I’ve just had my last meal – well until Tuesday evening anyway.
On that day I am due for a colonoscopy, so from this evening I can not consume any food apart from some liquids until after the procedure is completed. I’ve been on a restricted diet for a few days which has limited my diet to rice, products made with white flour, egg, potatoes, fish and chicken. Absolutely no red meat, fruit, vegetables or nuts. Kind of takes the fun out of eating.
Hospitals are stress producing. I seem to end up there once or twice every year. I dislike hospitals due the noise, bright lights, constant activity and the lack a fresh cool breeze. Not the best place for someone hypersensitive to external stimuli. If I don’t have a migraine when I enter hospital, you can guarantee I’ll have have one by the time I leave.
The colonoscopy is causing some emotional stress. Not because of what the results might be, but the thought of what happens during the procedure itself has brought back a very unpleasant memory from way back last century – 1963 to be precise.
As a thirteen year old going on fourteen, I was somewhat of a loner. I had only one school friend, who also did not mix socially with our peers. I didn’t much like contact sports and couldn’t throw a ball as well as the girls, let alone any of the boys. Up until I was eleven, I often spent time talking with the girls at school, but once puberty kicked in, I found it even more difficult socialising with the girls than I did with the boys.
Somewhere about that time, rumours started to spread about my sexuality. I was mostly unaware of this, but it seems there was some controversy amongst my peers as to whether I was a “queer” or a “queen”. I suppose my social awkwardness was the catalyst behind the rumours. At that time Aspergers Syndrome wasn’t recognised and people like me were simply considered antisocial, unsocial, or just odd.
On a somewhat cold autumn day, I was invited to join a game of bullrush. Being invited to join in games was a rare event for me, so even though it is quite physical, I was happy to take part. I had no idea who the boy was, but I guess he was at least two years older than I was.
The game was to take place on a rugby field on the far side of the school grounds, so I followed a group of some twenty or thirty boys to our destination. It never occurred to me that most of the boys were considerably older than I was. The game started, and as was usual. I was never called to make the solo run. What was odd in hindsight that I was never caught during the bullrushes, and eventually I was the only player not “in”.
An unwritten rule of the game was that the more people who were “in” the higher the requirement for being caught. Early in the game, being tagged was all that was necessary, but as the game neared the end, it was necessary to have the runner pinned to the ground.
So, my name was called and I started to make my run, knowing full well that there was no way I could make the 25 yard dash through a group of boys large enough to form two rugby teams. But I was determined not to make it easy for them. Instead of being tackled as I expected, the others were gabbing at my clothes, at first I didn’t realise their intent, but after my jersey was pulled off and they started pulling on my school shorts, I began to realise they might have other plans for me.
I won’t go into full details as to what happened next, suffice to say that I was eventually stripped naked, my lips and cheeks smeared with lipstick. The same lipstick was then used to write sexually derogatory slogans on my chest, and then on my back while I was anally penetrated by several objects.
I don’t know how long the assault lasted, but eventually the school bell rang indicating classes were about to recommence, and I found myself alone and naked. I don’t recall where or how I found my clothes, but I remember creeping into the adjacent reserve of native bush and attempting to remove the lipstick from my face using grass and my underwear. I stayed hidden in the reserve until after school ended and finally when it was almost empty, I found the courage to make my way to the bicycle racks to collect my bike and make my way home.
I never told anyone about the incident. I was too embarrassed and wouldn’t have been able to face the scrutiny that would have occurred if I reported it. I wouldn’t have been able to identify any of my assailants as my facial recognition skills were almost non-existent. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was finally able to talk to a counsellor about the assault, and even then I left out the most humiliating parts.
It’s an event that I have mostly been able to suppress the memory of, but the forthcoming colonoscopy has brought it flooding back. Quite irrational I know. A few medical staff in a hospital facility is so very different from a pack of savage youths at the back of a school field. But as the same same piece of anatomy is involved in both, the two are becoming interwoven in my mind as the day of the examination approaches.
For those who don’t know the game of bullrush:
How to play:
One person is “in” and stands in the middle of the field and calls out a name.
The person named has to try to run to the other side of the field without getting tackled.
If they get tackled they are in and another person’s name is called.
If they get to the other side they yell “Bullrush”, and everyone runs.
The game continues until everyone is in.
The last person “in” is the winner.
11 May, 2015 at 1:47 am
I hope all will be well during the test, Barry.
I have no words to say about that experience you had as a child. I have no recollection of ever being bullied or of a public humiliation of such a magnitude.
I don’t think you will be ever able to forget it.
11 May, 2015 at 9:08 am
Thank you makagutu. I was bullied quite a lot as I didn’t understand the subtleties of social interaction. Still don’t to a large extent. In those days bullying was often considered “character building”. I discovered the hard way that reporting being bullied was a sign of weakness even by some teachers, and no action taken against the perpetrators. Thankfully that is no longer the case.
11 May, 2015 at 5:53 pm
Am really sorry Barry.
11 May, 2015 at 9:02 pm
When someone says “sorry” I always feel like they are apologising, even though they are really expressing empathy. Someone needs to invent a new word so that there is a clear distinction between apologising and empathising.
11 May, 2015 at 9:06 pm
I agree, you are right on that.
11 May, 2015 at 2:02 am
I’m speechless Barry that you chose to trust us and share your trauma with us. I am honored. by your trust. Thank you.
That is an horrendous story and must have traumatized a young boy for a lifetime. I cannot fathom the evil that inhabited those boys at that moment except to say that they could have only gotten it from their parents and society. The fact that, to add insult to injury, you were unable to identify faces at that point in your life, must have made it even more difficult internalize.
I had colon cancer years ago Barry and have had a lot of colonoscopies. If you share your concerns with your medical staff prior to the procedure, they will make sure that you are so well sedated that you won’t have any issue with the procedure. Here in Canada they ask if you want sedation and I always go for it. The only issue is that you can’t leave alone afterwards or drive. You have to have someone pick you up. If you are open with them, I am sure they will give you an appropriate dosage. If you contact them before the procedure to explain it would be best.
A colonoscopy is an important tool the doctors have in the fight against colon cancer. When identified early colon cancer has a much much higher rate of cure (defined as 5 years cancer free after treatment) and the doctors can actually remove polyps during the procedure that may prevent the disease, After over a year of fighting colon cancer, i can assure you that nothing can reduce your risk of colon cancer like a colonoscopy – there is no alternate test. As an aside, i have a colostomy and the clean out procedure prior to the test is a horror show for me. Ummm, if you get suitably happy from the drugs, and you are interested, then ask the doctor of you can watch on the monitor as he/she does the procedure. Our insides are fascinating – you are seeing places inside yourself that haven’t ever been seen before at all by anyone. The organization and structures are amazing, There is one section where it looks like the colon is supported by large triangles – like a fabric tunnel. There are valleys and hidden ridges and turns – it’s awesome – certainly reinforced my belief in a higher organizing intelligent designer.
Anyway, i do ramble. Please accept my thanks for your trust and sharing. I urge you to contact your doctor and explain your concerns before the test, I am sure he/she will understand and make the necessary adjustments in medication to ensure your comfort and peace of mind. May the force be with you Barry – I know you’ll do well.
11 May, 2015 at 9:49 am
Social prejudices can be very harmful. At that time there were men rotting in prison simply for being gay. Homosexual acts of any kind, in public or private, and that included acts as innocuous as holding hands or kissing, where punishable by terms of imprisonment. Kind of strange when you consider that Aotearoa New Zealand is not particularly religious. Homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised here until 1986. We’ve come a long way since then. Only twenty years after decriminalisation, gay partnerships could be legalised through civil union, and now gay marriages are legal and accepted as part of our social fabric. It’s mazing how much attitudes can change in a single generation.
11 May, 2015 at 10:00 am
I forgot to say thank you for your kind words.
I’ll probably pass on watching the procedure. If it was someone else it would be different. I passed on watching the removal of a shunt between kidney and bladder following a kidney stone operation last year (or was it the year before?). That was even more “intimate” than what the colonoscopy will be, but it didn’t raise the same level of mental discomfort.
11 May, 2015 at 2:54 am
My heart goes out to you Barry, it really does. Children can be so, so cruel, and this went far beyond the usual levels of bullying people speak of. As Paul says, do ask for the sedation, they don’t put you out completely, but if you can emphasize your anxiety (without needing to go into specifics with anyone), it will make a big difference. I have had to date, over 25 colonoscopies, so I know the score.
sonmi upon the Cloud
11 May, 2015 at 2:57 am
*should have been 15 not 25! * Tsk.
11 May, 2015 at 3:11 am
I was going to say that you have me beat by a mile – but you still have me beat sonmi. I didn’t count but i would guess about 10 colonoscopies.
11 May, 2015 at 3:16 am
That’s one competition I really would rather not be winning heh. 25 would be a career. I’m hoping not to get there. But as tests go, I’ve had worse, the sedation makes a big difference I’ve noted.
sonmi upon the Cloud
11 May, 2015 at 10:01 am
Thank you for your kind words somni.
11 May, 2015 at 3:40 am
Barry, I need to echo the others and say how very sorry I am to hear what you went through on that occasion, and how courageous I feel you are to write about it. Needless to say no one deserves such treatment. How awful the messages those boys absorbed that taught them to act that way. I’m glad you were able to talk about it, to whatever extent, with a therapist. Another sign of bravery and strength.
11 May, 2015 at 9:24 am
It’s relatively easy to speak up here. There’s something liberating about opening up oneself while remaining relatively anonymous, that for me is not available in face to face situations.
11 May, 2015 at 10:46 am
Understood, and agreed.
11 May, 2015 at 10:41 am
That you are the person you are today reflects your strength and courage. Thank you for sharing. (I can’t even start to capture how irate, shocked, saddened..this makes me).
11 May, 2015 at 11:10 am
I keep forgetting that there is one person very dear to me who knows about this blog. I hope I keep forgetting that fact whenever I feel the need to be more open than I could otherwise be even to those very close to me.
11 May, 2015 at 11:15 am
So do I. 🙂 It is a privilege to share.
27 Feb, 2016 at 11:11 pm
Terrible story of abuse and bullying, Barry – as we all know human nature will from time to time give birth to degenerates and they will try and even succeed in belittling, abusing others but their power is all the more smaller if we refuse to live as their victims – we cross the road when we see them so to speak…today thank God it’s much easier to do that than years before …
24 Mar, 2022 at 6:48 am
I have no words for what happened to you so very long ago. Only a deep sadness at the cruelty you experienced. Sigh. And those kids grew into adults whereby they were probably just as cruel as they were when they were children.