This excerpt is from Candy and Blood. Available for purchase on Amazon now.
I thank the good Lord above from the depths of my heart that I’ve never had to deal with a hemorrhoid. Of all the various maladies and embarrassing afflictions that have been visited upon me, the dreaded hemorrhoid is one I seem to have dodged entirely.
Billie Iris, on the other hand, did not enjoy my good fortune.
It’s not the kind of medical issue that a macho guy wants to admit to or have to deal with, but once a bloody pustule starts proceeding from the anus, a person’s priorities shift and their proclivities for modesty evaporate. Billie Iris got himself on the sick call list as soon as possible and assumed that a severe situation such as his would be handled delicately and professionally. Instead, after the doctor stared into Billie’s anal area for a suspiciously lengthy period of time, he instructed his secretly terrified patient to finish stripping and gave him a bedsheet to wrap around himself like some kind of prison toga before leaving the dingy exam room.
When the doctor returned, he wore gloves, held a scalpel, and had a nurse in tow who had a stack of gauze in her gloved hands. He didn’t secure his patient’s verbal permission or have him sign anything. The only explanation given of the procedure was, “We have to take care of this now,” before he instructed Billie to lay his chest on the exam table, put his butt in the air, and relax. Excellent bedside manner. There was no sterilization of the room or the region about to be operated on. After the cutting was done and the area had been excised, they taped some gauze to his ass and sent him on his way. They provided no pain meds, ointment, replacement gauze, or any instructions on how to wash and care for the area. The doctor simply told him to get dressed and go back to his cell house.
Billie Iris awoke the next morning with his boxers and bedsheets covered in blood. This was enough to convince the C/O that he had an emergency situation on his hands, and he hurried the understandably freaked-out Billie back to Healthcare. When Billie returned to the house, he was loaded down with plastic bed covers, gauze, plastic undergarments (essentially diapers), and the generic answer to all prison maladies: Ibuprofen. Each passing day saw Billie, who was usually a fairly easygoing guy, become more worried and frantic. He couldn’t get any relief. He was constantly making trips back and forth to Healthcare for resupply and to complain about the pain and unsanitary nature of his predicament, but he could never get a straight answer from Healthcare staff as to what his affliction was, how serious it was, and how best to care for it and/or treat it. After a week of this, in desperation, Billie Iris sought my aid and opinion.
As I’ve said before, I am not a medical professional. I don’t know what it is about me, but people seem to seek out and value my feedback on a plethora of issues and topics. It’s not that I act like a know-it-all—at least I don’t think I do. I hope I don’t. Regardless, I have that effect on people. In the case of Billie Iris, my approachability apparently made him feel secure enough to ask me to have a gander at his sphincter. Lucky me! Since I’m sympathetic to those who suffer at the hands of the largely callous and indifferent prison healthcare system, I agreed to lend my friend my eyes. This was not something I particularly wanted to do or ever thought I would be doing, but that’s the price you pay when you’re such an amiable guy.
“We’ll do this quick, okay? On the count of three.” Billie Iris was facing away from me, his shirt pulled up to the middle of his back. His thumbs were tucked into his pants, ready to drop them, but he craned his head around at the sound of my voice. We made eye contact, and it was awkward. He was scared. I was scared and freaked out, too. He nodded his head at me. “Okay, let’s do this quick,” he agreed. With a deep breath to steady myself, we began.
“One.” I didn’t know why I was doing this. “Two.” He leaned further forward so his butt was higher in the air. I really didn’t want to do this. “Three.”
After a moment of hesitation, his pants dropped to just below his cheeks, and I got to witness his affliction in all its brutal glory. I gagged and retched in my mouth before rather indelicately exclaiming: “Dude, that is not good at all. That is nasty. They gotta do something for you.” It didn’t exactly put him at ease, but I was merely giving my knee-jerk reaction to the horror show before me.
I honestly can’t say what I had expected to see, but I doubt my darkest nightmares could have prepared me for the view before me. Protruding from the wrinkled flesh adjacent to his puckered anus was what looked like a bloody tongue, or a sloppy flap of pastrami. It flopped and wobbled almost three inches out from the surface of his skin.
Due to its position, it was entirely impossible not to soil the protuberance during defecation and the wiping process afterward. It appeared to be a perpetually bloody open sore. This suspicion was confirmed, as it left red smears against his pale white ass. Somehow mesmerized, I stared at the monstrosity as if looking into the face of some alien evil. I might have continued staring if Billie Iris hadn’t pulled up his pants and broken the spell the malevolent little bugger seemed to have on me.
“Yeah, man, they gotta do something for that. Stay on top of them, man,” I said. It’s the best I could come up with. Then I got outta there.
For months, Billie Iris was in a battle with Healthcare, constantly seeking further medical attention that they never provided. The doctor merely told him to push the unnatural bulge back inside his body and leave it alone. He was strung out on pain meds and laxatives to make his evacuations less traumatic and lessen his straining from constipation, which I suspect may have been a factor in creating his nasty anal node in the first place. Through it all he continued having to sleep on plastic, wear diaper devices to catch his blood flow, and slather the ugly thing in hemorrhoid cream.
The experience changed his easygoing personality. He constantly talked about his medical woes and the latest news on that front. As much as I felt sorry for the guy, it got to the point that I dreaded him coming around because I was sick of hearing about it. Once he contacted a law firm that does pro bono medical malpractice cases. He requested copies of his medical records, which he was entitled to under the Freedom of Information Act. In reviewing these documents, he was flabbergasted to find that there was no record of the illegal surgery performed on him, on site and without his permission. This apparent conspiracy and cover-up only provided fodder for his ranting complaints.
Billie Iris went home six months after I had peered into the face of evil erupting from his sphincter, and I was glad to see him go. I was glad not only because someone going home always reminds me that I too am leaving one day, but also because I wouldn’t have to listen to him prattling on endlessly about his problems. When he left he was still bleeding from his ass and planning a big lawsuit. I wished him all the best, told him to be good.
I wish this type of medical malfeasance were an aberrant occurrence, but when a man is reduced to a number, a faceless commodity, it becomes easy to justify treating him with a shocking level of indifference.