Friday, 10 April 2015
A Bug's Life
The thing is, a while back I went to the doc's because I was belching and farting a great deal. Much more than was good for a man of my years. Also, I had a recurring belly ache and a constant bloated feeling. What medical folk call "dyspepsia."
The doc, a lovely Indian gal, asked me loads of personal questions, told me to cut down on my wine intake and said it could be caused by Helicobacter Pylori - a little critter that won a couple of Australians the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005. The thing is to test whether I had this my poo had to analysed. And that meant getting my poo from me to a lab: in a small plastic container which I was to deposit at the surgery.
Our surgery is extremely busy and my poo sample would be placed in the specimen box in full view of the patients. Having summoned up the courage to deliver a sample I popped along to the doc's with my freshly minted poo wrapped up discreetly. "You're late, the sample collection went at 11:30. What is the sample of?" "Poo", I whispered. "We keep urine samples overnight, but not stools".
I was crest fallen. I had to return the next day...with the current sample or a fresh jobbie? I returned the day after in time to deliver my latest effort. And I thought no more about it...well you wouldn't would you?
Last Tuesday at 8 pm the phone rang. It was unfortunate that the missus that day had been plagued by calls from India and from PPI prats. The person on the end of phone did not speak immediately so my wife, quite understandably, put the phone down. It rang again. "Yes, who are you?" was my wife's greeting in a voice that I heard upstairs in the second bedroom. "It's Dr Cooney from the surgery." the quiet Irish voice replied. "Can I speak to Barry?"
The results were positive. I'd been infected with H. Pylori. 'You'll have to have a double course of antibiotics, along with photon blockers to reduce the acid in your gut. You should also drink a load of friendly bugs: Activa - that sort of thing.
Now apparently half the world's population are home to H.P. and for most people... nothing: they don't know it's there. But for sensitive people like me it can cause excess wind and embarrassment. It seems it hitched a ride in our guts some 60,000 years ago when we moved out of Africa - how they know this I've no idea but it's in Wikipedia so it must be true.
Well since Monday, it been all out warfare in my guts. MAD, Dr Strangelove, Passendale you name it. Total wipe out as the antibiotics sock it to H.P. big time. I can hear the artillery bombardments as I lay in bed. As well as massive troop movements as I swallow another batch of pills and the serried ranks of H.P. dig in in a final attempt to keep their 60,000 year heritage. The "friendly" bugs in Activa are rather like the Red Cross or Medicine Sans Frontier: patiently administering to the billions of innocent, harmless bugs that have called my stomach home for years and now are at risk of complete annihilation.
The battle will continue for another 5 days as Alexander Fleming's progeny ruthlessly seek out and destroy every single H. Pylori. Across the vast expanse of my belly, billions of little white crosses will mark the fallen as the penicillin brigades raise the flag of victory.
It's all rather sad. I've become rather fond of H. Pylori, but it's them or constant farts. There can be only one outcome.