Friday, August 29, 2008

The definition of pain

The definition of pain

A few years ago I was unfortunate enough to find myself having a problem when I was laying a cable. Much grimacing and straining and I would raise myself to find the toilet bowl caked in "Magenta! Ochre! Aquamarine!" they exclaimed, no, red blood. This went on for many months, in varying levels of haematology, and warranted a visit to the docs.

Now at the time I had a typically racist Northern Doctor in a small modern practice on the outskirts of Manchester, and he took great pleasure in having a chance to highlight this "southern poof’s" powers of no pain threshold. He’s got a wry smile on his face as he cried "sepia" as he came and stretched on the cyan marigolds, and asks me to lean on my side. It was at this point I actually heard myself say "Please God, don’t let this hurt." In fact it was like a cute kitteh. I looked down at the cute little cute...But that baby had claws. And kitteh attacked my chocolate starfish, and it hurt.

A lot.

In fact it was like having a recently broken bottle rammed up inside me, twisted, and pulled out again. The doctor queried as to how long I had been like this, and I nonchalantly replied "oooh for about 18 months."

"Does it hurt to poo?" he asked.

"Is the pope catholic?" I replied.

"How do you cope?" he then asked.

"I eat a lot of bad curries and hope for diarrhoea," was the slightly sarcastic if not truthful reply.

The diagnosis was as painful as it sounds. I had a growth, probably formed by straining to hard after eating too much muesli the day before. The growth had to be removed in a "Simple procedure, done under general anaesthetic." I had a note in my hand and a date for meeting my new found friend, the proctologist, at the local pain centre that was Tameside Hospital. Hat’s off to the guy, he was a lot more understanding then the GP, He didn’t go any further then he had to, to see the damage that was making me walk like I’d filled my kecks. In the meantime, I told my father all about the impending operation.

"Oh," he said, "I had that when I was about your age as well"

Bloody typical; I come from a family of tight arses.

Anyway, 2 weeks later at 7:30am, I check in for a day of poking around inside my lower bowel. The actual lead up wasn’t that eventful. There were about 6 people in the ward, all waiting to go into presumably similar operations. I was one of the last, actually going ‘under’ about midday. Just before being wheeled into theatre, I realised I needed a poo. Not to worry though, because surely they’d empty me out before they started to operate. I awoke from the general anaesthetic not feeling much at all. I laid there for 10 minutes staring at the ceiling, before realising I was actually in considerable pain. The pain was definitely coming from inside me, and it was getting worse. And to compound matters, I think I still needed a poo only it was rather more urgent now. The doctor came round to see all his victims, and enlightened me to the fact they had removed a large growth the size of 2 golf balls from my nether region, and I could now dump like a horse and not even touch the sides. They had also (rather unnecessarily in my books) removed the muscle that allows you to stop pooing once you start; the sphincter. I’d had a sphincterotomy, something that still has people chuckling today. Apparently a sphincter says "huh?" Mine didn't.

As I lay there, I could feel the urgent need to poo was getting worse. It was now painful beyond painful. I realised one thing; the longer I laid there not sending a brown package out to sea, the worse it would get. I had no choice, so with the aid of a nurse I made my way to the disabled toilet at the entrance to the ward. Carefully I positioned myself on the toilet seat and put one hand on each of the hand rails mounted conveniently on the walls near me, and pushed.

It went dark. Now call me a wimp, call me a poof, but I passed out in the wave of pain that followed. I dreamt that midget astronauts train in a clothes dryer, but meanwhile the nurses found me still sat on the loo. I’m not sure, but I reckon they’d have had to reinsert my lower bowel back in, possibly with a spork, before moving me. I came to on the hospital bed, and felt better then I had for a long time.

The fact that I’d walked to the hospital with the belief I’d also be walking home shows just how wrong a man can be. I got a taxi.

With soft seats.

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