About doobarz

You can view my blog at https://gutlessdick.com/ and follow me on Twitter @doobarz

Where I Have Been – Life Update

So in the long gap between the last two blog posts, quite a lot has happened. I’ve moved house (not far), my youngest child has started school (he has some additional needs so this been quite tricky) and I have been running lots more.

I started running with a group in 2019, having been increasing the frequency of my parkruns. I could probably do a whole post about parkrun and how amazing I think it is. I first went in 2017 when I was recovering from surgery to try and get more active. When I couldn’t walk or run I volunteered, and found it to be an immensely welcoming community and a very rewarding experience – both physically and mentally. Earlier this year I completed my 50th parkrun, and I would highly recommend checking it out. It operates in many countries around the world, you really can go and walk (it’s 5 kilometres/ 3.2 miles) on a Saturday morning, or you can volunteer.

Pre-COVID I entered an event local to me – The Sodbury Scramble – this was also 5km, so I thought with my parkrun experience I’d be OK, I’d done a few longer club runs with the now defunct Brimsham Bullets. It was a bit of an eye opener, because it was hilly and muddy – I had the wrong shoes, my core strength (or lack of) meant I kept sliding down the hill at points. However, I persevered, and when I repeated the event a year later, although I wasn’t much quicker, it felt much better and more comfortable.

I have done various parkruns in different locations, but have really upped my running in 2022, entering several events including two half marathons. On 13th November, I ran, for the second time, The Sodbury Slog with my new running club Riverside Runners. I managed to take 11 minutes of my time from the year before, which I was very pleased with.

There are a number of reasons why the running is important to me. Firstly, it helps me to be fitter and healthier – physically and mentally. There is a social side, particularly if you a club runner, and at my club we are very supportive of each other. It’s also important because 10 years ago I had to sit down for an hour after I’d walked around the supermarket, and on a day I don’t quite beat my PB, that provides me with a level of reassurance that I am so much better off now than I was. I know not everyone with IBD will be able to run, or even want to. However, if you can, I’d really recommend giving it a go.

It’s Been Too Long…

Over a year in fact. It has been a busy time with one thing and another, and if I told you everything now I’d probably not post again for ages!

A couple of things have brought me back. The first was the domain renewal notice! It’s going to be Crohn’s & Colitis awareness week soon (1st – 7th December) and I’ve seen a few people previewing that.

The final thing that brought me back was a whole range of posts that I’ve seen following the sharing of extracts of Matthew Perry’s book, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. In this book, Matthew talks candidly about his drug addiction and how an overdose led to a coma, and when he then vomited into his breathing tube and swallowed his vomit the toxicity caused his colon to burst. This led to periods of time with a colostomy and ileostomy, and 14 surgeries. What grabbed headlines and a focus was his account of frequently waking up covered in his own poop (’50 – 60 times’) of needing nursing assistance each time, and of a therapist advising him to use the thought of the colostomy bag as a motivator to come off drugs (which he did).

The focus on these ideas (seized upon in The Daily Mail in particular) have caused a flurry of people condemning both the comments and the coverage, but also some well considered posts about how we have to recognise that this has been his experience (my favorite of these is here). So lots has already been said, and I may well not add much to the discussion coming to it as late as I am, but let’s give it a go…

Firstly, it was new to me that someone might need a stoma in these circumstances – even if it was as a complication of the coma rather than the drug use directly. Having not read the book, I am unsure of the exact circumstances at the time, but I wondered if opioids might be causing overflow, making the stoma particularly difficult to manage. When I had my loop ileostomy (between the formation of my internal pouch and it being activated) it was very hard to manage and frequently failed leading to leakage and in turn sore skin.

Secondly, it struck me that Matthew did not appear to be getting high quality stoma care. When a stoma is first formed, it frequently changes size and shape, as well as the body changing shape (swelling from the surgery reducing, weight gain or loss) and the hole cut for the stoma has to be remeasured frequently. I don’t know what kind of hospital he was in, and if it had a stoma nurse to support him, but it sounds like he had a terrible experience. The interpretation of his experience being that having a stoma is terrible has caused some upset, as many people with a stoma see it as either saving there life, or giving them there life back.

If he was willing, I wonder if Matthew could front a campaign in the US, or even globally, to promote the value of high quality stoma nurse care? In the UK there is a national shortage of nurses, let alone clinical nurse specialists, and it would be great to have such a high-profile figure receive some information and education, and then say this is something patients need for quality of life. Could this bag be any stickier?

Spring has sprung!

Or is it Summer? Or after a week of snow showers is it Winter? When they say lockdown makes you lose track of time, they were not kidding!

So hello lovely readers. Apologies for another extended absence. As you will know, the global pandemic has not yet abated. Here in England (because the restrictions are different in different areas of the UK) we were, when I last wrote, getting ready for Christmas with contact allowed for a brief period. This was then stopped, and then after the oldest boy went back to school for 1 day the schools were closed in January. We then had a period with him at home for home learning whilst we worked, and his brother at nursery. He returned to school in March. I have now had my first dose of vaccine (with my second dose due next week) – although this is because of my job rather than my IBD (I am not on any immunosuppressants or other treatments). If you are in the UK then it is recommended if you have IBD that you get the vaccine. There is also research in support of that position.

Within that time we have had periods of isolation when the youngest child developed one of the key symptoms (a temperature, new continuous cough or loss of taste or smell) and we had to get him tested. My wife also then tested positive, but recovered quickly. I am taking lateral flow tests twice a week (because we have a child at school) but, as the hairdressers and beer gardens reopen tomorrow, it does feel like here in the UK we might be getting on top of things (finally – I won’t go into my thoughts about the handling of the pandemic here today. If you want to know, bring booze).

I have another week of isolation looming ahead of an Exam Under Anesthetic (EUA) at the end of April. This is a follow up from last summer when in August what is presumed to have been an abscess burst our of the scar where my anus was. I had an MRI shortly afterwards to check there was no collection (there was not) – however the wound has periodically leaked/ oozed since then, and so needs looking at which I am looking to forward to having done so hopefully if anything needs to be done it can be.

Since February my running has taken a big pause. Work has been very busy, and my motivation, alongside the restrictions, have meant it has been tricky to get doing things outside of the home. I am looking forward to May, when my isolation will be done and I can get back to that. I have put on some weight over this period, and a clear out of my wardrobe last week means I would like to lose some weight before I return to the office, or I will need to buy new clothes. I’m not sure if the running events I have entered will take place, but in theory I’ll be running Westonbirt 10K in May and Chippenham Half Marathon in September – so will need to get my training going.

Anyway, I will also try and post more regularly – let me know what your interested in!

Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week 2020

All of a sudden awareness week is upon me again. 2020 has been a unique year, and I haven’t done much to raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – I’ve been just getting on with life in lockdown, and then with children isolating as bubbles burst.

However, it is an important week, so I’m going to make a bit of effort!

Here in the UK, Crohn’s & Colitis UK have set up a challange or event each day this week. You can read about all 7 of them here. I’ll be doing the #4FactsChallenge tomorrow, and will wear some purple on Friday. If you want to get an insight into a day in the life of someone with IBD, then I do recommend the In My Shoes App which will let you follow along for a day.

I know a number of advocates have been struggling with there place in the IBD awareness world recently, as the emphasis seems to shift to an influence rmodel. It’s really positve to see people with hidden conditions and stoma bags featuring in advertising and marketing, and building podcasts and businesses. I’m not sure I see myself as an adsvocat enaymore – mostly because I don’t seem to find the time to dedicate to it, but I still occassioanlly drop into the forums and offer advice if I can.

I think what I would want people to be aware of this year is that some people with IBD will be really unwell. They will need frequent trips to hospital, be debilitated by their condition, or by a combination of several conditions making treatment difficult.

Another group might not yet have found the right treatment, or have drug therapies failing, so having been well will now be unwell again.

Another group, particualrly for those with Ulcerative Colitis, will have had surgery (perhaps several times) and will be currently well – like me.

And a further group will have found the right treatment for them, and will be well. Working, enjoying life and exercise with minimal impact from their disease.

All of those people have IBD. It isn’t a competition about who is most unwell, who has had the most surgeries or different treatments, or who posts most on social media. We are all of us united by a disease that we still have lots to learn about, so as you read through the various posts this week, remember that everyone’s journey is unique. If your recently diagnosed, don’t feel that surgery or a life unable to leave home and be away from the toilet is inevitable – it might not be your path.

Connect and share as you wish – but remember first and foremost to look after yourself – you don’t owe anyone anything in respect of your illness. Right now, the coronavirus restrictions mean everyone is emotionally drained, so try to just breathe and do what you need to do survive, so next year you can thrive.

World IBD Day 2020

And so once again World IBD is with us once again – so happy 19th May! This years’s theme is Work, which in the current global situation is looking a bit different for many of us. In this post I’m going to share with you some of my work related IBD moments, challenges and successes.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2005. At the time I was self-employed as a drama practitioner and did some office temping too. 3 months later I was beign treated with mesalazine suppositories, but things were getting worse, and one Friday I went to the GP who prescirbed prednisilone foam enemas. That Saturday I took a group of young people to Yprk for the day, and remember spending most of my lunch break in the toilet, sleeping most of Sunday and being taken back to the GP by my mum on Monday and sent to hospital. Various drugs were tried but I ended up hacvign an emergency colectomy, with a lenghty recovery period following the laperotomy (mid-line incision) and adapting to my ilesotomy. I wasn’t able to work, and was in recepit of what was the time called incapacity benefit for around 3 months. I still lived with my parents, and once I had recovered I was able to gain my first full time youth work post in Peterborough. Adjusting to a job with unsocial hours and work in schools where toilets had to be located and used at set times made having the bag interesting, but not too much of a hassle. I did an occasionall bag change at work, and don’t remember having any major leaks at work.

In August 2006 I had the first stage of my ileo-anal pouch formation. I had complications, and was unable to return to work until I had had further surgery in February 2007 (I did go back for one day and lasted just a few hours). I was fortunate to be able to recieve some counselling support via the occupational health department, but eventually went back. I continued to have issues with pain and leakage, which were temporarily helped with a course of Infliximab. I completed my MA Youth & Community Work in Durham as a part time student, and was then, in 2010, able to gain a mangement position down in Wiltshire, managing a youth centre in one area and overseeing the running of one in the adjacent town too. Late nights 3 nights a week meant I was pretty useless at the weekends, and the leakage from my pouch, as well as the bad skin from my foam enemas were an ongoign issue. I developed a huge abscess, had some time off with low mood and then decided to change role, and was able to find a much less demanding 9-5 role in 2013. This did knock my confidence and make me question what I would be able to do in the future. I had started Humeria, which helped a little but not enough. In 2015 I started another new management role, and in 2016 had my pouch defunctioned to see if this would resolve the issues I continued to have with frequent abscesses. A year later I needed the pouch excised and had my rectum and anus removed, and had a very long recovery from that surgery (2 years on total for it to heal, although I was able to work for much of that)/ I had a long period of daily dressing changes, and then trips to more specialists to try and get the wound to heal. Since it has been healed I have been, mostly, symptom free.

So reading back over that I have been very fortunate to have a number of supportive managers, and work for organisations that have had good sick pay and occupational health support. When I had a new manager I would use materials from Crohn’s & Colitis UK to explain what my condiion was and what I needed. I didn’t always take time off when I should, and have really struggled. Now however I am in a great place, and whilst I don’t believe I am cured, I am certainly in remission.

I am proud of what I have achieved at work, and those achievements certianly outweigh the harder times. You need to work with your IBD team, be honest with yourself and keep a work life balance – don’t put everythign into work so you spend all weekend recovering!

Plans for 2020

I was very pleased to have got a blog post on, even if it was short, in January already. It’s been a very busy week this week, with work (just one of those weeks) life and volunteering. The children have been waking up very early too!

Last weekend I was volunteering at a residental for the church youth group which was amazing – not done one for a while, and it was nice to flex the old youth worker muscles. I’ve been volunteering with the church youth group for about 18 months having stopped full time youth work in 2013 after I had my first huge abscess and the late nights were not working well for me with the pouch complications. Today I was supporting recruitment of a youth minister which was a very interesting process, and the young people had some great insights to offer.

It’s also been a funny week ostomy wise. I had to change my bag each day from Monday – Wednesday (usually I change every 3/4 days) and eventually worked out that one of the dips by my stoma had reduced, so no longer needed paste. Because I’ve been doing more running I’ve lost some weight/ improved my body tone. A little change can make a big difference! I shall do a future post about my current Ostomy appliance and accessories soon.


I am determined to get my coaching qualification finished off, and have dedicated Monday evenings, as well as a week in February to this. I started work with a new coaches this week, and it reminded me how much of a difference it can make to the coachee, but also how great it feels to have a good session with someone.


I have entered the Old Sodbury Scramble again this year, which takes place in March, and then got a place for the Westonbirt 10k in May too. I’m really enjoying running, and hoping to make it to 50 parkrun’s this year too. You can follow my running activity on Strava if you are so inclined.

I’m going to set up a JustGiving page for my running activities this year and raise some money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.


IBDHour hasn’t happened for a while now, and maybe post coaching qualification it could make a reappearance… Or be reborn as a podcast! I’m a fan of podcasts, and have a few ideas for theme and content / but no idea how to get it going!


One regret from 2019 is not being in touch with my friends as much as I would like, so this is something that needs to change this year. No excuses, just one of the things that you never seem to get around to with young children, which also makes travelling that bit more difficult.

What are your plans for 2020? Leave a comment!

Reflections on 2019

So we are now into 2020. I saw a Twitter post today reminding me that we are now as close to 2050 as we are away from 1990.

2019 was pretty quiet on the blog – only 4 posts. And it was pretty quiet IBD wise too. The Barbie Butt wound has remained healed, aside from the odd bit of discharge and leakage. My stoma has been well managed, with a few leaks but not many at all. I did get a little bit of arthritic type pain in my hands, but it went away again.

Life with a 5 and a 1 year old whilst working full time, even with a short communte and flexible working is hectic. My job is demanding, and sleep deprivation was a feature at the start of the year. When my wife went back to work in March we then juggled her being at work, also with a commute and now regularly get up at 5.30am to get ready to take the children to the childminder for 7.

I have been able to do some running though, following on from the Sodbury Scramble earlier in the year. And I didn’t quite complete my parkrun challenge, as an injury and some ilness prevented me from doing all 30 runs – however I managed 27 in 7 different locations, and did the New Years Day Double! My running really helps with both my physical and mental health, and I highly recommend parkrun to everyone.

The tiredness and hectic life has meant I have not yet completed my coaching qualification, so that is high on the priority list for 2020.

So nearly 15 years since my diagnosis, and now coming up to 4 years since my last major operation, and therefore 2 since the wound healed. Life is – usual?

How was your 2019? Leave a comment or get in touch via social media

IBD Awareness Week 2019

So I’ve been quiet recently here, and this week in particular. I’ve had flu, and felt really rubbish. I managed to make it back to work on Thursday, and was then off on Friday doing childcare.

Now I don’t know for sure I had flu, but the symptoms were flu like – runny nose, headache, shivers, sweats and then fatigue. In fact it was the post-viral fatigue that was almost worse than the flu bit really. And I had received my flu jab, so either this was a strain that wasn’t covered, or made less because of the jab – or was some other virus.

I think it is worth remembering that people with chronic illness can still get regular ill. This might be compounded by any treatment which affects the immune system, and they may take longer to recover. Because of that it is worth exploring with your HR department if you can record any disability related sick leave separately.

There have been some great posts on blogs and social media for Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week this year, and in the US LAX Airport turned there illuminated columns purple! Tweet from LAX

So a real quick overview and a brief summary of my journey…

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Both are chronic conditions with no known cause or cure, but the symptoms can be treated with a range of medications. Sometimes people require surgery to remove parts of the bowel, and may have a stoma formed with an ileostomy or colostomy depending on where within the bowel it is made.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in May 2005. 3 months later I was on hospital receiving IV drugs to try and prevent my colon from rupturing. They weren’t working, so my colon was removed as an emergency operation. I contracted MRSA and septaciemia whilst in hospital, and had a further operation too. I left hospital with an ileostomy.

A year later I had an internal pouch created, but it was problematic and I had to have further surgery before it could be activated. All was good for a while, but there was inflammation still in the rectal cuff and I had to have more drug treatment.

In 2014 I was told the pouch had failed due to a collection which led to frequent abscesses. I had a bowel diversion in 2015 to see if resting it would help – it wasn’t enough to it was excised and my rectum and anus removed in 2016. It took nearly 2 years to heal the wound at the bottom end.

Now, apart from a little bit of wound discharge occasionally, all is well. My stomach behaves well and I can do all the things I want to do when my two children allow me the time.

I’m not cured. I still get issues in other parts of my body, but they are managed.


World IBD Day 2019

On 19th May it is World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day. If you check out the hashtag #WorldIBD or #WorldIBDDay you’ll find all kind of things on social media, from personal stories to facts and figures, opportiunities to donate to related causes to fund research or support.

On Saturday 18th May, I took part in the Crohn’s & Colitis UK Walk IT event in Bristol, walking 5 kilometres with my father, wife and two sons age 4 & 10 months (to be fair, Eli was pushed around).

The hArris family at the end of the Walk IT event with medals
At the end of Bristol Walk IT

We’ve done this before two years ago, and this year I was slow off the mark to do any fundraising – although you can donate to CCUK via my JustGiving page. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2005, and had emergency surgery 3 months later to remove my colon. I had no idea when I was diagnosed how serious the condition was. I then tried an internal pouch, which eventually failed and was defunctioned in 2015, then removed in 2016, along with my rectum and anus. That wound took two years to heal, and along the way I have also had episodes of arthritis and low mood, some nasty side effects from drug treatment, leakage, pain, bleeding, infections and MRSA (twice).

I have tried to be strong along the way. Sometimes it was easy because I was so drugged up I just didn’t care. Sometimes I thought I was being string but was really just being self-centred. I remember one afternoon when I was in hospital, for another complication after our first son was born just weeping – I think because timings hadn’t worked out and I wasn’t going to get to see him that day. It’s a horrible condition, with no cure, but because of the changing nature of it (both Ulcerative Colits and Crohn’s Disease flare up and can go into remisison) it is unpredictable. Everyone’s journey is different.

So if you are interested, have a look at some stories. If you can, please donate some money to a related cause.

I’ll leave you with this Instagram post my wife created after we finished our walk.

Happy World IBD day!

Some thoughts on the year so far

I’m old enough to remember a time when a new year began, you’d write the new year date in a few cheques in your cheque book to make sure you didn’t get the date wrong, and give someone a cheque they couldn’t cash. I can’t now remember the last time I wrote a cheque, although I still recieve the odd one at birthdays and Christmas. I’ve never been one for new years resolutions, but I did want to try a few things this year.

A paper calender at the month of January

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

I wanted to lose some weight/ get fitter, so was aiming to run twice a week, raising to three times. To support this, I entered the Old Sodbury Scramble, which took place in March. This would be my first non parkrun 5k, and it was certainly different. A very slippery course over what was effectively farm land, with some steep climbs. However, I managed to get around, and even enjoyed it from time to time – and didn’t fall in the mud. I am enjoying the running, and also trying to do one lunchtime run at work – which makes sure I take a break as well as getting some exercise. You can follow my running adventures on Strava if you’re interested. My wife also set me a chalenge of doing 30 parkruns in 4 locations – I’m a bit behind so need to keep it up, but my time has been coming down nicely.

Race nu,mber and medal from the Old Sodbury Scramble 2019
Not shown – the sweat and mud

The second thing I wanted to attempt was a Bullet Journal. Apart from tracking my parkruns and the books I’ve read, I have to say I haven’t really got into it – but a bit more on that in a while.

Third was finishing my ILM Coaching qualification. Since the arrival of baby number 2 in July, this had taken a back seat – mostly because of tiredness/ holding the baby. However, it is something I really enjoy doing, so I’m determined to finish it.

Stoma and IBD are all under control – I’ll be doing the Bristol WalkIT event in May for Crohn’s & Colitis UK with the family.