Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Holiday Fortnight

Well, I chickened out of lowering my prednisolone dose. I was supposed to move to 10/5mg on alternating days around about last monday (5th), but due to a combination of mentalness and (possibly psychosomatic) physical symptoms I didn't. I know, I'm an idiot. However, I did have my reasons. Firstly, whether they came about because I was stressing or not, there were some definate rumblings in the old bowel. No real pain, an increase in mucus (it is the existence of mucus, and the consistent describing of it, that I have always felt least comfortable with during this illness - describing the consistency of my poo? No problem. Describing how often I have to go? No problem. Describing amounts of blood? No problem. Describing the frequency of accidents and actually having to admit to having been practically incontinent at one point? No problem. Describing the amount, frequency and consistency of mucus in my poo? No, I'm sorry, but that just seems wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, to be honest, I find it rather uncomfortable just admiting to myself its there. Go figure.), no blood to speak of, but some distincly runny-er poo and... you know that feeling... So it became another few days of crouching over the loo (post movement) and scrutinising its contents. This, I'm afraid, does not lead one into the required mindset for a change in dose. On the contrary, it rather makes one cling desperately to those little white pills all the more. Damn them.

As well as all this mental and physical anquish (actually I've been pretty good mentally. I told the wife straight away how I was feeling, made the decision not to change dose pretty quickly and have stayed pretty cool. Its just the old quiet nagging voice in the back of my head...) there is a second reason. We are about to go on holiday. To Italy. By car. Now driving to Italy (over 3 days I hasten to add) probably has its challenges at the best of times. But driving to Italy with the perpetual fear of where the next toilet might be is too much for me to cope with. Especially with 2 kids in the back. So, for the sake of as enjoyable a holiday as possible I opted to stay on the steroids for a little bit longer. I'll have to change the dose when I get back because I've only got enough tablets for about another month anyway and my GP is never all that keen to give me any more without speaking to the hospital (who, incidentally, I STILL have not heard from, despite them telling me in May that they were 'pushing through' an appt to dicuss azathioprine). I just hope that the driving antics of our european neighbours and my 'roid-rage' do not prove to be too volatile a mix.

I intend to try and post whilst away if I find anywhere (internet cafe etc).

Monday, 4 August 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll

A long time ago in a place far, far away a man said to me:

"If you vote Conservative in your twenties you've got no conscience. If you vote Labour in your thirties you've got no money."

I didn't believe him then, and, perhaps more importantly (now I'm deep into my 30's) I don't believe him still. Or maybe I just haven't got enough money... But, although the principle is wrong the sentiment has some truth in it. The older we get, the more we change. I have seen more than enough of my parents in my own parental behaviour to drive me to despair. Every day I am faced with the heinous recognition that my eldest sons latest cry of "its not fair" is a retort to one of my own fathers favorite idioms that has just tripped off my tongue. And each time I'm reminded of Larkin's poem, 'This be the verse'. I can remember making vehement pacts with myself that I would never be such a mean old bastard, I would let my kids do what they wanted... But now, well, I'm bloody right and the boy's wrong: life is unfair. So there.

I've changed in other ways too, and recently these changes have been UC instigated. I was reflecting on an aspect of this yesterday as I trawled round Tesco doing our (approximately) fortnightly shop. It was in the loo roll aisle that I was reminded of that quote above. How my attitude to bum wiping has changed...

When I was a kid I barely gave toilet paper a second thought. It may have momentarily entered my consciousness that each roll was colour-coordinated depending on whether it was in the bathroom or downstairs loo (my memory says green for downstairs and peach for the bathroom, but that could be the other way round. Actually my mother still does it, and I still don't take it in properly - are there people who would sit in there and think to themselves "Tut, the toilet paper doesn't even match the walls. Lazy cow."?), but otherwise the only place it really mattered was at school. This was because in the unlikely event that I went for a poo at school (surely this was one of the things most feared at school - or was it just me?) the clean up operation would have to be conducted on what could only be described as tracing paper. How anybody in their right minds could conceive that that stuff was going to be even slightly useful in removing the offending objects from ones tender behind is utterly unfathomable. All it managed to do was broaden the issue, whilst simultaneously being quite painful.

Once I'd left home to be a student toilet roll was never high on my shopping priorities. In fact we were more than happy to buy the cheapest available. In my house we persevered with this throughout our tenure despite the inevitable drawbacks. As I see it value or economy loo paper usually demonstrates one of two unwelcome attributes: EITHER it is made of some substance that is somewhere between sandpaper and card (sort of like compressed woodchips) which (whilst having superlative wiping power in comparison to the school stuff) is guarenteed to lacerate your poor bottom - especially after a night out/curry; OR it has all the strength of real tissue paper, leading to unwanted, but frankly dishearteningly predictable, finger-bottom contact. Despite sitting on the loo on innumerable occasions with either tears streaming from my eyes, or the dejected slump of someone who has just accidently used his fingers, we never ever ever, upgraded...

And, in fact, I persevered with the same old cheapo loo roll well into my relationship with my now-wife. The onset of kids didn't even change me - we were poor, see. But it did introduce the concept of 'wipes' into the bathroom, which have added a soothing aspect to proceedings.
However, the dual factors of increasing household income and UC have changed my outlook completely. Not only have I finally eschewed economy stuff, but i have moved slowly through the loo roll ranks to finally embrace not just ultra soft, but QUILTED! Oh God, that stuff is sooooo good. It's strong, absorbent, soft and caresses my poor sick bottom with a gossamer touch. I don't care how much it costs. I don't even care whether it's recycled or not. Stuff the money, stuff the environment, this is my bum we're talking about. If you use economy loo roll in your 20's you haven't got any money, if you're still using it in your 30's you haven't got an IBD...

Sunday, 3 August 2008

What's Goin On?

The return of the Bristol Stool Chart. It has been 4 weeks since I had my last appointment at the hospital (in rheumatology). An ideal time to consider the current sate of affairs.

1. Prednisolone. I am taking 10mgs every day for the final time today From tomorrow, as discussed with the consultant, I am changing to an alternating 10 - 5 mg dose. This is good because I am sick to death of the shakes and the spots. This is not good because, as usual, up to this point everything has been hunky dory... but now...

2. Poop. 4 weeks ago things were somewhere around Type 1 or 2 (like nuts!). Then I started the probiotics, wherein they went to, ooooh lets call it a 4.5 (for artistic merit). This I took to be my bodies usual mentally stimulated resonse to change (I think my physiology is the perfect representation of a blue-rinse tory: doesn't like change and doesn't like foreigners). Things stabilised and I've had a good two and half weeks of 3/4's. Lovely. But, this also lulled me into a false sense of security - oh, how easily I'm swayed by olives, pickled onions, Thai curries etc. This final week has consequently been a mixture of 4 and 5's again. But then, that might be normal, I've forgotten what that is...

3. Yoghurt. Firstly I can't make up my mind how I want to spell this - with or without an 'H'? I started on the Activia and then moved on to the Muller Vitality as I was informed of their PRO and PREbiotic attributes. There is not much I can say about these. During the period of 3/4's I was taking them regularly, and after the initial bloatedness all seemed well. Then last week, as described above, things not so good. But crucially, I got a bit lazy, and when I ran out of yogs I couldn't be bothered to go and buy more, so I stopped having them every day... Well, I don't know if that would make much difference... Also the vanilla ones are infinately better than the strawberry ones.

4. When I've changed the steroid dose, I have to go and have another blood test. Joy.