Or, How Hazelnut got tore a new arsehole.

A pilonidal sinus, sometimes referred to as jeep driver's bum, is a surprisingly common complaint in men aged 18 to 34. Basically... well, you know what an ingrowing toenail is, right? Well, this is ingrowing arse-beard. And it's a freakin' pain. It's not gonna give you cancer, well, not right now, and it's not gonna give you blood poisoning unless you let it fester or don't wipe your arse properly. But it does cause you to bleed from your crevice at importune moments.

For a number of years I would sometimes bleed a bit from my arse. Though this was usually after taking a dump that was too big for me. I shouldn't - and you shouldn't either - save up your faeces because that can happen and it can be painful. Eat more fibre, or your Mr Hankey will be more like Mr Tablecloth. But this usually subsided after a while, and I didn't think much of it. No pain, no tenderness, nothing really.

Then, around November 2009, I was round my grandmother's one night and stayed the night. When I woke up the next morning, there was all this blood pooled on the bedsheets! Jesus H. Christ, where did that all come from? Answer - My Arse, that's where! The bloodstain was in an I-shape where it had flowed between my buttocks. I'm really embarrased by this and hide it. Then I get a call later asking why I didn't tell her I had piles. The answer, of course, is that I didn't have piles. So I get rather worried and next thing, I'm in my GP's surgery in the foetal position with a latex-clad finger feeling around in my fudger.

"Oohh, that's interesting," says the GP.

Other than, "Where did my Rolex go?," this is probably the most ominous thing that can be said by a medic whose fingers are inside your body.

"...what's interesting?" says I.

"There's a hole here."

"That's my donut, isn't it?"

"No, there's another hole. It's a bit further up and... oohh, I've not seen that very often!" says the GP. I'm getting increasingly alarmed. "I think it's a fistula of some sort. I'm going to write you a referral to a specialist in this sort of thing who might be able to deal with it." The excitement in her voice does not bode well.

"...is it serious?" say I.

"Not really, it's actually quite common. Especially amongst men. Especially amongst large men. Especially amongst large, hairy, men." This is me. This may sound strange, but a lot of the time I don't really appreciate just how hairy I am compared to lots of other men (source: general observation in the changing rooms before and after swimming). Especially, yes, you guessed it, round the tradesman's entrance.

Further discussion ensues and it turns out that I'm being referred to a gentleman at the local hospital who, once again, looks at my backside and tells me that the way in which they generally deal with this is as follows - they probe the fistula to see where it goes, first of all, and then, if needs be, cut it open, remove what's causing it, which is usually a hairball of some description though it can be other things, and then leave it at that. Stitches, I'm told, are not generally done because they tend to split easily.

"Bloody hell," I say.

"Which is what happens if your stitches pop," he says.

The surgery was unremarkable; I was waiting a lot then was told that yes, it was a hairball that had accumulated there. They wouldn't show me the offending bezoar even when I asked. It's probably doing the rounds at a medical school somewhere.

Now you see, this is actually correct. For any surgery in this area they don't just stitch it back up. They lay it open and put a dressing on it which has to be changed daily. Needless to say, this makes using the bog a bit of a trial, because you have to be careful not to get turd on it or you could get infected. The dressings themselves aren't too bad other than at first. I have vivid memories of lying face down on a gurney while a nurse proceeded to pull what could only be several miles of sterile absorbent tape out my crack. Seriously. It was like one of those magic tricks where he pulls a string of hankies out of a hat. I didn't know there was that much space inside my body for all this stuff. Once she'd done that she then proceeded to stuff it up again. I know now how turkeys feel.

It then didn't help the next day having my dressing changed by a rather friendly male Scottish nurse who told me I had unusually strong buttocks.

Then there was the constant fun of it falling out whenever I went to sling a copper bolt in the first week or so, then charging to the health centre to have it redone. Worst of all was when the said copper bolt was just one of those annoying times when you think you need to go but you don't. Ugh.

Then there was, later on, waiting for a dressing with a bunch of other folks, having them ask me what I was having done and then pulling out camera phones with before and after pictures of their respective wound sites and gleefully comparing each others'. There's some sort of weird subculture here, surely.

In short, it was a major pain in the arse. No pun intended. I had three weeks off work, which I got shafted on Statutory Sick Pay for, got bored and depressed during that time watchin daytime television and surfing the internets all day and suchlike except when it was time to go and have my dressing changed. Even after that time it still needed doing pretty much every day until November. On two occasions I saw the surgeon again, who once memorably greeted me saying, "Ah, Mr Hazelnut. I was at a conference about this sort of thing and thought of you." Which made me slightly repulsed and more than a little curious about what goes on at "ArseCon 2010" or whatever they call it. Incidentally, he recommended, in the shower before having it changed, getting the edge of a soap bar and rubbing it up and down a few times.

By November, it was sorted and all back to normal.

Finally, some fun facts about pilonidal sinuses that you should know:

  • Rush Limbaugh had one at one point and thus avoided dodging bullets in Vietnam on account of it.
  • They're sometimes called "jeep driver's bum" because... well, you try bouncing across Europe on the back of a jeep with sporadic washing and see what state your nipsy's in!
  • It's from the Latin "pilus" meaning hair and "nidus" meaning nest.

And that's about it really. Bon appetit!

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