Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Are you sitting confortably?

When i was a kid my parents were always complaining that i spent too long on the toilet: "What the hell are you doing in there?", "You'll get piles...". What they, or indeed, i did not know was that this was just a dress rehersal for the rest of my life.

I have Ulcerative Colitis.

I spend a great deal of time on the toilet.

And when I'm not on it, i spend a great deal of time thinking about it. In fact, my life pretty much revolves around my bottom. Which is nice...

I was 'diagnosed' (a long and painful process when it comes to UC) something like 5 years ago. Six months of repeatedly getting a stomach upset, that was occasionally laced with blood (and often followed a night out), eventually lead me to my GP. After numerous stool samples (collected with the worlds smallest spade) I was eventually refered to the Digestive Disease clinic. Here i suffered the indignity and downright lies that is the 'flexible sigmoidoscopy' - an apparently 'uncomfortable' experience. Lets just say: not very flexible and for uncomfortable read agonising. I am open to accusations of being a wimp, but anything that requires your colon to be inflated upon entry... well, its more than a little painful. This revealed evidence of colitis, but not much so everyone remained uncertain and unwilling to give it a name. The following year i had a massive episode that lead to hospitalisation (and another sigmoidoscopy - the bastards), iv steroids, 2 stone loss in weight, and... eventual diagnosis. After discharge and aborted treatment with Mesalazine tablets(made me worse!), it all died down and i got on with life.

I'm an ostrich kind of a guy. When things are going ok i like to deny to myself there is anything wrong. It was whilst in this mindset that the UC rolled out its second hilarious weapon: arthritis. Yep, UC: its an IBD; but mine also leads to hugely swollen arms and legs. Could be one arm, from elbow to fingers, or both feet so they wont fit into any shoes, or a knee, etc, etc. Blinkin' painful, very disabling, but also useful for frightening children, which in my line of work can never be taken for granted. These episodes have been mostly treated with prednisolone.

Now, over the years I've been lucky. No tremendously bad flare-ups, bar the odd michelin-man limb. I am also a stubborn old curmudgeon, so I have had many a row with my consultant because I refuse to just take the drugs he wants to prescribe. I have managed things with lifestyle change (on the wagon for 3 years, 1 month, 28 days, who's counting?) and acupuncture, and all has been as well as could be expected. Until recently. So, now I'm having to confront the old enemy again, and I've decided this time to get my head out of the sand and record the fun. I know there are some excellent UC blogs out there, but everyone I've ever spoken to seems to have a different experience. I hope mine could be useful to someone at least.

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