Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My Little Brown Book

My first book on Crohn’s Disease will be published in a mere matter of weeks on the 21st May! I’m very excited to share it with you. Here I have gifted you with an extract from it (completely GRATIS!!!!) I know, I’m too kind, I’m just a giver. Hope you enjoy!

‘It’s widely known that very few people are 100 per cent comfortable in discussing their bowel movements, and until I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I would certainly not have considered myself amongst them. It just wasn’t really the ‘done thing’ in my household. I’m not sure if this mild prudishness goes back generations or was just more of a trait within my own immediate family, but it’s certainly something I became more acutely aware of as my problems in that department began to escalate. I realised I felt vaguely uncomfortable and borderline ashamed about discussing anything untoward that may have been happening below the love handles.

I don’t, in any way, blame my parents for this. I don’t blame anyone, for that matter. It may have absolutely nothing to do with my upbringing, but there was obviously some reason I felt so unpleasant about discussing my own rear end. It’s just one of those things I can’t quite place. This ‘thing’ however, made it decidedly more difficult for me to be as honest as I could with doctors and nurses when they were struggling to diagnose my illness. I felt it was easier to nod in agreement with their suggestions than to express the full extent of the aforementioned ‘uproar’ I was experiencing down there. I wanted to save myself the red-faced humiliation, and no matter how much I was told they’d ‘heard it all before’ I couldn’t escape the fact that I was actually being forced to talk about POO. MY poo for that matter.
This fool couldn’t handle her own stool.
This missus couldn’t discuss her faeces.
This burd couldn’t debate her own tur…you get the general idea.

In Crohn’s Disease a patient’s toilet activities are very important indeed. What ends up in the porcelain can be an incredibly vital clue for doctors in establishing the extent of the disease and its effects on the body. Medical professionals can discover so much from just a small, unassuming stool sample. Not only that, but they can also garner a huge amount of information from simple questioning. All of which means as a patient you really have to get to grips with ‘talking shit’. Normally an absolute BLESSING for me. They will need to know specifics. What consistency is it? Is there blood in it? How much is there, and how often are you going? I’m never particularly comfortable with this kind of bizarre quizzing, but I’m slowly trying to learn to get descriptive about it. In fact I now find that more people around me feel they can openly discuss their own bowel movements, whether I want to hear about it or not. As though I’ve unwittingly become some strange form of poo guru. A Poo-ru, if you will. People have started asking me what it means when this, that or the next thing happens in their bathroom. I absolutely do not profess to be any kind of expert on matters of the rear, however I do have extensive knowledge of various unsavoury scenarios that people tend to think gives me insight others perhaps don’t possess.

Many new (and old) patients also find this type of ‘in-depth’ colon-versation difficult to take to at first. Most of these patients, thankfully, find that they eventually become immune to the discussions with medical professionals that take place around that area. They come to realise, as I’ve had to, that it’s essential, unfortunately, in helping the doctors do their job to the best of their abilities. At the end of the day, it’s our health on the line; therefore we should do everything in our power to help ourselves get better. I often find myself getting incredibly frustrated by the fact that there still seems to be such a stigma attached to Crohn’s Disease. This stigma spreads itself across several other bowel-related illnesses for that matter. We, as humans, are all essentially the same; we all take in food and water in the same way and all expel it in the same way too. So why should we be embarrassed to discuss these things openly? That’s not entirely true of course, humans with Crohn’s often find their bodies (and in particular their bowels) don’t work in quite the same way as those without, however much we would like them too.

When you have been established as a Crohn’s patient, you may find a lot of your doctor’s time can be spent at your rear end. Not a thought I’m sure you, or your doctor, will particularly relish. Colonoscopies and other similar procedures can be invasive and often require ‘probing’. You know – that thing that aliens always do in films when they come down to Earth for a visit. One could certainly say it is an alien concept, for a stranger to drug you then shove a camera up your back passage without so much as a mojito for your trouble. Then, as if that weren’t enough, for you all to sit around and watch the show on a screen! WITHOUT any popcorn. It’s an absolute scandal! I exaggerate, obviously; you do get a mojito (if you go private).’

For more of this nonsense you can purchase ‘Go Your Crohn Way’ when it is available to buy from 21st May (and it can currently be pre-ordered from Amazon). You can sign up to email alerts from my publisher here:

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Go Your Crohn Way

I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis lately. Not to the point that I’m so much as questioning everything in my life, but more why I have I set myself up for failure. I’m launching a book in a few weeks; I’m throwing a launch party and have been posting the link to said book all over social media in a bid to drum up interest. I’ve told EVERYONE – including the bin-man and local window cleaner. I’m both excited and absolutely terrified in equal measures. I say ‘failure’ because one of the great qualities of my personality is my ability to jump straight to the pinnacle of anxiety by assuming the Worst Case Scenario wherever possible.

I don’t always feel this abject terror. It often comes then leaves just as quickly; much like a selfish lover.

But I do feel it today. I feel a panic of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” / “WHO WILL READ THIS?!” / “WHY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE SUCH AN EXPERT?!” – all valid questions I grant you. Because these queries buzz about my head like doubting Thomases’ around … Jesus? IDK I appreciate I’ve gone off-piste here, but what I’m trying to say is that it makes it harder to focus on why I am doing what I am doing.

I have spent over a year of my spare time writing a book about my experiences in living with Crohn’s Disease because I want to show the wider world that there is life beyond chronic illness. When I was diagnosed I was utterly terrified of what the future held for me; or even if there was a future. I didn’t want to live in constant pain and I didn’t want to be ‘different’. The truth was of course, I always had been. I just didn’t know it. I started my blog to help myself – it was a marvellous and magical coincidence that it helped others – so now I write to help people like you.

I don’t profess to be an ‘expert’ on all things IBD – I don’t have an encyclopaedic medical knowledge and I don’t know what some things/symptoms/medications feel like because I haven’t done/experienced everything. Neither have you.

But I do know how it feels to live with a chronic and debilitating illness. I know how it can and does affect every aspect of your life and I know some ways to make life feel a little bit better. Many of those ‘ways’ involve medication strong enough to flatten an elephant but again I’m not a Doctor here so please seek medical advice before popping pills galore. Primarily talking about your condition helps - especially with people who love you – or/and with people who understand what you are going through.

But haud the bus here, I’m, not giving up all my tips and tricks away gratis! – my publisher would have my (remaining) guts for garters.
So I am probably contractually obliged to say that you can sign up to email alerts for my book Go Your Crohn Way here:

And/or pre-order it from Amazon here:

So while I certainly struggle with the idea of actual real life humans reading my ramblings I hope you know that I write for you and for me; life is tough and I want to make it less tough for you if I can. That’s why with every copy of my book will be a voucher for enough drugs to flatten an elephant.


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Slice Of Life

Dear Surgeon, 
{name removed to protect privacy} 

You probably don't remember me. That's fine; you see people like me everyday. 
But I remember you. Just over five years ago you saved my life. 

I don't quite know where to begin in expressing how thankful I am for that. 

Perhaps I could send you a card with a heartfelt message in it - (done that). 
I could cuddle you against your will, post-surgery - (done that). 
I could ugly-cry on you in a morphine-induced stupor and tell you I love you - (yes, I've sadly done that too...) 

But all of that would (did) probably embarrass you. 

When I say you saved my life I mean that quite literally. You performed a surgery which served to stop me exiting this world much earlier than I would've liked. 
However in doing so you also gave me my life back. I hadn't realised it was gone until I woke up. 
I'd all but given up hope of ever getting better. I'd resigned myself to a life of pain; I was in a pit of despair. 
Then I woke up and I was alive. I felt something like happiness for the first time in a long time and it was wonderful. 

I'm not sure how much of this I successfully expressed on the afternoon of my operation. I think I said something like "THANK-YOU I LOVE YOU I LIKE YOUR EYESHADOW THANK-YOU I LOVE YOU", but I'm sure you could read between the lines at what I truly meant. 

I know you probably think this is all over the top, and that you were just doing your job, blah blah blah, and maybe that's true. 
But I want you to know I am grateful for you and all you have done for me. You saved my life and gave me the chance to help others by sharing my experience. I can't ever repay you for what you and your amazing colleagues have done, and continue to do for people like me everyday, but I hope knowing I am alive and thriving goes someway to stand as a testament to your handiwork. 
Keep on slicin'; you're ever so good at it. 

All my love and intestines, 

Kathleen xox

P.S. Where do you get that eyeshadow, it's beautiful?