So, I was sitting on a stone wall in March about twenty years ago. It was quite a cold surface. The next day I had a painful bot. Really painful. Like somebody had stuck a thistle up my arse (please note, this had NOT happened). Actually, this is now so long ago that I’m finding it hard to really remember what the sensation was like. I know it was very painful and it made me walk in the manner of somebody who had something stuck up their botty but beyond that I can’t really give an accurate description. It was horrible and because, apart from the way in which I am apparently happy to use this blog as a confessional, something that I chose not to talk to anybody about. Especially not the doctor.
I blame the cold wall I sat on but there is just a chance that the fat in my abdomen caused pressure on my haemorrhoids and caused them to become inflamed. Or it may have been due to my terrible diet at the time. Mum, if you are reading this, yes it is true that I did not eat well when I was a student. I did not, in general, look after myself. But, despite this attempt to link this blog entry into the whole ‘story of being fat’ I still, in my heart of hearts (which is the most authoritative information source to consult), know that it was that cold wall in March that caused my haemorrhoids to become piles.
In those days I used to walk to university every day so this was going to cause me some inconvenience. I’m not sure how I concluded that piles were the problem but before long I found myself in the haemorrhoids aisle at Boots the Chemist. Or rather I found myself caught in the holding pattern of circling the haemorrhoids treatments while casually glancing at them each time I went past. It seemed to me that several other people were adopting the same tactic. Perhaps ‘holding pattern’ isn’t the right metaphor here. After all, it should conjure up images of airliners circling the skies of Heathrow majestically, waiting to be summoned down to ground level by super-efficient air traffic controllers whereas, in fact, this was just a bunch of people waddling in an awkward, painful bum sort of way around a selection of creams and unguents. These creams laboured under the names of Preparation H, Anusol, Hemoreze, PileAway, and BumNoMorePain. Having to decide which was best whilst not really looking at them came down, for an impoverished student, to which had the best cost-volume ratio. I forget which one I chose but for the sake of an argument let us say it was Hemoreze.
I proceeded to the checkout and, I’m pretty sure that I remember this correctly and that it isn’t just a false memory induced by years of stand up comedians doing routines along these lines, the girl had to ask one of her colleagues how much the haemorrhoid cream cost. In a loud voice. This is such a stereotypical thing that I’m sure it can’t be real. Even Punch were doing cartoons about it back in the Victorian Era.
I don’t know how I imagined the cream was to be applied to the piles but I certainly wasn’t expecting an applicator nozzle. I realise that this sounds foolishly naïve, but I am foolishly naïve. I’m glad I didn’t have the internet in those days because I may have resorted to using ‘an ice pack or crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your haemorrhoid for 15-20 minutes every hour as directed.’ I should add that this instruction for self care does not give any indication as to what ‘as directed’ means. The next bit of advice is to use a ‘sitz bath’. ‘A sitz bath is a pan of warm water that fits on the toilet bowel. Ask how often to use a sitz bath.’ More helpful advice – why not just tell me now how often to use my sitz bath? This is all probably amazing stuff but, luckily, for now I have no need to experiment with ice packs or sitz baths. Twenty years ago I was stuck with using the applicator. As a young person, who had never even contemplated the prospect of sticking anything up a bum, being told to insert an applicator up to ½ an inch into my anus probably made the said orifice go into reflexive spasm. In retrospect I’m astonished that just reading these instructions didn’t make the piles worse on account of my tightened sphincter squeezing more blood into them. Also, and this realisation has only just come to me, twenty years down the line, I didn’t need to apply the cream internally because my piles were definitely external on this occasion. So the course I chose of gingerly applying the cream (without the applicator) to the sore area was probably the correct course. Thank god!
Eventually the pain and swelling subsided and I returned to my normal walk. But every so often the piles would flare up again. Usually never so painful, but occasional bleeding from the area in question. In fact, in an earlier post I tried to talk about this problem, this....
It took about 15 years for my piles to no longer be a problem. An improvement in my diet is probably the biggest change, especially since Denise became vegetarian and I’ve been eating a lot less meat.
Curse you, universe! Why do you give me so many good reasons to be vegetarian! Why couldn’t you let me at least like vegetables a bit more!