Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A guilty secret I've harboured (No sniggering, please!)

I've never told anyone this about this little incident which makes me curl up with embarrassment. No one else involved knows the truth which I've kept it to myself for 30 years. Until now.

I discovered one day that on going to the toilet for a 'sit down' what I was passing out had a deep reddish colour. The first time I saw it it caused me some alarm, but after a short while it cleared. Then after a few days it appeared again. It got me quite worried, fearing that I might have incurred some kind of rectal tear, and if this was the case it could be really serious. So, after much thought and trepidation, I decided that, although I'm one of those who will see my doctor in only the most necessary circumstances, I made an appointment.
I'm sure my explanation must have been circuitous and spluttering beneath my furious blushing but he did get what I was trying to say. He made me drop my pants and lie on my side on his examination bunk. Then he inserted a small piece of apparatus into me ("with a little torch and a magnifier" he said, reassuringly.) After some moments with both of us in rather undignified positions he said that he couldn't see well enough as there was too much 'matter' in there but he recommended me for early inspection at Oxford's major hospital. I had to go along with this as, having gone so far, I couldn't very well back out now.
Within the next day or two I got my appointment confirmation with instructions not to eat anything solid for at least 24 hours previously. It was a full-day examination - one in which I was treated to the indignity of an enema, conducted by a female nurse - my first and so far only one. (The enema, I mean, not the nurse.) Then I was given a glass of barium solution to drink (I can still recall that chalky taste) and had to wait for what was probably a couple of hours at least. Then, with an older male specialist and a couple more female nurses around they got to work with me wearing nothing but one of those hospital open-backed smock-like gowns. Once again I had to lie on my side while a camera device was pushed up me, my innards then showing up in all its gory and glorious detail on a TV monitor in front of me, looking rather like a basket of snakes which seemed to wriggle as the camera was moved further up, this way and that. Needless to say once I saw it I couldn't bear to look any more. (I'm squeamish about anything anatomical - most especially when it's personal.) I just heard the man saying "Hmmmm, hmmmm, nothing there, nothing there....." After some minutes of this one of the nurses exclaimed "What on earth could it BE, doctor?" I don't remember his answer but it wasn't very precise. Anyway, at the end of all this palaver, the camera tube was 'unplugged' from my bottom and I was allowed to dress and then go home, being told that they would let my doctor know any results. I never heard from them or from my doctor again, at least not on that subject.
It could only have been a few days later when I noticed the same 'symptom' had appeared yet again. I sat down and thought it through. What had I been doing in recent days? Where had I been? ......What had I been eating?
Then it hit me hard and made me want the earth to open up and swallow me. I'd been eating.........BEETROOT!

(Now, you promised not to laugh, remember?)

Don't ask me why I'd never once noticed this effect during all of my previous years. I've always eaten beetroot regularly. I like it. Of course the same thing still happens every time - and on every flipping occasion I'm reminded of all that time I'd wasted both for others and myself, including the worry. Oh cringe, cringe, cringe! I never owned up to my realisation to either my doctor or the hospital. If I had been called back for further tests I think I would rather have died than to have told them the truth. I would probably have feigned ignorance and said something like "Oh well, if it happens again I'll let you know." and then slunked away.

So there, after 30 years of it being trapped within and festering - it's OUT!

And it's NOT funny!!!


  1. I've been through this procedure many times and will have to endure it many more times before I die, no doubt, and I envy you that yours was just beet root. I am sorry you went through all that for nothing, although it's never a bad thing that you were checked out and internally and given a clean bill of health.

    And yea, it is kind of funny, but I won't laugh if it means hurting your feelings. It's just that, sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

  2. Well you've now put things in perspective for me, Wonderboy. Next time I see 'it' I'll remember what you've said and consider myself thankful for not having to go through what people like you have to experience - and repeatedly?
    Oh, and btw, my tongue was firmly in my cheek above. Maybe I should have made it clearer. So rest assured, on this subject at least, you really can't hurt my feelings. :-)

  3. Aww, no need for shame Ray. And no, I didn't laugh. I swear!!

    I wonder why they never called you with some information? Perhaps they were clueless and just hoped you would go away.

    It's funny that you are embarrassed by female nurses. I'd be embarrassed by both female and male nurses, but at least with females I know there would be no chance of a hardon popping up. :-)

  4. Cubby, yes it's odd that there was no follow-up. Maybe they thought I'd return if I felt it necessary - or maybe they even discovered the cause through the blood test and thought "What a silly man, wasting our time like that!"
    I'd also have been embarrassed by there being of male nurses present. I know it's ridiculous (or is it?) but I'd be wondering if they were making mental comparisons with themselves, whereas female nurses would be looking through curiosity. Or maybe it's all just me needlessly projecting my fears and feelings of inadequacy onto them.

  5. I didn't laugh at all. I guessed you'd eat something. I noticed that when I was young eating water melon. Nothing to embarrass, Ray!

  6. It was really that I hadn't realised the cause before raising the alarm, Tai, that makes me feel so ashamed of the trouble to which I put myself and others. A little more thought could have saved a lot of time and anxiety.

  7. Now I know why I never touch the stuff! (beetroot, that is!)

  8. Micky, when I was young my mum used to say that beetroot was "good for the blood". I've never heard that since, and I doubt if there's any special truth to it, probably originating more from its deep purple colour than from any nutritional properties. But it's strange how that myth came back to 'bite' me.
    Btw I like the taste of it and it's unusual in tasting not even remotely like anything else, though of course it's not to everyone's liking. Must admit, though, that I find a bowl of borsch soup just TOO much for to manage.