If you remember, in Part 3 of my London visit I went to Praed Street clinic. That was a Monday. Friday of the same week, sleeping sweetly in my Edinburgh bed, I am woken up at dawn by a phone call.
– Jane, this is Andrea from St Mary’s hospital.
– I’m calling about the results of your latest test.
– Please don’t worry, but…
(Funny how you always get a panic attack when they tell you not to worry. Suddenly I am wide awake)
– … one of your test results is inconclusive.
She goes into long explanations of why this could have happened and what it might mean, but, being in panic, I only get this much: an inconclusive test result means that I either have it or not. They test each swab twice. My first test for throat gonorrhoea was positive but the confirmative test of the same swab was negative. I need to take this test again.
I hang up and lie for a while looking at the ceiling. It feels surreal. Everyone knows that condoms don’t provide a 100% protection from anything, so this one time in 7 years is, I suppose, good enough. Hold on, it’s not like I have it for certain! Besides, if this really is the case, how did I manage to get it in the throat but nowhere else? How long will the treatment take? And then I’ll have to take another test, and wait for its results, hopefully negative then, so how long will I have to be off altogether? Hold on, it’s not like I have it for certain! I don’t have to be off. It’s only my throat that’s off limits. Gonorrhoea sits deep in the throat so I’m unlikely to pass it to anyone unless they lick my tonsils and I am yet to get a client with such a fetish. The rest of my body is disease-free although of course this isn’t how clients will feel about it. It’s getting in touch with clients I saw recently that I need to be worried about. Hold on, it’s not like I have it for certain!
And so, after a miserable week-end, on Monday morning I go to Edinburgh GUM clinic. I hate this place. The walk-in clinic is open 8.30 – 10am. If you show up at 9.15, you are told that the clinic is already full and you’ll have to come back tomorrow. Unless you’re a hooker with gonorrhoea, in which case they’ll kindly squeeze you in as an extra patient. EXTRA patient! In a walk-in clinic!
I get to see a nurse. I tell her why I’m there. She goes. I wait. A doctor comes. I tell him why I’m there. He takes a throat swab and goes. I wait. Second nurse comes, with a Petri dish for another swab. This one is for cultures, so they could determine what antibiotics will work better. Then I wait again. Third nurse comes, with a syringe and a pack of pills. She tells me what the treatment involves; details aside, it’s a heavy-duty course of antibiotics. She rips the syringe open and starts filling it.
– Hold on, have you already received my test results? Even the cultures?
– No, of course not, they’ll be ready next week.
– So why do you think I need the treatment?
– Well, er, because… You know, to save time.
– Would you take this amount of medication for no reason?
– When I have the test results, I’ll take it. Or not.
I leave. I feel sicker than ever. A whole week to wait for the results.
Incidentally, that was the week when Walter could visit Edinburgh. And I couldn’t see him! Well, I could, but without kissing this is a waste of my time and his money and kissing he wasn’t comfortable with in my ambiguous condition. He comes anyway – to show his support in more than just e-mail.
We start with a lunch. We’ve a lot to talk about, mostly his plans for my next video. Then Walter wants to go to the cinema. I don’t. Guess who wins! It’s not that I dislike cinema. It’s that I love Walter. And in the cinema we’ll be watching a film, not spending time together. So instead we have a hot chocolate and do what we always wanted to do but were afraid of: shopping for lingerie. In a little boutique in West End I introduce us as Mary and Alfred Hotchpotch (his nome-de-videocamera), he sits down on the sofa with a cup of tea and I disappear in the change rooms. Some time later he joins me there.
Out of the boutique, I take him for a walk in Dean village, we have another hot chocolate and then go home where I change into my new lingerie, he wipes his saliva with his sleeve and we go out for dinner. A beautiful day and we didn’t even kiss! Oh alright, we did. More than once. Mostly in the change room. And also after dinner when it was time for him to go to the railway station. A beautiful day nevertheless.
The following morning I get another call. All results are negative. The crappiest week of my working life over nothing. Well, I have some lingerie to show for it. Quite literally! Walter took a couple of pictures!