The Thing Is With Steve Canavan

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Sunday is not a day that will live long in the memory. Actually it probably will, but for the wrong reasons.

I had to go to hospital to have something called a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which might sound like a Premier League midfielder (‘that’s a superb strike from the new boy Sigmoidoscopy, he really caught that sweetly’) but is something much more sinister – a procedure which involves having a camera shoved up a place where, in an ideal world, you don’t want a camera shoved.

I had to endure this because about six months ago – when I got a weird viral infection that left me unable to move my fingers for two days (which was worrying in terms of the fact that I thought I was dying, but a bonus in that it got me out of weeding the back garden) – I idly mentioned to my GP that when I went to the toilet to do the sit-down variety only blood came out.

My GP asked if I did anything about this, the answer to which was, yes, I cleaned the toilet afterwards with Domestos.

‘No,’ he replied patiently, ‘did you have it checked out medically?’

I conceded I hadn’t, so he booked me in for the afore-mentioned procedure.

Before leaving for hospital on Sunday, an hour before my appointment, I had to use an enema to clean out my bowel, a task at which it is certainly effective.

I’d never used an enema before and it’s safe to say I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience.

It involved – at 8.30am on Sunday, lying on the spare bed, on my left side, knees pulled up to my chest, and lots of kitchen roll spread underneath me in case of spillages – inserting the contents of a pointy-tipped syringe up my back passage.

Now I don’t know whether you’ve ever had to put something into your own bottom, but it’s not something that comes naturally. Grimacing and gritting my teeth as if running the final mile of a double-marathon uphill, I gingerly inserted the syringe and – after my eyes stopped watering – began squeezing it to push the liquid out.

I’d not long been at it when the door swung open and Mrs Canavan wandered in with a pile of washing.

I had told her what I was up to and had specifically asked her not to disturb me.

‘Oh sorry,’ she said, completely unperturbed as I lay naked, in the foetal position, on 17 sheets of kitchen roll, with a tube up my derriere.

‘Did I tell you,’ she said, casually hanging washing on the maiden, ‘that my sister has knitted Mary a cardigan?’

I stared at her as if she were mad. I was in so much discomfort that I could barely muster a whimper, let alone have a discussion about what item of clothing her sister had made for our child.

‘It’s beautiful,’ continued Mrs Canavan, presumably mistaking my glare of hatred for interest. ‘It’s got a picture of a giraffe on the front and on the back there are two little ducks.’

Mercifully, she wandered out soon afterwards, leaving me to finish the remainder of my enema, which by this point was making me feel increasingly odd.

The instructions on the packaging said to wait a minimum of two to five minutes before going to the toilet. I defy anyone to do this.I desperately tried to take my mind off an incredibly strong urge to sprint to the loo – I hummed the national anthem, wrote a shopping list, and thought of Barbara the new girl at badminton – but it was no good.

Within a minute I bolted to the lavatory where it’s safe to say I have never delivered a motion with such force and velocity. Next I headed to the hospital, where the actual procedure was carried out.

After taking off all my clothes other than my shoes and socks – never a good look – I put on a natty hospital gown and was led into a room where a very nice consultant and two nurses asked me to lie on a bed.

‘I’ll do a digital examination first,’ said the doctor.

I thought this meant he was going to point his Casio watch in the direction of my bottom so it was with some surprise that I felt a pain moments later so sharp that I leapt up and almost hit my head on the ceiling.

‘Okay, all fine,’ he said, at which point I began to stand to leave before, distressingly, being told we hadn’t even started yet.

‘I’ll put a small camera up now,’ he added. ‘A camera?’ I squealed, panicked, picturing the Nikon CX591 I have at home with extra-long zoom lens.

To cut a very long and traumatic story short, the doctor wiggled his camera around my intestines for the next 10 minutes or so.

I know this as I could see it all on a big screen; there’s something rather fascinating about seeing the inside of your own intestine.It’s like a long underground cave and the pictures rather resemble a nature documentary.

I half expected David Attenborough to say, ‘and here we can witness the rarely seen and magnificent tunnel system of the British mole’. Afterwards I got tea and toast – very welcome it was too; I hadn’t eaten or drunk for 12 hours – and a medic came towards me with a complicated looking diagram, looked at it for a moment, told me they’d found nothing untoward, and said I was free to leave.

I hobbled out of there like John Wayne after 12 hours on a horse and have not been able to sit on the kitchen chair without a cushion beneath me since.