It started at the
end of a long
plane ride. We flew
from San Francisco
to Sydney – through
the night – and went
from Northern Hemisphere
summer to rain, rain, rain
in Australia. It was freezing and
pissing down and all I had to
wear was shorts (well, t-shirts and
jandals too, of course…)
I woke up on the plane with
And it never went away.
After a few weeks I went to the
doctor, and he thought I probably
had some nasal infection
so he wrote a letter to the ear, nose
and throat specialist – asking for me
to be looked at.
And they said nah. No need. No point.
I was interviewing people and my voice
sounded horrible. Apart from that I was
People would ask me – between 15 and 40
times a day – about my cold. And I’d say
that I didn’t have one. I was fine.
I went back to the doctor.
Told him to sort this shit out for me.
And he said that I probably had a polyp.
And that it probably wasn’t cancerous or
anything – but it could be.
He said I could pay for a scan myself.
Since our specialists had said that they didn’t
want to see me.
I paid for the scan.
Next thing you know – I’m in the system. I’m
on the list. I’m a guy with a polyp up my nose
and they never really got into how it got there but
my guess is the air-conditioning system from the plane
(but I don’t say it too much, nor to too many people
because I don’t like sounding like a conspiracy theorist).
A few more months go by – and then I get the call to
go and see the specialist.
The doctor will see you now.
Now that you’ve paid for the thing they said they didn’t need.
I get a letter saying that I might get an operation – eventually.
And eventually – a few more months on – I get another letter asking
me to a pre-op consultation. They look up my nose, spray this awful-tasting
spray up there. Tell me I’m in need of the operation and that they’ll
likely be able to get everything out. I’ll be fine (again) when they do that.
All I have to do is sit and wait for it to be scheduled.
People keep asking me if I’m okay.
I keep saying I’m fine. (When I say it, I say “Eine thine!”)
The day of the op arrives.
And I get dropped off about 7am.
They ask me if I drink – and I say that I like a wine or two
And I get told off for saying “or two” – especially when the ‘two’ measures
out in bottles…
I wait a bit and then they put me in the bed and wheel me in.
The surgeon says, “this will be quick”.
The jab in the arm and I’m out to lunch.
I wake up days later – (it’s been about 50 minutes, tops) – and they
give me a sandwich. And I have a bandage under my top lip that
feels like a drip-tray. And there’s a tiny bit of blood. But not much.
I feel like I’ve been punched in the face.
They show me the picture – what they took from my face looks
like stir-fry chicken, minus the vegetables.
They need the beds, so they ask if there’s anyone to pick me up.
I say, sure, I’ll just text my ride, is it alright if I wait outside?
And they say it’s fine if I sign on the line.
I do. And then stroll home. It’s nice tagging letterboxes on a
general anesthetic – and I stop in at the video store on the corner
and rent some DVDs.
The very next day my voice is back. To normal. Back. No more “Eine thine!”
I’m fine – in fact.
And the only bad bit is when I have to go back in a week and they
scrape the dried blood from up in my nose. I can feel it in my eyeballs
and my toes and the tip of my dick – and I know that’s not how the
song goes. But I don’t feel it in my fingers…
They ask me if I want to collect the polyp – and all the gunk that was up
my nose and I tick yes on the form – because why not.
So a month or so later I get a call – I’m to go to the hospital to collect
I sign a form. Walk down a long corridor. And then another. And another.
It’s like Get Smart or something.
I sign more forms, get given the package, and some gloves – I’m told to wear
the gloves. And to keep it in the freezer, or return it to the hospital if I decide
I no longer want it.
(I had decided I no longer wanted it ages ago – that’s how I finally got into
So that’s the story of how
I ended up with some radioactive-type tissue in my
freezer. It glows when you look at it. You have to use
Apart from the fact that I have the chemically-altered
tissue in my freezer. There’s no cure for that.
That was my decision.
That seemed right at the time.
Everyone I’ve told has one question – “Why?”
If I could answer that, this poem
would probably not exist.
Or it would be a quatrain.