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.