There are several major design flaws in the human body. Teeth are obviously one. The male member is another, with its autonomous nervous system and tiny, fickle brain. Then there are the ears.
Men are familiar with the cry, “I heard that!” Like bats, women rely on echolocation when it comes to picking up the faintest of mutterings. They use it to track their prey, which is usually found hiding in its study with the door shut.
The Atlantic is responsible for my condition. Apparently, ears don’t appreciate being regularly filled with 10°C seawater. The tympanic membrane throws a hissy fit and raises the alarm, causing bone to start growing across. The body’s solution, then, is to block the entire passage, like that ship in the Suez Canal, so nothing can get in or out. Idiot body.
An ENT diagnosed a bilateral case of surfer’s ear and advised I get my hearing checked before the chiselling began. The technician wedged me into a booth, gave me a pair of headphones and ran the kind of tests you’d expect an astronaut to undergo.
Scanning my results, she asked if I was regularly exposed to loud, high-pitched sounds. Not since I got divorced, I said. The retaliation was swift and brutal. “It must be age, then.”
I had to be at the clinic by 7am and was shocked to find other cars on the road. The sun hadn’t even come up. Do people really live like this? What a terrible system.
Soon, it was time to slip into one of those racy, backless gowns. What could possibly go wrong in an ear operation that the surgeon might need immediate and unobstructed access to my bottom?
Being taller than average, they went off to find one that had been made for a giraffe. “That’s a bit too big,” said the nurse. I waggled my eyebrows. “You’re not the first woman to say that,” I said. She pretended not to have heard. Maybe she should be the one having her ears rebored.
My surgeon burst through the doors with a flourish. They can be such drama queens, these cutters. It’s only a matter of time before trumpets and praise singers are involved.
He was dressed from head to toe in black scrubs. I’d only ever seen doctors wear green or blue. Mine clearly preferred to model himself on the Grim Reaper. It might’ve been more amusing if my window hadn’t looked onto a cemetery. This is true. They built a medical centre that overlooks a graveyard.
I’ve answered many questions over two marriages, but not as many as I was asked by four or five people wielding endless forms. At least none of them shouted, “I can tell you’re lying!”
A nurse asked if I wanted a pre-med to relax. This is where it starts. They loosen you up and the next thing you know, you’re unconscious and they’re swigging lightly wooded chardonnay and drawing a silly face on your willy. I took the pre-med. Let the girls have their fun.
An orderly parked me in a corner next to a fridge. The last thing I remember was trying to see if there was beer in it.
I woke up three hours later, ravenous, unhinged and savagely cotton-mouthed. I expect it was a huge party, with the anaesthetic being administered through a giant bong followed by hits of nitrous oxide for everyone. I checked my willy but they’d already scrubbed the face off.
A nurse said she’d bring me lunch. Since I was being charged R30 000, I was looking forward to a bottle of Dom Perignon followed by a Javanese rhino carpaccio garnished with white truffles and slivers of coelacanth. I was given a cheese and tomato sandwich.
A nurse built like a silverback told me under no circumstances was I to drive myself home. I explained that I was a trained professional when it came to driving in various states of consciousness. She was having none of it and said I should arrange a lift. I promised to call a taxi once I was downstairs but she was wise to this old trick and said the driver had to come up and sign for me. The driver turned out to be in a worse state than me. Far older and leaning heavily on a stick, he shuffled over to the counter, complaining bitterly about having to take responsibility for a perfect stranger.
The moment we were in the parking lot, I gave him an extra R20 to look the other way and got into my car. Perhaps fearing a lawsuit, he said he’d follow me to make sure I got home safely. He drove way too slowly and I lost him at the first intersection.
Right now, I need to regain my strength and begin preparing for battle with Discovery.