of my bed, announced his name (a female name).
I was horrified but so scared about wasting any time I said nothing. The doctor was on one side of the bed and this male chaperone on the other. The doctor didn’t look too happy about the other man being in the cubicle. Then the doctor asked me if I could roll onto my side for him, and without warning or asking, the male chaperone grabbed my leg and started trying to roll me. I shouted ‘no, don’t touch my leg’ (l’ve only just had major orthopaedic surgery to rebuild it) at which point he let go. The doctor snapped at the male chaperone “if she wants help she’ll ask for it” . The male chaperone didn’t look too happy that I had stopped him from being hands-on. Thankfully the doctor performed the exam quickly, discreetly and without the chaperone seeing much, then the chaperone left the cubicle without saying anything to myself or the doctor.
The female nurse who was originally asked, but was too busy, came in and apologised to the doctor. There was then a flurry of MRI scans, bladder scans and other tests and ultimately the fantastic news that it wasn’t Cauda Equina after all. Once the sheer panic had subsided, all I could think of is that great big man bursting into my cubicle and grabbing my leg uninvited, trying to roll me over without asking. There was an awkward air in that cubicle all the while he was in there, and as soon as he left, the doctor was chatting away again. In hindsight I’m annoyed that I didn’t have the guts to speak out at the time, but I was totally consumed with panic about what was going to happen to me if I did have what they suspected.