A lifetime spent in inexplicable good health left me ill-prepared for my recent medical setback. I feel obliged to regale you with the morbid details, if only because many of you have asked about them. Those who haven’t will have to lump it.
Coming home yesterday, minus a troublesome appendix, after a long dreary weekend in hospital, finds me tired, irritable and frustrated. The best thing I can do now is rest, intoned my surgeon, echoed by a chorus of nurses at bedside and well-meaning friends on email. Admittedly they all have more experience of this kind of thing than I. And I haven’t mentioned my dear, dear wife. M will minister to me, with that scrupulous and loving attention for which she is justly renowned, for the next month under her professional name: Florence Nightingberg.
All right, that’s not her name, professional or otherwise, but it usually raises a laugh. I could use a few laughs.
If I feel well, it’s less than perfectly well. My insides keep rumbling like some long dormant volcano that threatens to come roaring to life at any moment. This makes me feel less than confident venturing more than ten feet from the house. Even more disconcertingly, my belly has acquired a curious distension over and above that permanent bulge which may be explained by a lifetime of dietary excesses.
“”Oh, don’t worry about that,” says my surgeon, a delightfully laid-back Pakistani gentleman named Mr. Raja, while poking at my new external accretion. “It’s just your intestine trying to find its way back into place.”
“Well, it seems to be heading in the wrong bloody direction,” I countered. “Why is it trying to get outside my body? Wouldn’t it be much happier staying on the inside, where it’s always lived?”
“Yes, it would be,” he assures me with the kind of chuckle designed and polished for use on tiresome patients like me, adding that it will “settle down, probably within a week or two”.
A week or two? I thought keyhole surgery, which is what I had, was supposed to eliminate all the quirky post-operative effects and long recuperation suffered after conventional procedures. I’m wondering now whether a simple old-fashioned flash of the scalpel, and the kind of five-inch scar carried through life by millions of my fellow appendectomy survivors, might not have been a better option.
Instead I’ll be carrying three residual holes. Looking at them in the mirror this morning brought to mind one of those television shows about pathologists. In my imagined scene, my etiolated corpse is lying on a metal gurney, a white-coated pathologist hovering over me. “Cause off death three gunshot wounds to the abdomen,” he declares into a microphone apparently attached to his nose. “Obviously fired at close range, a .38 I’d say.”
Anyway, that’s all I can tell you for now. Frankly, that’s all you need to know forever.
I shall return soon, I hope, from matters medical to matters farcical; in other words, to the British election, which has come to be dominated not by the two leading contenders for office but by a trailing band of also rans, all attended by canny trainers and clever cornermen.
A bit like my medical team, I’d say, except that I expect to recover.
Meanwhile, casebook closed.