(Illustration by Marijka Gooding)
A few months ago I was referred to see a proctologist to check out what was going on inside my butt. I’ve had irritable bowel syndrome for years and put up with a lot of discomfort. Along I went to my appointment with the specialist and was greeted by a stern looking old man dressed in a drab suit sitting behind his large, wooden desk. He gestured for me to sit down on some really old lounge chairs with splits all through the leather. I’m not sure if the chairs were designed to make me feel uncomfortable or not but the only way to sit on them was to kind of lean back like you would at home if you were watching TV with a bowl of chips on your lap. The old man asked me a series of questions in a very matter-of-fact way and then decided that I should have a colonoscopy. I tried to joke with him about my problems with flatulence but he simply ignored me. He booked me in for an appointment in a month’s time and gave me a list of instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.
Preparation for the procedure involved a few days of avoiding certain foods, then avoiding solid food and then avoiding food altogether. It was awful. I also had to drink a powdered drink that tasted like a combination of a sports drink and gutter water. This was designed to flush me out. It made me go to the toilet a lot, not with diarrhoea but instead with jets of liquid that would pour out of my arse like someone had turned the tap on full bore and also stretched out the opening. Three days of no real food and having to vomit liquid out of my butthole had made me feel quite delirious and almost drunk. It took me a few seconds longer than usual to work out what anyone was saying to me and then my answers would wander all over the place until I got to my point. For some reason I thought I would be fine to work in this condition and went to work up until an hour before my procedure.
When I got to the hospital I changed into one of those nighties that always seem just a little too short. Luckily my penis and balls were so frightened they shrunk up into my body, decreasing to zero the chances of exposing myself. I lay down on the bed and was wheeled into the room where the examination would take place. It was there that I was told I would have to wait about an hour for the doctor to arrive before they could begin. There I was left with nothing to entertain myself. I live a life full of constant exciting online distractions but now I was alone, dressed in a nightie, waiting for my butt to be probed. My mind went to some strange places. On the wall was a diagram of the inner workings of a human being’s bowel and butt. It was riddled with every possible disease. I don’t know whose benefit this diagram is for, as surely the doctor knows what this stuff looks like and doesn’t constantly have to refer to it? I stared at that poster for an hour, trying to decide which horrible problem I would prefer to have. Anal fissures? Gastroenterocolitis? Volvolvus? Rapunzel Syndrome? I was pretty sure I didn’t have Rapunzel Syndrome as that occurs in people who eat their own hair, but what if every takeaway meal I had even eaten had a couple of pieces of hair in it and all that hair had been storing up in my guts for years!? STRANGERS’ HAIR! The thought made me feel increasingly sick. With nothing to take my mind off a mess of strangers’ hair clogging up my anus I was left to go slowly insane.
Finally the doctor arrived. I was allowed to see the long camera that was going to be inserted into my butt. It was a lot thicker than I had imagined. What happened to all this microtechnology I keep hearing about? This thing was just like a really long windy fat semi-rigid rope with a camera at the end. Surely that’s going to feel uncomfortable? Luckily I’d be given some sort of anaesthetic that wouldn’t knock me out completely but would make me unaware of what was going on. They rolled me onto my side to ensure easy access to my opening and shot me up with the drugs. There I assume I basically went to sleep because I have no memory of anything besides one moment: I am not sure how far into the procedure we were, but I woke up facing a TV screen which was showing a live shot of the inside of my butt. Fascinated by what I was seeing, I immediately started asking questions. “Whereabouts is that? What part of my body are you in? Is THAT normal?” Then I suddenly became aware of the long camera inside me and it was very uncomfortable. I started to shout. “OKAY I CAN FEEL IT NOW. THIS IS PRETTY HORRIBLE. YOURE GONNA HAVE TO TAKE THAT OUT OF ME.” The nurse quickly pumped me full of some more drugs and I drifted off again, blissfully unaware.
I awoke sometime later in another room to a nurse asking me how I felt. I told her felt fine and thought I was ready to go home. I tried to get up but then realised everything was moving from side to side like I had been secretly moved onto a boat while I was knocked out. Had I been shipped off to international waters so they could sell my anus videos on the black market? I lay back down and napped for a bit longer until I was sure that I was on dry land and the nurse helped me to get dressed and walk to the waiting room.
I sat next to another man who had just had the same procedure. He was telling the nurse that he had not been properly knocked out and was awake for the entire thing. She was nodding politely but basically ignoring him. I wanted to tell him how I sort of woke up but I felt too dizzy; I didn’t feel any real bond with this man other than that we had both had long tubes inside both our butts very recently. Eventually the doctor walked into the room and grinned when he saw me. Getting a grin from someone who has just seen inside your butt is a strange new experience I hope not to repeat. He spoke to the man who was next to me: “We didn’t find anything wrong with you, you’re all fine.” Then he looked over at me and suddenly corrected himself: “No, wait, Matt, you are all fine.” He turned back to the man: “You have haemorrhoids.” Pysch! What a prankster he turned out to be. The man seemed quite annoyed but I didn’t listen to his complaints to the doctor. I was too busy enjoying the wave of relief that I didn’t have cancer or a fistful of strangers’ hair tangling around inside me.
This piece is from our just-published issue, TLB20. Grab a copy here — we promise this is the only butt-themed piece.
Matt Banham is the writer / director / producer / imaginator / spellbinder / giftgiver of mattbanham.com. He also plays music, videos and makes everyone feel comfortable at social functions.
Marijka Gooding is a freelance illustrator, designer and comic book maker based in Melbourne.