So about these #HAWMC blogs…

You may have noticed that they stopped appearing. I made a good start and them written and scheduled to publish for about the first 5 days. Then I did a couple on the day. Then I got behind. Then I had to plan #IBDHour (which went really well, and you can the Storify here) and now I am in hospital again…

So as you know since my operation in January I’ve been having loads of issues getting the wound where my rectum was to heal. I was readmitted in July for VAC therapy, have had magic gels, packing, repeated infections and antibiotics. Last Monday following the latest course of antibiotics, we began another negative pressure therapy called PICO which is a tiny little pump. 

Whether or not it was linked to that or not, by Wednesday I was reporting some pain and a small hole had developed close by. 

On Thursday I felt pretty rough, but wondered if it might be the sickness bug going around work, and by the afternoon felt a bit better. On Friday the nurse doing the dressing wasn’t happy with the discharge from that hole, so in consultation with a GP sent me to the surgical assessment unit at the Bristol Royal Infimary, a department I know very well, and many of the staff recognse me. I should probably sponsor a chair or a bed.

Anyway I was seen and antibiotics were started. The consultant beleived that an abscess had formed, found it’s way out through an old fistula scar and had drained. I explained my recent history and my concerns and am waiting for an MRI scan after it was decided I couldn’t have a CT scan because 1) I’ve had too many and 2) An MRI should show us what is going on. The IV antibiotics continue.

It also meant I missed my Aston Martin driving experience, and lunch with Joanh’s godparents. However right now I just want to be reassured that there is not another collection waiting to feed more abscesses, and that means a few days in hospital…

Superpower Sunday! #HAWMC Day 6

Today’s writing prompt asks me to consider what super power I would have and how I would use it.

When I were a lad, superheros were fewer than they seem to be now in the general conciousness. Superman, Batman & Spiderman, and a bit of Hulk. Now they seem to be everywhere! There is even an IBD Superheros group focused on finding a cure for IBD.

I’ve always been drawn to Batman (argueably not a superhero) bcause he was just a man with a sense of justice (I’m talking Adam West Batman here) and then became as the more recent films developed darker and more brooding, but still a man who trained hard, and had loads of cool gadgets.

Superman seems to have the powers going on – flight, X Ray vision, super hearing, hot eyes and cold breath. X Ray vision might have appealed to my teenage self (because boobies) but I actually think I would rather have MRI vision.

Along my journey with IBD I have had many MRI scans. And they have investigated many interesting things. Has my internal pouch healed? Is there an abscess? Why do they keep recurring?

I’m also aware of a number of people who are very fearful of the tunnel style MRI scanners, so a super hero who could just look and see would be helpful to them too.

Perhaps super speed would be good to chase after my toddler, or flight to beat the rush hour on the commute to work. Wolverine has super-healing, which would be useful at the moment with this chronic wound – or some kind of limitless energy – maybe being powered like Iron Man?

Of course many superheros are flawed – humans who have been given a power somehow, and wrestle with how to use it for the best – or the worst. And, as Uncle Ben says – ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ – so I’ll decline having a super power, and just try to be an awesome human.

A letter to my newly diagnosed self – #HAWMC Day 4

Hi Richard,

So, you’ve just been told you’ve got ulcerative colitis – so at least that drink that turned your bowels into Niagara Falls wasn’t for nothing. You’ve got your twice daily suppositories and your going home, and you’re not going to think about it much. It’s 2005 and you don’t routinely Google everything you’ve never heard of.

You should. You should find out about this disease, because in 3 months time it is going to hit you hard. You don’t know right now how serious it can be, and whilst nothing can prepare you for the double-digit toilet trips, stomach cramps and complete lack of energy you are going to have, it might be better to know that having your colon out is even a possibility. So do that, look into it.

The other thing you need to appreciate is what it means to have a chronic illness. For life. Incurable. And for you there are going to be long periods when you are ill. Can’t work. Can’t walk. Shit all over you and your bed. And *Spoiler Alert* your wife.

You are going to have toxic drugs pumped into your system. Experience Tramadol dreams and morphine itch. You will take drugs to combat side effects of the drugs you are taking to prevent side effects of your drugs. You will marvel at the commitment of doctors and nurses and others who work in hospitals. You will curse doctors and nurses and people who run hospitals.

If that sounds a bit bleak – well at times it will be. However, you will also live a life. You will achieve things. You’ll find a career for yourself, go back to university. You’ll move house and start a family. And you’ll tell your story and be surprised that people want to hear it.

Take notes – it will make it easier later.

Remember there is no point in not telling the doctors how bad things are when they are bad.

So that is my advice from 11 and  a half years down the line. I’ll see you when you get here.


Getting to know you… #HAWMC Day 1

To try to boost my blog content I’ve decided to take part in the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge. This is a daily writing challenge with prompts from the lovely people at WEGO Health who are running the awards I’m nominated in – and a big thank you to all of you who endorsed my nomination, the finalists are announced in December.

So today is about introductions – let’s get to know each other! What drives you to
write about your health? What do you want other
Health Activists to know about your condition and
your activism?

I’m Richard, 35 and I have ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

I write started writing about my health as a way of dealing with what was happening for myself, and then as I approached surgery to form a new stoma wanted to share that journey. I had the surgery and have kept writing to try to raise awareness of inflammatory bowel disease and living with an ileostomy.


My activism is mostly online – although I did a year as the coordinator of my local Crohn’s & Colitis UK group – and you can find me contributing to various Facebook groups and forums. I also started #IBDHour – a Twitter hour for IBD chat in September 2016.

I’m hoping (work and daddy commitments allowing) to write a book bringing together my blog posts and some new writing and ultimately I’d like to create a spoken word show about my experiences.

So, that’s me – enjoy the next thirty days of writing, and do get in touch if you have any questions!


Wound News – October Edition

Well I never thought I would be writing this post.

To recap, my surgery was at the end of January – a major operation to remove my failed internal pouch, rectum and anus. There were two wounds – the big stapled one at the firnt and the smaller one at th eback. This initialy healed well, then broke down and got really painful, and I ended up back in hospital in July for vac therapy for a week.

The vac therapy was syccessful in awakening the wound and remonding it had to heal – but it was still pretty big (about 7 coms deep). Since then it has been variously packed, had a gel treatment and is now being packed agin, We have got down to every other day, but it is still going on, And on. And on.

It isn’t painful which is good. It is still a bit leaky, and I have had to go back to the big inco pads in order to save on laundry. I’ve gone back to work full time, but it is really frustrating. The nurses at my practice, who have all had to endure far more of my bottom than should really be asked of them, have been great, and a few blips aside the bits of the NHS are now all working together. It is however taking much longer than I was prepared for.

As ever I am trying to be positive, but this week we are going on holiday as a family, and I had really been looking forward, this year, to be being able to swim with my little boy. He loves swimming, and his whole face lights up in the water. And I’m not going to be able to. Which means his mum is going to have to do it all. Again.

And I know it’s not forever, that it is getting better each day. It is frustrating to not be able to exercise, to still be wearing pads, to need shares in Parazone toilet wipes and be taking so many appointments at my local practice – all whilst returning to full time work and trying to parent and live life to the best of my ability.

Being realistic, I think this could still be goign on In November, hopefully be done an ddusted by Christmas. So watch out for more Wound News – but lets hope there isn’t too much more of it.

What’s this #IBDHour all about then?

So if you’ve been over on my Twitter recently then you might have spotted that I am launching #IBDHour – the first UK based Twitter Hour for Inflammatory Bowel Disease!

I am a massive fan of Twitter, and think it will be a great way to build the UK IBD community – as well as open it up to contributions from all over the world (where the time difference isn’t too much anyway.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Twitter hours, then they go something like this. At a pre-arranged time, someone (the host) will start the hour off with some questions for discussion, and all the people participating use the hashtag – in this case #IBDHour – and answer the questions and then respond to other people.

The first event is going to be on 15th September at 8pm UK time, and the theme is going to be ‘Support’.

I’m really excited about it, and hope it will allow people from all over to have a virtual conversation.

If your interested in taking part, then follow @IBDHour on Twitter!

A surge in coverage

So in the last few weeks there has been a sudden surge of coverage of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and related issues in the media.


First off we had the news that two Olympic medal winners have IBD – both silver medalists in the pool. Siobhain-Marie O’Connor of Team GB has ulcerative colitis, and Kathleen Baker of the USA has Crohn’s Disease. They are not the first Olympians with IBD – Sir Steve Redgrave off of rowing is a CCUK ambassador, as is Ali Jawad, Paralympic Weight Lifter. There followed a couple of good articles over on The Mighty about how that might make other IBD patients feel – you can see those here and here.

For me, I say hats off to them. I don’t think I could ever have been an Olympic level athlete before I was ill, and certainly not whilst I have been ill, so it is testament to them that they have achieved so much whilst being ill – long may they have continued success. It also motivated me to finally go and do my first Park Run at the weekend – I walked it, but it felt good to finally be doing some exercise again.

Nights Out

unfortunately the next story that popped up was less positive. An IBD sufferer was on a night out, and had a sudden need to use a toilet. He went to the (open) McDonalds restaurant in Huddersfield to ask to use the toilet, showing his ‘Can’t Wait’ card to security and staff, but he was then asked to leave – you can read more here.

Now I don’t do night’s out very often, but it seems very sad to me that there was no flexibility for this young man to be able to use the facilities despite being able to evidence that he had a need. Perhaps the staff didn’t think that someone with such a requirement should be on a night out at all? I think that this is one of the areas that needs awareness to be raised – we might not be ill all the time, but we sometimes need a bit of extra help!

More Toilet News

Supermarket ASDA (favourite of my sister in law) have taken a great step forward with the signage on their disabled toilets – reminding people that not all disabilities are visible. This is great, although I’ve never had an issue myself, it took me a while to build up the confidence to use a disabled toilet without fear of the stare – and I think having a bag gives me an extra weapon to flash if challenged. I’ve needed them in particular in the last few years when I’ve been wearing inco pads – although not all disabled toilets have disposal bins. If I was in charge, all toilets would be accessible toilets with proper disposal bins. And all car parking spaces would be parent and child sized!

Down With the Kids

Our final piece of news relates to a perhaps ill-advised MTV blog about the movie Sausage Party in which it was suggested that a possible sequel – Colostomy Party – could be a hit. There was some real anger on the various Facebook groups and on Twitter from people with IBD and colostomies that once again these devices were being presented as comical, rather than life saving. This follows on, apparently, from recent references on Eastenders and Hollyoaks to them being something that only old people have, and resulted in a very positive piece in Metro by Hattie Gladwell.

There was a counter argument that it allows for some education and challenge (the saying being no publicity is bad publicity) and personally within the context of the blog I don’t think it the worst thing I have ever seen – however for some people it will reinforce their thinking, so lets hope they also see things like the Metro article.

If you spot any IBD news, do let me know by commenting or dropping me a Tweet @doobarz



What are you wearing?

On Friday I put on a shirt. This in and of itself is not that unusual. It was, like many of my clothes, something I’ve had for a while. I tend to keep my clothes until they are falling apart, much to the horror of my niece.

As I slipped this shirt on I noticed there was a lot of room in it. Now, it is is an extra large, and I tried to remember why I had bought XL. It could have been all that was left, or in the sale. It could of been that I needed it for the length (I’m 6’2″ and mostly body rather than leg). Or was it that I went oversized because of my bag?

Now on this occassion I really can’t remember which it was, but it did make me think about my general approach to buying clothes, and there has been a definate pattern of going slightly bigger than needed up top. So I guess I must be more body concious than I realised- or at least have been. So as I approach being healed and ready to start exercising again, next time I buy some new clohes, perhaps a slightly tihter fit is required…

A bit of awareness raising

So yesterday I called into a BBC Radio Bristol phone in item on a recently set up Facebook Group – Love Your Bowel. It has been created by two local women who met in hospital, and wanted to create a space to give support to others with bowle issues.

You can listen to the program here and the section starts at 2hrs 11. The host is really good, and I do think he really was overwhelmed by the response. I am on from about 2hrs 40 and talk about my own condition, as does another group member. Let’s see if they do a follow up!



It’s an honour just to be nominated…

So I was excited today when this popped up in my Twitter notifications:

I have now complted a profile, and would love it if you could make additional nominations via the WEGO Health website – my profile is here – you do need to complete a form to do it, but it’s pretty simple.

I’ll let you know how I get on!