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.