The above abbreviation stands for Foreign Object In Rectum, and was something that I would use on paperwork, completed during and after Emergency calls, in my time in the London Ambulance Service. Abbreviations were commonly used, to save time, ensure privacy, and because the space on the form for diagnostics and treatment was very small! Other frequently used abbreviations were; WTASOS (Walked to Ambulance and sat on side). PMCCAH (Patient made comfortable and put in chair at the Hospital), and a personal favourite, MAMH (Mad as a March hare). They are not used these days, as the new forms have various tick boxes and codes, leaving little space for ‘artistic expression’.
In the early 1980’s, the Earls Court area in West London, was a well-known gathering point for the homosexual and lesbian communities in London. There were gay clubs and bars, many of which had been around for decades, and a general tolerance in the district, that made it a lot safer than most areas for those communities to get out and about in, or to live there. The local hospital was called St Stephen’s, now re-built extensively, and re-named The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. This hospital served the area well, and did pioneering work in the early days of HIV/AIDS, always showing great respect to Gay patients, whatever their reasons for attending. It also offered all the usual services to the area, including a busy Casualty Department.
One of its ‘accidental’ specialities, was the treatment of FOIR. These objects, were inserted into the rectums, of (always) men, for various reasons, predominantly sexual gratification of some kind, and almost always by the men themselves, and not by a third party. The frequency of these arrivals at St Stephen’s was such that it often went without undue notice. Sex toys that had gone in slightly ‘too far’, household objects, and some fruits and vegetables, were commonplace. There were some more unusual efforts, I recall a shower head attachment on one occasion; however, one night duty, a nurse drew my attention to something that I still remember, 30 years later.
A man in his 40’s had arrived at the department after midnight. He complained of stomach pains, and after further investigation and questioning, claimed to have ‘fallen’ onto a large light bulb. The screw-in connector for this bulb could clearly be seen by staff, protruding from his somewhat distended anus. An X-Ray revealed that this was an enormous Theatrical Spotlight bulb. It had some material inside that was visible to X-rays, similar to the chemicals in a fluorescent tube. The size of this bulb had moved the organs inside the man, pushing them all into a small cavity below his diaphragm, causing great pain, and the glass seemed to still be intact. When he was advised that emergency surgery would be necessary to remove it, and that this would be major abdominal surgery, carrying great risk, the man admitted that he had inserted the bulb himself. Apparently, he had practiced this insertion for some time, adding more and more lubrication, until he was able to get the entire object inside himself. It was something that he had obtained from work, as he worked in a theatre, in Covent Garden. We saw the X-ray, and heard the story, then had to carry on with our work for the night, and the man was taken off to the operating theatre.
When we were next in that area, a couple of nights later, I asked the nurses what had become of the man. I was told that he had died. This was not as a result of the surgery, or even as a consequence of the original insertion of the bulb. It seems that there had been a crack in the glass, and this had allowed some of the powdery material to escape into his bloodstream. This had caused numerous blood clots, which had resulted in his death.
I still have a vision of this man, alone in his home, tentatively trying to insert this huge bulb into himself. It has always haunted me, for some reason.