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Choosing a Body Part for Your EU Vote

13/06/2016 12:58

It's difficult, isn't it? Knowing which body part we're supposed to employ to help us decide in the upcoming EU referendum. Thinking with your heart is apparently an option, but so is thinking with your head.

Thinking with your heart could mean you vote to stay in, because your base instinct is one of acceptance and openness, but it might also be a thinly-veiled cover for your xenophobia. Thinking with your head might mean you've considered the economic virtues of the union and the fiscal benefits of immigration ... but it might also be a thinly-veiled cover for your xenophobia.

I am going for a different body part, namely my bottom.

I say 'my bottom', what I actually mean is a night in May 2009 when I shit my bed.

A hospital bed. I was recovering from double organ transplant surgery, and had been writhing in agony for days. And if there is one thing I know all about, it is agony. On the one-to-ten pain scale, I've experienced every digit on the gauge in excruciating, brutal analogue detail.

Loitering on the steps to Death's door brings all manner of hurts, but none, none so great as trapped wind. I know, right? Blinding migraines, nerve-wracked neuropathic pain, even waking up mid-operation with a surgeon wrist-deep in my guts, I've had it, got it, felt it.

But nothing comes close to trapped wind.

So there I was, lying in a high-dependency ward having just days earlier had a team of doctors playing with my innards with - what now felt like - all the grace of a exploratory delve into a fair ground lucky dip.

Food was being pumped into me, but my twisted and tangled intestines were insisting that none of it was to pass. A number of days and nights went by when I had urgently had a wheeled-commode rushed to my bedside, but alas nothing.

Then, a sudden-start to a slow realisation. The pumped food had found an out, and made a bolt for it. I was lying in a pool of my own despicable making. Emergency buzzer pressed, two nurses, fully-attired in disposable aprons and latex gloves came to my rescue and went to task.

"I'm sorry," I pleaded to one of them as she wet and dry wiped the epicentre of the disaster zone before moving down the back of my legs. She continues her meticulous scrubbing, onto my ankles and then my feet, my fucking shit-splattered feet.

"It's okay, it's my job," she politely insisted in a noticeable foreign accent. "But it can't be your favourite part of the job," I randomly reasoned. "Where are you from?" I added, in a bid to move the conversation into slightly more civil territory.

"Greece," came the response, as she went to help the other nurse change the soiled bed sheets. The acrid smell of festering poo mixed in with internally-bled blood left a metallic funk in the air, the tang of iron hit my taste buds prompting a kneejerk boke.

The other nurse came to my aid and my previous conversation apparently duplicated itself. "Romania," she answered.

And with my bottom in mind, here I ponder what a Brexited immigration point system could bring. Sure, we might be able to cherry-pick the doctors and the directors, but can our vital services survive without the cleaners and the carers? Can we afford to shut out our continental neighbours who come here to better their live by bettering our lives?

By way of an addendum, the day after my trapped wind and accompanying detritus escaped, an emergency case was brought to a nearby bed. A crash team huddled around him as his vital organs teetered on the brink. The fading patient gargled mumbles as the doctors concluded he was foreign and a translator was required. But what language he was speaking and the unlikely availability of a nearby translator became the most pressing issues.

"That's Polish," said a passing porter lugging a heavy-duty plastic bag - which might have well contained my very own soiled sheets - "I can help."

This debate is nuanced, but my bottom is saying 'better together'.

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