The Age of Ignorance


I’ve had fairly worrying gastric symptoms for YEARS. At 10 I had an anal fissure; I have vivid & rather embarrassing memories of my mother bending me over in front of the sash windows of our Victorian semi to look at my sore bum hole. At 16 I used to swell up like I was 9 months pregnant & my biology teacher used to make me walk around the room every 20 minutes as he swore that would help with my symptoms. At 27 I got an acute hepatitis that a whole string of gastroenterologists couldn’t figure out what was happening. At 28 I had hyperemesis in pregnancy & the doctors I worked with would take bets on who could make me puke first on ward round; I was a stone lighter upon giving birth than before. At 29 I had cholecystitis & had my gallbladder & tons of tiny stones removed. By 32 I couldn’t eat wheat without the baby tummy & vomiting or diarrhoea. Last Spring I had a gastric bleed when taking painkillers & last Autumn I started to worry about the fact that often when I went to the toilet it was left looking like a horror scene.

I had meant to go to the doctor then, honestly I did, I was just quite busy & convinced that it was something & nothing, that it would pass but it didn’t. In my defence I didn’t entirely stick my head in the sand, other things came up, a pneumonia that lasted for 3 months followed by a rapid deterioration in my previously achy joints which led to me in chronic pain & needing to use a wheelchair. I did have reason to not bring it up, well, kind of. Plus let’s be fair none of us like talking about what comes out of our bottoms, especially when it’s really rather gruesome but a friend then posted something that made me stop and think…

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