I think it was his finger. I had my eyes closed with mortification at the time. But it only took a second. A rectal exam that only took a second – is that the going rate these days? I assumed there’d be more poking about, more of a commentary, maybe a compliment?
But all he said was “You do not have haemorrhoids.” Did that count as a compliment? I assumed so, so I thanked him. And haemorrhoid pleasantries over, it was on to the colonic.
“I’m going to count to three. When I say three, take a deep breath.” I’d barely processed his instructions when he began. “One, two…” I was so focused on breathing on cue that it stopped me from tensing. “Three”
It wasn’t awful actually. Not pleasant, but it didn’t hurt. Does that say indelicate things about me? Possibly, but in this situation it was a definite perk.
Anatoli turned on a tap. I’d hoped for something more hi-tech, but no. Water gushed into me as though I was a paddling pool.
“Tell me when to stop.”
“How will I know?”
“When the pain becomes agony.” Bear in mind that he said this with his Baltic accent, which sounds much more severe than your reading voice. “When you feel agony, this is when you say stop.”
I glanced down at the gushing tap filling me up. My stomach quickly ballooned. Oh bollocks. I’m really not one for agony.
What if my agony threshold was too high and I exploded from proving I’m tough? What if it wasn’t high enough and I went through all this for nothing? Will he move fast enough when I give notice or will he dawdle? Oh god oh god oh god!
After some time I felt a terrifying sense that I was as full as I could possibly be.
He acted immediately. The tap went off and he fiddled with the pipe connected to me. A wonderful and brilliant sense of relief came as the water started to release.
Oh happy days!
“Do I have your permission to begin the massage?”
“Of course!” He had me plugged in to his colonic contraption: I wasn’t in a position to negotiate. Besides, I was quite looking forward to a nice massage.
I did not get a nice massage.
I got a brutal kneading of my intestines, intestines that were still so full of water that they sloshed noisily as though he was massaging a hot water bottle.
As I cringed with the horrors, Anatoli chatted to me about nutrition and constipation. I steered us on to more comfortable ground of how long he’s lived in London and how the business was going. He brought us back to intestinal parasites and informed me that I have a lazy colon. A lazy colon. A procrastinating colon that just can’t be arsed to digest.
Still, he seemed to be enjoying himself, in his coldly Baltic way. And so was I, in my cringing Londoner way. I could feel myself emptying. I won’t dress it up: it felt good.
“OK, and we are finished,” Anatoli announced unceremoniously, after we had gone through the process three times. “How did you find this?”
I wanted to compliment his work but it all felt a bit seedy, like I’d just used a prostitute and now we were in that shameful aftermath. “It was surprisingly enjoyable,” I settled on. “You did very well. Thank you.” Nope. No, that didn’t reduce the awkwardness at all.
But I’d lost 3cm from my waist. I felt lighter and had a real spring in my step. I’ve found myself less sleepy and sluggish, more positive. My digestion is better.
I loved it.
Is that wrong? Almost certainly.
Will I do it again?
Oh yes: almost certainly.
Anne Seymour, La Cuadra’s newest writer, earns her brownie points by working in hospice care during the day. She counters this good karma by getting up to no good around London in her free time and writing about it for www.londondifferently.com