At 9:00 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? I hear you ask. No, it’s not the weird West Country sex-game some of you are imagining; today is my Bowel Cancer Screening day! (A word of advice to anyone who intends to help their friends or lovers with this delicate task: never proceed whilst uttering, “I’m going in dry”. This will only result in a strong clenching that takes several minutes to subside).
My cleansing irrigation now completed (I won’t go into detail…) Rachel whisked me off to the hospital, trying hard not to drive over too many bumps on the way. Why she found it necessary to put a rubber sheet on the car seat, I don’t know. Several times I had reassured her that after my explosive “movements” during the past hour, the only thing possibly still be inside me was the doctor’s wedding ring he claimed went missing during my prostate examination the previous September.
Twenty minutes after arriving, they checked my vital signs. Somehow, although only draped in a flimsy backless gown and lying on a couch in a foetal position while four women (including a menacing looking one armed with a camera attached to a hosepipe) stared ominously at my exposed arse, my blood pressure was still that of a world-class athlete.
They then offered me a tray of exotic-sounding drugs to ease the potentially uncomfortable experience; don’t ask me what they were – I only know the street names.
Not wishing to appear wimpy, I refused the narcotics and manfully instructed the menacing-looking nurse (the one still armed with a camera attached to a hosepipe but now also wearing a miners’ helmet with a lamp attached) to go ahead and “horse it in”. Which she did. From a distance of twelve feet. With a run-up.
The camera (and what felt like an accompanying cameraman) started winding its way around my colon. Refusing the drugs now felt like a terrible decision, especially as they forced me to watch the unfolding horror on the colour screen next to my bed. If nothing else, being stoned would have helped my rising anxiety as I was dreading the sight of a hideous, life-threatening tumour looming into view after every bend. But, to my relief, there was only mucus and shit (and, thankfully, no wedding rings)
It’s said that time flies when you’re having fun. I wasn’t, but before I could say “Dyno-Rod”, the credits on the screen started rolling, colour returned to my blanched knuckles, and with a sound like that of a champagne cork popping, my rectum was tubing-free and the ordeal was all over.
Thankfully, the nurses didn’t start clapping or high-fiving.
Joking aside, although the big-screen appearance of my insides won’t make this year’s Oscars and it certainly won’t go down as one of the more dignified experiences of my life, no one should ever underestimate the importance of this free procedure. It really could save your life.
I can now rest easy (for a while at least). They have given an important part of my anatomy a clean bill of health. This, and hearing the immortal words: “Mr Pople, you have a spectacular bowel”, made me happy that we still have such an amazing NHS in the UK.