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?
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.
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.