Some positive news quickly led to the extraordinary experience of a stay in hospital. This blog, A Pain in the Poo Factory, tells the story
Santha, my GP in Castlemaine, had some positive news for me. The poo test I’d done was positive. In fact it was so positive that she would book me in for a positive visit to the Castlemaine hospital, where a team of medical people in blue scrubs would put me to sleep and have a positive look up my insides. It’s properly known as a colonoscopy, but I preferred to think of it as an Exploration of the Inner Self. A very positive thing to do.
Yes, I had explored my inner self, but that was mostly during the 1970s during dance and drama workshops at the Augustine Centre in Hawthorn. But this was 2014, and the good people at Castlemaine Hospital were not going to use introspection, group hugs or a resolution of inner conflict through dance and psychodrama. They were going to use a flexible tube with a light and camera. They were going to bring light to the dark, to that place where the sun never shines.
Would they see my soul? As a good Catholic schoolboy I used to think the soul was a holy blob of pure white ectoplasm in the shape of a fat zucchini. The soul hung around in the torso, filling the space from the neck to the crotch. This includes the bowels, of course, but it’s hard to imagine that the higher realms of the spiritual self would be much concerned about what goes on in one’s poo factory. Still, if you committed a sin, this blob of ectoplasm developed a stain. Unless you went to Confession and told God you were truly sorry, your soul soon sprouted horrid festering warty growths. Leave a zucchini in the fridge for about a month, and you’ll get the general idea.
Back to the point. I lay in the operating theatre and thought about the best sand-and-cement ratio for laying down slate paving at the back of my place. I opened my eyes to look around and all the shiny technology and TV screens had gone. I was in the recovery room.
It was a haze; the surgeon came and I picked up the word “keyhole”. You use keyholes to look at things. Did he see my soul? He showed me a photo they took. It looked like a large blob on top of a white-and-pink meringue pie gone wrong. So there it was – I had sinned, and most grievously. All those years of thinking impure thoughts had caught up with me. My soul was in a frightful state and there was the proof. I caught another word – “surgery”, but it didn’t make a lot of sense.
The confusion remained until the nurse escorted me outside to the most welcome sight of that warm and strange day: Cathy, standing by her black Suzuki, waiting to take me home.
We switched on the kettle on and settled on the sofa, but there was something else. During the colonoscopy you cop what is best described as a reverse fart – they pump air into you. It was still there. I was roiling and windy and would have been among the medals if farting were an event at the Olympics.
I excused myself and went outside to the north deck. There, I concentrated on farting God Save the Queen. Arthur and Martha, the two tawny frogmouths perched well upwind in the gum tree next to the deck, watched me, their brown beady eyes radiating disapproval. Maybe they were monarchists.
Next time: What did they find? The medicos I mean, not Arthur and Martha.