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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.3

I know what you're thinking - why can't it be WDOAT every day? I agree, but if we had WDOAT every day there would be nothing to look forward to. Ever. So here it is, the weekly, and it will always remain weekly, WDOAT.
Wednesday 27th February:
6am Firmish stool, very light blood
1.45pm Firmish stool

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

Yada yada yada.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The waiting game

You get all sorts in hospital waiting rooms, don’t you? From teenage mums to old ladies who sniff a lot, all of life can be found on those moulded plastic seats. All lumped together waiting for our names to be called out and most probably mispronounced. Ex-boxers, Sunday League footballers, Muslims, nuns and blokes who write blogs about sitting in hospital waiting rooms. We’re all there like a big bag of human pick ‘n’ mix. But of all the people you find in the hospital waiting room it’s the tutters and the eye rollers that get my goat. Them and their close cousins, the watch tappers and head shakers. They sit there fussing and cussing, working themselves up into an unshakeable state of agitation. “I don’t like to complain,” they lie, before going on to give the NHS the kind of verbal beating David Cameron’s speechwriters would give their MacBook Pro to have written. But do these tutters not understand what the word ‘waiting’ in waiting room means? Were they expecting to be fast-tracked through like their surname was Beckham or something? And not one of them thought to bring a book or a magazine. Or some knitting. Or an NHS doctor voodoo doll and pins. There are far better things to do with your eyes whilst you’re waiting than roll them. I use mine to people watch. Sitting opposite me last time was a man in his early 40’s with the unremarkable and instantly forgettable features of a black cab driver. I like to think he spends his Saturdays in town centre pubs, dressed in a morning suit, pretending to cry into his beer and telling any ladies who will listen that he’s just been jilted at the aisle. So far this ploy has led to 3 sympathy shags with 3 different women. Sat next to Jilted John in the waiting room was a younger woman nervously playing with the zip on her anorak. I had her down as a Secondary School history teacher who thinks her pupils don’t believe anything she says. And now her self-confidence is so low she’s starting to think that maybe some of the stuff she teaches them is a bit far fetched. Perhaps the kids are right? History is kind of unbelievable. How do we really know it happened? Those were just two of the people in the waiting room with me. For me every one of my fellow patients has their own story. So I don’t think waiting rooms are boring. It just depends how you look at them.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Competition time

Someone writing on behalf of a scheme called Celebrating UC Success emailed me today. The scheme is hoping to raise awareness and provide support and inspiration for people touched by ulcerative colitis. They’re asking for UC sufferers to contribute their story here and everyone who enters will get some sort of prize. The grand prize, it says in the email, is a 2 day trip for 2 to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s ‘IBD Day on the Hill’ conference in Washington DC. There’s some sort of P&G tie-in, which slightly whiffs of marketing a bit, but other than that I think their intentions are genuine and good. As they say in their own words Every UC Success story is worth telling and P&G and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation want to hear yours. Anyway they asked me if I’d share that with you. They only want 200 words. Gotta be worth a punt, hasn’t it? You might win a trip to Washington DC. You could hook up with Lav Lady. Sadly, it’s only open to US residents, so I can’t enter. But maybe the very nice lady who emailed me will offer me complimentary flights to the conference in return for this piece of precision online advertising what I’ve just gone and done for her?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.2

Now I'm off the pred I no longer have to take those chalky calcium tablets. I didn't like them. I wasn't sure whether to eat them or do algebraic equations on a blackboard with them.
Wednesday 20th February:
6.05am Loose stool, very light blood
1.20pm Loose to firmish

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

Over a week without the pred and it's all okay. Yup, all okay.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.1 - The Results

According to official sources (NACC) the most common age of diagnosis for ulcerative colitis is between 10 and 40. And according to unofficial sources (me) diagnosis usually occurs on a Wednesday. Just after elevenses. The results of our poll would appear to reflect those findings. Okay, maybe not so much the Wednesday part. But 37% of people who voted were in their 20’s when they were diagnosed, followed by 22%, who were in their 30’s. These 2 groups made up the bulk of the voters, although interestingly more people were diagnosed in their 40’s and 50’s than those under 20. Of course these statistics are purely based on 49 people who happen to read this blog. Actually, make that 46. 3 of the voters said they don’t have UC. Enough with the numbers, my brain is beginning to unravel. What the poll does tell us though, is ulcerative colitis can pretty much strike at any age, but it tends to target those in their 20’s and 30’s. People in their prime, you could say. (No offence to the over 40’s.) Obviously there’s never a good time to get UC, but for me it seems particularly cruel to be hit with a chronic illness just when you’re trying to make your way in the world. A time when you’re just starting work or college, you’re mortgage and kid free and your only responsibility in life is making sure your best mate doesn’t get off with any munters. It’s not a great time to feel like you’re chained to the loo. Personally I feel lucky that my ulcerative colitis didn’t appear on the horizon until I was 33. I was fortunate enough to negotiate those formative years completely UC free. But no matter how old you are when you’re diagnosed with UC, it’s how you handle things after that’s important. I know one thing for sure, it made me start to act my age.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's that al-Qaeda's fault

Some people believe stress can trigger ulcerative colitis.

No one really seems to know if this is true or not.

I’m not sure, but this is what was going on in my life in the weeks leading up to what I now know was my first flare up.

I was living in the West End of Glasgow, in a tenement flat, which I had bought 8 months earlier with my girlfriend.

Over a meal in our local Italian restaurant we broke up.

My girlfriend became my ex-girlfriend. But she was still my colleague.

Working together became intolerable, so I quit and decided to move back to London.

My boss didn’t want to lose me completely and found me an office in London’s Soho.

I arrived at Kings Cross with two bags of clothes and my laptop.

I signed the mortgage on my flat in Glasgow over to my ex. It was no longer ours, it was hers.

It’s fair to say I was drinking a lot. (I was consuming enough Guinness to drown not only my sorrows, but also those of half of London’s lonely-hearted.)

Working alone in a small office hundreds of miles from my colleagues was just downright depressing.

And I still had to deal with the ex on a daily basis. Difficult is putting it mildly.

The July bombings happened. Luckily I was already in my pokey office when the bombs went off. I spent the rest of the day in the pub.

After one too many venomous, supposedly ‘work related’ telephone conversations with the ex, I quit my job for good.

Suddenly I was freelance. With no work.

Then I started crapping blood.

I don’t wish this to sound melodramatic. I’m not looking for sympathy.

And I’m certainly not trying to lay the blame for having UC on anyone.

But this is a blog about my life with ulcerative colitis. So I think it’s relevant to discuss what happened just before my first flare up.

Did losing my girlfriend, my flat and my job, not to mention boozing for Britain, play a part in me getting ulcerative colitis? Maybe, maybe not.

I don’t suppose it really matters one way or the other now. It’s all water, and a lot of blood, under the bridge.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Talking ‘bout my generation

I’m genuinely not trying to appear all cool and nihilistic when I say this, but I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for that whole ‘hope I die before I get old’ schtick. I am painfully aware that as a 35-year-old taxpaying individual, I should really have grown out of the ‘live fast, die young’ thing by now, but when you compare the contemptuous stance of My Generation to something like the desperately needy When I’m 64, there’s no competition, is there? Surely any right-minded, red-blooded male would rather be in Daltrey’s gang, than McCartney’s? Anyway, that’s what I thought until ulcerative colitis entered my life. But since my diagnosis, my thoughts have, in a worryingly McCartney-esque fashion, turned to the future. What will my life be like when I'm 64? An OAP with UC. Never mind ‘we can rent a cottage on the Isle of White, if it’s not too dear.’ I want to know if all I’ve got to look forward to is a retirement spent on the karsie? In my old age I want to be able to bounce my grandchildren on my knee – but not whilst I’m on the toilet. That’s just wrong. What are the implications of growing old with ulcerative colitis though? It seems to me that it can only make matters worse. Whatever ailments old age throws at us it’s always going to be a case of ‘…and ulcerative colitis’. Arthritis and ulcerative colitis. High blood pressure and ulcerative colitis. Dementia and ulcerative colitis. Sense of humour failure and ulcerative colitis. Our copybook is already marked. Christ knows how many pills I’ll be popping as a pensioner. Not for me the Werther’s Originals, I’ll be necking drugs by the arthritic handful. Only time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime it’s probably wise to try and stay as fit and healthy as possible. It may not be very rock and roll, but it might just mean I don’t die before I get old.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.1

No more prednisolone. The pred has fled. Azathioprine and asacol are now on their own. Have they got what it takes? It reminds me of James Garner and Donald Pleasence in The Great Escape, where they steal the German plane and you think they’re going to make it to Switzerland, but then, with The Alps in sight the engine starts to splutter and they crash land at the feet of the enemy…okay, so it’s my second war film analogy in a week, but I do sometimes feel me and my pills are fighting a war. And just as every Christmas I urge The Scrounger and The Forger on to victory, I’m right behind azathioprine and asacol, too.
Wednesday 13th February:
615am Loose stool
1.35pm Small firmish pieces
6.30pm Loose stool, light blood mucus

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg
2 x Calcium Carb 1.25g

Too early to tell how I'm doing without the pred, I guess.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And the winner is...

The ‘Poll about a poll’ results are in. 18 people voted in favour of a regular poll, 1 person voted against, and a small furry woodland creature with access to a laptop and Wi-Fi voted its indifference. Well, from my rudimentary understanding of democracy, the most votes wins, so expect to see more polls in the coming weeks. The first is below. And thank you to everyone who voted.

The Regular Ulcerative Colitis Poll One Person Voted Against, No.1

How old were you when were you diagnosed with UC?

1 - 19
I haven't got UC, I just like surveys

Monday, February 11, 2008

A nose for trouble

The other day I was washing my hands when I noticed in the mirror that I had a blemish on the bridge of my nose. It was a blotchy, brownish, speckled discoloration, slap bang right in the middle of my conk. Aye-aye, that’s new, I thought to myself, with a shrug. I didn’t pay it too much attention, because to be honest waking up to discover spots, boils, rashes and what we used to refer to at school as ‘the lurgy’ is pretty much an everyday occurrence. In fact, if I woke up one morning to find the image of Christ peering through my chest hair, I wouldn’t be too alarmed. It certainly wouldn’t put me off my Sugar Puffs. I’m a sensible sort of chap. Not one to get irrational over a rash. But as I’ve written before, I have been making more of an effort to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. So throughout the day I tried to think what my mysterious nose blemish could possibly mean. I’d taken all my usual medication in all the right doses at the usual times. I hadn’t eaten anything ‘risky’. I hadn’t had any alcohol. My bowel movements were what I would now describe as ‘normal-ish’. I wasn’t feeling tired, run down or stressed. Nor did I feel bloated or have any abdominal pains. No achy joints, no nothing. All in all I was feeling pretty darn good. I just happened to have a brown mark on my schnoz. No big deal, what do I care if people stare? Let ‘em have a good look at the funny man with the weird nose. Roll up! Roll up! You’ve been bamboozled by the bearded lady and you’ve been knocked for six by the four-legged boy, but, ladies and gentlemen, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve had a gander at the incredible, the unbelievable, the fantastical, white man with a black man’s nose! I exaggerate, but it did kind of stick out. So when I got home I decided to give my nose a closer inspection. Under the clinical bathroom lights I was able to see the mark clearly. I was also able to deduce the cause. It turns out it was something I’d drank. The brown mark on my nose was in fact chocolate powder from the rim of a mug of hot chocolate I’d had that morning. It seems all along the answer wasn’t so much under my nose, but on it. Pillock.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


The air is hot, close, claustrophobic; thick treacle darkness imprisons us like a nightmare you can’t wake from. There is no light where we are. But maybe that’s a blessing. Some things are best unseen. Even the worst your imagination can conjure is better than the reality. This is the large intestine. The UC is out there. Everywhere. Close enough to touch. A breath away. The platoon members rest a moment, but remain alert, taut, tense, always ready.

Azathioprine sits, eyes darting, bewildered. ‘Newmeat’. A voice inside his head, his own quiet voice, tries to make some sense of it all, “Somebody once wrote Hell is the impossibility of Reason. That’s what this place feels like. I hate it already and it’s only been a couple of months. Some goddamn couple of months, grandma…”

In the gloom Azathioprine can just make out the even, muscular features of Asacol. A veteran, Asacol has led the campaign since Feb ‘07. They say he’s a lifer. He’s been fighting the UC so long it seems like all he’s ever known. It probably makes little difference to Asacol if he gets out or not.

Azathioprine watches, alone with his thoughts. No one talks to ‘newmeat’. No one tells you anything. No one even wants to know your name or where you come from.

Hunched in a corner, pinched, twitchy, birdlike, is Prednisolone. Pred’s another veteran. This is his fourth tour of duty. Every time he thinks he’s home and dry, he gets hauled back in again. It shows on his face, like his soul has been sucked dry like the marrow from a bone. Pred’s three days short. In three days his war will be over. But the fight will go on without him.

In time Azathioprine will get wise, learn the unwritten rules, and out of the shadows will step a battle-hardened fighting machine. Mean, scarred, unfeeling Asacol will continue to lead from the front, taking on the UC wherever it hides, until the enemy within is finally defeated.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wednesday's diary on a Thursday 3.0

WDOAT is thirty weeks old. Blimey.
Wednesday 6th February:
6am Loose stool, very light blood mucus
11.15am Loose stool, very light blood mucus
1.50pm Firmish stool

6 x Mesalazine 400mg
1 x Prednisolone 5mg
3 x Azathioprine 50mg
3 x Ferrous Sulphate 200mg
2 x Calcium Carb 1.25g

Maybe my ulcerative colitis doesn't like pancakes?

To poll or not to poll, that is the question

I’ve been thinking for a while now that it might be interesting to introduce a poll as a regular feature of the blog? We could use the polls to find out how many bowel movements a day we consider ‘normal’ or should we get our prescriptions for free or who would win an arm-wrestle between someone with ulcerative colitis and someone with Crohn’s? Cerebral hot potatoes like that. But the reason I haven’t tried a poll so far, is I’m scared. I’m scared because its success is going to rely on readers participating. And I’m not sure if I have enough readers. If I put a poll out there and only two people vote, one of whom is my mum who doesn’t have UC, then it’s not really going to be worthwhile. Plus it will be a pretty bruising indicator that I’m blathering away to myself here. I’m not one to shy away from the truth. If I have no audience, I can take it. So here it is, either the first and last poll on Number Twos or the first of many. You decide. (Okay, and you, mum.)

A poll about a poll

Would regular polls be an interesting addition to Number Twos?

Crikey, what a great idea
Yawn, that's rubbish
I don't care I'm a small furry woodland creature

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dear Sick Boy...

I write further to your recent enquiry regarding our decision on your Protection Plan Policy application.

I have written to your GP explaining our underwriting decision. Please make a convenient appointment to discuss the contents of my letter with your GP. He will be able to answer any queries you have.

Ah, more joyful correspondence from my dear friends at Friends Provident. As you can see it’s a letter brimming with compassion, warmth and genuine empathy. Hmm. Just to quickly recap, I’m buying a flat and I need to get life insurance so if anything happens to me the mortgage company isn’t left high and dry and they get their money back. For someone my age this should be £50 a month, but because of my ulcerative colitis Friends Provident have ramped it up to £100 a month. Now I’m no mathematician (I got a D at GCSE maths, re-sat the exam 3 months later and spectacularly got a E) but even I can see that’s double. Does this mean I’m twice as likely to die young as someone without ulcerative colitis? Friends Provident seem to think there’s certainly a risk of this happening. But no doctor I’ve seen has ever mentioned my impending doom. And I’ve seen a lot of doctors. You’d think if my life really was ebbing away, one of them might have mentioned it by now. So where are Friends Provident getting their information from? Have they been tipped off by Him upstairs that my number’s up? How long do Friends Provident think I’ve got? Is there any point in me renewing my weekly travel card? Well, according to the letter my doctor will have all the answers. I guess I’d better make an appointment soon, before it’s too late.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Through the keyhole

Not even teenage girls spend as much time in the bathroom as I do. Which I suppose can be mildly irritating for anyone else waiting to use the toilet. But thanks to these clever little stickers I can shift the blame to make it look like it’s someone else hogging the bog. Okay, so it’s highly improbable that Brummie bat decapitator, Ozzy Osbourne would be having a dump in my flat, but it’s a bit more fun than the sad reality. You can see more of these stickers here.