Too Cool For Stool:  My life with Ulcerative Colitis. 100% non-scientific opinion pieces. Expect pop culture, poop culture(s) and puns.

Part Four:
Netflix and Ill

Ch-Ch-Check it Out

Posted: 19 April 2017

In this age of mass information, it’s easy to become transfixed on the slightest ailments when you’ve got the internet as a guide. An iffy cough could be lung cancer; a strange set of marks on your body – could that be meningitis? A lingering headache or migraine could be a brain tumour, y’know…

 

In most cases, we’re merely experiencing a rubbish short-term bug, a silly bruise from when you bumped into something at work, or a dose of eye strain from playing Candy Crush on your phone when you should be getting some sleep, but you’re still hopelessly hooked, dammit! However, the internet will always be there to help fuel our fears and concerns (rational or otherwise) if we decide to search online.

 

I’ve always been wary of bothering the doctors. Not in a ‘I don’t want a doctor doing things to me’ way, or an ‘If I ignore it, it’ll go away’ manner, but in a, ‘I know I overthink everything, so I need to not torture myself about this; just take a deep breath, analyse the scenario without any hysteria and for God’s sake don’t Google it before deciding to make an appointment’ kinda way. I’ve got a relatively decent understanding of the main issues to be aware of, so I try not to torture myself any further. For me, this form of pseudo-ignorance has been bliss for nearly three decades.

 

During autumn 2015, I’d become a vaguely familiar face at my local surgery. After receiving a second prostate exam (Different GP, stronger technique, but – mercifully – no small-talk), I got summoned for a blood test, with the results pointing toward a colonoscopy.

 

Gulp.

 

The blood test itself was an interesting one, because I couldn’t ever recall having a blood test since I was a young child. My only main reference points from blood tests were from friends who’d ended up with gigantic bruises on their arms from when they’d been tested, so I wasn’t feeling all too keen about it.[*]

 

When it came to my turn, I felt feint after the jab took place and left the cotton wool strapped to my arm for a good four hours afterward, as I was frightened of causing the vein to burst like a water main when I took it off.[*] To cap things off, my arm felt sore after I returned home, so I softened the blow by eating Rich Tea biscuits like a blood donor and whimpering pathetically for the rest of the day.[*]

 

On top of the obvious psychological torture I endured[*], my GP prescribed me with something called Fybogel Mebeverine, which aims to help those with IBS return to ‘regular bowel movements’ and reduce painful gut spasms. I was told to take one sachet before every breakfast and evening meal and see how I get on.

 

The Fybogel itself was a bit like drinking an effervescent, orangey exfoliator. After pouring the sachet into a cup of water and smelling the intense citrus aroma, it was time to knock it back – more fool you if you tried to slosh it around your mouth like a wine aficionado, though; I lost count of the times I got one of the many tiny orangey balls wedged in my teeth – and try not to hang around for the aftertaste. Success with the Fybogel was determined by whether or not it looked like you’d swallowed a bag of tiny polystyrene balls later that day…

(Maybe he's born with it.) Maybe it's Mebeverine...  (Image: They're There)

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop (Going To The Toilet)

 

It would take two-and-a-half months to go from prostate exam #2 to colonoscopy, so I had plenty of time to notice any further changes while causing irreparable damage to my rapidly decreasing dignity. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a diarrhoea dilemma with an electrician working on the other side of a flimsy bathroom door, but it tends to end with you pleading for the sparky to depart before sneaking (read: running) back to your office and never looking back.[**] Another occasion saw me rush to the loo six times in 45 turbulent[***] minutes at work before disconsolately heading home to lie down.

 

These dilemmas regularly left me feeling exhausted, cold and shivering from head to toe, but I’d found that having a 30-60min post-poo nap would effectively ‘reset’ my body, and I’d be on the road to recovery by the time I’d woken up. For me, this emphasised the notion that this must be anxiety-related, as anything physically demanding wouldn’t have accepted a quick nap as a fix.

 

It was all making sense until one grim evening at the pub. Still oblivious to the issues alcohol can bring to an UC-riddled large intestine, the addition of a few JD & Cokes on an otherwise uneventful Saturday[****] night turned out to be the perfect storm I’d been lumbering towards.

 

Just as I was about to head home, my large intestine started to fill up like a balloon. Admittedly, getting some gas in one’s gut from having a few drinks isn’t exactly uncommon, but this was like someone had fitted a pump directly into my large intestine and switched it on. Just like at Glastonbury, the fear set in. Fortunately, I knew this establishment like the back of my hand and darted straight to the gents. Unfortunately, what happened next was an awful lot of blood appearing in a bright white porcelain bowl, and then again in another movement shortly after.

 

Panic stations had certainly arrived.

 

Shortly after that bloody night out, a piece of post careered through the letter box, informing me of an impending colonoscopy procedure. I was to organise a date, time and location (I had the luxury of choosing from three local hospitals) for said colon camera caper, and await further instructions. With the next available date booked (which happened to be one of the last left in 2015), a second, larger letter arrived soon after.

 

Along with a suspiciously large packet of laxative, a ream of papers arrived too, with a number of them including words such as ‘biopsy’, ‘may need an operation’ and ‘risks of a small tear in the wall of the bowel’. What the fuck was I reading?!

 

With these new revelations lying in front of me, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to freak out. So I promptly did.

 

Pseudo-ignorance was no longer bliss. It was finally time to say cheese… and fart.

 

 

* I was being a total wuss.  [Top]  [Top Again]  [...And Again]

** Inevitably, you would again make eye contact with the same electrician, leaving you with a sense of shame on par with when you called your teacher “mum” at school.  [Top]

*** More like turdulent, right? Right?!  [Top]

**** Shaturday. (I’m starting to sense a recurring theme on weekends…)  [Top]

 

THE SONG SUPPOSITORY

To shake rears, apply liberally to rears.

Heading your way this week on The Sound Suppository is a doctored Usher title (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (Going to the Toilet)), a couple of loosely-related-to-the-theme songs (Cancer Bats – Old Blood; The Chemical Brothers – Orange Wedge), some tediously-linked lyrics (IDLES – Stendhal Syndrome) and a straightforward tune to cap things off (Psychobilly Freakout).

 

Get clicking sharpish below to get the full Stool mini-soundtrack experience!

© 2017 They're There.

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