Thursday, January 10, 2013

Proctalgia fugax



I'm not usually given to writing poems about physical ailments, but while the topic in this poem is, in reality, quite unpleasant, it also has its humorous side. 


Proctalgia fugax

The condition known as
Proctalgia fugax
is like squatting on a bed of tacks,
or rather, one gigantic tack.
PF attacks a person’s back -
specifically the canal
that’s inner anal - by
cramping up some muscle, which
don’t make one feel swell, or well. 

Proctalgia fugax waits till night-time to
perform, waits till you’re relaxed and
fast asleep, then wakes you with a
pain that racks, and taxes your
ability to calm remain, stops you
dozing, insists from resting
you desist, says, get up now if you
know what’s good for you!
Proctalgia fugax isn’t good for you.

You’ll come to no harm, but there’s
no kind of balm that will ease the pain
as it increases to the max.
Forget defecting to the loo, or
defecating in it; PF doesn’t
signal imminent evacuation –
except from bed, of course.

Sometimes walking helps, though
you’re not required to leave the
house; some recommend
sitting, but on a tennis ball,
putting pressure on the perineum -
I don’t think that’d help at all;
or taking paracetamol by two, but
PF, say the experts helpful,
once waxed will wane before the
tablets ease the pain.  Some in
hot water sit, some ice apply–
neither of these sound nice
to me, and who wants in the
freezer ice to find, or boil up
water, in the dark of the night?

Women can ignore this next:
for men PF can rise when you’ve had
sex - post coitus it will let you sleep
awhile – then waking you in pain,
adds insult to injury, now
stands the slack and rested member
up once more, ready to bounce
back, then stacks woe on woe,
puts you under attack both front and back.

Proctalgia fugax sometimes
comes by day, whether at work
or play: transmitting a fax, or
shovelling the road, taking
dictation or hauling a load,
riding a bike, aquajogging,
feeding the ducks - or snogging.  
But night-time’s its favourite,
making the most of its doubling-up
impact to tumble you out of the
sack, with its pain in the
crack giving you flak.

Eventually, backstage,
things begin to assuage:
you return to your bed, but you’re
restless and hot, and like any
lurgy that lurks you are
cautious of aftershock,
your partner disturbing,
who tosses and turns till you
stomp out of bed and go sleep on the
couch.  PF’s not an ‘ouch’, it’s never an
‘oooh.’  Colonoscopy’s closer or
that horn of a rhino you saw in the
zoo, goring you. That might be
hyperbole, but you’d
exaggerate too if Proctalgia
fugax happened to you. 


Proctalgia fugax is a severe, cramp-like pain, deep in the anal canal. It usually lasts for a few seconds or minutes, but can sometimes last for up to half an hour. Between attacks there is no pain at all. Most sufferers have only 5 or 6 attacks a year. You may feel a need to defecate urgently, but nothing happens. It may even make you feel dizzy, or give you a headache. It occurs in both men and women. The pain often wakes sufferers at night, and men may have an erection at the same time. Some men experience it after sex. It is a mysterious condition; no one knows what causes it, but it is probably a spasm of the rectal or pelvic floor muscles and does not mean that you have anything seriously wrong. There are various methods of relieving the pain.

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