Friday, June 02, 2006

Bombay Linseed Nightmares

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to the state of my gastrointestinal tract and the effect it has on my mind. Since I did my O-Levels at school I’ve been aware of the effect that state of my mind has upon my gastro-intestinal tract. The bowel loosening effect of stress is familiar to many, as is the difficulty peeing when having to use the middle urinal in a busy facility.

A while back I woke up feeling quite depressed having had a few nightmares – quite uncharacteristic for me. After rolling about under my duvet in a state of mental distress, it started to dawn on me that maybe it wasn’t my head that was in distress but rather that is my stomach that was in turmoil. This realisation accompanied a rather urgent need to sprint to the bathroom and I only just managed to make it in time without leaving a trail of Brown Matter across the hallway. The 24 hours that followed were most unpleasant indeed but I felt remarkably clear headed once it had passed.

This reminded me of a horrific afternoon spent on a cramped and stifling bus ride in India. With hindsight, maybe catching a bus for an 18-hour ride out of Bombay down to Mapusa is not the best of ideas when one is infected with a rather unhealthy dose amoebic dysentery.

Four hours into the journey, I realised that I was not going to be able to make it to the next toilet stop, which are pitifully rare at the best of times. The uneven roads, the constant acceleration and deceleration and that bloody awful Hindi musical that was being broadcast at ear splitting volume all conspired to add to the profound sense of dis-ease.

My mind wrestled to work out the best survival strategy. It struggled and realised the inevitable.


There was no doubt that this was not going to be at all pretty. Additionally, I doubted the natives thatwere packed onto the hell-bus would appreciate it very much either and such an event could seriously damage international relations. Also, the thought of spending the next 14 hours with my trousers filled amoebic diarrhoea was really quite unpleasant enough and somehow just didn’t appeal. Not one bit.

I just knew that this was the universe extracting revenge on me. I knew that something like this would happen sooner or later because when I was 9, I was one of a small group of boys that pushed a kid called Jason into a cesspit. He toppled in and for a brief but poignant moment was completely submerged. It happened whilst we were on a cub scout camp and the last that we ever saw of poor Jason was as the Arkela-with-the-dodgy-hip was hosing him down whilst waiting for his horrified dad to come and collect him. Unsurprisingly, Jason never came back to cubs after that. So, stuck on the bus ride from hell, I just knew there was an inevitable element of Karma involved in all of this.

Meanwhile an astute native recognised what was happening and thrust a small plastic bag into my hand. I looked at it in horror as a small commotion broke out amongst the locals. Almost immediately another larger bag was then passed to my sweating hands, but this one had holes. Again, another brief commotion before magically a small kind of fragile bin liner appeared. Evidently, one of the natives had come prepared.

And...then…in front of about 2000 horrified faces... and one grinning child (I bet he was called Jason)….I….quickly squatted…and….Oh God!

Well, you can fill in the rest yourselves.

Needless to say, such an experience was one of those life-changing moments. For a Stiff Upper Lipped Englishman Abroad this was a good lesson in humility and how to be looked after and tolerated by a foreign culture that is all to often looked down upon by the Western mind.

So I thank you God for engineering that one. Next time, please could you make it something less messy, I’d sure appreciated it. Many thanks.

The reason I raise all this is that I am becoming aware just how much the functioning of my stomach and greater and lesser intestines affect my mental functioning. I used to always have quite a big lunch and spend the afternoon feeling mentally sluggish and bloated. Now, I just have a roll and two pints of water. Oddly, once the shock of, “Is that really all I’m having!!?” wears off (about 20 minutes after eating) I don’t feel hungry any more – my guess is that this is because the blood sugars have stabilised. The result of this is no more feeling fat and bloated and sluggish and my energy levels are better.

I was in the health food shop yesterday whilst stocking up on “health oil” stuff (it tastes horrific, a bit like the time I was chewing on a battery when I was a kid and it split open in my mouth) I also bought a big bag of linseeds. Take two tablespoons 3 times a day, say the instructions.

So, three times yesterday I took three tablespoons. It took me a while to work something out which I’ll share with you. Don’t chew them as this is impossible. And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t breathe in and inhale one of them or you’ll end up either dead, or, spending the next week finding seeds in every nook and cranny of your kitchen.

Instead put them in the mouth and take a gulp of water. If you don’t choke to death and survive, then you'll get to experience the effect I had this morning. You'll get to wake up in a hurry reliving the moment that you were on a bus leaving Bombay and have make the mad dash to the bathroom in order to avoid the Brown Matter Trail across the corridor.

You’ve been warned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I add my linseeds to my muesli.


7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a suggestion you understand - but three tablespoons are WAY too much (teaspoons is better! and, unless you are suffering from horrendous constipation, one is ample!) Also, to get the full goodness from linseeds (and there are a lot of available EFAs, linoleic acids etc in them) pound in a pestle and mortar until they are nicely crushed. Otherwise - as you so graphically experienced - they pass through intact; with no further need to visit the colonic irrigationist!

Health Food Shop though Andy - I'm impressed!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Mx said...

I cried with laughter at your anecdote. Thank you for making my day... the gift of laughter is manna to the soul.

9:06 AM  

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