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 café. 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 cliché 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.