Necessary Evils/Finding Love

Prairie Wool

Helen Row Toews

As I sat in a waiting room after having driven a friend to her colonoscopy appointment, I considered the whole subject of unpleasant medical exams – hers in particular and mine by extension. Happily for me, I was able to wait outside with a newspaper as she was wheeled away on a gurney.

Until the moment she walked into the hospital and stood at the admissions desk I wasn’t sure if she would even go through with it, but swilling back a gallon of grape flavoured laxative isn’t something you do on a whim; escape was futile.

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Turning to me as we scuffled off down the hallway she had hissed, “They asked for photo ID, can you believe it? Who in their right mind would want to fraudulently attend someone else’s colonoscopy appointment? They’d have to be crazy!”

I giggled uncomfortably, feeling her pain. I’ve undergone various tests, too. In fact, as you may well expect, I have a tale to tell along this theme. (Insert disclaimer here).

In order to set the scene you must know that prior to this procedure I was single, and friends had invited me to a dine and dance. It had been a lovely evening. We’d eaten well, cavorted about the dance floor and met some interesting people, one of whom was a strikingly handsome fellow with aristocratic bearing and impeccable style; a poor sense of humour perhaps – but I could’ve worked around that.

Fast forward a week. I entered the Manitoba hospital, where I lived at the time, and was handed disposable blue booties and the usual backless gown. Yay. Once attired in these offensive garments, the nurse led me along a cheerless passage and through swinging doors to where an icy, steel slab awaited my presence. Double yay.

With his back to us, the physician busily clattered instruments onto a tray and instructed the nurse to have me lie down. Then whirling about with a grim smile he began to introduce himself. His voice trailed into nothingness. We had met before – he was the man from the party – and I was having a BARIUM ENEMA.


My face must have registered the horror I was feeling, but apart from that first jolt of recognition, he quickly smoothed his features into a masklike neutrality.

 “Roll over please,” he stated calmly, “and extend your posterior, this may hurt a little. Try to relax.” 

 “RELAX?” a voice screamed in my head. Was he for real? The whole episode had quickly taken on a nightmarish quality not unlike an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.


What kind of nut could feel at ease when a handsome, eligible man sees you, not only attired in paper slippers and sackcloth, but is required by his profession to run a tube up your butt and introduce a foreign substance into your cramping bowels before snapping photographic evidence of the event for later consideration? Aargh!

Of course, people have managed to form lasting relationships in the midst of some rather strange circumstances, but let’s be honest – once an enema has been administered it’s pretty much over.

We parted ways without further eye contact or comment, and have never spoken again. Medical procedures are important, but as precursors to lasting relationships – not so much.

Helen was born in Maidstone, Sask., and has lived on the family farm in the Lloydminster area much of her life. As married mother of four grown children, Helen works as writer, bus driver and EA in her local school. This, along with her love of the Canadian prairies, travel, and all things humorous, is what she draws upon to write her tales. To order Prairie Wool, a collection of short, humorous anecdotes gleaned from the everyday of rural life, or to find more of these relatable stories from the prairies, please go to and use the link to Amazon, or write to her at for signed copies.







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