Friday 9 July 2010

Sugar and Spice is Just a Bluff

You people are sick. And when I say 'you people' I actually mean Dorte and Bookwitch who specifically requested Too Much Information. Blame them if, after reading this post you want to poke your eyes out with a hot fork. For those who are of a nervous disposition, look away now. OK, I warned you, it's going to get horrible, so here's another chance to look away. Still here? What's wrong with you?

The title of this post comes from the lyrics of the Cramps song What's Inside A Girl. And, following my colonoscopy, I can now tell you. Warning - this post has no crime fiction related elements at all.

I should have known that things weren't going to go well when I spent the first 23 minutes at the hospital trying to find the endoscopy unit. It was like a Kafka-esque nightmare, trying to find my way through the labyrinth of hospital corridors. I did the sensible thing - once I got to 'Outpatients - Day Surgery' I asked someone where to go.

She led me to a corridor lined with doors. "Go to the end of this corridor and turn right" she said. So I did. And yes, indeed, I then saw signs that said "Endoscopy Unit, this way". So I followed them. And then they stopped. In the middle of the Ear Nose and Throat Unit. I stopped again and asked at the X-Ray Unit.

"Oh, you'll have to go back down that corridor, the way you came."

"But I didnt come that way."

"Well, that's the way you need to go, back that way, back the way you came." And with that, she closed the sliding glass screen.

So I did. And ended up out the back of the hospital by the rubbish bins. A smoking nurse was standing outside. And, when I say a 'smoking nurse' I don't mean 'a nurse was standing outside smoking a cigarette. She wasn't smoking a cigarette, smoke was coming from her back. Really*.

She helpfully accompanied me down another corridor and then pointed down yet another "I can't come with you all the way," she said - rather ominously, I thought, "but just go to the end and turn right and you can't miss it."

As I walked down the corridor things began to look a little familiar. 'Outpatients - Day Surgery' said a sign pointing straight on. Yes, I was back where I had started. Remember the person right at the start who told me to turn right? Well, she obviously had her shoes on the wrong feet - if she'd only told me to turn left, I could have saved myself 22 minutes.

So, I eventually arrived at my destination. 'Welcome to Hell' said a sign in big red letters**.

I gave my name. "Nurse will be with you soon," said, presumably, Receptionist. I sat down, taking out my book. Tony Black's latest. OK, so maybe a book called LONG TIME DEAD is not really the best thing to read in a hospital waiting room, but it's brilliant and kept me amused until 'Nurse' arrived and the time came for me to go off and throw my dignity, and my clothes aside.

"Doctor will be with you soon. Take your clothes off and put this gown on, hen," said Nurse. "Opening to the back.". I did as instructed and she looked at me dubiously and handed me another gown, twin of the one I was wearing. "Better put this one on over the top. Backwards. This is a mixed ward, we don't want you getting anyone excited, do we?" She seemed to think this was hilarious. I, on the other hand, did not. But when your dignity is stuffed in a locker along with your clothes, and you're covered by two faded hospital gowns and an all-over blush, there's not much you can say, is there?

And then it was time for me to go and see 'Doctor'. "This will just take about 10 minutes," said Doctor. One of my gowns was removed (I think you can guess which one) and I had to lie on a bed.

Before I go any further, let me tell you that the next time a man says to me "Can you just shuffle your bottom towards me a little bit more," I am going to run, screaming, from the room, hopefully having shoved an anal probe up his nostril first, while uttering the words "This might be a wee bit sore."

The next twenty five minutes (yes, 5 or 10 minutes my violated ar*e) were a wee bit sore. Nurse tried to distract me "Have you been on your holidays yet?" I was going to ask her if she was also going to give my hair a wee trim and blowdry while I was lying there but I was stopped by the vomiting. That was me, by the way, not Nurse.

"That was a nasty wee spasm," said Doctor. "Would you like us to stop?"

"Oh yes, please," I wailed, "in the name of everything holy, please please stop, I beg of you. If you have any feelings, stop."

"We'll get you back in another time. I think that would be best."

"Another time? You want me to come back and go through this again another time? How many miles of intestines have I got, exactly?

"Well, I'm nearly on the final stretch," said Doctor, quite cheerfully, as though my bowel was the course of the Monaco Grand Prix and he was overtaking a Ferrari in the confines of my lower intestine.

"Just bloody get on with it. I'm never coming back."

"Here, you can watch it onscreen." He turned the screen towards me, as though he was treating me to a night out at the cinema. "Look at that, that looks really good, doesn't it?"

Really good? Was the man mad? It looked like one of those underwater documentaries where they go deep to the bottom of the sea where no-one has ever been before and find some weird prehistoric sea creature that is both frightening and ugly. "Well, actually Doctor, it looks like something from 'The Creature From the Black Lagoon'. Doctor looked very hurt. He struck me as a man far too fond of his job.

We all shut up after that, for which I was extremely grateful. Engaging in small talk with random strangers when one of them is rummaging around in your nether regions is never a good thing if you ask me. After what seemed like another three hours the ordeal was over. "We'll get you a nice cup of tea now," said Nurse, patting my hand. Since I'd had nothing more than water for the previous 24 hours, this was surprisingly welcome, although not as welcome as "We'll get you a nice juicy steak and a plateful of chips" would have been.

With my tea came a certificate. A certificate that proclaimed 'You have had your bowel examined today.' Yay for me. I'm going to frame it and hang it by my school swimming certificate. The one that says 'Donna swam one width - in shallow water' - those last three words are shorthand for 'we know you cheated and put your feet on the bottom of the pool but we just can't prove it.'

I got a taxi home. I was not in the mood for talking. My taxi-driver, however, was. "I was in the out-patients myself last week, having my ears syringed. What were you in for, hen?" I think he spent the rest of the journey quietly wishing he'd not bothered having his ears cleaned out. Still, at least my response*** shut him up.

*It actually turned out to be steam but when you're in a Kafka-esque labyrinthine nightmare, smoke is so much more exciting.

** Obviously, not really, but it bloody should have done.

**** I'd tell you, but my Dad reads this blog.

Tata for now. Back to crime fiction on Monday.


  1. Here you are completely knocked out. This is horrible.

  2. I am so pleased you are OK, and it wasn't me undergoing this procedure.
    You have to have a sense of humour to survive these humiliations.

    Earlier in the year I had a abdominal aortic aneurysm scan. They tell you it is to find any swelling and weakness in the aorta which might burst. The leaflet states "This could be serious".
    Then I had a liver scan in which a female wrestler decided to drive a plastic thing through my abdomen with all her strength. The report from all these tests came up with the earth shattering diagnosis that I was fat.

  3. Mr. Moore, close your ears--I'd love hearing what Donna told that taxi driver! It takes a lot to shut them up!

    Yes, the nurses are too cheery, the doctor loves what he does enough to encourage one to watch the tv thing, guess he thinks he's the star? and though you ask for directions clearly, you can't get clear answers on how to get places. Maybe they only do close-up directions? :-) And yes, quiet would be much better than their chatty friendly comments when one is trying to stay calm about what's happening in nether regions--how on earth do they think that helps? I think you should give some lessons in the school that trains these people--not on the science part, on the social part! :-)

    As usual, humour even in awful circumstances, that's what works. And men, never ask Donna to shuffle her bottom toward you! Donna, some of this could certainly be included in the next book about the Old Dogs, couldn't it? :-) Maybe just the taxi ride..... people display those certificates? Another funny thought. Be well, and thank you for this update.


  4. horrible and hilarious. Under the Welcome to Hell sign there should be another one saying Abandon Your Dignity. I had a similar wee chat once. Having a vasectomy. The chat was all about Inheritance Tax. That's surgeons for you.

  5. Donna - You are far, far braver than I would have been!!

  6. Donna - go to youtube and search Billy Connolly colonoscopy. He shares your pain.

  7. This is a mixed blog, we don't want you getting anyone excited, do we?

    Poor Donna! I have read all the comments, and I have still not finished drying my eyes!

    But as Bobbie says, a scene like this in an Old Dogs story ... (I don´t know why it takes a Scandinavian to see that as you have suffered anyway, you can just as well share the fun... oh sorry, I mean the pain with all your friends!)

  8. Yes I do read this bloggy thingy. I didn't tell you when I had an endoscopy, they stuck a camera down my throat and showed me pictures of my stomach. I did not get a certificate.

  9. Thank you Donna. You're a dear. I hoped you'd share, but didn't dare hope for quite so much. Almost as fun as when I ... Aahrgg!

  10. Thanks all for your kind wishes!

    Patti - obviously, the NHS is sadistic :o)

    Norman - hahaha! They would just need to look at ME to tell that.

    Bobbie - you never know - I might manage to fit it in somewhere!

    Michael - Inheritance Tax? At least that's a conversation that would act as a sedative :o) And I shall go and seek out the Billy Connolly video.

    Margot - you wouldn't call me brave if you had heard me whimpering.
    Dad - you never told me you had an endoscopy? I have to find out on my blog?????????

    Bookwitch - now I think you must share the aahrgg.

    Dorte - I'm sure they are tears of pain you are shedding for me?

  11. My sympathies. Not only did you have to suffer the indignity, you had to do it conscious. Over here a nice intravenous drug cocktail helps the time pass swiftly. However, before you curse me for going through the procedure in a drug induced euphoria, and because I am among friends, I will reveal a final bit of humiliation. They wouldn't release me until I had um, broken wind, where upon all the nurses cheered.