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Is the media too embarrassed to talk about poo?

If you read my blog or know me at all, you will know I talk a lot about poo… Some may say I talk shit, but we’ll overlook that!  I started the blog as I wanted to stop poo being a taboo, to talk about Ulcerative Colitis and IBD.  Over 180,000 people in the UK have either Crohns or Colitis yet it is not something discussed very often.  Now I have my stoma, I talk a lot about Ostomies and what its like to have a bag.  Over 100,000 people in the UK have some type of ostomy, yet again as a nation we just don’t discuss it.

Since starting the blog I have been shocked at the amount of readers I have, in September alone I had over 13,000 views of the site.  I receive so many emails, messages and comments about the site and all have been very positive.  I am delighted, if not a little shocked, at how popular the blog has become.  When I share my blog on Facebook and twitter, many friends share it with their friends.  This is lovely and very much appreciated, it really means a lot.

So I thought it would be good to get the blog out to a wider audience.  I tweeted, messaged and emailed a lot of people in the public eye including several magazines and though the feedback I have is good, no one seems to want to publicise the blog or the subject of poo.  It leaves me wondering why this is?  My viewing figures show that people want to read about the subject so why are people in the public eye so shy of promoting health awareness when it comes to poo?  Is it embarrassment? Or do they think that the general public don’t want to read about poo?

poo taboo

Everyone poops

I emailed a LOT of magazines including a journalist who sent a PR request out for ‘women in their 30s who started an inspiring blog this year about a life changing event’.  It seemed perfect!  But though the journalist thought my story was interesting and inspiring, it wasn’t right for the magazine.

Now I don’t want to seem big headed, and I really don’t expect every journalist in the land to raise their hands in awe and think my story is the best thing ever!! But it does surprise me that no one seems to want to cover the subject.  I have asked a number of people who I know, who are in the public eye if they would share the blog on Facebook or twitter and Im not getting anywhere with that either.

I *know* that poo is a taboo subject with some people, but when hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are suffering from the same diseases or living with a stoma, I just want to speak openly and honestly about it.  When you have these things it can feel very lonely and its easy to feel isolated so it was so important to me to get out in the open and start talking.  What I have gone through and what Im still going through is rubbish, but it shouldn’t be embarrassing to discuss it.  Yes, I had a disease that involved my arse and spent ten years with diarrhoea.  Yes, I now have a stoma, I wear an ileostomy bag.  At times I struggle with these things, but talking about it just makes things easier.  I do not need the media to promote the idea that this is embarrassing or not to be spoken about.

poo taboo

Or even worse, promoting ostomies as something disgusting and horrific.  The Cincinnatti Police department recently started an initiative to lower the gun crime rate by showing teenagers photographs of people with colostomy bags to show the possible affects of being shot.  “You’re not killed, but you’re walking around with a colostomy bag and that’s just not the way to get a girl’s attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag,” said Lt. Joe Richardson.

Well fuck you Lt. Richardson, I guarantee you that my stoma doesn’t stop me getting attention from the opposite sex. My stoma doesn’t take away my sexuality. I’d rather date someone with a stoma than someone who is ignorant.

Their message was that having a bag is the most unattractive thing that could happen to you. A news report actually said the police showed teens “gruesome photos of people with colostomy bags” It promotes the thoughts that if you have a stoma, you are unattractive, smelly and you should be ashamed of the fact. Myths like these arise because of campaigns like the Cincinnati Police Departments. By portraying an ostomy as a tragic and gruesome way to live out the rest of your life, it continues the stigma surrounding stomas and discourages people with ostomies from speaking about their condition without shame publicly.

Where are the stories of inspiration? Where are the stories of people feeling beautiful, empowered and proud? Having a stoma means you were in a situation that meant this drastic, life altering surgery was your best chance of having a life without pain. For many it is emergency surgery done to save lives. I think people who have been through this deserve to be celebrated not shamed or ignored.

Obviously it would be lovely for people to share my story and my blog, but if you don’t want to do that – share someone else’s, or just don’t be afraid to discuss poo and illness. One thing that many people have told me is that after reading and discussing or sharing my blog, they learnt that someone they know has IBD or a stoma. It surprises me that once you start talking then others feel comfortable enough to share their experiences too.

After I started this blog I got an email from my cousin who told me that he too has ulcerative colitis. He lives quite far away from me and I don’t see him often but I couldn’t believe a family member had the same disease as me and we didn’t know about it! That no one in our families had spoken about it and connected that we had the same thing!

I had a person come up to me in the street and say ‘Sam!!! I have a bad ass too!!!!’ The power of blogging, eh?!!

I write this blog as I want to share my experiences to help others and to get people talking. Please help me do that by sharing this post and letting me know if it helps you or someone you know.

Many thanks

Sam xx

Day three in hospital

Day three in the Big Brudder house… Man, I can’t even do accents when I’m writing them down!

Yesterday ended with a visit from Corinne which was lovely and then hilarious chatter with the other three ladies on my ward. One lady has some dementia issues but had this moment of clarity that was so beautiful it made me cry. She was saying that she’d had an accident which meant she wasn’t mobile and had to exercise and get her legs working again.

She said her husband would help by them each standing at one end of the kitchen counter and then he would sing to her to make her walk into the middle to meet him. Is that the sweetest thing you’ve heard today?

Later on I was listening to her chat with a lady who had taken her hearing aids out. Bloody hilarious!!!!

So this morning was more blood tests, more meds and more pooing in cardboard trays… So glamorous!!

I’m really missing my kids today, which is a surprise to us all seeing as its the end of the summer holidays! You’d think I would be glad of the rest! But I spoke to them all this morning which was lovely and Caroline is taking them swimming today and bringing them up visit tonight. I can’t wait to see my three babies!!

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The surgeon came to see me this afternoon. He says that they want to give me two more days on the IV steroids and hope that it settles my colitis, if it does they will book me in for surgery as an outpatient for in the next few months. If it doesn’t then they may want me to go in for surgery in the next week!! Eek!!!

I’m scared but almost relieved. I’m glad that be it in a few days or a few months that I can see an end to the disease. I think that’s one of the hardest thing to deal with IBD. It’s a lifelong condition and the inability to to know how you will be week to week, month to month or year to year makes life so hard. So knowing that they are taking this seriously and that surgery is definitely a viable option makes me see a well searched for light at the end of the tunnel.

He did throw me a curveball though before he left. Apparently there is a ‘controversial’ study that says that an appendectomy can hugely reduce symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis – especially as the main area of my disease is in left side of my colon. He says there is no hard evidence that it works but it could be something to think about and look into. So I can see some major googling from me in the next day or so!

I’m not feeling any better yet which is a worry, the steroids should be helping to relieve symptoms but there’s no improvement yet. Today I had to have some extra painkillers and anti sickness drugs as I was really struggling.

I moved wards today, the ward I have been on shuts down for the weekend so they moved me onto the gastro ward – it’s kind of nice to be around other people who have similar problems.

The kids came to visit which was fab, they wrote me a letter, gave lots of hugs and Ellie even left me Giraffey to look after me! It’s her number one teddy so I’m feeling very blessed! It was lovely to see them, thanks so much to Caroline for looking after them and for bringing them in. I have to admit to a quiet weep when they’d left – I’m missing them so much and it was hard to see them leave.

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Also had a visit from my mum and friends Martin and Claire – Martin asked what he could bring for me and I suggested a magazine… I realised you should never ask a man for a magazine as this is what he brought me!

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Well at least he made me laugh!! Almost as much as when he asked the nurse her inside leg measurement.
Don’t ask…

So Ill update again tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Love Sam xxx

Im so badass… life with Ulcerative Colitis

I run another blog called Pretty Little Peculiar and I first wrote this post on that blog, I got such a great response that it seemed only right that it should be my first post here.  Please feel free to leave comments!

I suffer from a disease called Ulcerative Colitis – people usually stare blankly when I say that.  ”It’s kinda like Crohns” I say and most people sort of get it.  Both come under the same bracket of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – not the same as IBS by the way.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 10 years ago and since then I have been hospitalised may times, had blood transfusions, taken so many types of drugs, had numerous colonoscopies (that’s a camera up your ass to the layman) and dealt with so many issues surrounding the disease.

Ulcerative Colitis affects up to 120,000 people in the UK, that’s about 1 in 500, so not as rare as you’d imagine.  It affects the rectum and the colon (large intestine). Inflammation and many tiny ulcers develop on the inside lining of the colon resulting in urgent and bloody diarrhoea, pain and continual tiredness.  In addition, UC can cause inflammation in the eyes, skin and joints.

So as you can imagine it is a pretty embarrassing disease at times, we don’t tend to like talking about bodily fluids, especially if it is ones coming out of your bum.  I used to be mortified about my condition, I hated to talk about it and it made me feel ashamed and disgusted with myself.  But in the past ten years I have realised that it is nothing to be ashamed of and that if myself and fellow sufferers don’t speak out then the taboo will continue.

So I make a point of speaking openly and honestly about my disease.  Family and friends are aware of my condition and are now so used to me chatting about the disease, the side effects and the medications that they are happy and comfortable talking and joking about it too.  Joking about it probably seems weird to anyone who hasn’t suffered from a debilitating disease but honestly, there are times where if I don’t laugh, Id cry!!

 

I have recently been put on high dose steroids (prednisone) and the list of side effects from this drug is horrific!  Click on the link to go to the NHS website for the full list but here are a few of the corkers…

Blindness

Bone Fractures

Moon Face

Psychosis

Insomnia

Hair Overgrowth

Depression

Sound good? No, I don’t think so either.  I am under a great IBD team from the hospital and have a specialised IBD nurse who I can call and discuss all my problems with.  I spoke to her this week about the possibility of elective bowel surgery, with Ulcerative Colitis the ONLY cure is to remove the large bowel (this is not the same for Crohns as that effects the entire digestive system.)

Its a big step and one that I won’t take lightly, but I think I am getting to the point where it is affecting my quality of life and I don’t want to take any more nasty drugs!

I have also been thinking about setting up a separate blog about Ulcerative Colitis and IBD.  I follow an awesome american blog called Inflamed and Untamed – be sure to check it out.  But I am disappointed by the lack of young, funny and honest blogs in the UK for people like me.  The Crohns and Colitis UK site is an absolute wealth of knowledge, please do take a look.  But I want to speak to other people like me who are going through this.  I want to be able to share my journey and hear other people tell their stories.

Sam xx