Sunday, October 7, 2007

Dial C for colitis

Stored in my contacts on my mobile phone, between Colin (an ex-boyfriend of one of my ex-girlfriends) and Dad (roughly 50% of my parents) is the Colitis Support Line. I keep it in there just in case. I called them once. It was earlier in the year when I seemed to be suffering all the classic symptoms of a good old-fashioned demonic possession. Ghostbusters were fully booked until Christmas, so I dialed the number for the Colitis Support Line. I’d never called a help line before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t even sure if I’d actually be able to speak. Thankfully a woman’s voice answered. I’d been dreading having to speak to a man and getting caught up in some sort of macho Escher-esque conversation, “I’m alright, you alright?” “Yeah, I’m alright, you alright?” But it was a woman who answered and she sounded like she’d been expecting me, or at least someone like me. As we were total strangers we quickly skimmed the pleasantries and moved onto business. My big question then is much the same as my big question now: how (insert expletive) long is this going to (insert extra expletive) last? She didn’t laugh at my question. And she didn’t squeal with villainous glee and cackle, “Never, foolish one, don’t you see, it never ends…” No, she told me it varies from person to person. She told me she knew of people – the special ones – who had gone for years without any symptoms. She told me some flares last a couple of weeks and clear up with the usual sorts of medication and she told me some flares don’t. If I’m being honest she was a bit vague. But ulcerative colitis is a hard illness to pin down. She was happy to answer all my questions though, but when I mentioned my skin flap I sensed I'd overstepped the mark. I’d taken up enough of her time anyway, about ten minutes in all. The soup I imagined her to be stirring whilst talking to me would have been ready. So I thanked her for her help and said, “Enjoy your soup.” I just heard her say, “What?” before I hung up.