At 9:00 am this morning (3rd May 2019), my wife, Rachel, gleefully inserted a long plastic tube into my anus along with what seemed like a vat full of potent, fast-acting fluid.
Why? No, it’s not a weird West Country sex-game that some of you are undoubtedly imagining – today is my Bowel Cancer Screening day! Which is nice. (A word of advice to any of you out there intending to help their friends or lovers with this delicate task: don’t ever start proceedings whilst uttering the phrase, “I’m going in dry”. This will almost certainly result in a strong clenching effect that will take several minutes to subside).
Cleansing irrigation now completed (I won’t go into detail…) Rachel whisked me off to the hospital. Why she found the need to put rubber sheets on the car seat, I just don’t know. I repeatedly assured her that after my explosive “movements” during the past hour, the only thing that could possibly still be inside me was the doctor’s wedding ring that he claimed went missing during my prostate examination the previous September.
Twenty minutes after arriving, my vital signs were checked. Somehow, despite only being clothed in a flimsy backless gown and lying on a couch in a foetal position whilst four women (including a menacing looking one armed with a camera attached to a hosepipe) stared intently at my exposed arse, my blood pressure was still that of a finely tuned athlete.
I was offered a tray of exotic-sounding drugs (don’t ask me what – I only know their street names) to ease what can apparently be an uncomfortable experience. Not wishing to appear wimpy, I refused the narcotics and manfully instructed the menacing-looking one (who was still armed with a camera attached to a hosepipe but now also wearing a miners’ helmet with a lamp on it) to just “horse it in”. Which she did. From a distance of 12 feet. With a run-up.
At this point, refusing the drugs seemed like a poor decision.
It’s said that time flies when you’re having fun, and almost before I could say “Dyno-Rod”, the credits on the TV screen started rolling, the colour returned to my blanched knuckles, and with a sound not unlike that of a champagne cork popping, my rectum was tubing-free and it was all over.
Thankfully, the nurses didn’t start clapping or high-fiving.
Joking aside, although the big-screen appearance of my insides probably won’t make this year’s Oscars and it won’t go down as one of the more dignified experiences of my life, the importance of this free procedure cannot be underestimated. It really could save your life.
I can now rest easy that an important part of my anatomy has been given a clean bill of health. This, plus the fact that I will almost certainly never again hear the immortal words; “Mr Pople, you really do have a spectacular bowel”, has made me happy that we still have such an amazing NHS in this country.