A Beautiful Day for Anal Probing

Louisa Leontiades Illness, Vile Depths

The alarm clock on my LG phone has been touted by reviewers as the worst ever. It drives nails into your ears with its cheery but taunting insanity. As one reviewer put it,

There are only two groups of people in the world who want to wake up to that: those boys’ mothers, and serial killers. Gizmodo

But I’ve had worse.

‘Good morning’, said my boyfriend shaking me awake. ‘Isn’t it a beautiful day for anal probing?’

NOOO. No it isn’t. It never is.

When you’re a Mum, poo becomes rather mundane. An everyday occurrence, your child’s poo that is.¬† But my own bottom and its excrement has for my life been off-limits, until now. So discussing my bowels with my boyfriend is not high on my list of priorities.

Bodily shame has been instilled in me so deeply that it has influenced by adult life in a variety of ways. Not being able to say (or write) the word vagina. Not being able to allow men near my vagina. Letting too many men near my vagina. I’ve combatted vagina shame with a partial degree of success. But I’ve also ended a date early because I couldn’t go to the toilet in a boyfriend’s apartment.

Poo. It’s my last bastion of shame.

Getting sick means tests, tests and more tests. Most of the time I embrace the experience, not least because I’ve found out that I am rather partial to morphine and they’ve given me a lot of it. But this test, the colonoscopy, was the last in line and the most feared. It followed 24 hours of fasting and laxative enhanced groaning on the toilet. A camera inserted into my rectum without the mercy of general anaesthetic oblivion. It wasn’t the potential pain (or indeed potential pleasure), it was the shame. But as it turns out there are drugs for that.

I remember laughing. I remember oohing at the pink veininess of my colon. I remember joking with the doctor. Who had a camera up my bottom. What on earth did they give me?

Midazolam is part of a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It’s famous big brother is Valium (Diazepam), a short term sedative where the ‘adverse’ effects are anterograde amnesia. In my book, this is a good thing for a procedure where you have to discuss your anus for 30 minutes with the doctor whose probing you whilst looking at it with 5 other people on a wide screen telly. Boy did I have a big ass.

As far as I was concerned, they couldn’t give me enough of the stuff. And they didn’t. Because I remember every single minute. But as it turns out there are other effects. Losing your shame and associated anxiety is one of them.

A single dose of diazepam modulates the dopamine system in similar ways to how morphine and alcohol modulate the dopaminergic pathways.Between 50 and 64% of rats will self-administer diazepam. Benzodiazepines including diazepam in animal studies have been shown to increase reward-seeking behaviours by increasing impulsivity. Wikipedia

Dopamine is a chemical which responsible for the signal transmission between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain.¬†When something good unexpectedly happens, the dopamine neurons are activated. Dopamine is, in layman’s terms, one of those things that make us feel good. It plays a key part in our evolutionary reward seeking behaviour. Some drugs activate the neurons. Others like benzodiazepines increase the effectiveness of the receptors by opening the ‘receiving channels’ by issuing inhibitory¬†neurotransmitter called GABA. Just like alcohol.

As life continues and I discover more about how our preferences and choices are shaped by the interaction of the outside world on our inner psyche, I find that my degree of acceptance for what society judges our most despicable behaviours, increases. It’s a wonder to me that more of us aren’t on drugs illegal, legal, prescribed or bought from your friendly local drug dealer.

My personal mostly exorcised demon, shame, is the pain of being who we are. It stems from among others, the limiting belief ‘I’m not good enough’ and is passed onto us by our parents, by society, by religion in every corner of the world. When you have never felt good enough, isn’t it absolutely understandable that you would become addicted to something that does make you feel good enough? And better than good enough? Well it just seems like a dream (which is now what my hospital business does feel like).

We all know that dependency on drugs is not a long term solution. Eradication of shame is more lasting and more permanent. But shaming those who take drugs isn’t the answer, it’s just perpetuating the cycle.

When I got back from the hospital still totally high on drugs, my boyfriend asked me

‘So what was it like?’

And I replied dreamily ‘Rather nice. And funny.’

‘So will that be your thing now? Do you want me to stick a camera up your rectum?’

‘Well no.’ I said beaming at him. ‘But I’ll discuss my bowels with anyone. They were gloriously pink and slimy.’

He grimaced before empathetically visiting the bathroom, whilst I sat down… and shamelessly wrote this post.

Disclaimer: Article written whilst on post-procedure high.