Fifteen years ago I had my first bout of ulcerative colitis, back in the days of beeping pagers and pay phones. UC is arthritis-related, the etymology having to do with your immune system getting all fizzed up and sending its little Pac Man antibodies down into your colon for something to do. There they ‘whackah-whackah’ away at the lining of your intestines, mistaking it for pathogens I guess. Thus all the painful cramping, serial diarrhea and bleeding – which is why got an appointment with my HMO right away.
Medical costs were starting to go through the roof then too so they sent me to a popularly-priced proctologist, Dr. Anjeet Malhajat, a six foot four inch Sikh, not counting the turban. The best thing about his office was his gorgeous nurse – I suspect a daughter or niece maybe – and when she introduced herself as Noorjehan, “vhich means light of the vorld – please to call me Noor,” in her melt-your-heart subcontinent sing-song, I fell hopelessly in love.
“Please put on gown, vith arms through front. Use hook on door for clothes.”
“What’s that TV on the wall for Miss Noor?” I asked, unbuttoning my shirt.
“To monitor camera scope. So doctor can see vut’s vut.”
“What’s what where?”
“Inside vere not so sunny!” the undoubtedly former Miss Ganges said, grinning at her little joke. And with that she sashayed out like she was on a pageant runway – and I was a judge.
Dear God in heaven…did you see how those buttons on her blouse puckered?
“Need to introduce instrument into colon now,” Dr. Malhajat said. “Bending over vith elbows on table. Must relax.”
“RELAX? Can’t you give me a sedative or something doctor?” I whimpered, glancing over my shoulder and saw what looked like bull on top of a heifer, except the bull was wearing a turban.
Bob Barker’s nurse Vishnu rubbed my right bun with an alcohol swab (bless her gorgeous heart) and stuck me with a shot of Demerol that didn’t hurt a bit! Soon I was dreamily watching an electronic gopher squirm along its burrow on the scope monitor, not TV.
“To see better, vill add air,” Dr. Malhajat said professionally. ‘Turning ‘walve’ now – vill feel some pressure…”
Due to the Demerol, I think I know what ‘The Rapture’ is going to feel like for believers now as I saw my colon expanding like a party balloon animal on the monitor. Then something happened.
“DWEEBLE-DEE-DEE, DWEEBLE-DEE-DEE,’ a familiar sound chimed from behind me.
Dr. Malhajat shouted, “TURN OFF THE WALVE!” and yanked his bowel-hose out of me so hard he crashed backwards into the wall behind him.
“What’s wrong?” Nurse Vishnu shrieked.
“Over-pressure alarm!” shouted Malhajat, his turban spinning upside down on the floor.
The balloon toy of my intestines was rudely deflating itself, making sounds like an abused whoopee cushion. Which then left this layer of brown air undulating at eye level and I noticed my Miss Universe make a face as she waved her hands in front of her nose.
How could she possibly requite my worshipful love after something like this?
“That was my pager going off – on my belt up on the door hook,” I said giddily, waving my own hand which made the brown air swirl too. “It wasn’t an alarm!”
“So sorry – thought vas going to blow you up!” he said, trying to regain dignity while folding several feet of greasy black hair back into his upside down turban.
“Do you suppose I could get another bump of that Demerol, as I assume we’re going to have another go at this, right?”
“Right. Vill continue,” he continued, Rapunsellated hair sticking out from around his turban so it now sat on his head like a jaunty porkpie hat.
I can’t remember much after the second dose of Demerol – except that the office called my wife because they didn’t want me driving. And after she got one look at my beguiling nurse Vishnu of the puckered blouse buttons, she efficiently got me an appointment with a different gastro. She’s always been very well organized.
At home, sitting on an air-filled doughnut, I called the customer who’d paged me and told her what she’d done.
“Good thing you weren’t having brain surgery!” she said. Some people are just rude.
Anyway, that’s pretty much my 1998 ulcerative colitis story — and I’m sticking to it.
Even though as we all know … people lie.