Friday, September 18, 2020 23:51

The first consultant and the first real shock

Why anyone would actually, consciously choose to be a gastroenterologist is beyond me: peering into the rotting remains inside people’s stomachs, intestines and bowels, can’t really be a career ambition can it?

Anyway, I got a letter from one a couple of weeks later suggesting that I go to his office to discuss the ‘swallow’. So, armed with a smallish bank loan for the car park machine, I set off to the hospital again.

He seemed to be normal, this bloke, and quite amiable, and was pretty thorough explaining what bits were what on the images of my plastered insides that we viewed on his PC. He pointed out what appeared to be a kink in my oesophagus, close to my heart and suggested all the things that it might be. Nice bloke: they were all potentially life threatening; however, he did finish by saying they probably weren’t any of those though :roll: .

What he was sure about though was that I needed another series of ‘swallows’ to check for reflux and stomach emptying! WHAT? I’ve got to endure that fucking nightmare AGAIN? Jesus, I thought, my life really is beginning to suck.

I left with the sound of his voice ringing in my disbelieving ears: “We’ll make an appointment for you”.


When the appointment time came around, I was forearmed this time. For a couple of days beforehand I ate a couple of boxes of stool softeners, a bottle or two of ‘lubricating agents’, half a ton of very soft fruit like overripe pineapple, cherries (which from childhood memories always made me shit like some demented pebbledasher), and other sundry fruits, gallons of water and Lucozade sport, which I’ve always found a better rehydrator than plain water. And anyway, if you’re like me and enjoy a drink or two, the idea of drinking water becomes strangely abhorrent; the leaflet said drink water so I stifled my instinctive aversions and did pour it down my neck in large quantities. After I left the appointment I was drinking and eating fruit in the car on the way home and for the whole of the rest of the day.

To my, literal, relief, the next day, following my early morning poisoning routine, taking a shit was just about acceptable, albeit with some straining and the odd wail which must have scared the fuck out of my neighbours because I can hear Mick when he sneazes through the adjoining wall, so I’m sure they could hear me. They must have thought I was being killed. Probably quite happy about that too.

But the swallow…..

Again with the humiliation, the ‘gown’, the cold, the exits are here and here demonstration and now the strange, slightly squinted look I had not noticed the first time around in the boy geeks eyes. I could imagine him thinking ‘Ah, I’m going to give him some shit this time around’. Fuck, was I nervous.

I had bloody good cause to as I was steered away from the bondage machine this time and placed on the big couch, stage centre, face up. Again with the mouthful of gloop while they pretended to fuck about with the focus; I know they weren’t doing anything with the machinery, they were just excercising their perverted obsessions with me.

I swallowed when told, shuddering as it so slowly found its way down through the tubes to my stomach; gravity counts for fuck all when you’re lying flat on your back and trying to swallow a thick, heavy concrete mix. “Just going to tilt the table slightly. Keep perfectly still. You’ll be fine”. And the couch began to tilt lengthways making my feet higher than my head. It felt really wierd and I involuntarily blurted out, quite loud “What the fuck?”. “Just need to check your reflux, you’ll be fine” I heard. I didn’t have a reflux; I had a Honda CRV and a Toyota Hilux, but I was sure the Hilux was in the drive at home.

Eventually, the table was winched to a horizontal position once again and I got the order to swallow again. This time, however, they tilted the table the other way so instead of looking at the ceiling, the far wall was coming rapidly into view. Just as I was beginning to think that all this movement was either going to chuck me off the couch, or I was going to chuck my insides onto the couch, I heard the not very soothing bit of the script: “Just checking your emptying”. My emptying? I thought I recycled all my empties. Oh, emptying, what the fuck did that mean, was this stuff going to find all the holes in my body and leak out like a shot animal in a cartoon? Now that would be embarrassing. Funny probably, in a weird sort of way, but just as embarrassing as pissing yourself in Marks and Spencer’s.

And then, thankfully, it was over. Apparently, when you eat or drink anything there’s akind of valve where the oesophagus meets the stomach which is meant to stop food coming back up, especially if you’re tilted backwards on a treatment couch. Due to the inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscle, the entry to the esophagus is meant to open only on swallowing. I have, however, like most humans, disproved this contention, because mine, and therefore yours, will also open when you throw up! At the other end, there’s the pyloric valve or sphincter which is meant to stop the digested food coming back up from the duodenum into the stomach. These two swallows had been designed not merely to satisfy the preoccupations of a few hospital geeks, but to test that these two valves were working as intended. Thank fuck they were, I thought, I wouldn’t want that stuff coming back into my mouth after it took all my willpower to get it out of it in the first place. And if it came back up from my small intestines into my stomach again, I’d end up with my insides looking like a 70s Artex ceiling. And I hated those. And that brown and orange colour scheme that was popular around the early 70s – it looked like shit, literally.

So the second of many ‘procedures’ yet to come was out of the way. The next one was a real fucker….

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