Monday, February 07, 2005

IBS (part two)

These new tests didn't work either, though. Back at the doctor's I was told to see a specialist for a special screening, a sigmoidoscopy. Nothing to worry about he said, but when he handed me the referral card the word "CANCER" was pencilled in about eight feet high.

The specialist was Iranian. Being from Iran he had been pressganged into trench warfare, gassed by Saddam's army, had his fingernails ripped out by both the Shah and the Ayatollah, etc. As such he really didn't give a fuck about my nancy-boy complaints. We're going to put a camera in the "S" curve (thus sigmoid) of your colon, he said. We're going to make a movie of your insides. It's really nothing; we'll be in and out in no time. For emphasis, he gestured with a hand so hairy he could have been wearing a gorilla puppet.

When the day came I was naturally nervous. After a night of endless diarrhea I had spent the morning giving myself the requisite pre-test enemas. I was wheeled into a room on my side, naked in back, and positioned in front of a monstrous bank of video equipment and machines.

If you've never had anything serious put in your ass it's a hard thing to explain. Before this endeavor an experimental spat-on finger was as fas as I'd gone. This was much, much different. In a sigmoidoscopy they put a snaking metal camera and spotlight into your ass, and twist it around to make a movie of your colon. In order for the camera to have good view, though, they also have to plug in a high pressure hose and inflate your intestines. A second before it went in my ass I heard the jet-engine drone of the industrial air compressor. Then the nozzle penetrated me, and there was a hellish splitting pressure as my intestines inflated like a bicycle tire. In front of me a monitor showed the camera's POV swooping in on my ass, and then it pierced me-- a horrible hard, spindly thumb-thick wire coated in cold, oozy gel. I screamed as the Iranian fed the twisting metal more and more deeply into me, coiling it forcefully around the delicate labyrinth of tissue. In front of me the video feed plunged though a ridgy raw-meat tunnel as it angrily quivered and convulsed. Ungodly cramps ignited my bowels and I felt like I had to take a shit made of glass, fire and steel. My ass began to clench down on the device with inhuman strength. "Relax, relax!" the doctor screamed. "I can't get it in further unless you let me!"

After the test I was allowed to recuperate on a cold toilet, squeezing out blasts of air punctuated by soupy burts of bloody lube and chewed-up bits of flesh. When I finally emerged the doctor was smiling. "We found nothing." He said. "So no virus or bacteria from the tests, no tumors or polyps. This leaves only one thing: Irritable Bowel Syndrome."

So this was it then. When people asked me what I had, instead of some grim Latinate death-pronouncement I would say "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." What the fuck is that? I pictured a little cartoon colon with corncob pipe and beard, angrily shaking its fist.

IBS won't kill you but it never really goes away. There is no cure and no meaningful treatment. 20% of the population has it, which means that 1 out of 5 people around you thinks about nothing but his bubbling, squealing guts all day long. Like I said, though, mine's in remission. So if you meet me on the street don't worry. I'm not about to fall over in pain and shit myself on the spot.

I hope.


Post a Comment

<< Home