More tests – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

We are the biggest disaster that has ever hit this planet! By the time we have run our course, we will have killed off a greater percentage of life here than any comet or natural disaster since the beginning of time.

Our priority is to ensure that we change and become less destructive; to ensure that my prophecy of our terrible effect on the rest of life does not come true; to ensure that the destruction we are wreaking is halted and we learn to live in harmony with each other and the world.

There’s nothing daft or soppy about that!

If we don’t learn how to do that we are, along with every other living thing, completely screwed!



The major problem is that we are too greedy. We are consuming too much of the world’s resources.

Try telling that to a meathead hell-bent on owning the world and consuming it all. “Hey, look how important I am, yah! I own a castle, twenty Rolls Royces and a fleet of Lear Jets!”

But then we are all guilty.

How many tellies do you have?

Crazy isn’t it?



Happiness is when your endorphins flood your brain and tingle all your synapses.



Right. Despite all my tests, I was not satisfied. I requested a further consultation with the consultant. It wasn’t lungs and it wasn’t stomach, but the pain was still there and getting worse. I had decided that it had to be the colon. A section of the large intestine came up under the ribcage and that had to be the problem. By my calculations, it could be polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, or bowel cancer. I think I had already decided that it was bowel cancer.

Thank heavens we did not have the internet back then. I might have had a long list of possible ailments and have convinced myself I had them all.

The consultant was very sceptical about my condition. He reassured me that it was psychosomatic and would go away of its own accord. He doubted that there was any physical aspect to my pain. I was not convinced and he could see I was not going to let it rest until I had explored every possibility. There was nothing else for it other than a barium enema.

They dressed me in that same stupid backless thingee that you have to wear in hospitals, probably designed to make you feel embarrassed and stupid, so it keeps you in your place as a patient. Then they put me on a medical couch and inserted a hosepipe up my anus.

The nurse hovered closely watching the procedure. It was embarrassing but at least it did not impinge on your breathing and produce panic. The tube was uncomfortable but I could hardly complain. I had requested it.

They then poured a gallon or two of white barium solution down the pipe. It filled your rectum. It was at least warm and not too unpleasant – though it made me feel as if I were suffering from the worst case of diarrhoea I had ever experienced.

I had to lay still while they pawed over their monitor screens and positioned me in exactly the position they required on the X-ray machine. I lay there trying not to produce the biggest wet fart of all time. The major thing that was on my mind was the desperate need to get to the toilet without making a spectacle of yourself.

Once again I was able to see the results on the screen and the doctor talked me through. There were no tumours, polyps or abnormalities.

“It’s alright,” he reassured me, “it is all normal.”

I knew that I had to come to terms with this. Most probably my symptoms were psychosomatic after all? But I still wasn’t totally convinced.



Happiness is when your mind is in balance and is not craving for anything.



The art of living is doing and being.



I went back for a further consultation. The doctor argued his case that he could see no physical reason for my condition but I remained adamant. He recapped through the procedures; they had now checked the lungs and been in from both ends to check my gut, I had had a physical examination of abdomen and liver but he could see that I was still unconvinced, the only thing that was left was to check my abdomen with an ultrasound.

Once again I found myself in a hospital ward wearing one of those strange backless thingees.

The ultrasound technician was a young doctor. She placed me on a surgical couch and immediately lifted up the front of my smock to expose my abdomen. I found myself once again wondering what was the point of having a smock that had no back? but I did not put it in words. She unceremoniously plonked a big dollop of cold gel on my abdomen, which made me jump, and proceeded to smear it around.

I had this strange feeling that I had become pregnant. It was just association, Liz had had it done exactly this when she was pregnant. She began searching around with the sensor. She showed me the images on the screen and I found myself looking for a foetus. Pulling myself back to reality I pointed out where the pain was and she began checked, pushing the sensor over the area, in and out, focussing on the organs and providing me with a commentary of the organs we were looking at. As a biologist I found it easy to identify them and asked all manner of questions. She was very diligent and persisted until I was satisfied. There was nothing to see. Normality, bloody normality!

By this time I was hoping for a nice round tumour. Something they could identify and say- “See!  There!  That was what was causing the problem!” I wanted something they could easily cut out and deal with.

I did not want a negative result.

She checked the kidneys and liver, even had a look at the spleen. I was sure that it had to be lurking there somewhere. Everywhere she looking it came back with normality. The gut checked out, gall bladder had no sign of stones.

We ran out of places to look.

I had to face the truth – I was healthy.



Happiness is when you are completely crazy and don’t know what the fuck is going on.