In my last post I mentioned surgery is looming, but until then I have to take very strong painkillers. These painkillers work well some days, and not so well on others, depending on my level of exertion. If I do very little, they work well. If I do anything that involves some exertion; cleaning, cooking, lifting stuff, cycling, then they don’t work, and the pain is such that I have to take them every four hours. Being as I can’t just sit about and do nothing, I’m at the ‘taking them every four hours’ stage.
There is, however, a known and common side effect to taking them and… well, I’m afraid there’s no nice way to put this, so I’m just gonna go for it:
I’m terribly constipated.
I’ve tried fibre-rich foods to force the issue, so to speak, but nothing. Nothing apart from chronic stomach ache and hideous wind, that is. Going to the toilet makes me think of that line from Macbeth; ‘full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.’
Constipation isn’t something I’ve ever suffered from. I’m usually usual. As regular as a very regular thing. Regularly. I’m well known for it. It’ll be something they write on my headstone. But recently…?
Houston. We have a problem.
So, after a few days of not going, I decided to go, to the chemist. Now, I’m a man, and a very good one, which means I’m not very good at asking for advice. Most men would rather get very, very lost and plod on cluelessly than, for example, ask a stranger for directions. So, in a similar vein, I set about finding my own remedy for my own issue, or lack of.
However, after perusing the shelves, I became confused by the myriad of products available. There were a LOT of products, including some with names suggesting they’d ease what was now, for me, a difficult process. Ease is good, as the song goes, I’ll get me some ease, I thought. Others were herbal remedies, and I don’t trust herbal stuff. Herbs are good on a pizza but if drugs work, gimme drugs. Always drugs. I mean, if I’ve got a twisted ankle, give me strong painkillers over a sprig of tarragon any day.
The products on the shelves seemed to fall into two categories and I honestly didn’t know the difference between a laxative and a stool softener. Are they the same? I was vexed, so I picked up both.
But wait! What’ll happen if I actually take both? It could all go horribly, horribly wrong! Especially if I cycle anywhere with bumps in the road. And we were going to the cinema later that night! What will happen if it all kicked off in the cinema? My head filled with images of me soiling myself through overzealous self-medication while watching Bridget Jones’ Baby.
I decided to ask someone. The shop was almost empty and I didn’t have to embarrass myself in front of lots of people, so I went over to the pharmacy counter.
As I walked over, someone stood behind me. Then three more people joined her, forming a queue. Of people.
I approached the counter with the two items and spoke. Quietly. In retrospect, too quietly, because the woman behind the counter said, in a voice louder than the foghorn of the QE2, “SPEAK UP LOVE. IS IT ADVICE ABOUT CONSTIPATION YOU’RE AFTER? DO YOU WANT TO SEE A PHARMACIST? SOMEWHERE PRIVATE?”
Private was out of the question now most of Barnsley knew about my issuue, but I digress.
I was conscious of the growing queue behind me. Two more people had joined, four more were approaching. Christ, why don’t people go shopping at less busy times, rather than lunchtime on a Friday?
I started to ask my question again, but one louder. “Which of these products is…” and at this point I couldn’t for the life of me, think of the word “better.” She was looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to finish my question but I couldn’t recall this most simple of words. Instead my brain came up with “most efficacious?”
Yes, while being discreet, I’d just asked “Which of these is the most efficacious?” recalling the lyrics to Lily The Pink and sounding like a Victorian dandy, and The Poshest Person in The World, at the same time.
“HOW MANY DAYS HAS IT BEEN LOVE?” she asked. Loudly. Obviously.
I held my hand up and, god knows why, I wiggled my digits. I thought it added a certain jauntiness to proceedings.
She shouted over to the pharmacist, and held up the two products. “WHICH OF THESE IS BETTER? HE’S NOT BEEN FOR FIVE DAYS”
I swear I heard one of the five hundred people in the queue behind me snigger. I shot them all a glance. Two people looked away guiltily.
The pharmacist waved. “I’LL BE OVER IN A MINUTE. IS IT A LAXATIVE YOU WANT?” he said in a voice louder than his colleagues, something I thought impossible.
I decided that was quite enough embarrassment for one day. “You know, I think I’ll take both and read the instructions. Thank you.”
As I was leaving I heard the woman say “You know, what the best relief for chronic constipation is? Suppositories? You know, the ones you stick up your…”
“THANKYOUBYE” I said, high-tailing it out of the shop.
In retrospect running away didn’t look too good either. I looked like I was about to shit myself.
I guess I shouldn’t have been too embarrassed by this. Shit happens. Or not in my case. As the old joke goes, maybe I should be like all constipated people, and not give a crap.
Thanks for reading.