Thursday, July 3, 2008

365 days

On Saturday Number Twos will be 1 year old.

This, then, will be the 184th post, and also the last.

I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think it’s time to take my final bow.

I always intended this blog to be an honest account of the ups and downs of my life with ulcerative colitis.

But as my UC has settled, there are fewer ups and downs.

It’s all become rather middling.

Which is great from a health perspective, but it doesn’t necessarily make for very interesting reading.

Basically I’ve run out of material. And the last thing I want to do is start repeating myself.

So, Number Twos will be no more.

I’ve had a good run. It’s been fun. I’ve written something like 49,000 words, mostly on the subject of poo.

Which is a shitload of words when you think about it.

There have been 51 WDOATs. Thankfully I stopped squirming with embarrassment after the first few.

And finally, I never dreamt that you lot out there would join in with your comments, suggestions and kind words.

You made writing this blog all the more enjoable. I’d like to thank you all for reading.

I don’t want to prattle on.

My blogging days may not be over though. I have a germ of an idea. And it’s UC related. I’m not sure where it’s going to go yet. But that’s how Number Twos started…

If anything comes of it I’ll post the details here. Let’s call it Number Twos: Chapter Two.

Until then, go in peace. And less often.


Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 5.1

As I wrote yesterday I've been feeling a bit bloated. No idea what's causing it. I haven't drank any Fizzy Lifting Drink. Promise. Seriously, I haven't. Not a drop has passed my lips.
Wednesday 2nd July:
6.10am Constipated feeling, bitty stool
2.50pm Constipated feeling, looser stool
3.30pm Constipated feeling, bitty stool
6.50pm Spluttery

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
1 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

As my mum would say with a weary sigh, if it's not one thing it's another.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Martin and the chocolate factory

"Oh, those are fabulous!" cried Mr. Wonka. "They fill you with bubbles, and the bubbles are full of a special kind of gas, and this gas is so terrifically lifting that it lifts you right off the ground just like a balloon, and up you go until your head hits the ceiling and there you stay."

"But how do you come down again?" asked little Charlie.

"You do a burp, of course," said Mr Wonka. "You do a great big long rude burp, and up comes the gas and down comes you! But don't drink it outdoors! There's no knowing how high up you'll be carried if you do that. I gave some to an old Oompa Loompa once out in the back yard and he went up and up and disappeared out of sight! It was very sad. I never saw him again."

"He should have burped," Charlie said.

"Of course he should have burped," said Mr Wonka. "I stood there shouting 'Burp, you silly ass, burp, or you'll never come down again!' But he didn't or couldn't or wouldn't, I don't know which. Maybe he was too polite. He must be on the moon by now."

Ah, the wonderful Fizzy Lifting Drinks scene from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Haven’t we all wanted to be Charlie Bucket at some point? The Wonka Factory had such an impact on my young imagination that even now old Victorian factories fascinate me. Even though very few remain, and those that do are dilapidated husks or have been turned into trendy apartments, whenever I catch a fleeting glimpse of one from a train or bus window my mind conjures up images of life behind those gargantuan brick walls; the hustle and bustle; the round-the-clock whir and whiz-clank of the magical machinery bellowing plumes of soot and pungent smoke from the chimneys, out over the Peter Pan London skyline; the smell of jam or tea or hops or vinegar that once soaked the air. And of course the sweet aroma of chocolate. These last couple of days I’ve felt some affinity with one of the characters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sadly it isn’t Charlie, or even Grandpa Joe. No, I’ve felt a bit like the old Oompah Loompah who drank the Fizzy Lifting Drink and couldn’t burp. I’ve been extremely bloated this week. I’m writing this now with the top button of my jeans undone. It’s uncomfortable and feels like something is pushing into my bladder or something. I don’t know. My knowledge of human anatomy is based entirely on the game Operation, which doesn’t really help much. All I can say is my tummy feels like a balloon and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I too started to float up, up and away. But instead of burping the only thing that will bring me back to Earth is a massive fart. In an ironic twist, for once I can’t fart. All those thunderous trumps I wish I hadn’t done, and now when I really need to sneak out some gas, when I really need to let one go, I can’t. My wind is trapped. Sealed in. So I have every sympathy for the Oompah Loompah. I fear he may not be alone on the Moon for much longer.

Friday, June 27, 2008

While you wait

A dear, sweet old lady sits knitting. Click-clack-click-clack. Her 79-year-old hands are as nimble and fast as those belonging to a 7-year-old Primark sweatshop worker. Click-clack-click-clack. The knitting needles are a blur of flurried activity. Click-clack-click-clack. She’s waiting for a blood test. She’s number 1265. The digital display beeps and turns over to 48. Click-clack-click-clack. The ball of wool in her lap shrinks to the size of a walnut. She reloads. Click-clack-click-clack. She finishes her jumper with a tight little knot. The jumper has a passable Michael Aspel face knitted on the front. She holds it up to the oohs and aahhs of the waiting room. Without pause for breath she starts knitting another. Click-clack-click-clack. The dear, sweet old lady asks if anyone has any requests. And soon she is creating a tank top with Amy Winehouse (no stranger to needles, ironically) on the front. Click-clack-click-clack. 57 on the digital display. Click-clack-click-clack. Now everyone is clambering to put in a request with the old lady. Number 63 misses his turn as he watches his Daisy Duke jumper emerge from the tips of those magic knitting needles. Click-clack-click-clack. An hour passes and everyone in the waiting room is sporting a hand-knitted jumper with a celebrity on it. Even the doctors have got in on the act. My consultant passes by looking quite pleased with himself, sporting a rather fetching wooly with Danger Mouse on it. Click-clack-click-clack. It’s one way to pass the time. Click-clack-click-clack. It’s important to have something to do whilst you wait. Click-clack-click-clack. I’m not much of knitter myself, although in my younger days it wasn’t unknown for me to make the occasional Action Man jumper or Womble scarf. No, when I’m waiting for my turn at the hospital I like to sort out my gas and electricity bills and other mundane domestic rubbish. Better to do it there than have it eat up my free time, I say.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 5.0

“I’m firmly in the 1 - 3 camp, which makes up 44% of us.” Did I really say that? Surely not? How could I have been so nonchalant, so bold, so certain, so rash…so cocksure? But I did say it. There it is in Monday’s post. “I’m firmly in the 1 - 3 camp, which makes up 44% of us.” Oh, how foolish I feel now. How damned silly. I’m going to have to cut myself a slice of humble pie. I’m going to put my bib on and eat my own goddamn words. WDOAT will explain why.
Wednesday 25th June:
6.45am Solid
1.30pm Solid, gassy
2.45pm Solid, gassy
6.20pm Mucus
7.25pm Mucus, gassy
9pm Mucus, nothing much else

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
1 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Room for one more in the 4 - 6 camp?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shit off a shovel

I reckon I’ve broken a few land speed records legging it to the loo in my time, but I’ve never seen a loo that can break land speed records. Until now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Number of number twos - the results

On average how many times a day do you 'go'?

1 – 3: 44%
4 – 6: 33%
7 – 9: 16%
10 – 13: 7%
More: 0%

It’s one thing writing about my own bowel movements, but it’s a whole different kettle of fish commenting on yours. It’s a delicate matter. So I’ll keep the smart-arsed wisecracks to a minimum. All I can say is thank you for taking part in the poll. It wouldn’t have been as revealing without you. So, what did it reveal? Probably it just confirms what we already suspected – that there is no ‘normal’ when it comes to ulcerative colitis. On a personal level I’ve discovered I’m pretty much Mr Average (this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, ex-girlfriends over the years have been really quite insistent on this matter.) I’m firmly in the 1 - 3 camp, which makes up 44% of us. But I’m sure most of us in this group occasionally pop over into the 4 – 6 camp, which makes up 33%. And it would be nice to think that some of the 4 – 6-ers sometimes join us 1 – 3-ers. 16% of us are in the 7 – 9 camp and 7% in the 10 – 13 camp. Having briefly crossed into both categories myself, I know it’s exhausting, painful, utterly demoralising and intrudes upon every waking moment of your life. And every area of your life. I feel for you and hope things improve. I am thankful that I seem to have responded to my medication and those days are behind me. For now, at least. Although I probably shouldn’t count my UC chickens just yet. That then, was the number of number twos poll. If anyone has any suggestions for the next poll, I’d love to hear them. Right, Mr Average is off for poo number 3.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Four men in a boat

Right now, as you read this there are 4 men bobbing about in a 40ft boat somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. Now, I may only be a mere landlubber, but I do know the Atlantic is very, very big and a 40ft boat is very, very small. One member of the 4 man crew is Ari Sussman, and he’s sailing across the Atlantic to raise awareness and money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. He’s hoping to raise $10,000. If he reaches his goal the $10,000 will be matched by the Lefkofsky Foundation. Kerching! Ari doesn’t have email aboard his boat, but his friend Joe who I presume is firmly on dry land emailed me thinking it might be worth mentioning on Number Twos. I think it is. If you want to find out more about Ari’s nautical adventure and maybe make a donation, you can visit his website here. And whilst we’re on the seafaring theme, and to get you in the right mood, here’s bit of Rod.

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.9

This looks far worse than it is. Honestly. Most days I go two or three times and no blood. I think my tum knows it's WDOAT time and like a naughty child is just showing off. Tut, tut.
Wednesday 18th June:
6.30am Normal
11am Loose, gassy
1.15pm Runny
3.30pm Loose
7.20pm Loose, blood

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
1 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Blood in the bowl alert! Worthy of an exclamation mark I'd say.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All aboard the blog bus

Euro 2008 is in full swing. Austria and Switzerland are putting on a great tournament. It’s very exciting. Everyone is gripped by football fever. Apparently in Austria some fathers are even letting their daughters out of the cellar to watch. Ah, it takes me back to the summer of 1996. I was young, Tony Blair had yet to enter Number 10/Iraq and Euro 96 was hosted by England. It was indeed the year football came home. I remember one night being on a 134 bus crawling towards Archway, North London. It’s standing room only and it seems as if at every stop another gang of football supporters squeeze on. Raspberry-nosed Scots in their Tam O’Shanter hats who never stop slinging (slurred singing), the garish orange clad Dutch with plastic trumpets and whistles, and of course our very own St George Cross curly wig-wearing mob. Cheery, beery insults and banter ricochet around the lower deck. Singing breaks out upstairs. The Scots, who else? Not to be outdone the English Barmy Army retort with a window-rattling rendition of Three Lions, ‘football’s coming home, it’s coming home…’ Out on the street people wave and join in. I’m not exaggerating. This really was London in 1996. Someone at the back starts up with nursery school favourite ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ and soon everyone is singing, ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, all day long…’ Cans of lager are passed around in pre-Boris booze ban bonhomie (try saying that after a few). Bunched up with my European brothers on that bus I sensed something special was going on. There was something in the air. It felt like something was happening. It’s good when things start to come together like that. And it seems to me there’s something similar starting to happen with UC blogs. Connections are being made. Personal stories are being told. Just yesterday Mark, who writes a blog about his life with a J-Pouch, contacted me. I think Mark offers something no doctor can: actual, real life, pooed-yourself-in-public experience. Having access to stuff like this can keep you sane. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone and the weird things that are happening to you are also happening to someone else. Even if they happen to be in Arkansas or wherever. Different continent, same shit. Ali, Rich, Glenyrd and Lottie also blog about life with UC, each in their own individual way. And I’m grateful for the time, effort and honesty they put into it. For me it’s like being on that 134 bus all those years ago; it’s all about sharing the experience.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.8

Let me take you back in time by one day.
Wednesday 11th June:
7am Solidish, gassy
11.45am Solid

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
1 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

There have been traces of blood on the toilet paper this week. Not a lot, but worth a mention, 'cos I'll only forget otherwise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Clink, clink

The southbound Northern Line train makes a dirty, chugging guitar riff sound similar to the effect Dave Davies of The Kinks famously created by stabbing his sister’s knitting needles into his amp. As we trundle towards Camden Town I find myself watching a man watching a girl. The man is clearly captivated by the pretty young girl standing opposite him. He can’t take his eyes off her. There’s nothing menacing or seedy about the way he’s looking at her, he’s not smacking his lips and salivating, I just think for this one brief moment, on this particular morning he’s fallen a little bit in love with a girl sharing his carriage. Almost with a sigh, his knees relax a little and he leans into the upright handrail, taking it in his arms in a silent Rudolph Valentino embrace. Gently he rests his head between shoulder and bicep and from this new tilted angle continues to gaze at the girl. I am watching a 45-year-old man turn into a teenage boy. For the first time the girl notices her admirer and for a split second there is eye contact between them. The man quickly looks away, feeling the blood rushing to his cheeks. Nervously his fingers drum on the handrail. His wedding ring taps against the tubular rail making a clink-clink sound. Like the click of a hypnotist’s fingers, the clinking of his wedding ring appears to bring him round. At once he snaps out of his daze and the 45-year-old returns to replace the mooning teenager. The wedding ring has brought him back down to Earth with a bump. Maybe that’s one of the roles of a wedding ring? It’s not just there as a reminder of the vows you took, but also it’s there to remind you not to go gawping at girls on your way to work. There are times when I think I might need a little reminding that I’m actually in a long-term relationship myself – with ulcerative colitis. Because now my medication has things under control it’s all too easy to forget I still have a chronic illness. For life, so they say. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that I can forget about all the pooing and stuff, but a little clink-clink wedding ring type reminder once in a while wouldn’t go amiss. It would be all too easy to think I’m cured and everything is back to normal. It isn’t. I need to remember that the old UC and me, well, we’re still very much an item. In sickness and in health and all that.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


My consultant has given me 6 months. 6 months off, that is. He doesn’t want to see me again until the end of November. And I don’t have to have my blood tested for 12 weeks. It may only be a small thing, but I’m looking forward to a few months of being able to turn the pages in my diary without finding ‘Hospital, 10.40am’ goading me. Happy days.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.7

'Dear Diary...' Why do people begin diary entries by addressing their diary like it's a person? I find it quite odd. You may as well write 'Dear 336 page 60gsm wood-free paper PVC bound journal...' And wouldn't it be a shock if you opened up your diary one day to find it had written back? 'Dear Harriet, please stop writing to me, your life is tedious and I have no interest in whether or not Mr 'Sex-on-Legs' (or Mr S.O.L as you sometimes annoyingly refer to him) from work smiled at you in the lift. I really don't care. Stop writing to me otherwise the next letter you receive will be from my solicitor.'
Wednesday 4th June:
6.30am Solid
2pm Solid
7.15pm Solid

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
1 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Had a sort of bloated feeling for a couple of days now. Not really sure what that's all about?.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The new loo review

The review of the toilets in my new office is split into 3 categories: how an estate agent might sell the details of the loo, what that really means, and how useful that might be for someone with ulcerative colitis.

Estate agent speak: ‘conveniently located’
Reality: by the lifts
UCfulness: 35 metres from my desk as the crow flies (or the UC sufferer dashes)

Estate agent speak: ‘flexible seating plan’
Reality: 3 cubicles
UCfulness: in an emergency the chances of all 3 cubicles being in use are slim

Estate agent speak: ‘individual hand aeration apparatus’
Reality: paper towel dispenser
UCfulness: always good to have plenty of absorbent paper towels for any mopping requirements

Estate agent speak: ‘fully integrated personal hygiene system’
Reality: it’s got a sink
UCfulness: running the taps can help mask embarrassing bottom noises

Estate agent speak: ‘waste displacement equipment’
Reality: a bog brush
UCfulness: sometimes a flush is not enough

Estate agent speak: ‘discrete’
Reality: an extractor fan
UCfulness: a good extractor fan can save many blushes

In summary, my heart gave a little leap of joy when I investigated the toilets. They’re everything a UC sufferer could wish for; clean, comfortable and best of all very private. Hopefully I won’t have to use them too much.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Champagne reception and new bogs

A woman high up in the company I’m working for is standing on a blue removal crate making her even higher up. She’s delivering a welcome speech to the 200 or so of us gathered in the cavernous reception area of our swanky new offices. The scent of fresh paint mingles with the smell of warm bacon rolls and home baked muffins. There’s also a definite whiff of that first day at school feeling in the air. But unlike the first day at school we’re all holding glasses of champagne. The boss on the blue box is enthusing lyrically about the new offices, banging on about exciting times and new dawns and bright futures and blah blah blah. Her spiel is punctuated by the kind of zealous applause normally reserved for fanatical extremists and cutesy dog acts on Britain’s Got Talent. A collective tingle of excitement pulses through the room; we are one, we are united, we are a team…they might be, but at this precise moment I’m busy using the toe of my left shoe to nudge out of view a piece of bacon that dropped out of my bap and is now leaving grease all over the shiny new floor. In all honesty I’m not really following the speech. Whilst boss-lady describes at great length the architectural idiosyncrasies of the hi-tech meeting rooms, break out rooms and shower rooms my mind is on one thing and one thing only – the smallest room. All I want to know is where the toilets are and will they provide me with the necessary privacy I require? Suddenly I am jolted awake by the sound of 199 pairs of hands clapping. I play catch up and put my hands together, forgetting to take into account one of them is holding a glass of champagne. A splash of bubbly lands with a fizz on the lacquered floor and the crowd starts to disperse. Taking care to step over my mess I head off in search of the loos. And I’ll be reviewing them in my next post.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.6

A date, some times, a few poo descriptions, drugs and a pithy sign off; it can only mean one thing - WDOAT!
Wednesday 28th May:
6.30am Loose
10.15am Loose

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Pith off.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pub chats: Part II

“Hey, how’s the health these days?” asks a mate of mine. “Yeah alright, the tablets have got it all pretty much under control,” I reply, before adding, “Sometimes I feel a bit older than I actually am, with the aches and tiredness and that.” My friend takes a gulp of Strongbow and says, “Ah well I feel like that and all, mate, that’s what happens to us when we’re pushing forty.” I shrug in a ‘guess so’ kind of way. But his comment jars with me. It niggles me. It worms around in my noggin. It irritates me that my ‘aches and tiredness and that’ – my ‘aches and tiredness and that’ caused by ulcerative colitis – have been casually dismissed as mere symptoms of getting older. Symptoms everyone ‘pushing forty’ experience apparently. I know I shouldn’t let his comment bother me. He didn’t mean to be insensitive; he was just being jokey and flippant. If he had responded by giving me a big hug, whilst kissing the top of my head and softly murmuring ‘there, there, there’ that would have been worse. Jokey and flippant I’m fine with. I guess the main thing is he asked how I was. It’s hard not to feel a bit peeved when someone likens your symptoms to something they’ve had or something their sister’s husband had whilst on holiday in Crete, but I suppose you have to remember they’re only trying to be supportive. I can’t expect everyone in my life to be an authority on UC. I can’t even claim to be one and I’ve been living with it for 3 years. Just acknowledging it and asking how I am is enough. But I’ll tell you what really annoyed me though, what really bugged me, what really got under my skin, and right up my nose, and what I do really resent is my mate saying I’m pushing forty. I’m not chuffing well pushing forty! I’m 36. Only just 36 at that. Insensitive twat.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pub chats

Big Chris is a lad who drinks in a bar I go in. I forget how we first got talking. It probably started with a nod of recognition and a ‘how’s it going?’ Over time that simple three word greeting would have stretched out and grown into the usual pub conversations us men have; football, music, work, that sort of thing. We would have bought each other a pint or two. At no point did we ever swap numbers or arrange to meet up. If we happened to bump into each other in the bar, we’d have a drink and a blather; football, music, work, naturally. And another evening would pass in an uncomplicated blokey way. Then I got ill and stopped going out. It was a few months before I ventured back to the bar. When I did I was a couple of stone lighter and off the booze. My life may have changed, but life at the bar had trundled on in much the same way. I was pleased about that, and I was also pleased to see Big Chris sitting on his usual stool in his own inimitable way. (You know how small children sit in school assembly with their legs crossed? Well Big Chris somehow manages to sit like that perched on a bar stool, which is a pretty impressive feat given his bulky frame.) Chris asked how I was. Word had reached the bar that I hadn’t been well, and he knew I had some sort of stomach problem. I explained how I had something called ulcerative colitis and gave him a crash course in all its little quirks and complications. It was new conversational territory for us. Football, music and work took a back seat as Chris asked lots of questions and I spilled out all the gory details. After a while Big Chris revealed he was diabetic. Our roles reversed and it was my turn to ask lots of questions. As we talked it became apparent that although we have two very different illnesses, they affect our lives in very similar ways. We both have to be careful what we eat and drink, we’re both reliant on medication; we both have to take things easy and have had to change our lifestyles accordingly. We both know that we can’t always do the things other people take for granted. If we have a bit of a mad night, we know that we might pay for it with more than just a hangover. But to the casual observer we’re just two ordinary blokes in a bar, most probably talking about football. Which I think is how we like it. No one needs to know any different. Now when we see each other and nod and ask ‘how’s it going?’ it has a slightly different, deeper meaning. We can now add UC and diabetes to football, music and work.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dock and dump

I’ve never wanted an iPod before, but now I’ve seen this I really, really want one. This rather smart iPod docking system-cum-toilet paper dispenser must surely have been invented by someone with an IBD. Who else would bother? So in honour of this piece of technological genius I have compiled a suitable playlist for the smallest room; poop songs, if you like.

Go Now Moody Blues
Here I Go Again Whitesnake
Sit Down James
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On Jerry Lee Lewis
Ring of Fire Johnny Cash
Don’t Look Down David Bowie
I See Red Split Enz
Blowin’ in the Wind Bob Dylan
Stuck On You Lionel Ritchie
Release Me Elvis Presley

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The name of your game

Baker, Miller, Smith, Archer, Carpenter, Sadler, Tanner, Thatcher, Cooper, Shepherd, Farmer, Groom, Fisher, Cook. Many common English surnames are derived from ancient occupations. If your name is Mason you most certainly would have had ancestors who were stonemasons. If you’re called Abbott you can safely assume that at some point in history you had a senior member of the clergy in the family. And if your name happens to be Handcock, well, it might be best not to dwell on it too much. But when you think about all the Cooks and Carpenters going back through time, back through the centuries, some of them would probably have had ulcerative colitis. There must have been a Baker who was always burning his loaves because he had to keep dashing off for a poo. They may not have had a name for ulcerative colitis in olden times, but it would have existed. And it would have been just as disruptive to livelihoods then as it can be now. It would have stopped people from working, possibly with devastating effects. Even with today’s wonder drugs UC can stop you working. Last year I had about 7 weeks off in total. Whilst not exactly devastating, it did put a hefty dent in my earnings. I’m freelance, so if I don’t work I don’t get paid. In short I can’t afford to be ill. Even taking a morning off to go to the hospital costs me money. Now I’m mortgaged up to the eyeballs it’s become more of a concern. I simply have to stay fit and healthy. If I get really sick again there’ll be no sick pay for me. Which is why I’ve squirreled away some money just in case. Not so much for a rainy day, but a shitty day. I suppose when you’ve got an illness that comes and goes like ours you have to be prepared. I can think of loads of things I’d rather spend my emergency UC fund on, but as long as I’m self-employed the best place for it is earning interest in the bank. All very grown up and sensible indeed. Who says UC doesn’t have any upsides? Anyway, going back to surnames, I wonder if people called Crapper had ancestors with ulcerative colitis? Hmmm.

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.5

If WDOAT doesn't satisfy all your diary needs for today, may I suggest you try this.
Wednesday 21st May:
2.20pm Normal
5.15pm Gassy, solid
10pm Gassy, solid

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

An improvement on last week. You can't ask for much more than that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Street farting man

Contrary to popular belief the streets of London aren’t paved with gold, they’re paved with people. Lots and lots of people. Crowds of ‘em. Everywhere you turn, people, people, people. Hustling, bustling, nudging, pushing, shunting. Shoppers, shoplifters, loiterers, free newspaper thrusters, clipboard-wielding charity muggers, chain-gangs of Hari Krishnas, clumps of bewildered out-of-towners, Big Issue sellers, traffic wardens, truants, God botherers, slack-jawed shopgirls, media tossers, bike couriers, Armadas of babbling Spanish schoolkids and a whole host of other characters whose sole purpose in life seems to be to stand on your toes and generally get in your way. London is like one giant film set, and 7 million of us have been cast to play the part of ‘man in crowd’. It’s easy to become anonymous in London. You’re just another blobby face among many. Which is wonderful when you really need to fart. You can just let one go, and then go. A little jink here, a side-step there, quick turn of pace and you’ve put a dozen shoppers and a coachload of Joseph fans from Barnsley between yourself and your lingering stink. As you nonchalantly stride up the street like the Artful Dodger, you’ll leave a small mob in your wake, wrinkling their noses and eying each other accusingly. They’ll never know it was you. You're nowhere near the scene of the crime, you’re long gone, one more nameless, faceless, blameless bobbing head on Oxford Street. And if you need to trump again, you simply repeat the process – parp, jink, side-step, pace. So next time you’re out and about and you feel those all too familiar rumblings, just remember, there’s safety in numbers.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.5

Time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Let's talk numbers; numbers of number twos, that is. What's an average day like for you? What do you consider normal? Even with my medication I would say I 'go' 2 or 3 times most days. The old 1 poo per day thing is rare indeed. Anyway, over to you...

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.5

On average how many times a day do you 'go'?

1 - 3
4 - 6
7 - 9
10 - 13

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Agony uncle

I received this email from a fellow UC sufferer today.

Dear Martin,

Recently I came across your blog and found it very interesting, in particular the poll about ‘When do you tell your new work about your UC?’ I also have ulcerative colitis and coincidentally have just started a new job. I’m not sure what to do, because my boss isn’t exactly the sympathetic type and he’s got a really bad temper. I don’t think I can approach him about my illness, because it might make him angry. He has been known to use force with some of my colleagues who annoyed him, so you can understand I don’t want to get on the wrong side of him. Otherwise I like the job (lots of opportunities to travel!), even though it can sometimes be a bit stressful, and we all know stress doesn’t help with you-know-what! Also I have to wear a uniform, which is quite cumbersome and not at all easy to take off if I need to go to the toilet in a hurry. Touch wood, I’ve not had any accidents yet – the uniform is white as well, so it’d show up like a polar bear’s nose if I pooped myself lol. On a more serious note, I am really worried about telling my boss. Any thoughts you might have on how I can deal with him would be brilliant.

Kind regards.


P.S. I’ve included a picture of myself (below).

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.4

It all went bonkers on the bog front yesterday. I must stress it looks far worse than it is. I feel fine, just slightly confused why one day I might go to the toilet once and then the next day I go five times?
Wednesday 14th May:
5.55am Solid
1.45pm Solidish
3.40pm Loose stool
7.40pm Blood mucus
8.09pm Loose stool

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

It's raining.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The diet poll results - bon appetit

Does diet affect your UC?

Definitely not: 5%
Haven't really noticed: 18%
Maybe a bit: 32%
Definitely: 43%
Burp: 2%

The poll results would suggest 43% of us are sweetcorn dodging, fibre-shirking, tomato-phobic, veggie boilers.

32% of us might pass on a peanut, be a little wary of grapes, but at the end of the day think sod it, and take our chances with a Snickers.

18% of us have our local tandoori on speed dial and in Asda we fill our shopping trolleys with whatever we damn well like.

And 5% of us must have really good dinner parties, where anything goes. (Food-wise, I mean, not one of those dinner parties where you chuck your car keys into a bowl.)

So it seems food is a bit of a grey area. Personally, I eat and drink pretty much what I want. Although I have found red wine makes my tummy grumpy, and nuts are a no-no. But there’s more to life than Shiraz and pistachios. I did think about seeing a dietician a while back, but now I’m glad I didn’t. It might have put me off my grub.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The ginger quarter

The weather has taken an unexpected turn for the better. The bruised, swollen rain clouds have shipped out for the summer and it’s blue skies all the way round these parts. Summer has arrived in Central London. For a bit, anyway. So not wishing to squander one single ray of sunshine, at lunchtime myself and several hundred of my fellow office dwellers cram ourselves into Cavendish Square to eat our Pret sushi, crayfish salads and various deli delights from the John Lewis food hall. Today I had ham and English mustard sandwiches and a pork pie; a perfectly acceptable lunch circa 1975. A path criss-crosses Cavendish Square, quartering it like the Scottish Saltire. In the centre is a plinth with the statue missing. Either that or it’s a statue to commemorate the Invisible Man. Large trees provide shade, giving you the option of sitting in the sun or out of it. I would say 70% prefer to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin. The remaining 30% seek out the cool of the shade. I call this The Ginger Quarter. In The Ginger Quarter you’ll find our freckly, fair skinned friends, new-born babies, Goths and me. I’m not a nappy wearing ginger Goth, but I do take azathioprine. And the sun and azathioprine are not a healthy mix. So if I don’t want to increase my chances of getting skin cancer I’ve got to spend my lunch hour huddled up with all the other translucent skinned creatures of the night. It’s like a picnic scene from a Tim Burton movie; me munching on a pork pie whilst all around me feast on the blood of virgins. But I’d rather be outside and in the shade than inside with the rain pelting the windows.

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.3

Not a hell of a lot for you to read today, but that's a good thing, right?
Wednesday 7th May:
7.30am Solid

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

I'm also taking a 3 month course of antibiotics for this here infected acne business. No link to my UC at all, just bad luck.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Playing the prescription game

Wednesday morning and me and Saskia are wondering whether at lunch we should go to Pret first, then Topshop or go to Topshop first, then Pret. I know; it’s pretty wild stuff. Saskia wants to go get some food first ‘cos she says a girl can’t shop on an empty stomach. If she had it her way we’d go to Pret first, then nip into McDonalds, and if there’s still time before we’ve got to get back to work we’d get a Cadburys Cream Egg and a couple of scratchcards. Saskia’s alright though. We’ve got this game where we try and guess what’s wrong with the customers collecting their prescriptions. It passes the time of day. It’s weird what illnesses people are carrying about with them. If you only knew the kind of things they had you'd never go on the tube again. You look at some of them and they look alright, some of the lads in their suits look seriously alright, but you get to see what’s on their prescription and you wouldn’t touch ‘em with a barge pole. Not even Saskia, and she’s usually not that fussy. This one bloke came in earlier. Stood around like a divvy, not in either queue, just hovering with a blank look on his face. I said to Saskia, bet he needs gormless pills. Saskia gives him the once over and says, oh he’s not that bad, probably a mild case of stupidity. He starts looking at me like he’s lost and I’m a map or something. I give him one of my raised eyebrow looks and he’s straight over like a shot with his little green prescription that matched his t-shirt. I take it off him, and, whoah, this boy’s no amateur. He’s going to need a wheelbarrow to get this lot home. He looks all sheepish and says, should I come back in a bit? Der, yeah! I’ll be here all day getting this one ready, I thought. 360 mesalazine, 180 azathioprine and just for good measure, 90 erythromycin ethylsuccinate. Yikes. No wonder he looked vacant, probably doped up to the eyeballs. Anyway, so I got Saskia to give me a hand, ‘cos there’s no way she’s going to hang around for me when she could be eating.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Back to front

I am born.
I am small.
I am running around.
I am hurtling down a hill with my brother beside me.
I am told off.
I am overfeeding a guinea pig with grass.
I am excited about the cockle man
I am bored by the adults playing bingo.
I am drinking pop with a paper straw.
I am in the back of a wardrobe.
I am dancing to a band.
I am carrying a bag I made out of a cushion cover.
I am a schoolboy.
I am fast.
I am picked on for having big ears.
I am even faster.
I am a scrapper.
I am scared.
I am funny.
I am someone’s best friend.
I am a runner.
I am imaginative.
I am picked on for having big ears.
I am left out.
I am a fly half.
I am in big school.
I am rubbish at maths.
I am good at drawing.
I am watching.
I am still scrapping.
I am sitting on a bench.
I am dreaming.
I am rollerskating.
I am holding hands.
I am scared.
I am going to be something.
I am not sure what.
I am 6ft.
I am a driver.
I am not a virgin.
I am not a stud.
I am away from home.
I am insecure.
I am trying very hard.
I am drunk.
I am out of my depth.
I am a scrapper.
I am in a big city.
I am alone.
I am in a library.
I am walking.
I am working.
I am drunk again.
I am drunk some more.
I am a worry to those who love me.
I am here, there and everywhere.
I am dancing.
I am Camden.
I am the bee’s knees.
I am reading.
I am fat.
I am someone to someone.
I am alone.
I am the man with the note pad.
I am older.
I am happy.
I am imagining…
I am someone to someone special.
I am all of these things and much more.
I am not defined by ulcerative colitis.
Not ever.
No way.
I am drunk.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.2

Okay, no one panic.
Do not be alarmed by what you are about to read.
An ambulance will not be necessary.
It looks worse than it is.
I'm not in pain.
I'm not even in any discomfort.
I feel fine.
I just went to the toilet a lot yesterday.
Oh yes, it was a 5 dump day.
Haven't had one of them for quite some time.
But it's a blip.
That's all.
Nothing to worry about.
Wednesday 30th April:
10.50am Solid, a little blood
1.35pm Solid, gassy
3.20pm Gassy, bitty
7.20pm Spluttery solids
8.50pm Itty bitty shitty

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

How queer.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An animal tale

A man walks into a pet shop. The bell above the door tinkles noisily, disturbing the store’s many caged creatures. They snarl and spit and hiss at the customer. A moment later the shopkeeper appears. Well, strictly speaking not all the shopkeeper appears; he’s missing a few fingers. And an ear.
“They don’t like that bell one jot,” the shopkeeper says, “not when they’re having their bye-byes. Funny, it doesn’t bother me so much,” he says, raising a finger stump to his missing ear by way of explanation. “Now, sir, how may I assist you?”
“I was thinking of getting a pet, for a bit of company.”
The shopkeeper throws open his arms, “Be my guest, sir. Feel free to browse. Just don’t get too close to Polly, she hasn’t had her breakfast yet, sir.”
“Polly?” enquires the customer.
“Polly the croc, sir.”
Inside a nearby cage a fully-grown crocodile snaps its muscular jaws hungrily. The customer takes a step back, disturbing the occupant of the cage behind him. Screeeow! A panther throws itself at the mesh, all gnashing teeth and murderous claws. The customer cautiously turns to confront the big cat, getting a blast of its hot, rancid breath full in the face.
“Frisky little thing, isn’t she, sir?”
“I was looking for something more…manageable, perhaps.”
“Personally I find fish most agreeable.”
“I suppose fish might be alright,” the customer says, his mood brightening.
Ushering the customer through to another, slightly darkened room the shopkeeper proudly says, “Take a look at these beauties.”
Zigging and zagging inside a murky tank are a dozen or so, quite plain looking fish. Looking at his watch the shopkeeper announces, “Snack time, me thinks. Would you be so kind as to pass me a rat from that bag there behind you?” Seeing the queasy look on the customer’s face, the shopkeeper bustles past him and digs a mangy, dead rodent out of the sack. In one singular movement he tosses the rat into the fish tank. As quick as flicking the switch on a blender the water bubbles into a raspberry froth and a ratty tooth sinks to the sandy bottom. “Are they?” asks the customer.
“Indeed they are, indeed they are.” replies the shopkeeper jovially.
“I’ve only got a one bedroom flat, have you got anything smaller? What about rabbits?”
“Oh, we’ve got lots of rabbits, sir. But I’m afraid they’re not for sale, we use the rabbits as feed for the rest of our stock, see.”
“I don’t want piranhas or pythons or panthers…don’t you have any normal pets? All yours seem a bit, well, dangerous.”
The shopkeeper folds his arms across his chest and rocks back on the heels of his green wellies. “Well this is the Dangerous Pet Shop, sir. We are very much, without a shadow of a doubt in the dangerous pet business.”
“Is there much call for dangerous pets, then?”
“People are snapping them up.”
“And vice versa, probably.” mutters the customer under his breath.
Raising an eyebrow the shopkeeper responds, “Our customers find dangerous is more exciting, sir. It adds a certain unpredictability you just don’t get with a tortoise.”
Running his fingers through his hair and taking a long hard look at the animals surrounding him, the customer breaks out with a big, broad smile. “Oh, go on, then. I’ll chance my arm with one of your crocs.”
“Very good, sir,” says the shopkeeper, “Would you like me to wrap it for you?”

Having UC is a bit like keeping a dangerous pet. Everything may be okay and normal and fine, but at the back of your mind you’re always thinking something could go wrong at any minute. That’s how it feels sometimes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It took a year to write this post

This time last year The Guardian were giving away a series of booklets on the great speeches of the 20th Century. Each was a lovingly produced tribute to the eloquence, brilliance, bravery and wit of some of the sharpest and most radical orators in history. There was Roosevelt’s The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, Martin Luther King’s I have a dream, Churchill’s We shall fight them on the beaches, and Kevin Keegan’s I will love it if we beat them.* I collected them all. I was in hospital at the time, and I was glad of them to read. Although I actually used the back cover of Margaret Thatcher’s The lady’s not for turning to record my bowel movements for the very first time. You could say the inside was full of her shit, and the outside full of mine. So, yes, it really was a year ago, that propped up in my hospital bed I wrote a very early incarnation of what was to become Wednesday’s diary on a Thursday. There I was wearing my brand new pyjamas – everyone going into hospital buys new pyjamas for the occasion. And quite often a new wash bag, too. In fact besides MRSA, the two most common things you leave hospital with that you didn’t have before you went in are new pyjamas and a new wash bag. Anyway, I just wanted to record the fact that 365 days have passed since I was incarcerated in a hospital in Coventry. And how things have changed. I seem to be responding well to my medication, I no longer pass blood and my poos look more like proper poos. Someone once said a year is a long time in politics. Well, if what they meant by that is a lot can change, then the same could also be said of UC.

*Sadly the Kevin Keegan 'I will love it if we beat them' speech didn't feature in the Great Speeches of the 20th Century series. I think The Guardian may have missed a trick there.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.1

Technically this is Wednesday's Diary on a Friday, but what the hell. Couldn't post yesterday 'cos I don't have internet at home yet and I wasn't in work either blah, blah, blah.
Wednesday 24th April:
6.05am Solidish
11.15am Gassy, very little stool
3.20pm Gassy, very little stool

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Ever so slightly worse week. No reason why, just was. Very little to complain about.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My new toy

It’s got a seat that can be placed in the up or down position, it’s white, it flushes, and as of last Friday it’s all mine. Oh yes, I am the proud owner of a new loo. (I am also the proud owner of the flat that comes with the loo, but that’s of no interest here.) I have never owned my own loo before. I co-owned one with my McEx in Scotland, so I guess you could say I once owned half a loo. But now I’ve got a whole one all to myself. I could weep. Over the years I’ve rented plenty of loos. And fond memories I have of them, too. There was the troublesome one I had at college that would block if you pooped anything bigger than a peanut. We kept a wire coat hanger in the bathroom to break our poo into smaller pieces. Oh, what fun we had chasing each other round the house with bits of dripping plop stuck to that old coat hanger. Sigh, those were days when my shit could stick to a coat hanger. Happy times. But renting isn’t the same as owning. And an Englishman’s home is his castle, so you’ve got to have a good throne, haven’t you? And mine’s a little beauty. According to the label it’s a Bemis. I don’t know if Bemis is a good make or not? It sounds pretty reliable. I can imagine the advertising – Park your bum on a Bemis or You’ll never miss with a Bemis or Flush a Bemis and it won’t leave a blemish. Just for once I can’t wait to use the loo.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 4.0

Still going good.
Wednesday 16th April:
10.30am Solidish

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

I'm half way through a course of antibiotics for the spots on my upper body. Infected acne, apparently. Nice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.4

Does diet have a role to play in treating ulcerative colitis? Do you believe what you put in one end affects the other? Are some foods better or worse? Are you a slave to so-called UC friendly foods? Do you give grapes a wide berth or do you knock them back like Caesar? Time for a poll, I think.

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.4

Does diet affect your UC?

Definitely not
Haven't really noticed
Maybe a bit

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some comfort

There comes a time in every ulcerative colitis sufferer’s life when the unremitting nature of the disease begins to get you down. You’ll find yourself at your lowest ebb, your spirits hit rock bottom and then you open the fridge to discover you’ve only got enough milk for about half a bowl of cereal. At moments like this it’s normal to feel a pang of despair. You may fall to your knees and howl at the light fittings in anguish. You will pound the floor with your fists and place your head in the washing machine and gnaw on the rubber door seal. Tears will cascade down your cheeks, as quick and as sorrowful as an executioner’s drum roll. You’ll put your hair in bunches using those twisty tie things and screw fusilli into each nostril. We’ve all been there. But in your darkest hour it’s important to remember one thing. You are not alone.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"I've got 6 GCSE's, a HND and UC..."

When do you tell your new work about your UC?


Interesting results. I have to admit to being slightly surprised at the number of people who would be willing to bring up their UC in an interview. Only because if there were two identical candidates going for the same job, and one had a chronic illness that may cause them to take time off, I suspect the employer would go for the safer bet. I would. Personally I can’t imagine being in an interview, all tingling with nerves, desperately trying to get my out words right order in the, and then feeling comfortable enough to explain what ulcerative colitis is and how it affects my life. There’s a time and a place, and I’m not convinced a job interview is it. Nor do I think it’s deceitful if you choose not to tell. I mean you wouldn’t admit to a prospective employer you spend all day on Facebook, or you have bad BO, or the reason you left your last job was because you’d slept with every woman in the office (although if you have bad BO, that’s highly unlikely). In an interview surely you play to your strengths. As character building as UC can be, I don’t think it’s going to earn you a big tick next to your name. And finally, I absolutely love the fact that two people said they would never tell their employer. You’ve got to admire the sheer doggedness of someone, who rather than explain why they spend so much time in toilets, lets their whispering colleagues come up with their own sordid little theories. Now that in my opinion takes guts.

Thanks to everyone who voted.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nookie and UC

I am a child of the 70’s. So my early knowledge of sex was largely shaped by the Carry On. films. For many years I believed women’s breasts, or knockers as they were known back then, made this sound when you squeezed them. For almost as long as I’ve been writing this blog I’ve wanted to do something on the sensitive, and somewhat embarrassing topic of sex and ulcerative colitis. But I’ve been putting it off because I’m not sure if I’m adequately equipped to tackle the delicate nature of the subject matter without descending into schoolboy innuendo and puerile double entendre. I blame Sid James. Smirking aside, I do think it is an issue that should be brought out in the open. Because the truth of the matter is, when your belly feels like an over inflated Whoopee Cushion and the even slightest movement might cause you to let rip with the mother of all farts, the last thing you’re thinking about is a bit of how’s yer father. I think it’s fair to say UC can be a bit of a passion killer. It’s just not a very sexy disease. Ulcerative colitis can be a messy, pooey affair, and unless you happen to be a Conservative MP, it’s not likely to be much of a turn on. When my flare-up was at its worst I often had quite obvious skid marks in my boxer shorts. Things like that don’t exactly make you feel like Don Juan in the bedroom. At one point I was even using women’s panty liners. Sure I felt all fresh, confident and carefree just like the ads promise, but boy, it does precious little for your masculinity. And those first few attempts at coming off the prednisolone left me pooped. Most nights I was asleep before 8pm. Then there were the aches and pains, which left me feeling more like an old man than a young stud muffin. Frisky I was not. I actually think the reason pandas mate so infrequently is they’ve all got UC. So all in all ulcerative colitis can put a bit of a dampener on the old slap and tickle. Which is not much fun for you or your partner. Fortunately my girlfriend was very supportive and didn’t run off with the milkman. We talked about the situation and it was obvious to both of us that at the time I was in no condition for anything more than a good old-fashioned cuddle. Just as long as she didn’t press on my tummy. My mum reads this, so I won’t go into details, but things are now back to normal. The tablets have not only sorted out my UC, they’ve also ahem, resurrected (don’t laugh) things in the bedroom department. There, that’s my post on ulcerative colitis and hanky panky. Glad I got that out of the way, it’s been a long time coming.

Finished another loo roll this morning

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.9

I feel I should apologise up front for the lack of action in this week's WDOAT.
Wednesday 9th April:
1.05pm Solid

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

One or two bowel movements a day seems to be the norm, which is pretty darn normal for anyone really.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy UCamper

This Easter I was lucky enough to do something I wouldn’t have been able to do last Easter. I spent the holiday weekend in caravan on the Isle of Wight. No ordinary caravan, either, but a state of the art, all mod cons, mobile home of the future. Well, state of the art in 1963 anyway. It was a vintage American Airstream caravan. And as cool as California as it was, complete with all its original fittings, the toilet on board was strictly out of bounds. Which meant to answer the call of nature I had to cross a field to use the portaloo. In all weathers, of course, because the good old fashioned British Bank Holiday can be a temperamental beast. This one was no different. We had it all; blue skies, rain, hail and snow. So when I did need a poo, it was a wellies on, hood up, mini Antarctic expedition. As Captain Oates said, I may be sometime. 12 months ago my holiday sightseeing would have been limited to the inside of the lav. But thankfully this year my ulcerative colitis is much more under control. There were no mad moonlight dashes, no waking the neighbouring campers with my fearsome bum-rumbles, and no getting frozen to the toilet seat. I’m happy to report everything went tickety-boo in the portaloo. It just goes to show how things can go from bad to good in a relatively short space of time. And for me Easter 2008 was totally relaxing and carefree in very 1963 kind of way.

Check out Vintage Vacations, I highly recommend it for a slightly different break away. (And Sasquatch, now you know where all your old trailers go.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A crap birthday card

By law every market town in England has to have at least 4 greeting card shops on its high street. No town actually needs 4 card shops because they’re all identical. Imagine sticking your head inside a rainbow, that’s what it’s like walking into one of these shops. The colours assault your eyes. An Aladdin’s Cave of lurid ribbons, sticky bottomed ready made bows, shiny helium filled balloons, tacky gift bags, sparkly candles, cheap fluffy teddy bears that combust with a satisfying whoompf if they go within 12 feet of a naked flame, sheets of psychedelic wrapping paper hang on display, a bit like how I imagine Timmy Mallet’s towel rail to look, heart shaped cushions…at first glance it looks like a giant clown has spewed up all over the place. And then of course there are the greetings cards themselves. Every occasion is catered for, from births to death and everything in between. Now, a few weeks ago my brother would have found himself awkwardly shuffling along the aisles of a card shop much like the one I have described. He would have been in a hurry no doubt, because no man wants to be seen inside a card shop. Ever. His eyes would have been hurriedly scanning the shelves for a card for his older brother. That’s me. He may have paused briefly to check out the card with the footballer sporting a Mark Hateley hair cut, he might have picked up the one with the old fashioned racing car roaring through the chequered flag, or perhaps even the one with the football, rugby ball, cricket bat and snooker cue. He was probably losing the will to live when something caught his attention. His heart would have skipped a beat. Because there on the shelf was the perfect card. With trembling hands he would have made his way to the counter. His search was over. Here is that card.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.8

Does it really require any introductions? Oh okay, maybe just a small one then: it's WDOAT!
Wednesday 2nd April:
1.20pm Solid
2.50pm Solid
5.45pm Solid, gassy

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

My first poo of the day often doesn't happen until well after lunch. Earth shattering news, I know.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Food for thought for lunch

French Frank has pulled up a chair and joined us at our table. He’s about fifty, with a coiffured Gallic moustache and is about the same compact size and build I’d imagine Asterix to be, if Asterix were a real person. Neither I nor my lunch companion have met French Frank before. Until two minutes ago I had assumed French Frank’s was just the name of the cafĂ©. I hadn’t realised there was an actual French Frank. But there is, and right now he’s leaning into the table conspiratorially, lecturing us on how to run a business. I had ordered a jacket potato with tuna thinking it would come with a side salad. I wasn’t expecting complimentary business advice as well. As Frank expands on his pet theories my friend and I surreptitiously exchange quizzical looks. Frank begins to draw a diagram on a napkin to illustrate a particular point. Cue more quizzical looks. He draws a cliff, which falls away into a deep ravine, before rising again on the other side. It looks like the letter U. He then explains that when a business is in financial trouble, it’s like a man clinging onto the edge of the cliff, hanging on for dear life. That man will hold on for as long as humanly possibly, but he is only delaying the inevitable fall. Frank’s point is, rather than hang on for months or maybe even years, it’s far better to just let yourself fall to the bottom of the cliff straight away. The theory being the sooner you hit rock bottom, the sooner you can start to climb back up the other side. Like a clichĂ© French Frank shrugs his shoulders, as if to say ‘c’est simple, non?’ and leaves us to contemplate his genius. Seconds later he’s back behind the counter slicing a cucumber.

What has this got to do with ulcerative colitis? Well, Soraya left a comment yesterday about someone she met who has just been diagnosed with UC, but because he didn’t respond to any of the drugs, he had to have his bowel removed. Which is just awful. It isn’t all that uncommon though, because according to statistics about 25 to 40 percent of ulcerative colitis patients must eventually have their colons removed due to massive bleeding, severe illness, rupture of the colon, or risk of cancer. Now I don’t think my UC is so severe that I fall into that 25 to 40 per cent. I hope so anyway. But there are people out there who are unfortunately heading towards surgery. And perhaps they’ve been fighting against it for years. I’d do exactly the same in the circumstances. Which brings us back to French Frank’s man clinging onto the cliff. Rather than suffer years and years of pain, discomfort, disruption and debilitating illness, would it be perhaps better in the long run to have the op sooner? I sincerely don’t wish to be flippant, nor am I being deliberately controversial, but maybe Frank’s cliff analogy could also apply to some of us with ulcerative colitis? If the operation can rid us of our symptoms and give us back our old life, then it may well be wiser to let go of the cliff.

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.7

Yesterday was a funny old day. It got off to a promising enough start, because unusually I didn’t need to go to the loo as soon as I woke up. But then one or two things happened throughout the day, and it all went to pot after that. So for today’s WDOAT I’m going to go into a little more detail than usual. In the name of investigative blogging I’m going to fill in the blanks between my poos. I’m going to note what I was doing prior to each bowel movement in the hope it will provide some answers.
Wednesday 26th March:
For lunch I had spicy dumpling noodle soup from Itsu. Sprinkled over the top was a generous handful of sunflower seeds...
2pm Firmish stool, gassy
I receive a call from my mortgage broker. The mortgage provider wants to see all my tax returns. Urgently. I leave work early to retrieve the tax returns from the fire hazard that is my filing system...
4.15pm Firmish stool
England are about to kick off against France...
7.20pm Firmish stool, gassy

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Comments: So, what, if anything caused my day to go awry? Was it the lunch from Itsu with all those pesky sunflower seeds? (Remember what happened to Mr Litvinenko after dining at Itsu?) Or did I fall foul of the meddling mortgage company? And what about the prospect of watching another poor England performance, could that have got my tummy in a twist? What would Holmes do in a case like this? He’d get to the bottom of it, I’m sure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I wonder

Sometimes, often late at night, as I lay in bed listening to the distant wail of police sirens, watching the helicopter search lights dance across my bedroom walls, I get to thinking about where I stand in the grand scheme of things. Not so much ‘why am I here?’ Although that is a very good question. But how bad is my ulcerative colitis? Compared to my fellow sufferers, I mean. Where do I sit in the UC league table? Riding high at the top, like a title contender, milling about somewhere in the middle, or clinging to the bottom? I’d like to put my situation into some sort of perspective. None of my doctors have ever said how severe or mild my disease is. In films doctors often say things like, “In 25 years of practicing medicine I have never come across a case as bad as yours, you’re a walking miracle. Would you mind keeping your trousers down while I fetch my colleagues. And a camera. Do you want me to get a priest while I’m at it?” But I haven’t got a clue. Not even an inkling. Out of 10, am I a 3 or a 6? So I was quite pleased when I came across this handy little guide on the worldwide web.

The severity of ulcerative colitis is determined by certain criteria. Ulcerative colitis can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

People who have mild ulcerative colitis may have:

Fewer than four stools per day.
No bleeding or a small amount of bleeding with stools.
Normal or mild elevation of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).

People who have mild ulcerative colitis do not have fever, rapid heartbeat, or anaemia.

People who have moderate ulcerative colitis have:
More than four stools per day.
Cramping abdominal pain and an urgent need to have a
bowel movement.
Mild elevation in erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

People who have severe ulcerative colitis usually:

Have more than six stools per day (constant loose stools).
Have frequent bleeding from the rectum.
Have fever, rapid heartbeat, and anaemia.
Have an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
Feel very ill.

Flare-ups can be so severe that they require hospitalization.

My question has been answered. Now I know exactly where I stand. According to these criteria I have mildly moderate severe ulcerative colitis. Depending on how things are going I could find myself at the top, middle or bottom of the UC league table. How very Manchester City. But at least now I have some sort of gauge. Now when I find myself listening to those police sirens and watching the search lights all I need to worry about is did I lock the front door?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.3

A scenario for you.
You’re about to start a new job.
A new job means new people.
New challenges.
New responsibilities.
New opportunities.
It’s a fresh start.
But it’s not just you that’s starting a new job.
Your old mucker UC is joining you too.
Because wherever you go, it goes.
And unfortunately that includes your new job.
So what are you going to do?
Do you tell your boss about your illness?
What about your new colleagues?
Do you tell them?
You’re a newbie.
You want to make a good first impression.
“Hi, I’m Martin and I shit for Britain, pleased to meet you.”
might not be the best introduction in the world.
So how do you handle it?
It’s a tough call.
But you’re going to have to deal with it sooner or later.
What would you do?
Over to the poll, then.

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.3

When do you tell your new work about your UC?

In your interview
As soon as you start
After your 3 month probationary period
Only when things become so bad you have to take time off

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.6

It's Thursday; slap bang in the middle of an average Wednesday and Good Friday.
Wednesday 19th March:
6.10am Loose stool
2.15pm Firmish stool
7pm Gassy, nothing much
10.20pm Firmish stool

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

These spots on my back are doing my head in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wishful thinking

Yesterday’s post about the state of the loos in the Irish pub reminded me of the signs in the toilets at my work, which say ‘Please leave these toilets as you’d wish to find them.’ Hmm, leave the toilets as you’d wish to find them. That could be a bit tricky, because I’d like to find them with heated toilet seats. And soundproofing wouldn’t go amiss. I’d like a library containing all the Asterix books. Air freshening that smells of freshly cut grass. A flatscreen telly in the back of the door showing Only Fools and Horses would be nice. Whatever bog roll the Queen uses. That’s bound to be good stuff. Royally strong, royally soft and royally very, very long. I’d also appreciate a Smythson notepad and a pack of Edding 55’s. My pen of choice. Only ever black ink. A telephone with an anti-echo gizmo, so whoever you’re talking to won’t know you’re sat on the bog. This bin would be a nice touch. In a nod to Brian Wilson, I’d like the whole cubicle built in a sand pit. With a scaled down planetarium ceiling. A voice activated locking device would be handy, so you don’t even touch the door handle. And if there has to be graffiti on the walls, let it be Banksy. That’s how I’d like to find the toilets. Is that too much to ask for?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

17th March

Ruddy nosed men jabber and joke and wink and swear. They have sprigs of green pinned to the stained lapels of their shapeless black suit jackets, which have long since parted company with the trousers they once matched. Worn beneath the jacket is the ubiquitous V-neck jumper or GAA jersey: the insignia of Wexford, Kilkenny, Clare, Limerick are just a few on show. I’m wedged between the bar and a gang of four hollering away in their mother tongue. One tufty-eared gent peels away to gobble down his boiled bacon and cabbage, washing it down with savage gulps of lager. Dennis Taylor is greeted with a boozy cheer as Irish sporting heroes of yesteryear flash up on the big screen. A large group of girls wearing green ‘Kiss Me’ t-shirts sit in front of the stage, breaking mid-sentence to fend off amorous advances from all-comers. One girl leans forward revealing a shimmering emerald thong rising patriotically from the arse of her jeans. With a final swig the band strike up and we all sing along to The Fields of Athenrye. Shoulder to shoulder we sway, which has as much to do with the Guinness as it does the music. If you hadn’t already guessed, it’s St Patrick’s Day. And I’m in an Irish pub in Finsbury Park. Just as I’m thinking about going to the toilet Belle of Belfast City jolts the dance floor to life. Draining my glass I weave my way through the kicking feet, past the unsmiling landlord keeping a watchful eye out for trouble at the end of the bar. My nose wrinkles the instant I step into the toilets. I push open the door to the cubicle. The toilet seat is down and liberally sprinkled in wee. As is the floor. I can only assume whoever is responsible was attempting to draw a shamrock in the toilet bowl. There’s no way I can use this toilet. The clean up operation required would be on a par with those after the floods of last year. I fear sandbags might be necessary. These Irish may know how to throw a good party, but they sure as hell can’t piss straight. I’m going to have to go home. I make my way back through the bar as the band begins to play Dirty Old Town. How appropriate I think to myself.

The Loodle Gallery

'Able Bodied, Self Centred'
Ink on Toilet Paper
70 x 110mm

Friday, March 14, 2008

The post about stress I did want to write

So, 59% of us believe stress definitely has an effect on our ulcerative colitis and a further 33% think it might have. And 9% thought it was a load of old codswallup. As a fence-sitting ‘maybe’ I’m genuinely surprised at those results. 59% is quite high. If 59%, 33% and 9% were the results of the ‘ask the audience’ lifeline in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I’d be going with 59%, please Chris. But it’s not Who wants To Be A Millionaire and I’m not sitting opposite Mr Tizwas. I’m still sitting firmly on the fence. In my experience I can’t definitely say stress affects my UC. I’ll admit the first signs of my ulcerative colitis did coincide with a time of worry, upset and general grimness, but in the 2 and half years since I’d be hard pushed to say what makes my UC worse; whether that be stress, diet or naked trampolining. Maybe I haven’t lived with ulcerative colitis long enough yet to detect any trends? Or maybe nothing stressful has happened to me for a while. How do we define stress anyway? I guess it’s different for everyone. Obviously there are some situations that will cause us all stress; no matter how cool-headed we think we are. You know, the biggies, like death, divorce, debt and supporting Manchester City. Then you’ve got your everyday stresses, like work deadlines, commuting, money troubles, family hassles, kids, health, moving house, changing jobs and things like that. Unfortunately the list goes on and on. Now I’m not for one minute pretending to be some sort of Fonz-like character who saunters through life without a care in the world, but I’m no Woody Allen either. Some things bother me, but I don’t lay awake worrying at night, tossing and turning and getting myself all twisted up in my duvet. So I’m really interested in what kind of situations cause the stress that 59% of the voters in the poll think definitely affects their UC? Are we talking big life changing things or smaller things like making a speech or something? I guess what I’m asking is how much or how little stress does it take to make your UC worse?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.5

Wednesday is named after the Anglo-Saxon god Woden. The word diary comes from the Latin meaning ‘daily allowance’. And Thursday is derived from the Norse god Thor. So here is the decidedly Anglo-Saxon-Latin-Norse flavoured WDOAT.
Wednesday 12th March:
6am Firmish stool
9.20 am Firmish stool
1.15pm Firmish stool

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

I only did one poo on Monday. Jealous?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The post about stress I didn’t want to write

This was going to be longer.

I was hoping to write about the results from the stress poll.

But work got busy.

And something had to give.

So this is going to be a little on the short side.

In a way it’s still about stress though.

Because one way of the ways we can manage stress is to prioritise things.

That’s one of the things it says here anyway.

Right, I’m off for a bubble bath.

Then bed.

And I’ll write the post about the stress poll when things aren’t so, well, stressful.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bath time

Recently I have rediscovered the joy of bubble baths. I am now what you might call a keen bubble bather. Of course, it being 2008 and not 1978, they’re no longer called bubble baths. I believe they’re called foaming baths now. Or herbal baths. There’s even the somewhat catholic sounding Plunge and Purify Bath Soak, if that floats your (toy) boat. And these days they all have exotic fragrances, like mango, coconut and papaya. Which I imagine is a bit like pouring a carton of Um Bongo into your bath. My bubble…sorry, foaming bath of choice goes by the name of Radox Stress Relief Herbal Bath. It contains rosemary, which apparently is renowned to relieve tension and restlessness and leaves you feeling calm and relaxed. The label boasts that it’s proven to reduce stress significantly better than a bath without Radox. How they qualify this I don’t know? For instance you could argue having a bath with Scarlett Johansson in it and no Radox might relieve a certain amount of tension. I think I can safely say that I’d step out of that bath with deep-seated feelings of inner happiness. Back to my stress busting Radox bubble bath. Also on the label is a bar chart. The tallest bar is blue and indicates ‘Tension level before a bath’; the second bar is two thirds the height of the blue bar and indicates ‘Tension level after an unfragranced bath’; then the last bar is smaller still, about half the height of the blue bar. This indicates ‘Tension level after a Radox Herbal Bath’. So Radox are claiming you’ll be 50% less stressed after one of their baths. That’s a pretty impressive statistic if it’s true. And with all this talk of how stress can play havoc with your UC, it’s something that definitely interests me. Which is why I’ve been sloshing the stuff into my bath every night for the last couple of weeks. And to think this time last year I used to relax by sloshing Guinness down my gullet. Oh, how times have changed.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Quick on the draw

If you ever find yourself in a public convenience and you’ve got a pen handy, but like me, you’ve been far too well brought up to ever graffiti a toilet wall* allow me to introduce the next best thing: loodles. Loodles are simply doodles you do whilst you poo. Consider a sheet of Andrex your canvas. It’s an opportunity to express yourself. To be creative whilst you crap. A chance to make a statement about life with ulcerative colitis. Some of the best art has been a result of suffering, after all. So if you’re a budding Botty-celli, why not send me your loodles and I’ll post them up. We can even have a Loodles Gallery. It could be a whole new art movement. Or maybe arse movement is more appropriate?

*Although I did once daub ‘MOSTLY I AM WRONG’ in 12-inch high letters across my office wall after a difference of opinion with the management of a company I was working for.

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.4

Did you know that every general election in the UK since 1935 has been held on a Thursday? There isn't a general election today, so we'll just have to make do with WDOAT instead. Here it is.
Wednesday 5th March:
6.05am Loose stool
2.50pm Firmish stool
7.30pm Firmish stool

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg

Boring stuff: I ache a bit/feel ancient, still got a load of spots on my back, shoulders and chest.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.2

Who thinks Bill Foster, Michael Douglas’s character in Falling Down was heading for a UC flare-up? If the comments people left are anything to go by my post on stress and ulcerative colitis seemed to hit a nerve. It seems we all have an opinion on the subject. So let’s put it to the poll and see what comes out.

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.2

Do you believe stress has an effect on your UC?

Not at all
I haven't got time for all this I've got a million and one more important things to think about instead of some silly poll, sheesh