Diverticulitis Dave and fainting Ray

I’ve been moved to a small ward, which is a good sign.

They tell me that the closer you are to the nurse’s station by the door, the more likely you are to die. Nurses are clearly too lazy to run down the ward if you start to hemorrhage blood from your ears and eyes.

But now I’m about a quarter of a mile from the nurses, in a little side-ward with only 6 beds. It’s ve-e-e-ry quiet, and I can finally get some sleep. Nice people too. Opposite is Ray, a university lecturer who has a smart and talkative group of visitors that I like to eavesdrop on. I’m hoping he’ll notice I’m bored talking to Diverticulitis Dave (of whom more later) and will invite me to join in their discussions about economics, arts, science and Kiera Knightly, who they also seem to believe is the worst actress in recorded history.

Ray has a problem with his bladder, but his biggest problem is his nerves. Every time someone tries to investigate the his urinary issues, Ray faints. This morning a doctor came into explain that they were going to take a 2mm thick microcamera, numb the relevant parts, and then and very gently feed the camera up him to look at the problem.

“OK”, said Ray, “although the problem is with my bladder, not with my colon”.

“That’s right”, said the doctor, “We’re going to feed it up your urethra. You won’t feel a…”.

But Ray fainted before he got to hear what it was that he wouldn’t feel. The tube up my penis is 4x thicker than the one they planned to use on Ray, but the very idea was enough to put him on his back.

So Diverticulitis Dave is a particular challenge for Ray.

Diverticulitis is deeply unpleasant. Deeply. Stop reading now unless you think Two Girls, One Cup is an aid to digestion.

Diverticulitis is very common, but it rarely gets bad enough for anybody to notice. It’s a hardening of the bowel, with the result that you get ridges forming. For most people this means their bowel operates a little slower, but they don’t notice. But on those rare occasions when it gets really bad…

… brace yourself….

… the bowel blocks completely, your stomach fills with backed-up excretia, and you vomit your own poo.

It’s treatable, but because the surgical area is full of (let’s face it) human shit, infections are very common and it takes weeks and weeks for the wound to heal. So Diverticulitis Dave has been in hospital recovering for more than 4 months; long enough to make a sitcom about him, co-starring James Bolam. I’m already composing a jaunty theme tune.

He’s clearly bored out of his bonce, even more than I am, and entertains himself by welcoming new inmates onto the ward with a selection of his favourite anecdotes. When people tell anecdotes often, they fine-tune them until they’re like a little piece of performance poetry. And in Diverticulitis Dave’s case, his poem is all about that time he puked his own diarrhoea across the kitchen table.

Some of it got on the cat, which is always my favourite part. I look forward to that bit.

But every time he tells it – especially the bit about the cat, strangely enough – Ray takes a tumble. You’d think somebody would move Diverticulitis Dave, if only to give him a new audience (one that doesn’t collapse when he speaks). But no, they prefer to keep propping up Ray and giving him hot sweet tea until the next time Dave gets to tell his little story.

It passes the time.


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