It won't be news to anyone that I’m something of a hypochondriac. I nurse my many ailments with the kind of tender loving care one normally associates with Labradors. I would have made a wonderful doctor were it not for the fact that I’m colour-blind, a condition not conducive to a career that requires being able to tell the difference between a healthy pink blood vessel and one in necrotic decay.
But even I have my limits and that limit was reached recently when Amanda announced at the dinner table that she needed to have another colonoscopy.
Saffy looked up from her rojak, her face pulled into frown. “Really? When I’m eating rojak?”
“Didn’t you just get one done?” I asked. I was careful not to look too closely at the thick peanut sauce coating Saffy’s fruits and vegetables.
“I did, but you know how Dr Soh said I should come back for a follow-up because there was a polyp the last time I had one done? I’m just so worried! What if I have prostate cancer or something?”
Saffy, still frowning, glanced at me. “Isn’t that a men’s only disease?”
I puffed up, pleased to be asked a medical question. “It is,” I began. “The prostate, as you may know, is a gland in the male…”
“You’re missing the point!” Amanda interrupted. “If it’s not prostate cancer, then, it’s the other one! The point is, those polyps he found may have turned malignant! What if this time next year, I’m dead?”
As Saffy later pointed out to her best friend, Sharyn, nothing kills the mood for rojak faster than talk about colonoscopies and a prediction of imminent death.
Sharyn shook her head like a shaggy poodle. “Aiyoh, why you all like that, one?” Sharyn said. “If you are not tocking about no boyfriend and you die alone, you say you next year, confirm die! I tell you, if I think like you, I better stay home and not have children!”
Saffy stared hard at Sharyn. “Have you forgotten to take your meds or something, Sharyn? What are you talking about?”
“You people always wer-lee about some-ting! Got haze, you wer-lee. Got ee-boh-lah, you wer-lee. Got mosquito, you wer-lee. Got traffic jam, you also wer-lee. If you die, you die, lor! Life is too short, right?”
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Well, life definitely would be too short if you died!”
“Haiyah, this sort of thing, hor, you cannot wer-lee, one! If Amanda got cancer, choy, choy, choy, then cannot help it, lah. But her colo…colo…what ah?” Sharyn gave up. “Her procedure still not happen yet, what for you wer-lee now?”
The whole point of a colonoscopy is its complete ick factor. Drinking that foul solution is one thing, it’s the subsequent purge that’s utterly horrific, even for someone bred on a diet of The Walking Dead and True Blood.
Amanda drank the solution this morning at 6 am. She insisted that we all be awake to help her get through it.
“I seriously hope she’s not expecting me to be in the toilet with her when it all comes gushing out!” Saffy said to me through the side of her mouth.
“That’s seriously disgustingly graphic,” I told her.
“I’m just saying.”
Within half an hour of the drink, Amanda was running for the loo. Saffy pointed the remote control at our stereo and cranked up Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits album. Even though I was standing right next to her, she sent me an SMS: “If the Queen of Soul’s shrieking won’t cover up the sounds that are due any second now, nothing will!”
Poor Amanda. Every time she emerges from the toilet, she looks so pale.
“But she’s getting thinner,” Saffy just observed, envy tinting her voice. “I wish I could drink that stuff every day, but without having to do a dump every five minutes! I’d look so thin and fabulous! What?” she demanded, noticing my look.
Amanda’s procedure is due at 11.30. It’s now 9am and she’s not had anything to eat since 7.30 pm last night. “I’m exhausted and I’m starving,” Amanda groans. “All I’ve had for the past 24 hours is fish congee! Oh….” She turns green and gets up again and waddles towards the toilet like a duck that’s suddenly remembered it forgot to turn off the stove at home.
Saffy cranks up the volume on the stereo and Aretha shrieks that she’s going down the Freeway of Love. But even then, we can hear Amanda’s low moan seeping out from behind the toilet door.
“Surely all that congee must be out by now!” Saffy whispers as she stands next to the toilet door.
Sometimes I really do wonder if Saffy isn’t a bigger hypochondriac.