When it rains it pours and my bout with influenza opened the floodgates. Two days of rest at my guesthouse later I was feeling much better but something was still dragging at me. My fever was gone and my body was once again mobile but the feeling of malaise was strong. I knew it took some time to get over a sickness but the normal orderly procession of recovery seemed to be held up by something. What that something was I had no idea, that was, until the morning of the third day.
Before I go on with this story I must warn you that some, or rather many, of the things I am about to describe are graphic and very personal but necessary for the narrative of my journey. To skip or skim over them would make later events and decisions harder to understand. Bear with me and feel free to have a laugh or two at my expense.
Things began as they normally did on the morning of that third day; a lazy stretch, a quick visit to the toilet, and planning my activities. The only difference was a slight twinge in my arse. I explained it away remembered the spicy chicken from KFC I had enjoyed the previous night. ‘Nothing strange about that,’ I muttered to myself. Oh how wrong I was.
The day progressed. I was still in influenza recovery mode and so I took things slowly. A bit of breakfast, back to the room for some sleep, off to lunch, then some more sleep, a bit of wandering the streets, more sleep, well, you get the idea. I was taking no chances and wanted to get better so I could get on the move again. Nepal was still waiting and the ticket I planned to purchase had to be confirmed soon.
That little pain in my arse that I had written off to spicy food, however, didn’t disappear as a pain of that type normally would. Instead it got worse. Actually to say ‘it got worse’ would be an understatement and that by the time I finally lay down to sleep that night it was like a red hot poker was being shoved up ‘there’ with no respite.
The hot, sharp unending pain throbbed in time with my heart as I lay face down on my hard bed in the dark. The silence around me was deafening, only the soft buzz of the fan disrupting my solitude. With each heartbeat the pain seemed to get worse. My mind had nothing else to focus on leaving all my senses to hone in on that one sensation, pain.
I stuffed my headphones in my ears and prayed the soothing hum of music would distract me enough so I could fall into a tortured sleep.
One hour passed, two hours, into the third, music still hummed in my ear. I yanked the white earbuds out and was once again alone with the pain.
I closed my eyes hoping for oblivion. My arse refused to let me alone. Then, without warning it came upon me suddenly and the sun was shining through my windows tell me it was morning.
I went to the now familiar hospital, the stabbing in my arse unabating and constant as I walked through the street waving off taxi and tuk tuk drivers by the swarm. I was in no mood to deal with them or sit down.
How I explained my problem to the nurses who filled out my card brings a smile to my face as I remember it. Without a common language communication was difficult and the only way to get a point across was to be bald and straightforward.
‘What is wrong,’ the cute nurse said in stuttered English trying to come to terms that she was dealing with a foreigner. ‘My butt hurts,’ I said pointing to my rear end. ‘Oh,’ she continued, ‘left or right?’ I smiled. My left hand went up, then my right, and then to emphasize where the pain actually was my thumb and forefinger formed a circle and the pointed finger of my other hand completed the gesture.
The group of cute young female nurses chattered like a flock of locusts. Apparently the locals usually couched the explanations of what hurt in more polite terms. I, however, did not have that luxury.
‘Okay,’ one nurse began, ‘the doctor see you soon.’ She pointed to a row of plastic chairs, ‘wait please.’
Let me say, when you have an ‘issue’ like mine hard molded plastic chairs are not the most pleasant places to rest. In fact they seem to exacerbate the problem and make life a little less bearable. Instead I paced the floor trying to read inscrutable Thai posters.
‘Michelle,’ one nurse began, ‘Michael,’ I corrected, ‘the doctor will see you,’ she finished.
‘What hurts?’ asked the doctor in pretty good English. I began to explain but was cut off by a sudden brownout. The lights flickered out and the hum of air conditioning ceased leaving only the bright screen of the computer living off battery power. I chuckled, ‘now that’s a first.’
The next ten minutes I will not go into detail about, needless to say the doctor performed a few tests that might be considered embarrassing and asked a few questions that would be considered very personal. The end diagnosis, ‘anal abscess, see surgeon tomorrow.’
‘Tomorrow? But I really hurt today…’ I began. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said writing out a prescription, ‘this will help you.’ Antibiotics, painkillers, anti-inflammatory, it was a list of four, or was it five, sets of drugs. ‘Awesome, thanks doctor.’
The nurses outside tittered when they saw me. They all knew what I had and what was going on but I really didn’t care. Relief waited for me just a drug counter away.
The thought of meeting a surgeon and possibly having surgery, well, I shut that out of my mind. Today was going to be tough enough to get through without adding to that the stress of what might be tomorrow. ‘What a place,’ I laughed to myself, ‘Trat, Thailand.’