I am usually pretty good at keeping things. I can keep a secret. I keep my cinema tickets. I kept my virginity until I was 28 and only lost it because of an unfortunate riding accident.
I have however lost quite a few parts of my body. Tonsils. Adenoids. And now, just a while ago, my appendix.
There are three things I learned that are of such deep, profound and spiritual value that I feel compelled to pass them on to you.
First of all, human beings evolved. I am sure you think that I mean that the persistent existence of the appendix is pretty clear evidence of natural selection. But as science nerds are very happy to tell you, as I know from experience, the appendix is actually a repository of useful juices that allows the gut to restock all its acid goodness.
No, my experience proves evolution conclusively, regardless of what you think the Bible says because of the excruciating pain I endured after the procedure. When they do keyhole surgery they pump a load of air into your belly so that your organs separate and they can tell the intestine from the appendix or indeed the liver, which I explicitly asked for them to leave alone.
The air presses up against the diaphragm but the brain doesn’t know what to make of it. Our primate predecessors never needed to develop a response to a massive influx of air through the bellybutton. So for some stupid Darwin reason, it expresses itself as pain in the shoulder. As a result, I woke up at 2am with this mania-inducing agony in my shoulder. None of the massages that were offered to me by burly Bulgarian orderlies could ever have relieved the pain. Neither did the Deep Heat I decided to inject into my shoulder. The only thing that reduced the anguish was walking around (and time, that great healer). The air had to seep out.
And no you couldn’t fart it out, I tried that too. But the air wasn’t in the digestive system. Even armpit farts did nothing.
So there you go, evolution is true, my shoulder is better, your granddad was probably an ape or something.
Secondly, I realised how twisted the medical system actually is. The whole system is obviously structured in a hierarchical fashion centring around the convenience of doctors. Nurses were once again, both humanly and to my untrained eyes, technically more competent but they seemed to have to wait around for permission to sneeze from some doctor wearing too much jewellery for me to be completely convinced of their integrity. (When I am on a lot of drugs, I get very judgey about people’s appearances.)
The reason doctors get to have the whole system pirouette around them is because they earn so much money. We have to get the most value out of them that we can. And the reason they earn so much money is because the whole system relies on their say-so for anything to happen. Makes sense, see?
My question is why does excellence have to be rewarded? Is it not sufficient that we simply create the context (education and opportunity) for doctors to excel? If that holds, then we can stop paying them a quarter of a million yo-yos a year and we can start sharing out those opportunities for excellence to the people on the ward who actually seem capable of respecting other human beings, the nurses.
Thirdly, being majorly unwell in a minor sort of a way is a whole lot harder than being a little bit unwell in a major sort of way. Let me explain: when I broke both my arms I was not that unwell. I had surgery to put my right arm back together and it involved anaesthetic that made me queasy and painkilling drugs that really knocked me out. But after the first few days I was alright. Apart from being unable to wipe my bum or dress myself. So while I was just a little bit unwell, it was a major inconvenience and I was able to slot happily into my role as patient and be good-natured about it.
This time around I had a condition that was fairly close to getting serious. The appendicitis was atypical and it was about to explode its toxic bile-sap all over my innards. But because of the sci-fi-futuristic efficiency of laparoscopic surgery I was better once the shoulder pain went away. So I was quite unwell but in a very tiny way. And I found it very frustrating. I was very grumpy. Wife-unit deserves a medal, a holiday and a pat on the back for having to deal with my tantrums about everything from music being played in the background at the wrong time to where the scissors I cut my nosehair was hiding.
Its a funny thing, the self. I really don’t know mine. Even when I think I’m very spiritually sophisticated and emotionally mature and refined in the virtues, the moment something bodily is a little out of whack in a way that is out of whack, my self goes missing and gets replaced by a Mr. Hyde inspired ogre who wants to simultaneously cycle away from all of humanity, drink all the wine in Europe and punch a cat in the face because that is the only thing that could ever hope to realign reality with what I want.
So I lost my appendix, a good chunk of whatever remaining respect I had for medics and my temper.
Your Correspondent, Like an invisible appendix-less James Bond super-villan criminal mastermind