Too Cool For Stool: My life with Ulcerative Colitis. 100% non-scientific opinion pieces. Expect pop culture, poop culture(s) and puns.
Image: Pixabay/They're There
Ch-Ch-Check it Out
In keeping with many books and movies, this story is now going back to the beginning.
March 2014: Malaysia Airways flight 370 disappears over The Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board, Russia formally annexes Crimea, the Conservative party are 14 months away from triggering the EU Referendum, Leicester City are weeks away from being promoted back to the Premier League, and Donald Trump appeared to have no hope of even becoming governor of New York, let alone President of the United States.[*] On the ‘Global Batshit’ index, things were a solid 7/10.
On a personal level, things were little out of sync. I occasionally have difficulties stemming from anxiety and (mild) depression, and in March 2014, my Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was starting to raise its jittery head again. It wasn’t all-consuming, but it was draining, and I was aware it needed fixing.
One of the possible symptoms of GAD is diarrhoea, and while I never hit the heady heights of the full-on runs, I was going to the toilet far more frequently and – more importantly - I had streaks of blood acting as ‘go-faster stripes’ on anything my bowels produced.
Just So We All Know:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that creates excessive, constant, uncontrolled and irrational worry about activities and events in a persons’ life. Everyday concerns, such as health, money, friends, family and relationships, death, and job/career problems are often common areas of worry for individuals experiencing GAD.
There are a number of physical issues linked to GAD, too, including: headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties, insomnia, rashes, trembling, difficulties with swallowing, stomach pains, muscle aches/tension, sweating and fatigue to name a few.
GAD can often be managed through a treatment of medication, therapy (most commonly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)), or a combination of both.
Givin' It The Finger
A few months later, I explain this to my GP, and he mentions that he’d like to check my prostate, and I accept his proposal. From what I’ve told him, he doubts that it’s anything cancerous, but he says it’s always best to check these things, and, partly due to trepidation, I agree and nod far too enthusiastically.
Thanks to the world of film and television, I’ve always had a vision of how I imagined a prostate exam to go. The patient would stand, legs apart, bare-cheeked and holding onto the bed. The doctor would stand behind with a lubricated finger or two, mention something about me feeling something uncomfortable for a few moments, and the rest would be history.
However, as I shuffled into the side-room for ‘examination’, a number of things happened to shatter my preconceptions. Firstly, my GP decided to try and elicit small-talk as we prepared for the examination. With his back turned while he lubricated his now latex-gloved fingers, he asked me if I was “going anywhere nice this year on my holidays,” with all the shared interest and zeal of a man who’s having to stick his fingers up my bumhole.
The second moment arrived soon after, when my GP asked me to lie down on the bed with my knees tucked up toward my chest. Hang on - wasn’t I supposed to stand up for this bit?!
Actually, this was a lot better, as it meant I was - essentially - lying in the foetal position, which feels a little more sympathetic to the task at hand. However, my GP wasn’t ready to go just yet…
“Would you mind lying on your other side, please? I’m right-handed…”
Oh for God’s sake…
Having a prostate exam was one of my first ‘Mini Gulp Moments’; a moment when your health is in question, and you require a mildly intrusive (and positively forgettable) investigation to figure out what’s going on. I’d already experienced a couple of ‘Mini Gulps’ in the past when the same GP had been asked to check that I didn’t have the early signs of testicular cancer. Thankfully, I didn’t, but with this latest check out of the way, I was beginning to feel like my GP knew me more intimately than some of my former lovers[**] - but not enough to use this line from Road Trip, which looped around in my head for the entire appointment.
The examination itself isn’t really that bad, and certainly doesn’t deserve the stigmatism that surrounds it in some areas of society. There’s a few seconds of “WHATISGOINGON?!” followed by a brief moment of mild acceptance, followed by a relief that it’s over. I’d wager that a number of men who feel squeamish about having it done have had blood tests or vaccinations that have lasted longer and were more painful than an examination.
Just So We All Know:
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra – the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. The prostate’s job is to help make semen (the fluid that carries sperm), so it should come as little surprise to find out that the prostate can only be found in men.
As men get older, their prostate grows larger, too. An enlarged prostate can sometimes be an indicator to prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men – with 1 in 8 men getting prostate cancer during their lives.
Prostate Cancer UK do a great job with explaining the, ahem, ins and outs of the prostate and why it’s worth having an examination. Click here to be sent to their excellent website if you need to know more.
Come Friendly Butt Bombs
As for me, I was prescribed some suppositories and told to see how things go after a week. The suppositories themselves were pretty interesting too, as they had to be kept in the fridge, meaning that when it came to using them twice a day, they always left you with the rather surreal sensation of something quite cold warming up/dissolving in one’s backside - like a tiny, Arctic Harp Seal had sought refuge in one’s rectum. Stranger moments would also occur whenever one needed to break wind, as I envisaged the suppository being forcibly removed by the excess gas and inadvertently shattering an innocent bystanders’ shins. Thankfully, no such incident occurred, and everything passed by without any major horrors.
Relevant links to places that are far more important:
The suppositories were like these, only a bit longer. I started calling them ‘Butt Bullets’ or ‘Butt Bombs’, due to their shape. ‘Prostate Pellets’ didn’t sound as good, and ‘Bumker Buster’ was just plain silly. (Image: They're There)
The rest of the week rolled by, and everything went back to normal. For about a year, that was it. I’d see the occasional hint of blood, but it tended to sync in with a moment of anxiety, so that was that as far as I was concerned; I was probably just straining too much when I got massively anxious about life. There are worse character flaws to have, I guess.
As Spring 2015 came into focus, I had to start rushing to the toilet when I was at work. I didn’t need to do it when I was out anywhere else, so (again) I thought it must be an anxiety thing. GAD can be affected by work stresses, so it still seemed to fit. I’d begun running again after a long break due to injury, so I (somewhat naively) thought maybe all of the excess jiggling about might be causing problems, too. Everything I was experiencing seemed to lean toward Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), so with that in mind, I decided to give it a while to see if it would calm down before badgering my GP again.
Anyways, I had an appointment with Glastonbury Festival to attend to first, so with a temperamental tummy in tow, I headed off toward Somerset thinking that a break from the everyday stresses and strains would be just what I needed; but what occurred over the next six days turned out to be anything but blissful.
* Inb4 “FAKE NEWS!!!111!!!1!” - Whatever, man. [Top]
** He retired soon afterwards. No, really… (He was a great GP..!) [Top]
THE SONG SUPPOSITORY
To shake rears, apply liberally to ears.
Coming up this week on The Sound Suppository, there’s a near embarrassment-of-inappropriate-title riches, thanks to Gallows (Come Friendly (Butt) Bombs), Stevie Wonder (Fingertips Pts. 1 & 2) and Kid Sister (Right Hand Hi), as well as straight-forward - ahem - entries by The Raconteurs (Hands) and Bad Religion (Anxiety).
Get clicking below to enjoy the full Stool mini-soundtrack experience!
Added This Week:
Come Friendly Bombs
Added This Week:
Added This Week:
Fingertips Pts. 1 & 2
Added This Week:
Right Hand Hi (Caspa Remix)
Added This Week:
Available on Spotify:
Download the Playlist
Play it all on Spotify