Last time I was an inpatient in hospital, I was there for a night. Just one – as it turns out, there wasn’t anything wrong with me, but my chest was hurting, I had an odd ECG reading and my grandad died of angina when I was two, so I went to A&E anyway. I was there for hours, got a bed in a ward, and was discharged in the early hours of the morning. It was still dark when I left.

I remember vague things about that. I had a Harry Potter book with me. The nurse brought me a sandwich once because I said I was hungry. I remember the shape of the room – a sort of irregular pentagon – and the sound of the cars outside.

And I masturbated. Twice.

Are you meant to masturbate in hospital? I’ve no idea. There’s nothing wrong with it, I suppose. I was horny by the time I got into my hospital bed (although I wasn’t triggered by anything – just horny), and since I had a room of my own with an en-suite bathroom, I doubt my rationale process went any further than, “hey, there’s a toilet; I’ve got a dick, let’s have a wank.”

I’m still not sure why I did it twice. I think I just got bored at some point.

I’ve just spent an entire week in hospital. Go back seven days to last Monday early afternoon and I was already well-ensconced, semi-conscious, hooked up to a heart monitor in an MAU. I’ve been through multiple neurological procedures, CT scans, MRIs, one EMG and a myriad of ECGs. Healthcare professionals drifted in and out of my life trying to figure out what the fuck was wrong with me – it was clear that I was ill, but why?

Unlike the time I had my accident, I don’t remember much of the ambulance ride. I remember being given NO2 and wishing that they’d given me more, although they did also administer morphine, which I have to assume worked. I wondered, at one point, if there were flashing blue lights on my ambulance, because there was certainly a siren going. Getting to the hospital didn’t even take that long, even though it was a different part of London.

Memories of the first two days are hazy. I remember a lot of pain and an initial diagnosis which was later canned in favour of a different one. Towards the end of the week, as a result of an off-the-cuff remark I made on day one resulting in further tests, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy – which was both a surprise and a relief at the same time.

I was there for a week, and I didn’t masturbate once.

I tried, on the last night. I couldn’t really do so in my bed, even with the curtains pulled: I felt a lot more self-conscious and the guy in the bed opposite me had a General Grievous-like coughing fit every half minute, but I did manage to escape into the bathroom and try a few times while perched on the edge of the toilet. The problem being, I suppose, that without anything to rest my back on, any sort of visual stimulus (my imagination having been fried after a week of tests), or the sort of silence or comfortable environment I usually set up for myself, it just…



I went back to bed feeling both guilty and frustrated (and possibly a little angry at myself, for all the missed opportunities). Wriggling and struggling in my bed for a bit, I made the conscious decision that I couldn’t do this alone. I groped for the call bell and pressed it. My night nurse appeared.

“What can I do for you?” she trilled.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” I started with, “I know you’re busy.” (I started every conversation like this – I used to work in healthcare; I know it’s a universal truth!) “But I’m not sleeping well. Could you get me some warm milk?”
“Sure,” she smiled. “I’ll be back in a second…”

She genuinely could get me warm milk? It was only a joke.

I sank into a fitful slumber once I’d had my milk. Orgasm-free, perhaps, but sleep, at least. My dreams went to odd places, too: not sexy, just odd.

My nurse wrote “anxious overnight” on my notes…

…which was as good a way of putting it as any.