I can’t remember when I first started having difficulties but before I ever did I had heard the horror stories of friends. This awful ingrowing hair jobbie at the foot of your spine/top of your buttocks that kept burrowing away and growing like a demented White Rabbit on Speed.
Pointed in the wrong direction it took on a life of its own, and the human body’s only way of responding to this arse attack of its own was to create a big cyst. I had heard how in cutting out the cyst a large circular gaping wound was left that had to be bathed every day and packed with some sort of gauze like treatment to allow it to heal from the bottom out. Someone made the analogy of scooping the inside out of a hard boiled egg. Sounded horrendous anyway for the poor bastard that had it. He was off work for six weeks as the district nurse painstakingly reconstructed his mid cheek area to working order.
Even more horrendously I heard this had happened to a girl I knew. She was attractive too, how could such a savage infliction descend on her derriere? It was horrific. But as usual, in them days I passed on to other things such as whether my paltry salary would keep me in beer until the end of the week and what I was doing at the weekend.
And then, it happened. I started to get a serious dose of numb butt when I sat for long periods of time. At the time we used to venture south for the craic staying in the trailer tent. Without divulging the secrets of the tent, a lot of time would have been spent before and after the bar sitting in it having the craic. The numb butt was becoming more of a problem and I became aware of a hard lump northwards of my ass at the foot of my spine.
I took myself to the doctor. After examining it carefully, proding here and there, and no doubt admiring the whole show on display, she authoritively announced with obvious enjoyment and unnecessary relish: As I thought, Pilonidal Sinus – you’ll have to have that removed.
Fuckkkkkkk I roared into myself, externally whimpering, you’re joking. I felt like the bogeymen of my childhood were coming. The gaping hole in my hole, the packing, the harridan district nurse, My mother, my mother for God’s sake taking responsibility for bathing the incapacitated-me. I couldn’t hack this at all. The doctor showed little mercy and referred me for surgery. My friend who had previously had the procedure of course saw the opportunity for revenge after all the mirth I had drawn from his misfortune. Size of your arse, they’ll be at it for days he would remark. God knows what they’ll find in there.
Aye right. Bastard.
Time passed, as it does, the offending lump got no bigger but the numb butt continued. Sitting in the one position for long periods for example on bar stools and in my office seat meant my lower back become numb. Unable to sit for long, I would wander about work and the Bot seeking people to talk to. Next thing I applied to and was accepted for a position in the University. And, low and behold the next thing that happened was I got a date for my operation. I hadn’t been there long and although the staff were friendly I didn’t relish telling my new found colleagues I had a big cyst on my ass. This in hindsight was a mistake which I will reveal later. The difficulty was passed off as a procedure on my lower back. One time the Vice Chancellor Trevor Smith a doting old English Twat asked me about my lower back problem and started telling me about a chiropractor he knew. I hadn’t the heart to tell him the truth.
My friend that had previously laughed became more sympathetic. When they offer you pain relief, he said take it. It’s morphine. Some fucking job. I had heard about morphine, extreme pain relief. How bad must this be if you need bloody hard drugs to alleviate the pain?
The build up to the operation was interesting. Having acquired a new dressing gown (I don’t know where my mother thought I was going to be going) and new pyjamas, I also had to stop on the Lisburn Road in Belfast to buy a pair of bedroom slippers with my brother Peter. He found this inordinately funny too the bastard.
Having despatched me in the tower of the City Hospital, also his place of work, he said he would come back later. In the meantime I was left in the tender care of a few nurses, none of whom I recognised thanks be to God and some rookie doctors. One of the latter approached me later that evening and his opening gambit was as follows:
Mr Passmore. Are you anything to Dr Peter Passmore?
I replied warily Yes, he’s my brother. Why? This could be good. Or it could be bad.
He taught me there during the year, sez yer man full of himself.
It was early September. This fella had just qualified. I knew enough about junior doctors and medical students to know this guy tending to me could be dangerous. Shit.
So you’ve just qualified then? I stated, trying to see if I recognised him
Yes he beamed. I’m just gonna take your blood here.
Ten minutes and numerous pin pricks later, he had a full phial of my blood and I had emptied the patience tank. Hopefully he was off for a few days leaving me like something from Panic in Needle Park.
There was nothing otherly remarkable about the evening other than the patient opposite me who was curled up in the foetal position in pain, groaning alarmingly and generally doing my head in.
Can you not do anything about him. I enquired of the nurse. She glared at him and me and didn’t answer.
The next morning I was woken early and carted off to the operating theatre. I found this to be a bit stressful. I had listened to a news item that had reported that a high percentage of people receiving general anaesthetics in the operating theatre can still feel everything, the anaesthesia only having the effect of rendering you incapable of speech. The lady anesthetist was very nice and my last memory was of her asking me to count downwards from. I do recall getting to seven. Thankfully I wasn’t one of the percentage of people that are rendered speechless by anaesthesia but still fee . . .
I came around a while later conscious of people in the room. I can’t remember what they were talking about but I recall butting in with some coarse interjection. This was the signal to cart me back upstairs. I was aware of a very very throbbing pain in my lower back. I was still groggy but this was for real.
Up in the ward my friend opposite was still writhing about in agony whatever the hell was his problem. I was more concerned with my own situation. The nurses told me not too try to move much. The doctor appeared, the proper doctor that is, and told me that my lump hadn’t required the hard-boiled excavation a la Hadrian’s wall. Rather a straight incision had done the trick therefore I hadn’t needed all the open wound packing malarkey and I would get out the next day. He smiled and headed off.
Getting more and more uncomfortable I was very pleased to see the nurse appear pushing the medicine cart. As she made her way down the ward calling out Pain relief? I was reminded of the smug expectation you felt when the air hostess approached your seat and you were about to ask for a large one.
She came to my bed. Pain relief?
Yes I replied.
Tablet or injection she barked.
Injection I answered remembering my friend’s advice.
OK she replied. Pull down your pyjama bottoms.
That I did. Willingly, enthusiastically.
She jammed the morphine needle a little too gleefully into my buttock and said, Now wiggle your toes.
As I wiggled she said: Make the best of that, it’s the only one you’re getting adding that patients like me only got one of these injections and the next time it would be some oul tablet.
No problem I replied meekly.
Meanwhile the guy opposite writhed in agony and torment.
Pain relief she asked.
No he replied.
Ah for fuck’s sake I thought, I’m gonna have to listen to that boy moaning and rolling about, but as this thought entered my mind and stayed there, very perceptably and quickly I no longer gave a toss what he did. Likewise, the pain in my ass, whilst there and very real no longer bothered me.
My mind began to meander hither and thither. I laughed a bit to myself, maybe hiccupped. Total euphoria descended or maybe ascended. I floated in a sort of neither here nor there world where I honestly didn’t give a toss. My brother arrived to see how I was getting on and left fairly quickly. You were talking pure shite he advised me afterwards. I knew I was but. I. Just. Didn’t. Care.
Dozing in and out of consciousness for god knows how long I was eventually awoken by a nurse asking me if I wanted tea and toast. The pain had started to become real again and I wasn’t too happy at the thought of it getting worse. The girl was pleasant enough she asked me how I felt. Grand I replied, a bit sore. Aye that stuff wears off she says and sort of smiled wistfully.
A while later, the familiar trolley arrived on the scene again.
Pain relief went the familiar cry.
She came to my bed. Yes I replied. She looked at the chart and looked at me. Tablet or injection she inquired. Should I let on I had already had my dose. Nah bollocks to that.
Injection I replied.
This doll had the measure of me. Maybe the boyfriend had dumped her. Maybe her mother wasn’t well. Maybe it was PMT but she obviously didn’t want me interfering with her nightshift.
OK she replied. Take your bottoms down.
As she plunged the second payload into my buttock, she said, enjoy. And off she went. When yer man opposite saw the cut of her Jib there was a bit less writhing around.
But again….. I didn’t care. Off I went again, floating round and round and round. The familiar throb throb throb but it was as if it belonged to someone else. Maybe the fucker across the way except I didn’t care. Again the awareness of pain but a lack of concern. I could see the appeal of being a junkie, less so the slice at the top of my sheugh.
* * *
I was released from the City Hospital into the caring embrace of my brother Peter. Sympathy isn’t necessarily the word I would use but he did show a mild concern in a medical sort of way.
After spending a night in his house, it was the turn of my friend Aidy Gallagher to drive me home to Omagh. In retrospect, and as with all these things, the drive home was not a good idea. Being arse inhibited I had to wedge myself between the floor of the passenger side and the back of the seat, keeping myself in a sort of rigid plank position for the duration of the journey. My wound wasn’t sore by the time I arrived in Omagh but my back was seriously FUBAR. Gallagher found the whole thing highly amusing and hit every bump with relish.
I was returned to my mother. I thanked God I didn’t have to pack a wound – that would have been the final indignity. I settled down for a three weeks R&R, with my ma bringing me breakfast in bed.
The whole affair was amusing enough until one evening the door knocked and a girl called Angela from Derry arrived at the door. I knew her in passing though her sister with whom I worked at the Uni. She had kindly dispatched her sister up to drop off a bottle of something anaesthetic. It was not until we started going out together about a year and a half later that the subject of my wounded arse came up in conversation. Angela had thought I was laid up with a bad case of haemorrhoids when despatched by her sister having been told that was the reason for my immobilisation.
Literally, she could have been excused for thinking I was a right arsehole. Instead, we laughed and laughed. To this day though, I don’t think her sister knows the truth. Long may it continue.