If I was an uninformed and gullible fool, I would now be kicking my GP’s door down, convinced I have colon cancer!
You can’t possibly have missed the intensive advertising campaign – it’s everywhere, on TV, radio, in the press, doubtless online somewhere and also coming through my letterbox! And I’m tired of it.
The logic – and I use the word very loosely – of the campaign is that if you’ve had the slightest loosness for a week or 3, you stand a good chance of having bowel cancer, which is as misleading as it is egregious. Bowel cancer is just one possibility – there are others.
And yes, I do know it’s very serious, but I don’t think attempting to scare the bejesus out of people is appropriate, especially as the message is repeated so bloody often it loses its impact and simply becomes an annoyance. Have they never heard of the boy who cried wolf?
And so to me. I’ve had quite enthusiastic diarrhoea for about a week. I know why, and I know what triggered it. I also know how to fix it and it does not involve major surgery or wasting my GP’s time.
I have IBS. As with many other people with ME/CFS, it’s part of the package, and has been since the mid eighties. The drugs don’t work – I’ve long since exhausted the entire IBS pharmacopoeia – but I know what does and I’ve used it successfully since 1988.
The answer is live yoghurt – in industrial quantities – up to 2 kilos a day initially, in 500g doses (for several months – I wound up knitting my own), to get my intestinal flora back on track. It needs such a large intake for enough of the bacterial load to survive the digestive process and so be beneficial. Don’t bother with probiotics – I’m convinced any benefits that apparently derive from them are nothing but our old friend the Placebo Effect (which is not to be sniffed at, it’s very powerful and very real, as many drug trials have demonstrated). I mean, seriously, do you think a couple of tablespoons of liquid will survive the digestive process – being dunked in a maelstrom of hydrochloric acid? It’d have as much chance as a snowball in a furnace.
There’s always a trigger, though, and this time I know what it was. Dumping cocoa into a bowl of porridge about ten days ago kicked it off, and an ill-advised mug of drinking chocolate last week kicked everything up a gear into bicycle-clip territory.**
So I’m now in my second day of yoghurt therapy (500g twice a day), and well on the way back to normality, without any need for having a camera shoved where cameras don’t normally go.
Clearly, chocolate is my current trigger, so best avoided, not too hard as I normally never touch the stuff – I just bought some cocoa and drinking chocolate because I fancied a change. I got one too!
So go away, NHS, and leave me alone, I’ve had it with your ill-conceived propaganda (but I’d really love to know the proportion of negative to positive results from this campaign – it has the potential to be a massive waste of resources). And as stress can trigger or exacerbate IBS, this campaign may well not be helping, for many people.
Cancer, by the way, seems to be the bogeyman du jour – another TV campaign, aimed at those who like to unwind with a drink after work – me for most of my working life, along with many millions of others. The claim is that doing so, apart from all the other ways you can die horribly, doubles your risk of oropharyngeal cancer. A meaningless threat without knowing what the risk is for anyone who doesn’t drink.
**It’s an old joke:- Doctor: Tell me, when did you realise you had diarrhoea? Patient: When I took my bike clips off . . .