In the UK, where I come from, medicine is something you swallow.
In Italy, you cannot leave the doctor’s surgery with a prescription in your hand before asking the immortal question,
“Into which orifice do I stick this?”
Seriously, it could be any one of them. Over the years I have been prescribed things to insert through the back door, the front door, up my nose, in my ears, drip into my eyes and stuff I had to inhale using a vaporising gadget like a hookah. I was even prescribed glass phials along with a box of syringes like turkey basters, which I had to inject into my own buttocks.
The doctor actually intended my husband to do the injecting, but his hand shook so much he injected his own thumb. Boy, was he chilled out that day! My only choice was to rotate freakishly like the little girl in The Exorcist movie and do it myself from then on.
In Italy you don’t have to go to the pharmacy for syringes because they sell them in the bathroom section of the supermarket. Since Sicilians are addicted to inconvenince, they never seem to stack them at waist height, within easy reach of arthritic old people with sciatica. Oh, no. They’re on the bottom shelf, between the Tom and Jerry toothpaste and the Peppa Pig sticky plasters, beside the one-litre bottles of pure alcohol.
You frequently see an old biddy lurking over her shopping trolley till some hyperactive pre-schooler scampers past, at which point she accosts the kiddo and asks them to pass up a ten-pack of the 5ml syringes marketed whimsically under the brand name “Painless”.
My latest foray into the wonderful world of pushing medicine into holes about my person has been triggered by a problem which needs operating on – again. Meanwhile I have a gynecologist and a GP who want to keep my mind off the mounting anxiety by prescribing things for me to shove into every orifice I own. Painkillers have been a recurring theme.
The funny thing is that they disagree not only on what I should take, but where I should stick it. The gynecologist went for steroid suppositories, among many other things which distracted me from noticing he had sneaked those in. A few years ago, for sound reasons, I decided that my gastro-intestinal tract is strictly one-way.
I clearly (and in some cases shrilly) notified all my doctors about this. I draw the line at anything trying to violate this simple traffic regulation, so I went to my extremely sympathetic GP for an alternative with a different entry route.
It’s funny how the Italian language can make everything sound do erudite and sophisticated. He handed me a prescription for oral painkillers.
“Tell the gynecologist to shove those ones up his own arse” the GP said.
I swear in Italian it sounded as if he was reading from a medical encyclopedia.
So that’s one orifice permanently closed to visitors. Now for all the others…