The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.– Maimonides
Day Five: Shix Pack
I wake up feeling the way Neo must have the first time he woke up outside the Matrix: scared to death by the prospect but happy about finally knowing what he is in for. Sitting on the toilet for my early morning flatulence ritual, I carefully touch my belly. My abdomen is steely hard for the wrong reason. My hopes for a bowel movement are fading to zero so I try to cheer myself up with the prospect of a professionally administered enema.
Cannot focus during the morning lesson and my students are clearly unhappy with my robotic, humorless delivery. I feel pulsating pain in my belly but when I go to the bathroom it’s like waiting for Godot. My colleagues inquire about my health status and tell me I look like hell. I tell them that they are on point and that I am going home to wash up before seeing the doc. The outside world fades away as I succumb to nausea and the sense of an ending. I can now appreciate post-truth journalists at a visceral level: reality, the facts it might contain, it is all nothing more than a sideshow.
In the brief interval at home, I manage to dragoon four nuggets down my esophagus. I remember the location of the Dafalgan, which I swallow a double dose of. Next to them is a box of Flatulex, which follow down the hatch.
At the doctor’s my miserable mug doesn’t impress him. He gets twenty seconds into his Dx before calling it off. „So simply stop doing that, Mister Mabona. In theory, this diet should not be problematic short term. But what counts, the only thing that counts, is your physiological reaction. Given the symptoms it could lead to organ failure. Think of it like this–“ I’ve never seen my physician so agitated. The relationship between doctor and patient in the Swiss Hausarztmodell is warm, confidential, almost intimate. He gazes out of the window while I blush. „All the years you have come here, Mister Mabona, it has been because of either sickness or injury. But this is different. You have an obligation as a teacher and as a member of society to…try your best. So as a doctor it is my obligation to tell you that you must stop. Not only for your health but for your duties.“ He studies me intensely and I manage not to explode from mortification. „I will have laxatives written up for you and beta blockers for the agitation. Go back to your regular diet, try to focus on fruit and vegetables. If you aren’t feeling better in three days, give us a call.“ He is oozing irritation.
On the way home I buy two more packs of counterfeit chicken nuggets. I call in sick and stay at home that afternoon. I oscillate between wakefulness, being asleep and staring at the Colon Ex bottle and the Tenormin box, swallowing neither. In the evening my heart starts galloping and I resort to Tenormin.
Day Six: My Personal Truth
After another gaseous early morning I give up and drop four Colon Ex bombs with a tumbler of aqua. Five milliseconds after my girlfriend leaves for work, I’m on the loo. Gastro-intestinal cataclysm ensues, the relevant matter is discharged so violently that the backsplash ends up atop the toilet tank. Thereafter I stubbornly ingest five Cornatur things. In case you wonder why I never use synonyms, please consider: lump, nub, chunk, wad, gobbet. I get a punishing fever, nearly 40C but not high enough to distract me from discovering my personal truth. Lunch: 9 lumps. Dinner: 3 gobbets.
Day Seven: The Three Sages
I survive behind the shield of my blanket keeping me safe against reality. My mind is a swirling mess, my body a flaming torch. Tornado bowel movements alternate with tempestuous vomiting. To fulfill my experimental quota I feed on two nuggets for each meal, never mind seeing their regurgitated mass in the bowl a few minutes later.
There is a vortex of hallucinations featuring anthropomorphized Tenormin, Dafalgan and Colon Ex. They say they have come from afar, due East and want to save me but they need my full concatenation or coagulation or collaboration. I decide to write my will but I’m too sick to string together a full sentence. By the time my girlfriend comes home I manage to pretend regular sickness enough for her to not rush me to the Kantonsspital ER.
Day Eight: Hard Quorn
I wake up feeling the same as the day before. There is a decision to make: do I want to continue to live or not? Technically this is the final day so it is only appropriate I let the nuggets decide. I prepare my last meal, potentially, nine nuggets in two spoons of olive oil. The morning light outside is sublime, a counterpoint to my soul.
Sitting on my bed I contemplate the lumps for a long time wondering how I ended up at this point in my life. Is this worth the risk? Is it not better to throw myself a life-line? I get up, dig a lemon out of the fridge’s bottom drawer, cut it in half and squeeze it over the nuggets.
I gobble them all up, sick to my hard quorn, then sleep for eight hours straight, wake up and take a final world-ending dump. Like a purge, like a deluge to rid myself of a week of non-sense. After that I feel one iota less bad. My body informs me I will not die after all and my super-ego apprises me that I am never to eat Cornatur again. The experiment is over, I may now return to the land of facts and reality. I do.
Day Nine: SPOILER ALERT
Hopefully it will cause the reader no dissatisfaction to be informed, in case s/he hasn’t realized, that the above did not transpire in this fashion in what is conventionally called „reality“. Days one to eight are an account of the alternative facts of my journalistic experience. It is in accordance with the non-conventional data of this „research“ and the conclusions drawn from it. This alternative article avoids the cost of physical harm while maintaining the authenticity of a *self-experiment. No journalist has been injured during the making of this article.
* abbreviation for self-thought-experiment