Up Yer Bum!

I read this, with complete disregard for the ten-minute time slot and just for shits and giggles, at an open mic last night instead of the usual poetry or a short story. It went down quite well. Be warned: from the outset it goes for the cheap lavatorial laugh and it is, both in blog and open mic terms, HUGE, with a word count a tad under 3k. So take it or leave it, and don’t say you weren’t warned:

Up Yer Bum (AKA The Fantastic Voyage)

A few weeks ago, having reached the age of eligibility, I received an RSVP from my local hospital regarding a screening event they were planning. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘I haven’t had a night out in ages.’ Sadly it turned out this wasn’t the star-studded cinematographic premiere I had hoped for at all, but an invitation for an examination to determine whether I might be at risk of developing bowel cancer. Additionally, rather than being an evening event worth digging my glad rags out for it proved to be an afternoon matinee. Still, beggars can’t be choosers and I have to take my fun where I can find it these days, so I put my X on the dotted line and signed up, figuring it was a sensible idea even if the main feature was unlikely to fizzle and pop with the kind of gung-ho, balls out, action and adventure I usually look for from my onscreen entertainment. stiff fingerI have, in relation to other conditions, had several doctors insert a stiff finger (appropriately gloved and lubed, of course) into my back passage over the past couple of years, and while it is not a sensation I particularly relish I have been reassured following these undignified probings to hear that my prostate feels pretty much how a prostate should feel rather than resembling a bag of variously sized marbles or a burst balloon. That said, the finger-up-the-bumhole examination is a cursory one at best, so the opportunity for a more in-depth study, seemed, in best belt and braces tradition, too good an opportunity to overlook. A few days after signing up I received a package in the post containing what looked like a family-sized tube of Airfix modelling glue, together with a length of clear rubber tubing of the kind you might see aerating a fish tank. I was horrified to find on reading the enclosed leaflet that this was a D-I-Y enema kit. With watering eyes I eyed the 12” Airfix tube, noting particularly the sharp edges along the heat-sealed seams. The tagline of a very old joke drifted into my head: Rectum? Rectum?? It bloody-near-killed him! As it turned out my fears were ungrounded, and it was only the tubing that required insertion into my holiest of holies. Phew! That’s a relief, if you’ll excuse the pun…. My son, Ben, predictably found the idea of the enema hilarious. He stopped laughing abruptly when I told him he would be administering it. ‘What?’ he said, his face ashen. ‘Well it’s a two man job, isn’t it,’ I said, ‘and there’s nobody else around to help me.’ ‘I am NOT sticking ANYTHING up your arse dad!’ he declared. ‘Can’t you ask Auntie Barbara?’ ‘Don’t be silly, son,’ I said. ‘Think of all the years I spent wiping up your shit and pee. And you don’t have to actually touch anything – it’s more a remote steering job than anything else. Think of it as a computer game, a bit like Mario Kart. Anyway, you’ve seen your Auntie Barbara’s driving – she won’t even go on a motorway, for god’s sake – so you’re just going to have to man up and don the marigolds.’ I kept the teasing up for the next few days, but he wasn’t really buying it: Oh, for those years of innocence when he was even more gullible than he is now. I recalled nostalgically the day he had asked me why he was taller than all the other kids in his class while also being the youngest. I told him he was a genetically modified orang-utan, and that was why he was also gluten and wheat intolerant and liked bananas so much. He’d had nightmares for weeks after that one, especially when I gave him the Sounds of the Rainforest CD to ‘relax’ him at bedtimes. Oh how we laughed. Until Social Services showed up. Spoilsports. music for oranutanAnyhoo, I digress… Back to the colonoscopy. The great day arrived, and having read the instructions I prepared myself for squirting superglue up my bum by lying in the foetal position on a towel on the bed. I skip breakfast most days, but aware that the camera needed a nice clear run-up I prepped myself with a bowl of porridge. This, I thought, only half-digested and jet-propelled by the enema pack, would provide a good scouring action that would leave my poop chute as clean as the proverbial whistle. Thus primed, I slipped the rubber tube home as far as it would go, grasped the plastic pouch and squeezed with all my might in order to, metaphorically speaking, light the blue touch-paper. As a wave of cold gel flowed into me I wondered if perhaps I’d missed an instruction about heating the pouch in the microwave or something. Then I had a mental image of molten lava being pumped up my arse and thought again: microwaves can be very hit and miss, can’t they? I was surprised it felt cold, because I hadn’t imagined that part of my body to be particularly sensitive to variations in temperature. I was even more surprised that the gel tasted of peppermint – surely, Shirley, there are no taste buds up there? I concluded it was probably just a case of word-association and imagination, the world of advertising – toothpaste ads in particular – having impressed on me over the years the notion that the word ‘gel’ is intrinsically linked to the phrase ‘cool and minty.’ As I lay there, thinking of England and looking at the clock, I wondered if I would be able to keep the gel in for the requisite ten minutes. As I got to around the five-minute mark I thought ‘piece of piss,’ which with hindsight was inappropriate on two counts. By the eight-minute mark my lower colon was twitching like a nervous meerkat with tourettes and I was biting my headboard and wincing at the strain of holding it in. I made it to the toilet in time for the explosion, but only just. On exiting the smallest room I noticed that the gel pouch, despite my best efforts, was only half-empty. I realised I had made the same fatal error that children make with toothpaste and had been squeezing from the middle of the tube. Was this enough for a thorough scouring, I wondered? I decided to wait another ten minutes or so to see what happened. As no further eruptions materialised I concluded I had only half done the job, so assumed the foetal position again and went in for a second attempt. After battling the cramps, biting the headboard and dashing to the loo for a second time I felt confident that I had gone beyond the call of duty and that my chuffing bowl would now be buffed, polished and primed to a standard that would earn top marks and a glowing report from Aggie and Kim. Thus reassured I took myself off to the hospital. ‘Take off your clothes and put on these gowns,’ said the nurse, handing me two pale blue scraps. ‘You won’t be able to do the back up, so wear the second one like a dressing gown,’ she advised, ‘or everyone will see your bum.’ I thought it highly likely they were going to anyway, but at this juncture it seemed a moot point. When she came back to collect me she said, ‘You might want to keep your socks on – it’s a long walk up the corridor.’ I wondered if that was a euphemism, but she actually meant it literally. ‘Don’t worry, I’m a bloke,’ I said. ‘We always keep our socks on.’ cold bumAs we walked the corridor we passed around twenty-five people in what appeared to be a second waiting room, and I realised what she had meant about people seeing my bum. I wished at this point I had taken her advice about the second gown. I also became acutely aware of my varicose veins and the big hole I’d just discovered in the heel of one sock. Eventually we reached the examination room, where two nurses and a doctor awaited me. The doctor wore the expression of a man who had spent the past twenty-five years or so gazing up other men’s arseholes, simultaneously projecting an air of mild disgust, acute disappointment and weary resignation. I climbed on the gurney and assumed a foetal position for the third time that day. I had been made aware by the pamphlet describing the procedure that the doctor would be inserting a camera into my rectum. What I hadn’t realised was that this would be a 35mm Single Lens Reflex equipped with an 80-to-210 Zoom with a tripod attached. I jest, of course, but it did at times feel like he was abusing me with the Hubble telescope. I was advised at this point that in addition to the camera the ‘mothership’ at the head of rectumoscope also housed a water nozzle for lubrication and a steel garrotte for excising any dodgy looking polyps they might encounter. There was also an airline they would use for inflating my bowel to make transit easier. What? WHAT?? INFLATING MY INTESTINES?? I never signed up for that! In effect, then, what I had going up my bum was a camcorder (c/w lighting rig) a hosepipe, a barbwire lasso, and a bicycle pump. The nurse told me not to worry if I felt the need to fart. She said that anything like that was down to their probing, that I shouldn’t try to hold it in, and that I shouldn’t feel embarrassed. I found that last bit about embarrassment quite ironic, really, given my position. I mean, I’ve never before been in a situation where I’ve been lying half naked in a room with four total strangers watching a live video feed broadcasting from the bowels of my bowels, but I don’t think it’s the kind of thing I’d ever learn to be comfortable with however much exposure I got to it. The farting, I subsequently found out, was kind of a moot point. I don’t know the bore diameter of the average arsehole, but mine, it transpires, is too small to accommodate a camera crew and assorted hardware moving in one direction and a small-scale tornado travelling in the other. It is quite possible that if I’d REALLY pushed I could have forced a little squeak out, but it is equally plausible that the build-up of gas in such a confined space could have led to an explosion. A third scenario might have witnessed the accidental death of the attending doctor as the camera whistled out of my anus at a speed comparable to that of a bullet leaving the barrel of a high velocity sniper rifle. All things considered, I didn’t want to risk it: while I’m sure the coroner’s report would have recorded a tragic accident or perhaps death by misadventure I harbour no desire to have the blood of a fine, upstanding NHS polyp-cropper on my conscience. I was rather proud of my internal’s if I’m honest. They glowed with all the vibrant pink vitality of a recently fed flamingo or one of Iceland’s finest king prawn rings. That they were, in places, reminiscent of the mouth and tongue of a ‘facehugger’ from the Alien movies is a less wholesome image, but at least there were no teeth to contend with. And then we turned a corner and saw a massive incisor, growing, apparently, directly from the wall of my lower intestine. I screamed and tried to jump off the gurney. ‘Don’t worry,’ said the doctor, ‘it’s just a seed.’ Who would have imagined, dear reader, that a simple sesame seed could look so terrifying? It just goes to show that context is everything. I was glad I hadn’t been eating sweetcorn; in this setting, at this magnification, it would have looked like a scene from war-torn London after a severe and extended bombing raid. On the wall opposite the sesame seed the doctor spotted his first polyp. This was ‘of the kind they were looking for’, so they snipped it off with the stainless steel garrotte thingy. It looked about the size of Donovan’s Brain, but I was reassured by the seedling that this was a trick of perspective. It was, however, too big to go down the suction thingy, and they lost it – presumably to be pooped out at a later date. Turning the next corner we encountered something that looked like a cross between the jabba‘Slimer’ creature from the first Ghostbusters movie and Jabba the Hutt. ‘Ah,’ said the doctor, ‘we’ve hit a little bit of poo.’ As it turned out, it wasn’t a little bit of poo but a major mudslide. I was wheeled off for my third enema of the day. I was starting to regret that bowl of porridge I had thought such a good idea at breakfast time. About 20 minutes later, following another high velocity evacuation, I was wheeled back in to theatre, where the good doctor quickly reinsinuated the rectumoscope. This time he recorded several more polyps, but they were all of the ‘plastic’ type (well that’s what it sounded like!) which are apparently completely benign. It was then that we encountered major problems, when the camera seemed to hit, if you’ll excuse the pun, rock bottom. It seems that having my guts removed and laid out on a table several times in childhood and shovelled back in with no real expectation of survival (a long story I’ll save for another time) has resulted in some rather strange twists and turns in the ol’ poop-chute. In essence it seems it is a miniature replica of one of Busch Garden’s more extreme rollercoasters, featuring loop-the-loops, high velocity gravity drops, and bends that would bring a winter-olympic bobsleigh team to their knees in terror. The doctor, bless him, was determined to get round the corner and have a look if he could, and consequently pumped several gallons of water and similar quantities of air up there to inflate the passage, but after ramming at it for some ten minutes with what felt like a bass broom all he’d really succeeded in getting round the bend was the lubricant and oxygen that had been intended to ease the way. This then provided an even bigger and more immovable barrier that would have needed twin blasts from a shotgun to clear. I wasn’t quite crying by this point, but it was bloody close. Anyone who has suffered severe trapped wind will know what I’m talking about here, but chances are even then that this would fail to take into account the additional pressure of several buckets of water. Seeing I was in considerable pain the nurse offered me gas and air, which I had so far eschewed. ‘Yes please,’ I gasped. ‘Oh – if you drove here, you have to wait at least half an hour before driving if you have gas and air,’ she said. ‘No thanks,’ I said, checking my watch and realising we were already dangerously close to rush-hour and the nose-to-tail gridlock this results in in Tunbridge Wells. The doctor squirted another bucket of water up my arse and enough air to launch several dirigibles, but to no avail. As I squirmed on the table, eyes streaming, he advised that given the unusual slalom course my anal canal presented he thought it probably wisest to conclude our business there. He hadn’t really achieved everything he had hoped for, but half way is better than no way, and what he had seen, apart from the lost polyp he’d excised, looked in pretty good shape. On leaving the theatre and getting dressed I discovered I could no longer do up my jeans from the amount of trapped air in my stomach. I asked for a safety pin, which took the nurse a surprisingly long time to find considering we were in a hospital. The only thing that remained to do was fill in a couple of forms. ‘How uncomfortable did you find the procedure?’ asked the nurse, ‘was the pain: a) none, b) mild, c) moderate, d) uncomfortable, or e) severe?’ ‘Well given the last bit, I would have to say severe,’ I winced. ‘Ah. Well having had the procedure, how is the pain, if any, now? Is it: a) none, b) mild, c) moderate, d) uncomfortable, or e) severe?’ As she said this a seismic shift occurred in my stomach that almost dropped me to the floor. It felt like a stegosaurus was dancing in my guts. ‘Severe.’ I wheezed through gritted teeth. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Well if it’s severe, I can’t let you go home.’ ‘Moderate,’ I screamed clutching my sides and banging my head against the wall to take my mind off the stegosaurus, and with that I swept out of the room. stegThe drive home was interesting. Interesting in the sense of that old and deceptively sweet-sounding Chinese curse, ‘may you live in interesting times.’ For the next two days I was farting like a carthorse that had been fed on an exclusive diet of baked beans and cabbage water, but eventually the gales subsided, and after just another week I was pooing normally again rather than six or seven times a day where I could deliver only small, flattened, tear-shaped blobs resembling bite-sized wholemeal pitta breads. If you’re wondering about the disappearing polyp, so am I… … Right. That’s the lecture over – any questions, or shall we go straight into the slide show? *UPDATE*  A few days after reading this I received a card from a well-meaning friend. I’ve been paranoid ever since:  colon card


2 thoughts on “Up Yer Bum!”

    1. Hi Merlinda. Yes, a very sensible precaution for anyone over ‘that certain age’ and/or for those potentially at higher risk, and invasive though it was I would have been reassured by a more thorough photoshoot! Thanks for comment 🙂

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