Hang on, my legal advisers have just told me that I need to check my facts. It turns out that Virgin Giving do take a cut of the action. Just enough to cover their costs, apparently. Well, if you would like to donate direct to the PDSA then may I suggest that you go into one of their many and excellent shops, or pop into a hospital with a wodge of cash, or buy something at their online store. Or click on the image below.
Some of you may be wondering what the PDSA does. It's right there in the logo, just click on it and wander around their website. Essentially, every day the wonderful staff of the PDSA help to relieve the suffering of thousands of cats and dogs. Their vision is 'a healthy life for all our pets' and in recent years they have been extending their brief to try to improve the welfare of all pets in the UK, not just of those pets belonging to people eligible for their service. They do a lot of good work.
Erm, did I also mention that I work for the PDSA? Oh yes, there it is at the top of the post, 'About 12 years ago I was working for the PDSA in Liverpool.'
I will now get to the point.
But for a very long time I'd been plagued by this weird buzzing in my ear. If I sang along to music on the radio, my ear would vibrate in a most peculiar and irritating way.
However, on the way home from work, I thought I would pop into the doctor's and make an appointment to get my ear looked at. The receptionist said, ' We run an open surgery system, so if you just want to wait, you will be seen.'
This was a good idea. The surgery was in a house just off the park. Reception was a little window in a corridor. There wasn't anyone else waiting.
'Really?' I said.
'Really! Just take a seat in the waiting room.' She beckoned towards a door behind me and I went through...
It was absolutely packed.
When I'd left work I was still wearing the clothes I'd been wearing from 7.15am the morning before. This was in olden times when the PDSA didn't have uniforms. You wore your own clothes under a white lab coat. I had been in these clothes for over 24 hours. It is possible that I'd worn some of them the day before that.
The flies were circling and I wasn't entirely happy about the state of my underwear.
I squeezed into a chair between properly ill people and waited to be seen.
I hadn't had any breakfast. I was quite hungry.
I waited. The noise in the room paused for a moment, just to give my stomach the opportunity to say something very loud and gurgly. I don't know quite what words it used but I think they could be variously interpreted as 'scary gastrointestinal disease', 'really really bloody hungry' or 'my hovercraft is full of eels'.
A small child started to cry.
My stomach kept making its opinion known in no uncertain terms.
Finally, dizzy and weak with hunger I was summoned into the consulting room.
'Ear...noise...irritating...' I mumbled incoherently, no doubt looking like the latest tramp who had stumbled in off the street.
At this moment the doctor said the words that changed my, and his, life forever.
'Just one thing. We haven't checked your blood pressure for a while. Just roll up your sleeve.'
He took my blood pressure. He took it again. He looked concerned. He took it again.
'Your blood pressure is quite high. Well, really very high. If I could just feel your pulse...'
Now at this point in the story events have become somewhat blurred because the usual reaction, coming up in a few seconds, is, 'He did what? Why? Why would he need to do that?'
All I can say, in advance, is that I suspect he was not physically attracted to me in any way. I was and am a fat man with not much hair; I was also starting to smell. And if he was physically attracted to me he had a right old treat coming up!
He tried to feel for a pulse in my armpit. I don't know why he forewent the easier access wrist. Maybe he didn't. As I say the memory has become somewhat garbled through the mists of time. I do not in any way wish to imply malpractice!
'Oh, I can't feel a pulse very well there,' he said. It didn't surprise me. Even then I was probably a similar weight to what I weigh now, and I suspected that he would have lost his hand in the armpit fat, right up the wrist.
'I'm going to have to feel for a pulse in your groin,' he said.
Now, in my defence, what happened next was a result of tiredness, hunger and stupidity.
He said, 'Just take your trousers down and get up on the couch.'
I took my trousers and my underpants down and got up on the couch. True to my earlier worry, my underpants were not pristine, indeed I believe there may have been smells involved.
'I....I can't quite....feel....I'm just going to have to...' He moved my bits to one side and felt on the other side for a pulse. 'Ah,' he sighed with relief, 'there we are.'
Numerous people have asked what he was doing feeling for a pulse in my groin. I'm sure there are good reasons, but there is very little excuse for my wholesale abandonment of lower protective garb. I don't know which of us was more embarrassed (probably him) but he was subsequently very thorough with his investigation of the causes of my high blood pressure. But at every revisit, he stayed the other side of his desk.
And for my part, I chose to listen more carefully in future when asked to remove items of clothing.
How did this all change our lives? Well, I've been on blood pressure medication ever since and if I can lose this weight, maybe I'll get off some of these drugs.
His life? He retired not long afterwards. I hope it wasn't all my fault.