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!!!
4 hours ago