A Letter to my Body

Dear My Body,

I know I've put you through a lot over the years; stretched you beyond your limit, starved you, burned you, overworked you, exhausted you and have now left you scarred, in what can only be described as an apparent attempt to give you that "lived in" look. In return you've chosen to be susceptible to many diseases, given me poor skin and even poorer eyesight, robbed me of the ability to tan and have now, it seems, decided that my hair is no longer necessary.

But let's face it, we're both getting older and we need to start working together if we're going to last.

You may have noticed in the last week that I have attempted a peace offering by feeding you more regularly with wholesome and nutritious food, have taken you out twice a day for some fresh air and exercise, and have given you ample opportunity for rest and recovery during these school holidays.

But in order for these things to be of full benefit to you, I'm going to need you to co-operate.

I realise trust has to be built over time and that one week is perhaps not enough for you to see my good intentions, but all I ask is that you give a little in return. You might find it benefits you just as much as it helps me.

I have forgiven you for your more recent discrepancies, such as, in what can only be described as a nasty attempt at a military coup, forcibly removing my vocal range without explanation. I've also seen reason and will grant you amnesty for denying me the ability to breathe normally when I place you in a horizontal position. And as for that stomach tear/hernia that incapacitated me last year, not to mention the swine flu.....all forgotten.

So, to that effect, when I stand up today, I would ask that you do not try to force me back down by the neck and cause me to hunch over. And if the first few steps I take whilst trying to walk anywhere could be much more fluid and less shuffl-ey, I'd be much obliged.

My long term goals for our strengthened relationship would be to be able to take you out for longer runs that don't result in active mutiny on your part via the means of calf knots or decreased lung capacity after a measly 2 kilometres.

Think of those happy times when we would be able to enjoy the sun and fresh air for those 10km runs with an almost laughable casuality. Oh happy days gone by!

So, I promise to no longer subject you to ridiculous attempts at twisting and manipulating you beyond the normal human range of motion for the average man if you will promise to stop over-reacting and panicking whenever I take you for more mundane forms of exercise.

I look forward to reaping the benefits of this mutually beneficial relationship.

Yours sincerely,

Mark

P.s - I don't want to push my luck, but about the hair; Can you at least try to maintain a grip? I know how much it loves the adrenaline rush that comes with a 1.78m free-fall, but you need to sit it down and explain that it will DIE upon impact, so it's best to just stay put.

One Fully Healed Mangina

So here it is, 6 years later, all healed up.  Notice the outlying white scars next to the main one. That's where the stitches popped.

Creation of the Mangina - The Conclusion


……Needless to say, I don’t.

So the next day I’m on the phone trying to figure out exactly how much and how frequently I’m supposed to be medicating myself.  Any previous side effects of medication are nothing compared to this new lot and I finally get the rest I should have taken initially because even the slightest movements, such as the beating of my mutinous heart, bring on galactic storms of nausea.

 My housemate uses my “paralysis-of-the-intestinal-preservation” to run creative ideas by me for a new show she wants to do, all of which are probably very good, but sound positively hideous as they at least involve moving off the couch and right now I don’t want to think about that.

Anyway, two weeks later (and more than a month now since the initial injury) and I’m getting my stitches removed again and yup, you guessed it, it just pops right back open, right down to the bone.  The outpatients doctor is baffled, whereas I’m just about vomiting at the idea of even more stitches.  However, she decides to let it heal by “secondary intention” (which is a fancy way of saying “do nothing”) and so slaps a bandage on it, tells me to be careful and come back in two weeks.

I leave the hospital, get in my car and apparently completely ignore her first instruction as I smack my shin against the underside of the dashboard.  For the first time in this whole saga, I am in SERIOUS PAIN.  There’s some fairly colourful language, that Lamaze breathing technique you inadvertently do when you’re trying to make the pain go away (just the “hee hee” part, not the “hoo hoo”) and much grinding of forehead on steering wheel.



The next two months are spent grossing people out by tapping on my shin bone with my car key in a vain attempt to create an air of intrigue about myself (“I can do something you can’t do – LOVE ME!”) and also using the mangina to my advantage by poking some of the fleshier parts right before a shift at the restaurant, causing it to bleed badly enough so that I can walk in, roll up my trouser leg and say “Can I please go home and clean this up?”.  That last comment might cause you to think I’m into self harm, but not so. By this point the nerve endings in the wound are pretty much completely dead, so there’s no pain at all. Does that make it better or worse? Meh, who knows?

Finally, at the end of March, I go to the funeral of my friend’s dad. I haven’t seen this particular friend for a while as he was living interstate, but he’s heard all about the gaping hole in my shin. His wife is a doctor and is alarmingly attracted to, and fascinated by, the grossness and hideousness of injury and disease.  She asks to look at it, and as I pull my bandage down, her voice rings clear across the cemetery for all to hear:

 “Ha ha, you’ve got a MANGINA!!”

The End.

Creation of the Mangina - Part 4


So guess where I ended up on the Monday morning? If you guessed I was storming caves in Afghanistan looking for Osama/Saddam/WMD’s/Doughnuts then you’d be quite wrong.

No, I am back at the Emergency department of the Geelong hospital where I am quickly transferred to a plastic surgeon who is supposedly going to take some skin from my bottom and put it in the mangina.  Luckily I have not had breakfast this morning (all New Year’s resolutions became null and void as soon as I hit the tow-bar) and so I can have surgery that day.

The rest of the day is spent in waiting rooms reading various magazines, most of which contain fascinating articles about Nicole Kidman that vastly contradict each other.  I’m eventually moved into a bed where I have to change into one of those gowns that are made from the same material as Chux Superwipes, and a nurse offers to bring me a magazine.  I inform her I’ve read all the ones with Nicole Kidman on the cover and upon her return, she mournfully tells me that there aren’t any others.  Then she checks my heart rate and tells me I have a low resting pulse which is apparently a really good thing.  I want to tell her that since I’ve been sitting doing nothing in a waiting room all day long, anything above 2bpm (that’s “beats per minute” for the lay-folk) should be cause for concern.

Then I am wheeled, yes wheeled, despite my ability to walk normally, to the operating room, although I’m pretty certain it is the corridor outside the operating room. Four people adorned in masks and gowns surround me and one of them injects something into the line that was previously placed into the back of my hand.

The next hour or so is pretty hazy.  I was fully conscious, and all my senses were working perfectly, but I was completely unable to retain information given to me at the time. The best way I can think to describe it is the same physical sensation as being absolutely rip-roaring drunk, but without developing that level of reasoning that makes you crave hot dogs at 3am before sitting on the ground and crying unashamedly.



The doctors tell me that they’re not going to take my bottom flesh after all, but I can’t remember what they say they’re actually going to do within 10 seconds of them saying it. I’m lying down and my knee is bent with my foot flat on the bed so they can attack the mangina front on.  I can feel scalpels, fingers and needles in and around the mangina, but it doesn’t hurt at all. I desperately want to look at what they’re doing, but they won’t let me.

Next thing I know I’m in another waiting room, mangina stitched up for a third time, and my housemate is on her way to pick me up.  The nurse gives me some medication and some very specific instructions about when to take it.  She offers to write it down, but I assure her I’ll remember…..

Creation of the Mangina - Part 3


So it’s a week later and I’m back in doctor’s surgery getting my stitches out. I have not been very good at resting it over the last week, doing silly things like swimming the same day I got them in, going back to work within a day and walking up and down the stairs in our house several times a day.  Well, the first two days it was more crawling up the stairs, and sliding down them on my backside, but I eventually managed to finagle a way to get down with only minor discomfort.

But all that aside, I’ve also been rehearsing quite a lot for the show I’m dancing in which opens in three days  and some of the jumps have been pulling on my stitches, so I’m quite glad to get rid of them.

They come out and the wound looks nicely healed.  The scar is a neat little line, quite unobtrusive. The doctor gives it a wipe with some antiseptic, a gentle wipe, and it COMES STRAIGHT BACK OPEN! And thus, mangina is born (Hooray!).  It doesn’t bleed at all, it is just a fleshy hole on the front of my shin.  Luckily the inner stitches have held and so the doctor thinks it will close by itself if we just chuck a bandage on it.

(By the way, I used to have this yearly ritual of shaving my legs in summer which was a leftover tradition from when we used to do summer shows.  Luckily for me, I had continued with it as all these bandages being ripped off would have caused me soooo much pain and probably would have left me with a weird criss-cross shaped pattern in my leg hair)

Now it’s the next day, and my bandage looks really disgusting because my mangina has been weeping a bit so I go to change it.

Whilst the wound is exposed I notice something that looks too thick to be a hair protruding from the wound. It looked like those clear plastic string things that are usually attached to clothes and you have to snap them to get the tag out.

Being a compulsive nail-biter and scab-picker, my first instinct is to pull this thing, even though I realise it is probably not a good idea (I’m the sort of person who pulls on stray threads and ultimately “undoes” a jumper/t-shirt/rug). So I do. It slides out as easily as if I was pulling it out of butter, but I now realise it is the catgut stitch-loop which was supposed to have dissolved.  It’s a little bit painful, but I pull the whole thing out. Needless to say, the internal reparations are now completely undone and I am once again looking at my shin bone, although I’m not quite so disgusted by it anymore.

Two days later and it’s been bleeding quite a lot and I’m running out of things to bandage it up with, so I’m back to the doctor who decides it would be best to stitch it up again, but just the outside – the internal bits will look after themselves. 

The more astute readers will now realise that it is opening night for the aforementioned show, and here I am at 4 o’clock getting my leg stitched up and I am expected to be hurling myself round a stage in less than three hours.  Which I do. Part way through the second song however, the anaesthetic wears off and I do the rest of the show with a very pained smile on my face. 

I do the remaining three shows over the next two days with relative ease even though my re-stitched mangina is beginning to swell, throb and ooze more than is both acceptable and necessary.

So it’s back to the doctor again, this time a different doctor who prescribes anti-biotics, tells me to stop working for two weeks and just REST.  Two weeks later that doctor was on the front page of the paper for prescribing drugs in exchange for sexual favours. I don’t know why I’m including this bit of trivia, especially since now you’re all thinking that I might have taken part in such activity in order to get the antibiotics……and my sadistic side means I’m going to keep you guessing by neither confirming or DENYING anything.

Anyway, it’s the next day and I’ve been resting all morning, but now I’m bored and so walk gay dog down to the shops to get a Red Eye. Whilst on this walk I feel something alarming and painful take place in my leg. So I peel back the bandage.  The swelling of the mangina has gotten so out of control that my flesh has literally burst through the stitches which are now somewhere on the inside of my shin.  It’s all very yellowy and so I think perhaps it is time to go to the hospital.



I’m expecting to wait for about 12 years in emergency at the hospital, but for some reason I get through to the triage nurse really quickly and a doctor comes almost straight away. He cuts the stitches loose, cleans the mangina, prescribes me with triple-extra strength antibiotics that later lay waste to my intestines and tells me to come back on Monday, when he will be working, if it gets any worse.

Creation of the Mangina - Part 2

We pull up at Doctor Dad’s house and my housemate and friends immediately run ahead of me, into the house and shut the door behind them, screaming at me NOT to come in! Charming.  It turns out that my friend is even more useless in a crisis than my housemate and now that the adrenaline has worn off, there is no chance in hell they are going to look at my nauseating wound.

Doctor Dad comes out with, ironically, an ice cream tub of water and cleans up the gaping hole (soon to be known as “mangina”) in my shin before slapping a bandage on it. He then rings around a few doctor’s surgeries to see if they are open as it is New Year’s day so the hospital would undoubtedly be chock full of hangovers and most clinics would be shut, but not before his wife swipes my medicare card and bulk-bills me for a consultation…..opportunistic cow.

By this point, housemate and friend are now completely useless and it would seem no longer have use of their spines as their heads are flopping about on top of their necks and they are slouched over, occasionally grunting or slurring.  So I drive us to the doctor’s surgery, because they have lost all basic motor functions (see what I did there?) and we are soon propped up in armchairs in the waiting room.

Whilst waiting, my friend asks me if I have any money on me because she has left her wallet at home and would I mind popping next door to the chemist to buy her some tampons?  “Um, maybe later.”

The doctor comes out and asks if I would like my friends to come in with me for emotional support.  I look back at them, slouched in the chair, faces no longer visible because their heads have flopped so far forward, legs extended and arms hanging lifelessly from either side of the chair. I think it is perhaps best to leave them there instead as I doubt they could cope with any further trauma by now.



I’m sitting up on the table with my leg extended in front of me. It’s relatively clean and the bleeding seems to have stopped a bit (possibly because I had no blood left, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a realistic assessment).  The doctor places his thumb either side of the wound and then slides my flesh around my clearly visible shin-bone! Tsunami of nausea aside, I had been pretty strong up to this point, but the sight of that makes me recoil, so the doctor suggests I perhaps lie back and not look.  This proves to be a good idea because when he injects the local anaesthetic into the wound, I hear and feel the needle snap off the syringe and remain embedded in my leg! He carries on as though nothing had happened, but I’m no fool.

So, two sets of stitches later (one internal coil of “catgut” and one external set of normal stitches) and I’m good to go.  Just have to go back in a week to get external stitches out and all will be well.

I go to the waiting room, put my friends in a wheelbarrow and haul them out to the car (well, I may as well have) and realise I’m supposed to be working that afternoon and merely ringing in sick to a restaurant on New Year’s day will not go over well, so we’re going to have to go in there and show them the bloodied socks and stitches.

I take my friends in with me as I didn’t want to leave them in the car because it is a hot day and I’m not sure they still have the emotional capacity to crack open a window.  I let them flop down into a chair and get them some water whilst I figure out how long I’m going to need off work.

(Aside: When under the influence of local anaesthetic, one generally feels pretty darn good and so I convinced my boss that I would be perfectly well enough to go back to work the next day. This later proved to be a silly idea.)

Eventually I drop my friends off at my housemates mum’s place and drive myself home and for a brief period of time, all seems well.

But what about the “mangina” I hear you cry?

Well, we’re about to get to that in part 3......coming soon

Creation of the Mangina - Part 1

Now from the title of this note, you no doubt have already daubed me some sort of deviant pervert, but before I proceed any further I have to tell you that the term “mangina” was lovingly coined by a DOCTOR friend of mine and is not vulgar or disgusting in any way.

Well, actually it is kind of disgusting, but not for any deviantly perverted reasons.

I have recently come to the conclusion that I am getting older and that one day all my good stories will become hazy memories to me. So I am recording them for posterity’s sake.

Let’s journey, if you will, back to New Year ’s Eve 2003/4.

(Pretendy, wavy, hazy lines that signify time travel would appear here if this were a cheap budget tv show)

I am enjoying the festivities from the balcony of one of the Waterfront Apartments with some friends, playing “Punch Little Black Dress” which is the same as “Punch Buggy”.

For those who don’t know what “Punch Buggy” is, it is a silly and childish game that I LOVE whereby if you see a VW Beetle you punch a friend/associate/significant other/random-passer-by in the arm and shout “Punch Buggy”.  More astute players will shout out “Punch Buggy! No returns” which immediately disables your counterpart from punching you back.  It’s like saying “no returns” creates an impenetrable deflector shield, causing your adversaries to immediately recoil from retaliating.

Anyway….

We have a great view of the “New Year by the Pier” event from the balcony and we’re playing “Punch Little Black Dress”. Subsequently I end up with a humongous bruise on my arm because just about everybody is wearing a little black dress.  The game then evolves to “Little Black Dress, Blonde Hair” as this affords my housemate several more opportunities to hit me.  I’d like to point out that this housemate was female and because I am a man of honour, the game was decidedly one-sided.

So with New Year’s resolutions firmly in place (must get fitter and will exercise EVERY DAY) we see in 2004 in style.  We have done the responsible thing and left our cars at a friend’s place that we can easily walk to the next day (although I ended up driving a tag-along home after he crashed our party and tried, unsuccessfully, to start several fights – but that’s a story in itself).

So….next morning I get up early, head downstairs and begin my exercise regime by eating breakfast for the first time since 1987 and doing several sit-ups, push-ups and other forms of punishing exercises in order to honour my commitment to get fitter and exercise EVERY DAY!

Then my housemate and our other friend get up and we decide it is time to go and get the cars.

My housemate had a cute little gay dog who pranced around like Pepe Le Pew of Looney Tunes fame. His leash is in the car that we are going to collect, but we want to take him on our walk anyway and so attach a belt to his collar by the buckle and off we go.

We are all feeling very zesty and refreshed and super duper serious about our resolutions. We are so proud of ourselves because going on this walk means we are committed to them, whereas in previous years, we have lasted only one day.

Rather suddenly, the end of the would-be leash that my housemate is holding snaps and gay dog gallops away. I immediately take off after him despite the fact that I know subconsciously that he would come back if we just call him.  But dammit,  I’m feeling all heroic and so pursue at high speed, attempting to step on the trailing belt still attached to gay dog’s collar

CLANG!!

“AAAARRRGGGHHHHH!”

I heard that sound you get when you hit one solid metal pole with another one. It is sickening.

Before I’ve lost momentum and stopped running, I am acutely aware that my leg and sock are both wet.

I’d run full speed into a towbar that was sticking out of a driveway and am now looking at what vaguely resembles a Ribena fountain flowing out of my leg.

I sit down and put my leg out straight because as far as I am concerned, gravity is my biggest threat at this point.  My friend sprints off to get one of the cars and later admitted that she felt as though she was in one of those epic scenes in a movie. You know the ones - where the worn out athlete has to push on through the pain barrier to emerge victorious, and there's a montage and stuff. One assumes that “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky was playing in her head as she ran, breathless and wheezing towards the car and was thinking “Must save Marky, keep running for Marky”

Meanwhile, gay dog has sauntered back to where I am sitting, trying to stem the blood flow with my pathetic little ankle sock whilst my housemate is encouraging me to lie down.  I say I don’t want to, but then TSUNAMI OF NAUSEA and extreme light-headedness kick in and suddenly the thought of lying down on the pavement seems positively frikkin’ superb, so I do.  The sock is now so soaked that it is stuck to my leg anyway, so I can let go of it and just lay back.

A cute little old lady across the road comes out and asks us if we are okay and if we need anything.  I turn my head and say we are fine, but my housemate, rather shakily, asks for a glass of water.

She’s not very good with blood and trauma and she later admitted that she wanted me to lie down so that I would not see her assuming the foetal position and quivering in an alarmingly psychotic manner. Bless.


A man comes out from the house next door to where we’re lying, offers to get something to help clean me up a bit and disappears back inside.  In the meantime, the people who own the car I’ve run into come out of their house and choose not to acknowledge us despite the fact that my housemate is a quivering wreck and I am bleeding all over the pavement right in front of them. They just load up their car (yes, the blood spattered one that was wearing a large portion of my shin) and drive off.

My friend pulls up just as the man who had offered to clean me up comes out with an ice cream tub of water and a cloth.  To be fair, he had gone to get that stuff AGES ago and so by the time he comes out, I am clambering into the car and taking off my other sock to use as a temporary bandage.

Luckily my friend’s dad is a doctor so she rings him and asks him if we could come to his house to get cleaned up and see if it needed stitches instead of going to the hospital. I don’t know why I would have thought it wouldn’t need stitches. Presumably I thought my ankle socks were enough to stem the flow and maybe a band aid would be all that was necessary.  But what would I know? I mean, I’d left half of my blood on the pavement, so my normally stellar medical knowledge was a little less reliable than normal.


To be continued.......