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.