Friday 14th January 2011

by Megan Beth Koester

“A study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRIs) of the brain to investigate the role of attention in sensing feelings from the intestine; comparing people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with healthy control subjects.”

I repeatedly fill and empty an enema bottle into my colon, periodically flipping through an issue of Maxim Magazine in between expulsions. The magazine advertises fine wines and expensive TVs; all told I will receive $150 in exchange for my debasement (approximately 1/25th the retail price of a Vizio 65-inch Theater 3D Edge Lit Razor LED LCD HDTV). The man on the enema box has a bemused expression on his face; he appears to be at peace. There is no truth in advertising. I focus my efforts on reading the entirety of the enema box; in doing so I notice that Fleet Enemas are made in Lynchburg, VA. Jack Daniel’s whiskey is made in Lynchburg, TN. I wonder whether or not a rivalry exists between the two towns. According to the box, the enema bulb is equipped with something called a comfortip— the word comfortip is trademarked. There should be a law against trade marking a word with no basis in reality. My anus fights the comfortip every inch of the way in.

“You will lie on your left side on the scanner table for placement of the rectal catheter. This catheter has a small deflated polypropylene balloon at the end of it. The study nurse or MD will insert the lubricated, thin flexible tube into your rectum about 6 inches…during the MRI tasks the balloon will be inflated and then deflated with air from the barostat through tubing connected to the end of the rectal catheter. The air will only inflate and deflate the balloon; no air will escape into your rectum. These inflations will range from 5mmHg to 20mmHg pressure. The range of pressures may be expected to produce feelings ranging from nothing to mild pressure to slight discomfort.”

I am lying in an MRI machine with an inflatable catheter inserted into my colon. I am trying to concentrate on the simple tasks that have been assigned to me; I am failing miserably. The presence of the catheter, however, is irrelevant, as my lack of concentration is an unrelated phenomenon. I realize that I’ll have to do this 100 more times to pay off my student loans. This moment of realization decreases my anxiety; I’ll still be hovering above the poverty line after this, so why expend any effort? The thought is liberating. As I revel in my liberation, the balloon inflates.

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