Regular readers will be in intimate terms with my flatmate Saffy’s ongoing battle with constipation. And if you’re reading this during breakfast, I apologise in advance, though my mother would probably be the first to weigh in with the opinion that it’s all such a lot of fuss about something that’s so natural.
“Everybody has to do it,” she once pointed out to a scandalized guest at a dinner party after she’d given a particularly graphic description of a recent bout of food poisoning in India. “Even now,” she went on, in confidential tones, “I can’t look at a plate of dhal without getting dizzy!”
A few years later, when my mother recounted the story, Saffy said sadly that she’d do anything to have a dose of Delhi Belly. “Or any city belly, to be honest,” she added, proving once again that the girl doesn’t have a single racially prejudiced bone in her body. “I’m just so stuffed up right now. This is the third day I’ve not been to the loo!”
I remember my mother frowning as she fingered her pearl necklace. “But Saffy, dear…” Mother hesitated trying to find a delicate way to phrase what she was about to say. “You’ve been eating a lot over the past few days. In fact, since I’ve arrived, I’ve rarely seen your mouth empty of food! Where is it all going?”
Saffy shrugged. “Beats me. I get hungry when it’s meal-time, so I eat. Maybe I’m just peeing it all out?”
Mother’s tinkling laugh could be heard all the way down the street. “Oh my dear, can you imagine? We’d all be stick thin!”
I bring all this up because a few nights ago, Saffy staggered into my room and announced that she was dying.
“I am literally dying!” she said dramatically. She stood at the entrance of my room, the backlight outlining her body through her sheer Victoria’s Secret nightie. “Do something!”
Which is how we found ourselves in a taxi at three in the morning, hurtling towards the hospital.
“What do you mean you’re dying?” Amanda bleated even as she carefully and expertly applied make-up in the backseat.
“It means I’m dying! I’m in complete agony! My heart hurts! My ribs hurt! My head hurts! My lower back hurts! This isn’t normal! Oh, God, are we there yet?!”
Of course, once we arrived at the A and E, we had to fill in tonnes of paperwork and then wait in a crowded room. Even in her heightened state of pain, Saffy was still able to cast a critical eye over the waiting patients.
“They don’t look like they should be here at all!” she hissed to Amanda who was brushing out her hair. “Look, that kid is just playing with his phone! And that woman is sleeping! What emergency can they be experiencing? Are you actually writing all this down?!” she asked me as I scribbled into the notebook that I always carry with me.
“Yes, I am! Such good material here,” I mumbled.
By the time Saffy’s name was finally called two hours later, she had literally examined and delivered a withering diagnosis of everyone in the waiting room and found them all severely wanting.
“I could be dead by now!” she told the nurse as she walked gingerly through the swinging doors.
“Sorry, we are very busy tonight!” the nurse said robotically. You could tell she received a lot of dramatic complaints.
While I busied myself with Candy Crush on my phone, Amanda spent the next hour and a half trawling the hospital corridors in the vague hope of bumping into an eligible hot surgeon, though she was careful not to touch any surface on account of her morbid fear of catching a superbug.
Eventually, Saffy texted us that she was getting ready to be discharged. She emerged looking positively radiant.
“They gave me an enema!” she announced. “Turns out my severe constipation was putting pressure on all my internal organs, hence the pain!”
Amanda frowned. “How does a full bowel put pressure on your heart?”
No longer constrained by said full bowel, Saffy’s bosom inflated freely. “What are you, a gastroenterologist? All I can say is that I need to get me one of those tube machine things that they stuck up my bum. I swear it was the most amazing feeling especially when I had to go sit on the loo. Can I just say that it was explosive?”
“Oh dear God,” Amanda sighed as she peeled off the rubber gloves she’d pinched from an unattended cart to wear during her unauthorized tour of the hospital.
“I’m starving!” Saffy announced. “Let’s go get some supper!”
room and found them all severely wanting.
“I could be
by now!” she told the nurse as she walked gingerly
through the swinging doors.