I Lost My Uvula

The uvula is that dangly thing at the back of the throat. It’s lovely, but its only purpose seems to be to promote an unpleasant gag reflex when touched. In latin, uvula means ‘little grape’, which at least goes to show that the Romans not only gave us nice mosiacs and underfloor heating, they also knew how to make words sing. They had soul.

I think Mr A has soul too, in his way.

I had gone along to Clinic E to see him for my regular cancer check-up, now 34 months after treatment ended. Nearly three years gone, and only two or so to go before the all clear. We went through the familiar procedure of sliding that tube with a camera on the end up my nose and down my throat. I was used to it by now, and as always it wasn’t painful, just a bit discomforting.

It’s routine for him. He must have done it hundreds of times, and however caring he is he must be fed up with people flinching and saying oh no, not that, when he knows it’s nothing to fret about.

As I say, I’m used to it. No fretting here. And certainly no gagging on the tube with the camera on the end. Never had been one to gag. Which maybe, now that we know what we know, should have set the alarm bells ringing  a bit earlier.

Because when he’d had a look around my throat with the camera and said it all looked ok, he said except there is no uvula. He asked me where had it gone? I asked him, all naive, what is a uvula? He explained, and started looking through all the old snapshots he had taken over the months and years of the inside of my mouth and throat. Still no sign of a little grape.

Mr A said I could get along just fine without one, nothing to worry about. But what had happened to it? Might I have not have had one in the first place? Highly unlikely. I mentioned the gagging, or rather the not gagging.  He said I would have had one, the radiotherapy might have done for it.

I said how could I not have noticed? And what else might have gone missing? He said (just like Toyah said) it’s a mystery. But it isn’t coming back.

He finished with the camera and pulled it back and out of my nose. The nurse gave me a tissue. Then Mr A ran his fingers round my neck, feeling for suspicious lumps. Nothing. Confirmation there was no return of cancer, which, obviously, was good news.

He extended the time gap for my next appointment to four months and said a cheery goodbye. He wasn’t making a fuss over my missing little grape and didn’t think I should either.

I wasn’t too sure though. I felt a tiny bit sad. I tried to remember if I had ever gagged on anything. I’m still trying. I think I know what it feels like, but is that just my imagination? Is it like that tree falling in the wilderness and no one knowing whether it makes a noise or not?

One thing was a relief. I’d thought the uvula was essential for yodelling. But no, it turns out I could still do a Frank Ifield or a Focus impression. Surely you remember ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus?


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