Author's Note: With the exception of the Saturday night toilet collapse, all of what follows is a complete figment of my imagination. And for the record, I only bruised my ribs. At least, I think they're only bruised. Never did get around to going to the hospital to check.

Anyway, this is the first part, which basically sets the scene for what's going to come later. Or at least, what's going to come later if anyone bothers to read and review and show an interest.

So, let me know what you think. And if any of you see any of my posse of Constant Reader's out there, all of whom seem to have vanished recently, please tell them I'm sorry for whatever it was I did to upset them. And if they aren't upset with me, just busy doing other things, I'll leave the apology in anyway as at some point I'm sure I will upset them!

Spawny ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------

It started with a dull pain in my knee. I'd had this pain for a long time before I bothered to do anything about it. Guess I figured it was just the arthritis that I knew everyone else in my family suffered from. Anyway, one day, my knee caused me a serious problem.

You see, I was in the toilet, as guys are prone to be on a Saturday night. And there's something about blokes and the way they go for a piss. Something I never really though of until afterwards. We all have the same ritual.

Walk up towards the urinal, unzip, pull out, do your business whilst trying to spit into the stream of liquid to see if it'll make any difference to the directions of said stream, finish, shake, (no more than twice, anything more than twice is masturbation), start to take a step backwards as you zip up, and spin your right leg around as you turn to walk away.

All nice and easy, and as I said, the more I think about it, the more I realise that every bloke does it the same way. Well, every right handed bloke anyway. I suppose it's possible that the left handers spin away in the opposite direction. Although I have a feeling that would cause all sorts of embarrassing collisions because the people behind would be expecting them to go the other way.

So, anyway, I got all the way through this little ritual with no problems whatsoever. Right up to the point of spinning my right leg around as I was turning to walk away. Which is about the time my left knee gave in. The easiest way to describe it would be to say as I put all my weight onto my left leg whilst turning around, all of a sudden my left leg wasn't there anymore.

Which I can assure you is not a pleasant experience. Even less pleasant is the sudden realisation that immediately before you fall onto a floor covered in piss, there's going to be a urinal in the way trying to break your fall. And if it can't manage that, it'll settle for breaking your ribs instead.

I was lay there for nearly ten minutes before I could even attempt to stand back up again. Lay there on a urine soaked floor, clutching my side, waiting for the pain to start to subside, and looking out for any tell tales like starting to cough up blood to indicate that maybe I'd punctured a lung for good measure.

Which fortunately I hadn't. I eventually managed to get to my feet, and struggle through the doorway back out into the pub. Every step I took was agony. Breathing was near impossible. The tightness I felt in my left side, and the give I could feel as I rested my hand against it, give that I knew hadn't been there earlier, made it clear to me that an ambulance was probably in order.

So I called one. And waited the traditional fifty minutes that it seems to take these days with our overstretched and underfunded National Health Service. Then, a short journey later, I was sat in the waiting room at the hospital. Who in fairness seemed to get round to seeing me pretty quickly considering it was a Saturday night. I only had to wait for six hours.

They actually didn't take long to come up with a diagnosis though, which was quite cool. Only a few minutes and I was on the way to the x-ray department so they could find out just how many ribs were broken. And while I was there it was decided they may as well take a look at me knee as well, see what had caused it to collapse so suddenly.

By lunchtime on Sunday, the x-rays were back. I'd been in hospital since two thirty that morning. Which is the length of time it took from me falling after finishing work at 1am to getting back up, getting an ambulance, and making the ten minute journey.

So, ten hours in hospital already, and I got the news from the x-rays. I had two broken ribs. Which they couldn't really do anything about apart from bandage me up and provide painkillers. That was the good news.

The bad news was they'd picked up some sort of growth in my left knee. They weren't sure what it was, but they wanted to operate and take a biopsy. So I immediately asked them if they thought I had cancer. Pretty quick on the uptake me you know!

They told me it was a possibility, but they wouldn't know for sure until they operated. So I told them to go right ahead and operate. Of course, this being the NHS, first they'd want me to see a consultant and hear all the options and do whatever else they felt was required to get me out of there for at least a few weeks before they actually scheduled an operation. Which was sure to be cancelled at least three or four times before it actually went ahead.

Or so I thought.

Fact is, between the x-rays coming back and me being prepared for theatre, less than 20 minutes elapsed. Now that kind of efficiency in the NHS is worrying for someone like me. As they only usually rush things like that if they think you're about to die or something.