Today, I'm having a feeding tube fitted. A small tube will be inserted through my nose, down into my stomach, and calorific gloop will be plopped hourly into my recalcitrant bowels overnight. Every night.
The tube will be taped in place and within days, believe it or not, I'll forget it's there.
However, the rest of the world will not.
There's something about tubes inserted in orifices that freak people right out. Ive spent time in wheelchairs, used walking sticks, held court in bed, but nothing says "pity the poor broken crip" like a tube.
This is what will happen : I will walk into a shop/restaurant/school yard and EVERYONE will stare. Some will pretend not to, others will quite literally gawp, slack jawed, making no effort at all to hide their horror.
Somehow the tube translates to non-tubies as "This person is dying." I don't know what it is, but almost everyone assumes you are beyond the reach of modern medicine. Somewhere, somehow, epic failure must have resulted in this incomprehensible, disgusting apparition.
The first time I went out in public with a feeding tube, I remember sitting on a bench with my hubby and a friend in a shopping mall. Bored with the gawping and pitying looks, I started to slowly suck my cheeks in and slide off the seat. If they wanted dramatic, I could do dramatic.
Another time, a guy rode his bike into a lamppost looking back over his shoulder at tube-a-geddon. That's direct Karma, that is.
Yet another time a woman in MacDonalds muttered to her kid that it was enough to put them off their lunch.
God forbid I should drink alcohol or smoke a fag? Tube crips must have no vices. If they do, that's clearly the reason for their tubey downfall. If I smoke, the tube must be lung related, if I drink, liver related. If I eat, people look nervous.
So dear world, It's a tube. Get over it. My guts don't work. It's not all that complicated, or even all that serious. I'm not dying, I can breathe just fine and if I fancy a mojito and a Marlboro, I shall jolly well have them.
However, there may be a silver lining. I'm taking my boys to Disneyland in a few weeks and may stoop to pulling the tubey-crip card shamelessly wherever pity might work to their advantage. As my recently departed darling Daddy used to say "no point getting old if you don't get sneaky".